In the Arena

Aghan Reinforcements

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Yochi Dreazen in the Wall Street Journal has encouraging word that the military is bolstering its intelligence efforts–in both sense of the word–on Afghanistan and Pakistan on two fronts. At the Pentagon, Brigadier General John Nicholson has been put in charge of a new Af/Pak coordination office, which is very good news as Nicholson has extensive experience on the Af/Pak border, especially in the vagaries of counterinsurgency warfare. At Centcom, General Petraeus has set up an institute to coordinate military intelligence-gathering and train military intelligence officers for service in the region.

The Centcom program is particularly important. We’ve gone eight years in Afghanistan without definitive, multi-dimensional maps of the districts–basic things like how many people live there, the local tribal structure, how many development programs (both NATO and UN), how many troops, police, patterns and types of violence, levels of corruption. It is simply impossible to wage a counterinsurgency campaign without this sort of information. (And for those who believe that any sort of NATO presence is counterproductive, these sorts of maps will be able to prove or disprove that–and perhaps find ¬†an appropriate balance between troop levels and development programs, and also which development programs work best.)

I’ll have more on the Afghanistan strategy review and the President’s looming decision in my print column tomorrow.