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Thread: Winning the War in Afghanistan

  1. #1061
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    More accurately, Pakistan is the main Metric of the effectiveness of our operational design and engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    As you note, the indicators are that we have mis-diagnosed the nature of the problem severely and that our approaches to date are inappropriate.
    I agree, but the crux of our mis-diagnosis is that of the man who is convinced he can't be fooled being the easiest to put one over on; our "Great White Father" type of attitude, at the same time arrogant and silly. We may have erred in every way possible but the primary cause of Pakistan's woes is to be found in Pakistan. And the Pakistani's responsible for the mess are in the Pak Army/ISI. They are not a group of naive, innocent little children looking at us through their eyebrows, trusting the revered uncle to lead them well. To the contrary, we've been played by Fagin's crew and the naive children wandering around are our blind rats inside the beltway, the ones with the triple digit GS numbers and the stars on their shoulders.
    Last edited by carl; 10-13-2011 at 11:18 AM.
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  2. #1062
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Pakistan knows it onions.

    It is not going down that easily, or is it?

    There is news report that their Senate has refused to go the Army HQ for a Briefing.

    Instead, they have asked the Army to come to them and give the briefing.

    There is still some hope!
    There is always hope. Pakistan is a potential smaller BRIC but its "strategic thinkers" are sabotaging its potential instead of building it up. And they are doing so because they lack the imagination to move beyond a narrowly "India-centric" notion of the identity of Pakistan. The so-called "ideology of Pakistan" is more than usually lethal. It is held in check by all the pressures of real life economics (which still operate in Pakistan as they do in all countries) but the generals never waste an opportunity to waste an opportunity. The impending failure of NATO in Afghanistan is going to provide them yet another chance to go back to their stupid games and they look like they will take that chance.
    But there is always hope. If the US stops enabling their "strategic worldview" and lets China pick up the tab (forcing them to also make the hard decisions), who knows, they may yet sneak out of this cul-de-sac. Its not like they have NO clue. They have a clue, but just short of enough of a clue....a little help from their friends will push them this way or that. This way would be better than that.
    But its not going to be easy either way.
    "THis way" means the crazier Islamists will all figure out that the "Sulah e Hudaybia" phase (the temporary truce with the infidels) is not a temporary ruse, its a permanent state and they are the ones being taken for a ride. When they figure out such things, they tend to explode. Literally. It will be tough.
    "That way" means the rest of the world (including the "good infidels" in China) will figure out that sulah e hudaybia was indeed a ruse and the Islamic revolutionary network has a safe haven and intends to use it, at a minimum in the local region. Even in the best case scenario, some upset infidels will try to throw a spanner in the works. That too is not going to be easy.

  3. #1063
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    Default Taliban cracks Afghanistan's fortress: small, bad sign?

    Hat tip to the Australian think tank, the Lowry Institute, for this article on an attack I'd noted and not fully appreciated - a Taliban attack in the Panjshir Valley:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...-fortress.aspx

    Panjshir is effectively Afghanistan's charter province: a place where improving security and living standards have shown that the ISAF campaign can work....

    Despite the relatively low loss of life and infrastructure, this attack provides enormous strategic value to the Taliban. It demonstrates that its claim that 'NATO is no longer safe anywhere in the country' is essentially true.

    ...This attack takes away the one success story that ISAF and the Afghan government had, and the Taliban propaganda machine has been quick to text Western journalists to point that out.
    Since the thread's title is 'Winning the War in Afghanistan' it made me wonder if the Taliban and allies (no names) strategy of reducing the confidence of it's opponents is winning.

    Having read elsewhere 'Red Rat' contention is that in Helmand the Taliban have had a bad time: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=14285&page=4, Post No.64:
    In Helmand the evidence would tend to support the counter-proposition; the the Taleban are playing catch-up to ISAF at the tactical and operational level. They are heavily attrited, have comprehensively lost influence, lost control of ground, and their ability to prosecute successful attacks has declined markedly as well. We have now seen over 12 months of steady decline in violence in Helmand, no summer campaign season in the traditional sense and winter season which has seen ISAF move from consolidation to offence. Part of the reason that so few insurgents are being killed now is that there are far fewer of them left - attrition still plays a role in campaigning.
    From my faraway armchair the campaigning in Helmand is peripheral to the high impact, public attacks approach to reducing confidence in important locations and as in Panjshir iconic places.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-20-2011 at 09:12 AM.
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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    I am more focused on the UK Army's bewildering change programme then I am on Afghanistan at the moment

    From my albeit limited perspective.

    1) In Helmand the insurgencies are on the tactical defensive.

    2) In the eastern provinces the insurgencies are under pressure and ISAF appears to be increasingly focusing its efforts in the east and on the border.

    3) The various insurgent groups realise that the issue now is not whether or not the Coalition will withdraw, but the shape of Afghanistan after withdrawal. That is why we are seeing more high profile attacks and attacks on what are for them High Value Targets. They are conducting shaping operations for post-ISAF Afghanistan, aiming to increase their power and prestige in ongoing negotiations and within their own constituencies.
    My tuppence worth; I could be entirely mistaken!
    RR

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    Optimism is in the DNA of the military.

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    Quote Originally Posted by taabistan View Post
    Optimism is in the DNA of the military.
    Unless you equate limited tactical success with guaranteed strategic success (which I don't ) then I am not sure that my posts could be described as optimistic.

    To clarify:

    In Helmand the insurgencies do appear to be on the backfoot. That does appear to be a tactical success, but it is limited geographically and I am not sure if the political gains match the tactical gains locally.

    In the East the insurgencies are coming under pressure - I am not in a position to say what that means in terms of outcomes or likely outcomes or even if they are on the defensive or constrained significantly in the East; they are simply coming under pressure.

    At the strategic level a different game is being played out. I remain somewhat confused by our (the UK's) strategic goals and accompagnying strategy so I refrain from comment on the likely outcomes; but it looks to me like the Afghans (and other regional non-Western) players are now playing for the post-withdrawal outcomes and in that game the West is increasingly peripheral.
    Last edited by Red Rat; 10-20-2011 at 06:02 PM.
    RR

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    The problem is, Red Rat, I don't disbelieve you or any one else when you say the US/UK military win in tactical battles. I would be extremely surprised if you didn't.

    My question is, how are you going to sort out the Afghan government? I asked this question to General Stanley McChrystal when I was in Afghanistan, and all I could hear was military jargon.

    In Iraq, there was a dynamic, strong government. Maliki was seen as an independent figure, and people saw supporting it as being a way for getting US troops out but also not avoid being mired in horror.

    Karzai is a joke in everyone's eyes. For the Taliban, they see losing in the battlefield as only a short term inconvenience because they know no one trusts the man to lead the country.

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    Many years ago when all this was still beginning, I wrote that the worst possible outcome in Afghanistan would be to find ourselves harnessed to a government that cannot stand, but that we believe we cannot allow to fall. It's starting to look like we've found our way to that place, or something very much like it.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Default Here today (3 Nov); gone tomorrow (4 Nov)

    But the King has no clothes, says the boy. Long live the King, say the rest.

    The "happy-ending" version is the fairy tale.

    Peter Fuller removed from duty as a top Afghanistan commander for remarks to POLITICO

    Major Gen. Peter Fuller, a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was relieved of his duties Friday after comments he made to POLITICO disparaging Afghan President Hamid Karzai and calling the government’s leaders “isolated from reality.”
    Regards

    Mike

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    Nothing wrong with the truth, but the comments they attributed to him weren't useful. Of course people who live an isolated society struggling to survive don't understand the sacrifices our nation is making, but does it really manner if they do or not? There are a lot of national leaders who aren't articulate in public, but does that reflect on their character and ability to lead? I'm sure most can emphasize with MG Fuller's frustration, but I think he went over the top when he made these thoughts public.

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    Let us say that the US made a mistake in invading Afghanistan.

    Now, if that be so and the situation difficult, what is the answer?

    May see Post 13 of this link

    http://www.arrse.co.uk/current-affai...ghanistan.html

    I wonder if it is a comfortable feeling to hear/read and then endure the rumblings forever (as it is for the never ending reminder on Vietnam)!

    I wonder if one can give up the ship!

    I, for one, would feel that the Army has to obey the orders of the civilian democratically elected government, and it is not for the army to comment. Indeed, if one feels strongly about an issue contrary to the policies of the govt, he should settle it in house or resign and then speak his mind.

    At the same time, if seen from the Afghan point of view (as mentioned in Post 13 of the link), one could mull over the issue (on its morality) that the General should have also known that Afghanistan did not request the US to come to their aid (invade, if you will) and so are under no obligation to feel obliged or otherwise.
    Last edited by Ray; 11-05-2011 at 07:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    I wonder if one can give up the ship!
    Not as if it's our ship, or a ship of any great significance.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Default Ah, Ray, the great minds ....

    of postman twit and JMM99 run in the same channel (the common sewer perhaps) on this one - and independently of each other. Love it.

    First off, the US did not make a mistake to invade Astan, co-engaging with the Northern Alliance against the AQ and their Taliban allies in an unconventional war, largely limited to advisement, airstrikes and direct actions. We missed at Tora Bora - much later rectified.

    Our (US) mistake was then to engage in state-building - full stop. That COA was slated to fail politically regardless of what Constitution was written and who was selected to be the government. That Karzai seemed to be the best option at the time, simply proves the fundamental flaw in the political strategy.

    Nor, do I expect "gratitude" from Karzai or his government - any more than I expect any "gratitude" from the Pstan government, despite the several billion per year the US spends on Pstan (a small cost and a cheap date compared to Astan).

    They know that, in the long run, the US (as a prickly nationalistic, complex democracy) is likely to side up with the other prickly nationalistic, complex democracy in South Asia - which is India. For Astan and Pstan, they can be expected to milk the milkman as long as they can.

    If MG Fuller did not see the probable outcome, he is a very naive man. Pointing out the king's nudity usually leads to an unhappy ending in real life.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Not as if it's our ship, or a ship of any great significance.
    Then whose is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    of postman twit and JMM99 run in the same channel (the common sewer perhaps) on this one - and independently of each other. Love it.

    First off, the US did not make a mistake to invade Astan, co-engaging with the Northern Alliance against the AQ and their Taliban allies in an unconventional war, largely limited to advisement, airstrikes and direct actions. We missed at Tora Bora - much later rectified.

    Our (US) mistake was then to engage in state-building - full stop. That COA was slated to fail politically regardless of what Constitution was written and who was selected to be the government. That Karzai seemed to be the best option at the time, simply proves the fundamental flaw in the political strategy.

    Nor, do I expect "gratitude" from Karzai or his government - any more than I expect any "gratitude" from the Pstan government, despite the several billion per year the US spends on Pstan (a small cost and a cheap date compared to Astan).

    They know that, in the long run, the US (as a prickly nationalistic, complex democracy) is likely to side up with the other prickly nationalistic, complex democracy in South Asia - which is India. For Astan and Pstan, they can be expected to milk the milkman as long as they can.

    If MG Fuller did not see the probable outcome, he is a very naive man. Pointing out the king's nudity usually leads to an unhappy ending in real life.

    Regards

    Mike
    Mike,

    The bottom line is that it is a Mistake.

    India assisted in creating Bangladesh and she quit when the going was good.

    And yet.........

    the going is now not too good!

    Yet, India can still handle the issue!!

  15. #1075
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Then whose is it?
    Theirs. The Afghans. For better or worse... most likely worse, but that needn't be an American problem.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Default Ray,

    if the "it" in this:

    The bottom line is that it is a Mistake.
    refers to US involvement in Astan state-building, you'll get no argument from me.

    On the other hand, Operation Enduring Freedom (viewed as part of the larger action against AQ leadership) was no mistake; had to be done; and all considered, has been a success in Astan, Pstan and in several other theaters.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Mike,

    We had this discussion and we're in agreement you need to separate the two issues, fighting AQ and nation building. Strong agreement the fight against AQ is just and over due, and nation building (at least the way we're pursuing it) is draining our national resources and showing little in the way of return.

  18. #1078
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    ...need to separate the two issues, fighting AQ and nation building. Strong agreement the fight against AQ is just and over due, and nation building (at least the way we're pursuing it) is draining our national resources and showing little in the way of return.
    Hallelujah!!!

    Amen!!!



    Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Are you available to take over the national security strategy??
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  19. #1079
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    If AQ is the problem that brought the US into Afghanistan, then has the threat of the AQ really been solved?

    AQ is merely a 'front' for a whole lot of loosely knit terrorist organisation aiming at the creation of a worldwide Islamic Caliphate.

    OBL had said

    "...this matter isn't about any specific person and...is not about the al-Qai`dah Organization. We are the children of an Islamic Nation, with Prophet Muhammad as its leader, our Lord is one...and all the true believers [mu'mineen] are brothers. So the situation isn't like the West portrays it, that there is an "organization" with a specific name (such as "al-Qai`dah") and so on. That particular name is very old. It was born without any intention from us. Brother Abu Ubaida... created a military base to train the young men to fight against the vicious, arrogant, brutal, terrorizing Soviet empire... So this place was called "The Base" ["Al-Qai`dah"], as in a training base, so this name grew and became. We aren't separated from this nation. We are the children of a nation, and we are an inseparable part of it, and from those public demonstrations which spread from the far east, from the Philippines, to Indonesia, to Malaysia, to India, to Pakistan, reaching Mauritania... and so we discuss the conscience of this nation."

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    Ray,

    You're right, but I think the question should be will staying in Afghanistan facilitate resolving the problem, or make it worse by serving as a reason to motivate more and more young men to join the jihad? The problem is wide spread, and Afghanistan is no the geographical center of gravity for the movement. By staying, I mean staying with large numbers of conventional combat forces. I suspect smaller numbers of conventional forces and some SOF will stay for years to continue the struggle.

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