Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s Task Force Shafafiyat (Dari for “transparency”) is building and will put in place an integrated plan to tackle corruption in the Afghan government, largely circumventing individual leaders. Lieut. Gen. Bill Caldwell’s Herculean effort to train the Afghan military aims to “thicken” Afghan forces and deny sanctuaries within Afghanistan, slowly changing the perception of the fight among Afghans from what is essentially a civil conflict to a war against invaders trained by the Pakistani secret service.
The military is, believe it or not, winning in the Helmand, Kandahar, and other provinces where they have left the FOB’s and at (sic) embedded in with the population. In the big scheme of things running the Taliban out of their southern hunting grounds is not going to solve that many problems. But if we concentrate on the military while continuing to fund and lavish attention of (sic) the Major Crimes Task Force while never deviating from our anti corruption message we could end up finding an acceptable endstate. Doing that requires solid vision, leadership, and planning from on high and that is currently a bridge too far for our national command authority.
Here’s the video of Monday’s Defining Success in Afghanistan panel discussion at American Enterprise Institute. I watched it live and thought it very informative and thought provoking – whether you completely agree with a particular view on the war or not.
Pay particular attention to GEN. Keane at around the one hour mark. His explanation of the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan (urban versus rural insurgency) and how to think about safe havens and sanctuary in the context of Afghanistan is very interesting.
This paper presents a scenario for resolution of the Afghan conflict in a manner that achieves U.S. objectives in Afghanistan. This scenario takes the current U.S. approach as the starting point and adds 1) a more detailed theory of the conflict that highlights the political effects that must be achieved; 2) emphasis on bottom-up measures that can produce momentum in the short term, and 3) a political diplomatic strategy embraced and pursued in concert by the Afghan government, the United States and key international partners. Finally, the paper identifies requirements for a smaller follow-on military force to pave the way for a long-term advisory and assistance effort.
UPDATE: I was actually very surprised at how similar the insurgent situation in OEF is to OIF (3-5 years ago). Reading through reports and listening to discussions, it was like deja-vu. I read/heard the same discussions and arguments I remember hearing in OIF years ago. Many of the same TTPs are being implemented – SLOWLY – in OEF and they are working. But, just like years ago in OIF, there are people who don’t believe these concepts will work. They will, I guarantee you, but not without the senior leadership implementing them. – commenter Todd at this SWJ thread. His comments are incredibly educational. I encourage you to read the entire comment.