10.31.2009

Reinforcing my point

At least they don't fight like the Germans -- the French are proving that there is a good way of doing both military and civilian operations in Afghanistan:
In Kapisa, the French task force is headed by France’s 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment, commanded by Col. Francis Chanson.

“Success in Kapisa will hinge on development more than the destruction of insurgents,” Chanson said. “I’m not trying to gain their heart, but their confidence.”

The French focus simultaneously on security and development, believing they go hand-in-hand. From their base in Tagab village, the French troops set out to gauge insurgent strength along the valley road and give reconstruction teams time to assess the area for construction projects, such as roads and police stations.

“You don’t have to wait for total security to start projects,” said Capt. Antoine. (Except for senior officers, the French military permits only the use of first names.)
The French example also serves to reinforce a point I made the other day -- the civilian and military aspects of the campaign must be closely linked, working in tandem, rather than dis-coordinated and haphazard.

This civilian capacity is an aspect of the campaign to which Europe can contribute greatly, but Obama's options are slimming -- indeed, the honeymoon with Europe seems to be coming to an end:
Despite George W. Bush's defiant "you're with us or you're against us" public stance, he actively solicited advice and input from his NATO partners. Obama, by contrast, is saying all the right things in public about transatlantic relations and NATO but adopting a high-handed policy and paying little attention to Europe. And Europe is taking a hint.