Thursday, October 21, 2010

Progress? In COIN, Hard to Tell

Stories are coming out of Kandahar that the latest effort is pushing the insurgents back into Pakistan.  It does sound like this is an improved effort (interesting but not surprising that no Canadians are mentioned in the NYT article).  But there has always been little doubt that NATO can force the Taliban out of a particular hole.  The challenge is keeping them out. 
A Taliban fighter reached by telephone, who spoke to a reporter only on condition that he not be named, confirmed that the insurgents had pulled back but would seek to reinfiltrate once the main push was over. “We are not there anymore, we are not preparing to fight a big battle, but we are waiting,” he said. “We are waiting until this force has been exhausted and has done all they are supposed to do, and later on our fighters will re-enter the area.”
 The real issue is the longer term effort to protect the population and develop some kind of competence.  The series at Slate on training the police does not give one much confidence.

Still, to be fair, this stuff takes time, so it may be the case that progress is being made.  But the larger question remains--will the US and its pals hang out long enough to make a lasting difference. 

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