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Thread: US troops coming home? Obama to say on Wednesday

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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    No. I really don't give a damn whether the generals think we should be in Afghanistan or not. Their job is to implement the solution that the commander-in-chief wants, not to dictate strategy.
    we are already in - the advice Obama is receiving (and ignoring) from the experts with experience is in the realm of the how. Because they are advising him how to succeed in Afghanistan, but all he cares about is how to succeed in November 2012.




    You know, towards the end, I really deeply disliked the Bush Administration. Their response to the credit / housing crises was a case study in the Wrong Thing To Do. The nomination of Harriet Meyers would have been funny if they hadn't been serious. Amnesty was a disaster. But I have to give Bush this: when it came down to whether or not he would be willing to choose to be hated for doing the right thing in Iraq, he had the guts to do the right and difficult thing. Obama, apparently, is made with less backbone.

    They tend to have the completely wrong mindset for those decisions because their focus is solely on military matters. Unlike Obama, they don't have to worry about the geopolitical implications, the budgetary implications, or prioritizing the war against more pressing concerns.
    you really have no idea what goes into being a general officer, huh? that is precisely their area of responsibility; particularly the JCS, the Service Chiefs, and the COCOMS.

    The buck stops with the president, and his Afghanistan policy has been a catastrophuck.
    his Afghan policy up until now has been two steps forward one step back. up until now.

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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Cpwill, your Afghanistan posts are very convincing. You're a Marine official is that right? I thought I read a post by you somewhere about that. Anyway though, I basically understand your counters to my arguments in the last post. But two questions, 1 - how long do you think it can take for an Afghani to be able to try the right seat? In my experience I can get someone in the right seat in weeks, but you have a point, in my case it's literate college educated people who (the men mainly) think they know how to do everything and know how to do the job, which unfortunately is not true... but even then, I can get them from drawing their weapons on a 30 year old pregnant woman who stands near a kitchen knife, to well capable agents ready to sit in the right seat within a month or so. I mean do you think literacy would have to be taught to these afghanis as well??

    And about the nato allies, is that true of all of them? Italy, the UK, Germany? They do both have pretty large forces over there. I believe the number of troops overall is about 400k is it not? I mean historically these 3 nations have not been weak willed and unwilling to fight.

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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by Gargantuan View Post
    Cpwill, your Afghanistan posts are very convincing. You're a Marine official is that right? I thought I read a post by you somewhere about that
    I'm a Sergeant - not really an "official". As an intel analyst, part of my job is understanding and keeping track on stuff like this, and in my first tour as a grunt I got to put this sort of strategy to work in Fallujah. I should also probably point out that when Identified "speaking as a Marine" (like right now) I state that the above and following is my own opinion only, and doesn't reflect DOD, or USMC Policy or preference etc. etc. etc., so on and so forth.

    Anyway though, I basically understand your counters to my arguments in the last post. But two questions
    let's shoot.

    1 - how long do you think it can take for an Afghani to be able to try the right seat? In my experience I can get someone in the right seat in weeks, but you have a point, in my case it's literate college educated people who (the men mainly) think they know how to do everything and know how to do the job, which unfortunately is not true... but even then, I can get them from drawing their weapons on a 30 year old pregnant woman who stands near a kitchen knife, to well capable agents ready to sit in the right seat within a month or so. I mean do you think literacy would have to be taught to these afghanis as well?
    it's all area dependent. If I were to ask you, for example, to tell me how security is on our border, you would immediately recognize that while the general scope of that question might be "good" or "bad" or "improving" or "worsening", the accurate answer to that question is that it is too broad to answer properly. Security in some areas is worse or better than security in others. Texas is different from Minnesota. The trick with training local counterinsurgency forces is they have to be locals. This means that you have to have security in place long enough first to see successful recruitment drives. Our first recruitment drive in Jubail, for example, was at the very beginning of our surge. Three of our recruits went missing the next day and we assumed they had gotten cold feet. Then we found their feet. They were in a park. Then we found their hands, and so on and so forth until we found their heads, in the courtyard of a mosque. A month later, after constant presence and 24-7 security provision, we held another recruitment drive in the neighboring precinct of Shuhada. No one disappeared, and we were able to put men to work in the training cycle. A month later with another month of constant 24/7 presence and security we had another drive in Nazal (Shuhada was immediately to the East of Jubail, Nazal was immediately to the North); and we got more volunteers than we could hire.

    Now, that's a success speed that might not always be repeated - it's important to recognize that we had already been imposing a partial security solution for three months prior to, just by ourselves. It's also important to recognize the psychological impact of being unwilling to lose. Bing West (who is just about required reading for Marines who wish to fight a counterinsurgency) has an excellent book on the importance of this called The Strongest Tribe. He points out that, when Bush responded to calls for withdrawal by instead approving the Surge, he demonstrated to the average Iraqi citizen that the Americans weren't a power that was going to disappear - we were a permanent part of the conflict, and we were the strongest member in it. Free to oppose AQI (which was no more popular than the Taliban) by depending on the provision of American Security, the tribes allied themselves with the "strongest" tribe -the American one. You simply don't win counterinsurgency without the support of the civilian populace, but they won't give it to you if they are convinced you will abandon the effort and them to the enemy. That's why artificial deadlines are so very, very, counterproductive.

    which is a long way of saying, it's area dependent, population dependent, and the enemy gets' a vote as well. attempting to place a specific "it will be on this date" or "in this many months" will only hurt your own effort - and it will thus actually lengthen the amount of time you need; because now you are also fighting against increased local skepticism of your willingness to remain true to your word that you will help and back them.

    And about the nato allies, is that true of all of them? Italy, the UK, Germany? They do both have pretty large forces over there. I believe the number of troops overall is about 400k is it not? I mean historically these 3 nations have not been weak willed and unwilling to fight.
    in the early and mid twentieth century, certainly not. However, all of these nations have been utilizing American cover to cut their military spending for decades. They are incapable now of projecting force without American support. In addition, the war is much less popular in these nations than it is here in America; and their political leadership thus places much severer restrictions on their freedom of movement in order to try to limit casualties to an "acceptable" amount. The problem is, that is playing to lose; the precise opposite of the discussion of the offensive above. What we have found every time we have taken over an area from the Brits (be it Basra or Marjah) is that they have largely built bases, and then stayed in them in order to keep safe from Small Arms Fire. The enemy thus rules the local countryside, occasionally mortars the Brits (or IED's one of their supply convoys), while they huddle on base and mark time. It's an amazingly stupid counterinsurgency strategy - but it's what's pushed on them by their leadership. That's the Brits - and they are far and away the best of the NATO lot.
    Last edited by cpwill; 06-24-11 at 03:01 AM.

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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    I'm a Sergeant - not really an "official". As an intel analyst, part of my job is understanding and keeping track on stuff like this, and in my first tour as a grunt I got to put this sort of strategy to work in Fallujah. I should also probably point out that when Identified "speaking as a Marine" (like right now) I state that the above and following is my own opinion only, and doesn't reflect DOD, or USMC Policy or preference etc. etc. etc., so on and so forth.
    A buck sergeant? If they still call E-5s that... I really have been out of involvement with military people for a long time... lol. So basically I should call up USMC CID and report you for speaking for the whole DoD (joking, but obviously the same goes for me, that's why I take care to not give too much contact information other than giving my name to the admins, I really think having this site somehow get caught up with my job would be totally unprofessional, someone in the basement told me I was not allowed to post my opinions because of hatch... lol, but unfortunately that would only apply if I wrote this stuff from work, but even then, guys are on sites, blogs, whatever at my work all the time so I doubt it'd be a big deal.. I'm a goody too shoes though, wouldn't do it. Worst I did was use my own personally owned smartphone to go on personal sites at work) I thought someone on this forum said he/she was a general and was talking about courts-martial. I can't find the post for the life of me though. That's where I got the official thing from.

    it's all area dependent. If I were to ask you, for example, to tell me how security is on our border, you would immediately recognize that while the general scope of that question might be "good" or "bad" or "improving" or "worsening", the accurate answer to that question is that it is too broad to answer properly. Security in some areas is worse or better than security in others. Texas is different from Wyoming. The trick with training local counterinsurgency forces is they have to be locals. This means that you have to have security in place long enough first to see successful recruitment drives. Our first recruitment drive in Jubail, for example, was at the very beginning of our surge. Three of our recruits went missing the next day and we assumed they had gotten cold feet. Then we found their feet. They were in a park. Then we found their hands, and so on and so forth until we found their heads, in the courtyard of a mosque. A month later, after constant presence and 24-7 security provision, we held another recruitment drive in the neighboring precinct of Shuhada. No one disappeared, and we were able to put men to work in the training cycle. A month later with another month of constant 24/7 presence and security we had another drive in Nazal (Shuhada was immediately to the East of Jubail, Nazal was immediately to the North); and we got more volunteers than we could hire.

    Now, that's a success speed that might not always be repeated - it's important to recognize that we had already been imposing a partial security solution for three months prior to, just by ourselves. It's also important to recognize the psychological impact of being unwilling to lose. Bing West (who is just about required reading for Marines who wish to fight a counterinsurgency) has an excellent book on the importance of this called The Strongest Tribe. He points out that, when Bush responded to calls for withdrawal by instead approving the Surge, he demonstrated to the average Iraqi citizen that the Americans weren't a power that was going to disappear - we were a permanent part of the conflict, and we were the strongest member in it. Free to oppose AQI (which was no more popular than the Taliban) by depending on the provision of American Security, the tribes allied themselves with the "strongest" tribe -the American one. You simply don't win counterinsurgency without the support of the civilian populace, but they won't give it to you if they are convinced you will abandon the effort and them to the enemy. That's why artificial deadlines are so very, very, counterproductive.

    which is a long way of saying, it's area dependent, population dependent, and the enemy gets' a vote as well. attempting to place a specific "it will be on this date" or "in this many months" will only hurt your own effort - and it will thus actually lengthen the amount of time you need; because now you are also fighting against increased local skepticism of your willingness to remain true to your word that you will help and back them.
    Interesting. And yes, though I do not really have any association with the border directly, and I only had to put up with that bull**** when I first started (you get assigned to butt**** no where when you just start out in federal law enforcement) now I have a better job... most of my work now consists of investigating mostly homeland security related issues. Being an IEA in ERO is pretty tough and just not for me personally. Anyway though I get your point - it's all based on the area... But then again though in Iraq we were talking about people who generally were not all a bunch of extremist radicals with no education. Afghanistan is a lot different. Do you think that literacy issue and general lack of education is a big problem with the Afghanis and training them?

    in the early and mid twentieth century, certainly not. However, all of these nations have been utilizing American cover to cut their military spending for decades. They are incapable now of projecting force without American support. In addition, the war is much less popular in these nations than it is here in America; and their political leadership thus places much severer restrictions on their freedom of movement in order to try to limit casualties to an "acceptable" amount. The problem is, that is playing to lose; the precise opposite of the discussion of the offensive above. What we have found every time we have taken over an area from the Brits (be it Basra or Marjah) is that they have largely built bases, and then stayed in them in order to keep safe from Small Arms Fire. The enemy thus rules the local countryside, occasionally mortars the Brits (or IED's one of their supply convoys), while they huddle on base and mark time. It's an amazingly stupid counterinsurgency strategy - but it's what's pushed on them by their leadership. That's the Brits - and they are far and away the best of the NATO lot.
    That's really unnerving also. And I am aware of the whole issues of them cutting military and letting us be their military bitch for the second half of the 20th century, but the idea that they are all really that incompetent is new to me. Have you ever come into contact with Germans? What if we were to pursue a strategy of placing the NATO allies incharge of already taken areas, while US forces go out and do the work? Would that work in your opinion, and also, what do you have to say to people on the hill and some agency directors who are saying a policy of counter-terrorism, as in, pinpointing and going after terrorists specifically, rather than building their nation up, would be better for US interests. I mean that leaves open the question of, alright, you kill all these terrorists, but then how does that take the roots out? People would still be recruited to extremist camps in great numbers, which wouldn't happen as much with counterinsurgency.
    Last edited by Gargantuan; 06-24-11 at 03:24 AM.

  5. #195
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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    we are already in - the advice Obama is receiving (and ignoring) from the experts with experience is in the realm of the how. Because they are advising him how to succeed in Afghanistan, but all he cares about is how to succeed in November 2012.
    Let me present a different position. Please don't assume that the Afghanistan withdrawal is about elections, I doubt that Obama would risk this with our military and I don't think any president would make a military decision based solely on elections. It's about withdrawing from Afghanistan and letting the Afghans take over the fight and preventing more unnecessary coalition casualties.

    First look at who we are fighting. Al Queda is mostly withdrawn from Afghanistan and has fled to Pakistan. The leader of Al Queda was found living comfortably in Pakistan. We are fighting mostly the Taliban and the locals. We have already significantly impacted Al Queda's ability to operate, but I don't think it's necessary to keep fighting the locals. We are currently in talks with the Taliban to negotiate out something.

    You would want us to continue the surge but at what cost? We get about 50 coalition casualties per month. The generals' plan would have us to continue to fight for about two more seasons at least, but to what end? What will we have gained by then? Marginal gains in security? The Afghan army is 167,000 troops strong, they should be able to take over the fight. We need to put pressure on the Afghan's to fight for their own country and that won't happen if we continue to do the brunt of the fighting for them.

    They tend to have the completely wrong mindset for those decisions because their focus is solely on military matters. Unlike Obama, they don't have to worry about the geopolitical implications, the budgetary implications, or prioritizing the war against more pressing concerns.
    I agree with that mostly. The generals will always want more troops because they are the military and mostly the way they see a solution to a conflict is to fight until you win it. They don't have the option to withdraw, which is one important option to put pressure on the other country's government.

    And in Iraq, the surge succeeded largely because of the Sunii Awakening, in which the locals were paid by the US and turned against Al Queda. We need local support in Afghanistan, and I don't have all the facts, but I think largely we are not getting as much local support as we should be getting and that could be one major factor in not continuing the fighting.

    To what end should we continue the fight? Should we remain there another 5 years, 10 years? Should we remain there permanently? If we withdraw now, we can prevent more coalition casualties and put Afghanistan forces in the front. Afghanistan does have 167,000 troops and we can train more. Shouldn't they be doing the fighting mostly?

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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    You lose more guys in the short-term so that you can lose fewer in the long-term.
    long term is the problem, friend

    keep up the good work

    and thanks

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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by Gargantuan View Post
    A buck sergeant? If they still call E-5s that...
    I've only really heard it in media - though it might be an Army thing. They call all their NCO ranks "Sergeant" except for Sergeant-Major; so who knows what those crazies do to differentiate between a "sergeant" that is an E-5 and a "sergeant" that is an E-7.

    I really have been out of involvement with military people for a long time... lol. So basically I should call up USMC CID and report you for speaking for the whole DoD
    according to at least one poster on this forum, if you do that, men in black suits will track you down by your IP and come "collect" you for reeducation

    (joking, but obviously the same goes for me, that's why I take care to not give too much contact information other than giving my name to the admins, I really think having this site somehow get caught up with my job would be totally unprofessional, someone in the basement told me I was not allowed to post my opinions because of hatch... lol, but unfortunately that would only apply if I wrote this stuff from work, but even then, guys are on sites, blogs, whatever at my work all the time so I doubt it'd be a big deal.. I'm a goody too shoes though, wouldn't do it. Worst I did was use my own personally owned smartphone to go on personal sites at work) I thought someone on this forum said he/she was a general and was talking about courts-martial. I can't find the post for the life of me though. That's where I got the official thing from.
    well I generally try to steer clear of the "international" / foreign policy forums - don't need temptation and I don't want to spend all my time self-editing.

    Interesting. And yes, though I do not really have any association with the border directly, and I only had to put up with that bull**** when I first started (you get assigned to butt**** no where when you just start out in federal law enforcement) now I have a better job... most of my work now consists of investigating mostly homeland security related issues. Being an IEA in ERO is pretty tough and just not for me personally. Anyway though I get your point - it's all based on the area... But then again though in Iraq we were talking about people who generally were not all a bunch of extremist radicals with no education. Afghanistan is a lot different. Do you think that literacy issue and general lack of education is a big problem with the Afghanis and training them?
    yes. In Iraq generally we were dealing with poorly educated people - materials had to be printed at a Middle School level or lower. In Afghanistan,we are dealing with high percentages of straight illiteracy. Hard to enforce the law when you have no means of accessing what it actually is; and it's difficult to dissimenate "lessons learned" when they have to be memorized in order to be effective. In addition - and this is harder to explain - but there is a cognitive difference generally between populations who can read and those who can't. Something about reading, about the ability to picture language in a structured form, increases innovation, imagination, creativity... literacy and the mental muscles it develops leave a marked difference on the general competency and capabilities of the individual.

    That's really unnerving also. And I am aware of the whole issues of them cutting military and letting us be their military bitch for the second half of the 20th century, but the idea that they are all really that incompetent is new to me
    well, and again, there's a large degree of "unit-specificity" within that. Man-for-Man, the British Royal Marines are The S--t; but they aren't employed well. GSG9 is really truly top-notch and deserves to be mentioned with our Tier1 assets, but they won't be used.

    Have you ever come into contact with Germans?
    No I have not. I've worked "with" (around) Brits, Aussies, Ugandans, and of course Iraqis and Kuwaitis. The rest of what I know comes from reading and talking to those who have had to work with them.

    What if we were to pursue a strategy of placing the NATO allies incharge of already taken areas, while US forces go out and do the work? Would that work in your opinion
    I would say that whis ould be a poor strategy because it would still likely be beyond their capabilities and operational restraints. In general I would pursue something similar to what they started to do with the Afghan offensive two years back - the Marines clear; the Army moves in after it's pacified to hold... and our very valuable allies whom we're so proud to work with in this international effort in which we are all very valuable partners vast skills are desperately needed in a number of very valuable support functions.

    what do you have to say to people on the hill and some agency directors who are saying a policy of counter-terrorism, as in, pinpointing and going after terrorists specifically, rather than building their nation up, would be better for US interests.
    My general opinion is that such people either watch too much television, or are letting wishful thinking get the better of them. The fact is that we have spent massive amounts of resources developing the kind of ELINT, SIGINT, COMINT, MASINT, and IMINT, capabilities that would have caused the military of the 90's to wet itself just thinking about.... only to discover at the end of the day (though specific communities, it should be noted, fiercely defend their capabilities - particularly SIGINT) that nothing can really replace HUMINT. Counterinsurgency has turned out to be a precondition for thorough counter-terrorism. You can't wage an effective counter terrorism campaign unless you know who the bad guys are, where they are, and what they are doing. Al-Quada long ago figured out that we can listen in on electronic communications; hence their increased reliance on couriers - and they are dependent upon their ability to hide among the local populaces. Only by turning that local populace to our advantage will we be able to expose and dismantle those networks - and only by engaging in a solid counterinsurgency campaign will we be able to turn that local populace. In my time in Iraq, the highest level guy we caught wasn't because of a Predator Image, or a SIGINT intercept, or a SAT picture... it was because my Gunny and his IP counterpart were shooting the breeze with some construction workers and my Gunny noticed that the new guy on the crew had an eagle tattoo on his right forearm, and the other workers were afraid of him. He never would have known there was a new guy, and never would have picked up on the subtleties of how the Iraqi's interacted if he hadn't been there, day in, day out, for a month, talking to the same workers. But he had, and so this guy trying to slide through was shut down. You have to have that kind of ability to deny the human terrain to a terrorist network in order to "defeat" them. If you will think of "defeated terrorist attacks" in the US, it's not that incredibly difficult to come up with a list of similar situations, where civilians were actually the first line of defense.

    It's cool when the shooters load up and go out to snatch somebody. It's cool to watch the live-feed of a hellfire strike (it's not cool to watch it be ineffective - the hellfire kinda sucks). But you don't get the capability set to put those cool toys to work that they are seeking unless you have the kind of presence that these people want to avoid.

    I mean that leaves open the question of, alright, you kill all these terrorists, but then how does that take the roots out? People would still be recruited to extremist camps in great numbers, which wouldn't happen as much with counterinsurgency.
    that is certainly also true. at the strategic (rather than operational) level, counter-terrorism treats the symptom, not the disease. and if a "counter-terrorism" strategy is linked to a withdrawal from a "counter-insurgency" stance, then it makes the disease worse.

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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by Opteron View Post
    Let me present a different position. Please don't assume that the Afghanistan withdrawal is about elections,


    I doubt that Obama would risk this with our military and I don't think any president would make a military decision based solely on elections
    solely? nah. dominantly? yes.

    It's about withdrawing from Afghanistan and letting the Afghans take over the fight and preventing more unnecessary coalition casualties.
    if that was the case then the withdrawal would be dictated by actual events on the ground, namely the ability of the Afghan local forces to take over the fight. Instead it is based on an artificial schedule designed specifically to make sure it is completed by the late fall of 2012 :.

    First look at who we are fighting.
    where? during what season?

    Al Queda is mostly withdrawn from Afghanistan and has fled to Pakistan. The leader of Al Queda was found living comfortably in Pakistan. We are fighting mostly the Taliban and the locals. We have already significantly impacted Al Queda's ability to operate, but I don't think it's necessary to keep fighting the locals. We are currently in talks with the Taliban to negotiate out something.
    we are attempting to split Taliban elements from Taliban elements, similar to what we did with the 20th Brigade in Iraq. "Taliban" is not a single group, network, or even inclination anymore; the core functions and shadow governments are indeed "Taliban" in the sense that they are part of that trunk hierarchy, but when you push past them?

    You would want us to continue the surge but at what cost?
    until it is won. that's the stakes war is played for.

    We get about 50 coalition casualties per month
    which is utterly seasonally and area dependent. But casualties themselves aren't indicative of success or failure in the immediate - only over the aggregate as trend analysis becomes possible. You always lose more guys in an offensive. We lost way more guys on June 8 than we lost on June 4 1944; but we were closer to winning the war.

    The generals' plan would have us to continue to fight for about two more seasons at least, but to what end? What will we have gained by then?
    Secured regions with secured, invested populaces capable of being handed over with a higher degree of confidence to better trained and more experienced Afghan security forces.

    The Afghan army is 167,000 troops strong, they should be able to take over the fight.
    The Iraqi Army in 1991 was the third largest in the world, and they got slaughtered. In the "retreat" from Chosin, the Chinese threw 10 Divisions at roughly a Division and a half of Marines... and 8 of them got chewed up so bad they had to be retired (the other two were merely beaten). Size is important - but quality remains critical. Currently the Afghan military and police forces do not have the capability to take the lead in massive swaths of the country - though there are areas in which they could and are.

    We need to put pressure on the Afghan's to fight for their own country and that won't happen if we continue to do the brunt of the fighting for them.
    you'd be amazed how much pressure a Taliban note on your door promising to take your 8 year old child to pieces.... slowly... can put on you. Don't presume to understand the Afghan security forces or civilians situation - the war they are fighting is more brutal than the one we are.

    I agree with that mostly. The generals will always want more troops because they are the military and mostly the way they see a solution to a conflict is to fight until you win it. They don't have the option to withdraw, which is one important option to put pressure on the other country's government.
    you don't with the Afghan conflict by convincing the people that you need that siding with you is a losing bet. threatening to withdraw creates precisely that unfortunate conviction.

    And in Iraq, the surge succeeded largely because of the Sunii Awakening, in which the locals were paid by the US and turned against Al Queda
    the Sunni Awakening happened because American Forces guaranteed their victory. However, you are mistaken to assume that the victory in Iraq occurred solely within the Sunni Triangle.

    We need local support in Afghanistan, and I don't have all the facts, but I think largely we are not getting as much local support as we should be getting and that could be one major factor in not continuing the fighting.
    you are absolutely 100% correct. and the main reason we aren't as much local support as we should is because our President made the idiotic decision to try to politically please his base by attaching an artificial withdrawal date to the Surge Troops. He made the right call to send them, and then in the very next breath he made the wrong call to **** them over. Why should an Afghan villager ever want to side with the Americans, knowing that in two years they will retreat and the Taliban will come murder him and his entire family? Answer: he wont. And in the meantime the existence of such a withdrawal date will demoralize our allies while aiding the enemy.

    To what end should we continue the fight?
    to the end of leaving an Afghan security force beholden to a government chosen by the people of Afghanistan capable of defending it's people against attack from Taliban, Haqqani, and other like networks.

    Should we remain there another 5 years, 10 years?
    likely we will have an embassy there and continue to deploy trainers and advisers, meaning that we will "be there" indefinitely. All Embassies are guarded by United States Marines. as for staying there in our current strength - we should withdraw as events and realities on the ground dictate - not according to any artificial schedule.

    If we withdraw now, we can prevent more coalition casualties and put Afghanistan forces in the front.
    this is incorrect. by re-opening currently denied terrain (both geographic and human), we will dramatically increase enemy capabilities and freedom of movement. The result will be enemy control of the terrain giving them the ability to launch attacks with impunity. The British tried a similar approach to what you are advocating, and all they were rewarded with was howling, bloody, chaos. You may recall how the Marines had to go in and clear Marjeh because it was a Taliban owned area? That's because the Brits there were seeking to reduce casualties rather than seeking to win.

    Afghanistan does have 167,000 troops and we can train more. Shouldn't they be doing the fighting mostly?
    when they are able to, yes.

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    Re: US troops coming home? Obama to say on Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by Mickey Shane View Post
    Not listening to "his generals" that are of a lower rank? There's a real reason why the commander of the armed forces is a civilian. Without that distinction we would be in constantly escalating wars all over the world.
    Cause people in uniform love to shoot people?
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    Re: President Obama To Announce Details of Afghanistan Strategy On Wednesday

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    I've only really heard it in media - though it might be an Army thing. They call all their NCO ranks "Sergeant" except for Sergeant-Major; so who knows what those crazies do to differentiate between a "sergeant" that is an E-5 and a "sergeant" that is an E-7.
    I've actually never heard it in the media... I heard it from an IEA years ago who was a sergeant in the army. I think an E-7 is an SFC though so I guess that's how they distinguish it. My experience they just say sergeant to all E-5 up till warrants/commissioned officers but again that experience is limited.

    according to at least one poster on this forum, if you do that, men in black suits will track you down by your IP and come "collect" you for reeducation
    I guess for something like that if you really were in violation it would be marine CID not NCIS that would investigate that. In my opinion the whole military criminal investigative division of our government is ridiculously unorganized and wasteful but that's a topic for another day. For me ICE/CBP share an "office of professional responsibility" which would probably go after us. They have separate field offices and everything, to avoid having their asses kicked... lol.

    well I generally try to steer clear of the "international" / foreign policy forums - don't need temptation and I don't want to spend all my time self-editing.
    Yeah that's good for you. I mean I'm almost out - another 6 years is all I can do in terms of being an actual GS1811 special agent who carries and investigates crime. I can either retire and get out or (more likely) take a supervisory job somewhere for DHS which I'd rather do. They don't let you work past 56 as an 1811.

    well, and again, there's a large degree of "unit-specificity" within that. Man-for-Man, the British Royal Marines are The S--t; but they aren't employed well. GSG9 is really truly top-notch and deserves to be mentioned with our Tier1 assets, but they won't be used.
    Yeah I was waiting for something about that... I know the brits have very elite units/equipment. They better get their **** together with those units, because from what you've said as well as general readings, their regular land army isn't too hot.

    I would say that whis ould be a poor strategy because it would still likely be beyond their capabilities and operational restraints. In general I would pursue something similar to what they started to do with the Afghan offensive two years back - the Marines clear; the Army moves in after it's pacified to hold... and our very valuable allies whom we're so proud to work with in this international effort in which we are all very valuable partners vast skills are desperately needed in a number of very valuable support functions.
    Right, but in the end, if we can get our NATO allies better on their feet, and not in a role where they have to take areas/deal with locals, it could be possible to have lower numbers of US forces in the area.

    My general opinion is that such people either watch too much television, or are letting wishful thinking get the better of them. The fact is that we have spent massive amounts of resources developing the kind of ELINT, SIGINT, COMINT, MASINT, and IMINT, capabilities that would have caused the military of the 90's to wet itself just thinking about.... only to discover at the end of the day (though specific communities, it should be noted, fiercely defend their capabilities - particularly SIGINT) that nothing can really replace HUMINT. Counterinsurgency has turned out to be a precondition for thorough counter-terrorism. You can't wage an effective counter terrorism campaign unless you know who the bad guys are, where they are, and what they are doing. Al-Quada long ago figured out that we can listen in on electronic communications; hence their increased reliance on couriers - and they are dependent upon their ability to hide among the local populaces. Only by turning that local populace to our advantage will we be able to expose and dismantle those networks - and only by engaging in a solid counterinsurgency campaign will we be able to turn that local populace. In my time in Iraq, the highest level guy we caught wasn't because of a Predator Image, or a SIGINT intercept, or a SAT picture... it was because my Gunny and his IP counterpart were shooting the breeze with some construction workers and my Gunny noticed that the new guy on the crew had an eagle tattoo on his right forearm, and the other workers were afraid of him. He never would have known there was a new guy, and never would have picked up on the subtleties of how the Iraqi's interacted if he hadn't been there, day in, day out, for a month, talking to the same workers. But he had, and so this guy trying to slide through was shut down. You have to have that kind of ability to deny the human terrain to a terrorist network in order to "defeat" them. If you will think of "defeated terrorist attacks" in the US, it's not that incredibly difficult to come up with a list of similar situations, where civilians were actually the first line of defense.
    Absolutely. In most cases civilians are the first line of defense. The amount of Muslims who have given tips regarding islamic radicals, or the amount of people who have reported white supremacists, etc, is amazing. The amount of people going into and out of the javits building whenever I go there reporting tips is huge. That is all really interesting though, especially the point about your gunny noticing that. I've known of agents who have been sent over there for various purposes, and have reported similar things. Never been there myself though, too old, lol.
    It's cool when the shooters load up and go out to snatch somebody. It's cool to watch the live-feed of a hellfire strike (it's not cool to watch it be ineffective - the hellfire kinda sucks). But you don't get the capability set to put those cool toys to work that they are seeking unless you have the kind of presence that these people want to avoid.
    Excellent point.


    that is certainly also true. at the strategic (rather than operational) level, counter-terrorism treats the symptom, not the disease. and if a "counter-terrorism" strategy is linked to a withdrawal from a "counter-insurgency" stance, then it makes the disease worse.
    So in your assessment, I know you aren't a commander or anything, but how long do you think it would take to fully and totally be able to withdraw the large amounts of forces we have in Afghanistan, and replace them with small security detachments at embassies who continue to train but generally don't do counterinsurgency?

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