What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back to Uruzgan for a change

MStFB Update
I'm going to be a little triumphant today, about guessing it right about changes eventually introduced to the Dutch counterinsurgency strategy in Uruzgan, Afghanistan.
For a reminder, here is one of the main points I made on my blog, about the Dutch counterinsurgency strategy - the ink blot strategy - in Uruzgan Province, in Afghanistan.
"The oil spot approach shouldn't serve as an euphemistic synonym for the 'Srebrenica mode' or risk-aversion (a point to consider for the Dutch leadership). Beside maintaining development islands one cannot tolerate the unperturbed existence of 'insurgency islands'. There is a possible compromise between not doing anything and between kicking down every door in every village. Operations to harass hostile forces are in any case necessary" (I wrote that on April 11.)
"With more, supposedly well-coordinated, harassment of insurgents (by e.g. clandestine patrols), it has been my take so far that the mix of the Dutch/Australian approach can turn out to be reminiscent of the real ink spot concept." (That's from a post of mine from April 15, already referring to the arrival of Australian special forces to Uruzgan.)
Well, here's a quote about changes the Dutch are now introducing in Uruzgan.
"The Dutch troops in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan will change its strategy this month, which could lead to more fighting with hostile groups, Dutch daily Trouw reported on Monday.
"The battle group of the Dutch mission in Uruzgan will patrol around the clock to prevent movement by any gatherings of insurgents, including members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, lieutenant colonel Rob Querido, commander of the battle group, told Trouw.
The battle group is going to operate according to the "amoeba model," named after a single-cell organism, which constantly changes shape. Querido said the Dutch unit will suddenly turn up here and there, with the aim of harassing the insurgents and eventually driving them out.
"That is the key to counterinsurgency: taking the initiative from the hostile groups and removing their freedom of movement," he said.
"By being more mobile we are going to irritate those groups. I expect they will react and that we will have more fighting," he added.
With the amoeba model the main priority of the military mission in Uruzgan will change. Up to now it is the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), which decides where patrols will go, but soon the PRT will follow the battle group and carry out reconstruction where patrols have been."
Now the only thing that's needed for the Dutch is, of course, having this strategy really work.
I also concluded on April 13 the following, which I may have guessed right.
'Talibs might be congregating too much for their health in Uruzgan, and (...) so the lax Dutch approach might actually yield gains for ISAF in the end, once there is a decisive move against the insurgency there.'
Now here's another quote (from April 25) to let you reflect on that:
"A Taliban commander was among 16 people killed in Afghanistan, while Afghan and Nato forces surrounded around 200 Taliban fighters in southern Uruzgan province, officials said yesterday."
There are claims that even senior Talib leader Mollah Dadullah might be there among those supposedly netted by the offensive around Keshay village in Uruzgan (the exact location was named by an AP report). In the past sometimes such reports turned out to be exaggerated and expected huge Talib losses didn't materialise. However, if a lot of (not necessarily 200) militants did gather in the village of Keshay, that would be exactly the kind of congregating tendency that I said can be unhealthy for them.

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