Major Gen. Richard Mills is in demand since relinquishing command of the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan last month. The first commander of the Regional Command-Southwest Region (RC-SW), Major General Mills was successful in taking one of the most volatile regions (the Helmand province) to a relatively peaceful one in one year. Next week, he will make several speaking engagements in Washington, including one co-hosted by the Marine Corps Association and Institute for the Study of War (ISW), at the Navy Memorial’s Burke Theater on May 2 at 3:30 p.m.

ISW, a relative newcomer to the D.C. think tank landscape, has issued a series of reports on the state of the counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. In their most recent study released in January, author Jeffrey Dressler claims that both coalition and Afghanistan forces have made significant progress in “clearing and holding” critical districts and, in some areas, they have even begun the “build” phase of reconstruction and development. This is due in large part to the fact that the Helmand province has been the first province where comprehensive, population-centric counterinsurgency operations have been conducted with a force constituted to do so – with approximately 4,000 Marines deployed to the region since July 2009.

The report cites successes keeping the local populations secure, increasing the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), improving the counternarcotics efforts (through interdiction), strengthening local governments and even improving living conditions (according to polls conducted by the Washington Post, ABC and BBC). Many credit the leadership of Major General Mills with shifting the momentum from the insurgency to the coalition and ANSF.

Monday’s sit-down discussion with ISW founder Dr. Kimberly Kagan could prove to be a rare chance to hear firsthand (in a dialog format) from the general who was in the vanguard of COIN implementation in Afghanistan. He will discuss his approach to counterinsurgency and the challenges that remain ahead for ISAF. To attend, RSVP here.

Posted by The Bunny in History
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