The Best Defense

Gentile: Take this COIN and shove it

COINhata Col. Gian Gentile, director of military history at West Point, has a provocative article in the new issue of Parameters, the journal of the Army War College. "Currently," he asserts,

U.S. military strategy is really nothing more than a bunch of COIN principles, massaged into catchy commander's talking points for the media, emphasizing winning the hearts and minds and shielding civilians.

I think he's wrong, in a lot of ways, but I also think his article is worth reading. Col. Gentile is asking the right questions. (Just fyi, I get popped in a footnote as a "hagiographer."  No worries -- that's more polite than a lot of words I get called. I have no problem with robust discourse.)

The Best Defense

Hiring trigger-happy heroin addicts as security guards

Call me a fuddy-duddy, but I don't think hiring heroin addicts as security guards makes sense. Especially when they seem to open fire with little provocation.

The district chief in Maywand, in southwestern Afghanistan, says that is what is happening. And American officers in the area agree that the guards are a problem, according to a fine article by Sean Naylor in the November 30 edition of Army Times.

"They'll start firing at anything that's moving, and they will injure or kill innocent Afghans, and they'll destroy property," Lt. Col. Jeff French, a battalion commander, told Naylor.

"We're getting fairly consistent complains about them," added Capt. Casey Thoreen, one of French's company commanders. "Everybody knows somebody who's been shot by the contractors."

French has taken to pulling over convoys at gunpoint and taking their security chiefs in for questioning at his base.

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