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ISW calls for hybrid warfare in Afghanistan

Posted By Uncle Jimbo • [July 28, 2009]

Megan Ortagus points out a new report by several members of Kim Kagan's Institute for the Study of War. It focuses on Eastern Afghanistan Kunar and Nuristan and recommends a blend of Counterinsurgency and mountain warfare.

  • Although traditional counterinsurgency theory was successfully implemented in urban Iraq, it has proved difficult to reproduce in the sparsely-populated mountains of Kunar and Nuristan.
    • The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are quite distinct, and assumptions true in Iraq will not necessarily hold true in Afghanistan.
  • A type of hybrid warfare should be implemented in Kunar and Nuristan; a combination of counterinsurgency warfare, with its focus on the population, and mountain warfare, whereby the U.S. forces seize and hold the high ground.
    • If the U.S. does not deny the enemy the high ground, then insurgents will be able to attack and terrorize the population at will, therefore making it impossible to protect the population.

I think they are on to a way to tackle the geographic challenges in A-Stan that were not present in Iraq. They also have ideas about how to deal with the ontransigence of some of the tribes in the area, who simply will not deal with outsiders.

  • The current U.S. strategy in the inhospitable valleys, like the Korengal, relies too heavily on isolated outposts that require massive amounts of artillery and airpower to defend these positions.
    • Artillery and airpower have often been and continue to be counterproductive in dealing with the insurgency in this part of the country because it alienates the very population it is trying to secure.
  • Rather than maintaining positions in the Korengal and many of the small, ineffective posts that dot the Pech river valley, U.S. forces are better utilized in conducting active patrols in the mountains along the border .

I will digest the entire report and put out my thoughts a bit later but at first glance this seems like some solid thinking.


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