On the Ground in Afghanistan: Counterinsurgency in Practice
CENTER FOR NAVAL ANALYSES ALEXANDRIA VA
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Only in the fall of 2009 did counterinsurgency became the centerpiece of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, yet Coalition troops had been fighting an insurgency there since at least 2003, before the outbreak of violence in Iraq and the development of the new counterinsurgency field manual. Soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan made many mistakes they also employed many sound practices learned through hard experience. This book captures some of those practices and the unique conditions under which they were developed. Military units that deployed to remote areas of Afghanistan learned to operate in an unfamiliar environment a desperately poor, war-torn agricultural society with no functioning central government or modern economy, its population dispersed across thousands of tiny villages cut off from one another by unforgiving terrain with virtually no infrastructure. Coalition troops found themselves fighting a politically astute rural insurgency tied closely to the population. The political problems driving the violence were exceedingly opaque, complex, and localized. Small unitsoperating in extremely remote regions of Afghanistan, often completely isolated from their higher headquarters, had to navigate the treacherous waters of internecine tribal politics. They had to identify potential supporters and detractors while retaining some semblance of neutrality empower local leaders without being manipulated by deceitful power brokers and corrupt officials and fight off large numbers of proficient enemy fighters without harming civilians or making enemies of powerful tribes, some of whose members were involved in attacks on Coalition troops all in an environment of persistent insurgent intimidation.
- Unconventional Warfare