Two links for today.
- The first link is an article entitled "Change from Above" from Vertical Online (obviously, a helicopter-related magazine/website). Although the article spends a great amount of time discussing the ins-and-outs of helicopter flight over Afghanistan with the US Department of State (and their pilots from DynCorp), there is quite a bit of talk about current counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan. It's worth taking a look at. Also of note is that DynCorp is operating a fleet of twin-engined Huey helicopters, Soviet-designed Mi-17 Hips, and even DC-3 cargo planes to ferry around diplomats and participate in counter-narcotics operations. The article's well worth a look.
- Another article is from the Washington Post, entitled "Countering the Military's Latest Fad". Although the article is critical and harshly worded (particularly in the title), it brings up a number of good points. Although our new coutner-insurgency doctrine was sorely needed, and represented a huge improvement in our ability to adapt to modern conflict, it's not the complete be-all-do-all-end-all to all of America's conflicts. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not "pure" counterinsurgencies in the vein of Malaysia and Vietnam. Rather--let's repeat it again--they're hybrid conflicts, combining a number of different types of phenomena in one geographic region. While the new counter-insurgency doctrine is certainly a critical component of waging modern "Small Wars", it is only one component of it. Although the improved security situation in Iraq owes much to the Troop Surge (and when I say "Surge", I also include the counter-insurgency strategy which accompanies it), but there were also a number of other factors which also came into play at roughly the same time, such as the Awakening movement and the stand-down of the Mahdi Army. I should also mention that, although the article is critical of General Petraeus' enthusiasm for applying Iraqi counter-insurgency principles to Afghanistan, the General has also gone on record in noting that his staff was, in fact, making a serious assessment as to whether or not the Iraqi Surge strategy would work in Afghanistan. Time will tell, and with new leadership, new troops and a new outlook on Afghanistan, things look as if they can only improve.