“Develop A Troop Requirement For A Campaign Plan That Hadn’t Been Written”: Counter Insurgency Warfare In Afghanistan

Patrick Howell


Patrick Howell graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1992 and commissioned as an Engineer Officer. He has served in a variety of assignments from conventional to special operations forces. Throughout his career, he has also taught in the USMA Department of Social Sciences, graduated from the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), and earned a PhD at Duke University. He is currently the Director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. After graduating from SAMS, he deployed to Afghanistan, where he worked for General McChrystal in the CJ-35 (Combined / Joint Future Operations) section of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) staff. McChrystal announced a shift to a population-centric method of counter insurgency, and Pat Howell was given the task of determining how many troops were needed to achieve success. The initial problem was that the associated campaign plan had not yet been written. After research into a variety of counter insurgency models, developing ratios of troops to civilians, identifying other planning factors, and using both a top-down and bottom-up approach, Howell and the other planners began formulating estimates of how many additional troops were required in Afghanistan, eventually arriving at a final number of 40,000. This interview offers unique insights into planning processes at a theater-level command.


conflicts Afghanistan War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie West Point History Counterinsurgency
interviewer Nick Kramer
date 08 April 21


name Patrick Howell
institution USMA
graduation year 1992
service Engineer
unit 82nd Airborne Division; 54th Engineer Battalion; Department of Social Sciences; 75th Ranger Regiment; ISAF Afghanistan; Director of MWI
specialty SAMS (School of Advanced Military Studies) Graduate, Department of Social Sciences
service dates 1992