Editorial

Downrange: An Informal Report of a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 19 Comments

[Part Four of Four] COIN doctrine, counter-insurgency theory, says “protect the people” comes before “kill the enemy.” In meeting after meeting we heard all the right things from officers and civilian leaders who were earnest, brave, well-intentioned, smart, sincere, hard-working and absolutely decent and ethical.  We heard about construction projects and rules of engagement and mitigating civilian casualties, about liaising with tribal elders and managing escalation of force and irrigation and extracting resources and using local people, defeating the corruption of the Karzai regime, delivering good governance, etc.  But I didn’t see any Afghans in the rooms.  I didn’t see…

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Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine General James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

[Part Three of Four] It’s more than a little weird, participating in one of these PR walkarounds. Self-congratulation is the inevitable theme. The bubble can get pretty thick. For me, at least, it’s almost impossible to grok the street reality. Are things going great or are we all lining up to drink our own Kool-Aid?  For all I can tell, the sullen, hood-eyed bandits eyeballing our procession have been cutting loose AK rounds at Marines twenty-four hours earlier—and may be doing it again three days from now. Not that that means anything. Earlier in the trip, Gen. Mattis, speaking of…

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Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

[Part Two of Four] 6. Kabul is a Third World city, squalid as mud and dirty as hell. Every building that’s above the level of the people is built like a fortress; compounds with high walls topped with razor wire, AK-toting guards out front and security cameras atop Y-shaped posts. At the airport, guard towers are set in onion fields with police asleep or tending little vegetable gardens or heating tea over propane stoves. They’re keeping watch, supposedly, over cyclone fences topped with concertina wire and protected at ground level by rolls of the same, so no one can crawl…

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Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

Part One of Four 1. Jim Mattis is a four-star Marine general. He doesn’t go out of his way to be quotable; he just can’t help himself.  Here, from Iraq 2004, are his instructions to the Marines under his command on how to conduct themselves with the natives they will encounter. Be polite.  Be professional.  But have a plan to kill everyone you meet. In the first battle of Fallouja, Gen. Mattis commanded the Marines assigned to take the city. There came a point during the fighting when Mattis had to negotiate with the Sunni sheikhs and Baathist ex-army officers…

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An Open Letter to Gen. James Jones, National Security Advisor

By Steven Pressfield | 12 Comments

[This week has been a rough one for our troops in Afghanistan–and a contentions one among policymakers here in the States.  I’m going to interrupt our ongoing interview with tribal chief Ajmal Khan Zazai to post this open letter.  The same note was sent by e-mail two days ago to the parties below.]

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“One Tribe at a Time”

By Steven Pressfield | 12 Comments

The thoughts and I ideas that I will put forward in this paper are mine alone. Although I credit the U.S. Army Special Forces for the training I have received and the trust of [its] commanders, nothing in this paper reflects any other person’s or organization’s ideas.

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Part #1

By Steven Pressfield | 6 Comments

[The blog is out of town this week.  Here is a re-boot of our first post in this ongoing series. See you Monday!]

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Mea Culpa: Coming Attractions coming a little late

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

They say that every enterprise, from D-Day to a kitchen remodel, takes three times as long as you think and costs three times as much. I must apologize: our two new series have run afoul of this same syndrome. Here’s the latest:

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Monday Mashup—9/14/09

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

  This past Friday marked eight years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  

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Knowing When to Stop, or Learning How to Win?

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

A guest blog by Michael Brandon McClellan [Mike McClellan is a graduate of Yale and Georgetown Law and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. His articles on politics and foreign policy have appeared in the WSJ, the Weekly Standard and on TCS Daily.  It’s our pleasure to welcome him as a contributor.]

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