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Unconventional Counter-Insurgency in Afghanistan John R. Crisafulli

Unconventional Counter-Insurgency in Afghanistan

John R. Crisafulli

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67 pages
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Immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, a small number of U.S. Army Special Forces (USSF) invaded the Al Qaeda safe haven of Afghanistan. USSF A-teams, operating with almost total independence, conducted highly successfulMoreImmediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, a small number of U.S. Army Special Forces (USSF) invaded the Al Qaeda safe haven of Afghanistan. USSF A-teams, operating with almost total independence, conducted highly successful Unconventional Warfare “through, with, and by” the indigenous Afghan militias of the Northern Alliance. The USSF and their indigenous Afghan armies rapidly deposed the Taliban regime and denied the Al Qaeda terrorists their training and support areas within Afghanistan. The momentum of the initial success achieved by USSF during 2001-2002, however, has been dramatically overshadowed by the inability of follow-on U.S. forces to establish long-term stability in the post-Taliban Afghanistan. Since 2002, the conventional U.S./Coalition forces, which replaced Army USSF as the main U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) forces, have thus far failed to defeat the re-emerging Taliban/Al Qaeda threat. In fact, 2005 has been the most violent year-to-date for U.S./Coalition forces serving in Afghanistan with 239 U.S. casualties, and President Hamid Karzai’s central Afghan government exhibiting little control outside its major cities. This trend continues in 2006. In this thesis we question the current U.S./Coalition campaign plan, which places emphasis on conventional military forces, not USSF, as the main effort COIN force in Operation Enduring Freedom. We propose an alternative Unconventional COIN model which focuses on population control instead of “clear and sweep operations”, Afghan constabulary-style forces instead of conventional Afghan National Army troops, the importance of “grassroots” intelligence collection at the village level, and the employment of USSF advisors instead of conventional U.S. infantry troops.