6:03 PM, Feb 21, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
An important op-ed today by Nathaniel Fick and John Nagl of the Center for a New American Security on how the COIN strategy in Afghanistan is paying off:
IT is hard to tell when momentum shifts in a counterinsurgency campaign, but there is increasing evidence that Afghanistan is moving in a more positive direction than many analysts think. It now seems more likely than not that the country can achieve the modest level of stability and self-reliance necessary to allow the United States to responsibly draw down its forces from 100,000 to 25,000 troops over the next four years.
The shift is most obvious on the ground. The additional 30,000 troops promised by President Obama in his speech at West Point 14 months ago are finally in place and changing the trajectory of the fight.
One of us, Nathaniel, recently flew into Camp Leatherneck in a C-130 transport plane, which had to steer clear of fighter bombers stacked for tens of thousands of feet above the Sangin District of Helmand Province, in southwestern Afghanistan. Singly and in pairs, the jets swooped low to drop their bombs in support of Marine units advancing north through the Helmand River Valley.
Half of the violence in Afghanistan takes place in only 9 of its nearly 400 districts, with Sangin ranking among the very worst. Slowly but surely, even in Sangin, the Taliban are being driven from their sanctuaries as the coalition focuses on protecting the Afghan people in key population centers and hubs of economic activity, and along the roads that connect them. Once these areas are cleared, it will be possible to hold them with Afghan troops and a few American advisers — allowing the United States to thin its deployments over time.
Read the rest here.
What would Charles Wolf Jr. do in Afghanistan?1:15 PM, Feb 7, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
Here’s an idea: Let’s try reducing the supply of insurgency in Afghanistan rather than reducing the demand for it. This notion—potentially as important an insight as the Laffer curve—comes from a 41-year-old book by a retired RAND Corporation scholar now entering his ninth decade, Charles Wolf Jr.
We could use more troops in Afghanistan.Sep 27, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 02 • By GARY SCHMITT
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, famously said in 2007 that “in Afghanistan, we do what we can. In Iraq, we do what we must.” That strategic view was supposed to change when Barack Obama was elected president. It was candidate Obama, after all, who argued that the war in Iraq was the wrong war to be fighting, and a significant distraction from the far more important conflict in Afghanistan.
He did the right thing, picking Petraeus and committing to success. Jul 5, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 40 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Let us now praise Barack Obama.
Bipartisanship in foreign policy.10:27 AM, Mar 11, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Last night, the House rejected a resolution calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan, 65-356. Sixty Democrats voted for withdrawal. Five Republicans joined them. The five GOP votes for withdrawal came from (duh) Ron Paul of Texas, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of Illinois, John Duncan of Tennessee, and John Campbell of California. Paul, Jones, Johnson, and Duncan all opposed the Iraq surge. Campbell supported it, and as recently as last September said a "precipitous withdrawal" from Afghanistan "would be unwise." In a "Laptop Report" last December, Cambell said:
I simply do not believe that we can establish a lasting westernized democracy in a society that has been based on tribal cultural ties for centuries. Furthermore, the mountainous terrain in Afghanistan, as well as the porous and uncontrolled border region with Northern Pakistan, makes control of this area exceedingly difficult. Iraq's terrain and culture were and are much more suited to these types of operations. I still believe that there was much strategic value to establishing a friendly Iraqi government in a critical region of the world that includes Iran, Syria, Israel, and others. While I acknowledge the significance of Pakistan’s possession of, by some estimates, as many as 100 nuclear weapons, I just don't believe that control of Afghanistan has the same strategic value.
I'm hoping to speak to Campbell later today and will report back then.
Interestingly, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, voted to reject the measure, even though he has called for withdrawal in the past.
‹‹ More Recent