Friday, November 19, 2010

U.S. Deploying Tanks in Afghanistan

It's true that, as part of counterinsurgency, you still have to kill the enemy. And it's furthermore true that Pete Mansoor, the first director of the counterinsurgency center at Fort Leavenworth -- back when it was run by Gen. Petraeus -- came from the armored brigades. I got to interview him during that period and asked him how tanks could make a good counterinsurgency tool: it struck me as counterintuitive. I don't recall his answer, but it must not've struck me as terribly convincing. (It was otherwise a great and enlightening conversation. Mansoor, as history has already recorded, is pretty smart.)

You fight a war with the tools you have, I suppose. But U.S. forces have eased up on long-range bombing from the air in Afghanistan because it too easily can kill innocents instead of the targeted insurgents. I guess I'm skeptical that a tool that allows you too hit targets a mile away will be a significant improvement on that.

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