View Poll Results: What should we do in Afghanistan?

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  • Sit tight with 68,000 troops in theater

    0 0%
  • Increase troops by 40,000

    7 28.00%
  • Increase troops by 30,000

    1 4.00%
  • Increase troops by 20,000

    0 0%
  • Increase troops by 10,000

    1 4.00%
  • Decrease troops by 34,000

    0 0%
  • Get out.

    16 64.00%
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Thread: What should we do in Afghanistan?

  1. #21
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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    Versions vary from little more than using UCAVs and few special forces to “plink” at Al Qa’ida in Pakistan, to a mix of far more intense strikes on all aspects of Al Qa’ida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan with something very close to the presently planned level of ground forces and aid efforts in Afghanistan, including the added troops that President Obama committed this spring.
    It is difficult to discuss some of the most critical aspects of any effort to strike at Al Qa’ida and Taliban cadres, because such an depends so heavily on sensitive strike assets and aspects of intelligence fusion. It is far from clear, however, that such an effort can achieve enough scale to have a lasting impact without major forces on the ground or without expecting special forces to perform miracles and survive in the process. It is unclear why such strikes should be any more decisive than they have been over the last eight years in defeating Al Qa’ida and the broad threat posed by violent Jihadist threats. It is unclear how it can be applied to the insurgent networks that are now embedded in densely populated areas. Decapitation is wonderfully simplistic as a concept, but Tarantino will not write the script in Afghanistan.
    Cordesman loses me here. He fails to acknowledge that much of AQ has been eradicated or left AFG. That is a fact. It didn't take SOF "miracles" to achieve this either. Targeting is what they do...they are good at it.

    I also think the "decapitation" term is misleading. The old addage about terror organizations is that "if you cut the head of the snake, it grows a new head". True, however, we witnessed the incredible ability of SOF to rout AQ in Iraq, which of course is easier, but doable in AFG. Not to mention that the Taliban is not a terror organization. They are an organization that wishes to be the governing body of parts of AFG again, just as they were before. However, with a targeting campaign in place, AQ will not be able to seek sanctuary again. They will do so in Pakistan, because we aren't doing anything there. Nor will we. Can we trust the Pakistanis to?

    This is what I recommend:
    -SOF Targeting of AQ and T-Ban leadership
    -AQ/T-Ban conferences to work out differences and air greviences (ala Anbar Awakening...try to bring them to our side)
    -"Sons of AFG" program to recruit former Taliban fighters to our side (ala SOI in IZ)
    -PRT reconstruction in the densely population centers
    -Military Advisors at the BN level and above for ANA and ANP
    -Civilian advisors/liasons for AFG Govt. officials (monitor corruption)
    -Timetables with benchmarks to judge progress; both military and governance
    -"Oil spot" COIN operations in troubled areas with NATO units

    I need more time to analyze. Cordesman is brilliant, but he has his agenda.

  2. #22
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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    This is from COL Gian Gentile, former CAV commander in Iraq and now Prof at USMA:

    Counterinsurgency Cookie Cutter Doesn't Fit Afghanistan
    The Iraq surge's "success" is a myth, not a foundation for sound military strategy
    By Gian P. Gentile
    Posted October 27, 2009

    "Counterinsurgency" has become the new American way of war. A once obscure theory of internal conflict, it has become ubiquitous in military circles and dominates thinking on both current and future wars. Examinations and discussions of counterinsurgency theory pervade conferences, journals, study agendas, and even human interest stories about its chief exponents; journalists and pundits routinely toss the term about as if its meaning is well understood by all. More important, its precepts are being followed without serious inquiry or examination, and the U.S. military has become so enamored with the theory that it seemingly will not consider any serious alternative methods to achieve the president's objectives in Afghanistan.

    American military leaders are in the business of providing options, not a single formula with questionable relevance to Afghanistan. Conflict is never an either-or proposition. There are always alternatives. Good strategy—linking means to ends—involves much more than tactics. China's famous military philosopher Sun Tzu got it right when he warned, "Strategy without tactics is the slow road to victory," but "tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Statements by self-proclaimed counterinsurgency experts that emphasize the imperative to protect populations and separate them from the insurgents, and win their hearts and minds through nation building, frighteningly sound like Sun Tzu's noise.

    Such incantations do not withstand serious scrutiny and do not provide a way to assess the alignment of means and ends, the essence of strategy.
    Gian P. Gentile is a U.S. Army colonel, a professor of history, and head of the military history program at West Point. He commanded a battalion in West Baghdad in 2006. The views in this article are his own and not necessarily those of the Department of Defense.


    Full Article

  3. #23
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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by kansaswhig View Post
    This is from COL Gian Gentile, former CAV commander in Iraq and now Prof at USMA:

    Good article. He mentions that CT is an alternative that will meet the political objectives. What are the political objectives?

  4. #24
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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by kansaswhig View Post
    If you have been in the military, you could possibly comprehend why this would not work. Your plan is not feasible. 500 linguists? That are qualified and properly trained? Yes, DLI can facilitate that. American Divisions of Dari and Pashtun speaking troops? Can never happen. We already have those troops anyway...they are known as the ANA.
    I'm thinking about it on a different time scale. Maybe we need to just send more troops now and have a radically broader language training program up and running in 2 years or something. IMO we're not getting out of either war with a clear conscience in less than 5 years... Even then, only if we radically ramp up reconstruction.

    I definitely appreciate your perspective. I was against the Iraq war from the start and had serious concerns about the scope of the Afganistan war from the start for pretty much the same reasons you're citing- the tasks of securing a country, replacing governments, rebuilding and establishing a working country are monumental. Maybe even impossible. But what irritates me is that the same folks who were ignoring those arguments when things were getting ramped up are now making those arguments themselves. IMO once you start a war you have an absolute responsibility to see it through not just to a military victory, but to a situation that is better than what was there before you started the war. People living there need to look back at the war and think "that was awful, but on balance I'm glad it happened". To start up a war then cut and run before you reach that point is indefensible. Best not to start the war, but once you do, you need to be in for the long haul. It sucks, I would never have wished this on the US, but we brought it on ourselves.

    What I would do in both Iraq and Afganistan would be to add on two objectives- reconstruction and winning the hearts and minds. We give both of those lip service, but no real steps towards achieving them. To really reconstruct the countries means hundreds of billions of dollars in construction projects. Winning the hearts and minds means at the very least tens of thousands of Americans on the ground, speaking the language, and getting to know the people in positive ways. Those are massive goals, but that's what we bit off when we launched these ill advised wars.

    I would like to see a massive reconstruction corp set up on the scale of the peace corp, bring in tens of thousands of non-combatants with experience in things like construction, city planning, economics, finance, computers, etc, have them work on major substantive projects to rebuild the countries, hire loads of Iraqis and Afgans to work on the projects, and make sure that all the Americans on the projects are speaking the language and working side by side with the locals. There really is no short cut to getting the population of the world there to realize that we aren't devils. You just need to provide them individually with exposure to Americans that speak their language and are engaged in some kind of positive, constructive, work that makes their lives better. That's the only way to really win hearts and minds. The people working in something like that would be taking serious risks to their lives to be sure so I would extend them veteran's benefits. I would use a significant portion of the increased troop numbers to try to keep those projects as secure as possible.

    It'd be a long expensive road, but the alternatives are either to cut and run, in which case all we've done is screw up two countries and create tens of thousands of new terrorists, or to stick around with our limited scope mission for decades until the countries are able to rebuild the damage we did on their own. I'd rather sink more money in and get it over with quicker.
    Last edited by teamosil; 11-12-09 at 06:46 PM.

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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by teamosil View Post
    I would like to see a massive reconstruction corp set up on the scale of the peace corp, bring in tens of thousands of non-combatants with experience in things like construction, city planning, economics, finance, computers, etc, have them work on major substantive projects to rebuild the countries, hire loads of Iraqis and Afgans to work on the projects, and make sure that all the Americans on the projects are speaking the language and working side by side with the locals.
    You need to read [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Pentagons-New-Map-Twenty-first-Century/dp/B000BPG24M/ref=tmm_pap_title_0]Amazon.com: The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century: Thomas P.M. Barnett: Books[/ame]

  6. #26
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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    You'll need to give me a bit more of a description. What's the spin of the book?

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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by teamosil View Post
    You'll need to give me a bit more of a description. What's the spin of the book?
    Sure, from the web site for the book, here is the Publishers Weekly review:
    Barnett, professor at the U.S. Naval War College, takes a global perspective that integrates political, economic and military elements in a model for the postâ€"September 11 world. Barnett argues that terrorism and globalization have combined to end the great-power model of war that has developed over 400 years, since the Thirty Years War. Instead, he divides the world along binary lines. An increasingly expanding "Functioning Core" of economically developed, politically stable states integrated into global systems is juxtaposed to a "Non-Integrating Gap," the most likely source of threats to U.S. and international security. The "gap" incorporates Andean South America, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and much of southwest Asia. According to Barnett, these regions are dangerous because they are not yet integrated into globalism's "core." Until that process is complete, they will continue to lash out. Barnett calls for a division of the U.S. armed forces into two separate parts. One will be a quick-strike military, focused on suppressing hostile governments and nongovernment entities. The other will be administratively oriented and assume responsibility for facilitating the transition of "gap" systems into the "core." Barnett takes pains to deny that implementing the new policy will establish America either as a global policeman or an imperial power. Instead, he says the policy reflects that the U.S. is the source of, and model for, globalization. We cannot, he argues, abandon our creation without risking chaos. Barnett writes well, and one of the book's most compelling aspects is its description of the negotiating, infighting and backbiting required to get a hearing for unconventional ideas in the national security establishment. Unfortunately, marketing the concepts generates a certain tunnel vision. In particular, Barnett, like his intellectual models Thomas Friedman and Francis Fukuyama, tends to accept the universality of rational-actor models constructed on Western lines. There is little room in Barnett's structures for the apocalyptic religious enthusiasm that has been contemporary terrorism's driving wheel and that to date has been indifferent to economic and political factors. That makes his analytical structure incomplete and more useful as an intellectual exercise than as the guide to policy described in the book's promotional literature.

  8. #28
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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by teamosil View Post
    What I would do in both Iraq and Afganistan would be to add on two objectives- reconstruction and winning the hearts and minds.
    In Iraq, I think we have. We played our cards "all in". And reconstruction wise, well, let's just say as a very low-ranking officer, I was walking around Mosul with $50K in my cargo pocket paying out projects. We've given Iraqis reconstruction money; believe me. Just in my lowly little area of operations, I paid out hundreds of thousands for new schools, clinics, city council buildings, police stations, fire stations, etc. You name it. IN Baghdad, they got a lot more and spent a lot more. We've done a lot for the Iraqis. Not sure about AFG.

    We give both of those lip service, but no real steps towards achieving them. To really reconstruct the countries means hundreds of billions of dollars in construction projects.
    The money isn't the issue. It's getting the civilians to theater. The military can't do it all. In Iraq, we didn't have as big of a problem. It appears that the civilian corps is less willing to come to AFG.

  9. #29
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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    I vote we get out. Then after we leave we dust the poppy fields with radioactive fallout.
    When America is strong the world is calm, When America is weak tyrants and terrorist slaughter the meek. ~ SgtRock

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    Re: What should we do in Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by teamosil View Post
    I think we should increase troop levels with a major caveat. We should set up an intensive program to teach the Arabic. Maybe increase by 30k, but send 10k of them to a language camp for the first 6 months, then rotate them in and rotate another 10k troops out of the conflict into the language camp, and continue on with that until we have a large portion of the troops over there speaking the language. Also, I wouldn't give them any more troops until they come up with a clear plan for how we are going to get the country rebuilt asap. I'd do the same thing with Iraq. I'd rather spend twice as much to support actually rebuilding the infrastructure and get out in half the time than stick around militarily waiting for those buildings to rebuild themselves.
    This would be a very effective strategy. The military should standardize Pashtu for anyone deploying to Afghanistan.

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