What Afghanistan Can Learn from Colombia by Robert Haddick

Source:Posted by Robert Haddick on January 11, 2010 10:55 AM on smallwarsjournal.com

The United States will not succeed in Afghanistan if Afghanistan’s own security forces don’t eventually secure the country. Few analysts dispute this point. But do the U.S. and Afghan governments have the right plan for building up Afghanistan’s security forces? In an essay I wrote for The American, a journal published by the American Enterprise Institute, I assert that the U.S. and Afghan governments can learn a lot by studying how over the past decade Colombia reformed its army and greatly improved its security situation.

An excerpt:
Ten years ago, Colombia faced a security crisis in many ways worse than that which Afghanistan currently faces. But over the past decade, Colombia has sharply reduced its murder and kidnapping rates, crushed the array of insurgent groups fighting against the government, demobilized the paramilitary groups that arose during the power vacuum of the 1990s, and significantly restored the rule of law and the presence of the government throughout the country.

With the assistance of a small team of U.S. advisers, Colombia rebuilt its army. In contrast to [General Stanley] McChrystal’s plan for Afghanistan, Colombia focused on quality, not quantity. Colombia’s army and other security forces have achieved impressive success against an insurgency in many ways similar to Afghanistan.

I discuss the similarities and differences between the security challenges in Afghanistan and Colombia. I then argue that Colombia’s relatively small but elite professional army, its emphasis on helicopter mobility, and its local home-guard program provide a powerful model for reforming Afghanistan’s security forces.

Click here to read the essay.

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