30 June, 2009

A glass half full in Afghanistan

Bill Lind does his typical excellent job analyzing the policy changes initiated by General McChrystal in Afghahistan. My favorite: shifting the official measure of effectiveness from "number of militants killed" (i.e., body counts) to "the number of Afghans shielded from violence." It's harder to estimate, but at least it recognizes what success is supposed to be.

Lind proceeds to a review of many of the structural problems that stand in the way of being as effective (as possible) in Afghanistan.

In sum, General McChrystal faces a full plate. His most difficult challenges are internal, in the form of a flawed military instrument, inadequate doctrine, a neo-liberal Establishment drunk on COIN juju and strategic objectives no commander can attain. Internal challenges are often harder to overcome than those posed by the external opponent, because potential fixes run into the immovable object of court politics.

As an Army friend put it to me, until these and similar internal challenges can be met, our efforts in Afghanistan are like trying to get somewhere by riding faster on an exercise bicycle.

Faster, faster!

Defense and the National Interest » On War #309: Going Nowhere Fast

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