After Action Report–General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret)
Visit to Kuwait and Afghanistan 10-18 Nov 09
01 Phenomenally useful report with too much cheerleading. This is a 10-year regional war, State Department and AID are pulling out for next several years (too dangerous), costing us roughly half per day what we paid for all of WW II per day. Allies not really showing up and being effective, less the British.
02 Talked to Generals, Ambassadors, and Ministers–no Captions, no village chiefs. Nothing in her on intelligence, glosses over the C4I and protocol issues (see Journal: Beyond Weber to Epoch B Leadership).
03 Achilles’ heels are multiple: 90% of the logistics come through Karachi, Pakistan and then overland. Without fire support and aviation this war is lost. Taliban now up to battalion-sized operations and believe they have high moral ground and time on their side. 100% US movement by air. (See Review: Firepower In Limited War; aviation sounds like a repeat of Viet-Nam; only thing keeping logistics open are the same decision made by NVA in Viet-Nam and by Iran-Syria in Iraq: better to let the Americans bleed themselves to death than cut their main supply line.
04 AF in 14th Century, fifth poorest and second most corrupt nation on the planet. 12% of the land is arable, inadequate portable water (actually not enough enough bad water to build roads), five million children in desperate poverty, 87% of women abused, 5-7 million land mines. Frontiers are permeable to the point that we wonder why AF is not split up among its neighbors for tribal coherence
05 Love fest on Hamid Karzai, way over the top, and while brother is mentioned, no discussion of the obvious point: hang the brother. A “smattering of dishonest international contractors.” We made our own mess with a constitution mandating elections every year except three until 2023.
06 Social indicators up dramatically–basic health care from 8% in 2001 to 79%. 83% children immunized. Child mortality down 25% TB deaths down 50%. Seven million children in school up from on million, including three million girls up from zero under Taliban. This rocks.
07 National communications way up, eight million phones, 650 print publications, 15 TV networks, 55 private radio stations. 150+ private printing houses and 145 media and film production companies. People moving night and day despite risk.
08 $3.4 billion opium crop, left unaddressed, will defeat this campaign. Drug money a fifth of the national GNP, 93% of the global supply of heroin (no mention that this is up from zero under Taliban, or that all of it is processed in Pakistan under ISI and PAF protection). AF now the most damaged narco-state on the face of the earth. May have two million drug users, rest of drugs going to Russia, Europe, Southwest Asia (no mention of USA)
09 “The international civilian agency surge will essentially not happen–although State Department officers, US AID, CIA, DEA, and the FBI will make vital contributions–Afghanistan over the next 2-3 years will be simply too dangerous for most civil agencies.”
Phi Beta Iota: We respect and we trust Barry McCaffrey. This report is very troubling on multiple levels, not least of which is the basic non-negotiable contradiction between a hashish-addicted corrupt President in Kabul, his drug load brother in league with the Taliban in Kandahar and the Pakistani military-Taliban-Pashtun alliance processing the heroin in Pakistan, and the total lack of Stabilization & Reconstruction parameters. Our brave troops are trolling for IED’s, nothing more. They are NOT getting the fire and air support (or the rapid approvals for immediate action drills) so on balance, all available open sources suggest that the US military will excel as long as the US Government does not get shut down financially by other nations unwilling to accept printing press credit, and the supply lines stay open. As best we can tell, the USA still does not have a strategic appreciation for the complexities and nuances spanning from Iran and India through Kashmir and Pakistan; the US does not have a regional strategy, a regional inter-agency campaign plan, or any kind of multinational consensus for “what is the mission?” and “what is the outcome?” Not good.
Addendum from a West Pointer:
The principal addressee of the memo, COL Mike Meese, is a figure of some significance in his own right.