RUSI in the News - December 2009

Citations of RUSI experts, analysis and events in the global media from December 2009

President Obama's plan for Afghanistan

December began with the release of President Obama's long-term - and long-awaited - vision for ending the war in Afghanistan in a speech to the West Point military academy.

While more United States soldiers would be sent in a 'surge' against the Taliban, the President placed equal emphasis on efforts to train up Afghanistan's security forces in time for the withdrawal of major Western combat troops in two years.

In a analysis piece, RUSI's Director Michael Clarke considered whether the Afghan army and police were up to the task. The numbers of recruits required are daunting - and solving corruption and disloyalty will be more daunting still, he argued. Michael Codner, Head of RUSI's Military Sciences department, discussed the delicate balance between mobilisation and transition in what he termed the new 'Afghanistan Plus' strategy.

President Obama's proposed withdrawal date of mid-2011 quickly became the most controversial part of his announcement. But any Afghan exit strategy would not be as easy as the one eventually found for Iraq, Michael Clarke warned in the Daily Telegraph.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers analysed the strategy's impact on America's NATO and European allies in the Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor. Britain committed 500 extra troops to its Afghan commitment shortly before President Obama's announcement - a development discussed by Michael Clarke on Channel 4 News and BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Professor Michael Codner considered how extra troops could make a difference to the war in an analysis piece for BBC News, and cautioned on CNN that Afghanistan was far from the "graveyard of empires" of stereotype.

Coverage: Daily Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Channel 4 News, BBC, CNN

Sunny future for Serbia

The glass is 'definitely half-full, not half-empty' on Serbia's EU ambitions, RUSI Balkan expert Jonathan Eyal argued in a Daily Telegraph story on a possible membership bid in 2010. 'Serbia is moving forward on the issues that matter,' he added.

Stability in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone remains relatively stable - but a return to civil war must be guarded against, Knox Chitiyo, Head of RUSI's Africa programme, advised in a briefing by the International Relations and Security Network.

A warning against waning support

'The Taliban can't win. They need us to fail.' Coming two days after President Obama's strategy speech, RUSI's annual lecture by the Chief of Defence Staff received wide media coverage for its stern warning that public apathy was now the main threat to failure in Afghanistan.

'The mission is achievable and at last we have a properly-resourced strategy,' Sir Jock Stirrup argued in his lecture. 'Afghan political delivery - that's the tough one', he warned, referring to Afghanistan's recent and 'undeniably messy' presidential election. The full speech can be read here.

Coverage: BBC, AFP, Reuters, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Sky News, Guardian

Civilian contributions and defence cuts

Amid 'turbulent times' for the Ministry of Defence, the contribution made by civilian personnel to Britain's security should not be underrated, the MoD's Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Bill Jeffreys argued in a keynote policy speech at RUSI.

Coverage: Ministry of Defence

Sir Bill Jeffrey's speech came days before the government announced cuts to defence jobs and an RAF base in order to fund frontline equipment for operations in Afghanistan.  RUSI's Michael Clarke emphasised that the decisions were being made in the absence of a long-overdue defence review. 'Something is going to give and in a big way,' he warned in a Daily Telegraph commentary piece. Writing for the Guardian, Michael Codner added that the Afghan increases made 'absolute sense', although hard choices for the defence budget remained.

Coverage: BBC, Independent, AFP, Daily Telegraph, Guardian

A keynote military policy speech

A new Armed Forces charter could allow British soldiers privileged access to healthcare and housing in the future, the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth announced in a key policy speech hosted by RUSI.

Acknowledging that the MoD should do more to inform veterans of their rights, Mr Ainsworth pledged more legal support for soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and their families at home.

Coverage: Times, Daily Telegraph, Reuters, Daily Mail

Previous months

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

Explore our related content