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July 23, 2009

McChrystal's Tactical Directive for Afghanistan

NATO has released portions of the new tactical directive from Gen. McChrystal and his team. This change in policy has been controversial because it does place dangerous restrictions on the ability of our troops to hit the enemy in certain locations and situations, but it is necessary if we want to change the dynamic of that fight. The document is the outline for how coalition forces will operate in a manner consistent with both safeguarding the populace and engaging the enemy, a tightrope walk for certain. The portions released are unclassified and I will limit my commentary to these. I think that still provides a good look at the implications of this change without openly discussing how particular escalations of force would play out on the ground. Overall this directive shows why Gen. McChrystal replaced McKiernan, he articulates a population-based plan that can succeed given enough time and the support required.

Our strategic goal is to defeat the insurgency threatening the
stability of Afghanistan. Like any insurgency, there is a struggle for
the support and will of the population. Gaining and maintaining that
support must be our overriding operational imperative - and the
ultimate objective of every action we take.

We must fight the insurgents, and will use the tools at our
disposal to both defeat the enemy and protect our forces. But we will
not win based on the number of Taliban we kill, but instead on our
ability to separate insurgents from the center of gravity - the people.
That means we must respect and protect the population from coercion and
violence - and operate in a manner which will win their support.

This opening properly frames the situation we face. We have fought in Afghanistan for far too long with far too little regard for building and maintaining relationships with the many tribal and sectarian leaders and populace. There have been instances where rapport has been built and trust gained, but our rotation policies and focus on kinetic operations have eventually overcome those small victories.

The full analysis at BLACKFIVE

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posted by Uncle Jimbo at 11:44 AM

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