Woe to the Civilian Surge, Woe!

by Joshua Foust on 9/20/2009 · 1 comment

Fresh off the news that we’re adding more fobbits and psychopaths to the war in Afghanistan—seriously, CIA, if your analysts can’t be bothered to leave the JOC at Bagram, and your militants can’t be bothered to inform the battlespace owners of their own operations, what good are you anyway?—we have news that the “civilian surge” is, shock of shocks, not really going well.

Lew says the administration expects to reach its target numbers by the beginning of next year. Other State Department officials, and analysts, say that’s optimistic — because it’s difficult to find enough people who have the right skills and who are willing to stay in Afghanistan for a yearlong deployment… The idea is that the military clears the way, secures an area, which in turn should allow civilians to move in and start working with local Afghans.

But that’s not always the way it works, says John Dempsey, who has been in Kabul for several years with the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace.

“Security is such that it’s so difficult for people to actually be able to move off of forward operating bases and get out into the field to actually meet with Afghans and do their work,” he says. “They don’t have the adequate logistical or security support to do that.”

Oh well. It’s not like we didn’t see this coming or anything. Nope, apparently the thinking was that we would magically develop civilian expertise in a couple of months and send them all in one lump sum.


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This post was written by...

– 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 Registan.net. 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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{ 1 comment }

IntelTrooper September 21, 2009 at 1:21 am

Hey Joshua —

Sometimes the battlespace owner shouldn’t be notified. One O-6 in particular comes to mind. And some CIA “operatives” do a pretty good job, though they’re not the superheroes most probably imagine.

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