Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Relevant Research--More on A-Stan

Um, where has McChrystal been for the past few years?

Apparently, he was surprised when he arrived in Afghanistan:

Senior officers who work with General McChrystal say he was surprised by the dire condition of the Afghan mission when he assumed command in June.

His concerns went beyond the strength and resilience of the insurgency. General McChrystal was surprised by the lack of efficient military organization at the NATO headquarters and that a significant percentage of the troops were not positioned to carry out effective counterinsurgency operations. (here)

Even hanging out in Iraq as he had been, McChrystal should have had a decent grasp of the limits of NATO at war. The caveat problem that I am working on with David Auerswald is not new in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Indeed, limits on alliance partners also mattered in Iraq. In Afghanistan, over the past several years, key partners asserted that they were not doing COIN but peace-keeping. While this was partly for domestic consumption, it did mean that many of the troops in the field did not have the same flexibility or doctrine as other contingents. And, to be clear, as Tom Ricks proved in his series on the Wanat battle, American adherence to the Petraeus playbook is uneven at best.

So, the lesson, as always, need to my work out faster.

and one last great quote:
“We haven’t been fighting in Afghanistan for eight years,” said one officer. “We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for one year, eight times in a row.”

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