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When Opportunity Only Knocks Once: Lessons From Gen Petraeus In Iraq And Afghanistan

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Air Command and Staff College, Air University Maxwell Air Force Base United States

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GEN David Petraeus counterinsurgency COIN efforts failed in Afghanistan because of the unfavorable contextual elements including the lack of both popular and political support at home and abroad, the tribal history of Afghanistan, the harsh terrain and the historically finite amount of time given to the general to accomplish his objectives. This work details the lessons learned from Petraeus bold leadership and use of COIN doctrine to bring prosperity in Iraq and failure to bring about peace to a decades-long, war ravaged land in Afghanistan. Different contextual environments and battlefield elements can stymie a war effort of an otherwise successful campaign and a capable combat commander.

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Technical Report



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Approved For Public Release;

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