Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nate Fick on Fighting an Insurgency in Afghanistan – “Fight Less, Win More”

Nate Fick is a remarkable individual. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, “One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer.”

(See my prior review in The White Rhino Report of this book, linked below)

http://whiterhinoreport.blogspot.com/2006/01/book-review-and-commentary-one-bullet.html

Nate is currently in the process of finishing dual degrees at Harvard – at the Business School and the Kennedy School of Government. He also has been selected as a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. In that role, he recently returned to Afghanistan at the invitation of the U.S. Army to teach at the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy. In a piece published in this past Sunday’s Washington Post, Nate recounts his experience of returning to the world of counterinsurgency warfare.

I am proud to call Nate my friend. I have enormous respect for what he has done, and continues to do, in the service of our nation and the cause of world peace. In every conversation I have ever had with Nate, I have learned something of value. By offering this link to his recent article, I am pleased to make his insights available to the readers of The White Rhino Report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/09/AR2007080900667_pf.html

As a follow-up to this article, The Washington Post hosted an online dialogue with Nate on Monday. I found the questions – and Nate’s responses to them – instructive. I think you will find them to be of interest, as well.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2007/08/10/DI2007081001573.html

It is my hope and prayer that the rich experiences and insights being harvested by young warrior-statesmen like Nate Fick and his ilk will help to inform the decision-makers in Washington, and may eventually lead to more enlightened policies – decision-making that re-acquires lost lessons from past conflicts. Nate speaks eloquently and thoughtfully on this point – taken from the transcript of his online dialogue:

Nathaniel Fick: “One of the more striking aspects of the recent revival in COIN [Counterinsurgency] theory is that none of it's new. These lessons were recorded by T.E. Lawrence after the Arab Revolt of WW1, by the Marines in their Small Wars Manual before WW2, and again throughout the Vietnam era. They were learned at a great price by those who went before us. I was told by an instructor during my earliest days at Quantico to remember the lessons in our manuals, because they were written in the blood of our predecessors. It's true. But the institutions forgot what had been learned. One of our key challenges now is ensure that doesn't happen again. I'm heartened in some respects because influential senior leaders are promoting these lessons, but whether the changes are truly embraced remains to be seen.”

I commend to you the full article and the full transcript of Monday’s conversation.

Al

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