About the topic: When in late 2009, President Obama ordered the surge of an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan to reverse Taliban momentum, major tenets of the U.S. military counterinsurgency doctrine shaped the resulting campaign plan. Adages such as "protect the population" and "clear, hold, and build" served to guide civil-military actions. With the hindsight of four years, however, it seems clear that some of the important assumptions upon which the plan was premised were significantly flawed. Karl Eikenberry, who served in both senior diplomatic and military posts in Afghanistan, will examine the logic of counterinsurgency doctrine as it was applied during the surge and discuss its strengths and shortcomings.
About the speaker: Karl Eikenberry served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from May 2009 until July 2011, where he led the civilian surge directed by President Obama to reverse insurgent momentum and set the conditions for transition to full Afghan sovereignty. Before appointment as Chief of Mission in Kabul, Ambassador Eikenberry had a thirty-five year career in the United States Army, retiring in April 2009 with the rank of Lieutenant General. He has served in various policy and political-military positions, including Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium; Director for Strategic Planning and Policy for U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii; U.S. Security Coordinator and Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kabul, Afghanistan; Assistant Army and later Defense Attaché at the United States Embassy in Beijing, China; Senior Country Director for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Deputy Director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy on the Army Staff.