The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Afghanistan…Vietnam??

The American situation has dramatically changed in Iraq. Daily the end state seems to gain more clarity and the Administration has just announced that troop strength by the end of 2010 will be approximately 50K. Given that, attention is shifting to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is dramatically different than Iraq. A quick look at geography, history, and demographics, not to mention the nature of the adversary and the geopolitical setting all describe a completely different operating environment. Also, with the change of political parties in the U.S. and with the U.S. facing significant economic challenges, the domestic U.S. scene is completely different. Some analysts believe that these circumstances make Afghanistan a more significant challenge than Iraq ever was. Commentators Ralph Peters and French MacLean have described their views on the strategic situation. Is Afghanistan more like Vietnam than Iraq?

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March 28, 2011 - Posted by | COIN, Current Events, H300, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Well, in deciding if Afghanistan is more like Vietnam than Iraq I could see one being able to argue yes, if comparing terrain and geographical boundaries. If one were to compare enemy tactics I could see the arguement being more difficult to prove Afghanistan being more like Vietnam than Iraq.

    If one were to compare the enemy’s beliefs or ideals, I would say neither Afghanistan nor Iraq are like Vietnam.

    MAJ Tanya Seymore

    Comment by MAJ Tanya Seymore | March 31, 2011

  2. To me, one of the key differences between Afghanistan and Vietnam is that there has not been any high-intensity conflict between conventional forces in Afghanistan. In Iraq, there was high-intensity conflict between conventional forces initially, but once Phase III was over, it was replaced by the insurgency.

    Comment by Rachel Wienke, 17D | April 1, 2011

  3. There are parallels between Libya and the Bangladeshi freedom movement. What can we learn from the past? My analysis here.

    http://haphazardcontemplations.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/how-to-overthrow-a-brutal-dictator/

    Comment by ulag | April 29, 2011

  4. The parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam are striking, but one should not overlook the differences as well. First with regards to troop strength, we have a far smaller commitment to Afghanistan than we did in Vietnam. I think the striking difference is the desired Endstate. In Vietnam, our desire was to develop South Vietnam that would be able to stop the Communist expansion and capable of self governance. I think in Afghanistan, we want a develop a Nation-State capable of stable and secure self goverance to prevent a power vacuum that is condusive to train and support terrorism. Both endstates are difficult. The similiarity in my opinion is that both endstates are (were) achievable if the will of the people (in the states) would support it long enough. Time will be the only indicator if our efforts in Afghanistan will ultimately be successful.

    Comment by Marcus Hay | February 2, 2012


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