An interesting byte on CTlab friend Tom Johnson, of the Naval Postgraduate School, and his involvement with Canadian COIN approaches in RC South. I had the opportunity to meet up with Tom briefly when he blew through Kabul on his way to Kandahar; his work on Taliban messaging is second to none.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — International forces have failed to quash the insurgency in Afghanistan because they have failed to understand the Taliban’s common-touch campaign, a key architect of Canada’s bold new “model village” strategy said Sunday. At its heart, Prof. Thomas Johnson said, the counter-insurgency is “essentially an information war” the Taliban have been winning hands down. “We need a change in strategy,” said Johnson, the director of the Program for Culture and Conflict studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. “All counter-insurgency is local (and) this is a rural insurgency. We need to go where the Taliban are operating 24/7, 365 days a year.” The only way to do that is to leave the military-secured bases that are essentially garrisons cut off from the country and people around them and go into villages on a full-time basis, he said. “We need to embolden the traditional villager system so they can give the Taliban the finger,” he said in an interview at the Canadian out-reach compound in Kandahar city. Johnson’s work caught the eye of Canadian Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, the senior military commander in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. The two men, along with a couple of other experts, joined forces to design Canada’s leading-edge approach of trying to normalize small population centres on the five main approaches to Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city.