Operationalizing the Gant Approach in Afghanistan

BruceR offers some typically thoughtful suggestions for operationalizing Maj. Jim Gant’s “One Tribe at a Time” approach, which I tore to shreds here, but have since seen increasingly mentioned as playing a major role in the Obama administration’s strategy discussions. Here’s Bruce’s jumping off point: You can’t rebuild Afghanistan using Gant’s methods, true, but I thinkit’s really being looked into more as another method of keeping theenemy hopping in areas where a sustained government or ISAF presence isuneconomical at present. And that’s not a totally crazy idea. If the alternatives are Predator strikes and SOF kinetic ops involvingblack-painted helicopters and […]

“Rebalancing” has been the watchword of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy to date: rebalancing the global economy between East and West, rebalancing domestic needs and foreign responsibilities, and — soon enough — rebalancing the international security burden among the world’s great powers. One number explains why that last rebalancing is necessary: It costs the United States $1 million a year to keep a soldier inside a theater of operations such as Afghanistan. The math is easy enough: For every thousand troops, the price comes out to $1 billion a year. So when the president announces, as he’s expected to do […]

Obama Briefs World Leaders on Afghanistan Policy Before Speech

NewsHour interviews the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt on the lead up tothe roll-out of President Obama’s new Afghanistan policy. As Schmitt pointsout, the Obama administration has already started to discuss the planwith insiders, though the president is expected to outline his policypublicly tomorrow night.

The New Afghanistan Policy

President Barack Obama has decided on a strategy for Afghanistan.NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff talks to presidential historian and authorMichael Beschloss, Andrew Kohut, president and director of the PewResearch Center for the People and the Press, and Josh Gerstein, WhiteHouse reporter for Politico to get some insight into public opinion ofthe war, parallels in history and how this policy will play out formembers of Congress with their constituents.

What Will the Surge Do?

White House officials have announced that President Barack Obama hasfinished gathering information about the situation in Afghanistan. Heis expected to address the country on Dec. 1, telling the nation of hisplans for a troop surge. In light of the news, WorldFocus speaks withJuan Carlos Zarate, a senior adviser for the Center for Strategic andInternational Studies in Washington. Zarate says additional troops willbe used to confront the Taliban in new areas such as the East and Southand enable forces to not only secure the territories, but to keep themfrom returning to Taliban rule.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Two years after its formation, a controversial military program to embed civilian social scientists inside combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan is scrambling to recover from a string of crises. How the so-called “Human Terrain System” responds to a spate of combat deaths and a disastrous employee pay cut will determine whether the program survives in its current form. Human Terrain System, headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, in Kansas, is the brainchild of Montgomery McFate, a Harvard- and Yale-trained anthropologist. In a series of journal articles(.pdf) in 2005, McFate outlined the basic shape of what would become HTS. […]

Karzai vs. the Security Contractors

In his inauguration speech yesterday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai set a five-year timeline for Afghan security forces to take the lead in securing the country. The Times (UK) misleadingly headlined that, “Karzai: Foreign troops out of Afghanistan in five years.” But more interesting, because more realistic, he also set a two-year deadline for national and international security contractors to end their operations in the country. And by calling on national Afghan security forces to take over their roles, he leaves it a bit unclear whether when he refers to Afghan security contractors, he means “arm the tribes”-type militias. Here’s the […]

Pushing India toward Iran

One of the consequences of the U.S. dependence on Pakistan to achieve its goals in Afghanistan is the way in which it drives India and Iran closer. That’s because their interests in Afghanistan largely converge, in opposition to those of Pakistan. It’s also obvious that U.S. interests in Afghanistan more closely align with those of India and Iran than with those of Pakistan. But to actually operationalize that would essentially turn the Afghanistan war into the Pakistan war. Clearly, the ideal solution would be for India and Pakistan to resolve their differences, and for the U.S. and Iran to do […]

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Afghan helicopter, a brand-new Russian-made Mi-17*, wasn’t clearly his, but U.S. Air Force Maj. Darren Brumfield was still determined to keep it. His unit, the 438th Air Expeditionary Training Group, needs four transport helicopters to perform its mission, and in early November, the group had just three. Assembled in Kandahar in April and tasked with mentoring the local Afghan National Army Air Corps wing, the group “shadows” and advises its Afghan counterparts as the Afghans maintain and fly the helicopters on behalf of the Afghan military. But of the three helicopters the unit did have on […]

Germany’s Returning Soldiers

This NY Times piece, “No Parade for Hans,” is a great illustration of how Afghanistan has remilitarized European militaries, but not European opinion. Apparently, that goes double for Germany. There’s been increasing pressure on Germany to assume a higher military profile globally. This article gives a good idea of what that pressure is up against. The same popular opposition to the Afghanistan war exists here in France, as does the indifference to those serving. But anecdotally, I haven’t sensed any hostility toward French soldiers themselves for their involvement in Afghanistan. Of course, France has a less complex relationship to its […]

Islamabad and Washington Disagree on Afghanistan

Voice of America’s Ravi Khanna reports on the miscommunication betweenIslamabad and Washington. As Washington is coming closer to adefinitive strategy in Afghanistan, foreign policy experts look at someof the fundamental differences between the Pakistani and United Statesgovernments’ view of their enemy. While the United States sees theirenemy in the Taliban, Pakistan continues to view India as the majorthreat.

Clinton on Afghanistan Mission

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Secretary of State Hillary RodhamClinton says that nation-building in Afghanistan is not the goal, butrather a possible byproduct of fighting terrorism in the region. Shealso explains, what she feels to be, is the difference betweenappropriate uses for counter-insurgency versus counter-terrorismtactics.

Afghan Airmen Work With U.S. Air Force Mentors

World Politics Review Contributing Editor David Axe provides this footage of U.S. Air Force mentors and Afghan airmen based at Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. The group is flying a mission on AfghanNational Army Air Corps Mi-17 helicopters. The footage provides a look into the mentor programs that are helping to create an independent Afghan military force.

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — When the gate opened at the U.S. Army outpost in Baraki Barak district on the morning of Oct. 25, it seemed the Army’s long-planned strategy to win over local farmers might fail. For weeks, Able Troop, an element of 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry, had prepared to provide free veterinary services to potentially hundreds of local farmers — coordinating with the local government, hiring vets, stockpiling medicine, and spreading word of the event. The idea was to win the farmers’ allegiance, and create what 3rd Squadron commander Lt. Col. Thomas Gukeisen called “dislocated envy.” That would, in […]

Karzai Talks Corruption, Troops and Terrorism

NewsHour’s Margaret Warner speaks with Hamid Karzai, re-electedpresident of Afghanistan whose opponent Abdullah Abdullah refused torun in the scheduled run-off election last week. Karzai, whose winbrings into question his regime’s involvement in the rigged election,faces serious skepticism from outsiders who question the legitimacy ofhis government. The Afghan leader says that the United States and hisgovernment share a common goal in fighting terrorism and a common enemyin fighting corruption.

Beneficent Empire

Le Figaro reports that China is now the number one foreign operator in the Iraqi oil sector. I’m struck by the way in which markets we open, whether by war (Iraqi oil, Afghan copper) or diplomacy (Indian and UAE nuclear energy), are exploited by our friendly competitors (China and France, respectively). That explains why no real American empire is possible so long as we remain committed to the liberal market. It also shows how even an ideologically driven interventionism can be compromised by the adherence to the liberal global trade order. If democracy promotion in Iraq results in a net […]

The British Experience in Afghanistan

WorldFocus’ Daljit Dhaliwal speaks with Gideon Litchfield, deputy editor of The Economist online in New York, about the British sentiment toward the war in Afghanistan. Litchfield says that some experts are espousing a new strategy for fighting terrorism — tighten up control on the homefront, not in Afghanistan.

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