Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Afghanistan; Understanding the Failure

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking on a radio show broadcasting in Florida about the complexities that arise when you attempt to fight an enemy with a faulty assessment. Of course we were talking about Afghanistan in particular but Islam, globally. During that interview the Host made a point of saying that it appeared a larger percentage of the American population was becoming more educated and more engaged in this conversation. He essentially asked if that gave me some comfort and I told him yes but with a caution.
From my vantage point, we are now at a very dangerous point in this discussion. People are generally lazy when it comes to foreign policy and politics in general. It requires effort to study the issues enough to understand them and then the politicians to fully understand their stand on any issue. In foreign policy it requires doing that but then being willing to delve deeper to more fully understand whatever history there may be between players on the world stage. Although having the discussion of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) finally on national TV is promising, the fact is, knowing just those three words does little to change policy.
What was once considered to be a sound high school education in world history would have been enough to allow the student the ability to understand the dynamics of our many cultures and the basic geography of the globe. These would then have been enough to make people ask whether or not the rules under which our Warriors have to perform made sense and then to ask what was promulgating those rules.
At least some of us were intrigued by what we had learned and were motivated to then read a little bit further. Of course we didn't have the list of 'distractions' available to the average high school student of today and the average history teacher, of that generation, still believed it was all right to be an American. For instance, Thomas Jefferson, while his Christianity is in question, never-the-less understood the value of Biblical teaching and morality. His influence caused Biblical morality to be infused into the fabric of the constitution that would be the foundation of jurisprudence and governance in this country. And just as importantly, he understood our age old enemy in Islam.
Since those days we have watched our halls of education become temples of indoctrination; performing a kind of bloodless sacrificial offering on the altars of misinformation in an effort to expunge from the American psyche the evil concept of American nationalism - certainly the idea that our founding fathers established this country with a Judeo/Christian world view. And if the entire American model was so evil, how could anyone justify going to war to defend it or us - ever?
In order for that kind of training to take root, you also have to paint every other culture and their ideology as superior to what we have traditionally held dear, here in America. Convince a child of this and it is nearly impossible to recover him later in life.
So it is of little surprise that when academics began telling us that Islam was a 'peaceful' religion only 'seeking God', wisdom and dealing with the inner struggle (jihad), that in a century, our entire country would view Islam as just another religion. Of course, history and the extraneous writings of the Islamic Scholars tell us different. The actions of the true soldiers of Islam, tell us different. The actions/inaction of the 'innocent' population in Afghanistan tell us different. So how is it that we could so profoundly bumble what should have been a fairly simple mission there? With the strongest, best trained, best equipped military machine ever assembled in the history of mankind, how is it that we seem to have been halted by so primitive a force? Answer; Faulty assessment.
Our original Mission was clearly stated: Locate, Close with and Destroy the enemy that attacked us on 9/11/2001. Identify all those who gave them shelter, comfort and the ability to plan and train for an attack on US soil and destroy them - then come home. There was one caveat to that 'Commander's Intent Statement'; be prepared for a long war. What this told us was that this enemy was insidious and tenacious. It told us that even after we had completed this mission, there would undoubtedly be other attacks and other missions to hold them accountable for. Could it be, that in those early days, we were willing to assess the enemy in a way we have since lost the stomach for? Or could it be that the evil indoctrination of several generations has caused us to doubt the morality of self preservation and the damnable nature of Islamic doctrine and it's adherents?
Once the 'Commander's Intent' was made clear, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff began assembling an order we know as the Five Paragraph Order; acronym SMEAC which stands for Situation, Mission, Execution, Admin and Logistics and Communication. It is in the pages of the 'Situation' paragraph that this mission began to fall apart for within this paragraph resides the fruit of our intelligence gatherers and the assessment of the enemy, his doctrine, the population of the country you will be fighting in and the government of that country.
The confluence of decades of academic socialist indoctrination, the watering down of the truth of Islam, the tearing down of the American ideal and the decision to use operatives from the Muslim Brotherhood as advisors conspired to insure we would fail at this juncture of the planning phase of the war. And this has colored our entire understanding of how and when we should engage this enemy.
Once the order was written, with it's faulty assessment, it was all but inevitable that something like the 80 year old doctrine of Counter Insurgency (COIN) would be hauled out, dusted off and re-tooled to govern our actions against an enemy who had been so hopelessly, falsely assessed.
Now for the damning statement that unhinges all who in their gut sense something is wrong; the Rules of Engagement, which I have made the case are directly attributable to all of the deaths of our American Warriors, is precisely correct. They are precisely correct if you are fighting within the paradigm of Counter Insurgency Doctrine. The question then, is not how to change the ROE, rather it is whether or not COIN is the right strategy under which to conduct combat operations against this enemy, in this country.
And the answer is a resounding, no!
Semper Fidelis;
John Bernard


  1. Great article.

    I have never served, but do read history and follow current events.

    Regarding the ROE, you have put into print better than anyone having not served could possibly. It was a beautiful read and I hope many more such as you, are serving.

    Part of the problem in my opinion does go back to the last administration and Bush not declaring who the enemy was, Islamic Radicals. Marcus Latrell, the SEAL who wrote the book “Lone Survivor” was on Capitol Hill for months arguing for changes to ROE. We then got the surge. I always thought the “Surge” was really a change in ROE, but our politicians didn’t have the stomach to call it such, otherwise their previous judgment be called into question.

    Anytime we ask people to serve and possibly die, we must honor their sacrifice, but more importantly, allow them to serve with upmost respect for that service.

    One small gripe is your mention of Jefferson and the constitution. He did write the Declaration, but had nothing to do with the Constitution, other than influence by way of his writing the Declaration. It must also be noted that Thomas Paine wrote the crux of the Declaration that Jefferson used, “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote the Federalist Papers which were the argument made for adoption of a constitution. The Federalist Papers were heavily influenced by something John Adams wrote in three months while practicing law called “The Defence of the Constitutions.” The Defence was a 3 volume history of every form of government ever created by mankind, pros and cons. James Madison wrote the actual Constitution.

    Thank you for your service to our great country, General Bernard.

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  3. Re-posted your excellent article on my blog.


    Semper Fi, Marine - Staff Sergeant Barbour (U.S. Army Ret.)

  4. Darrell;

    You are correct. I should have said 'which he influenced'. I know he was overseas at the time and kept in close contact with Madison. Thanks for your comment; hopefully we will see some positive movement in this.



  5. SSgt Barbour;

    Thanks for placing this on your blog! I will be including yours in my blog roll. Sooner or later people will begin to hear this - and act.

    Thanks for your Service to Country!



  6. Thank you-for telling it like it is!!!
    and read your other posts as well--
    Found your site via Crusader Rabbit--

  7. BTW-So sorry about the loss of your son- my prayers for you and your family-

    I would appreciate prayers for my nephew who is starting his third tour--

  8. Carol;

    Thankd for the thoughts and prayers and yes; we will keep your Nephew in prayer as well. I have a Nephew prepping for deployment right now.



  9. Excellent article.
    I'm going slightly off topic but I think it is time to discuss what the west can do regarding Islam

  10. As with Ronbo, I'm posting this excellent article in my blog,