Small Wars Journal

Rough Terrain

Rough Terrain - Vanessa M. Gezari, Washington Post.

Under an experimental program in Afghanistan, teams of anthropologists and social scientists are working alongside soldiers to help win the war by winning over the Afghan people. It may seem like a brilliant idea. But in this battle, nothing is as it seems...

The deployment of US soldiers to Maywand was an experiment. So, too, was the Human Terrain project and the road map to progress envisioned by the bespectacled social scientist joining the patrol that day. The war had not gone well. This was not a time for old approaches but for bold new ones that might seem crazy or that just might work.

Karl Slaikeu had asked for this assignment. A 64-year-old psychologist and conflict-resolution specialist from Texas, Karl had been nursing an idea that he thought could change the course of the war. He was looking for a village that, with concerted attention, could be turned into a model of development and security. Pir Zadeh, where the patrol was bound, was a place where locals had formed a neighborhood watch and where the village elder seemed to like Americans...

More at the Washington Post.

Cited in the article above:

Winning the War in Afghanistan

An Oil Spot Plus Strategy for Coalition Forces

by Dr. Karl A. Slaikeu, Small Wars Journal

Winning the War in Afghanistan (Full PDF Article)

While granting that Afghanistan is centuries behind Iraq in terms of infrastructure, the central question remains: can we build on the successes and lessons learned in Iraq and a half century of other counterinsurgency (COIN) wars to emerge victorious over the Taliban and al Qaeda? Or, will we go the way of Great Britain and Russia, who left Afghanistan in defeat? This paper offers a plan for victory that builds on classic COIN--the oil spot or ink spot strategy--customized to address the unique challenges of the Afghan area of operations (AO).

Winning the War in Afghanistan (Full PDF Article)