Posted by Dave Kilcullen on February 9, 2009 12:53 PM
(This is an edited version of my statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan, chaired by Senator John F. Kerry, on 5th February 2009).
Senator Joseph Lieberman made a timely and well-argued call, during his recent speech at the Brookings Institution, for a comprehensive political-military campaign in the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AFPAK) region. Seven years into a long war, we need to be honest with ourselves about the harsh strategic choices we face...
Long-Term Strategic Options
We need to do four things – what we might call “essential strategic tasks” – to succeed in Afghanistan. We need to prevent the re-emergence of an Al Qaeda sanctuary that could lead to another 9/11. We need to protect Afghanistan from a range of security threats including the Taliban insurgency, terrorism, narcotics, misrule and corruption. We need to build sustainable and accountable state institutions (at the central, provincial and local level) and a resilient civil society. Then we can begin a phased hand-off to Afghan institutions that can survive without permanent international assistance. We might summarize this approach as “Prevent, Protect, Build, Hand-Off”. Let’s call it “Option A”.
The patient capitalist May 21st 2009 From The Economist print edition
Jacqueline Novogratz wants to transform the world’s approach to development
CHAMPIONS of market forces are a glum lot these days, for the most part. But not Jacqueline Novogratz, a market-minded development expert. The current crisis in capitalism, she believes, strengthens her call for a sweeping change in how the world tackles poverty. “The financial system is broken, yes, but so too is the aid system,” she observes. In her view, “a moment of great innovation” could be at hand.
Knowing the Enemy Can social scientists redefine the “war on terror”? by George Packer December 18, 2006
In 1993, a young captain in the Australian Army named David Kilcullen was living among villagers in West Java, as part of an immersion program in the Indonesian language. One day, he visited a local military museum that contained a display about Indonesia’s war, during the nineteen-fifties and sixties, against a separatist Muslim insurgency movement called Darul Islam. “I had never heard of this conflict,” Kilcullen told me recently. “It’s hardly known in the West. The Indonesian government won, hands down. And I was fascinated by how it managed to pull off such a successful counterinsurgency campaign.”
Counterinsurgency Field Manual: Afghanistan Edition By Nathaniel C. Fick, John A. Nagl
Two years ago, a controversial military manual rewrote U.S. strategy in Iraq. Now, the doctrine’s simple, powerful—even radical—tenets must be applied to the far different and neglected conflict in Afghanistan. Plus, David Petraeus talks to FP about how to win a losing war.
For the past five years, the fight in Afghanistan has been hobbled by strategic drift, conflicting tactics, and too few troops. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, got it right when he bluntly told the U.S. Congress in 2007, “In Iraq, we do what we must.” Of America’s other war, he said, “In Afghanistan, we do what we can.”
It is time this neglect is replaced with a more creative and aggressive strategy. U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is now headed by Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency strategy widely credited with pulling Iraq from the abyss. Many believe that, under Petraeus’s direction, Afghanistan can similarly pull back from the brink of failure.
'Too few boots on ground' May 04, 2009 The Australian
AUSTRALIA will struggle to lead military operations in the South Pacific, according to analysts who argue the defence white paper has overlooked the crucial role of the army in stabilisation and peacekeeping missions.
Defence experts claim the white paper, which asserts an Australian "leadership role within the South Pacific", underrates the value of "boots on the ground" and focuses too heavily on the navy and airforce.
The head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, Hugh White, said the white paper showed indications of "sloppy drafting".
"The document does not show they have carefully examined whether the land forces we now have can achieve the strategic objectives they've set out," Professor White told The Australian yesterday.
"I think they've switched their attention so strongly to the maritime stuff that they've overlooked the adequacy of the land forces.
"What happens if Fiji goes pear-shaped? What happens if there is widespread violence in the PNG highlands? What happens if East Timor goes pear-shaped? Eight battalions doesn't cut it."
Alan Dupont, director of the Centre for International Security Studies at Sydney University, said most potential operations in the South Pacific would be "manpower-intensive".
"Your submarines are not that much use in those situations, where we need to take a leadership role," Professor Dupont said.
"There'll be all these messy type situations, everything from humanitarian intervention to peacekeeping."
Professor Dupont said there was a "very strong case" for the development of another infantry battalion.
"If you cut back on those numbers in the surface fleet, it frees up a lot of capital for things we use all the time, which is essentially ground-based forces," he said.
"I don't have a problem with acquiring a Collins-class submarine follow-on. But I do have a question mark over whether we need 12." Professor Dupont said there was a fundamental imbalance in defence spending.
"I think there should be some reweighting of the defence budget in the future," he said. "There is no substitute for boots on the ground.
"If you go back, since the early 1990s, in virtually every one of the operations which we have been involved in, it is essentially the ground forces that are doing most of the work. And yet they're getting the least amount of money."
But the former chief of operations of the multinational force in Iraq, retired Australian army general Jim Molan, offered a counter view.
"I would love army to have more resources," he said. "But I'd say that army should not be too disappointed. It was navy and airforce that needed the increase."
General Molan said it was the "overall incoherence" of the white paper that stakeholders should be concerned with.
"The paper promises everything to everyone," he said. "There is no connection between the strategic guidance and any of the numbers. Absolutely none."
The executive director of the Australia Defence Association, Neil James, said the white paper was "good overall" but lacked clarity on the replacement of the ageing armoured personnel carrier fleet.
He flagged the urgent need to replace them with infantry fighting vehicles, which he described as essential to modern armies.
He also said there was no explicit reference to a heavy armoured capability, essential for land forces in conventional warfare scenarios.
"There's one word missing from the paper that you never see: that's 'tank'," Mr James said. "And tanks save lives."