Posted by: Christian | May 8, 2008

Destroy All Afghan Roads

If you’ve been reading in the blogosphere about Afghanistan lately you may have come across the debate regarding road building in Afghanistan. It started with an article by David Kilcullen, who has been hanging out in Afghanistan a lot recently. The article argues for the benefits of new roads in the counterinsurgency effort. This led to much debate, concurrence and/or criticism at, [My] State Failure Blog, Kings of War and Abu Durkha Durkha.

Photo: Story about Army engineer road builders here.

I didn’t post an entry on the debate, and I probably should have. Do I have an opinion? I do. So here it goes: destroy all Afghan roads.

What!? Really? No, not really. But that is sort of what my secret Afghan informer told me the US should do to Afghan roads, specifically the ones leading to Pakistan. I informed him of a debate occurring on the practice of road building in Eastern Afghanistan and asked his opinion, being that he is an Afghan government technocrat. He said:

“Eastern Afghanistan? They should destroy all the roads there because they go to Pakistan. They should destroy the roads, the airways, the trails for horses, the water should not go [flow] to Pakistan….”

At this point some of his cohorts started adding their ideas for what should be destroyed. I believe “underground ways” was added to the destruction list and “birds should not fly to there” was thrown in for effect. I’ll just put that down as “destroy avian migratory routes that lead to Pakistan.”

But I don’t endorse the destruction of Afghans roads. They obviously need some work.

Photo by John D McHugh (of course). Story here.

Paktia road

Anyways, they were not being serious. They were just venting (in a rather jovial manner). Pakistan-bashing is like a national sport for some Afghans. Its popularity rivals buzkashi. I endorse buzkashi, but not Pakistan-bashing.


  1. […] Ghosts of Alexander and some other clever folk like Registan have been discussing this article from The Small Wars Journal about roads in Afghanistan and their role in military matters. Roads have been on my list of ‘interesting things to blog about,’ though more from a development perspective, ever since a NATO political big-wig parachuted into Chagcharan last year for a few hours. […]

  2. Christian,

    Don’t know whether you’ve seen this GAO report on roads:

    Among the gems it provides is that the USG does not know the impact of the roads its has built

    Another amazing factiod is that Nuristan province has $ 106.5 million in CERP road projects funded. The province with the next highest is Paktika at $ 45 million.

    I’m not sure why this hasn’t gotten more coverage.

  3. Thanks for the link. I think I will write about it after I get a chance to go through it.


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