Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Attack on Kabul Hotel Sends Clear Message to Afghans

Having grown up in Brooklyn I’ve always been fascinated by gangsters. Whether it was reading about how Lepke Buckhalter operated Murder, Incorporated in my old neighborhood or watching Tony Soprano and his pals eat some mouth watering Italian food I was intrigued.

The June 28 attack on the former Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul was a kinetic attack that sent some very clear messages. (See the June 28, 2011 NY Times at @ Photo Source is the NY Times.

First of all, the target was purely Afghan. There were no Coalition forces present and the hotel is no longer the Mecca for foreign visitors that it once was. Secondly this was perhaps a Goldilocks target – not too soft like a market, and not too hard like a NATO base. Thirdly the tactics were pure light infantry and coordinated in the face of what appears to be reasonable security measures.

From an IO standpoint it was a much better rebuttal statement to President Obama’s speech (see previous posting) than the Republicans could hope to accomplish.

An old maxim of criminal jury trials is that the prosecutor has to convince all the jurors of innocence while the defense attorney has to convince just one. Or as we used to say “One aw sh*t wipes out 100 attaboys”. The good guys need to be lucky all the time and the bad guys only need to be lucky once.

Is the attack a game changer that will change the President’s mind or cause the incoming ISAF Commander to revise the strategy and concept of operations? Probably not. It does however; show that the enemy fully understands how to execute kinetic operations for psychological effect. It means that the Coalition must step up influence operations to serve as a catalyst to build resilience in the Afghan people so that they can accept occasional setbacks and successes by the enemy and emerge stronger and more resolved as a result of them.

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