Wednesday, August 13, 2008

HOW GOES THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN?

Excerpt from http://www.michaelyon-online.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=8&Itemid=
(a PDF file):

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.

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.

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. The skillful employment of US Air Force, Army, and Naval air power (to include greatly expanded use of armed and reconnaissance UAV’s : Predator, Reaper, Global hawk, and Shadow) has narrowly prevented the Taliban from massing and achieving local tactical victories over isolated and outnumbered US and coalition forces in the East and South.

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.

***

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.

COMMENT by Leslie White: Based on that assessment, this is and will be an uphill striving, all the way. The agricultural "fix" will be resisted by the Afghan people--and without their cooperation, will not succeed (see the attempts at crop-substitution in Latin America, and their abyssmal failure).

The disarray of the command structure in Afghanistan and the reliability of our NATO allies are the critical elements that need not only be reexamined but changed. A look at different strategies, including those discussed at http://islamicdangerfu.blogspot.com/2008/08/warfare.html will be in order to arrive at a feasible one to defeat the Taliban and its safe shelter in Pakistan's Waziri tribal territory. (Especially one that examines the Boydian principle that strategy should always revolve around changing the enemy's behavior, not annihilating his forces.) Success in that area will be a vital key to unravelling al-Qaeda and ancillary Islamic jihad networks.

There is more much more--before and following this excerpt from this "After Action Report" by General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret)upon his VISIT NATO SHAPE HEADQUARTERS AND AFGHANISTAN on 21-26 July 2008. If you want to get a feel for what is going on in the Afghanistan war and what to expect, it will be worth your while to read it at:

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=8&Itemid= (a PDF file). You can open the file in PDF format and save it as text.


An informed commentary on Gen. McCaffrey's report can be found at http://islamicdangerfu.blogspot.com/2008/08/top-general-says-more-troops-arent.html

Leslie White

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