The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has since the turn of the new century experienced a double transformation gap: between global and regionally oriented allies and between allies emulating new military practices defined by the United States and allies resisting radical change. This article takes stock of these gaps in light of a decade’s worth of collective and national adjustments and in light of counter-insurgency lessons provided by Afghanistan. It argues first of all that the latter transatlantic gap is receding in importance because the United States has adjusted its transformation approach and because some European allies have significantly invested in technological, doctrinal, and organizational reform. The other transformation gap is deepening, however, pitching battle-hardened and expeditionary allies against allies focused on regional tasks of stabilization and deterrence. There is a definite potential for broad transformation, our survey of officers’ opinion shows, but NATO’s official approach to transformation, being broad and vague, provides neither political nor military guidance. If NATO is to move forward and bridge the gap, it must clarify the lessons of Afghanistan and embed them in its new Strategic Concept.
War disciplines militaries: it forces them to refine, and sometimes revise, their tactics, techniques and technologies, or risk defeat in battle. Yet there is no theory of how militaries improve in war. This article develops a theory of military adaptation, which it applies to an analysis of the British campaign in Helmand from 2006 to 2009. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources (military plans, post operation reports and interviews), it shows how British brigades adapted different ways of using combat power to try and defeat the Taliban from 2006-07, and how from late 2007, British brigades have adapted a new population-centric approach that has focused more on influence operations and non-kinetic activities.
Given the record of the US occupation and the profound limitations of America’s present stature, the Barack Obama administration is right to continue to draw down the American presence in Iraq. But in remembering the egregious mistakes of its predecessor the administration should not claim victory as it exits. It should not, as Vice President Joe Biden did in the midst of the de-Ba’athification crisis, claim all is well in Baghdad. A more honest and realistic approach would recognise the impossible legacy left by the Bush administration. The damage the previous administration did so much to encourage would then be minimised with the help of US allies and multilateral organisations. In short, after seven years of American occupation, it is time to go home.
The overarching Western objective in Afghanistan should be to prevent that country from becoming not just a haven for transnational terrorists, but a terrorist ally as well. That was the situation prior to 9/11 and it would be so again if the Taliban returned to power with al-Qaeda backing. NATO can prevent this indefinitely as long as it is willing to commit significant military and economic resources to a counter-insurgency effort. It cannot eliminate the threat, however, as long as the Afghan insurgents enjoy sanctuary in and support from Pakistan. Alternatively, this objective could be achieved if the Taliban could be persuaded to cut its ties to al-Qaeda and end its insurgency in exchange for some role in Afghan governance short of total control.
To establish even a marginally functioning economy out of the wreckage of Iraq would have been a daunting task. Despite decades of a heavily controlled, state-run economy; the deterioration caused by a succession of wars; a decade of international sanctions; and the looting and sabotage that followed the 2003 war, the U.S. government set its sights high after toppling Saddam Hussein: to create a liberal, market-based Iraqi economy, a key piece of its broader goal to bring democracy to Iraq.
Within the broader debate over the political economy of statebuilding, the role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in fragile and post-conflict settings is increasingly controversial but still understudied. This paper examines the tensions between the good governance agenda currently being implemented in Iraq and the investment dynamics occurring at the country’s national and provincial levels. Drawing on disaggregated data, the paper argues that the flow of FDI is reinforcing destabilizing dynamics in Iraq by increasing levels of inequality, deepening the decentralization process, and undermining internal and external balances of power.
This article reassesses the extent to which the British Army has been able to adapt to the counter-insurgency campaign in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. While adopting Farrell’s definition of bottom-up military adaptation, this article contends that the task force/brigade level of analysis adopted by Farrell and Farrell and Gordon has led them to overstate the degree to which innovation arising from processes of bottom-up adaptation has actually ensued. Drawing on lower level tactical unit interviews and other data, this article demonstrates how units have been unable or unwilling to execute non-kinetic population-centric operations due to their lack of understanding of the principles of counter-insurgency warfare.
I n July 2009, the Center for Complex Operations (CCO) facilitated a workshop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to capture the experiences of USDA agricultural advisors deployed to ministries and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq and Afghanistan. The discussions yielded numerous individual observations, insights, and potential lessons from the work of these advisors on PRTs in these countries. This article presents a broad overview of the challenges identified by the conference participants and highlights key recommendations generated as a result of suggestions and comments made at the workshop. The workshop was intended to capture insights and lessons from the !eld to develop recommendations for improvements in PRT operations, with a particular focus on agricultural development. The 30 participants came from a broad spectrum of USDA: the National Resources Conservation Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. To focus the agenda, CCO and USDA designed a preworkshop survey administered to the 30 USDA returnees (22 from Iraq and 8 from Afghanistan). After receiving 24 responses, CCO and USDA used the results to develop an agenda built around facilitated group discussions in four areas: doctrine and guidance, civil-military cooperation and command and control relationships, projects and their impact on the host nation, and administrative issues.
Most aid spending by governments seeking to rebuild social and political order is based on an opportunity-cost theory of distracting potential recruits. The logic is that gainfully employed young men are less likely to participate in political violence, implying a positive correlation between unemployment and violence in locations with active insurgencies. The authors test that prediction in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines, using survey data on unemployment and two newly available measures of insurgency: (1) attacks against government and allied forces and (2) violence that kill civilians. Contrary to the opportunity-cost theory, the data emphatically reject a positive correlation between unemployment and attacks against government and allied forces (p < .05 percent). There is no significant relationship between unemployment and the rate of insurgent attacks that kill civilians. The authors identify several potential explanations, introducing the notion of insurgent precision to adjudicate between the possibilities that predation on one hand, and security measures and information costs on the other, account for the negative correlation between unemployment and violence in these three conflicts.
On numerous occasions in the past fifteen years, U.N. peacekeepers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing the populations they serve. A Comprehensive Review of peacekeeper misconduct completed in 2005 identified significant problems and recommended numerous changes to address them. The U.S. Army and NATO, in a response to the possibility that their deployed troops will be engaged in or facilitate human trafficking, have enacted new policies intended to remove their troops from the demand for women trafficked for sexual services. The Department of Defense and NATO initiatives are similar to those being considered by the United Nations for preventing sexual misconduct by its peacekeepers. Because the United States, NATO, and the United Nations are all addressing the problems of sexual misconduct by deployed troops, their efforts should be mutually reinforcing. The examples of American and NATO armed forces offer hope that the United Nations will also enact strong measures to prevent future misconduct by its peacekeepers.