Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 12:54 | SYDNEY
Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 12:54 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Roads and insurgencies


Sam Roggeveen


18 June 2008 11:56

Jesse responds to my scepticism of the theory that building roads will help defeat the Afghan insurgency:

Building roads was an important component of the counterinsurgency campaign waged in the Emergency in Malaya. Roads facilitated the rapid transfer of labour and resources to remote areas — essential in securing vulnerable populations. Roads can also enhance government presence and, in some ways, control. On the other hand, having inaccessible villages or towns plays in to the hands of insurgents. It leaves the villages vulnerable to attack and intimidation. Perhaps more critically, these vulnerable populations can become points of supply, cover and intelligence for insurgents.

If the point of counterinsurgency is to secure the population and isolate the insurgents, then ease of access to populations is necessarily important.