6 years ago
From the AP:
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is predicting that it’ll be clear by year’s end whether a NATO-led counterinsurgency effort in the Afghan Taliban stronghold of Kandahar is successful.
Adm. Mike Mullen says the Kandahar campaign, which is planned to go forward next month, is vital to turning around the war. He says the southern Afghanistan city is as important to the overall war effort as Baghdad was to the U.S. troop increase in Iraq in 2007.
Mullen says improving security in Kandahar will be important. But he says the key will be improving governance in the city. That’s a reference to the importance of the Afghan government playing a lead role in providing basic services in the area.
Mullen appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Oh good! For a moment I was worried that we were setting ourselves up for false hopes and expectations, implying that it would take only a few months to pacify a city of a million inhabitants. Instead of only a few months, we have six. This makes a world of difference.
Turning the sarcasm off, it may be observed how tired and pedestrian the population-centric counterinsurgency narrative is becoming. All it takes to pacify a violent population is to give them services. Bread and circuses, you know. But our own history, i.e., the war for independence, is filled with the brave actions of morally committed and anchored men who would have willingly given up everything – and indeed many who did so – to fulfill the ultimate end.
As I have discussed before, it will require longer than half a year to accomplish counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, and throwing bread and circuses at the population is worn out and inept doctrine. Counterinsurgency campaigns are replete with examples of delivery of infrastructure to the population, only to see insurgents destroy it. Leaving the insurgency alive, or any part of it still kicking, is certain doom for the campaign. Nothing will pacify the countryside or cities except for death of the insurgency, or said another way, death of the insurgents.