The U.S. Admits (Tacitly) How It’s Falling Short

by Joshua Foust on 1/11/2007

Lt. General David Petraeus, the new guy in charge of Iraq, actually wrote the Pentagon’s new Counterinsurgency (COIN) manual (pdf). In paragraph 1-67, he describes necessary the troop density necessary to successfully beat back an insurgency: a 10 or 15 to 1 advantage over the insurgents, or a minimum 20 (and ideally at least 25) counterinsurgents per 1000 local residents. In Afghanistan, there is far less than 1 counterinsurgent per 1000 residents (assuming every single soldier on the ground is COIN, itself a bad assumption). This would mean even should NATO muster up twenty times the current deployment level, or about 600,000 troops, they would still fall way short of what the DoD says is the bare minimum for success (I apparently low-balled the Kosovo deployment).

I’m glad at least some of the people in charge know that a major error was made in the deployment, but my heart sinks when it is so obviously unsolvable.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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