This summer the U.S. government has faced a deteriorating crisis in Afghanistan. Such crises tend to force policymakers to face up to the facile assumptions they have previously made. Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s report to his civilian masters on the faltering counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan has caused President Barack Obama and his advisers to face up to their basic assumptions about U.S. objectives and strategies for perhaps the first time. Obama and his team seem very likely to conclude from this long overdue examination of first principles that it will be impractical for the U.S. to successfully implement a counterinsurgency campaign plan in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s assessment has unwittingly tossed the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency field manual into the shredder. McChrystal’s report is brutally honest about the troubles in Afghanistan.
Click on title above for complete article, below for Phi Beta Iota comment and links to three “fix” pieces.
Phi Beta Iota: Despite the fact that Representative Hoekstra is now Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), neither of these two individuals (or their staffs) appear to know what it would take to do proper intelligence in Afghanistan; why their commentary is fifteen years too late; and/or why it is also moot in the absence of a coherent reality-based strategy and the rescinding of the existing rules of engagement that are incapcitating our troops. Both good men trapped in a bad system, they have no access to ground truth from iconoclasts and are a perfect reprise to the “best and the brightest” on Viet-Nam–brilliantly uninformed.
Over 200 Marines died in the barracks by the beach in Beirut, in their sleep, because the White House failed to understand that the strategic situation had changed; because chicken hawk staff approved the launching of battleship salvos (think really pissed-off Volkswagons in flight) that certified the US was “taking sides” rather than seeking to preserve the peace; and because the “rules of engagement” imposed on Colonel of Marines Tim Gerrity required that his Marines not have rounds in the chambers and not fire as approaching vehicles that failed to stop–at the same time, intelligence sucked then as it sucks now.
The photos are our own, from Beirut in August 2007. We grieve for our Marines, who sought to serve their country while being used as an expendible tool by the White House. Today the same thing is happening in Afghanistan and Ralph Peters has unleashed his own volley against the insanity of asking our troops to allow themselves to be killed whenever a civilian is in the area. Click on the collage for today’s deja vu.
What Next In Afghanistan? The Five People Obama Is Asking
Click on photo for full story. Grades and comments are those of Phi Beta Iota.
Vice President Joe Biden. C+. Scale back, Drones and Special Forces on high-value targets.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. F. Delusional on Taliban as lovers of Al Qaeda, listening to slick Australian on spending our way into hearts and minds.
National Security Adviser James Jones. D. Good man that does not know what he does not know, drops from a C to a D because his job is outreach and ensuring the President hears from a diversity of views, that is not happening.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen. C+. A strategic savant trapped between a rock and a hard-place, his integrity fights his loyalty every day. A for the rest of the world, D for not calling AF for what it is: a blunder of epic proportions.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates. B-. Found his integrity in pushing the troop demand into the public eye after first being a loyalist. Learned from Viet-Nam that Ho was a nationalist after all, Taliban is more of the same. A lame duck while Obama decides between Chuck Hagel and John Hamre.
Administration Over-All: D. Empire as Usual, Bureaucracy as Usual, Sacrificing our Troops to Buy Time, Not Listening to Serious Experts, Not Able to Think a Strategic Thought, Not Able to Plan, Program, and Execute a Whole of Government Anything.
The U.S. trains forces in Afghanistan that then go to work for the Taliban
1. Washington and U.S. military out of touch with ground truth and historical-cultural reality in Afghanistan.
2. We are training individuals in US techniques who desert and join the Taliban–we are literally training the Taliban to beat us.
3. Many individuals are re-enrolling under multiple names in order to get the training and the good food, while many others take the training and the food and never come back after their first period of leave (vacation after training).
4. Pashtuns are not joining police and so the Americans are sending non-Pashtuns back into Pashtun territory to act as police–this is so stupid as to be insanely criminal and irresponsible.
Phi Beta Iota: This article was linked to in an earlier post on connecting the dots, but it reads better in Salon and we recommend a careful review–this is journalism at its very best, informing the public about FACTS that the Administration desires to ignore.
First, a link to the translated Al Qaeda message. Then Chuck Spinney’s commentary on the rmessage (there is no assurance it is actually from Bin Laden, who may be long dead). Finally, a Phi Beta Iota comment that will outrage the lame of mind and resonate with every average American.
With a tip of the hat to Marcus Aurelius, who flagged this, we have loaded an original document summarizing the lessons learned on leadership from the “Black Hawk Down” engagement (19 hours of intense combat) and list the highlights below. Click below for the full document (5 pages).
White House gutted the mission before it started by limiting the force to 450 instead of the normal 600, meaning they went in with 25% less ORGANIC strength and skills than they trained with.
White House gutten the mission before it started by forbidding AC-130 Gun Ships, the absolute core air fire support element of all Ranger missions.
For those who say that comparing the current war in Afghanistan to the Vietnam War is taking things too far, here’s a reality check: It’s not taking things far enough. From the origins of these North-South conflicts to the role of insurgents and the pointlessness of this week’s Afghan presidential elections, it’s impossible to ignore the similarities between these wars. The places and faces may have changed but the enemy is old and familiar. The sooner the United States recognizes this, the sooner it can stop making the same mistakes in Afghanistan.
John Richard Pilger (born 9 October 1939) is an Australianjournalist and documentary maker. He has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received academy awards in Britain and the US. Based in London, he is known for his polemical campaigning style: “Secretive power loathes journalists who do their job, who push back screens, peer behind façades, lift rocks. Opprobrium from on high is their badge of honour.”
Below is a slam on “Brand Obama” as a continuation of Empire as Usual that is being heard around the world. It is rocketing through the YouTube circles, being Twittered, and could well be the first real articulation of the left waking up to the fact that Wall Street owns the White House. The Brzezinski/CIA backdrop is touched upon–we anticipate Bob Gates being “sacrificed” and John Hamry replacing him in January, all as part of Washington “theater for the masses.” John Hamry is of course Zbigniew Brzezinski’s caretaker or ward, take your pick. “Junk Politics” and “Empire of Illusion” are touchstone phrases.