Earlier this month, General David H. Petraeus issued his seminal commander’s “Counterinsurgency Guidance” to all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Four and a half pages in length, it succinctly laid down the principles governing the conduct of military operations in that country. Not surprisingly, the guidance built on, and incorporated, many of the same elements—and often the exact phrasing—of the equally- seminal command guidance that General Petraeus had issued to the Multi-National Force he commanded in Iraq between 2007 and 2008.
General Petraeus’s first dictum, to “secure and serve the population,” the essential foundation of any effective counterinsurgency campaign and the guiding principle of his successful strategy in Iraq, remains the same. “Live among the people. You can’t commute to this fight,” was another of General Petraeus’s pivotal emphases that has been transferred from Iraq to Afghanistan. “Pursue the enemy relentlessly”; “Hold what we secure”; “Foster lasting solutions” may also be found in the new guidance as is “Fight the information war relentlessly” and “Be first with the truth.”