Keith Boyea's Blog

Notes & Commentary on National Security, Current Affairs and Bourbon

What Evidence Would a COINdanista Need?

Thesis: I offer a brief thought experiment: What evidence would a COINdanista need to repudiate COIN?

As I researched for my thesis*, I dug through countless numbers of reports, blogs, newspaper articles, opinion pieces and journal articles offering thoughts, opinions, and evidence on the efficacy of the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan.  Let me put my bias upfront–even before I began researching COIN and the COIN effort in Afghanistan, I did not support doing COIN in Afghanistan, nor did I think it would work in any sense of the word.  That bias against an Afghan COIN campaign was drawn from living in Kabul for 13 months between 2005 and 2007 and my military experience in the Air Force from 1998-2006.  I tried to be as intellectually honest as I could be, though I am certain I was not as fair as I possibly could have been.  That said, the evidence I found suggests that counterinsurgency, as practiced by the US Military in accordance with FM 3-24, was a particularly bad fit for Afghanistan, and that if applied it would fail to improve the situation in any meaningful way.

Two years after Obama’s official announcement of the Afghan surge (1 December 2009) and about 2.5 years after we started using COIN tactics in Afghanistan (General McChrystal’s arrival in June 2009), I think the evidence suggests that my assessment was correct.  We’ve basically signed up for two more years of this, though our man in Kabul has suggested we need even more time.

So here’s a challenge to the COINdanistas:

(1) As of December 2011, what evidence would you require in order to change your assessment of the chances of COIN success in Afghanistan? 

(2) Imagine it is 2009 again.  Under what conditions would have you advised against employing COIN in Afghanistan?

I’m honestly interested in hearing the answers to those two questions.

*I began casually researching my thesis in the Fall of 2009 and began officially writing it during the Summer of 2010.

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Written by keithboyea

December 22, 2011 at 6:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Keith,

    I found your blog from your comment on InkSpots. Hit me on the email i put in my answer. I have answers to your questions from the COINdinista stand point, but they interestingly duck the question. I am kind of in line with what Mike Few thinks.

    Michael C

    December 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm


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