New US Afghanistan Chief: Convince, Don't Kill
Sketches strategy to mix troops with population
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 12, 2009 9:20 AM CDT
Sen. John McCain greets Stanley A. McChrystal on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 2, 2009, prior to the start of the committee's confirmation hearing.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – The new US commander in Afghanistan says his experiences there and in Iraq have changed his perspective on an effective counterinsurgency: “You're going to have to convince people, not kill them,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal tells the Wall Street Journal. “Since 9/11, I have watched as America tried to first put out this fire with a hammer, and it doesn't work," he said. "Decapitation strategies don't work.”

His goal: a “classic counterinsurgency campaign” that gets “people down in among the population,” sending troops farther from their bases to build stability and intelligence. But he’s not sure current staffing levels will suffice. Some have worried that McChrystal’s history of work with elite forces—much of his recent activity remains secret—doesn’t qualify him for his new job. He thinks not, but it’s a “fair question,” the special-ops expert says.