This September will mark the 9th year of our active combat involvement in Afghanistan.
I want to take the time to verbally shotgun our “I’m-by-no-means-qualified-to-be-president, but-I’ve- played-one-on-TV” Commander-in-Chief for his lack of faith and concern in and for our military. That is the curse of choosing someone in the middle of a war to lead this country who has opted to view our military men and women with contempt, as “I spoke out against the now wildly successful Surge” Obama has done.
But frankly, I’m just too tired.
The how and why we find ourselves in the position we’re in has no place in this discussion. THIS discussion involves the next step…. The “what now” step.
The United States should have a goal in Afghanistan. The trouble is, even with a diverse military background, with duty and schooling and experience in the enlisted, NCO and company grade officer ranks, even with work in Saudi Arabia and over 6 years overseas, I haven’t been able to figure out what that goal is, or how we’ll know when we have absolutely achieved it.
This is an important discussion to have, I believe, and I’m writing about it in the context of the McChrystal debacle.
McChrystal is a black ops guy. You see the “tab” collection. “Special Forces.” “Ranger.” Apparently, McChrystal was a battalion commander… at the ripe old age of 33, an unheard of feat in the modern military era. McChrystal ran Black Ops in Iraq for 5 years or so before his Afghan gig as CG, ISFA; the command he ultimate resigned from in the face of his remarks to the Rolling Stone reporters.
He’s been taking some heat from Michael Yon, a former Green Beanie himself, who now gets his kicks as an “embed” independent reporter type. Yon, perhaps best known for an amazing picture taken a few years back, has been hammering McChrystal and other general officers for the Afghan strategy, in every aspect from the almost laughable Rules of Engagement, which govern when, how and under what conditions our Forces may fire on the enemy to that same lack of a goal to strategize TO, to the corrupt Karzai regime that hundreds of us have died and thousands of us have been wounded to prop up.
Let me throw this into the mix: I have a vested interest in this issue. I have a son who is seriously considering the military as an option.
And I am doing everything I can to talk him out of it.
Clueless leadership of a war is a death warrant for kids that have been trained to believe they’re making a difference.
Well, I might think they were if I or anyone else knew:
A. What’s the goal in Afghanistan, and
B. How do we get there, and
C. How will we know when we’ve achieved it, and
D. How much are we willing to spend in lives and money, to get there?
McChrystal, I believe, knows how to fight that war. But he found himself hamstrung by extraneous and irrelevant political restrictions, because we are much more concerned about some nebulous “world opinion” then we are the blood and lives of our children.
So, we send the finest armed force the world has ever known over to this country to fight what amounts to a caveman insurgency, tell them to knock the stuffing out of the bad guys, and then give the bad guys every possible strategic and tactical advantage. The result?
“June (2010) deadliest month for troops in Afghan War.”
Shouldn’t things be getting better by now?
Militarily, what are the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan?
Could it be the ROE are so restrictive in Afghanistan that we cannot win militarily?
I don’t want to see anyone that doesn’t NEED killing get killed. But this isn’t, by any means, a perfect world.
I believe that all REASONABLE steps should be made to avoid collateral damage. I’ve never been one to “save the village” by “destroying it.”
But as a nation and as a military, unless we can destroy the enemy AND THOSE WHO SUPPORT THEM, we are facing eminent defeat.
This means: airstrikes against Iran. This means leveling villages that provide aid or comfort to the insurgents. This means fighting these people on OUR terms, instead of theirs.
At the end of the day, we are going to lose unless we make the costs so prohibitively expensive for the fight to continue that those involved pick up their football and go home.
McChrystal, I believe, understands all of that. That, as a general officer, he could vote for a complete military imbecile for the presidency in the middle of a war calls his political judgment into question, certainly; but how could he possibly have known for a certainty the depths of the ACORN-in-Chief’s stupidity?
So, he finds himself in command of an untenable military situation: He can win, but he has been ordered to tie one arm and a foot behind his back to do it.
He fully understands the implications of a rotten, corrupt, central government. He understands that we can’t look at the Afghan people and ask them to either believe in such a government or to believe in US, when we’ve already (and quite stupidly) announced we’re going to leave pretty soon.
Everyone aware there’s a war going on in Afghanistan is also aware of our efforts to “Vietnamize” it. The patterns have unmistakable parallels.
We’re propping up a corrupt government. We’re trying to train a military up enough to fight for themselves. We’re sick of being there. We won’t take the military steps necessary to punish those supplying the insurgents with an unlimited amount of supplies and other support.
In a nutshell, that certainly seems to be the plan we’re following now at the strategic level. And the Taliban know it (They’ve got internet access as well) so they don’t even have to fire a round in a village or a region. All they have to do is retell the Obama campaign promises, promises that see us leaving… and then look around and ask: “Who is going to protect you then?”
And anyone would somehow expect a different outcome?
McChrystal sees all of that, and his political ignorance aside, he sees an increasingly difficult military situation, made unnecessarily so by moronic dictates from people like Obama, who don’t know (or care to know) any more about the military than they do brain surgery.
The problem is that Obama isn’t the brain surgeon in chief… he’s the Commander-in-Chief. His military ignorance has, is and will hurt this country. McChrystal is faced with the idea that he must go out and play patty-cake with the bad guys, knowing that he’s doing so with a White House which will toss him under the nearest bus with a rapidity that would make the Reverend Wright debacle look like a fender-bender in comparison.
To win this war, we are going to have to kill a lot of people. Some of them will be innocents. We will never set out to kill innocents, but some innocents are going to die. Sorry about that.
As a nation, that reality should have been our guiding principle from day one.
Unfortunately, we are led by someone apparently incapable of understanding or appreciating that truism. So, we get Rules of Engagement that were written as if OBL had signed off on them.
People can shoot at us; throw their weapons down and run away, knowing full well that we can’t return fire against unarmed people… even if they were shooting at us moments before.
Great for the insurgency.
Not so great for us.
McChrystal commands troops who are dying because of these and other rules. He’s sick of it. He sees what I see. He ponders what he can do next.
He takes the Buddhist monk route, but instead of pouring gasoline on himself and lighting it, he pours gasoline on his career and lights that. Now, America is becoming familiar with terms like “Short-sighted… Chaos-stan… Bite Me… Obama looked uncomfortable and intimidated… he didn’t seem very engaged… I was selling an unsellable position…” and so on.
These are the kinds of things the American people MUST know. We MUST pay attention.
McChrystal asks himself, directly or indirectly, “How can I change this? How can I make it different?”
Was this a deliberately planned verbal fragging of Obama?
I don’t think so. Special ops are all about targets of opportunity. I believe (And I have nothing to base this on except a well-developed gut) that McChrystal read the story and made a snap judgment that here was an opportunity that he could not pass up.
Commands don’t pay 4 star generals any more money. Obama couldn’t reduce McChrystal in rank; to do so would, under these circumstances, require a court martial and provide McChrystal with a platform to pulverize him.
What to do with McChrystal is a fascinating problem as well. But now, he’s looming there, not unlike a buzzard, waiting to pounce on Obama publically, and blow holes in what seems to be a chronically failed policy that is leading us, at a great cost in blood and treasure, no where.