April 02, 2009

Smart Things Said by David Kilcullen ... and Smart Things to be Said by Craig Mullaney

Many thanks to those of you who stopped by to say hello after yesterday evening's event with David Kilcullen. Dave said a few things last night that I really liked. I did not take extensive notes, but one thing that struck me was his analysis of why a strict counter-terror strategy would not work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you're an intelligence asset on the ground in Pakistan, Dave explained, you don't need to know where your target is at any given time but rather where your target will be in five hours -- or as long as it takes to relay the message to a team of special operators, get approval from the White House, and fly however long it takes to get to the target itself. And if you try it with surface warfare assets, well, forget about it -- you need to know where your target will be tomorrow. Also, if you decide to do CT, you need to base a SOF team somewhere nearby -- and then build a base to protect them and their air assets. So you end up with a) a pretty significant presence on the ground and b) more contact with -- and need to protect -- the local population than you originally bargained for. Dave also said a memorable line about Iraq: "The people in Iraq with the least appetite for fighting right now ... are us."

Tonight, meanwhile, Craig Mullaney has his final book event in the DC area. Craig also has a habit of saying smart things. A few weeks ago, at another book event, I heard him say the following: "You get what you pay for -- and in Afghanistan we have not paid for much."

So go hang out with Craig tonight, get him to sign your book, and then buy him a beer afterward. The details:

7 pm
Barnes and Noble
2800 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
Call ahead to reserve a copy: (703) 248-8244 [we've sold out at most events]

Drinks afterward at the Liberty Tavern from ~8:30 or so.

Two chapter excerpts, the Daily Show video, etc are at http://www.craigmmullaney.com