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Old 05-03-2011   #1
Ray
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Default After Obama, What?

Moderator's Note: I have watched this thread 'The ISI' and 'After Obama What?' develop, wary that they were two halves of the question 'After the Bin Laden op, what is the impact?'. There's also another thread 'OBL's death & Terrorism's next move', which could be merged too, but for the moment will be left in place - for the impact on terrorism.

Apologies if some of the posts appear out of sequence.(Mod ends)


The following events have taken place in quick succession:

1. Imran Khan's whipping up of popular dissent against the Pak Govt and the Army for impotence displayed against US Drone attacks, being incapable to stand up to the US pressure and mortgaging Pakistan's governance to the US. The people under Imran Khan blockaded the US and ISAF supply route to Afghanistan through Pakistan for 02 days and gave an ultimatum to the Govt to take action within 30 days or they will march to Islamabad and bring the Govt down!

2. Consequent to the public unrest and protest, the US is said to be winding up its Drone operations from the Shamsi and other bases in Pakistan and move base to Afghanistan from where the originally used to operate.

3. The US killed Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan. Pakistan is said to have been kept in the dark about the operations, possibly because the US believes that the Army and the ISI leaks like a sieve.

Yet, this operation proves/ raises two issues:

(a) that the US operation once again takes no cognisance of Pakistan's territorial integrity or sovereignty.

(b) there will be disquiet over and may lead to unrest.

Given the above, the issues are:

1. The Pakistan logistic supply route would be seriously compromised and jeopardised.

Therefore, will the US take the Northern Route through Central Asian Republic and will it be viable, economically and militarily?

2. Will the US, having moved its Drone operations into Afghanistan, go the whole hog? If so, what will be the Pakistani reactions? What will be the international reaction?

3. Will the US undertake any ground operations against the Haqqani and other groups in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa to ensure that these groups can no longer affect the ISAF operations and thereafter go at will to clean up Afghanistan? If so, what will be the repercussions?

4. There are speculations that since Osama is dead, the US in Afghanistan will undertake a drawdown and quit. Will it? Can the US leave without cleansing Afghanistan of the AQ and Taliban, because even if OBL is dead, it does not mean that the AQ or the Taliban is dead and will not be able to go their usual ways?

5. Given that Obama is up for the second term at the Presidency and he has been able to fulfil one of his promises to the American people - getting Osama, would he not be compelled to drawdown or even quit Afghanistan since that was another of his promises to the American people? Can he quit Afghanistan without cleaning it up of the terrorist influences? If not, what are his options.

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Old 05-04-2011   #2
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I'm not sure you can count the op that killed OBL as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. We say we didn't tell them, and I guess they claim they didn't know, but I don't see how that could be so. Both are lying to save face, like two men telling each other how good looking the other guy's wife is.

Questions 1, 2 and 3, I have no real idea. I can only hope that we would give up the Karachi supply line.

Questions 4 and 5. If Mr. Obama wants to, he can use that loathsome, cynical phrase "declare victory" and bug out, OBL's death being the victory. That would be even more doable if Zawahiri was killed also and maybe a couple of others. The actual facts of the situation won't matter. What matters is what will sell. If he pushes it, Mr. Obama can sell it as the requisite victory. He will have the enthusiastic support of most of the media, and besides, a lot of people want to believe it. Bugging out will be viewed as doing a lot to get him re-elected in his view.

It won't matter if Taliban & Co, AQ and various and sundry terrorists are cleaned out of Afghanistan. We will pretend it doesn't matter and we will justify that in three ways. The first will be to demonize the gov side. That will be done by basically saying they aren't worthy of our assistance. We will say they aren't worthy because they are corrupt, they don't fight hard enough, they have had plenty of time to get their act together and if they haven't by now it's not our fault, conflate the gov elites with ordinary Afghans, etc etc.

The second way will be to build up Taliban & Co. That will be done by highlighting every good thing they ever did and painting them as true representatives of the oppressed.

The third way will be to deny that anything bad will really happen after we bug out. That will be done by saying Taliban & Co are actually sensitive to world opinion, they've changed since 2001, Afghans will find a way to get together and work things out etc. etc.

You have read these already in various American outlets, some on this very sight. It all depends on whether Mr. Obama wants to push it. He doesn't have the nerve to just cut and run. He needs a "victory" to justify a bug out. He has that now if he wants to use it. We'll see. It wouldn't be the first time we've bugged out and left innocent millions to their fate.
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Old 05-04-2011   #3
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Carl,

What you have mentioned is what the average American would love to hear - declare a victory and quit.

However, from the strategy point of view, why did the US go into Iraq and also Afghanistan?

The answer lies in the Defence Policy Guidelines and the National Energy policy of the US mentored by Dick Cheney, when he was the Secretary of Defence. They were masterpieces giving the new strategic scenario post Cold War and the US priorities.

I don't have the copies of the same since my hard disk crashed with all that.

IIRC, he had stated that the US has to have their presence in areas which were hotspots in the world so that the US could react fast and in the correct timeframe, which was not feasible given the location of the US troops at that time.

He also mentioned that the oil supply lines and areas had to have US control and US had to deny the same to 'adversaries'.

He also mentioned that there should be forces at sea to undertake immediate expeditionary actions and on which other forces could build upon.

Iraq panned out copybook to this theory of Cheney.

The US being still in Iraq and in Afghanistan, is pushing and containing the Russian underbelly. It is also peeking into China and the Uyghurs.

Leave Afghanistan and you leave it to the Russian and Chinese.
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Old 05-04-2011   #4
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We went into Iraq because we lacked the ability to get a substantial conventional force into Afghanistan at the time, and we had to give them some appropriate target to engage. Saddam was just the poor stupid bastard who walked into the company orderly room when the 1SGT was looking for a volunteer.

AQ only followed us to Iraq, and we turned that country into a battlefield for AQ to attempt to atrit us upon and break our will to remain in the Middle East.

As to Afghanistan, we were largely mission complete there, and only retained a presence to have a base of operations for going after AQ. During the course of that we enabled the Northern Alliance to create a government and constitution that made it clear to the exiled Taliban that they were legally banned from any chance at economic or political opportunity in their own country, and thereby gave birth to a growing revolutionary insurgency against GIRoA. As we surged forces to counter the growing violence and pushed Northern Alliance police and army units out into the rural areas it fueled a growing resistance insurgency as well.

So, to your quesiton, is this a matter of "declaring victory and going home" or rather a matter of recognizing that the primary reason we stayed following the intitial effort to run AQ out of the country is now accomplished. Our very exit will reduce much of the causation for the resistance insurgency in Afghanistan proper; and without our continued protection I suspect that the Northern Alliance will get much more serious about working out a compromise with the Taliban leadership in Pakistan to address the revolution as well.

Or we can stay and continue to work to CLEAR-HOLD-BUILD our way to "victory."
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Old 05-04-2011   #5
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Ray:

I forgot to mention a fourth reason that would be used to justify a bug out of Afghanistan. It will be said that even if Takfiri terrorists do try to use the place as a base again, it won't matter because we will control that with drones and spec ops strikes. The fact that that couldn't be done because of no bases and no human intel won't matter. It doesn't have to work. It just has to sound good so it will sell. What most Americans know about these things comes from the movies, and in the movies, the guy behind the computer screen knows all and can direct the spec ops guy who can get anywhere at any time. It would sell.

Robert C. Jones:

I like Mr. Armitage's explanation for the resurgence of Taliban & Co. better. He said we put the fear of God into the ISI in 2001 and they stayed scared for a few years. Then they figured out that we weren't serious about things and decided to get back into the game. We fouled up some other things too but the main thing is we didn't follow Forrest's rule "Keep up the scare" when it came to the Pak Army/ISI. We've been doing more along the lines of Oprah's rule "They have to like me". Forrest works better.

I hope your right that a bug out would result in sweet compromise but I suspect the gates of hell would open and things would get worse than we can possibly imagine.

Ray and Robert C. Jones:

I saw a Frontline production yesterday about an insurgent group in north central Afghanistan. They didn't walk much, they went everywhere on motorcycles, two to a bike. The tracks they used were easy for a motorcycle but would be impossible for a MATV. They would go on patrol in groups.

I've read about insurgents use of motorcycles before. How much of a mobility advantage does that give them and what can we do to counter it? (I know this question is off topic but since you guys are both here I figured I'd ask.)
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Old 05-04-2011   #6
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As the events unfolded, it was Afghanistan which was in the sight of the US where Osama was being hunted (2001).

The Iraq invasion came in 2003.

Therefore, there should have been substantial force for Afghanistan, if that force was available later for the Iraq invasion.

What is most important the swinging to Iraq leaving the principle aim to take on the AQ in Afghanistan violated the Principles of War - Selection and Maintenance of Aim and Concentration of Force. It result was obvious.

If in Afghanistan one created a constitution that made it clear to the exiled Taliban that they were legally banned from any chance at economic or political opportunity in their own country, then one does not understand Afghanistan. That is surprising since US connection with Afghanistan went way back during the activities to throw USSR out. History, itself, shows that Afghans are lords of what they survey and have no equation to any central body, except in a cosmetic way, their King.

Given the strategic importance of Afghanistan, if the US quits, which it can, Russia and China will lever their way in and that would not do US much good from a strategic point of view, as also, make the whole effort in Afghanistan a total waste of resources in men, matériel, money et al.

Do read this link.

http://cinemarasik.com/2009/10/10/af...o-america.aspx

Apart from an analysis of the present situation, it also traces the importance of Afghanistan historically.

Excerpt:

Quote:
Chance Favors The Prepared Mind

The Chinese Leaders are masters of the Prepared Mind concept. China would not have risked going to war with India in 1950s to annex Tibet. But India's prime minister Nehru, is an act of historical stupidity, unilaterally pulled the Indian Army out of Tibet. The Chinese were prepared and they walked in.

The Chinese are also determined and ambitious. Tibet is gone virtually forever. There is no way China will give it up. Tibet is strategically crucial to China. It provides direct land access to Xinjiang for Eastern China. It gives China control of the top of the world and a direct access to Kashmir.

America, frankly, lucked out in Afghanistan. The 2001 attacks allowed America the moral ground to remove the Taleban regime in Afghanistan. Now, America is in control of this vital strategic asset, this gateway between Central Asia, China, Iran, Pakistan and India. It boggles our mind that reasonably patriotic Americans can even consider leaving Afghanistan for the next 10-15 years.

Today, Afghanistan is the land nexus of the World, the World of nearly 3.5 billion people with growing incomes and rising aspirations. America lucked into this nexus position. The question is whether the American mind is prepared to seize this chance the way China did with Tibet.

Unlike Iraq in 2006, this World wants America to stay in Afghanistan. This is of course the real World - India, Iran, Russia, China, Turkey, the Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan & Turkmenistan.

The only regime that does not want America to stay in Afghanistan is the Pakistani Army and the ISI, the Army's Intelligence service. Notice we do not say Pakistan, the country. Because, the Pakistani people will leave peacefully if American pacifies Afghanistan. But as they say in Pakistan, the Pakistani Army owns the country and not the other way around.

If America runs away from Afghanistan, it will never be allowed in again. The game for Afghanistan will begin again, this time with China, Pakistan, India & Iran. We would favor the China-Pakistan axis to win this prize. What is the prize? Central Asia, access to the Persian Gulf and Trade with 3.5 billion people.

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Old 05-04-2011   #7
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Quote:
I've read about insurgents use of motorcycles before. How much of a mobility advantage does that give them and what can we do to counter it? (I know this question is off topic but since you guys are both here I figured I'd ask.)
Everyone in Afghanistan would have a weapon. It is macho. Therefore, if they were on MCs, they would pass off as any other villager!

Only way is to stop them and question them. But that would mean many average chap will be harassed and it would not be good for the PR that is so essential for a COIN campaign.
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Old 05-04-2011   #8
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After Osama: Why I Still Think America Should Be in Afghanistan

Peter Bergen

Link

a comment on this:

05/04/2011 - 2:39am EDT | Konstantin

Somebody’s been reading good ole Small Wars Journal.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/journal/iss/v7n3.pdf

The pertinent article by LTC Mann begins on page 4. Check out that Officerese. It is thick, but a careful reader will discern that the paper is an updated description of the Village Stability Operations & affiliated narrative exploitation TTPs to which Peter Bergen refers in this TNR article. Other than references to the Taliban and a cursory mention of the history of Afghan governance principles, the paper appears to be a regurgitated, less formatted min ... view full comment
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Old 05-05-2011   #9
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Default "After Obama" will be ...

either 2013 or 2017. My crystal ball ain't accurate enough for either year - sorry

Rasmussen has been doing a series of pollings which now has boiled down to, Americans Are Reluctant to Defend Any of These Allies (Wednesday, April 27, 2011). Here is a summary graphic of the results:

Name:  Defend or Not.jpg
Views: 439
Size:  97.1 KB

I can't come up with any consistent rationale which might explain these results.

The real crossover point (40-40-20) is Denmark; but Japan (43-44-13) gets the first heaveho in the chart.

Anyone ?

Astan = 30-54-16 - not a surprise to me.

Regards

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Old 05-05-2011   #10
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I think the poll is largely meaningless. If you polled Americans in 1800, 1850, 1900, 1950, 2000 or any year you'd care to choose the results would be the same. The question has no context so most people will default to "none of my business" unless they've heard of the place or been there. How else can you explain such little regard for New Zealand.

When there is context things are different.
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Old 05-05-2011   #11
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Default These assertions don't hold water

Quote:
from Carl
If you polled Americans in 1800, 1850, 1900, 1950, 2000 or any year you'd care to choose the results would be the same
Prove it by polls from 1800, 1850, 1900, 1950, 2000 or any year you'd care to choose. Obvious hyperbole.

Quote:
from Carl
The question has no context so most people will default to "none of my business" unless they've heard of the place or been there.
The question does have context as polls go:

Quote:
National Survey of 1,000 Adults
Conducted April 22-23, 2011, 2011
By Rasmussen Reports

1* Sometimes, when a country is attacked, the United States provides military assistance to help defend that country. Now, I’m going to read you a short list of countries. For each, please tell me if the United States should offer military assistance to defend that country if it is attacked?

Belgium

Brazil

Bulgaria

Chile

New Zealand

Nicaragua

Peru

Portugal

Thailand

NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence
Some of the apparent inconsistency in the results may well be due to people not knowing spit about geography. I do buy that as a factor. Moreover, based on many prior polls (Rasmussen and others), what one could call the "foreign policy elite" (CFR, etc.) are much more interventionistic than the flew-over masses.

BTW: what context would you add to the poll question to make it "meaningful" ?

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Old 05-05-2011   #12
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Exegeration (sic) for effect. The point remains the same. Americans are historically isolationist. I don't have to prove anything, it ain't a courtroom. Merely my opinion which has a historical basis I think.

The question may have context as far as polls go but that is more an indictment of polls than an endorsement of the question. The question has no historical or political context, immediate or long term, without that, it is meaningless.

Perhaps one reason the foreign policy elites are more interventionist is they may follow these things more closely thereby giving them some context to work with right off the bat. (I can't believe you've manuvered (sic) me into a position where I would defend those guys. My life is over.)

Some useful context might be a scenario seeking to simulate multi-year sequence of events that led to our defending South Korea or South Vietnam or intervening in Cuba in 1898 or Kuwait or any number of times a people who have tended to be isolationist, aren't. If you would construct a scenario sort of like that and then let people think about it some rather than saying here is a 50 word hypothetical, you have 10 seconds to answer, then the results might be meaningful. But then your results would be skewed by the details of the question. The whole concept is meaningless.
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Old 05-05-2011   #13
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Default Most Polls are somewhat meaningless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by carl View Post
I think the poll is largely meaningless. If you polled Americans in 1800, 1850, 1900, 1950, 2000 or any year you'd care to choose the results would be the same. The question has no context so most people will default to "none of my business" unless they've heard of the place or been there. How else can you explain such little regard for New Zealand.
Aside from the fact that some of those nations didn't exist in most of the earlier years cited, results would likely differ for Great Britain in 1800, Canada in 1850, Germany in 1900 (much less in 1917 or 1944, two years one might name... ). As for New Zealand, it's simply a function of location. For the bulk of nations, the responses are about about the anglosphere and western solidarity plus historic ties. As is true of any poll, it's a snapshot, answered by some people while others like me just hang up the phone when the Pollsters call...
Quote:
When there is context things are different.
Not much.
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Old 05-05-2011   #14
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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
I can't come up with any consistent rationale which might explain these results.

The real crossover point (40-40-20) is Denmark; but Japan (43-44-13) gets the first heaveho in the chart.

Anyone ?

Astan = 30-54-16 - not a surprise to me.
What struck me about that is that 20% said eithe "no" or "unsure" to defending Canada, and over 20% said "yes" or "unsure" to the rather absurd notion of defending North Korea.

From this I assume that there's a portion of Americans that disapprove of any defense of a foreign country, a portion that automatically approves, and a portion that is fundamentally undecided.

In between I have no explanations, but 'd be interested to see a survey of general positive-negative impressions of the same list of countries and put them side by side. I suspect you'd see that it correlates less with any perceived strategic desirability than with a general like/dislike scale. It need not be added that many of the respondents would likely have only very rudimentary knowledge about many of the countries on the list. If we excluded results from individuals who couldn't find the country in question on a map or name the country most likely to invade the country to be defended, we might get fairly different results.
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Old 05-05-2011   #15
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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Everyone in Afghanistan would have a weapon. It is macho. Therefore, if they were on MCs, they would pass off as any other villager!

Only way is to stop them and question them. But that would mean many average chap will be harassed and it would not be good for the PR that is so essential for a COIN campaign.
These guys are (should be) drone fodder (drones are cheaper to operate than gunships). Just take this problem by the scruff of the neck and say to the people in that district that it is open season on guys on MCs. They will get used to it. It will solve the problem in no time. After that you can negotiate the terms and conditions of further MC use in that district.
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Old 05-05-2011   #16
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JMA:

I am not sure that would work so well. You would deprive people of an important means of transport for occasional gain. I would guess there wouldn't be enough aircraft available to really make it stick. If you blanketed a small area for just a few days while covering some kind of operation though, maybe that would work. You might still run the risk of knocking off some guy who was desperate to get his sick wife to a doc and wasn't thinking so straight.

When I mentioned the motorcycles I was thinking more along the lines of getting into remote places that our big vehicles can't go either for regular patrolling or in careful pursuit. Should we use motorcycles, or 4-wheelers or dune buggy type things to try to match their mobility? That was what I was thinking.
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Old 05-05-2011   #17
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Default The ISI

Moderator's Note: I have watched this thread 'The ISI' and 'After Obama What?' develop, wary that they were two halves of the question 'After the Bin Laden op, what is the impact?'. There's also another thread 'OBL's death & Terrorism's next move', which could be merged too, but for the moment will be left in place - for the impact on terrorism.

Apologies if some of the posts appear out of sequence.(Mod ends)


Osama's death proves that there is cooperation between the Pakistani intelligence agency and the military with Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. It was previously suggested that Pakistan supported the killing of US troops in Afghanistan, and would limit their funding to 'Afghan' Taliban, particularly Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani. This is false: Pakistan are using all three militant groups as proxies. Pakistan's war with the Pakistani Taliban and capture of random militant leaders, be they Arab, Pakistani or Afghan, is simply part of the double game Hamid Gul and Co. have been playing to ensure their geopolitical standing remains intact, that Afghanistan not become an Indian-clientele state, Kashmir become Pakistani land and US military aid to continue.

As someone who has seen his fair share of suicide bombings while in Afghanistan, we have also captured bombers who have failed to detonate their explosives. All would confess to having come from Pakistan, and all of them would list their ISI handlers. Our government would launch an official complaint, but nothing would precipitate because the US (under both Bush and Obama) would protect them from scrutiny.

Osama's death changes nothing but it does raise the troubling issue of how aware were the ISI for the 9/11 attacks. It has been proven by Afghan investigators that Pakistan was involved in the killing of Ahmad Shah Masoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance just two days before 9/11, so there is a definite relation. The US would have to demand a full inquiry and perhaps interview Hamid Gul and Omar Sheikh.

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Old 05-05-2011   #18
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Taabistan,

Interesting -- but I'm still not sure how his death is definite proof of Pakistani complicity? Maybe I've not read you correctly.

Do you mean to say Bin Laden was captured and in Abbottabad under house arrest, courtesy of the ISI? Thanks.
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Old 05-05-2011   #19
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All of that was in the Ahmed Rashid book Taliban many years ago. American policymakers put what he had to say into the "Too Hard" boxes on their desks because they didn't know what else to do. It was like the fiction of the peace agreement in Laos during the Vietnam conflict. Within the country were many NVA divisions as well as the Ho Chi Minh trail but we couldn't say much about them because it might have made us go back to square one, planning-wise. No wonder so many guys came home from there saying, "It don't mean nuthin'."
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Old 05-05-2011   #20
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JMA:

I am not sure that would work so well. You would deprive people of an important means of transport for occasional gain. I would guess there wouldn't be enough aircraft available to really make it stick. If you blanketed a small area for just a few days while covering some kind of operation though, maybe that would work. You might still run the risk of knocking off some guy who was desperate to get his sick wife to a doc and wasn't thinking so straight.

When I mentioned the motorcycles I was thinking more along the lines of getting into remote places that our big vehicles can't go either for regular patrolling or in careful pursuit. Should we use motorcycles, or 4-wheelers or dune buggy type things to try to match their mobility? That was what I was thinking.
Yes that was a quick solution which would need to be worked through tactically before implementation. That video depicted a Taliban group travelling together by motorcycle, a whole bunch of them... and not the odd individual motorcycle travelling around the area.

But are we not back to a similar argument of a year or so ago?

Then there were those arguing to allow the locals to grow poppies as their source of income. I said no poppies others here said the farmers must be allowed to grow poppies and be given an incentive to switch to a less profitable commercial crop.

Well that better plan would have been to tell the farmers that there will be no poppies grown next season... and then enforce it. The incentive would be for the locals to approach the local department of agriculture office to sign up for any incentive scheme going. Done from the outset poppies would be part of history now and I need to be convinced that the military problems in say Helmand could have been worse as a result.

I suggest that the US driven pop-centric approach is the cause for much of the lack of progress in Afghanistan. If you are going to push this pop-centric stuff where are the civil action personnel?

The insane situation was written about when the Brits "best" troops - the Paras - arrived 6 months ago and were tasked to clear an area controlled by the Taliban (so far so good) then they are tasked to hold the ground. Where were the civil action (or equivalent) personnel to follow on and take over? This would release the combat troops to pursue the Taliban or clear new areas etc etc. Its all about horses for courses... and don't use your best troops to secure the area for local government officials and field workers (which I would have thought would have been obvious).

The Afghanistan situation is closer to what the South African forces faced in South West Africa/Namibia. There was a government system (Apartheid) which could never be sold to the population just as in Afghanistan a criminally corrupt Karzai regime could never win the hearts and minds of the Afghan nation.

Dust off your copy of McCuen, find out what the South Africans did and at least dominate the shooting war while the politicians work out an agreement.

Last edited by JMA; 05-05-2011 at 09:43 PM.
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