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Thread: All Counterinsurgency is Local

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Largo, Florida

    Default U.S. Commander In Afghanistan Thinks Locally

    4 May Washington Post - U.S. Commander In Afghanistan Thinks Locally.

    While the world may be wondering whether U.S.-led troops will ever find Osama bin Laden, Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry has his eye on smaller, more immediate tasks...

    "The real soldiers in Afghanistan are not necessarily wearing uniforms," Eikenberry said in a brief speech to Afghans in this provincial capital northeast of Kabul. "They are providing health care, teaching your families, building the community."

    For most of the 23,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, the main task is still to hunt down, capture or kill anti-government fighters. But after several months of intensified attacks by insurgents, including roadside and suicide bombings, Eikenberry argues that the most effective antidote is to strengthen and protect Afghanistan's weak central government.

    The day-long visit to Mehtar Lam, one of Eikenberry's weekly trips to remote areas across the country, had a carefully scripted agenda of nation-building, and its main target audience was the Afghan public.

    By giving a high-profile, bearhugging welcome to Laghman's newly appointed governor, Gulab Mangal, Eikenberry firmly endorsed President Hamid Karzai's strategy of shifting respected leaders into provinces where they have no ties. The goal is to immunize governors from local politics as they attempt to fight corruption and terrorism.

    By walking for nearly an hour through Mehtar Lam's main bazaar, surrounded by only a loose cordon of troops and pointedly bereft of helmet or flak jacket, Eikenberry projected an image of engagement, confidence and respect. The tour was designed to counter some Afghans' notion of U.S. troops as swaggering, heavily armed door-kickers...

    "In the end, Osama bin Laden is just one man," Eikenberry said in the interview. He vowed that U.S. military efforts would be "unrelenting" until the al-Qaeda leader is captured or killed, but he reiterated his conviction that the key to fighting terrorism is bolstering the reach, relevance and writ of the Afghan government.

    "This is a real long campaign, and we are on the 50-yard line," he told Marines who protect the reconstruction base after pinning medals for valor and service on a number of them. "The Afghan army is getting stronger, the police are making progress," he said. "The real battle now is to enable the Afghan people to stand up their own society."

  2. #2
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    Feb 2007
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    Default All Counterinsurgency is Local

    From this month's Atlantic, a few pages after the Petraeus Doctrine article:

    As in Vietnam, the U.S. has never lost a tactical engagement in Afghanistan, and this tactical success is still often conflated with strategic progress. Yet the Taliban insurgency grows more intense and gains more popular traction each year. More and more, the American effort in Afghanistan resembles the Vietnam War—with its emphasis on body counts and air strikes, its cross-border sanctuaries, and its daily tactical victories that never affected the slow and eventually decisive erosion of rural support for the counterinsurgency.

    As the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, noted in a blunt interview with the BBC in May, the current military engagement is also beginning to look like the Soviets’ decade-long Afghan adventure, which ended ignominiously in 1989. That intervention, like the current one, was based on a strategy of administering and securing Afghanistan from urban centers such as Kabul and the provincial capitals. The Soviets held all the provincial capitals, just as we do, and sought to exert influence from there. The mujahideen stoked insurgency in the rural areas of the Pashtun south and east, just as the Taliban do now.

    The U.S. engagement in Afghanistan is foundering because of the endemic failure to engage and protect rural villages, and to immunize them against insurgency.
    To reverse its fortunes in Afghanistan, the U.S. needs to fundamentally reconfigure its operations, creating small development and security teams posted at new compounds in every district in the south and east of the country. This approach would not necessarily require adding troops, although that would help—200 district-based teams of 100 people each would require 20,000 personnel, one-third of the 60,000 foreign troops currently in the country.

    Each new compound would become home to roughly 60 to 70 NATO security personnel, 30 to 40 support staff to manage logistics and supervise local development efforts, and an additional 30 to 40 Afghan National Army soldiers. The troops would provide a steady security presence, strengthen the position of tribal elders, and bolster the district police. Today, Afghan police often run away from the superior firepower of attacking Taliban forces. It’s hard to fault them—more than 900 police were killed in such attacks last year alone. But with better daily training and help only minutes away, local police would be far more likely to put up a good fight, and win. Indirectly, the daily presence of embedded police trainers would also prevent much of the police corruption that fuels resentment against the government. And regular contact at the district and village levels would greatly improve the collection and analysis of intelligence.

    The seem to be arguing for a CAP program in Afghanistan. What was Westmoreland's main argument against CAPs, the fear that they would be overrun by superior VC/NVA forces (even though I don't think this ever happened)?

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