The Battle for the Narrative

It has become almost a cliché to say the United States cannot kill its way to victory in Afghanistan. Success depends upon winning the hearts and minds of Afghanistan’s populace that must choose to reject terrorism and the Taliban. This requires the US military – schooled in hard, military power – to embrace soft power even more fully. This is a long-term process, cautioned Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, Air Force public affairs director, speaking last week at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. The Taliban is also attempting to build a narrative—and theirs is that the United States and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force are killing Afghans. Taliban fighters frequently attack civilians and attempt to blame the deaths on ISAF. Kodlick noted during his Feb. 23 address that “last year nearly 80% of Afghan casualties were caused by the Taliban.” This is a fact the United States cannot tell often enough, by releasing photographs and video imagery showing the truth.