|Courtesy of the US Army on flickr|
A couple of decades ago a young major in the US Armed Forces penned an article for Parameters, a journal published by the Strategic Studies Institute. Shortly after the end of the war in Vietnam, the major warned that the US should not make the mistake of thinking that Vietnam saw the last counterinsurgency campaign the US might find itself embroiled in. The US then did exactly what the major had warned against: it decided to only fight conventional, symmetric wars. But that came full circle in 2001: No one can choose what sort of war they will have to fight in the end. The conclusion from that observation should be obvious. Assuming that we can simply choose not to fight another Afghanistan is irresponsible, war will continue to be unpredictable. But most policymakers within NATO seem to assume that following the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 we are not going on similar endeavours. The young major was David Petraeus and his point is more important today than ever before. We need to look at Afghanistan and draw real lessons from that conflict. Joshua Foust of the Atlantic and the American Security Project makes a good first start here.