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New US approach to war in Afghanistan

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New US approach to war in Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal picks up on the new US commander in Afghanistan's 'new way of war'.

He's creating a Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination cell of 400 officers who will spend years focussed on the war, so they build up local knowledge and relationships instead of all rotating out every 12 months. This is critical if the West is to win this war.

While journalists have been pontificating about the West's 'unwinnable war' in Afghanistan, even under President Bush some clever, thoughtful people have entirely rethought America's counter-insurgency strategy.

General Stanley McChrystal is now putting this into action in Afghanistan. He's already restricted US use of air strikes, which create new enemies of America and supporters of the Taliban every time they kill civilians. “Air power contains the seeds of our own destruction if we do not use it responsibly,” McChrystal told senior officers according to the New York Times.

So expect much more, on the lines of David Kilkullen's outstanding book The Accidental Guerrilla - a focus on protecting the Afghan population so they feel secure and connected to their government, instead of just trying to hunt down and kill Taliban who can always slip away; recruitment of local people to police their own areas, like the 'Awakening Councils' in Iraq; tight coordination of political and military strategies.

It's easy to trot out tales of British defeats in Afghanistan in the 19th century and say foreign powers can never win in Afghanistan - too easy. Keep an open mind and watch McChrystal.