Counterinsurgents Grapple With Next Afghanistan Moves

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm
Gen. David Petraeus (WDCpix)

Gen. David Petraeus (WDCpix)

As President Obama reconsiders some of the assumptions of the counterinsurgency strategy he announced in March for Afghanistan and Pakistan, a conference featuring many of the luminaries of the counterinsurgency community discussed both the challenges inherent in counterinsurgency, including some lessons yet to be applied in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia, told conference attendees that he would not discuss “pre-decisional” aspects of the Afghanistan strategy and resource debate, but did provide something of a defense of Obama’s review. “We said we expected some form of assessment that we thought would take place in the fall,” said Petraeus, the U.S. military’s foremost theorist-practitioner of counterinsurgency. While the Afghan election remains unfinished, the election “looks like it may not produce a government with greater legitimacy in the eyes of the people,” an event that might prompt a reconsideration of strategic assumptions. Petraeus said he expected Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, to provide his request for additional resources to the administration in “a few days” and anticipated “several multi-hour meetings” over the “next two weeks” where senior leadership will consider the fundamental questions of the war.

Instead of the Afghanistan debate, Petraeus emphasized several core counterinsurgency principles: the need to provide security for civilians beleaguered by both insurgencies and poor governance; getting what he termed a “whole-of-governments” approach to counterinsurgency, incorporating civilian, military and foreign partners for a united effort; and pushing the “big concept” within the Army that warfare can rapidly transition from offensive operations to stability operations. “I think we have developed leaders as well who are capable of full-spectrum operations,” Petraeus said.

Similarly, the conference, sponsored by the Marine Corps University, largely avoided direct discussion of the ongoing strategy debates within the Obama administration and this week’s leak of the review conducted for McChrystal of the overall situation in Afghanistan. But several speakers made points that spoke to the heart of the debate over whether a more restricted mission in Afghanistan would more adequately address U.S. interests against al-Qaeda or lead to a further deterioration of the war’s fortunes.

“Many of the people here today think that to do serious COIN, you need the kind of troop increases that are being contemplated,” said Mark Moyar, a professor at the Marine Corps University who set up the conference, using a ubiquitous shorthand for counterinsurgency.

Moyar, the author of a new book, “A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq,” said that it would be preferable for the administration either pick an “offshore approach,” where a smaller number of troops focus on hunting terrorists and insurgents along with air and unmanned drone strikes, or continue with a counterinsurgency approach that privileges protecting the Afghan population from harm and delivering material economic and governmental benefits, rather than search for some “middle” option that “continues what’s been going on.”

While not speaking about the current Afghanistan debate directly, several speakers at the conference with deep experience with counterinsurgency pointed to problems with alternative strategies to the population-protection approach favored by McChystal. Army Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who pacified the northern Iraqi city of Tall Afar in 2005 and 2006 by focusing on protecting the populace in close partnership with Iraqi security forces, said that he rejected a “raiding approach” to counterinsurgency, which he claimed had its intellectual “roots in strategic bombing,” an air war doctrine that holds victory can be achieved by inflicting intolerable damage on key enemy targets without the use of ground troops. The thinking had been “grafted to some degree on the problems of terrorism and insurgency,” McMaster said, criticizing it for not “address[ing] the fundamental causes” of such security problems.

McMaster later clarified in an interview that he found a raid-heavy approach reflected an urge to find “antiseptic” solutions to complex security problems. He declined to address Afghanistan while the strategy debate was ongoing.

Although some progressive critics have argued that the Obama administration has moved the Afghanistan war too deeply in the direction of counterinsurgency, Marine Corps Col. Dale Alford, a former adviser to McChrystal’s predecessor as U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan — whom he called “a great soldier” — said that U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan are insufficiently positioned to conduct so-called “population-centric” counterinsurgency. “We’re completely an enemy-centric force,” Alford said, noting that most U.S. bases in Afghanistan were constructed in 2003 and 2004 to support counterterrorism objectives like raiding discrete enemies. Alford, who also fought in Iraq, called for a “significant repositioning” of U.S. forward operating bases and combat outposts in Afghanistan to provide for population security and partner closer with Afghan security forces.

“If you’re not not sleeping with them, eating with them and crapping in same bucket as them, you’re not partnered with them,” Alford said.

In May, Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired McKiernan, believing him to be too slow to adapt to the counterinsurgency approach that Obama is now reportedly reconsidering. Alford said in an interview today that McKiernan had a “good plan” in place for Afghanistan to transition to a greater counterinsurgency emphasis over two years, but was not given enough time to implement it. Alford praised McChrystal’s review, which he called a “very similar plan,” and said what would be important would be “implementing it, at all levels.” He added that he believed McChrystal’s call for protecting the population and partnering with Afghan security forces would result in restructuring the U.S. base posture across Afghanistan.

Much of the conference addressed structural issues about the military and counterinsurgency, such as how to partner with foreign security forces and adapt institutional military education and promotion incentives to better inculcate counterinsurgency leadership concepts like flexibility and small-unit autonomy into the next generation of officers. “I think we’ve learned and adapted,” McMaster said.

Asked what counterinsurgency lesson he would provide to the Obama administration, Moyar did not recommend any increase in U.S. forces, but instead articulated a consensus position among those who advocate another U.S. troop increase for Afghanistan and those who consider such an increase to be a mistake. “Focus on fixing the leadership of the Afghan security forces,” he said.

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COIN strategy « All Things Counter Terrorism
Pingback posted September 24, 2009 @ 1:49 am

[...] found this quote by HR McMaster  particularly significant: While not speaking about the current Afghanistan [...]

Comment posted September 24, 2009 @ 11:22 am


Comment posted September 24, 2009 @ 10:11 pm


(German Chancellor Angela Merkel)

Now, giving a girl a back rub or rubbing her feet, and a few sweet nothing in her ear, can go a long way towards a guy dipping his wick, but come on, what is Angela thinking, were is the girls head. The American-Israeli Empire has (60K) Sixty-Thousand Troops on European Vacation in Germany, [Troop of American-Israeli Empire Occupation]. But they are there as part of [NATO] The North American Treaty Organization to protect and defend [WHAT] the local beer halls, get real they can’t with all the [TRILLIONS] spent on providing it with the latest in Military [Aircraft, Drones, Tanks, Armored Vehicles, Weapons that can shot around corners, Dragon Skin Armor], you name it they got, a (132K) One-Hundred-Thirty-Two-Thousand force, are being beaten by a NON-STATE, rag-tag, all volunteer group of (IFF) Islamic Freedom Fights armed with only Russian and Chinese made [Kalashnikov/ Kalshnikov] assault rifles, Mortars, and (IED’s), Improvised Explosive Devices and nothing more than the clothes on their backs to protect them, and the European Vacationing American-Israeli Empire Troops of Occupation some how are going to protect and defend Europe from [WHO FROM WHAT?].

(The New Germany)

The New Germany is in a joint Russian-German Project, the Nordstream Pipeline which will move gas under the Baltic from Russia to Germany, and Germany is a staunch supporter of Nord Stream. By [2011], the Nordstream Pipeline, which will move gas under the Baltic from Russia to Germany, a construction project of (1,220km) One-Thousand-Two-Hundred-Twenty Kilometer, pipeline to pump (27.5B) Twenty-Seven-Point-Five Billion cubic Meters of natural gas annual/a year, under the Baltic Sea with The Russian Federation exporting it to German, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Denmark, and the American-Israeli Troops of Occupation are going to protect (WHO FROM WHAT?], the Russian Federation providing a customer base with a product the customer base needs and pay’s for, a working Capitalist System. The New Germany is a growing power within the (EU) European Union, has a good working relationship with the (BRIC) Brazil, The Russian Federation, India, and The People’s Republic of China, which will uncouple from the Empire based Dollar to a new monetary system based upon the Pound Sterling, Euro, Production Dollars, Oil Dollars, local national currency, and hard currency, Gold and Silver. Just what are the European German Vacationing American-Israeli Troops protecting German from and at whose cost, German Treasure, and German Blood, for Blood for Oil, for the Empire?

(Back Rub For Blood?)

Now, Germany has been warned that if there are no signals of a withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan, within a forth-night/two-week, after the German elections of Sept. 27th, the German Fatherland will be the target of terrorist network attacks by (IFF) Islamic Freedom Fighters Networks, Al-Qaida Branch. Germany, has (3.5K-4.1K) Three-Thousand-Five-Hundred to Four-Thousand-One-Hundred, Troops at present in (Northern Afghanistan) having suffered (KIA 35+) Thirty-Five-Plus Killed In Action, and the Back Rub was worth that much Blood? Now, if Angela, had used just a part of that gray matter between her ears, it would be a simple matter or why not tell the American-Israeli Empire to take (5K) Five-Thousand of its (60K) Sixty-Thousand Troops on European Vacation in Germany out of Germany and don’t bring them back, and use them in their War of Resources and Markets, Blood for Oil War on the Islamic Crescent, and bring the German Forces home.

(Training and Guarding Beer Gardens)

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has stated that, (We [Germany] have a great responsibility here [Afghanistan]. We want to carry our share of the responsibility, militarily, in the area of civil reconstruction and in police training.) [WHO ASKED GERMANY TO BUILD ANYTHING, WHO ASKED GERMANY TO TRAIN THEIR POLICE, CAN’T THEY GO TO GERMANY FOR TRAINING?] And, then Angela, committed an additional (600) Six-hundred from Germany which were already in the transit pipeline, sources indicated that the Europeans [GERMANY] would be expected to help by providing additional forces, more reconstruction assistance, and [INCREADED FUNDING]. Under the General Stanley McChrystal strategy of [MORE [GERMAN] MONEY, MORE TIME, MORE [GERMAN] TROOPS, MORE MISSION CREEP, MORE ESCALATION, MORE UNVEILING OF REPEATED NEW STRATEGIES, IF I GET MORE, THEN I CAN DO MORE.]The Obama administration wants to wait until after the general election in Germany on (Sept. 27) before officially announcing its wishes. Peter Struck the former German Defense Minister (2002-2005), and the current floor leader of the Center-Left German Social Democratic Party, often noted for his statement of [Germany’s security is also defended in the Hindu Kush, AND JUST HOW IS GERMANY’S SECURITY DEFENDED IN THE HINDU KUSH?], What are the (60K) Six-Thousand American-Israeli European German Vacationing Troops of occupation in Germany for, Oh, to guard the Beer Gardens, in an interview with (WWW.SPIEGEL.DE), Interview conducted by Ulrike Demmer and Konstantin von Hammerstein, Yassin Musharbash, and Marcel, stated that the earliest German withdrawal could not be expected any earlier than (10) ten-years, a decade at the [VERY LEAST], when the Afghanistan security forces are strong enough to deal with the Taliban and the drug barons on their own, and when the Afghanistan People can develop and shape their country as they please. Give Me a Break, the American-Israeli Empire couldn’t even win its own [WAR ON DRUGS], and drug barons, and simply walked away from it, when there is a market, there is a seller, and the Afghanistan People seem to be strong enough to deal with (NATO’s) unwelcome help, using just Russian and Chinese made [Kalashnikov/ Kalshnikov] assault rifles, Mortars, and (IED’s).

What are you Thinking Angela, by (2050), in Forty-Years, the American-Israeli Empire will be a Third World Nation, with a Third World Nation Racial Demographic Base, with a Third World Economic Base, without an Industrial Base, a Third Rate Military Power, not even a country of (G-8/G-20), status, and Germany, the (EU) European Union, and the (BRIC) will represent the (21st) Century Spheres of Influence. Is a Back Rub, Hugs, and Words, worth the Blood, Treasure, and slowing down the progress of Germany? WHAT IS ANGELA THINKING?


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Comment posted September 27, 2009 @ 4:26 am

What would help the effort immensely is leaning REAL hard on the Taliban's Salafist supporters, the Saudi's. Don't worry about oil–try the 'Oil for Food' program: if you want to eat, give us oil. A food embargo against the Gulf States would be enforced by bombing land convoys and blasting commerial vessels out of the water.

Obama's sucking up to the Islamists follows dead old Ronnie's idiotic Afghan War policy. You can't give Qur'an-thumpers military aid, eliminate the Islamists' Ba'athist enemies and bow to Muslim kings, and expect them to be nice to you. Obama's philo-Islamic overtures are even pukier than the Bushes' and Reagan's:…

Appeasement and cultural sensitivity are not the way to win the war against Islamic Terrorism. The only method that actually works is Lord Kitchener-style annihilation.

Comment posted September 27, 2009 @ 4:30 am

Unlike you Qur'an-fuckers, us Crusader-Zionists aren't clutching our junk, as we detonate our suicide vests, in anticipation of a 72 whore gangbang in the afterlife.

Comment posted September 27, 2009 @ 6:11 pm


Now, Adam since your an admitted Zionists-Crusader much the same as [BiBi], and can't read or understand what you have read, the real deal is JEW'S DO NOT COMMIT SUICIDE, Masada each member of the group drew lots and killed the other it was done twice, in Jewish History. In the first run, the last guy decided to become a Roman Gerneral. The point was that Israel [WILL] attack Iran VERY, VERY, VERY, soon, they have [NO] choice, the longer they wait the less chance of getting to all the targets and getting out again, and how many good pilots and aircraft would that cost in defense posture, no defense your an open target.

Now, follow the logic Adam, if you can't get out of where your going into alive and you know it that is a suicide mission, now try it again if your going to your death and you know it that is like the Greek [300], knowing that they were going to die, against the Persians, made good sense, all dead, an in death victory, but still a suicide mission.

Now, you and the Muslims hate each other, and Turks hate Greek, Blacks hate Whites, Gays hate Straights, and it goes on and on and on. In your case your both Muslims and Jews are a real problem with growing ability to expand your hate and distruction to the rest of us Human Beings on the Planet, we have a [RIGHT] to existence on this globe as much if not more than either you Jews's or the Muslims we [OUT NUMBER YOU]. That the problem with Democracy, those pesky Demographics and numbers. And, if we the Global Community of Nations which aren't Jew's or Muslims don't take action your [DIETY VIEWS] are going to wipe out humanity, not a good outcome.

Now, as far a a Diety, [IF] and mind you [IF] there were a Diety, the only question before going to this Hell, or whatever that those of [DIETY VIEW] believe would be WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING! [IF] there were an ALMIGHTY AND ALL KNOWING DIETY, then what was the reason for the entire process, [CHOICE] Ya Right! The choice would have been know! So, Sorry Adam, not a Diest.

Now, on Virgins, sex is not [LOVE], but sex can make or break relationships were [LOVE] is not the bonding agent. Virgins have the idea that giving their virginity is love when it is simply an act of sex, and generally not very good sex. It takes a long time to teach the Kama Sutra to a novice willing partner, and with those with a [DIETY COMPLEX] well if its physical gratification to the max., a religious virgin, my second choice.


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Comment posted August 5, 2010 @ 4:08 am

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