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Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War  
User currently offlineStasisLAX From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3283 posts, RR: 6
Posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4581 times:

"Obama said he wants to add troops to turn back a resurgent Taliban, but he has not gone beyond the approximately 30,000 additional forces already under consideration by the previous administration. Those troops will nearly double the U.S. presence in Afghanistan this year, but they amount to a finger in the dike while Obama recalibrates a chaotic mishmash of military and development objectives.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week warned of grandiose goals in Afghanistan, prescribing a single-minded strategy to prevent Afghanistan from being a terrorism launchpad.

"Afghanistan is the fourth or fifth poorest country in the world, and if we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose," Gates said, referring to a haven of purity in Norse mythology. "Nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience or money, to be honest."

Obama has ordered a fast internal review of his military, diplomatic and other options in Afghanistan before he makes decisions that define how aggressively he will answer the growing threat of failure in Afghanistan.

Along with that review, coordinated by the National Security Council, Obama will have results of a just-completed classified Joint Chiefs of Staff assessment of a largely stalemated fight against the Taliban and counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaida and affiliated groups along the Pakistan border.

That report, which has not yet gone to the White House, talks broadly about tamping down expectations in the Afghan war.

Instead, it suggests that key goals should be to make modest gains to stabilize the governance and to eliminate terrorist safe havens, senior defense officials said.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elec...unlikely-widen-afghan-war/100days/


"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety!" B.Franklin
120 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineStasisLAX From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3283 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 4542 times:

Just noticed the cover of the newest Newsweek magazine calling Afghanistan "Obama's Vietnam"

"it seems that the war in Afghanistan is shaping up in all-too-familiar ways. The parallels are disturbing: the president, eager to show his toughness, vows to do what it takes to "win." The nation that we are supposedly rescuing is no nation at all but rather a deeply divided, semi-failed state with an incompetent, corrupt government held to be illegitimate by a large portion of its population. The enemy is well accustomed to resisting foreign invaders and can escape into convenient refuges across the border. There are constraints on America striking those sanctuaries. Meanwhile, neighboring countries may see a chance to bog America down in a costly war. Last, there is no easy way out."

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/id/182650

The similarities to the horrible Vietnam war are a stretch in my opinion, but it is still possible. The nation of Afghanistan is not a state, but a collection of warring tribes, supported by the Pakistani ISI (that has itself become a radicalized organization turning into a pseudo-Taliban), and governed by corrupt and self-serving political leadership in Kabul.

So, my discussion point is "do you believe that the Afghanistan war will turn into the 21st century version of Vietnam" for the American military?



"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety!" B.Franklin
User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21470 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4530 times:



Quoting StasisLAX (Thread starter):
while Obama recalibrates a chaotic mishmash of military and development objectives.

That seems to be the operative statement there.

If he sets the right priorities, a Vietnam-like outcome should be avoidable.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13210 posts, RR: 77
Reply 3, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 4523 times:

Sp the White House seems to be having the same discussions that have been going on this side of the pond for some time?

What about dampening down expectations? After all that one about 'liberating Iraq will cause a tide of democratization in the Middle East' didn't exactly go to plan, though ever calling it a plan was a stretch.

The problem might be that there are two distinct operations going on.
The NATO one, which is supposed to be about making areas of the country secure enough to allow aid and redevelopment, since the Taliban thrive in impoverished ignorance.
Then there is the purely military US effort, though they are also involved in the NATO one too.

As was found in 2006 when the NATO operation began, certain areas of Afghanistan had been left to literally fester after 2002, (as the Bush Admin started their Iraq fixation).
So the troops on the ground in Southern Afghanistan literally walked into a full scale war.
The British and Canadians in particular encountered combat so intense it harked back to Korea, WW2 even.

One issue Obama will face is when he calls (again) for more NATO boots on the ground.
Since he is very popular abroad in the wake of Bush, some reckon any requests he makes will be harder to refuse.
But I'm not so sure.

'The British will of course', well maybe not. Since they can say 'hang on, we've already more than doubled our numbers there since 2006'.
What about the 4000 to withdraw from Iraq this year? But expecting them all to go to Afghanistan, will clash against the publicly expressed views of the head of the British Army that a period of recuperation, rebuilding, restructuring is vitally needed after the Army being so heavily deployed on two fronts for a long period of time.
With ever shortening times between these deployments with all the strain that brings not only to the troops but their families.

Another reason others will cite is the need for a revised and more tidy strategy, if that includes more realistic goals and expectations so be it.
There IS a real need for more boots on the ground in any case.

Others who have refused requests, however favorably they might view Obama, could cite a continuation of the previous US governments policies as a reason to say no.
So a review might be a way to encourage them.
France had done a U-Turn, from Chirac's limited deployment then ground force withdrawal, to his successor's redeployment of ground troops in combat operations.


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21470 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4509 times:

Quoting GDB (Reply 3):
There IS a real need for more boots on the ground in any case.

When you're trying to clean up a major spill, calling for a bigger broom is probably not a false idea by itself, but it's ultimately secondary to fixing the leaky pipes in the first place!

In the case of Afghanistan, these are:

- The warlords who Rumsfeld coddled as "allies" to conquer the Taliban "on the cheap" (where have I heard that before...?) have not just let escape Osama bin Laden in the initial assault on his hideout but also have subsequently allied themselves with the Taliban, because the Taliban give them cover for their booming drug business. The question is whether that can be reversed now.

- Damaging the fragile agricultural market in Afghanistan by plastering the country with imported food "aid" has also contributed to forcing the farmers into poppy production (together with pressure from the Taliban and the warlords). Re--developing a viable agricultural economy besides poppy farming is absolutely essential. Without that, all the other problems will remain completely intractable.

- The afghan population is increasingly becoming hostile towards the foreign troops because of the aggressive and seemingly indiscriminate bombing of civilians. A re-assessment of costs and benefits of such strikes is absolutely necessary.

- Pakistan's ISI secret service is basically the protector of the Taliban's home base in Pakistan. It must be reigned in again, possibly with heavy pressure from the US side.

- The Taliban must be weakened and the population won over in the pakistani border regions. Tough challenge there, no doubt.

- The afghan tribal leaders must be won for a constructive development, which may mean having to take a step back from the central government. Afghanistan is no nation state the way we're used to deal with, and at least as far as necessary we need to adapt to that circumstance and listen more to the actual people instead of just blindly imposing our prefabricated "solutions".

- The structures which feed the corruption in the afghan government need to be overhauled and corruption be fought from the root causes.

- John Craddock, the US NATO commander of the afghanistan forces, has just ordered to hunt down presumable drug producers and kill them without looking twice. Several of his european subordinates have flat-out refused this order because they see it as illegitimate. And they are right. On top of everything else, more violence applied with even less discrimination would make the situation worse, not better! Stupid and desperate stunts like that erode the allied cooperation and must be stopped.


Ignoring the root causes of the problems and just pouring in more cannon fodder would be pointless and counterproductive. I'm against sending more of our troops under the current strategy.

Our militaries can do some things, but they are not capable of solving complex problems on their own, least of all by blindly applying more firepower.

Under a severely revised integrated strategy I'd reconsider. And I hope that our government sees it the same way and that the Obama administration is ready to tackle the root causes in order to reign in the bleeding. I am very hopeful that they will finally change essential priorities in Afghanistan, not just "give up" or proceed on the same destructive course which seems to lead directly into another Vietnam-style catastrophy.

[Edited 2009-02-01 04:52:17]

User currently offlineMortyman From Norway, joined Aug 2006, 3943 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4505 times:

An Admiral of the Norwegian aremd forces commented a few days ago that

- We are not really helping building up again Afghanistan and Afghan society.


He questions wether Norway's and other countries military presense are doing anything to better the situation in Afghanistan.

He sees a serious need for more civilian aid in adittion to the military.


- Afghanistan began as a clean slate millitary mission, but things has'nt gone as planned. Now, the situation is wose than ever, says the Admiral.



Norwegian specialforces has been deployed in Afghanistan since December 2001, doing combat and reconasaince missions. Also regulare forces has ben deployed on occations.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13210 posts, RR: 77
Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4492 times:

I agree Klaus with the main thrust of your argument, it's still a mystery to me 7 years on, that in the wake of Sept 11th, the US did not flood Afghanistan with troops (and not then also refused the offers of help in many cases from allies), sufficient to do the job with the Taliban and also any other warlords that stood in the way.

Under the auspices of making Afghanistan a UN Protectorate, leading to when ready, elections.
Not breaking the power of the warlords then was a huge mistake.

However, there have been plenty of reports, at least from the UK forces, of reconstruction work commencing, but subsequently in some cases being unable to keep the security due to too few boots on the ground.
The Taliban did fail, in 2006/7, to physically force the NATO troops out, not through want of trying.
But NATO did not have the resources to exploit the situation.

If Obama is going to, as is likely, review the aims and aspects of the operations out there, while also calling more more NATO resources from those than can provide without serious additional strains on their forces, it would be a very bad mistake on their part to refuse, or as has happened, do a token gesture such as a few more aircraft or small number of 'specialists'.
It's serious numbers of boots needed, whatever realistic course is taken.
If not, Obama's opponents can say, look, some of those Euros just won't do their share, even when they get a US President they like, they are a waste of time and ungrateful and spineless too.


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21470 posts, RR: 53
Reply 7, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4484 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
I agree Klaus with the main thrust of your argument, it's still a mystery to me 7 years on, that in the wake of Sept 11th, the US did not flood Afghanistan with troops (and not then also refused the offers of help in many cases from allies), sufficient to do the job with the Taliban and also any other warlords that stood in the way.

Just look at Iraq – the idea was to keep the tax cuts, not disturb the electorate and still do two wars on the side, which just had to be "cheap" under these priorities!

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
However, there have been plenty of reports, at least from the UK forces, of reconstruction work commencing, but subsequently in some cases being unable to keep the security due to too few boots on the ground.

Sure. But more troops alone wouldn't have helped.

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
The Taliban did fail, in 2006/7, to physically force the NATO troops out, not through want of trying.
But NATO did not have the resources to exploit the situation.

They retreated, built up the drug trade (which they had been fighting hard when they had still been in power – irony of ironies!) to finance their resurgence.

Worked near-perfectly from their perspective, one might say.

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
It's serious numbers of boots needed, whatever realistic course is taken.
If not, Obama's opponents can say, look, some of those Euros just won't do their share, even when they get a US President they like, they are a waste of time and ungrateful and spineless too.

Without a severely overhauled strategy I would want my government to tell anybody blustering along like that to just sod off and provide the pointless cannon fodder themselves, if that's all their strategists can think of.

Insulting your allies is a supremely bad idea when all your "leadership" provides thus far is a total lack of two-way communication and failure as a result.

A renewed culture of fewer insults and less condescension but more realistic and constructive cooperation is called for – and not just there.


User currently offlineCairo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4470 times:



Quoting StasisLAX (Thread starter):
it suggests that key goals should be to make modest gains to stabilize the governance and to eliminate terrorist safe havens,

Nation building is not even feasible at the moment, so simply denying Afghanistan to the Taliban (and others) is a good placeholder until the day when more substantial progress can be made.

Doubling the US presence is good.

Cairo


User currently offlineDXing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4459 times:



Quoting Klaus (Reply 2):
If he sets the right priorities, a Vietnam-like outcome should be avoidable.

Unless and until the border regions can be sealed and the Pakistan military takes responsibility for policing their side of that border it will be the same as Vietnam.

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
It's serious numbers of boots needed, whatever realistic course is taken.

We had, at the high point, 500,000 troops in Vietnam and still couldn't produce complete security since we couldn't seal the borders. We also injected so much money into the economy of South Vietnam by having all those "boots" there that the economy became rampant with corruption. Dropping more and more of your armed forces in is not necessarily the best course of action.

Charlie Wilson, who probably did the most to help the Afghans beat the Soviets, had it absolutely right when after the Soviets left he tried to continue aid to the Afghans in the form of schools and aid to replace the destroyed infrastructure. Instead he was told the wars over we won and they can handle the rest themselves. That was the beginning of the road to where we are today. The Afghans are an extremely proud people. They can fight their own fights. They don't mind a little technical help but putting more and more "boots" on the ground, especially when you have no real way to seal the border, will not endear them to you. Trying to forcefully stop the production of opium poppies, when there is demand at the end of the supply pipe is futile, especially if it is the only way for an Afghan to make a living for his family.


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21470 posts, RR: 53
Reply 10, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 4447 times:



Quoting DXing (Reply 9):
Unless and until the border regions can be sealed and the Pakistan military takes responsibility for policing their side of that border it will be the same as Vietnam.



Quoting DXing (Reply 9):
Dropping more and more of your armed forces in is not necessarily the best course of action.



Quoting DXing (Reply 9):
They don't mind a little technical help but putting more and more "boots" on the ground, especially when you have no real way to seal the border, will not endear them to you. Trying to forcefully stop the production of opium poppies, when there is demand at the end of the supply pipe is futile, especially if it is the only way for an Afghan to make a living for his family.

As rare as it is on a contentious issue, we're in agreement.

I've marked my calendar accordingly.  cool 


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13210 posts, RR: 77
Reply 11, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4433 times:

I don't buy the comparison's with Vietnam.
Despite the huge amounts of blood and treasure the US did put there, they were ultimately constrained by the Cold War.
Much criticized in retrospect, LBJ's administration had a terrible fear of excessive escalation with the USSR or China, or even both.
These were men who had been, just a short time before, at the epicenter of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
This is all too often forgotten with all the 'if we'd been able to do this, or that out there', since.

In Vietnam you had a nation state committed to re-unification with the South, which they regarded as a legacy of the French who'd they'd recently kicked out.
You cannot compare elements of the Pakistani ISI, or the Taliban, with Ho Chi Min.
Afghanistan has no unified element fighting to expel foreigners, just a bunch of warlords/tribes.

If you cannot hold the ground you take, which in Afghanistan's case, also means giving a break to the impoverished Afghan people from war and the Taliban, your stuck.
That's a quagmire.

If the objections to more troops are 'we don't like the way it's going right now', well the answer to that is, guess what, military operations tend to do that, sometimes for an extended period, especially when not fighting a conventional enemy.
NATO nations made a commitment, the real test of how committed they are is not when things are easy.
I'm not in particular singling out Germany, rather another European nation with a leader who was supposed to be Republican America's friend ideologically, but on Afghanistan is no better than some of his fellow Europeans he's been known to berate.
But then, this is a man who congratulated Barack Obama on his 'nice suntan'.

NATO's European nations (including in this case the UK too), pretty much shamed themselves over the former Yugoslavia in the 1990's.
You don't have to have been an out rider from the recently departed US President, to feel some resentment here.
Now, the unspoken but real excuse of before, of we are not going to get in too deep with the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of them , they are gone.

While I agree that some fundamental changes are needed in Afghanistan, the enemy won't take a break while governments debate it, what is the alternative, which logic suggests of pulling out?

Picture if you will, a victorious Taliban taking the country back (don't be female), including a video release showing a certain much hunted man and his 'spritual advisor' enjoying being back in their old stamping grounds.
Who would ever take seriously the word of any Western government again?
Including the US.

And it will hugely inspire Islamist terrorists everywhere ('we CAN beat them').
After all, the bunch that carried attacks over the last 15 years, culminating in Sept 11th 2001, were inspired by the idea that not only did they kick the USSR out of Afghanistan, but they made it collapse, (as simplistic and false as the idea that 'Ronald Reagan won the Cold War', the USSR was always going to implode at some point).
But that is what they do believe, that they caused an Empire of a superpower to collapse.
Small wonder that some think they can establish this vast Caliphate.


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21470 posts, RR: 53
Reply 12, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4424 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
If the objections to more troops are 'we don't like the way it's going right now', well the answer to that is, guess what, military operations tend to do that, sometimes for an extended period, especially when not fighting a conventional enemy.

My objection is not that things are tough, my objection is that the (still-)current strategy is set for failure in its entire direction.

The former you could possibly just "power through", the latter would just lead to universal failure.

What's a definite no-go for public support of any further(!) substantial increase over here is the "my way or the highway!" attitude which your accusations just repeated another time. Especially since "your way" has been obviously counterproductive for quite some time.

There's no magic bullet in this conflict. Nor a million of them. While additional troops may be necessary, increased deployment would be pointless and utterly irresponsible to them and their families if the upper echelons just complacently ran them into the fire without reconsidering why the previous attempts of the same kind have made matters worse instead of better.

This is above all a leadership crisis, and not one of the "shut up and march!" kind as some people still seem to believe but one of needing more brains in the right places. At this point there's a severe backlog in communication and unideological, realistic assessment of the situation and the options that are really on the table, and what their respective costs and chances are.


User currently offlineDXing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4418 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
Much criticized in retrospect, LBJ's administration had a terrible fear of excessive escalation with the USSR or China, or even both.

I think you are confusing Truman/LBJ with Korea/Vietnam. In Secretary McNamara's confession book "The Fog of War" he never raises the spectre of the Soviets or Chinese becoming directly involved in the war. If there was a caution it was to U.S. airmen not to violate Chinese airspace when flying in the far north of North Vietnam.

Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
If you cannot hold the ground you take, which in Afghanistan's case, also means giving a break to the impoverished Afghan people from war and the Taliban, your stuck.
That's a quagmire.

And that was the quagmire in Vietnam. Not much remembered is that less than a year after the Marines gallant stand at Khe Sahn the post was totally abandoned since it was no longer seen as being of strategic value anymore. Meanwhile we "relocated" thousands of Vietnamese to safe havens that in the end weren't very safe and did nothing but make them dependent on the U.S.

Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
If the objections to more troops are 'we don't like the way it's going right now', well the answer to that is, guess what, military operations tend to do that, sometimes for an extended period, especially when not fighting a conventional enemy.

Now that sounds familiar. But aside from that, another lesson learned from Vietnam should be that technology does not necessarily trump simple innovation. We bombed the daylights out of the Ho Chi Min trail so that trucks couldn't use it. The NVA resorted to bicycles and increased the number of road repair crews. What makes you think the Taliban can't accomplish the same type of thinking?

Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
Who would ever take seriously the word of any Western government again?
Including the US.

Exactly what they were saying on April 30th, 1975.

The Soviets could not use their military might to win in Afghanistan, why we should think we can defies belief. We need a smaller smarter fighting force and commitment to raising the living standard of the Afghans while working with their government to accomplish the task of both. Dropping more troops on the ground will not endear the Afghans to the cause.


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14027 posts, RR: 62
Reply 14, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4411 times:



Quoting DXing (Reply 13):
The Soviets could not use their military might to win in Afghanistan, why we should think we can defies belief. We need a smaller smarter fighting force and commitment to raising the living standard of the Afghans while working with their government to accomplish the task of both. Dropping more troops on the ground will not endear the Afghans to the cause.

This is exactly the missunderstanding. You need LOTS of soldiers on the ground to secure EACH AND EVERY VILLAGE. This is to allow the building up process to work (which is important to improve the living standard of the population) and to deny the Taliban any support. As long as the Taliban just need to wait until the allied soldiers have gone after each operation to punish the villagers for cooperation with the soldiers, the war will be lost.
This "war on the cheap" with a minimum of soldiers was exactly what got to the current situation.

Jan


User currently offlineDXing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4405 times:



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 14):
You need LOTS of soldiers on the ground to secure EACH AND EVERY VILLAGE.

Which is exactly what average Afghans have repeatedly let known that they don't want. They do not want to feel like an occupied country again. Flooding the country with troops will not endear them to the cause. If nothing else the opportunity for missteps like accidentally shooting innocent civilians or bombing innocent villages by mistake go up exponentially.

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 14):
As long as the Taliban just need to wait until the allied soldiers have gone after each operation to punish the villagers for cooperation with the soldiers, the war will be lost.

Then all they need to do is wait on the other side of the Pakistan border for the home countries to tire of the effort which will surely happen.

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 14):
This "war on the cheap" with a minimum of soldiers was exactly what got to the current situation.

War on the cheap, and war with a minimum of soldiers are not necessarily synonymous. A small number of soldiers helping Afghans defend themselves while another segment of foreign aid workers work with Afghans to raise the living standard will go much farther. In Vietnam we flooded the country with troops and never ever could we claim complete control of the security situation.


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21470 posts, RR: 53
Reply 16, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4402 times:



Quoting DXing (Reply 15):
A small number of soldiers helping Afghans defend themselves while another segment of foreign aid workers work with Afghans to raise the living standard will go much farther.

The tricky bit being that the drug production has been financially relatively comfortable for the farmers. It will be an increasingly tough sell to dissuade them from poppy farming the longer this is going.


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14027 posts, RR: 62
Reply 17, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4389 times:



Quoting Klaus (Reply 16):
Quoting DXing (Reply 15):
A small number of soldiers helping Afghans defend themselves while another segment of foreign aid workers work with Afghans to raise the living standard will go much farther.

The tricky bit being that the drug production has been financially relatively comfortable for the farmers. It will be an increasingly tough sell to dissuade them from poppy farming the longer this is going.

This is mainly a problem with the lack of transport infrastructure in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan: Opium and heroin arehigh value per volume / weight goods. Grain and vegetables on the other hand have a low value to weight / volume ratio. Since many villages in Afghanistan are not connected to the world by roads, but by mule paths, the farmers simply can't bring goods like grain and vegetables to the markets. On the other hand they can easily carry the value equivalent of a truckload of potatoes in the packsaddles of a mule.



Quoting DXing (Reply 15):
Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 14):
You need LOTS of soldiers on the ground to secure EACH AND EVERY VILLAGE.

Which is exactly what average Afghans have repeatedly let known that they don't want. They do not want to feel like an occupied country again. Flooding the country with troops will not endear them to the cause. If nothing else the opportunity for missteps like accidentally shooting innocent civilians or bombing innocent villages by mistake go up exponentially.

So far what happens is that the Allied forces set up safe bases for their troops, from which they appear on patrols and search and destroy missions. Once these missions are over, the allied soldiers disappear again back to their bases and leave the villagers to face the wrath of the Taliban. IMO, it would be better to station smaller units (platoon size?, but with good communications to call for re-enforcement in case of a larger Taliban attack) directly in the larger villages, both to directly protect the villagers as well as to interact with them on a daily base. This way the villagers would know individual soldiers (who of course would have to be trained in basics of the local language and local customs) and the soldiers would know whom to trust.
IIRC, this worked very well for the Brits in Borneo, where they based Gurkha troops in the jungle villages (who had the advantage of looking a bit like the locals).
It definitely worked in Berlin,where the western Allies previouslyseen as occupational force were very soon seen as friends and liberators (latest after the Berlin Airlift).

Jan


User currently offlineHAWK21m From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 18, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4385 times:

Attack the Taliban from both fronts .....Via Afghanistan & thru Pakistan.But use US Troops.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineCairo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4364 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
I don't buy the comparison's with Vietnam.



Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
You cannot compare elements of the Pakistani ISI, or the Taliban, with Ho Chi Min.
Afghanistan has no unified element fighting to expel foreigners, just a bunch of warlords/tribes.

Agree insofar as Afghanistan is no Vietnam for all the reasons you explain.

Disagree, however, in that US political leadership and citizenry tend to expect their impressive military to solve the problem with little else in terms of more subtle/complex solutions....in this respect, the Vietnam comparison is valid.

Quoting GDB (Reply 11):
NATO's European nations (including in this case the UK too), pretty much shamed themselves over the former Yugoslavia in the 1990's.

Very true - this is the prime example that casts suspicion on those who say they are happy to expend cost and effort on a good cause, they just don't want to engage in Afghanistan because...[insert some long winded red-herring excuse masking spineless fear]

Quoting HAWK21m (Reply 18):
Attack the Taliban from both fronts

Might work, but I'd prefer to also attack (politically-financially) their financial backers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

Cairo


User currently offlineDXing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4358 times:



Quoting Klaus (Reply 16):
The tricky bit being that the drug production has been financially relatively comfortable for the farmers. It will be an increasingly tough sell to dissuade them from poppy farming the longer this is going.

Nobody said that part would be easy and could well turn out to be far more difficult than securing the country.

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 17):
IMO, it would be better to station smaller units (platoon size?, but with good communications to call for re-enforcement in case of a larger Taliban attack) directly in the larger villages

We handed out a number of posthumous Congressional Medals of Honor among other lesser medals in Vietnam when the Special Forces were tasked with exactly that type of mission with exactly that type of strategy.


User currently offlineStasisLAX From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3283 posts, RR: 6
Reply 21, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 4346 times:

Quoting DXing (Reply 13):
The Soviets could not use their military might to win in Afghanistan, why we should think we can defies belief. We need a smaller smarter fighting force and commitment to raising the living standard of the Afghans while working with their government to accomplish the task of both

I agree completely.

But here's the biggest problem - the U.S. can no longer afford to support the Afghan war at its current size and scope. Obama is already asking the Defense Department to cut at least 10 percent of its budget. So, the new smaller, leaner, and smarter U.S. approach needs to also embrace working with and directly funding moderate local tribal leaders in Afghanistan, and to stop funding the "illegitimate" Afghan government that is seen as woefully ineffective and hopelessly corrupt by the vast majority of Afghans.

[Edited 2009-02-01 15:44:55]


"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety!" B.Franklin
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 22, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4305 times:



Quoting Cairo (Reply 19):
Might work, but I'd prefer to also attack (politically-financially) their financial backers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

TRUE.....All Supporters of terror,either morally,politically or financially should be wiped out or warned to come clean.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13210 posts, RR: 77
Reply 23, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4297 times:

No DXing, I was not confusing Vietnam with Korea, it's not about what we know now, but what the perception back then was.
I've seen the film version of The Fog Of War , it spends a lot of time naturally on the Cuba crisis, it's worth noting that the Soviets did have a lot of 'advisors' in North Vietnam as it escalated, no nukes of course but still scope for a potential and dangerous escalation.
But LBJ had real fears in this respect.

We forget now just how the Cold War, as well as having it's own flashpoints also kept other potential ones quiet, look at how the former Yugoslavia collapsed after the USSR imploded, despite being nominally Communist, the Yugoslavians regarded an invasion by the Soviet Union as the real threat to them. It probably helped to hold that nation together.
Saddam's big error in 1990, was to still think that the USSR (then in it's final months), would restrain any Western response to his invasion of Kuwait.

Just like any kind of political scandal gets the lazy 'gate' tag, after Watergate , so the 'new Vietnam' tag all too often gets used whether it's appropriate or not.
Perhaps I'm reflecting the British experience with conflicts in Malaya, Borneo and others, counter insurgency efforts that did not go the way of Vietnam, even allowing for the smaller scale on both sides.

The USSR in Afghanistan was trying to subdue the whole country, no aid or development, just massive unconstrained military force.
It's not the first time that massive military force has failed against an insurgency.
NATO is not attempting similar in Afghanistan, they are not short of armour, artillery, military jets, just boots on ground and helicopters.

Klaus, the whole my way or the highway was not really true about Afghanistan under Bush after 2001, neglect was though. It certainly won't be under Obama.
But, how many Germans came out to cheer Obama when he visited last year?
Did they somehow think that if he won the US would revert to some kind of pacifistic isolationism?
Talk is cheap, crowds cheering even cheaper.


User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 24, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 4287 times:



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 17):
This is mainly a problem with the lack of transport infrastructure in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan: Opium and heroin arehigh value per volume / weight goods. Grain and vegetables on the other hand have a low value to weight / volume ratio. Since many villages in Afghanistan are not connected to the world by roads, but by mule paths, the farmers simply can't bring goods like grain and vegetables to the markets. On the other hand they can easily carry the value equivalent of a truckload of potatoes in the packsaddles of a mule.

The comment has been made that the worst thing that invading forces have done is to bring in food aid, thus shutting out local food producers or at the least reducing their prices. Which makes it a bit of a double whammy?

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
No DXing, I was not confusing Vietnam with Korea, it's not about what we know now, but what the perception back then was.

Certainly all our maps showed the red tide of dominoes originating in the USSR, becoming amplified as they flowed through China and then WHOOSH over SE Asia. Funny thing is, the maps looked just like the winter weather wind maps do now with the cunning satellite data, with everything flowing out and S from China!

I am getting very nervous about this thread, finding myself in agreement with an unusual source. Help!!

The Aus view FWIW is that NATO as of about early 2008 essentially had no plan or not one that Joel Fitzg our min for defence could find. He has not actually said since then, aha there IS a plan and I agree with it.

There is something happening about our troop commitment. Rudd has said Afghanistan is the main game (hate that phrase) but suddenly is very certain about not making more commitments until something. But it is uncertain what the something is. A plan perchance?


25 MD11Engineer : So how comes that the Brits were quite successfull with these tactics? See below: From what I've heard, in Vietnam, there was a constant conflict bet
26 DXing : Then you really should read the book. Rarely, in my experience, does the movie match up in detail with the book. Then you'll have to point out source
27 Post contains links Baroque : I suppose you must be meaning something like this?? pages 40 to 47. http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/041/04114192001b.pdf So just the SAM syste
28 DXing : The guns would be in the form of material aid. I doubt that Soviet advisers were necessary to teach the NVA how to operate them. A manual would have
29 Post contains links Baroque : Well it might. Then again, most of the guns were radar controlled so a bit of direct instruction probably helped. And the CIA seemed to think that ab
30 Klaus : I was primarily talking about the tone of your own post above, but even so: To my knowledge the Afghanistan mission was conducted with about as much
31 GDB : Not calling anyone cowards Klaus, (which I suspect you know), but I am thinking that there was a naivety in those crowds. It's not always about number
32 DXing : The 37mm guns weren't and the S-60's while they could be radar controlled also had optical, read a man pointing the gun, sights. The North Vietnamese
33 Klaus : I find it increasingly difficult to say, looking at the direction your side remarks keep taking. I was just tired of the implications. The Berlin aud
34 Charles79 : One of the most interesting topics I have seen in here by far StasisLAX. Being the son of a Vietnam War veteran I have always been intrigued by the w
35 NAV20 : Agree entirely, Charles79. You can't have a 'plan' until you have first established the 'objective.' Worth remembering why we got involved in Afghani
36 Klaus : US media don't usually report much of foreign governments' views or proposals; Even less so when the goals are pretty much in line with the official
37 GDB : Klaus, I don't disagree with your view on the history, so far, of the Afghan mission. There was a plan in 2006, however it was found that the old mili
38 Baroque : To judge from the results, not where it has been. The extent to which those two phenomena, and the US duck shovelling associated with them, made the
39 GDB : The actions of the Bush Admin we are talking about, like a lot of things associated with them, was largely an aberration. Not so much 'Amateur Hour',
40 Post contains links NAV20 : If the 'enemy' can go on doing this sort of thing, coalition forces may actually find themselves facing defeat:- "PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - Assailants
41 Post contains links Baroque : And yet: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7870896.stm 'No torture pressure' - Miliband David Miliband has disputed claims by two judges th
42 Post contains links and images StasisLAX : And the military supply chain will be even more dependent on Pakistan based ground supply routes if Kyrgyzstan closes the U.S. base Manas Air Base in
43 UH60FtRucker : - We need to send 20,000-30,000 more troops into Afghanistan, in order to secure the border (yes it can be done, we already control limited stretches,
44 Aaron747 : I think it goes without saying that such critics are representative of the most base level of ignorance and arrogance, whichever comes first. Every t
45 Post contains images Klaus : Okay. Depends on who "you" are in that context. If you're a local commander on the ground with standing orders to that effect, that'll be what you'll
46 NAV20 : Guess I can help there, Klaus. A 'shoveler' is a broad-billed breed of duck that inhabits marshy areas. So-called because they scoop up lots of mud a
47 Post contains links Baroque : Oft used down here but not so easy to find. Basically it is an activity to shift blame but one not likely to achieve much success. http://www.news.co
48 Klaus : Ah, okay! Just never heard it before. Thanks!
49 DXing : Ok, I'll bite and play devils advocate. Just taking a look at the terrain involved, the past history of the land and its people, and our past judgemen
50 GDB : The US might have had 325K troops in Korea (plus 1000's of others from Allies - including the UK), but they were fighting a large conventional war. Is
51 UH60FtRucker : Says the man who's never been to Afghanistan. Look, I find it really odd that you've suddenly turned 180 degrees on this subject. A very short time a
52 UH60FtRucker : But to answer your questions: Well like I said, since you haven't been there, I understand how you don't know. You don't need to control 100% of the l
53 WunalaYann : And I wish you and your brothers in arms the best of success in this daunting yet noble and invaluable task. Good luck and be safe.
54 Charles79 : UH60, your contributions are informative and insightful as always. Thanks! You mention three requirements here: change in tactics, more troops, and s
55 Post contains links NAV20 : About 'supply' - wonders never cease. Both NATO and the US can have a much more secure and defensible supply line any time they like - if they 'talk n
56 JFKMan : Obama will be forced to "widen" the war, if he wants to win it.
57 Post contains links and images Luv2fly : UH60FtRucker you are Da Man!
58 Post contains images DXing : Since the figure was from July of 1953, you do the math. ???? In what sense? But can read a map. We are talking about two different countries and two
59 GDB : DXing, UH-60 has called you out. (I seem to remember many US members of a certain political stripe (and way too much certainty all round), demanding a
60 DXing : And I've responded. I have not said that the battle in Afghanistan is wrong or that we should immediately withdraw as is the case of those people you
61 UH60FtRucker : I honestly did not bother to read a lot of what you wrote. You're no different than Falcon - framing every issue with your political ideology. If it
62 DXing : That's too bad. I've been ashamed of the way we left the people in Afghanistan hanging in the lurch since the Soviets pulled out in 1989. We used the
63 Post contains links NAV20 : It looks as if the situation in Afghanistan is 'developing' rapidly - in ways which appear to make it just about impossible to reinforce the region on
64 GDB : DXing, Korea was a conventional war. The USSR was attempting to subdue the whole of Afghanistan with massive and crude military force, largely with po
65 Baroque : Then I agree, but I am not so certain who Pakistan is fighting at present as you appear to be. In general, it appeared that the Russians were at leas
66 Klaus : I wouldn't say that. There basically wasn't an "afghan" government any more after the soviet invasion.
67 Post contains links DXing : Agreed. It also took X amount of troops to man the front line and secure what was the defacto "border" at that time. In seeking to "control" the bord
68 Charles79 : These developments are all very concerning and yet we are still debating about the economic stimulation at home. We need to put our ducks in a row ra
69 Post contains links Baroque : True and I too would recommend that but it appears that having tea with the PP does not necessarily influence the price of fish as it were. It seems
70 GDB : Krauthammer , stupid name, stupid guy. Another blowhard. Pakistan, since it's inception in 1947, has never had control over those areas of concern to
71 DXing : Tell that to the Chinese. Considering we didn't have any support bases in the region at the time, getting as many troops on the ground and in the fig
72 Post contains links Klaus : Since Afghanistan has been a major topic on the Munich Security Conference which has just ended on Sunday, I can very much recommend the interesting s
73 Post contains links NAV20 : Brief summary of what everyone said here:- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/world/europe/09munich.html?ref=world It looks as if the general feeling
74 Klaus : No, that is exactly not what was being said! Especially General Petraeus made a point of it, explicitly calling for a more integrated strategy with m
75 Post contains links NAV20 : Agree that there were many comforting references to the 'broad sunlit uplands' of 'reconstructing' Afghanistan, Klaus. But none of that can even begi
76 Charles79 : And this is why I'm so concerned about those areas and why I think the new POTUS should engage the PP at the earliest opportunity. The UAV attacks in
77 Post contains links Klaus : Belittling anything except core combat missions as somewhat silly embellishments is exactly what created the current situation. No, Petraeus understa
78 Post contains links NAV20 : My concern probably has its roots in an uncle of mine having served, many years ago, in the Essex Regiment (44th. Foot), Charles79. It's no coinciden
79 GDB : Dxing, the last time the Chinese were in action (not counting killing their own civilian's), was against Vietnam in 1979. Despite their numerical supe
80 Slider : Maybe it’s me, but when I see Gates’ name prefacing anything, I’m skeptical. For the record, even though this thread is about Afghanistan, no m
81 Klaus : Ah, the accusations again, now garnished with threats on top. Would you please cut it out? I seriously recommend you to listen to General Petraeus' s
82 Klaus : There's no doubt it won't be a picnic. Nice words alone will certainly not suffice, but with guys like Petraeus, Holbrooke and Jones that's not going
83 DXing : That they could afford to, and still can. They have a standing 2.5 million man army and population of 500 million plus to draw new recruits from. You
84 Charles79 : Several of us in here have been arguing this exact point, that conventional war strategies alone won't cut it in Afghanistan. I have handed heavy cri
85 Post contains links and images NAV20 : According to a pretty authoritative poll just published, that is pretty well the position. Only about half of the Afghans interviewed had any confide
86 DXing : Sounds vaguely familiar. I've still yet to see how more boots on the ground is going to solve anything. If it is to secure the border it's going to t
87 Baroque : And pass the smelling salts. Even more worrying is a US commentator I heard the other night likened Karzai now to Ngô Đình Diệm just prior to hi
88 NAV20 : Misunderstanding, DXing - I meant that the whole concept of 'hearts and minds' is 'boots on the ground.' Specifically, I knew people who served in Ma
89 Post contains links Baroque : For an account of how far they went in that direction try: "A face like a chicken's backside" http://connection.ebscohost.com/cont...3F802757E80BB6A1
90 GDB : Putting words (or intentions) in my mouth again Klaus, not only me on this site either, why don't you cut it out? Since I'll have to paint the picture
91 DXing : And again, that will take substanially more than the 17k or 30k that is being mentioned. How about if you look at the map of Aghanistan and then come
92 Baroque : Mmm except bearing history in mind: should be Any brief look at Afghanistan would show the nature of these people, their flexibility. ??? If you pay f
93 Post contains links NAV20 : Couldn't agree more about the numbers looking thin, DXing. I can't escape the feeling that the 'extra 30,000' figure may very well have been arrived a
94 Baroque : That seems to be the case. Basically reconstructing from now the logic that Rummie would (should) have applied to Afghanistan is the wrong way becaus
95 Klaus : No. Direct quote: That is quite clear, especially in context with your other statements. Sure you can do that. "Commanders actually out there" just u
96 Post contains links NAV20 : Intriguing article here, which sheds some direct light on the 'numbers' question:- "More revealing was a short paragraph about the same meeting, which
97 GDB : OK Klaus, put it another way, what if, in their areas of operation, things get bad for the German detacthment in Afghanistan. They require assistance,
98 Baroque : Don't worry Klaus, it will take more than Gen Petraeus to bury "offensive à outrance". Just the modern version tends to reverse the casualty count.
99 Klaus : The alternative to the separated mission would have been to not go to Afghanistan at all under Bush/Rumsfeld. Would you have preferred that? And no,
100 GDB : Klaus, Bush is gone, Rumsfeld has been gone for over two years. And the NATO mission was not deployed under 'their' doctrine or even their terms. A l
101 Post contains links NAV20 : Looks like all that can be spared by the US is 17,000 - obtained by diverting them from Iraq. Furthermore, it is not clear at present what they will a
102 StasisLAX : I thinks it's clear that the additional troops will be utilized to control the southern borders and sections of Afghanistan where the Taliban is gett
103 Baroque : Yes he is is gone and so is Rummie, but the facts on the ground in Afghanistan are by and large the ones they left. In particular a weak and corrupt
104 NAV20 : Fair enough, StasisLAX, on the face of it. But I'd imagine that today's soldiers are still taught the old 'one man per thousand inhabitants' rule of
105 Post contains images Klaus : Given that the strategy of all too often indiscriminate use of force under the assumption of "acceptable" losses among the civilian population has be
106 GDB : Y'know Klaus, this implication of yours, oft repeated, that the forces who are actually involved in very intense fighting, are cowboys calling on air
107 Baroque : GDB, how about lowering the level of internecine warfare and helping us out on this question?
108 StasisLAX : There is NO military solution for the crisis in Afghanistan. The single most effective step to successfully fight Islamic extremism in Afghanistan wou
109 Post contains links DXing : This story illustrates just how difficult the Afghan mission will be. I don't think 17K troops are going to cut it, especially if they are spread out
110 HAWK21M : True,But the present Government in PAK seems too weak to tackle the menace. regds MEL
111 Baroque : Hmmm. Tell them they will never play cricket again until they do!!
112 TheCol : Just the American military? They should be deployed there 24/7. Hopefully change can be made before Canada pulls out in 2011.
113 HAWK21M : sad for the game & the locals.....I'm surprised no one noticed the gunmen escape. regds MEL.
114 StasisLAX : Well, in the context of the Newsweek article. Obviously, it not just for the U.S. military or the U.S. taxpayers funding this war. It is for all part
115 Baroque : That seems to be one of the most significant bits of information about the whole deal, that and the 5 minute delay for the Pakistan bus. Too many int
116 NAV20 : Seven Pakistani policemen were apparently shot dead at the very beginning, Baroque. Personally, I'm prepared to wait for more information before I ju
117 Baroque : And the film of them strolling away after what 10 minutes or so of shooting, does not make you wonder? So far no idea exactly what to wonder about ex
118 Post contains images NAV20 : Of COURSE it does, Baroque. But I guess that you know as well as I do that if you don't 'set up' properly, 'Murphy's Law' dictates that you end up sh
119 Baroque : I admit that is very attractive. But this requires a double cock up of considerable proportions. Which makes me just a bit hesitant. Double cock ups
120 NAV20 : Knowing the 'sub-continent,' Baroque, the only thing we can be reasonably certain of is that we will never learn the exact truth..... Yair - and most
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