Spend some time in Brussels and Kabul with the soldiers and civilians of NATO and you’ll hear the same thing: If there ever was a place and a time when winning support of the local population would help win a war, the place is Afghanistan — and the time is now.
Afghanistan is beginning to thaw, which means a spring offensive against the Taliban looms. Perhaps that’s why NATO troops, cobbled together from 36 countries into the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, have begun publicly promoting their efforts to avoid harming ordinary Afghans.
Sarah Holewinski is CIVIC's former Executive Director and now serves on the Board of Directors. She was most recently deputy chief of staff for policy at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. As executive director of CIVIC, she led efforts to advise warring parties on civilian protection and responsible use of force and worked extensively with the U.S. military and its allies and in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, CAR, Burma, and elsewhere.