My main practice is breath awareness, there I practice stilling the thoughts.
But I must say I agree with those who said that contemplation can also be very useful. And of course metta/compassion and the like, practices with a bit of thought (although you can also do them without). But these are greatly aided by stilling thoughts, because unrelated thoughts won't come up as easily. Also, these practices with discursive thoughts are mainly aimed at removing unwholesome thoughts, at least for me.
Because to really understand the mind, in my experience it has to be able to be silent. That's because thoughts disturb the mind. It's not clear, it can't really see itself. The stiller it is, the closer it gets to itself. So it's twofold. The peace is needed for strength, but also for insight.
So it's all interrelated.
I think this video is useful:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqb7ZuMI8HY