View Full Version : Unity of Effort...what unity of effort?

John T. Fishel
11-12-2009, 03:35 PM
The current news that Amabassador Karl Eichenberry (LTG ret.) is skeptical, to say the least, of GEN Stanley McChrystal's Afghanistan strategy and its resource requirements is indicative of our broken C2 system for fighting Small Wars. These guys are not on the same team and, frankly, one of them has to go. I am not saying that disagreement between major players is necesssarily bad but it is not good for it to be public, unresolved, and regardless of resolution leaving them both in place without one of them being in charge. At the end of the day, when President Obama finally makes a decision, he will have to choose between them. That outcome, IMO, will make the loser of the political battle ineffective.



Steve the Planner
11-12-2009, 04:03 PM
Let me see.

Yesterday, the Huffington Post claimed a memo from Jones saying Afghanistan was like the Jay Leno Show--- something they flog out everynight even though it is past its time.

Eikenberry, from what I can gather, is saying that the Afghan national political turf is too unstable to set an anchor in, and the formula of $2.5 billion in aid to $50 billion in defense isn't going to deliver a turn around.

Because of that political/civilian lack of capability, he argues that the troop increase may not be wise, productive, and definitely not able to address the President's pursuit of a viable short or medium term exit strategy.

I wonder how much Gen. McCrystal's now "long-in-the-tooth" recommendation from August might be changed today if Eikenberry's reports are accurate?

Clearly, there is no concensus, but I have trouble believing that an engaged military leadership does not already detect the same mounting pol/civ frustration as the Ambassador. Maybe we are just not hearing the complete story?

If they are not even in dialogue, or seeing things in a diametrically opposed way, we really have problems.

So, when does Ambassador Crocker get called up to try to clean up the civilian side?

11-12-2009, 04:04 PM
John, which one should go in your opinion? Or does it matter?

11-12-2009, 04:19 PM
I don't know who's right or wrong, but I found this statement (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/us/politics/12policy.html?_r=2&hp) pretty ironic last night,

General Eikenberry crossed paths with General McChrystal during his second tour in Afghanistan, when General McChrystal led the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, which conducted clandestine operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their relationship, a senior military official said last year, was occasionally tense as General McChrystal pushed for approval for commando missions, and General Eikenberry was resistant because of concerns that the missions were too risky and could lead to civilian casualties.

I hope at the end of all this, after the President makes his decision on strategy, he puts one person in charge for better or worse.

John T. Fishel
11-12-2009, 04:23 PM
of this thread, it doesn't matter. I do have my own opinion, of course, on who is right on the substance and the strategic requirements but the point I was making was on unity of effort and my hobby horse that we need unity of command of both civil and military components in a Small War.

How's that for not answering the question? PM or email me for my real opinion.:)



Steve the Planner
11-12-2009, 04:49 PM

My problem goes beyond these two.

Ambassador Eikenberry has been consistently asking State for a major increase in civilian presence, commitment, and has received little in response.

So you have two leaders, one military and one civilian, each pushing for more resources from their stovepipe.

Both are getting the same response (no answer), but at the higher level, the individual stovepipe requests of are inter-dependent. Military surge against a civilian problem is not going to work, and vice versa.

The final answer (after all the lifelines and "phone-a-friend") must coordinate both efforts, or we are just punting the day of decision.

The substance of each's positions is what matters most, and they must "unite."

11-12-2009, 05:30 PM
The substance of each's positions is what matters most, and they must "unite."

In the absence of leadership from the Oval Office, where civil and military authority merge, there will be no uniting the factions beneath.

However, I doubt that the feud has become public accidentally; rather, I suggest that each of the US civil and military leaders in Afghanistan has put up his trial ballon, and the President will choose the one that draws the least amount of fire.

Abu Suleyman
11-12-2009, 06:15 PM
I realize that most people dismiss Pres. Obama's "everyone can really get everything they truly want" rhetoric as a political device, but I think that we need to consider that he really means it. I think it is increasingly likely that the real problem in this case is that there is going to be a loser in this debate, and either of them is going to come from "Team Obama." I am becoming increasingly convinced that the Pres. believes that if he just looks hard enough, he will find the third way, which will allow there to be no losers.

In the end, no decision is a decision.

11-12-2009, 07:06 PM
MikeF provides a quote indicating that Eikenberry resisted McCrystal's clandestine ops efforts due to risk and the possibility of civilian casualties, and JohnT reminds us that SmallWarfare requires unity of civil and military command. I find it incomprehensible that we are still debating the strategy and structure of our efforts in Afghanistan after eight years in-theatre.

IMHO, the tempo of clandestine ops will need to be increased to better find and fix the Taliban; once we control the location and timing of our contacts, they've lost. Also, such ops would not be riskier than the IED exposure to convoys of troops driving around the country in search and destroy style missions - sure, such efforts look good on the news, but if you really want to drive a wedge between our PRT efforts and the populace you probably couldn't find a better tactic. Versus a broader net of SpecForce eyes on the terrain and populace, the marginal control of towns and roads we currently maintain only serves to canalize our movements, exposing our troops to IEDs and ROE guesswork in built-up areas.

11-12-2009, 07:53 PM
I am obviously not an expert, what is the historical record on presidents making decisions in wartime? This looks to an outsider like far too long to make such a fundamental decision. What is he waiting for? There is no rabbit in the hat and no magician on the stage. By now, he should know what he is dealing with (or THINK he knows what he is dealing with) and make a decision. He is the president, he doesnt have the option of saying "I will just wait till I hear something better"....or am i reading this totally wrong?

Steve the Planner
11-12-2009, 08:04 PM
In the ag post, Davidfpo reference an Abu M post about Missouri Guard efforts.

The same site had the following, which describes Area Code 202 people trying to undermine Eikenberry's future relationship with Karzai by releasing the cable. How byzantine?