Fiddling While It Burns

A different kind of war | 18/10/2010

Here’s a project I did for radio journalism. I think the biggest failure of the news media around Afghanistan is not giving interested generalists an understanding of the strategies and realities, instead preferring to sensationalise and trivialise, so I’ve tried to cover some of the basics of counterinsurgency, a doctrine central to understanding what’s happening in Afghanistan right now.

A different kind of war

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2 Comments »

  1. Nice piece, exactly the sort of policy primer we need more of on all topics.

    The politics lecturer seemed like a jerk, was this subtle or unconscious bias on your part, or is it just he was the only source you could get on short notice?

    And what would you say is the level of understanding of these concepts among the average soldier in Afghanistan? Do they get political training to understand the importance of good relations, or are they merely expected to do as they are told?

    Thanks for posting this.

    Comment by David Jackmanson — 18/10/2010 @ 6:32 pm

    • Thanks, I was a bit concerned about whether I’d actually gotten to anything of substance.

      The politics lecturer is actually lecturing me, so I won’t hear a word against him 😉

      As for soldiers, well, I won’t opine too much, but the Army COIN subject matter expert, WO2 Mick Craig, came out in the SMH some time ago complaining that there was no formal COIN curriculum in the Army, and that there’s been a kind of assumption that diggers are natural counterinsurgents, when it’s actually a skill and knowledge base that should be taught and developed. Not sure if there’s been any rectifying action since then.

      Comment by andrewriddle — 19/10/2010 @ 10:18 am


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