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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Comments on the President's Speech

How much can you say in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.  Not much.  But, notwithstanding that problem, Elliot Cohen has published this item in Sunday's Wash Post.  The title is "Obama's COIN toss:  In Afghanistan, we have a plan—but that's not the same as a strategy".  The "COIN toss" reference is to the acronym for Counter Insurgency—COIN.  It has been COIN at least back to the early 1960s.

One person, favorably mentioned in the article, is Dr David Kilkullen.  He is the author of The Accidental Guerrilla:  Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One , a book about his adventures in COIN as an Australian Infantry Officer and later as a civilian working for the United States.  (The book is available for your Kindle.)

Dr Eliot A. Cohen is no dummy.  He is a professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and the author of Supreme Command:  Soldiers, Statesmen and Wartime Leadership.  He was State Department counselor from 2007 to 2009, advising on counterinsurgency issues.  He also coauthored the Gulf War Airpower Survey, from the first Gulf War.

Dr Cohen picks on the President for not having a real strategy, just having a plan.  I think that while that may be technically correct, what he presented this last week at West Point is sufficient with which to proceed.

My own definition of strategy is "matching objectives, threats and opportunities in a resource constrained environment."

The proof will be in the eating, as they say.  In the mean time, someone commented on the article with this poem.  But, then, the poet is a retired Air Force pilot (and PhD in English).

I think the President did OK in laying out his plan.  There are things I wouldn't have said and things I would have said, but on balance, he did fine.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

The New Englander said...

And SECDEF has already started to wordsmith the way forward in 2011 -- saying that it's not necessarily going to be a withdrawal, but perhaps a new direction.

Come to think of it, it would seem sort of funny to be part of a "surge brigade" and on the very same deployment be part of an "announced troop withdrawal."

I can think of far worse things than "open-ended commitments."