Interesting talk today at USIP on counterinsurgency in
Kilcullen: So far we have attempted to defeat the insurgents rather than the insurgency. We need to change this and move from an enemy-centric approach to a population-centric one.
Candide: OK, that’s Galula 101, I get it. So that will require lots of boots on the ground, which is why we keep sending more and more guys.
Kilcullen: And since the Taliban’s strategy is to wait us out and intimidate the population rather than seek military engagement, this means that this commitment needs to be extended in time.
Candide: Uh oh, not sure this is going to fly with lots of NATO leaders who are hoping to get reelected.
Kilcullen: This is why this extended commitment can only be done realistically (and effectively) by the Afghans themselves, so we need to beef-up the ANA and ANP.
Candide: OK, so let’s train more people.
Kilcullen: Not that simple. Afghans will only resist the Talibans if they think that another form of government can bring them more security, justice and basic services (to put it simply). And it is worth training more soldiers and policemen (especially policemen) if you can make them accountable and ensure that they do not turn into security threats for the people they are meant to protect. Training more bad cops sounds exactly like what could make the life of the average Afghan more miserable.
Candide: Does that mean we should put everything on hold until the governance/corruption problem is solved? So what do we do now?
Seriously, if this is where the counterinsurgency is to be won, why isn’t there more thinking and effort put into good governance and accountability? Is it for fear of undermining Karzai? Or because the task is already deemed hopeless?
UPDATE: Here's the link to the AP story about Kilcullen's remarks. The lede:
An incoming adviser to the top U.S. general in Afghanistan predicted Thursday that the United States will see about two more years of heavy fighting and then either hand off to a much improved Afghan fighting force or "lose and go home."
David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert who will assume a role as a senior adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been highly critical of the war's management to date. He outlined a "best-case scenario" for a decade of further U.S. and NATO involvement in Afghanistan during an appearance at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Under that timeline, the allied forces would turn the corner in those two years, followed by about three years of transition to a newly capable Afghan force and about five years of "overwatch."
"We'll fight for two years and then a successful transition, or we'll fight for two years and we'll lose and go home," Kilcullen said.
"I think we need to persist," he said, but with "some pretty significant limits on how much we're prepared to spend, how many troops we're prepared to send, how long we can do this for."