IEDs and the War for ‘Afghan Trust’

by Diana West
“Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the No.1 cause of fatalities and injuries to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The devices have killed 657 U.S. troops and wounded 6,330 since the war began in 2001 through March of this year. Warmer weather and the end of the poppy harvest have generally heralded the beginning of the toughest combat in Afghanistan.

Patrols, particularly foot patrols, are a basic COIN tactic, a specfically stated point of “guidance” (order?) in Gen. Petraeues August 1, 2010 Counterinsurgency Guidance, as noted here. As Petraeus wrote:

‘Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population. Take off your sunglasses. Situational awareness can be gained only by interacting face to face, not separated by ballistic glass or Oakleys.’

COIN doctrine assumes that putting US forces out on the road is a way to “earn their [Afghan] trust.” And “earning their trust” is the linchpin of COIN, and, thus, the linchpin of all US war and nation-building policy in Afghanistan.

It is a cracked linchpin, and it cries out Congressional attention. It is incumbent upon our US Representatives and Senators to investigate whether this tactic of IED-patrols — and other COIN tactics including restrictive ROEs, payola, and reverence for the Koran — are working. Even more important, it is incumbent upon Congress to investigate whether this strategy of “earning their trust” is working.”

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