After six years into the war in Afghanistan, I am dismayed that the Army has made no discernable effort to learn from the history of warfare in Afghanistan. We are today committing the exact same mistakes, with the exact same operational plan, as the generals of the doomed interventions of Alexander the Great, the British Empire (twice), and the Soviet Union. Sometimes the similarities are so uncanny I wonder if I'm dreaming. Is it just a kind of American bravado -- a sense that we're Americans, we're different -- that blinds us to the lessons of the past? A careful study of the campaigns of the four previous western invasions of Afghanistan show that war there always has two phases. In Phase One, a modern western army brings a Revolution in Military Affairs to bear against disorganized resistance, and after a few set-piece battles in which many are killed, the enemy melts away into the hills. Alexander, the British, and the Soviets all experienced this -- so did we in Operation Enduring Freedom. Then the victorious army settles down for about two years of nation-building, attempting to administer and govern the country from the provincial capitals (Alexander, Elphinstone, Sokolov, Barno, etc). Then comes Phase Two, in which the people who were chased up into the hills cook up an insurgency which takes root at the district level -- where they are, and the western army is not -- and begin to build the political and military capital necessary to eventually own the ground. We are making exactly the same mistakes that all who went before us made. We are attempting to administer, develop, and govern the country from the level of the provincial capitals. No one ever defeated an insurgency in Afghanistan by killing insurgents, and no one ever defeated an insurgency in Afghanistan operating from the provincial level. The enemy is at the district level. Instead of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), we need District Reconstruction Teams (DRTs).