The below BBC report, Afghanistan’s ‘green on blue’ collapse of trust, places the fatal flaw in the McChrystal plan used by Mr. Obama to justify the Afghan surge in 2010 — namely General McChrystal’s failure to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the plan to rapidly build up the Afghan Army/police — into sharp relief.
This flaw was unconscionable for at least two reasons:
First, Obama’s surge was premised on achieving quick results that would enable a rapid withdrawal of the “surge” force. That withdrawal that has now take place, despite the fact the surge did not achieve its desired result, namely weakening the Taliban to a level where it would be forced to parley on our terms.
Second, our disastrous experience with South Vietnamese army should have taught the American military the fallacy of rapidly building up a huge army, cut out of whole cloth, in America’s own high-cost, logistics-intensive image. Armies — at least successful ones — take time to build and must be compatible with the culture from which they emanate.
That this fatal flaw was easy to see well before the fact. For example, I wrote about it here, here, here, and herein 2009 and early 2010, before the surge took effect — and I was not alone.
This grotesque oversight proves the post-Vietnam reforms touted by the US military and the Reagan Administration (which chose to throw money at the problem) were entirely cosmetic and did not get to the roots of the malaise that led to our defeat in Vietnam, notwithstanding the parades, yellow ribbons, and juvenile braggadocio that accompanied our rout of Saddam’s tin pot army in 1991. Kosovo (for reasons explained in Domestic Roots of Perpetual War), the 2nd Iraq War (the existence of which gave made a lie of our claim of a decisive victory in 1991), and now our clear defeat in Afghanistan are or ought to be lessons to the contrary. They certainly would be treated as such in a healthy society that endeavors to correct its errors instead of compounding them by sweeping them under a rug.
The Volume I report of the Decade of War study discusses the eleven strategic themes that arose from the study of the enduring lessons and challenges of the last decade:
Understanding the Environment: A failure to recognize, acknowledge, and accurately define the operational environment led to a mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions, and goals.
Conventional Warfare Paradigm: Conventional warfare approaches often were ineffective when applied to operations other than major combat, forcing leaders to realign the ways and means of achieving effects.