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 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.