The Case for COIN in Afghanistan
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Bing West states the case for counter-insurgency in Afghanistan:
War is not complicated. You have to separate the guerrilla forces from the population and kill them until they no longer want to continue. Al Qaeda, dominated by Arabs, is finished inside Afghanistan. The Taliban are Afghans, to be dealt with by Afghans. As he did in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus wants to recruit local forces to protect their own villages. That will expand the Afghan forces to 300,000 and stabilize the situation. On patrols, Afghan soldiers spot the enemy 10 times more frequently than do coalition solders. Afghan soldiers are brave, hardy, ill-disciplined, individualistic, temperamental and trustworthy.
A year from now, coalition forces should be able to gradually withdraw, replaced by robust support and adviser units embedded in Afghan security forces. We shouldn’t make this a NATO war, allowing the Afghans to stand back. We’re outsiders, no matter how many schools we build or cups of tea we drink.
West certainly knows more about the situation in Afghanistan than I do but I think “a year from now” and “Afghan security forces” are the key phrases in that statement. I can’t help but be skeptical that Afghan security forces can be brought up to speed in the numbers necessary in such a short time even with massive U. S. financial support. Indeed, massive U. S. financial support might even be an impediment to the objective. The greater their amount the greater the incentives for a little to disappear here, a little there until nothing at all is being spent on the task they’re intended for.