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Afghanistan will not be a military victory 2010-Jul-17 at 19:19 PST

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Yes, we need to have a military presence in Afghanistan to secure the country and stop the Taliban.  Yes, it’s messy.  And yes, the United States military is smart and flexible, and they’re listening to what works.

Ultimately, the victory will be civilian, it will be jobs, it will be schools, it will be infrastructure.  It will not be purely military, and believe me, President Obama, Sec. Gates, Adm. Mullen, and Gen. Petraeus understand that.  The victory comes when the Afghan people feel like they have enough at stake in their own country to reject the Taliban insurgents and turn to fight them themselves.  Our military is there to provide strong cover and organizational support for the myriad civilian efforts already underway in Afghanistan.

From Unlikely Tutor Giving Military Afghan Advice, by Elisabeth Bumiller, 17-July-2010:

In the past year, Mr. Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute, responsible for the construction of more than 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly for girls, have set up some three dozen meetings between General McChrystal or his senior staff members f and village elders across Afghanistan.

The collaboration, which grew in part out of the popularity of “Three Cups of Tea” among military wives who told their husbands to read it, extends to the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Last summer, Admiral Mullen attended the opening of one of Mr. Mortenson’s schools in Pushghar, a remote village in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains.

Mr. Mortenson — who for a time lived out of his car in Berkeley, Calif. — has also spoken at dozens of military bases, seen his book go on required reading lists for senior American military commanders and had lunch with Gen. David H. Petraeus, General McChrystal’s replacement. On Friday he was in Tampa to meet with Adm. Eric T. Olson, the officer in charge of the United States Special Operations Command.

I haven’t read this book yet… I have been really curious about it since I was sort-of reading a little of it over the shoulder of the guy in the seat next to me on a flight last month (sorry about that).  But it’s certainly good to know that Gen. Petraeus has made this required reading as part of how to run a COIN operation.

It’s obvious when you think about it: we need to have contact with Afghan and Pakistani tribes in order to build infrastructure and work with them to give them what they need, and Greg Mortenson has already been doing that for years.  Military and western resources = peanut butter, Three Cups of Tea = chocolate, right?

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