News

US Troops Experiment with New Strategy for Afghanistan

President Barack Obama plans to announce his new strategy for Afghanistan on Tuesday, and U.S. news organizations say he will most likely send between 30,000 and 35,000 additional troops.

Army 1st Lieutenant Sean Mahard (C) talks with Afghans in Logar province
Army 1st Lieutenant Sean Mahard (C) talks with Afghans in Logar province

Multimedia

David Axe

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to announce his new strategy for Afghanistan on Tuesday, and U.S. news organizations say he will most likely send between 30,000 and 35,000 additional troops. The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan earlier this year told the president that up to 40,000 additional troops are needed to combat Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the region. If General McChrystal does not get all of the troops that he seeks, U.S. commanders are already trying to make do with fewer numbers.



Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division patrol Baraki Barak district, in Logar province, 80 kilometers south of Kabul.

Logar is a key agricultural province and a test case for U.S. troops now in Afghanistan in case President Barack Obama does not approve thousands of reinforcements.

The senior U.S. officer in Logar, Army Lt. Col. Thomas Gukeisen, tells Voice of America that he does not have enough soldiers to control all of the province, even with the help of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP).

Instead, he uses the troops that he has to occupy the most cooperative villages, and turn them into examples for neighboring villages to follow. The troops provide a security bubble for reconstruction projects in the targeted communities.

"Outside of that bubble, you create dislocated envy," said Colonel Gukeisen.  "You have people outside - the elders and children - say well how come my school wasn't fixed.  For instance, one village, Shamazar, came forward and said we want this.  We said, 'Well, you've had 18 IEDs in your village and outside your village. We know you know who's doing it. You're not telling us.'"

The idea is for the Afghan communities to police themselves, in order to qualify for reconstruction projects. The aim is to extend security beyond the U.S.-controlled villages.

One of Colonel Gukeisen's platoons met recently with farmers in Ibed.
"We're conducting agricultural and veterinary surveys for locals in the village of Ibed, outside the security bubble, in hopes of enticing some farmers to come to the district center - and, if they do, it will give us a chance to show that these are services that ourselves in conjunction with the ANA can provide to them. Hopefully we can turn them into a pro-coalition village," explained Army 1st Lieutenant Sean Mahard.

Colonel Gukeisen's says the approach worked before. In Iraq four years ago, a small number of U.S. Marines were able to spread security across most of the country's west, by first concentrating in the most pro-American communities. They called their approach, the "ink-spot" strategy.

But Afghanistan is not Iraq, and it is not clear that ink spots will work the same way here. For one, Afghanistan is a bigger and more rugged country.

Plus, the Taliban have a say. And in Logar, as elsewhere in Afghanistan, major violence often disrupts U.S. plans.

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs