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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Tuesday, 18 October 2016 00:00

Importance of the 'Unknown Knowns'

Written by  CHRIS PATON

In September 2008, I was seated in the back of a hot, noisy Chinook helicopter flying into Helmand Province in Afghanistan. I was to take over as head of planning for the military and civilian operations for the entire province. I never envisaged that more than 400 fighters had bypassed the outer bases of our “safe space” and were ready to attack. The military aim in Helmand at that time was to create a protected zone in which Afghan Government and international aid organization staff could work. The intention was to win the support of locals and subsequently assist the Kabul government. Our predecessors had done a superlative job of fighting to establish this safe space and had set up a series of bases that acted as an outer defensive barrier to protect it. Everything we did in planning and preparing for our deployment revolved around holding this protective barrier, improving the