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Petraeus Updates COIN Guidance for Afghanistan

Aug. 3, 2010 - 03:45AM   |  
By KATE BRANNEN   |   Comments
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U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus has republished new Afghan counterinsurgency (COIN) guidance after receiving feedback from Afghan partners and advice from elders and Special Forces teams located in the northwestern region of the country.

A first draft of the guidance, dated July 27, was posted to various Internet sites last week, but then quickly taken down.

In the latest draft, dated Aug. 1, Petraeus notes that he plans to update the guidance periodically in the months ahead.

"Indeed, this edition is my first update, as I received useful feedback on the initial draft from Afghan partners and also received advice from elders and Special Forces teams in Herat Province's Zericho Valley," reads the new guidance.

Last week, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center and the publication Small Wars Journal posted the guidance, dated July 27, on their Web sites.

Soon after it was posted, Small Wars Journal took it down and replaced it with this note: "The [Commander, International Security Assistance Force] Counterinsurgency Guidance was prematurely released. It has been requested that the COIN Center remove the Guidance and the associated post from their web site. Small Wars Journal has decided to do the same."

The new document stretches to four pages, versus the original three, but contains the same 24 instructions for the conduct of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.

"General Petraeus' COIN Guidance has some parallels with the guidance he issued as Commander of Multinational Forces Iraq in 2007, but clearly takes into account the unique circumstances and context of the operational environment in Afghanistan," said Army Col. Daniel Roper, director of the Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center, in a note on the center's Web site. "It also builds upon some of the previous guidance issued by General [Stanley] McChrystal in November 2009, but adds several interesting points of emphasis such as 'Fight hard and fight with discipline' and 'Confront the culture of impunity.'"

While the basic 24 instructions remain unchanged in the Aug. 1 draft, small tweaks have been made that emphasize the need to support the Afghans' efforts to protect the population and fight corruption, rather than having U.S. and NATO forces do it themselves.

The July 27 draft had the instruction, "Confront the culture of impunity." Now it reads, "Help confront the culture of impunity."

In the earlier draft, the short text that follows this point said, "Work with our Afghan partners to help turn [President Karzai's] words into reality and to protect the people from malign actors as well as from terrorists."

It has been changed to "… and to help our partners protect the people from malign actors as well as from terrorists."

Under the instruction "Be a good guest," Petraeus has added, "consult with elders before pursuing new initiatives and operations."

Both drafts include the instruction: "Fight hard and fight with discipline," but the latest draft has added, "We must continue our efforts to reduce civilian casualties to an absolute minimum."

Under, "Hold what we secure," it reads, "And when we begin to transition to Afghan lead, thin out rather than handing off and withdrawing." That sentence now concludes "… handing off and withdrawing, maintaining headquarters even as we reduce combat elements."

Other changes include:

July 27: Live with the people

Aug. 1: Live among the people

July 27: Identify and confront corrupt officials

Aug. 1: Identify corrupt officials

July 27: Build relationships, but not just with those who seek you out

Aug. 1: Consult and build relationships, but not just with those who seek us out

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