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Thread: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    Quote Originally Posted by RDS View Post
    Talibans and insurgents will always go for the kill. Its endless problem in Aghanistan and Iraq. This has now spread to Pakistan and soon to India I guess.
    It started with Pakistan and spilt into Afghanistan. For a better part of the 20th and 21st century one could call the tribal militants an extension of the Pakistani Military. Even now, there are Generals and other positions within the Pakistani military that are "pro-taliban".

    Not to mention the tribesmen were launching attacks against the British positions in Pakistan.
    Last edited by Arch Enemy; 11-28-09 at 10:38 AM.
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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    Hopefully, this new tack will work, but I don't have very high expectations.

    What worries me is what seems to have amounted to a dangerous lack of coherent strategy from the onset, limited leadership on the ground, grossly deficient understanding of the historic experience in Afghanistan, and a lack of attention to the role Afghanistan's local tribes play. Each of those factors has contributed to the current situation. Whether the forthcoming strategic planning effort by the President will really get to the heart of those issues remains to be seen. If it is merely a more robust counterinsurgency strategy, it probably will not accomplish too much in Afghanistan. However, it could further drain public and Congressional support for a conflict that is critically important for the United States.

    In terms of this latest tactic, the effort to try to peal off what relative moderates exist within the Taliban, and "relative" needs to be emphasized given that the Taliban is not a moderate movement by any reasonable definition of "moderate," should have occurred from the onset. Why was so obvious a tactic not tried earlier? In a large range of past conflicts, efforts had been pursued to divide the ranks of the enemy. Again, I suspect what amounted to a blind spot in operational tactics, likely resulted from a deficient understanding of history.

    From a pure power perspective, the proper time for such a tactic was early in the conflict when it was widely understood that U.S./NATO forces were rolling to a victory. Then, the Taliban was demoralized and maximum incentive existed for more pragmatic elements to abandon the Taliban. Doing so now--and in public fashion--when U.S./NATO forces have suffered reverses and are under pressure may well be perceived by the Taliban as a sort of public confession of weakness. If so, the tactic could prove largely ineffective, as there is little incentive for those who believe they are making gains to change sides. Instead, they view such appeals as hollow. If the Taliban interprets the new tactic as evidence of U.S./NATO impotence, the new tactic could actually further embolden the Taliban in its campaign, leading to more numerous attacks on U.S./NATO forces and Afghan government installations.

    IMO, this long-overdue effort to reach out to more pragmatic elements within the Taliban should have been implemented on a trial basis to test its effectiveness. At the same time, it should have been done with complete anonymity given the inopportune time it was being tested.

    With the Taliban seeing the U.S./NATO lurch from tactic to tactic and from strategy to strategy, the Taliban will likely remain largely unresponsive to the new tactic. Instead, their behavior will be guided strictly by on-the-ground developments, not tactical or strategic announcements. It is those on-the-ground developments that a new Aghanstan strategy will need to visibly and decisively shift in the favor of the U.S./NATO.
    Last edited by donsutherland1; 11-28-09 at 01:57 PM.

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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    The United States military can win this fight and if the politicians keep their noses out of it, they will win this fight.
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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    Quote Originally Posted by apdst View Post
    The United States military can win this fight and if the politicians keep their noses out of it, they will win this fight.
    I tend to agree with this point of view.... nation building might work where you have some form of nation to start working with. In Afghanistan’s case, there has never been a nation to speak of.... they have no concept of working together for the greater good, no concept of a long view.

    I'm afraid that to win this war we would have to "kill them all and let God sort them out", then occupy the country for 50 years until a new generation came of age in the modern world.
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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    Quote Originally Posted by apdst View Post
    The United States military can win this fight and if the politicians keep their noses out of it, they will win this fight.
    And how long should the US occupy Afghanistan to secure that victory?

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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    It's hardly a new tactic. Buying off the enemy is still being used in Iraq.

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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    I am not so sure that there is a military "solution" to the Afghanistan problems. The possibility that the military seems to be aiming for is to weaken the Taliban and its allies sufficiently that the other tribes can stand up to them or bully them around for a change.

    Once you take for granted that we will not stay in Afghanistan for a period long enough to change their entire culture then you start looking for what we can do in an appropriate time frame. We pushed the Taliban out of the top dog spot in Afghanistan and chased them back into their base in the borderlands. This was pretty much the holding action that was maintained during the Iraq occupation. Once Iraq was calmed down with the surge, we then went back to pay some attention to Afghanistan. Unfortunately this gave the Taliban enough time to recover some of their strength and prestige.

    So now we have to take them down a notch again. A 'surge' in Afghanistan force levels could enable us to hurt the Taliban again and possibly take them out of the equation for another five or six years. If this happens, we will probably declare 'victory' and pull most of our troops out. When the Taliban comes back later, we can always point to the Pakistan and Afghan governments and blame them for not keeping them down.

    This will not be an easy task for our troops. I think they can do it, if they are allowed to, but I don't know if they will be or not. It is still pretty much in the air. Until the commander-in-chief decides what he wishes done, the troops are still in a holding pattern with no direction and not knowing whether they should be defensive or aggressive at this point. Hopefully things will clear up in a few days with the President's address on the situation.

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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    Quote Originally Posted by apdst View Post
    The United States military can win this fight and if the politicians keep their noses out of it, they will win this fight.
    Like you, I hope that Washington does not get involved in day-to-day military tactics. Washington should not dictate targets or military methods, though there is some risk that a combination of stalemate and failure to reduce civilian casualties might lead to such an outcome down the road.

    However, when it comes to strategy, Washington should ask the difficult questions that need to be asked including:

    1) Why did the earlier strategies fail?
    2) Why were early forecasts so far off the mark?
    3) Why did the earlier strategies not consider the rise of situations that confronted the British and Soviets in Afghanistan?
    4) How would disproportionate reliance on the Karzai government in a country based on local/dispersed power be better than building a bottom-up strategy based around local tribal leaders?
    5) What contingencies are considered in the proposed strategy?
    6) Why should Washington have confidence that the proposed strategy has a high probability of success given the experience with the past strategies, including the earlier troop surge?
    7) Can the military planners articulate the broader geopolitical implications of the conflict in Afghanistan?

    To be sure, some of those questions, particularly the last one, would cause the military leaders to bristle. But to be blunt, they now bear the burden of demonstrating that they understand the military requirements in Afghanistan and can offer a viable strategy necessary to meet U.S. objectives. The failures to date to build a stable and secure Afghanistan require nothing less than their addressing difficult questions.

    Too much is at stake geopolitically for the U.S. to suffer a stalemate or worse in Afghanistan. In the wake of how things have evolved, it is facts and outcomes alone, not the personal sensitivies of the military leaders, that matter.

    If the strategy that will soon be unveiled does not materially improve conditions in Afghanistan over the next 1-2 years, domestic support for the conflict will erode. Once that happens, Congressional support to sustain the conflict will also erode and pressure for dramatic decisions will grow as the 2012 elections approach (2010 will still be within a grace period so to speak). Without sufficient domestic support, the objectives will likely shift from the creation of a more stable Afghanistan to loss minimization. In that context, U.S. geopolitical interests will have been damaged.

    In the meantime, what is happening in Afghanistan matters deeply for U.S. interests. North Korea and Iran are watching developments closely in Afghanistan. Neither of those hostile regimes is impressed with U.S. power. Both increasingly calculate that the U.S. does not possess the credible means to roll back their nuclear programs. Not surprisingly, they have retained an intransigent policy course.

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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    Quote Originally Posted by apdst View Post
    The United States military can win this fight and if the politicians keep their noses out of it, they will win this fight.
    Except if pure military operations worked, then Afghanistan would still be under British control. The only time pure military operations have worked (and this is the 5th time I've told you) is when you kill every last man, woman and child. Pure military did not win in Iraq, so why do you think that only the military will work in Afghanistan?

    And I am STILL waiting for SOMEONE to tell me what Afghanistan can develop its economy around to provide opportunities for its people.

    All you are doing is harping more military without understanding the most basic concepts of successful COIN operations in history.
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    Re: U.S. Tries New Tack Against Taliban

    Quote Originally Posted by obvious Child View Post
    Except if pure military operations worked, then Afghanistan would still be under British control. The only time pure military operations have worked (and this is the 5th time I've told you) is when you kill every last man, woman and child. Pure military did not win in Iraq, so why do you think that only the military will work in Afghanistan?

    And I am STILL waiting for SOMEONE to tell me what Afghanistan can develop its economy around to provide opportunities for its people.

    All you are doing is harping more military without understanding the most basic concepts of successful COIN operations in history.
    The only plausible economic option for Afghanistan is a farm based economy. We could try to turn Afghanistan into a giant Iowa....
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