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

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Roads, force protection and security

This was my prior, meant-to-be comprehensive and smart post on the issue of the relationship between roads and security in a COIN campaign. I actually see no reason to alter my views voiced in it. But here's a quote from a photographer super-veteran of Afghanistan that worked its way around my brain a little - the super-veteran mentioned is John D. McHugh who was wounded severely in eastern Afghanistan last year but returned to work there no matter what. Afghanistanica wrote about him last year, and now Péter Wagner reminded me of him.
"The drive was horrible. And every few minutes 1SG would point out another IED blast site, a hole in the ground. Or rocket remains scattered by the road. The worst part is when the vehicle has to drive through a depression in the road, usually a dried up wadi. These are the sites favoured by the people who emplace the IEDs, because they are harder to see from the base, due to the cover afforded by the wadi, and also because the ground is softer and easier to dig. Every time we dropped into one I caught my breath, and every time we drove up the other side without exploding I cheered inside."
So asphalt may be useful against IEDs in some places. For force protection, that is, which of course shouldn't be conflated with security. But even this effect probably shouldn't be exaggerated. As to security, it is not all about whether there are or if there aren't IEDs. And it is where security is really generally better that IEDs may actually disappear altogether.
Photo: When will they pave that street? (Photo by John D. McHugh, source)

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