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Thread: After Action Report-General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret) Afgahanistan

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    Default After Action Report-General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret) Afgahanistan

    21-26 July 2008 - Excellent observation and analysis

    http://www.west-point.org/publicatio...fghanistan.pdf

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    Default Unity of Effort vice Unity of Command?

    There is no unity of command in Afghanistan. A sensible coordination of all political and military elements of the Afghan theater of operations does not exist. There is no single military headquarters tactically commanding all US forces. All NATO military forces do not fully respond to the NATO ISAF Commander because of extensive national operational restrictions and caveats. In theory, NATO ISAF Forces respond to the (US) SACEUR…but US Forces in ISAF (half the total ISAF forces are US) respond to the US CENTCOM commander. However, US Special Operations Forces respond to US SOCOM…..not (US) SACEUR or US CENTCOM. There is no accepted Combined NATO-Afghan military headquarters. There is no clear political governance relationship organizing the government of Afghanistan, the United Nations and its many Agencies, NATO and its political and military presence, the 26 Afghan deployed allied nations, the hundreds of NGO’s, and private entities and contractors. There is little formal dialog between the government and military of Pakistan and Afghanistan, except that cobbled together by the US Forces in Regional Command East along the Pakistan frontier.

    Not exactly a recipe for success according to anyone's doctrine about unity of command. The mix and match relationships between US military forces (SOCOM, CENTCOM, SACEUR) isn't as cumbersome as it sounds. Plenty of close personal relationships there to overcome the lack of a solid wiring diagram. The tie to the Afghan military and the tie with NATO is more problematic, and has been for several years.

    The lack of a clear US national oversight to employ all aspects of national power is much more troubling than the soup of military chains of command.

    Someone (at the Ambassador level) has to be tying this together, wouldn't you think?

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default C2 comment may be in error

    I think the comment reference SOF C2 is not correct. Although there are different SOF organizations (both within the US C2 structure and the NATO structure) all US SOF (less those under the NATO structure) are under the C2 of the theater commander. While there are most probably problems with the C2 structure none of the US SOF is under SOCOM control while in theater.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    While this report is tremendously informative, I also am not sure what Gen McCaffrey is referring to when he states that USSOCOM directs SOF in Afg. I think that both HQ USSOCOM and the SOF in Afghanistan would question the accuracy of that assertion. The other points about other issues of concern with the present C2 arrangements make sense, but the statement that SOF in Afg take their direction from USSOCOM is not accurate.

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    Default Thanx

    for supplying the url to the report.

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    Default Sof c2

    The Cohen-Nunn Amendment to the 1986 DOD Appropriations Act which created USSOCOM (and ASD-SO/LIC) also created the SOF C2 structure. For normal SOF ops C2 was in the hands of the regional combatant commander through his SOC (as in SOCCENT, SOCEUR. or SOCSOUTH). However, the legislation reserved to USSOCOM C2 of such SOF missions as the NCA might direct. While that authority was rarely used prior to the current administration, SECDEF Rumsfeld was on record (in the media) as expanding the use of SOCOM directed SOF missions.

    Don't know the extent to which this applies in Afghanistan but it is a plausible interpretation given both the legislative authority and recent history.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default Sof c2

    John,

    Of course you are correct IRT Nunn-Cohen. And Rumsfeld made some public statements to the effect that he wanted SOF to conduct unilateral operations but the fact is that under current command structure SOCOM is not exercising C2 of forces in CENTCOM. Less SOF assigned to NATO, CENTCOM has combatant command of all SOF in theater.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Default At last some vision

    The report is succinct and has many interesting strategic comments - notably no cross border incursions.

    The biggest problem is gaining far greater Afghan / tribal involvement, whether civil, development or military for just three examples. Well illustrated by not a single Afghan policeman or soldier serving with the USMC battallion in Helmand recently.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-03-2008 at 11:34 AM. Reason: spelling error

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    Council Member MSG Proctor's Avatar
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    The magnificent, resilient Afghan people absolutely reject the ideology and violence of the Taliban (90% or greater) but have little faith in the ability of the government to provide security, justice, clean water, electricity, or jobs. Much of Afghanistan has great faith in US military forces, but enormous suspicion of the commitment and staying power of our NATO allies.

    �� The courageous and determined NATO Forces (the employable forces are principally US, Canadian, British, Polish, and Dutch) and the Afghan National Army (the ANA is a splendid success story) cannot be defeated in battle. They will continue to slaughter the Pashtun insurgents, criminals, and international terrorist syndicates who directly confront them. (7000+ killed during 2007 alone.) The Taliban will increasingly turn to terrorism directed against the people and the Afghan National Police. However, the atmosphere of terror cannot be countered by relying mainly on military means. We cannot win through a war of attrition. The economic and political support provided by the international community is currently inadequate to deal with the situation.
    ��
    Sounds like a "lead, follow or get out of the way" situation to me. GEN Mac argues forcefully for the necessity of NATO and yet descibes a situation where many NATO partners are nothing but icons as far as their actual battle efficiency.

    Its also hard to fathom that after 6 years there are only 63,000 combat ready ANA troops. I think that 'surge' of forces in Afghanistan is way overdue, however, as the good general describes,
    Many of these troops and their leaders through general officer level are on their 4th or more combat deployments since
    “911.” We have suffered 36,000 US killed and wounded. Their families are getting tired. The country [USA] is not at war. The Armed Forces and the CIA are at war. We are at the point of breaking faith with our troops.
    Decisions made back in 2002 NOT to expand our active duty military are proving now to be utterly tragic. Not to turn this into a political argument, but I believe one party is adamant about not growing the Armed Forces.

    I've been saying since 911 that we need at least 4 more divisions with the MTOE [design] of 10th Mountain Division.
    Last edited by MSG Proctor; 08-03-2008 at 10:37 AM.
    "Its easy, boys. All we have to do is follow my simple yet ingenius plan..."

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    Default Long Excerpt # 1

    SWJ excerpt post on the AAR...

    After Action Report (AAR) by General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret) on his visit to NATO SHAPE Headquarters and Afghanistan – 21-26 July 2008.

    Context

    This report is based on a series of briefings and conversations at SHAPE Headquarters in Mons, Belgium and then subsequent field observations in Afghanistan while accompanying General John Craddock SACEUR during his command update visit…

    Bottom-Line: Six Assertions

    (1) Afghanistan is in misery. 68% of the population has never known peace. Life expectancy is 44 years. It has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world: One of six pregnant Afghan women dies for each live birth. Terrorist incidents and main force insurgent violence is rising (34% increase this year in kinetic events.) Battle action and casualties are now much higher in Afghanistan for US forces than they are in Iraq. The Afghan government at provincial and district level is largely dysfunctional and corrupt. The security situation (2.8 million refugees); the economy (unemployment 40% and rising, extreme poverty 41%, acute food shortages, inflation 12% and rising, agriculture broken); the giant heroin/opium criminal enterprise ($4 billion and 800 metric tons of heroin); and Afghan governance are all likely to get worse in the coming 24 months.

    (2) The magnificent, resilient Afghan people absolutely reject the ideology and violence of the Taliban (90% or greater) but have little faith in the ability of the government to provide security, justice, clean water, electricity, or jobs. Much of Afghanistan has great faith in US military forces, but enormous suspicion of the commitment and staying power of our NATO allies.

    (3) The courageous and determined NATO Forces (the employable forces are principally US, Canadian, British, Polish, and Dutch) and the Afghan National Army (the ANA is a splendid success story) cannot be defeated in battle. They will continue to slaughter the Pashtun insurgents, criminals, and international terrorist syndicates who directly confront them. (7000+ killed during 2007 alone.) The Taliban will increasingly turn to terrorism directed against the people and the Afghan National Police. However, the atmosphere of terror cannot be countered by relying mainly on military means. We cannot win through a war of attrition. The economic and political support provided by the international community is currently inadequate to deal with the situation.

    (4) 2009 will be the year of decision. The Taliban and a greatly enhanced foreign fighter presence will: strike decisive blows against selected NATO units; will try to erase the FATA and Baluchi borders with Afghanistan; will try to sever the road networks and stop the construction of new roads (Route # 1 – the Ring Road from Kabul to Kandahar is frequently now interdicted); and will try to strangle and isolate the capital. Without more effective and non-corrupt Afghan political leadership at province and district level, Afghanistan may become a failed state hosting foreign terrorist communities with global ambitions. Afghan political elites are focused more on the struggle for power than governance.

    (5) US unilateral reinforcements driven by US Defense Secretary Bob Gates have provided additional Army and Marine combat forces and significant enhanced training and equipment support for Afghan security forces. This has combined with greatly increased US nation-building support (PRT’s, road building, support for the Pakistani Armed Forces, etc.) to temporarily halt the slide into total warfare. The total US outlay in Afghanistan this year will be in excess of $34 billion: a burn rate of more than $2.8 billion per month. However, there has been no corresponding significant effort by the international community...

    (6) There is no unity of command in Afghanistan. A sensible coordination of all political and military elements of the Afghan theater of operations does not exist. There is no single military headquarters tactically commanding all US forces. All NATO military forces do not fully respond to the NATO ISAF Commander because of extensive national operational restrictions and caveats. In theory, NATO ISAF Forces respond to the (US) SACEUR…but US Forces in ISAF (half the total ISAF forces are US) respond to the US CENTCOM commander. However, US Special Operations Forces respond to US SOCOM... not (US) SACEUR or US CENTCOM. There is no accepted Combined NATO-Afghan military headquarters. There is no clear political governance relationship organizing the government of Afghanistan, the United Nations and its many Agencies, NATO and its political and military presence, the 26 Afghan deployed allied nations, the hundreds of NGO’s, and private entities and contractors. There is little formal dialog between the government and military of Pakistan and Afghanistan, except that cobbled together by the US Forces in Regional Command East along the Pakistan frontier.

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    Default Long Excerpt # 2

    The Bow Wave of the US Presidential Campaign

    Afghanistan has become the good war and Iraq the war with issues. Neither characterization is relevant. Both candidates to be the US Commander-in-Chief have been placed in awkward stances by the political dynamics of the debate. They have been perhaps unfairly caricatured by sound bites of who will send the most reinforcing US Army combat brigades to Afghanistan. Afghanistan will not be solved by the addition of two or three more US combat brigades from our rapidly unraveling Army.

    This is a struggle for the hearts of the people, and good governance, and the creation of Afghan security forces...

    The battle will be won in Afghanistan when there is an operational Afghan police presence in the nation’s 34 provinces and 398 Districts. The battle will be won when the current Afghan National Army expands from 80,000 troops to 200,000 troops with appropriate equipment, training, and leadership and embedded NATO LNO teams. (Afghanistan is 50% larger than Iraq and has a larger population.) The battle will be won when we deploy a five battalion US Army engineer brigade with attached Stryker security elements to lead a five year road building effort employing Afghan contractors and training and mentoring Afghan engineers. The war will be won when we fix the Afghan agricultural system which employs 82% of the population. The war will be won when the international community demands the eradication of the opium and cannabis crops and robustly supports the development of alternative economic activity.

    NATO

    Without NATO we are lost in Afghanistan. The next Administration must have a major diplomatic commitment to strengthen the capabilities and commitment of our 26 NATO allies...

    Current non-US NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan are in many cases woefully inadequate for the task they face. They have serious restrictive caveats to their military employment. They are casualty adverse in a very dangerous and brutal environment. They are in many cases lacking the force enablers that are a prerequisite to effective COIN operations…

    Pakistan

    Pakistan is a state of four separate nations under a weak federal government. The Pakistani military is the central load-bearing institution of the state. It is the most respected institution in Pakistan. The Army has severe military limitations in its ability to control the FATA and Baluchistan frontier areas.

    A major US intervention across the Pakistan border to conduct spoiling attacks on Pashtun and criminal syndicate base areas would be a political disaster. We will imperil the Pakistani government’s ability to support our campaign. They may well stop our air and ground logistics access across Pakistan and place our entire NATO presence in severe jeopardy.

    This is a 25 year campaign. We must be patient in our expectations. We must do no harm dealing with Pakistan. We clearly can strike directly and covertly across the border in self-defense. We must never publicly put the Pakistani military in political peril with their own people.

    Afghanistan: A Narco-State

    The Taliban, Al Qaeda, war lords, and Afghan criminal enterprises are principally funded by what some estimate as $800 million dollars a year derived from the huge $4 billion annual illegal production and export of opium/heroin and cannabis. Some 40 principal figures (20+ in Kandahar Province) control this criminal activity which widely corrupts and weakens the governance of the nation.

    Production of both opium and cannabis has surged throughout the country…

    The international community has been fearful of confronting this issue. Unless we deal head-on with this enormous cancer, we should have little expectation that our efforts in Afghanistan will not eventually come to ruin.

    Building the Afghan Security Forces

    … We desperately need an additional 2300 police trainers. This is the central effort to win the war in Afghanistan.

    The Afghan National Security Forces now have twice the ground combat power of the ISAF forces. There are 63,000 effective soldiers and 79,000 poorly equipped and trained police. The planned force structure is completely inadequate if our goal is US and NATO withdrawal in the coming decade. The ANA is a splendid instrument of national unity with ethnically mixed units and extremely motivated fighters.

    The creation of the Afghan Security Forces is still poorly supported by NATO...

    The US is going to have to step up to this challenge…

    The US Armed Forces

    The combat effectiveness, courage, and leadership of our deployed joint military forces are simply inspirational. The leaders are battle-hardened, show enormous initiative, and can organize anything. They understand the inter-agency role of economic, cultural, intelligence, and information operations on counter-insurgency warfare.

    We have never fielded more experienced and aggressive air and ground tactical units. As an example, the superb Marine 24th MEU in Helmand Province has killed 400+ Taliban fighters while losing 4 US killed and 9 wounded. This air-ground task force was in continuous battle for 35 days and DID NOT KILL OR INJURE ONE AFGHAN CIVILIAN. (Note there has not been one Afghan Army or Police unit with the Marines at any time during their battle in the south.)

    The elite Army parachute infantry units from the 101st Airborne Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade operating in the north-eastern provinces (RC-East) have done magnificent work at nation-building while fighting aggressive, well-armed and trained foreign fighters and Taliban conducting cross-border attacks out of Pakistan. In June there were 39 Troops-in- Contact battles in Iraq: there were 419 Troops-in-Contact engagements in Afghanistan. This is dangerous work against a cunning and ruthless enemy…

    Many of these troops and their leaders through general officer level are on their 4th or more combat deployments since “911.” We have suffered 36,000 US killed and wounded. Their families are getting tired. The country is not at war. The Armed Forces and the CIA are at war. We are at the point of breaking faith with our troops...

    Summary

    We cannot allow ourselves to fail in Afghanistan.

    NATO is central to achieving our purpose.

    This is a generational war to build an Afghan state and prevent the creation of a lawless, extremist region which will host and sustain enduring threats to the vital national security interests of the United States and our key allies.

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    Default Perhaps This May Help


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    Default

    Thanks H2H - we worry about copyright - don't want to lose our houses An excerpt (one two paragraphs) and a link are always appreciated.

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    As usual GEN McCaffrey (USA, ret) provides a thorough compliation and interpretation of his interaction and views of the situation in Afghanistan, and he is well received by a wide audience. I appreciate his valuable insights and, in this case, his emotions to what's happening.

    That said, he discusses conditions on how the battle will be won:
    - The battle will be won in Afghanistan when there is an operational Afghan
    police presence in the nation's 34 provinces and 398 Districts.
    - The battle will be won when the current Afghan National Army expands from
    80,000 troops to 200,000 troops with appropriate equipment, training, and
    leadership and embedded NATO LNO teams. (Afghanistan is 50% larger
    than Iraq and has a larger population.)
    - The battle will be won when we deploy a five battalion US Army engineer
    brigade with attached Stryker security elements to lead a five year road
    building effort employing Afghan contractors and training and mentoring
    Afghan engineers.
    - The war will be won when we fix the Afghan agricultural system which
    employs 82% of the population.
    - The war will be won when the international community demands the
    eradication of the opium and cannabis crops and robustly supports the
    development of alternative economic activity.

    It's interesting that he didn't relate to any of the following:
    - Establishing a legitimate government
    - Condition of the Taliban at end state (when the battle is won). And
    conditions of other threat's at end state. Won't go into how he uses battle and war inchangeably.
    - Condition of the current warlords who currently control the country side
    and the drug trafficking at end state
    - Regional impacts and/or solutions - you can't "fix" Afghanistan without
    the assistance or control of its neighbors - Iran and Pakistan
    - Role for the UN. This really shouldn't be just a NATO and US burden.
    - Establishing and controlling a means of communication with the people
    - Cultural and/or religious issues/concerns

    Just some food for thought from my perspective.
    Best regards,

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG Proctor View Post
    Sounds like a "lead, follow or get out of the way" situation to me. GEN Mac argues forcefully for the necessity of NATO and yet descibes a situation where many NATO partners are nothing but icons as far as their actual battle efficiency.
    I believe to remember a specific book excerpt. It was about partisans in WW2 in the Balkans.

    The author had the opinion that the not battleworthy Italians were more effective occupiers because of their hesitation to fight than were the Germans (some of which were - as wasteful as it was - crack infantry troops from the Eastern Front like the 22nd ID which fought like two divisions in the Crimean campaign 1942).

    I acknowledge that the north is farther away from the supposed Taleban safe havens in Pakistan. It's still a bit puzzling that more fo the behaviour that was used in the now enflamed provinces was used should become the norm while the behaviour that apparently kept the North quiet by comparison should go away.
    In fact, it looks just perfect as it is; soft approach is likely not promising in the South (anymore), the hard tour is not promising in the North.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 08-12-2008 at 06:10 PM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm not all that sure his compilations are ever

    thorough and while he may be well received, I would hope that is true with some healthy skepticism applied...

    Added: This is addressed to Kreker

    Having said that, I think his phrase "the battle will be won" is a blatantly bad misstatement. I'm pretty well convinced there is no 'win' in a COIN operation lacking a Mongol or Roman solution; all one can do is achieve an acceptable outcome. That, to me, requires rational and achievable standards. *

    Seems to me that his prescription suffers from overly simplistic assertions initially and his last two bullets you cite above are in the "not in my lifetime" category (be of good cheer, I'm 75 ; you may see it) -- while your items suffer from mind boggling complexity. That is not meant as an insult nor to be derogatory in any way; just by way of pointing out that your points are all desirable, highly desirable in fact but I think they are also mostly in the 'too hard box.'

    I agree totally with your first item; think the second is probably unattainable lacking a couple of generations (see * above). I believe your third bullet is also in the multi-generation change arena; the fourth is indeed the big Kahuna and is likely beyond our control; the fifth is certainly desirable and may occur to an extent but as history shows, is unlikely to provide much real benefit; the sixth -- I hope you mean by the government of Afghanistan -- is going to take quite some time and the final one, I submit, should not be the concern of the US -- or the UN, indeed of anyone but the Afghans.

    Long way of saying I hear both of you but I'm old, cynical -- and highly skeptical...
    Last edited by Ken White; 08-12-2008 at 06:10 PM. Reason: Addressee

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up That North - South cultural divide again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I acknowledge that the north is farther away from the supposed Taleban safe havens in Pakistan. It's still a bit puzzling that more fo the behaviour that was used in the now enflamed provinces was used should become the norm while the behaviour that apparently kept the North quiet by comparison should go away. In fact, it looks just perfect as it is; soft approach is likely not promising in the South (anymore), the hard tour is not promising in the North.
    Not only further away from Pakistan, but far more importantly, the north has fewer Pushtuns and no dominant Pushtun tribes. People who'd rather farm than fight are amenable to a soft touch; those who reverse that will run all over a soft touch.

    But I think you're correct on the current approaches by area...

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Default As usual sage reflections from Ken...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I agree totally with your first item; think the second is probably unattainable lacking a couple of generations (see * above). I believe your third bullet is also in the multi-generation change arena; the fourth is indeed the big Kahuna and is likely beyond our control; the fifth is certainly desirable and may occur to an extent but as history shows, is unlikely to provide much real benefit; the sixth -- I hope you mean by the government of Afghanistan -- is going to take quite some time and the final one, I submit, should not be the concern of the US -- or the UN, indeed of anyone but the Afghans.
    Ken,
    I don't disagree with anything you stated. My intent was to generate thought on some important and compelling issues confronting the Afghans that were not addressed by McCaffrey. Instead of heaping praise on certain individuals and mentioning some solutions (even though some are questionable), I was hoping for more discussions on some of the issues I raised. Especially the first bullet which drives some, if not all, the others. I also find it disturbing that the report fails to address how Afghanistan is or is not in the vital interests of the US. If we are going to fight a 25 year war (at about $3 billion dollars a month), then Afghanistan had better be in the vital interests of the US. And this report ought to clearly establish how winning in Afghanistan is in the vital interests of the US, which in my mind it didn't.

    From my sixth bullet...yes I inferred the Afghan government.
    Best regrads,
    Kreker

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    Default Is anybody watching India?

    Apparently, India is weakening the security posture of the Pakistani government and multiplying the woes of the multiple-headed Afghan Coalition. This article also makes the case that India may be the 'strongest tribe' in the war there, and the way I read the article, that is not good for our interests in Afghanistan. (PDF here:
    "Its easy, boys. All we have to do is follow my simple yet ingenius plan..."

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Ah, we agree that we agree...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kreker View Post
    ... My intent was to generate thought on some important and compelling issues confronting the Afghans that were not addressed by McCaffrey.
    Verily. I'm not now and have never been a McCaffrey fan but my Mommy told me not to say anything if all I had to say was bad...

    Superficial, sound bite and 'flash and dash' all came to mind, though...
    I was hoping for more discussions on some of the issues I raised.
    Hopefully, I didn't derail that. My cynicism usually kicks in to the extent I'm not capable of discussing what should be versus what is.
    Especially the first bullet which drives some, if not all the others.
    I'd say all.
    I also find it disturbing that the report fails to address how Afghanistan is or is not in the vital interests of the US. If we are going to fight a 25 year war (at about $3 billion dollars a month), then Afghanistan had better be in the vital interests of the US. And this report ought to clearly establish how winning in Afghanistan is in the vital interests of the US, which in my mind it didn't.
    Now you've forced me to defend Barry. Not his job. I'd agree that a sage, thoughtful and highly competent former GeoComm commandante should be able to do that but...

    That's really the crux, the vital interest part. I find it difficult to make a case that Afganistan, per se, is vital to US interests in any respect. OTOH, the fact that we went to Afghanistan and that we told them we would not again abandon them as we had post Soviet invasion has made the stand up of a viable (in regional and world norm, NOT western, terms) Afghanistan a vital US interest IMO.

    Whether we should have made that statement or not is a different issue but we made it and we're stuck with it. We are already perceived as too willing to abandon people that we have encouraged to 'resist' (something...). I believe it is is vital in the true sense of the word that we stop doing that. Our reputation is not nearly as damaged in the world by the 'torture' mantra and the aggressiveness or even untrammeled capitalism as it is by not doing what we say we're going to do -- and by turning our backs on people who have simply done what we asked.

    Could a better place to draw a line on that less than stellar behavior on our part have been found than Afghanistan or Iraq? Yes. However, again, we are where we are. So, I think it is vital that we finish it -- and I think it is the government's job to make and prove that point. Barry isn't helping...

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