Stewart on Lawrence

I'm watching Rory Stewart's narration of the life of Lawrence (yes, that Lawrence). On difficult terrain: can't patrol it with small units, because those units can then be ambushed; can't garrison it, because units there couldn't be resupplied. So much of it remains empty, most of the time, "and an empty space on the map … Continue reading Stewart on Lawrence

Message to Exum: Political Endorsement Doesn’t Make it Right

I've been following with interest some of the discussion of MGen Michael Flynn's views on intelligence reform for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. It revisits the debate on civil-military relations that came up back in September when Flynn's ISAF boss,  General Stanley McChrystal, was publicly lobbying for his population-centric campaign plan before the White House … Continue reading Message to Exum: Political Endorsement Doesn’t Make it Right

CNAS and Its Image Problem

Michael Crowley's piece raised an interesting point about how counterinsurgency thinking is sold and received in Washington, zeroing in on CNAS President John Nagl's central role in giving it the slick gloss that ensures even skeptics buy into it. Contrast that with CNAS efforts to prove it's more than just a one-trick pony: CNAS reports … Continue reading CNAS and Its Image Problem

COIN-Love Redux

Alternate title: "why smart people diversify, and why those who don't go splat face-first into the pavement". An interesting piece in The New Republic from Senior Editor Michael Crowley, on COIN-love. Crowley writes about how CNAS has staked its claim as guru-central for counterinsurgency, and throws a few subtle barbs about the quality of its salesmanship vice the … Continue reading COIN-Love Redux

Flipping the COIN

Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies,  raises a few interesting points about counterinsurgency and counterterrorism in Afghanistan. "Counterinsurgency doctrine, or COIN," he writes, "has captured the hearts and minds of many in the D.C. policy community. Upon close inspection, however, it becomes clear that COIN, at least as applied to … Continue reading Flipping the COIN