22 July 2009

Eight Imperatives for Success in Afghanistan

Eight Imperatives for Success in Afghanistan
GEN Stanley A. McChrystal, U.S. Army
Commander, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan
Commander, International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan

From “Commander’s Initial Guidance,” 13 June 2009

1. Protect and Partner with the People. We are fighting for the Afghan people—not against them. Our focus on their welfare will build the trust and support necessary for success.

2. Conduct a Comprehensive Counterinsurgency Campaign. Insurgencies fail when root causes disappear. Security is essential, but I believe our ultimate success lies in partnering with the Afghan Government, partner nations, NGOs, and others to build the foundations of good government and economic development.

3. Understand the Environment. We must understand in detail the situation, however complex, and be able to explain it to others. Our ability to act effectively demands a real appreciation for the positive and negative impact of everything we do—or fail to do. Understanding is a prerequisite for success.

4. Ensure Values Underpin our Effort. We must demonstrate through our words and actions our commitment to fair play, our respect and sensitivity for the cultures and traditions of others, and an understanding that rules of law and humanity do not end when fighting starts. Both our goals and conduct must be admired.

5. Listen Closely—Speak Clearly. We must listen to understand—and speak clearly to be understood. Communicating our intentions and accurately reflecting our actions to all audiences is a critical responsibility—and necessity.

6. Act as One Team. We are an alliance of nations with different histories, cultures, and national objectives—united in our support for Afghanistan. We must be unified in purpose, forthright in communication, and committed to each other.

7. Constantly Adapt. This war is unique, and our ability to respond to even subtle changes in conditions will be decisive. I ask you to challenge conventional wisdom and abandon practices that are ingrained into many military cultures. And I ask you to push me to do the same.

8. Act with Courage and Resolve. Hard fighting, difficult decisions, and inevitable losses will mark the days ahead. Each of us, from our most junior personnel to our senior leaders, must display physical, mental, and moral courage. Our partners must trust our commitment; enemies must not question our resolve.