Ink Spot Strategy

Ink Spot Strategy
A military maneuver whereby counter-insurgency and reconstruction efforts spread outwards from secured key areas – as an ink spot expands on paper.

Reporting from Afghanistan for The Washington Times, David Axe revealed:

U.S. forces are testing a modified strategy dubbed “ink spots” in which coalition forces pick certain districts to flood with reconstruction projects and permanently defend from Taliban insurgents.
In Logar province, 50 miles south of Kabul, a newly arrived contingent of U.S. and Czech troops is putting the ink-spot idea into practice. …
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal ordered U.S. commanders to withdraw their troops from remote areas of Afghanistan in September. Rather than attempting to control the whole country, troops will instead concentrate counter-insurgency efforts on key population centers, expanding slowly from these secured areas.
According to Axe:
In a recent article in Small Wars Journal [PDF], Maj. Mehar Omar Khan, a Pakistani officer attending the U.S. Army’s staff college, advocated “creating and building examples” in a handful of Afghan districts. Above all, “don’t try to arrest the sea,” Maj. Khan advised. Instead, “create islands.”
This has worked before. The U.S. Marine Corps embraced the ink-spot strategy in western Iraq in the middle years of the Iraq war. Gradually improving security resulting from that approach provided the basis for Gen. David H. Petraeus’ later population-centric “surge” strategy.
Afghanistan, however, presents a different challenge. Unlike Iraq, its population is mostly rural and dispersed among small villages. Also, Afghanistan is more populous, and there are far fewer coalition and native troops in Afghanistan than in Iraq.
(Also known as an oil spot or ink blot strategy, this approach was exploredby the British in Malaya in the 1950s. For further discussion, see this entryon the Double-Tongued Dictionary.)


Dictionary of unconsidered lexicographical trifles. 2014.

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