While I want to get to writing about "The Hedgehog Idea," a ton of reading and writing on the Gettysburg campaign keeps pulling me back. Additionally, I'd like to comment on Bernard Finel's new SWJ piece. Finel makes the point that with 100,000 troops in Afghanistan comprising a higher-water mark of force available to the United States that will decline, a full-on policy of coercive bargaining with Taliban must be commenced to ensure a stable long-term outcome in Afghanistan that does not require a massive amount of troops to police.
This piece does move beyond the dichotomy of counterinsurgency vs. the "small footprint" approach, and is based on the President's original strategic intent as well as the reality that current force levels are unlikely to continue. However, the practical difficulties in tailoring operations for negotiations and shaping the political-military outcome are--as Finel notes--nontrivial. It is a step in an interesting direction and ought to be developed into a campaign design to flesh out its particulars.
As an aside, I also think to some degree that Finel's approach here may become a subject of a new area of COIN studies--designing operations for limited outcomes. It is too soon to write off US participation in future COIN missions, but the expansive objectives of past US COIN missions may be a thing of the past. Tailored operations for limited war may characterize a good deal of future out-of-area operations.