Antidote to Insurgency

By Khan, Ayesha | The World Today, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Antidote to Insurgency


Khan, Ayesha, The World Today


Formulating a new strategy for Afghanistan's insurgency will not be easy. More troops might further inflame local frustration, but getting tribes to do the fighting could be costly too. Then there is the tricky question of talking to the Taliban, does it include insurgents in Pakistan as well?

aS UNITED STATES PRESIDENT Barack Obama takes office, he will face the daunting task of finding an antidote to the Taliban insurgency that is spiralling out of control and threatening regional security from Kabul to Kashmir.

Seven years of policy failure under President George Bush's administration have left the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderland in a state of unending war and created a bloody quagmire for those trying to quell it.

There has been a progressive increase in violence and a dramatic expansion of territory outside the writ of the state, in conflict, and under Taliban control. Reversing the trend will require not simply reviewing the current international engagement but a complete overhaul of the 'war' on terror as first envisaged by the Bush administration.

A new strategy is in the making as General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command explores options. High hopes are pinned on this one man who comes with impeccable counter insurgency credentials, having masterminded and executed the 'Anbar Awakening' in Iraq, which was held responsible for a reduction in violence.

Many are expecting a repeat of the Iraq performance in Afghanistan, but Petraeus has been quick to oppose a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, pointing out the uniqueness of each theatre of war.

Techniques applied to tackle an ethno-sectarian insurgency among an educated population in urbanised Iraq will not necessarily translate to dealing with Afghanistan's religiously-motivated Taliban, which has taken hold in the rural villages of an underdeveloped Pushtun tribal belt.

Despite the cautionary note, lessons learnt are being transferred in the hope of being reapplied. These include a troop increase, reconciliation with the Taliban, regional cooperation in tackling the problem, and a Pakistan policy that may include chasing the Taliban into Pakistan's tribal areas. But will it work?

BOOTS ON THE GROUND

An increase in US troops, commonly referred to as the 'surge,' by a suggested two or three US brigades - some twenty thousand soldiers - represents Obama's renewed commitment to securing Afghanistan. But analysts are quick to point out that more troops will not decrease the level of violence. The more decisive concern is the operational and tactical posture these soldiers will employ.

Up until now, international forces in the southern provinces from Helmand to Khost have dealt with the Pushtun borderland with aggressive counter terrorism operations, relying heavily on air support. These have proved imprecise and ineffective, causing considerable civilian casualties and collateral damage - ultimately creating more adversaries among the local population and making the task of stabilising the region near impossible.

The justification for the increase in the US fighting force is to avoid such incidences by changing the rules of engagement through a 'boots on the ground' counter insurgency strategy. Critics claim this would only increase the sense of occupation amongst the local population and mire the US in a war without end.

The Pushtun tribal belt has historically been resistant and resentful of the presence of foreign troops and today the same anger and frustration is palpable, with little relief from the promised reconstruction, in between ceaseless fighting.

In this environment, the risk of US fatalities is high. As Petraeus explores a more creative counter insurgency approach, the question remains, can the US military think counterintuitively and work against the style of warfare it has spent decades developing?

A reliance on technology and the use of overwhelming force allows its soldiers to keep out of harm's way, rarely leaving base camp. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Antidote to Insurgency
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.