On Memorial Day, West Point Debates Value of Counter-Insurgency

By: Monday May 28, 2012 12:00 pm

West Point academics are reportedly debating the value of counter-insurgency. Rethinking counter-insurgency is just long overdue. I never saw it as much more than a make-work program for defense contractors. It was a theory predicated on believing that modern wars take huge commitments over a number of years. It put us into two of the longest wars in our history – three, if you see Vietnamization as an early prototype of COIN – which also happen to be the most tragic and needless.

 

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Michael Hastings, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan

By: Sunday February 12, 2012 1:59 pm

General Stanley McChrystal told journalist Michael Hastings that he wanted to be on the cover of Rolling Stone and so he was. The resulting story—describing an alcohol fueled dinner in Paris and the General’s staff mocking the Obama Administration—ended McChrystal’s tour as the commander of US forces in Afghanistan and his military career.

The New, Old Mission in Afghanistan

By: Wednesday June 22, 2011 7:18 pm

In other words, the goal in Afghanistan is to attack safe havens in Pakistan. And that’s backed up by Spencer Ackerman’s reporting. There will be no movement of troops east, where the Taliban is dug in. Instead, the strategy will be “drones, drones, training Afghans, commando raids, and drones,” to quote Spencer. The mission has shifted to counter-terrorism, only with far more troops that you need for that mission (Sen. Coons didn’t see such a shift, but the refusal to go into the east is the tell). And the special ops forces, the JSOC guys, are being used to selectively take out Taliban to keep them at the negotiating table.

This is why the permanent bases are so important.

Afghan-Taliban Talks an Elaborate Psy-Op?

By: Sunday October 24, 2010 4:00 pm

After weeks of news dumps from anonymous sources that Afghan-Taliban talks were proceeding at high levels, facilitated by NATO forces providing escorts for Taliban leaders into Kabul, Landay and Strobel talk to some other sources for McClatchy, and find that the whole thing is just a bunch of PR.

Afghan Straw Man: Defense Sec. Gates Grasps at Excuses for Floundering Strategy

By: Monday August 2, 2010 6:05 am

Robert Gates continued his anti-Wikileaks tour Sunday on ABC with Christiane Amanpour, calling Wikileaks “morally culpable” for the release of informant names and for releasing methods of US engagement in the field. Ahmed Rashid came on later and advised that these logs are years old, may include false names, and the informants named therein may have moved on. You can’t have it both ways. Either this is old news or it isn’t.

Left-Right Agreement on Rules of Engagement, Strategy and Counterinsurgency?

By: Thursday July 1, 2010 7:15 pm

I might not agree with the way Uncle Jimbo puts everything in this video about the counterterrorism utility behind a counterinsurgent focus on reducing civilian casualties, but he dispenses quite effectively with the canard that counterterrorism can be successfully divorced from a strategy that invests the local populace in Blue Team/White Hat advances.

Perhaps there’s a better way of doing that than a resource-intensive counterinsurgency strategy, but I’ve yet to hear one that persuades me.

McChrystal Meeting Less Crucial Than Strategy Reset in Afghanistan

By: Wednesday June 23, 2010 8:29 am

While we gather in anticipation outside the White House door, putting up an ear to the Oval Office, straining to hear any bits and pieces of the conversation, trying to make out whether Stanley McChrystal said “I’ve compromised the mission” again, it’s worth considering just what that mission is. And while the chatterers and courtiers run their personality-driven readouts of this whole Rolling Stone blowup, I’m encouraged by the number of reports – mostly confined to the blogosphere – about the actual war effort, and the futility thereof.

Before the COINdinistas Start Spinning the UN Report…

By: Sunday June 20, 2010 4:00 pm

Before the supporters of the president’s brutal, costly counterinsurgency strategy (referred to without affection as “COINdinistas”) get started this week, I want to reiterate a point I made a couple of months ago when the last round of silly, disingenuous pro-counterinsurgency celebrations took place.

Afghanistan Panic Spreads: Petraeus Falls Ill at Hearing

By: Tuesday June 15, 2010 12:30 pm

As I noted yesterday, the attitude in Washington regarding the war in Afghanistan is now at panic level. Articles in this morning’s New York Times and Washington Post reinforce that view, and in a remarkable turn of events, General David Petraeus has fallen ill this morning while testifying on Capitol Hill.

Don’t Be Fooled by the Rocks That I Got: Afghanistan Strategy on the Block

By: Tuesday June 15, 2010 8:30 am

Part of understanding propaganda is knowing its intended audience. The recent Pentagon leak on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is no different. While it appears desperate and comical, it is highly effective and specifically targeted propaganda.

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