January 05, 2010

Two more things you should read on Afghanistan

The thought-provoking (Stewart) and the sublime (Bleuer). With respect to the latter and by my own count, I have at times been guilty of #9, #14, #17, #21 and #26.

With respect to the former, meanwhile, I found myself agreeing with the lion's share of what Rory Stewart wrote as well as his major conclusions. I worry, though, that we will observe a tension in the coming year between political and strategic decision-makers seeking to chart a minimalist course on Afghanistan and operational commanders and representatives seeking maximalist means to get there. Count me as one of those who believe the president will not accept the kind of resource and time-intensive COIN strategy outlined in FM 3-24ir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0226841510 and that operational commanders in Afghanistan should then ruthlessly triage with respect to their priorities. I have faith they are doing that, as evidenced by the priority they seem to be giving to the training of the ANSF over all else.

This touches upon a longer research question I will be working on that deals with politics in COIN -- both domestic politics as well as seeking leverage over host nations in third-party interventions. I noted to a reporter yesterday that FM 3-24ir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0226841510's primary flaw is that it is apolitical. It does not adequately address the public's impatience with long and resource-intensive military campaigns, nor does it address (at all, really) the idea that the interests of the host nation might not line up with those of the counterinsurgent. Steve Biddle and Mark Moyarir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0300152760 have written on this, so I can only hope to build upon what they have done. Your thoughts, of course, are always welcome. I pledge to shamelessly steal them, after all (#12).