by SWJ Editors
Getting the Basics Right
A Discussion on Tactical Actions for Strategic Impact in Afghanistan
by Lieutenant Colonel Trent Scott and Colonel John Agoglia, Small Wars Journal
This paper has been prepared by the Counterinsurgency Training Center -- Afghanistan. The purpose of the paper is generate discussion and analysis on whether we are not only doing things right here in Afghanistan, but indeed whether we are doing the right things. This analysis and requisite change is essential if we are to employ additional incoming ISAF units in the most effective manner. Comments/objections/counter-arguments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Events in Afghanistan are not going according to plan. There is a growing perception among local Afghans and within the international community that the insurgency in Afghanistan is growing stronger and more influential by the day. A spate of recent Western media reporting decrying the killing of innocent Afghans and Pakistanis as a result of the alleged over-judicious use of ISAF/OEF-controlled air power, the very public death of nine US soldiers in eastern Afghanistan followed almost immediately by the killing of just under a dozen French soldiers in central Afghanistan, and the widespread public belief that the central Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) under Hamid Karzai is institutionally corrupt, have contributed to the groundswell of local and international voices calling for a radical change to the way things are currently done in Afghanistan. Change is required, it must begin at the tactical level, and it needs to be led by ISAF. This is our war just as much as it is the Afghan's war.
Although there is much to do at the strategic level in Afghanistan, such as developing a comprehensive border strategy, eliminating corruption, developing an effective and functioning government, defining the role of the Afghan National Police (ANP) -- the list goes on -- it is at the tactical level, at Regional Commands (RC), Task Forces (TF), Battlegroups, Companies and Coalition mentoring teams that the most immediate and tangible change for good can be made. Tactical actions resonate throughout the local communities ISAF troops are supposed to protect and influence audiences across the world. And, because insurgency is a violent political competition, tactical actions can have significant political impact. Conducting comprehensive, best practice operations designed to defeat the insurgency from the grass roots up is imperative if ISAF is to halt the consolidation of the insurgent's influence in rural Afghanistan, establish the legitimate rule of law, and contribute to the development of a stable Afghanistan. Cumulative success at the tactical level will provide time and space -- literally and figuratively -- for the key stakeholders at the strategic level to make the necessary institutional changes required to ensure long term stability.