Af-Pak Hearing: Flournoy’s COIN-Heavy Key Points
Here’s Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy and a co-chairman of the Af-Pak review. That review “went back to first principles” — “dismantling, disrupting and defeating al-Qaeda and its extremist allies,” which is “absolutely vital to our national interests.” This is “why we have troops in Afghanistan.” And there’s a lot of good counterinsurgency stuff right here, as Gen. David Petraeus once said in a different context.
Holbrooke will lead “bilateral, trilateral and multilateral ” diplomacy. But the Pentagon will build “the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities in both countries” to defeat the extremists. There we have it: counterinsurgency in Pakistan. “We seek a strategic partnership” with Pakistan to “shift its capabilities from conventional warfare to counterinsurgency.” There will be a Pakistani COIN military fund, “limited, if we do not see improvements in Pakistani performance.”
Afghanistan. The root causes of the insurgency are governance failures. Wow. “An integrated counterinsurgency strategy” will “reverse Taliban gains and secure the population … in the troubled south and east of the country.” Then build Afghan security forces, which will “transition over time … to an Afghan-led counterinsurgency efforts.” That means additional troops for training Afghans, as Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, wants. Also “intensify our civilian assistance … we will seek to improve coordination … ensuring a free and fair and secure election will be an immediate” task. There will be an effort to build capacity “at a provincial and district level” where Afghans will, hopefully, see the results most directly. That’s a “root cause” strategy against the insurgency.
“We will support an Afghan-led reconciliation process,” Flournoy says, to “essentially flip the foot soldiers” and thereby make it “easier to target” the irreconcilable insurgent leaders.
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