In comments at a university appearance in Ohio, Gen Stanley McChrystal (Ret.) stated that COIN is a "math problem." While the article likely removes much of the context, the quotes are nonetheless memorable. Emphases are mine. Read more of this story from Mary Ellen Hare at the Newark Advocate.
Is counter-insurgency viable if it requires a groundswell of troops, asked a student, alluding to McChrystal's own request for additional troops."The answer is mathematical. .... History teaches us that to succeed, we need 20 security forces for each 1,000 people. Afghanistan has 28 million people, so that would require 500,000 security forces. In Iraq we had too few troops and the insurgency was too thin. It ... (counter-insurgency) is the only way because you have to change the attitudes of the people."
"When we retaliated with Tomahawks after our embassy was hit in Afghanistan, President Clinton said we were 'not at war,' but if we had been on the receiving end of those missiles, we might have seen the situation differently. If there is no risk to us personally, war becomes too easy, and those actions affect our relationships with other countries."