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‘What Do We Do If We Are Never Going to Do This Again?’ Western Counter-insurgency Choices after Iraq and Afghanistan

  • Paul Schulte
Part of the Rethinking Political Violence series book series (RPV)

Abstract

The book in which this chapter appears comes at a special historical moment: the last months of the Western combat commitment against the Afghan insurgency and the first months of the Malian and wider North West African commitment. French, Canadian, and Dutch combat units have left Afghanistan. The US and UK combat roles are to end in 2014 by the latest, but the pace of departure is accelerating. Planning for extraction of heavy equipment is an increasing preoccupation, complicated by Afghanistan’s distance from the sea, and the complexities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) relationship with Pakistan and the Russian Federation.1 A good enough endgame, leaving behind Western trainers for the Afghan Security Forces and perhaps US drone bases, with associated force protection, is now the limit of NATO’s admitted aspiration in South Central Asia. But in mid-January 2013, amid considerable public anxiety, France committed troops and aircraft in Operation Serval, at the request of the Government of Mali, to repel Islamist advances, supported by American transport and command assets, and small specialist detachments from European Union (EU) states.

Keywords

Special Force Critical Perspective Security Force Defense Advance Research Project Agency North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    For an angry example, attacking the credentials of theorists and experts in COIN, see C. Christine Fair, ‘The COIN of the Realm... Is a Wooden Nickel’, Time, US, 13 March 2013, http://nation.time.com/2013/03/13/the-coin-of-the-realm-is-a-wooden-nickel/. More measured accounts have also been critical of the quality of American and British decision-makers responsible for recent COIN: ‘A cull should be instigated of the senior commanders not fit for their role in the war at hand. promotion systems need to be torn up and replaced’. General Andrew MacKay, quoted in Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011), p. 117.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Paul Schulte 2014

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  • Paul Schulte

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