In a November 14th article, London Times Reporter Christian Lamb wrote that the average age of Taliban field commanders had fallen from 35 -25. The reason given by unnamed US State Department officials was that the high value target program had taken it's toll. This, they suggest, is evidence that COIN is on track and the reason why the Taliban are making slow but steady advances toward a table of reconciliation/negotiation.
In the piece she also quotes Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the CFR, stating,
“The [devastating] truth is that US forces will be fighting in Afghanistan for at least four more years,".
Of course one has to wonder what he finds devastating about that. Is it that the war itself will continue beyond what presidential hopeful Obama proclaimed to be the drop dead date for combat operations there in 2008; because of his misplaced concern for the enemy or that more American Warriors will meet an untimely death at the hands of our misguided political and upper echelon military 'leaders'?
There is some concern, on the part of these experts that while killing off the current crop of leaders is a good thing, it may in fact prove to be a bad thing. After all, the older leaders are somewhat 'tired', they say, from their exploits to remove the Infidel while there younger replacements are likely to be full of vigour.
She also quotes David Kilcullen who laments;
"There are 6 million [military-aged] men in the Pashtun belt, you can't kill them all."
First of all, he discredits every honorable man who has worn a uniform by using the word 'military' to describe these 7th century, demonically possessed thugs. I, for one, demand two apologies; one for my Son who paid the ultimate price serving his country in the finest military organization on the planet, and one for me!
So what we have here is someone described as a counter insurgency expert who doesn't think the world's strongest, best armed military force can provide '6 million' hardened Islamists their life-long dream to meet Allah. Or is it that the very notion that it might require exactly that to bring these particular Islamists to their knees is too frightening a prospect for him?
My question to Kilcullen is; Why can't you kill them all? It's win/win. They get to meet their deity and we get to rid the earth of a scourge. Personally; I think Mr. Kilcullen is out of his league. It might look great on a resume to say you are an expert in counter insurgency, but being an expert who touts the wonders of a military philosophy that fails - generally, isn't going to look so great in the history books.
Not to beat a dead horse but why are we coaxing an unrepentant enemy to a table of 'negotiation'/reconciliation before they have in fact conceded the battle field? All this will do is embolden an enemy who already believes they have religious precedent to kill indiscriminately. Until such time as they have confessed that sin and professed a willingness to make atonement for their unbridled lust to commit ritual murder, I think the fight - the real fight, one without COIN, should continue. If the 6 million murder-aged men in the Pashtun belt are so motivated to leave this earth; we should accommodate them.
The closing remarks in the piece again quote Mr. Kilcullen who is completely sold on the idea that it is possible to get the Afghan people on board with our ultimate mission (whatever that is);
“There's definitely military progress, but does that take us where we want to go?” Mr Kilcullen asked. “We don't have a viable Afghan partner and we don't have the buy-in of the Afghan people. Without that, military progress may take us not to war termination but to war continuation.”
Again; since when does the plight of a people who hate us, take precedence over the lives of our Warriors - and our citizenry?