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Lessons from Helmand, Afghanistan: What now for British counterinsurgency?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2011 (English)In: International Affairs, ISSN 0020-5850, E-ISSN 1468-2346, Vol. 87, no 2, 297-315 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A number of lessons stand out from the analysis of British operations in Helmand between 2006 and 2010: First, contrary to the legacy, British competence in the field of counterinsurgency is neither natural nor innate through regimental tradition or historical experience. The slow adaptation in Helmand is an indication that the expertise British forces developed in past operations is but a distant folktale within the British Armed Forces. Substantially changed training, painful relearning of counterinsurgency principles, and changed mindsets are therefore necessary to avoid repeated early failures in the future. Moreover, despite eventually adapting tactically to the situation and task in Helmand, the British Armed Forces proved inadequate in dealing with the task assigned to them for two key reasons. First, the resources of the British military are simply too small for large scale complex engagements such as those in Helmand or southern Iraq. Second, the over-arching comprehensive approach, especially the civilian aspects of operations that underpinned Britain’s historical successes with counterinsurgency, is today missing. In the end, the article calls for greater realism about what British contributions to international intervention can achieve – a strategy in tune with actual resources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 87, no 2, 297-315 p.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-146708DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2011.00974.x.ISI: 000288508700003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-146708DiVA: diva2:398803
Available from: 2011-02-18 Created: 2011-02-18 Last updated: 2012-01-12Bibliographically approved

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Egnell, Robert
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