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The British press seems to begin with the presumption that the Afghanistan war is a lost cause – partly for understandable historical reasons. Americans – or at least the Americans you encounter in Afghanistan – tend to be more optimistic. Certainly US Navy Commander Dave Adams, 41, exuded confidence when he told me about his twelve months as the commander of the Provincial Reconstruction team (PRT) in Khost Province.

Khost is a province of about a million ethnic Pashtuns that has a 180 km long border with Pakistan. It is now considered the “model province” among the 14 eastern and central Afghan provinces under direct American oversight.

From March 2007 to March 2008, Adams led a team of 83 military, 10 civilians, and 57 local nationals that changed the province possibly more than it had changed since people started living there. On my own three visits to Khost during that time, I had heard good things about Commander Adams from the American officer in charge of purely military or ‘kinetic’ operations in the province, Lieutenant Colonel Scottie Custer, but we never met. I finally caught up with him in Washington DC and asked him about his experience of provincial reconstruction and counter-insurgency.

“It’s presence plus projects,” Adams explains. “Afghanistan is winnable if you get off the FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) and live with the people, in the district centers.”

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November 23rd, 2008
4:11 PM
I'm sorry Standpoint has used this writer, always happy to spread bullshit lies about the British Army in her articles . I will not renew my subscription.

October 12th, 2008
7:10 PM
Great article thanks. One has to see that Civilisation is a basic human right and it is incumbent on those who presently are in advance to support those presently in the rear. This was also the British & Roman model in their empires. It helped the helpers by providing wider markets.

July 12th, 2008
5:07 PM
Bravo to the Americans! Now if we can overcome the defeatism in Britain, maybe we can stand a chance.

July 11th, 2008
11:07 AM
Very interesting piece on counter-insurgency practice. Am curious now about the theory behind it...

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