The Great Myth of Counter-Insurgency

In his bible for counterinsurgency, Field Manuel 3-24, General David Petraeus argues, “The cornerstone of any COIN effort is establishing security for the civilian population.” As one village elder who attended the Holbrooke meeting—incognito for fear of being recognized by the Taliban—told Green, “There is no security in Marjah.”

Nor in much of the rest of the country. The latest U.S. assessment found five out of 116 areas “secure,” and in 89 of the areas the government was “non-existent, dysfunctional or unproductive.”

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