The Best Defense

Getting smart on Afghanistan (and Pakistan)

If we ever want to get out of Afghanistan, we need to focus less on central power in Kabul and more on tribal and religious structures outside the capital. So say my CNAS colleagues -- Nate Fick, Dave Kilcullen, John Nagl and Vikram Singh -- in a new and wise policy brief.

Speaking of Afghanistan, I heard the other day that ISAF (International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan) really stands for "Internationals Sit, Anglos Fight." But of course, that is only logical, given that its parent organization, NATO, is said to really mean "No Action, Talk Only."


The Best Defense

Cracks and fissures: Pentagon says 6 percent of force is highly stressed

This Pentagon study is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in military personnel issues, but especially for those looking at PTSD. The bottom line is that at least 6 percent of the active-duty force appears to be highly stressed, having served more than 25 months in combat zones since 9/11, while 74 percent have served less than 12 months in such zones.

Personnel policy wonks will want to dive deeper, but there are three easy points to take away here: 1) A small group is carrying a disproportionate part of the load, and 2) the majority isn't carrying its share, so 3) the Army needs to do a better job of spreading the burden.

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