Waging a Wiser War

By Paul Howard and Timothy Connors '97MBA, '00J.D.

As the sun is setting over the mountains to the west, a small band of Taliban fighters push into a rugged valley in Afghanistan’s Konar province. The terrain is rugged and austere but also eerily beautiful—a blend of West Virginia mountains and Arizona desert.

For centuries it has also been a killing ground for armies. The roads are few, narrow and steep, falling off hundreds of feet to the river below, making every bend in the road a potential ambush. Large boulders and caves dot the landscape; a passing convoy could be surrounded and not know till it is too late. Konar province is also near the Pakistan border, allowing smugglers and insurgents to slip into Afghanistan practically at will. It is, in short, a nearly ideal setting for launching and sustaining an armed insurgency. The Soviets were bloodied and eventually broken trying to hunt down the mujahaddeen

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