On the Ground in Afghanistan: Counterinsurgency in Practice

On the Ground in Afghanistan: Counterinsurgency in Practice
On the Ground in Afghanistan: Counterinsurgency in Practice
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(Contains some copyright material) By Jerry Meyerle, et al. A joint publication of CNA and Marine Corps University Press. Provides a glimpse into what relatively small military units, teams, platoons, companies, and highly dispersed battalions have done to roll back the insurgency in some of the more remote areas of Afghanistan. The book examines counterinsurgency at the tactical and local levels. Includes 15 vignettes about different units from the U.S. Marines, U.S. Army, and U.S. Army Special Forces; the British Army and Marines; the Dutch Army and Marines; and the Canadian Army. Contains copyrighted material.

Some of the book’s key themes include:

• Dealing with a localized insurgency

• Navigating the political terrain

• Searching for political solutions

• Engaging the population and  building popular support

• Using reconstruction funds

• Protecting the population

• Employing restraint in the use of force

• Finding the right balance between concentration and dispersion

• Maintaining continuity

• Operating with little strategic guidance





Jerry Meyerle is a political scientist in the Stability and Development Program at CNA. He is the author of several widely read studies on the insurgency in Afghanistan, as well as studies on the Afghan army and articles on regional security and political violence in Pakistan and India. He speaks Urdu and has a PhD in political science and South Asian studies from the University of Virginia.

Megan Katt is a research analyst in the Stability and Development Program at CNA. Most of her work at CNA has focused on various aspects of the insurgency and counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. She holds an MA in international security studies from Georgetown University and a BS in business marketing from San Diego State University.

LtCol James A. Gavrilis, USA (Ret.), is a senior advisor in the Stability and Development Program at CNA. He is a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer with over 24 years of experience in the infantry and special operations. A graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, he has an MA in international studies from Old Dominion University and a BA in political science from Pennsylvania State University.


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Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

Preface                                                                                                                             iii

Maps and Figures                                                                                                        vi

Abbreviations                                                                                                               vii

Introduction                                                                                                                      1

US Marines

Vignette 1: A US Marine Platoon in Gulistan, Farah, 2008                                     25

Vignette 2: A US Marine Battalion in Nawa, Helmand, 2009                                     35

Vignette 3: US Marine Advisors in the Tagab Valley, Kapisa, 2008                          49

US Army

Vignette 4: A US Army Battalion in Kunar and Nuristan, 2007—2008                          57

Vignette 5: A US Army Battalion in Khost, 2004—2008                                                      69

Vignette 6: A US Army Battalion in Nangarhar, 2005—2009                                               77

US Special Forces

Vignette 7: A US Special Forces Team in Kandahar and Zabul, 2003—2005                 91

Vignette 8: Three US Special Forces Teams in Kunar and Nuristan, 2004—2005        101

Vignette 9: A US Special Forces Team in Kandahar, 2003—2004                                    109

British Army and Marines

Vignette 10: A UK-led Task Force in Musa Qala, Helmand, 2006—2009                           115

Vignette 11: A British Marine Battalion in Uruzgan and Helmand, 2008—2009                 123

Vignette 12: British Army Advisors in Sangin, Helmand, 2009                                                 131

Dutch Army and Marines

Vignette 13: Two Dutch Army Companies in Uruzgan, 2006—2009                                        137

Vignette 14: A Dutch Marine Company in Deh Rashaan, Uruzgan, 2009                               145

Canadian Army

Vignette 15: Canadian Soldiers and Engineers in Dand, Kandahar, 2009                             151

Conclusion                                                                                                                        161

Endnotes                                                                                                                           167


This publication would be useful to the military's analysis community, civilian leaders, military commanders and staff officers at all levels, policymakers, members of government and defense agencies/contractors, and members of military-focused committees.  This publication would also be useful to historians and students engaged with historical/political/military studies.

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Defense Dept., Navy, Marine Corps University Press
  • Meyerle, Jerry
Key Phrases:
  • Counterinsurgency in Practice
  • Afghan War, 2001 -
  • Marine Corps History
  • Naval History
  • Counterinsurgency, Afghanistan, Case studies
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