Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Counterinsurgency 411

Former Marine Captain Nathaniel Fick gives us an ominous welcome in Sunday's Washington Post Outlook:

Welcome to the paradoxical world of counterinsurgency warfare -- the kind of war you win by not shooting.

The objective in fighting insurgents isn't to kill every enemy fighter -- you simply can't -- but to persuade the population to abandon the insurgents' cause. The laws of these campaigns seem topsy-turvy by conventional military standards: Money is more decisive than bullets; protecting our own forces undermines the U.S. mission; heavy firepower is counterproductive; and winning battles guarantees nothing.

Read the whole thing. Follow it up with some Q&A.

1 comment:

TStockmann said...

Tactocal. I'd be more concerned if the good Marine captain were taking the following happy-talk analysis of developing Afghanistan from anyone more senior actually responsible for trying to plan it:

Several Afghans have told me, "we're traders, not producers." This seems to be based on their history as a crossroads of empires. But it's not necessarily true. The main exports before the Taliban era were dried fruit, nuts, animal pelts, and carpets. Clearly, we have to seek to add to that list. Here are a few ideas, but not necessarily in coherent order: minerals (rubies, emeralds, lapis lazuli), produce (ANYTHING will grow in Afghanistan, but they need to be able to keep it cool and get it to market), tourism (stunning natural beauty and rich history). Moving up the value chain, Afghanistan can return in some sense to its "crossroads" history with pipelines from Central Asia to the coasts of Pakistan and Iran. Finally, there's the huge and untapped "modern" marketplace. Coca-Cola has recently opened a bottling plant. An Afghan company has won the contract to provide drinking water to NATO forces (no mean feat). An Afghan company is providing daily air service to Dubai. We must move beyond an economy built around the conflict to something more sustainable.