Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Afghanistan; The Strategy to Entice Negotiation Rather than Force Surrender

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?

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Monday, November 15, 2010

The 'Wisdom' of the Double-Minded Man; Hamid Karzai - and Friends

I am not a fan of nation-building, orchestrating black-ops inside sovereign nations or any other covert activity that is not specifically related to the 'forced removal' - from humanity, of an evil man. I have absolutely no problem with one nation removing a murderer and a maniac from our presence for the purposes of the peace and safety of our nation. Sorry...I'm American first!

Our lessons from the post World War I era have haunted us since the end of World War II. Every single skirmish/war/police action we have been involved in since has been a brutal disaster - including some of our covert efforts during the 'cold war'. That which is an irritant to one nation should be discussed in the light of day, disagreements laid out and discussed and if it becomes necessary, settled on the field of battle.

The conventional wisdom of 'peace-loving' men, diplomats and cowards is that war should be avoided at all costs. I am not of that mind. I believe war should be avoided but avoiding it at the cost of our national sovereignty, security to our citizenry, decimation of our Constitution or the gutting of our military and overall defensive posture is morally wrong! How is trading the safety and well being of your own citizenry and your own sovereignty justifiable in 'defending' the 'safety' of foreigners? When did the definition of a heroic act; of one man giving his life for another translate into 526 men in DC deciding to sacrifice the lives of others for so dubious a cause as the one we are involved in at present?

The stated reason for our continuing operations, under COIN, in Afghanistan has been for reasons of stability for the Afghan people. In some strange, unquantifiable way that is suppose to translate into security for us - even the re-seating of the Taliban in Kabul! The Taliban we removed and, of course, replaced with 'our man'.

If there is anything more aggravating than orchestrating the moves of a puppet, it is having the puppet talk back. Now, apparently, Karzai has decided that combat operations within Afghanistan or at least our involvement in combat operations in Afghanistan is too 'burdensome' for the Afghan people and he wants it to stop. Fortunately, Hillary Clinton told him that combat operations would continue. So did the NATO Secretary General Rasmussen.

General Petraeus, the 'architect' of modern American COIN expeditions, found Harmid's comments; troubling. Hey; I know! Maybe we could have Dave and Hamid and maybe Hillary meet somewhere neutral like, I don't know..maybe Canada - oh shucks, can't do that, the Canadians are now dealing with their own internal struggle to maintain a sense of tolerance being as members of the Muslim community there have now made it clear they want a 'parallel society', you know, kind of like the Amish only with different hats...and explosive vests.

Of course Karzai's comments could not possibly come at a worse time. His comments were made the same day 5 more as yet unidentified NATO troops died during combat operations around Afghanistan. Curious that our 'ally', Karzai, made no mention of that or whether he was troubled that 5 more foreign troops died attempting to make a better life for his beloved people.

Call me conspiratorial but it seems just a little convenient that Karzai's comments should come within a day of the CFR releasing their appraisal and recommendations for the road ahead in Afghanistan - a recommendation that basically throws in the towel (on COIN; they haven't the stomach for the kind of war that actually drives the Islamic hordes to their collective knees). His comments also seem to harmonize with this sitting Presidents new personal agenda; getting re-elected in 2012 which he had determined in 2008 (before his 'ascension'), would be war free. (More on the CFR members in a follow-up blog entry).

We have a name for this kind of knee-jerk/fire-fighting method of operation in the Marine Corps; it's called a 'flail-EX'. The best way to describe this activity for you is to have you play it out... Ready? While standing in an open space, where, hopefully, you won't hurt anyone else, wring your hands violently, with an expression of shock on your face. Simultaneously wildly flail your arms above your head, shrieking occasionally while running back and forth - aimlessly while declaring you are in charge!

Get the picture?

It would be funny if not the lost and broken lives of our Warrior community.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard