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June 10, 2009

A review of the CNAS Af-Pak report- Triage

Fighting an insurgency is one of the toughest tasks there is. Doing so as an occupying power is tougher yet. My first SF mission was 20 years ago in the Philippines and a Maoist insurgency called the New People's Army assassinated COL Nick Rowe, a Special Forces icon, while we were there. I had a chance to ask some questions of the current head of Philippine Special Ops Command last year and he said that same group is still their greatest problem. A long war indeed.

The Center for a New American Security has released a report on US efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan called "Triage: The next twelve months in Afghanistan & Pakistan". The report represents a look at what the concept of Smart Power means when applied to this situation. There is plenty in the report to agree with, but it also showed why CNAS is thought of as the Obama administration's go-to think tank. 

Michèle Flournoy is the Co-Founder of the Center for a New
American Security (CNAS). She served as President of CNAS
until February 9, 2009, when she was confirmed as Undersecretary of
Defense for Policy under Secretary Gates in the Obama administration.

The  authors are Andrew M. Exum, Nathaniel C. Fick, Ahmed A. Humayun, David J. Kilcullen.They begin with some policy recommendations.

In Afghanistan:

Adopt a truly population-centric counterinsurgency strategy that emphasizes protecting the population rather than controlling physical terrain or killing the Taliban and al Qaeda.

They present this as an either-or and that is fundamentally flawed. Any wise policy should be a combination of both balanced due to the particularities of each area. In addition physical terrain control is a major part of how you protect a population. You can't control all of it, but there are always key pieces that must be dominated to even consider safeguarding a populace.

The complete review at BLACKFIVE.

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posted by Uncle Jimbo at 11:12 PM

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