Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Getting smart on Afghanistan (and Pakistan)

If we ever want to get out of Afghanistan, we need to focus less on central power in Kabul and more on tribal and religious structures outside the capital. So say my CNAS colleagues — Nate Fick, Dave Kilcullen, John Nagl and Vikram Singh — in a new and wise policy brief. Speaking of Afghanistan, ...

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589057_090128_kabul_1.282.jpg
A burqa-clad Afghan woman (L) walks past US soldiers (R) belonging to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as they keep watch during a patrol in a village outside Bagram Air base, some 50 kms north of Kabul, on December 24, 2008. Afghanistan welcomed a US pledge to send up to 30,000 extra troops by mid-2009, but the Taliban warned Washington its forces would be "cruelly defeated" as the Soviets were in the 1980s.The statements came one day after the top US military officer said that tens of thousands of new troops could be sent to Afghanistan by next summer to help Kabul combat a Taliban-led insurgency that has gained pace in recent years. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

If we ever want to get out of Afghanistan, we need to focus less on central power in Kabul and more on tribal and religious structures outside the capital. So say my CNAS colleagues -- Nate Fick, Dave Kilcullen, John Nagl and Vikram Singh -- in a new and wise policy brief.

Speaking of Afghanistan, I heard the other day that ISAF (International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan) really stands for "Internationals Sit, Anglos Fight." But of course, that is only logical, given that its parent organization, NATO, is said to really mean "No Action, Talk Only."

If we ever want to get out of Afghanistan, we need to focus less on central power in Kabul and more on tribal and religious structures outside the capital. So say my CNAS colleagues — Nate Fick, Dave Kilcullen, John Nagl and Vikram Singh — in a new and wise policy brief.

Speaking of Afghanistan, I heard the other day that ISAF (International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan) really stands for “Internationals Sit, Anglos Fight.” But of course, that is only logical, given that its parent organization, NATO, is said to really mean “No Action, Talk Only.”

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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