Is Counterinsurgency the Right Path in Afghanistan?

Proponents say the method, though expensive, is best in the long run. Others call its logic flawed.

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The strategy seeks to turn local populations against insurgents by providing protection and building trust. But it takes time, troops, and cash. Can it be more effective in the long run than counterterrorism or other methods that cost less and may cause fewer casualties?
Edited by Steve St. Angelo


By James Danly
Veteran of the Iraq war and managing director at the Institute for the Study of War

Counterterrorism certainly has its role in Afghanistan, but it must be viewed as but one tool in our toolbox. In order to declare victory, we need to aid the Afghans in establishing a legitimate government whose population does not effectively support terrorist networks. Although it may be attractive to envision an operation that puts fewer men's lives at risk and costs less money, simply put, a pure counterterrorism approach does not go far enough. The only viable course is to commit the resources necessary to conduct a full-spectrum counterinsurgency of the kind employed to such great effect during the surge in Iraq.



By Gian P. Gentile
U.S. Army colonel and West Point professor of history

"Counterinsurgency" has become the new American way of war. A once obscure theory of internal conflict, it has become ubiquitous in military circles and dominates thinking on both current and future wars. Examinations and discussions of counterinsurgency theory pervade conferences, journals, study agendas, and even human interest stories about its chief exponents; journalists and pundits routinely toss the term about as if its meaning is well understood by all. More important, its precepts are being followed without serious inquiry or examination, and the U.S. military has become so....


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