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October 08, 2009

Teaching Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

There is an excellent article in The New Republic about a course being run in Afghanistan to ensure that our tactical leaders fully understand the concepts of population-centric counterinsurgency and how to implement it in the field. There are a number of anecdotes that illustrate how changing the mindset of our officers and then our troops is vital to success.

For one week each
month, 130 students descend on Julien to learn about counterinsurgency.
Attendees come from every possible background: U.S. and coalition
troops of all ranks, ages, and nationalities; State Department and
USAID personnel; Afghan soldiers and police; members of NGOs;
contractors; Army anthropologists. (I was there in July as part of my
research on law in situations of counterinsurgency.)....

"How many of you have read David Galulaís Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice?"
Lt. Colonel Matt Galton, the deputy director of the center, asked in
his Australian accent. Two hands slowly went up. It was not surprising.
Though Galulaís book is a--possibly the
starting point for counterinsurgency, it was written over 40 years ago
and isnít required reading. More troubling, when Galton asked how many
had read the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, only about five hands went up.

This was
surprising, given how pervasive, even trendy, counterinsurgency has
become in policy circles. In the nearly three years since the release
of the Counterinsurgency Field Manual
its authors have gone on to fame, at least in the public policy world:
Nagl appeared on "The Daily Show"; Kilcullen is a frequent television
commentator; and Petraeus, the lead author of the manual, is now the
head of U.S. Central Command--in charge of the militaryís operations in
the Middle East. But, despite the coachesí rise to prominence, most of
the players havenít read the playbook.

"I didnít even know
counterinsurgency was a term," Lieutenant Aaron Lewis said of his tour
of duty in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. "I felt something was wrong with what
we were doing ... but I didnít know what."

The rest at BLACKFIVE

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posted by Uncle Jimbo at 11:57 AM

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