Learning from our past how a Vietnam-era pacification program can help us win in Afghanistan
Bumgarner, Amy S.
Johnson, Thomas H.
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Weak, failing, failed and post-conflict states pose one of the greatest national and international security challenges of our day. The stabilization and development of faltering states is in both the short- and long-term interests of the United States because stable states pose fewer security challenges. Afghanistan is a failed state that presents security challenges on a global scale as well as a classic case study on insurgency that needs a strong counterinsurgency response. A successful counterinsurgency needs an explicit strategy for winning the trust and confidence of the local population. Ultimately, the biggest problem is recognizing the importance of human terrain and understanding the population. Currently, operations in Afghanistan are managed at the provincial level. Only operations pushed down to the district and village level can capture these intricacies. This is where and how lessons from the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program used in Vietnam apply. CORDS combined the previously separate civilian and military pacification efforts in Vietnam into one program and resulted in what may have been the only truly integrated civilian-military command in U.S. history. This thesis will assess the lessons learned from fighting a counterinsurgency in Vietnam via CORDS and how they apply in Afghanistan.
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