My CNAS colleague Andrew Exum is putting together a website for platoon leaders and company commanders deploying to Afghanistan. I am helping him as I can. Below is the memo I wrote for him yesterday. But please go to his blog and offer your own suggestions.
My favorite single document is CWO2/Gunner Keith Marine's Afghanistan Lessons Learned report. Start here with his discussion of how to patrol.
There are 17 parts in all, reachable on Tom's blog under Marine's name (which is real, by the way).
Here is a reading list I originally wrote for a friend who was deploying to Afghanistan. It must have been a good list because a year later he was named Marine Corps intelligence officer of the year.
Here is a link to reading suggestions made by company commanders in the 101st Airborne at the end of a tour in eastern Afghanistan.
Here is a list and discussion of pre-deployment tips from those 101st commanders.
In a nutshell, here are their suggestions:
1. Get fit
2. A little understanding goes a long way
3. If you want stability, work on continuity
4. Don't assume you own the Afghan night
5. Don't underestimate the enemy
6. Your weapons usage may surprise you
7. Find time for training between fights
8. Employ the locals
Read anything by David Kilcullen, especially his basic articles, which I think are more helpful than his book. Don't miss his "28 Articles" on COIN at the company level.
Also, here are links to a discussion of Killcullen's metrics for COIN in Afghanistan.
And then go to this.
Here is a reading list on COIN by Prof. Eliot Cohen, who helped write the COIN manual.
Finally, if Andrew hasn't already told you: Get on companycommand.com, and ask for help. Also, get ahold of their book "A Platoon Leader's Tour," which I wrote about here.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.