April 25, 2008

Kilcullen on Political Maneuver in COIN

Back when this blog had about 50 readers a day, it was fun because Abu Muqawama could pretty much write whatever the hell he wanted. Now that about 3,000 people read it daily it's less fun because of all the emails that flood in whenever one of us writes something vaguely contentious. You see, some of these people know our real names. And are kinda "important" in policy circles. Which is not to say that Abu Muqawama didn't enjoy David Kilcullen's point-by-point criticism of an earlier post which he found waiting in his inbox this morning. He just got a little frustrated: "Well %$#@, Dave, if you're so smart, why don't you blog on something?"

Eh, what's that? You say you just posted a long essay on the Small Wars Journal blog on road-building in Afghanistan? And that it's smarter than anything you're likely to read on this blog?


... like the Romans and other counterinsurgents through history, U.S. forces in Kunar, in a close and genuine partnership with local communities and the Afghan government (most especially, a highly competent and capable Provincial Governor), have engaged in a successful road-building program as a tool for projecting military force, extending governance and the rule of law, enhancing political communication and bringing economic development, health and education to the population. Roads in the frontier area that are patrolled by friendly forces and secured by local allies also have the tactical benefit of channeling and restricting insurgent movement and compartmenting terrain across which guerrillas could otherwise move freely, and their political and economic effects are even more striking. All of this seems to suggest, in effect, that “roads ain’t roads”.

In all seriousness, the next time Abu Muqawama sees Kilcullen, he's going to ask him for his thoughts on whether or not Colombia's experience with road-building in FARC-controlled areas can be brought in as another case study. It might nicely complement the U.S. and NATO experience in Afghanistan.