To Surge or Not to Surge?

With the disclosure of President Obama’s objectives for Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday, many military strategists and regional experts were relieved to find he had, in writing, confirmed his commitment to the principals his administration laid out at the onset of his tenure.  Specifically, his metrics call on Coalition Forces to defeat, “…the extremist insurgency, secure the Afghan populace, and develop increasingly self-reliant Afghan security forces…”

ISW President Kim Kagan is at the forefront of this strategically imperative debate writing in the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner and interviewed by the Council on Foreign Relations.


Highlights from Dr. Kagan’s recent work include:

  • Those who consider Pakistan a more important battle front misunderstand the region’s history. A failed state in Afghanistan would again become a safe haven for terrorists and it would destabilize Pakistan by giving refuge to insurgent groups attacking Islamabad and also strengthen the malign actors inside the Pakistani government and military who are inclined to support terrorism.
  • Also, trying to pursue an “offshore” strategy using surgical strikes would destabilize Pakistan for the same reasons.
  • In debating a comprehensive commitment to Afghanistan, those who argue for diminishing the U.S. presence ignore the General Stanley McChrystal’s expert opinion. As one of the most prolific Special Forces practitioners, he thoroughly understands counterterrorism operations but is instead arguing for a broader counterinsurgency strategy which brings the U.S. chances of attaining President Obama’s objectives much higher.

As you read the latest material from ISW, make sure to set your DVR to record Kim Kagan on CSPAN’s Afterword’s Program discussing her most recent book, The Surge: a Military History.


Show Times
Saturday, September 26th at 10 PM EST
Sunday, September 27th at 9 PM EST
Monday, September 28th at 12 AM EST


Many thanks,


Megan Ortagus
Communications Director, ISW 

<p>A U.S. Marine with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment conducts a foot patrol in the Nawa district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sept. 15, 2009. The Marines are deployed with Regimental Combat Team 3 to conduct counter.</p>
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