Former CIA officials feel that America should pursue a counter-insurgency policy in Afghanistan that would secure populated areas, build up the Afghan government and acquire the support of the powerful warlords. They do not agree with Vice President Biden, who proposed only a narrow anti-terrorism policy. A former high ranking official explained the difference: Counter-insurgency is all about nation building, providing security and protecting the population. The Biden anti-terrorism policy is “just to go after the bad guys.”

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Why is a comprehensive counter insurgency policy important? Former officials have noted that anti-terrorism is important, but that it's impossible to kill every last terrorist. The goal must be to create an Afghan infrastructure and security system.

“Counter-terrorism will allow us to either kill or capture the bad guys. If we kill off all the bad guys it’s a good thing but if we don’t have a counter insurgency program new bad guys get trained and then will come back in. We have to make Afghanistan completely inhospitable to Al Qaeda and its friends,” a former operative explains. This security strategy would help to establish that supporting the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is in the locals' best interest.

The only way to successfully neutralize the Taliban is to have a counter insurgency commitment for a minimum of ten years. A former operative explained that it will take many years to achieve this goal “because it is a not a reconstruction program but a construction program.” Robert Grenier, a former station chief, wants Americans to understand that this will not be “a clean war where you defeat the enemy and go home. Over time the Taliban can be marginalized and the Afghans can control them but that will take a very long time, years.”

These former CIA employees felt the Obama administration needs to get Americans to support a full throttle counter insurgency policy. Kent Clizbe, a former operative, felt that “if we want to win, there is no room for half measures or for Joe Biden’s policy of ‘walk softly and carry a small UAV' strategy.” Another high ranking former CIA official sarcastically stated that it is a matter of leadership. “If the policy is explained to the American people, they will understand that [Afghanistan] is a place that can’t be abandoned. It’s common sense that we can’t walk away from it.”


Elise Cooper

Elise Cooper is a freelance author focusing on the conservative point of view on issues such as national security.