The Case for Counter Insurgency ‘Light’ in Afghanistan by Charles Barham - Real Clear Defense
The Taliban was and remains an insurgency. It must be dealt with as an insurgency by focusing on the human terrain. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) must develop and pursue an indigenous Counter Insurgency (COIN) campaign focused on the principles of security, governance, and basic services. This does not need to be the full spectrum, comprehensive COIN led by the U.S. from 2010 to 2012, but a “light” version of that campaign. Regardless, GIRoA will likely require coalition forces to work by, with, and through them, providing training, advising, and assistance (TAA) in order for GIRoA to identify and address the specific elements of security, governance, and basic services which are the most critical for winning over the population and bringing the Taliban insurgency to an end.
By 2016 the situation in Afghanistan had reached a point best described as a stalemate. The Taliban insurgents had been able to launch multiple concurrent offensives intended to seize four provincial capitals. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) were successful in defeating these operations, but in doing so demonstrated that they were still very dependent not only on U.S. enabler support such as fires and intelligence, but also support to man, train, equip, sustain, and regenerate units. Additionally, the efforts to defeat the Taliban offenses disrupted ANDSF plans to not only further secure territory already under GIRoA control, but also to expand this territory.Neither side possessed the strength to defeat the other.
By the fall of 2017 GIRoA only controlled territory containing less than 60% of the population which was down from over the 70% they held in 2016, and down from the 80% they held in 2014 when the lead for security operations transitioned from NATO to GIRoA. The remaining 40% was either controlled by the Taliban or was considered “contested.” The ANDSF were incapable of recapturing the contested portions of the country, or those portions under Taliban control without increased levels of U.S. support.
This situation is amazing when one considers where Afghanistan was in 2011…