The art of xforming enemies into neutrals, neutrals into friendlies and friendlies into allies is like learning to dine on soup with a knife. Existing conterminously apart from natural perceptions of time and space - counter insurgencies are totally different critters.
Great Satan's top cat that literally wrote the book and reinvented the ancient dark arts in das Unaussprechlichen COIN Külten hierarchy is Rhodes Scholar Dr Colonel Nagl - graduate of Great Satan's Warcraft Academy, veteran panzer leader of both Iraq wars, creator of Center For A New American Security and hangs out on the Defense Policy Board and as a visiting teach at King's College War Studies Great Britain, the elite CFR and IISS.
Even more cooler than all of that (multi game bay bee!) - he's a formidable proponent of Great Satan winning.
Sweet! Let's just cut to it, shall we?
"Our objective is to create an Afghanistan that can stand on its own, that ultimately is going to be able to secure its own territory, not provide a safe haven for terrorists, not drag down the security of the entire region, that that is still possible.
While the so last year loser lover lobby tends to pile on the Marjah Experience faster than uncles on a girl at a family reunion game of flag football it's like high time get real, get serious (seriously - a comic book monger who never got the message in Amazing Spider- Man #1?! WTF? Haunting!) about the deadly dangerous, hot, slow and nasty grind that surging AFPAK entails.
Colonel Nagl expertly ignores such pitiful smokescreens and puts steel on target:
"Those skeptics may have forgotten that counterinsurgency is always slow and grinding
"The war in Afghanistan is winnable for three reasons: because for the first time the coalition fighting there has the right strategy and the resources to begin to implement it, because the Taliban are losing their sanctuaries in Pakistan and because the Afghan government and the security forces are growing in capability and numbers.
"None of these trends is irreversible, and they are not in themselves determinants of victory. But they demonstrate that the war can be won if we display the kind of determination that defeating an insurgency requires.
"The first reason that success is possible in Afghanistan is that the counterinsurgency strategy that the Obama administration adopted last year is beginning to take hold. This strategy, like the one adopted in Iraq in 2007, is much more than an additional commitment of troops and civilian experts. It focuses on providing security so that political progress can occur.
"Counterinsurgency campaigns are not won by killing every insurgent and terrorist. The most committed terrorists have to be killed or captured, but many of the foot soldiers and even the midlevel leaders can eventually be convinced through a combination of carrots and sticks that renouncing violence and becoming part of the political process offer a better chance for success than continuing to fight.
"American troop reinforcements in southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the insurgency is strongest, along with more effective drone strikes and an increasing Pakistani commitment to counterinsurgency, are putting more pressure on the Taliban and giving the Afghan government an opportunity to outgovern its enemies.
"The second reason success is possible is that Pakistan began to take far more effective action against the Taliban over the course of 2009. Because many of the fighters in Afghanistan have in the past enjoyed sanctuary inside Pakistan, that country must confront terrorism within its borders and curtail its clandestine support for extremist factions if the coalition is to succeed.
"Fortunately, last year there were dramatic changes in the Pakistani government's willingness to wage war against insurgents who increasingly threaten its very survival.
"Militants' attacks into heartland provinces like Swat and Buner galvanized a previously indifferent Pakistani public and military to stand up to the militants and drive them back. The Pakistani Army suffered more than 2,000 casualties fighting against the Taliban last year and is now preparing to clear insurgents from North Waziristan - the last significant remaining safe area for insurgents who likely include Osama Bin Laden - which promises to put further pressure on the enemy.
"Although an expanded international commitment of security and development forces can assist in the short term, ultimately Pakistan and Afghanistan must ensure stability and security in their own countries.
"The development of an Afghan government that is able to provide security and governance for its people is our exit strategy, and we are starting to see signs of progress after a slow start.
"U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Bill Caldwell brought new energy and more resources to the Afghan military training effort when he took command of it in November, and he has made progress: The Afghan Army, the most respected institution in the country, is now 125,000 strong. Recruiting and retention are both up, and the plan to build to a final strength of 175,000 by late next year is on track. The Afghan police force is further behind but also now boasts 100,000 officers and will grow by an additional 30,000 in the next 18 months.
"With the war in Iraq winding down and a determined international focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is possible over the next five years to build an Afghan government that can outperform the Taliban and an Afghan Army that can outfight it.
"That is how this war is likely to end - first with a trickle and then a torrent of Taliban deciding that working with the government offers a better future than fighting against it. They will make that decision only if the United States demonstrates that it is committed to staying the hard course in Afghanistan that Obama decided to follow just last year.
"The path will be hard, but - if we remain dedicated to the fight - it is far from hopeless.
Pic - "Great Satan's cause is just and her quarrel honorable."