Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Frontline does COIN in Afghanistan

“Frontline,” the PBS documentary series, has consistently done great work on our post-9/11 wars. In a new one, they tackle the issue of whether counterinsurgency doctrine can work in Afghanistan. They’ve already posted the first part of the show, due to air as a whole on Oct. 13. One thing this segment made me think ...

580052_091002_ricks2b2.jpg
580052_091002_ricks2b2.jpg

"Frontline," the PBS documentary series, has consistently done great work on our post-9/11 wars. In a new one, they tackle the issue of whether counterinsurgency doctrine can work in Afghanistan. They've already posted the first part of the show, due to air as a whole on Oct. 13. One thing this segment made me think about was the danger of under-resourced COIN. The worst thing you can do is tell people you are going to protect them when you can't. All you are doing is putting them on the golf tee so Taliban can come by that night, or next week, with a big nine iron. 

“Frontline,” the PBS documentary series, has consistently done great work on our post-9/11 wars. In a new one, they tackle the issue of whether counterinsurgency doctrine can work in Afghanistan. They’ve already posted the first part of the show, due to air as a whole on Oct. 13. One thing this segment made me think about was the danger of under-resourced COIN. The worst thing you can do is tell people you are going to protect them when you can’t. All you are doing is putting them on the golf tee so Taliban can come by that night, or next week, with a big nine iron. 

This piece on Small Wars Journal is also worth reading. But I am not sure it really is an “alternative” to what McChrystal is proposing. Rather, I think it outlines the plan pretty well. McChrystal is not asking for enough to protect all the people of Afghanistan, and the proof of that is the plan to “triage” out of certain areas, like Nuristan.

Also check out Abu Mook getting Washington right, even at the expense of embarrassing his long-suffering mother. I read the same line in the Washington Post this morning and had a similar but more obscene thought about the administration official. 

LIU JIN/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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