Best Defense

A Pakistani take on COIN doctrine

Writing in the Pakistan Tribune, Anwaar Hussain, a former Pakistani military officer, offers an approach to counterinsurgency campaigning that is less compromising than the current American doctrine: “1. Never try to negotiate with a terrorist group. They will never honor the agreements but only use it as propaganda and to replenish and regroup. 2. Control ...

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Writing in the Pakistan Tribune, Anwaar Hussain, a former Pakistani military officer, offers an approach to counterinsurgency campaigning that is less compromising than the current American doctrine:

“1. Never try to negotiate with a terrorist group. They will never honor the agreements but only use it as propaganda and to replenish and regroup.

2. Control the area. Deploy enough troops to occupy every single village, mountain and forest. The enemy must not have any place to rest. If they cannot rest, they will lose morale. And when they lose morale, they surrender. In the terminal phase of Turkey’s war, PKK terrorists surrendered en masse.

3. Offer amnesty to anyone who surrenders willingly. You do not want to be seen as mindless killers. And ex-terrorists can become great COINOPS assets, as they know the enemy’s tactics.

4. Always target the leaders; they are the poison wells, the snake heads. Without leaders the followers surrender easily.

5. Local support is very important. Local people generally support the side that does them less harm and also is physically closer to them. Build mini garrisons in the secured areas as you go along.

6. A terrorist group needs outside support. They need to have weapons and ammunition as supplies, safe resting and training facilities. This outside support is their life line. It must be severed. If borders are too long to control effectively, use political pressure to stop it.

7. Most important of all. The enemy must understand that you are ready to go to the end to win the war. That means a resolve for the long slog and a stomach for attrition. If the enemy thinks that you develop feet of clay rather quickly, he will continue fighting.”

I would bet Petraeus and other American COINsters now looking at Afghanistan would agree with many of these, but strongly disagree with no. 1.

TARIQ MAHMOOD/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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