6 years ago
Quick review: where is the insurgency most strongly concentrated?
e) Mazar-i Shaif
The correct answer is NONE OF THE ABOVE. The Taliban are not strongest in the cities, but outside of them: you’ll find the insurgency grinding in the hills above Lashkar Gah, the countryside to the west and north of Kandahar, the plains of Zabul, the Khost bowl, the mountains of Paktya and Paktika, and the narrow valleys from Kapisa to Kunar and Nuristan. None of them are urban, or even sort of urban.
Unfortunately, this has CNAS written all over it. It would be surprising if some of their people weren’t involved in the new review in some way—I really hope they’ve learned by now that Afghanistan is not urban, that the insurgency—and the people—are scattered into small rural communities throughout the country. Securing the cities has never been the Coalition’s weakness.
Well, it does have CNAS written all over it, but Josh hasn’t driven to the most ironic thing about the involvement of CNAS with the Obama administration and the Afghanistan strategy. Before attachment to the administration, Dr. John Nagl had advocated the deployment of 600,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Since it has become apparent that the administration will not deploy more than about 68,000 troops, CNAS is assisting in the development of strategy that has as its basis far less troops than Nagl had advocated as necessary to do the job. This strategy is unwise to Foust simply because of the insufficiency of troop levels, but promulgated under the notion of “population-centric” counterinsurgency.
In other words, it was one thing to advocate the troop levels necessary for the campaign before the formalities and political pressures of the President and Congress set in. It’s quite another to face the political realities of the administration. It’s even another to participate in strategy development with too few troops to accomplish the mission (or so Nagl’s claim would have been half a year ago when he advocated just a little less than ten times the current level).
For the record, The Captain’s Journal doesn’t believe that it will require 600,000 troops. But it will certainly require more than 68,000 to do the job right.