Nagl Skeptical of Wisdom of Cross-Border Strikes

Pakistan officials say U.S. cross-border strikes are counterproductive. Defense Secretary Gates is coy about whether the Pakistani government authorized the strikes, and says the U.S. will “take whatever action is necessary to protect our troops.”

From a counterinsurgency perspective, are such strikes the best way to protect our troops? Retired Lt. Col. John Nagl doesn’t appear to think so. Here’s what he said in an interview we published today:

It is impossible to kill or capture your way out of an insurgency. Although cross-border raids can be tactically effective, they come with significant political costs that must be weighed carefully. In general, except against the highest-value targets, they should only be conducted in conjunction with forces of the country in which the operation happens.

He continued:

Ultimately, defeating any insurgency requires the support of a capablehost nation government and its own security forces. This is the longterm answer in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, as well as in Iraq. Effortsto build the capacity and capability of the Afghan and Pakistanigovernments are the first order of business.

Read the whole interview.

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