In 1949, the British backed colonial government in Malaya suffered a set-back in the year long Counter Insurgency against the CT's (Communist Terrorists) that resulted in a near stalemate. Opportunities to exploit the enemy's weaknesses had been missed largely due to a faulty intelligence network and a lackluster vision from the British government back home. Remember; Malaya was not foreign to the British and the British were not strangers to the Malayan. There was a history and it was not all bad and yet fighting the CT's (an actual insurgency), was extremely difficult in the early days of the 'emergency'.
At the same time, inexplicably, the British government with its sitting Socialist party under the leadership of Prime Minister Clement Atlee, legitimized Mao Tse Tung in China with positive rhetoric designed to court the Chairman. The effect was devastating to the Malayan Brits and the war effort.
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Four days ago a combined force of some 6000 Marines, Soldiers, NATO troops and ANA launched an 'offensive' on the town of Marjah. The local population numbers somewhere in the neighborhood of 80,000 and is comprised largely of farmers. The primary money crop is opium. The Taliban have used the town for R & R, a staging and planning area and have reaped income by 'taxing' the farmers who move their illicit crop toward the Pakistani border and Karachi for shipment .
Approximately 3 days before the Helo's landed with the first troops, small units harassed the Taliban on the outskirts of town in an effort to draw fire and locate firing positions. It should also be noted that the Karzai government estimated some 1000 Taliban remained in the town while the Taliban released word that 2000 were there, dug in and ready for a fight to the death. It now appears that the actual force that remained behind to face our assault may have numbered fewer than 500.
That the Marines and NATO forces would succeed in the narrowly defined mission of liberating the town from Taliban was never in question. Marines never fail. They always follow the orders they are given and complete the mission as detailed. Analyzing what happened a lot further up the chain of command will reveal a lot more questions than answers.
1. Why publicly telegraph for weeks our intention to attack Marjah?
2. Why give the enemy any kind of intelligence information?
3. If the intent was simply to force the Taliban out of Marjah and not to kill them; where did they go where they will essentially be 'neutralized'?
4. If they are not neutralized, when and how to we intend to meet this new threat in a new area(s)?
There also remain the same questions of ROE and its negative effect on our Warriors and their efforts to kill or destroy the enemy while minimizing American casualties. During the offensive , rockets were launched, presumably, at Taliban targets and it has been reported that civilians were killed. General McChrystal's immediate response was to suspend the use of those rockets - indefinitely. Also during the fight, Taliban, or Taliban sympathizers were seen driving motorcycles in the distance aiding the Taliban effort possibly with intel or maybe moving munitions from site to site. The ROE requires a man be armed before our Warriors can engage him. Taliban were seen firing and then dropping weapons, knowing that would essentially, save their lives to maybe fight another day.
The overall effect of this has been to increase the frustration level of our Warriors and little else. (Diana West has done a fantastic job chronicling this battle; read it.) How exactly do you hold an enemy culpable - on any level or by any means if you don't intend to engage him? If in the end your efforts fail to hold him accountable, or bring him to justice, or kill him, what is it that then defines your success? If you say it is the 'friendship and trust' of the people, how long will that last once you abandon them to the fury of an angry Taliban that you failed to neutralize? What prevents the Taliban from returning to the point they were prior to 9/11? What ultimately will have been done to remove the 'clear and present danger' posed by these thugs to the United States of America?
The fact is, if we don't kill the Taliban, they will hide out (in their country Afghanistan), for as long as is necessary and essentially regroup. Once we are gone, they will re-emerge; violently and bolstered in their belief that they successfully outlasted us. Do we really; really believe, for an instant, that the Afghan people under any leadership will ever see anything even remotely resembling a democracy? Is anyone in this country truly prepared to say they truly believe that? Anyone? Remember; we removed Al Qaida from Afghanistan to deny them training/planning/launching facilities. We removed the Taliban from power and now we are courting them to 'participate' with the Karzai government. The entire Afghan population; civilians, government and the 'insurgency' are still Muslim, still hate us, still want us and all 'Infidels' dead and still propagate by Jihad.
And what of our Sons and Daughters whose lives were sacrificed by our government for a cause absolutely no one can identify? What of them? For them courage was not complicated; it was the best of their character. They gave their best and their final measure to a country whose leadership has thus far squandered that gift.
' For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.' Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.