Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nathaniel Fick in Afghanistan

Fick, a former Marine infantry platoon leader in Afghanistan and Iraq, has a must-read piece from Sunday's WashPost about his experience teaching at the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy. He hits on the four paradoxes of counterinsurgency as set forth in FM 3-24:

"The first tenet is that the best weapons don't shoot. Counterinsurgents must excel at finding creative, nonmilitary solutions to military problems.

"The second pillar of the academy's curriculum relates to the first: The more you protect your forces, the less safe you may be. To be effective, troops, diplomats and civilian aid workers need to get out among the people. But nearly every American I saw in Kabul was hidden behind high walls or racing through the streets in armored convoys.

"The third paradox hammered home at the academy is that the more force you use, the less effective you may be. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are notoriously difficult to tally, but 300-500 noncombatants have probably been killed already this year, mostly in U.S. and coalition air strikes. Killing civilians, even in error, is not only a serious moral transgression but also a lethal strategic misstep.

"The academy's final lesson is that tactical success in a vacuum guarantees nothing. Just as it did in Vietnam, the U.S. military could win every battle and still lose the war."

No comments: