‘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)


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.


Special Force Critical Perspective Security Force Defense Advance Research Project Agency North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
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© Paul Schulte 2014

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  • Paul Schulte

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