As wariness over the two wars mounts in the US, however, tension is building within the Obama administration over how much the US should embrace the use of counterinsurgency doctrine. Is it simply one tactic among many in the military tool box? Or should it be the central component of a grand strategy to pacify Afghanistan and guide the future development of US forces?
While President Obama has defined the mission in Afghanistan as rooting out Al Qaeda and preventing a return of the Taliban to power, a deeper debate over US strategy has surfaced with the recent leak of a confidential assessment of the situation by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the man Mr. Obama hired to turn around and win the war.
"This new strategy must also be properly resourced and executed through an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign that earns the support of the Afghan people and provides them with a secure environment," McChrystal wrote, appearing to ask for more troops.
If his advice is accepted, it will underscore how much the mission in Afghanistan has shifted from the narrow focus of "get Al Qaeda" that prevailed at the start of the war to one where US soldiers and civilian aid workers are expected to reduce corruption at the local and national levels, train Afghan cops and soldiers, improve local economies, and aid in building a democratic central government.