Monday, June 22, 2009

Trials and Tribulations in Afghanistan

For those of you not in the DC area, or those of you who don't subscribe to/see a print copy of the Washington Post, I recommend two articles on the difficulties in stabilizing/reconstructing Afghanistan. The first is from Friday's Post, a lengthy articles on the many false starts and mistakes made in trying to encourage agricultural progress in Afghanistan, most simple mistakes that could have been solved by people talking to each other, doing basic research, or not simply handing millions of dollars to a USAID contractor and assuming that the job would be done well. It also highlights the difficulty of a civilian "surge" that some are calling for in Afghanistan. As Andrew Exum and others have pointed out, people with the right kind of expertise simply don't exist. It would be great to be able to send 100 civilians with experience in Central Asian agriculture over to help and advise--if only we or anyone had 100 such people.
The second article is from today's Post on U.S. Army Captain Michael Harrison, and his personal efforts at counterinsurgency along the Durand line by as much as possible living and working among the population. He took command of his unit almost two years early in order to go back to Afghanistan and help both his soldiers and the population. His example and efforts are a truly great example of smart influence. I applaud his vision, spirit, and sacrifice in spending so much time away from home. I know many selfless young officers and veterans like him, so I'm sure he's embarrassed by all the attention, but if it serves as a good example for others to learn from I want to assure Captain Harrison that it is both well deserved and worthwhile.

1 comment:

  1. Author and Historian Steven Pressfield also writes about Captain Harrison, and the Captain who came before him, and helped develop the relationships with the tribes in Konar Province today.

    Article is titled: "Gifts of Honor: A Tale of Two Captains"