Yes I think it is safe to assume that the practice of COIN doctrine in Afghanistan is officially dead. It did not produce the results that everyone hoped for (remember HOPE is not a method), and if anything it may have cost a few more lives.
I remember when the Petraeus took over CENTCOM and there was talk of trying to implement the same Anbar Awakening concept that was successful in Iraq, over in Afghanistan. I expressed serious doubts then that it would work. I have said time and time again that Afghanistan is not Iraq and never would be. I have given that line in presentations, interviews and on this blog and other blogs. The people of Afghanistan are nowhere near what the people of Iraq are like.
I have word now that the famed COIN Academy in Kabul is now shutting down in about 5 months. So does that mean that everyone has learned and mastered it? Or does it mean they realize it isn’t making a difference. I think it is the latter.
I also feel that the rash of murders of our soldiers by our friends and allies, the Afghans, has put the final nail in the coffin of COIN. Our soldiers look at every Afghan now with a more suspicious eye than ever before. There are bases in Afghanistan that used to not allow soldiers to walk about with a loaded magazine in their weapon, telling soldiers to have a full loaded mag all the time. It is truly going to hell in a handbasket and over there and soldiers all over are talking about “what if” and different contingencies if the Afghans were to turn on them.
Of course this makes for a very dangerous situation, because a benign action or movement on part of afghan could result in a soldier shooting and killing them because of nervousness. I am not saying that is a bad thing, I am just saying that could result in increased violence, especially off base and feed the enemies I/O machine.
Our soldiers are dying, they are dying at the hands of our “friends” faster than at the hands of our enemies over the last week (I heard that from a friend today). Two more soldiers were killed yesterday (http://www.neurope.eu/article/two-more-us-soldiers-killed-afghanistan) and there are reports of more attacks on US Soldiers today.
It is done people, we may be there through 2014 (or maybe just 2013 from some reports I have heard), but I can tell you the ability to effectively mentor and train these security forces is pretty much finished. The attacks over the last week are in the heads of every soldier over there and those on the way over there. It will take more time than we are planned to be there to erase those memories and allow US soldiers to have the trust they once had.
In the words of H.L. Mencken “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
I think that is what some of our soldiers are feeling right now.