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A People-Centric Strategy to Win
by Dr. Ronald L. Holt
The evidence is clear that what we are doing in Afghanistan is not working. Our credibility with the average Afghan is deteriorating along with popular confidence in the Karzai government (Ackeman, 2008). Counterinsurgency can only buy time and ultimately success depends on government reform and the effective delivery of services. There is little hope of this happening under a Karzai government.
Our methods are too clumsy, too alien, and we depend too much on airpower for the Afghan civilians to tolerate the current situation. We need to inculcate a new attitude of leveraging culture, as it is, not trying to change it into a centrally-organized nation mimicking US or NATO models. We are too focused on risk-aversion, careerism and force protection to make significant changes in the way we operate easily. If you keep doing the same thing the same way you generally get the same results.1 More troops will help, but will not be sufficient if they are used in the same way as the troop already in Afghanistan. In fact, more troops used the same way tactically, will leave a bigger Coalition Force (CF) footprint and, could potentially do more harm than good. Even with three new brigades we will still be running an economy of force operation and the force to space ratio is still going to be insufficient to provide the local population with security. This is particularly true if most of the increased troops spend most of their time on the FOBs and are road-bound targets of IEDs. We get a passing grade at "clear" but we are failing completely at "hold."