Unity of Effort: Key to Success in Afghanistan
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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The Barack Obama administration is debating alternatives to the population-centric counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan that it unveiled in March 2009. The reevaluation is prompted by the recent submission of supporting civil and military campaign plans that indicate substantial additional resources are required for success. The resource issue is important, but as General Stanley McChrystal, USA, the new commander of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO forces in Afghanistan, argues, the need to pursue an indirect strategy that is sustainable for the Afghans and implemented with unified purpose is more important. Lack of progress in Afghanistan to date is due more to international donors and forces working at cross purposes, and unilaterally instead of with Afghans, than to insufficient resources. The current strategy requires an indirect military approach that emphasizes working by, through, and with indigenous forces and populations. So did the strategy of Obamas predecessor, George W. Bush. Nonetheless, operations alienating the Afghan public and producing civilian casualties increased rather than decreased, which crippled progress. In 2002, such operations often were conducted by conventional forces, but they now primarily involve U.S. special operations forces SOF. SOF failure to support counterinsurgency objectives is a cardinal example of military units working at cross-purposes, and civil-military coordination challenges are even more daunting.
- Unconventional Warfare