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.