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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

At Least One Administration Official Didn’t Read the White Paper

One of the back stories in The Washington Post’s account of the current Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy debate presented by some anonymous administration

William Willis
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Oct 08, 2009

One of the back stories in The Washington Post’s account of the current Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy debate presented by some anonymous administration officials is that Gen. Stanley McChrystal took the playbook set by the Bruce Riedel-penned March white paper on strategy for the region and started changing the plan on the ground.

Back in Washington, some civilians involved in the review grew concerned that McChrystal’s counterinsurgency plan went beyond what they believed was stated in the white paper. “Secure the population” was always a “military phrase,” one senior civilian participant said. “That was the way they extrapolated from Riedel’s plan,” but “it’s not in Riedel’s plan.”

This takes about two seconds to refute. From the third page of the Riedel plan, this is part of the very first “recommendation” for strategy:

Our counter-insurgency strategy must integrate population security with building effective local governance and economic development.  We will establish the security needed to provide space and time for stabilization and reconstruction activities.

Now, perhaps it’s still the case that McChrystal’s proposed implementation of the plan involves calling too many audibles and moving the strategy out beyond where the Obama administration is comfortable. That’s at least a debatable point, and it’ll be up to the president to decide whether it’s the case. But it’s just a misrepresentation of the March plan produced by Riedel’s study group at the behest of President Obama to say that securing the population is McChrystal’s invention.

William Willis | William Willis is a freelance writer and social media manager who specializes in assisting finance professionals and Fintech entrepreneurs in growing their online audience and attracting more paying customers. William worked as a bank teller and virtual assistant for financial firms in the United States and the United Kingdom for six years before beginning her writing career. William is a strong force in the workplace, inspiring others to work hard and excel with her optimistic attitude and boundless energy. He enjoys hiking, crocheting, and playing video games with her grandchildren in her spare time.


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