Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Editorial: New York Times December 1 David Brooks column "Clear, Hold & Duct Tape"

David Brooks Op-ed in the December 1, 2009 edition of the New York Times, "Clear, Hold and Duck Tape" was published this morning in Hawaii under its first edition title of "A New War Strategy". The latter title belies the misconception with the age and lineage of the COIN doctrine.

I sought to make a comment on-line however room for comments was closed within a few hours of publication and efforts to contact the journalist and editor fell on deaf ears with no effort by the NY Times to respond - clearly I am still not "fluent in their section" to echo the NYT advertising campaign.

I believe there are important points to make regarding this piece of writing. First Counter-Insurgency has formally existed as a doctrine since the mid-1960s in the US Military and is not a new discovery. To be more precise as to its lineage the US military doctrine community drew on the British experience in Malaya from the 1950s relying extensively on the advice of "Two Gun" Thompson - a frequent visitor to the LBJ White House.

What I believe Mr. Brooks failed to capture in his piece is that political control of the military has led to COIN doctrine being either implemented in extremis vis the forced movement of people into communities where they could be monitored more closely or else not wishing to push hard enough leading to the indigenous government becoming increasingly corrupt and reliant on the foreign forces present. Both extremes lead to failure and the current administration would do better to learn from their predecessors and put 'ground-truth' at the center of military-strategic campaign decisions.

The subsequent presentation of a COIN policy for Afghanistan by the Administration within the 24 hours following the article's publication already sets a date for withdrawal - which plays somewhat into the hands of the 'sit-it-out' faction amongst the Taliban.

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