Defining the Model: Understanding Insurgency and Counterinsurgency Models to Develop a Path Forward in Afghanistan

Defining the Model: Understanding Insurgency and Counterinsurgency Models to Develop a Path Forward in Afghanistan

Samuel J. Ellison

The Oxford English Dictionary defines insurgency as “a rebellion against authority (for example, an authority recognized as such by the United Nations) when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents.”

Defining a conflict as an insurgency is typically an act of subjection generally utilized to delegitimize the usually non-government affiliated combatants. An insurgency, unlike conventional warfare, concerns itself with legitimacy as the opposing sides are not only competing for domination of terrain, but for the support of the populace as well. The primary tactic of insurgents is guerilla warfare, the use of hit and run tactics and the ability to disappear into the local landscape. This tactic was utilized during biblical times when Judah and the Maccabees engaged the Greeks from the hills surrounding Jerusalem.

The United States Military labels the conflict in Afghanistan as an insurgency. It is true that this conflict carries many of the characteristics of an insurgency to include the competition for legitimacy, the utilization of guerilla warfare and the conflict between vastly differing ideologies. The conflict could also be seen as the continuation of a civil war, which was briefly paused (albeit not completely) by the Taliban’s rule of the country from 1996-2001. The civil war reignited after the US invasion and removal of the Taliban from power after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

The Taliban were quick to return to the fight after their removal from power. In 2003 the Talban’s then leader, Mullah Omar, established the “Quetta Shura” in Pakistan and the Taliban began attacks on coalition and Afghan forces. Since then, Afghanistan has been locked in a cycle of violence that is unlikely to end in the near future The Taliban will continue to demonstrate their ability to defeat Afghanistan National Defense Forces if those forces are not backed up by coalition air support. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) continues to struggle to establish legitimacy while dealing with corruption and an inability to maintain order amongst the provinces as well their armed forces.  The current US strategy has largely been a continuation of General Petreaus’ Counter Insurgency (COIN) method that proved at least temporarily successful for Iraq.  Yet the Afghan military has shown minimal progress in its ability to sustain itself in the field or conduct major successful campaigns.

Meanwhile the Taliban, which under Mullah Omar had abolished poppy cultivation, now utilizes it as a major revenue stream and Afghanistan continues to produce roughly 90% of the world’s opium used for heroin production. The Taliban have borrowed from Mao Tse-tung and the Muslim Brotherhood in their ability to provide a state within a state that competes for legitimacy with GIRoA. Local villagers approach the Taliban for assistance with land disputes and medical issues in the same way one would approach municipal governments. With the Taliban so firmly entrenched and the idea of their rule so reproachable to the West, the way we fight the Afghan insurgency must be examined and redesigned for a sustainable peace in the future.

When combating insurgency one tends to look at historical examples. The twentieth century was a century rife with insurgency, from the Irish War of Independence to the Chinese struggle against Imperial Japan, Vietnam and Algeria’s revolts against the French, to a number of South American conflicts.  The end of colonialism and the hot part of the Cold War were largely fought by insurgents using guerilla tactics. Each of these conflicts had unique circumstances. Some were fought primarily in the countryside, others in the city. Some were fought against local governments, while most were against foreign powers, or proxy governments of foreign powers. As displayed thus far , we must examine all forms of counterinsurgency as Afghanistan is a super insurgency that appears to have no definite outcome other than utter chaos.

The Afghan Insurgency - How We Got Here

The armed involvement of the United States in Afghanistan began after the Soviet Invasion of December 1979. The Russian Army had stepped in to preserve the  socialist government against the threat of Islamic radicals. The conflict in Afghanistan proved to be a costly one for the USSR and was the last major war before its collapse. It is often referred to as “Russia’s Vietnam.” The CIA, with the aid of Texas 2nd Congressional District Congressman Charlie Wilson, assisted the opposing forces known as “mujahedeen” with training and arms (most notably the Stinger anti-aircraft missile). The Afghans utilized their knowledge of the terrain and ability to utilize guerrilla tactics to draw the Russians into a quagmire that lasted nearly 10 years. As Russian troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, US interest waned and funding for development and good governance dried up. Afghanistan descended into anarchy as warlords fought to fill the vacuum left by the Soviets.

This period is referred to by Afghans as “topakiyaan” or “the time of the men with guns”. (Fergusson.30) Bandits conducted raids and checkpoint operations. The streets were rife with rape and murder. The development of the organization now known as the Taliban resulted from the opposition the warlord known as Saleh. Saleh had “taken to stopping inter-city bus traffic and abducting any woman he fancied” (Fergusson.30). Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, a veteran of the war with the Soviets recruited an old comrade, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who hailed from Uruzgan but now lived west of Kandahar City and taught at a local madrassa. Zaeef recruited Omar to command the force tasked to kill Saleh, which was made up of Islamic religious students, or Taliban. The Taliban had no initial founding doctrine. They sought to destroy the illegal checkpoints conducted by the various warlords, which they did with great efficiency. As they defeated the bandits, their ranks grew and they continued to expand their reach. By September of 1996 they had taken control of Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul. The fighters then turned their attention to the non-Pashtun areas to the north and west and engaged in conflict with Ahmad Shah Masood’s Northern Alliance. This conflict would continue until Massood’s assassination on September 10th, 2001 by al-Qa’ida operatives posing as journalists.

The period of Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 was notable for the relative peace and stability the Taliban provided but also by their harsh interpretation of Islamic Law, known as Sharia, which they applied via public executions and amputations.  Mullah Omar and the Taliban craved international recognition but their severe treatment of women (such as enforcing the wear of the burqa and essentially banishing them to their homes) as well as acts such the destruction of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan Province assured that they remained pariahs to the international community.

In the West, understanding how the Taliban maintained broad support remained unfathomable. In November of 1996 US Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphael said, “They control more than two-thirds of the country, they are Afghan, they are indigenous, and they have staying power”.(Fergusson 108) The Taliban desired a relationship with the United States and engaged in negotiations with Texas-based oil firm Unocal over a potential pipeline. The Taliban even sent a delegation to Texas for business talks.  The deal ultimately failed partially due to the Taliban’s inability to control the north. (Fergusson 110).  Had this deal gone through and the Taliban had not hosted al-Qa’ida, the situation today would likely differ greatly. However, they did host al-Qa’ida and their leader Osama Bin Laden who were responsible for terror attacks against the US all over the world such as the embassy bombings in Africa and the USS Cole in Yemen. The US demanded the Taliban hand over bin Laden, and while this possibility was often discussed in Taliban leadership circles, it ultimately never happened. The goals of the Taliban and al-Qa’ida diverged: the Taliban sought to create an Islamic state within the borders of Afghanistan while al-Qa’ida sought to create a global caliphate by conducting terror attacks throughout the world. The relationship between the Taliban and al-Qa’ida was largely monetary.  Essentially the Taliban utilized al-Qa’ida’s financial support much as the North Vietnamese used the Russians and Chinese to facilitate their combat needs.

The decision to topple the Taliban was reached one week before the September 11th attacks when an inter-agency cabinet meeting convened and agreed to provide the CIA with $125 million to arm Massood. The United States entered Afghanistan on October 7th, 2001 and utilized special operations forces, air power and a conglomeration of war lords. The Pashtun resistance to the Taliban followed with future Afghan President Hamid Karzai rallying forces in Tarin Kot, Uruzgan to fight the Taliban. Karzai lead his forces into Kandahar too late, as by that point many of the Taliban leadership had already fled.

The Taliban retreated primarily to Pakistan to rest and reorganize and the US turned its head towards Iraq. As the US began its invasion of Iraq, Mullah Omar began an insurgency in the southern provinces of Helmand, Zabul, Uruzgan, and Kandahar.  Despite billions of dollars in funding and thousands of coalition forces lives lost and the killing of many of the Taliban’s senior leadership, the fighting continues in Afghanistan today unabated.

Insurgency Theory

The US and its allies have attempted multiple strategies to defeat the Taliban and the various other militia groups in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Taliban have continued to adapt and develop new tactics, techniques and procedures to demoralize and defeat GIRoA forces.

While the technical methods of conducting, these attacks may have changed, such as the types of explosives used and their delivery mechanisms, the guerilla tactics themselves descend from centuries of conflict. However, for our purpose, we will focus on those developed in the 20th century. The 20th century saw the development of more accurate weapons systems, motorized transport, and air power. Two types of insurgency or revolutions rose out of the century as well, the urban method espoused by Vladimir Lenin and Carlos Marighella, and the rural espoused by Mao Tse-Tung. These insurgencies all arose from Communist ideology, which although secular, demands a certain level of faithful adherence similar to Islamic fundamentalism. This adherence to ideology is a major difference between Islamist/Communist forces and professional Western militaries, which at least attempt to maintain a barrier between politics and the armed forces. The Afghanistan insurgency has embraced both schools. While the Taliban may be a primarily rural organization, it has managed to conduct major attacks in city centers and both take and hold these centers for extended periods of time.

Rural Insurgency

Mao’s description of China at the time of his fight against the Chinese is eerily close to Afghanistan:

“China is a country half-colonial and half-feudal; it is a country that is politically, militarily, and economically backward. This is an inescapable conclusion. It is a vast country with great resources and tremendous population, a country in which the terrain is complicated and the facilities for communication are poor. All these factors favor a protracted war; they all favor the application of mobile warfare and guerrilla operations. The establishment of innumerable anti-Japanese bases behind the enemy's lines will force him to fight unceasingly in many places at once, both to his front and his rear. He thus endlessly expends his resources.” (Mao.68)

The Taliban utilize Afghanistan’s inhospitable terrain to their advantage. Afghanistan’s lack of infrastructure means there are very few ways of getting from one point to another, allowing the Taliban to utilize these routes for improvised explosive device (IED) emplacement. Because of the mountainous nature of the country, vehicles can be forced into areas where they cannot evade bombs. The elevation advantage was also used by the Afghans against Russian armor. The mujahedeen knew that tanks couldn’t raise their guns past a certain angle and selecting positions outside of enemy tank’s main gun allows for far less risk in combat.

Like all insurgencies Mao’s fight was also one of hearts and minds. He states:

“Propaganda materials are very important. Every large guerrilla unit should have a printing press and a mimeograph stone. They must also have paper on which to print propaganda leaflets and notices. They must be supplied with chalk and large brushes. In guerrilla areas, there should be a printing press or a lead-type press.” (Mao.85).

While the method of delivery has changed, the importance of propaganda has only increased. In the era of the internet, smart phones and the 24 hour news cycle, the ability to “share” victories and expose enemy “atrocities” happens within moments of their occurrence.

Mao recognized that a conflict cannot be won by guerilla warfare alone and favored an integration of conventional forces with guerilla forces. The relationship should be founded on “Strategic cooperation, tactical cooperation, and battle cooperation”. (Mao.105). The Taliban have demonstrated their ability to continue to conduct hit and run attacks while also launching large scale attacks against ANDSF bases and convoys. Often these types of attacks are utilized in conjunction with one another to maximize confusion and deprive ANDSF of unity of effort.

Urban Insurgency

Carlos Marighella, a Marxist Brazilian writer and guerrilla fighter states as follows:

“The urban guerrilla is a person who fights the military dictatorship with weapons, using unconventional methods. A revolutionary and an ardent patriot, he is a fighter for his country's liberation, a friend of the people and of freedom.” (Marighella.3)

This definition only partially describes Taliban fighters. Marighella’s rhetoric is highly political, as one may expect from a city dweller more than a villager. The commonalities between urban guerilla warfare are primarily tactical as opposed to ideological. The ideological messages of Marighella and Lenin focus heavily on anti-capitalism and empowering the worker. The Taliban insurgency does not seek to emancipate the factory worker, it seeks largely to persevere ancient traditions and customs. Additionally, Afghanistan isn’t an industrialized country, thus its cities do not provide the large scale factory employment like those in Russia or Brazil. The Taliban have, however, learned how to fight in cities and over the past year have managed to capture several district centers and ANDSF bases.

Marighella describes two primary types of operations in which the urban guerilla engages:

“Occupations are a type of attack carried out when the urban guerrilla stations himself in specific establishments and locations, for a temporary action against the enemy or for some propaganda purpose. Ambushes are attacks, typified by surprise, when the enemy is trapped on the road or when he makes a police net surrounding a house or estate. A false alarm can bring the enemy to the spot, where he falls into a trap.” (Marighella.23)

The Taliban have used these types of attacks in conjunction with one another. The Taliban do not need to permanently hold a district center or police station. They just need to hold it long enough to take pictures and show the world that they can defeat ANDSF in direct combat.

Studying the Taliban’s conflict with the United States, which will soon reach 16 years of age, in essence is studying the ultimate insurgency. The Taliban have incorporated years of fighting into developing a mechanism for combat in all environments within their borders. Western scholars have continued to work on analyzing methods of counterinsurgency that have either failed or are yet to be attempted.

Counterinsurgency Models

The conflicts that arose out of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were neither predicted nor wanted. Possibilities of civil conflicts were not heavily considered by the Bush administration during pre-war planning. Once they became a reality, a number of dedicated officers, intelligence analysts, and academics sought to develop the right way to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2005, David Kilcullen, a preeminent insurgency scholar and advisor to General Petraus stated:

“No doctrinal handbook will ever be flexible enough for such a fluid environment (though, something tells me, we will develop one anyway).”(Kilcullen.2)

Two years later, with Kilcullen’s assistance the army published FM 3-24, “Counterinsurgency Operations Handbook”. The manual covers a broad range of topics expressed in charts and graphs. All of the major counterinsurgency models divide the effort into several elements which must be balanced.

Killcullen states that the goal of counterinsurgency is control:

“Whatever our political objective, our functional objective is to impose a measure of control on the overall environment. But in such a complex, multi-actor environment, ‘control’ does not mean imposing order through unquestioned dominance, so much as achieving collaboration towards a set of shared objectives”(Kilcullen.3)

In order to gain that control he utilizes the “three pillar model” made up of security, political, and economic pillars which he describes as follows:“The security pillar comprises military security (securing the population from attack or intimidation by guerrillas, bandits, terrorists or other armed groups) and police security (community policing, police intelligence or “Special Branch” activities, and paramilitary police field forces). It also incorporates human security, building a framework of human rights, civil institutions and individual protections, public safety (fire, ambulance, sanitation, civil defense) and population security.(Kilcullen.5)

The political pillar focuses on mobilizing support. As for the other pillars, legitimacy and effectiveness are the principal dimensions in which it is developed. It comprises efforts to mobilize stakeholders in support of the government, marginalize insurgents and other groups, extend governance and further the rule of law. (Kilcullen.5)

The economic pillar includes a near-term component of immediate humanitarian relief, as well as longer-term programs for development assistance across a range of agricultural, industrial and commercial activities.”

Stuart Eizenstat, who served as Ambassador to the European Union from 1993 to 1996 and Treasury Secretary from 1999-2001, espouses a similar theory based on “gaps.”

“A government must also provide basic services such as education and health care to its citizens. An inability to do so creates a “capacity gap,” which can lead to a loss of public confidence and then perhaps political upheaval. In most environments, a capacity gap coexists with—or even grows out of—a security gap. In Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, segments of the population are cut off from their governments because of endemic insecurity. And in post-conflict Iraq, critical capacity gaps exist despite the country’s relative wealth and strategic importance. Finally, to foster its legitimacy a government needs to foster its legitimacy a government needs to protect the basic rights and freedoms of its people, enforce the rule of law, and allow broad-based participation in the political process. Intervening to help correct a weak state’s “legitimacy gap” can be a risky, even controversial, undertaking.” (Eizenstat,136-137)

Anthony Cordesman, the chair-in-strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, highlights the importance of identifying the unique traits of the location of the insurgency and developing methods accordingly. However his overall points for conducting a counterinsurgency are as follows:

Detect, characterize, and attack informal, affiliated, non- hierarchical networks

  • Non-state actors cutting across national and regional lines with multiple centers of conflict.
  • Support public diplomacy/political warfare: Give allies key role.
  • Deal with reactive, delegated, disassociated cells and “amirs”
  • Conduct joint operations with security, police, local authorities, emergency responders, other government agencies, and critical infrastructure/facilities.
  • Standardize communications, reporting, display, and alert systems.
  • Cooperate with allies, neighbors, and international organizations.
  • Communicate insurgent/terrorist propaganda, political actions in real time; monitor public opinion.
  • Monitor and warn of new tactics, actions, ideology on global basis.
  • Restructure protection, weapons, equipment, and IS&R assets

Finally Gordon McCormick, of RAND Corporation developed the “Magic Diamond” model. The Magic Diamond is made of the following actors:

  1. Insurgent force
  2. Counterinsurgency force (i.e., the government)
  3. Population
  4. International community

The outcome of each’s behavior is based on the following interactions

  1. Gaining Support of the Population
  2. Disrupt Opponent’s Control Over the Population
  3. Direct Action Against Opponent
  4. Disrupt Opponent’s Relations with the International Community
  5. Establish Relationships with the International Community

It’s not that any of these models are necessarily wrong, it is that there is not substantive proof that any of them will work for Afghanistan. The only thing consistent in our nation building and counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan is that they continue to lack coherence.

Finding the Model: Development, Intelligence, and Security in Afghanistan

The models of insurgency and counterinsurgency give us a strong background in understanding how these types of conflicts work. With the conflict between GIRoA and the Taliban currently at a stalemate and GIRoA’s legitimacy being stabilized solely by coalition forces, we must find a way forward that will allow the US and its partners to extricate themselves from Afghanistan, leaving a legitimate, capable government that observes the basic tenants of human rights. Operations in Afghanistan currently consist of Train Advise and Assist Commands (TAAC) divided regionally (North, South, East, and West) and counter terrorism maneuvers lead by special operations and supported by aerial assets. The goal of the TAACs is developing Afghan forces to operate on their own against insurgents. While there have been occasional successes, the Afghan military and police forces are plagued by corruption, lack of discipline, and massive logistical failures. Demoralizing factors such as lack of pay and supplies over extended periods of time prompt many ANDSF personnel to desert or join the Taliban. Furthermore, Afghanistan’s economy still depends largely on international aid. The amount of aid Afghanistan receives in aid ranges from 90-97% of its GDP. and the cultivation of poppy for heroin production.

In order to reach an acceptable end state, the US Military, in conjunction with  civilian agencies must set about in  improving the key areas of economic development, intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination, and Afghan Military self-sustainment and combat effectiveness.

Development has long been a failure point for the US in Afghanistan, from the inability to invest after the retreat of Soviet troops to the belief that the armed forces should lead and sustain development projects.

A post 9//11 report by the Council on Foreign Relations stated the following:

“The stark reality is that the United States does not have the right structural capability to stabilize and rebuild nations. Responsibility is diffuse and authority is uncertain. The proper roles of the military and civilian agencies have not been articulated. And civilian players desperately need a ‘unified command’ structure to align policies, programs, and resources”.(Rashid.173)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) substantially decreased in size and budget as Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist describes in his book “Descent into Chaos”:

“USAID had shrunk from thirteen thousand staff members during the Vietnam war to just twenty-three hundred in 2001. After the 9/11 attacks its budget was doubled to $14 billion, but it hired only one hundred more people, barely enough for the huge rebuilding operations in Afghanistan and later Iraq. In 2002 its Kabul office had just twelve staff members, a number that rose to thirty nine the following year. It hired Afghans who were not quite qualified but could operate in the field. They were to suffer badly at the hands of the Taliban.” (Rashid.174)

Between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban allowed aid workers, albeit heavily constrained, to operate in Afghanistan. Today they continue to allow non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate in the nearly one-third of Afghanistan that is under their control. However, there is a strong suspicion that aid workers are affiliated with the U.S. military. Mullah Abdul-Basit, a Taliban official stated that if the aid workers were unarmed, they will be allowed operate: 

“You would have been our guests. If your engineers and agriculture experts had come to us and explained what they were trying to do, we would have protected them with our lives” (Fergusson.191). This is reflective of the Pashtunwali code, which requires Pashtuns to protect guests and those seeking refuge so long as they surrender their arms. The Provincial Reconstruction Teams and Agricultural Development Teams, comprised of service members working alongside development professionals had minimal success as they operated in areas still largely under Taliban control.

To conduct successful development operations in Afghanistan we must either eradicate the Taliban or gain their support.

Mao states that “Intelligence is the decisive factor in planning guerilla operations”. This proves true both for the counter insurgent and the insurgent. Currently the US suffers from major intelligence gaps that hinder our ability to predict enemy actions and protect our allies.

These gaps stem from a lack of intelligence assets and personnel but also from the age old interagency squabbles: redundancy of effort, and inefficacy of information sharing. The unification of intelligence effort set forth by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 have yet to truly increase intelligence cooperation that allows intelligence to flow from collectors, to analysts to war fighters in a timely fashion.

Paragraph 3-171 of the Counter-insurgency Handbook highlights the importance of the idea of reachback:

“Reachback refers to the process of obtaining products, services, and applications, or forces, or equipment, or material from organizations that are not forward deployed (JP 1-02). Deployed or deploying units should use reach capabilities to “outsource” time-intensive aspects of analysis. Reachback is particularly useful when deployments occur with little warning and when organizations used for reach have a great deal of expertise available on a given subject. Analysts may receive reach assistance from higher echelons or external sources. Most organizations affiliated with DOD regard assisting field commanders as one of their primary missions.”

The military has only recently implemented this aspect of operations, and leaders have yet to utilize it in a manner that draws on historical data to develop trend analysis. Furthermore, the military’s model of moving personnel to new duty stations every two to three years deprives intelligence shops of subject matter experts. The annual inflow of military analysts and contractors has resulted in intelligence shops “reinventing the wheel” with every change of command.

While ultimately it is the commanders’ needs that drive intelligence, the overall intelligence effort in Afghanistan should fall under one command. This could be a joint effort between Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). This command could maintain a centralized database of Afghan related intelligence products and assessments. Compartmentalization is still a necessity, especially in the age of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning, but there is a middle ground to be reached and greater effort could be dedicated to identifying insider threats. One solution is to maximize the utility of military intelligence analysts, who are often underutilized in comparison to contactors. The intelligence collected and analyzed is redundant unless it can affect operations at the ground level. Currently, the Afghan military is incapable of carrying out long term campaigns against the Taliban and cannot withstand or repel large scale attacks without coalition support.

 The Afghan military must come into its own and be able to sustain itself in combat operations. Looking back at the past 15 years in conjunction with the current security climate, the likelihood of Afghan self-sufficiency is minimal. The inability to pay, feed and supply its soldiers continues to result in Taliban victories, and when ANDSF does have a victory it is often the result of a deus ex machina i.e. US air support.

The ability of Afghans to play both sides of the fence and change sides, almost freely, from GIRoA to the Taliban and back again show that Afghan identity and allegiance is not monolithic. Many junior and middle-grade commanders view their malleable relationships with the Taliban as a way to advance their statuses, protect their soldiers and supplement their often meager incomes. This is usually attained by acquiring bribes and payments, often with impunity. The Taliban is entrenched in the social fabric of Afghan life, and has been perhaps the most constant political entity in the country for the last 25 years. The US must decide unequivocally if they see a role for the Taliban in the future of Afghanistan. If the answer is yes, they must be fought into a position where they are willing to negotiate. If the answer is no, then US must be willing to increase troop strength, intelligence capabilities and development spending in an unprecedented way. Once this outcome is decided upon, the proper model for attaining the goal of a modern, developed Afghanistan needs to be formed by addressing the previously mentioned factors. Until then we will continue to lose blood and treasure in land known as the graveyard of empires.

End Notes

  1. Cordesman, AH. (2007). Security Cooperation in the Middle East. http://web.archive.org/web/20080410002456/http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/071029_final.mil_coop_in_me.pdf
  2. Eizenstat, Stuart E.; John Edward Porter; Jeremy M. Weinstein (January–February 2005). Rebuilding Weak States. https://www.cgdev.org/doc/commentary/15_Eizenstat.pdf
  3. Fergusson, J. (2010) Taliban: The True Story of the World’s Most Feared Guerilla Fighters, Corgi Books
  4. Kilcullen, DJ.(2006). Three Pillars of Counter Insurgency. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/uscoin/3pillars_of_counterinsurgency.pdf
  5. McCormick, Gordon (1987), The Shining Path and Peruvian terrorism, RAND Corporation, Document Number: P-7297. often called Magic Diamond
  6. Mao, T. (1937). On Guerilla Warfare. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/1937/guerrilla-warfare/
  7. Mariela, C. (1969). Minimanual of the Urban Guerilla. http://index-of.co.uk/Tutorials-2/Mini-Manual%20of%20the%20Urban%20Guerrilla%20-%20Carlos%20Marighella%20(1969).pdf
  8. Office of the Historian, US Department of State. The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. Response, 1978–1980. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1977-1980/soviet-invasion-afghanistan
  9. Petraeus, D (2007) FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency. http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/Repository/Materials/COIN-FM3-24.pdf
  10. Rashid, A. (2009) Descent Into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, Penguin Books
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There is no model that will bring the US victory in Afghanistan that the US is legally and morally capable of. That leaves it with the failed efforts to find some formula in largely French and British writings about fighting various nationalist groups during their withdrawal from empire. That they lost in all cases was ignored. In the "best" of the losses (Malaya) the very unique circumstances were ignored in order to find a system that could be applied elsewhere including Afghanistan.

This is because the very presence of a foreign military is the cause of the Afghan resistance. The money the west pours into the county is the fuel. Nationalism and xenophobia will always trump any sorts of bribes the foreign occupier provides. The current GOIRA are seen as Quislings and it's corruption and incompetence don't help.

The "conflict class" (DOD, CIA, NSA, USAID, State, NGOs IOs,and contractors etc. enabled by the media) need a formula they can sell as possibly working to keep the effort going. It's their personal and institutional desires that are the real US goal. The Afghans are just a prop.