Sgt. David M. Pooler patrols the Kunar River in the Noorgal district of Afghanistan’s Konar province in May.
With the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and (we hope) the waning of the notion of counterinsurgency, the U.S. is looking toward another Afghanistan strategy—“counterterrorism”—one that focuses on targeted killing of insurgents, rather than the whole “hearts and minds” thing.
The phrase counterterrorism clearly carries problems, as insurgents aren’t necessarily “terrorists.”
The shift comes almost exactly a year before the self-imposed deadline (July 2011) for the U.S. to begin withdrawing troops from the country. —JCL
The New York Times:
When President Obama announced his new war plan for Afghanistan last year, the centerpiece of the strategy — and a big part of the rationale for sending 30,000 additional troops — was to safeguard the Afghan people, provide them with a competent government and win their allegiance.
Eight months later, that counterinsurgency strategy has shown little success, as demonstrated by the flagging military and civilian operations in Marja and Kandahar and the spread of Taliban influence in other areas of the country.
Instead, what has turned out to work well is an approach American officials have talked much less about: counterterrorism, military-speak for the targeted killings of insurgents from Al Qaeda and the Taliban.