Theory meets Practice: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

Dr. David Kilcullen and Dr. Andrew Wilder explore the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the relationship between successful counter-insurgency operations and state-building efforts.

The U.S. has poured nearly 17,000 additional troops as well as significant new civilian and financial resources into the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. These first tangible elements of the new Obama administration counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan are facing intense resistance from the Taliban as the country prepares for national elections on August 20th.

Does the current approach in Afghanistan match the population-centric theory of counter-insurgency articulated in the much lauded 2007 U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual? Is the bumper-sticker premise of ‘Clear-Hold-Build’ the right approach for Afghanistan? Is there a direct, positive correlation between “development” and “security” in the Afghan context?

David Kilcullen and Andrew Wilder discussed current efforts in Afghanistan, especially in the volatile South, exploring the links between successful counter-insurgency operations, economic development, and state-building efforts, and analyzing whether the Afghan government and international community have the capacity to ensure sufficient development progress.


  • David Kilcullen
    Former COIN Advisor to General David Petraeus and Secretary Condolezza Rice
    Author, The Accidental Guerilla” (Oxford, 2009)
  • Andrew Wilder
    Former Director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
    Research Director, Feinstein International Center at Tufts University
  • J Alexander Thier, Moderator
    Senior Rule of Law Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace

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