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Mark Safranski Comments Col (ret.) Harry Tunnell

I was always curious, reading threads [on private listserv] here on Afghanistan, how Colonel Tunnell was able to openly pursue counter-guerrilla operations in Afghanistan when pop-centric COIN was the heavy-handed, top-down and rigidly enforced tactical paradigm; Harry, IMHO, could do this because the *verbal* orders being issued went far beyond FM 3-24 theory into an unauthorized and unofficial but *politically desired* British policing model used in Northern Ireland. A kind of tactical guidance that could not be put in writing and enforced through the UCMJ because the American people would have found that guidance to be politically intolerable and morally outrageous – and rightly so.

Unlike Catholics in Ulster who are subjects of the Crown, Afghans are not American citizens and American soldiers and Marines are not cops in a bad neighborhood. Nor is the Taliban the IRA. Minimizing civilian casualties is a good and worthy goal; valuing political atmospherics over American lives is a sign of gross incompetence, at best.

Hence the anonymous leaks and smears about Harry to politically connected  Beltway scribes instead. Tunnell’s superiors were afraid to air their real dispute.

Colonel Tunnell expressed strong opinions here on the Loop [a private Listserv] from time to time and I did not always agree with him or how he was characterizing problems under discussion. As a civilian, I’m not qualified to assess his tactical operations in Afghanistan. What I can say is that Colonel Tunnell has displayed far more character and intellectual honesty than his critics and that he his placed value of the lives of his men above political gamesmanship and careerism.

Best,
Mark
===END email from Mr. Safranski===

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