Last week Kyle wrote in War for Dummies: Step 1, Fighting Is Necessary about Secretary Gates' frustration with some European allies, who are not committing combat troops to southern Afghanistan.
I understand and respect the criticism, but fighting is really just step 1 in Afghanistan. Some US commanders in Afghanistan have moved on to step 2 in the handbook, which says that fighting is a distraction.
Economist describes how the "mistakes of the past six years of fighting in Afghanistan" have changed the "mindset of American military commanders:"
They now regard kinetic actions (ie, fighting) as a distraction, a preliminary shaping operation at best. The decisive operation is non-kinetic, says Colonel Martin Schweitzer, commander of Task Force Fury, responsible for six south-eastern provinces. His focus is training Afghan forces, building roads, schools and clinics and, above all, getting the government to start addressing the needs of the people.
He has schooled himself in the ways of Pushtunwali, the Pushtun tribal code of honour, and has its main tenets on his wall. Next door to his office, a group of anthropologists and sociologists known as the human-terrain team provides him with valuable intelligence, not on the enemy but on the society in which they mingle. Colonel Schweitzer says what he needs is not more troops but more non-uniformed instruments of power: diplomatic, information and economic, especially agronomists and water engineers.
The Economist article is pretty good and notes US successes in Afghanistan, incl. reconstruction and reconciliation. The Atlantic Review already wrote about Colonel Schweitzer's collaboration with anthropologists in The Pentagon's Embedded Scholars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Related posts: Germans to the Front! and A Shared Mission in Afghanistan?