Thursday, February 26, 2009

Codifying lessons already learned

I haven't yet seen the new CF counterinsurgency manual, but from what LGen Andrew Leslie said in this interview, I think one aspect of the news should be clarified:

"The key point is that the military is but one component of a variety of complex mechanisms that try to seek security solutions and it doesn't necessarily focus on Afghanistan."

The manual, Leslie said, tells soldiers that such problems cannot be solved solely through military intervention.

"What the manual says is that there has been no recorded case in history, that our researchers and myself are aware of, in successfully defeating a counter-insurgency which has been predicated solely on the military solving the problem," Leslie said.

"The key point is that it's a blend of political, diplomatic, economic, societal activities that all lead to successful conclusion."

Those aren't new lessons to either the CF or the Canadian government. The "whole of government" approach that you hear about whenever a government official talks about our work in Afghanistan is a reflection of that approach, as was the less integrated "3D" approach before it.

I can tell you that the senior leadership in Afghanistan already understands their part in all of this. I've mentioned it before, but Col Jamie Cade, the DCO of our Task Force Afghanistan said quite clearly to me at KAF: "NATO forces are her for two things: to buy time for the Afghan people, and to build capacity." So that perspective on the military's role in defeating the Pashtun insurgency is already well established.

I'll know more once I've had a chance to read the source document myself, but I suspect it simply lays out in a structured and official way lessons that have already been learned and implemented on the ground. This isn't a new direction, it's the official endorsement of a strategy already in place.


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