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stasisLAX
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Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:37 am

"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
 
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stasisLAX
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:26 am

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
 
Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:20 am



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.
 
GDB
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:46 am

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.
 
Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:45 pm

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]
 
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Mortyman
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:48 pm

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.
 
GDB
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:37 pm

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.
 
Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:02 pm



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.
 
cairo
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:46 pm



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
 
dxing
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:24 pm



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.
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Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:57 pm



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 
 
GDB
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:55 pm

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.
 
Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:11 pm



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.
 
dxing
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:32 pm



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.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:55 pm



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
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
dxing
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:08 pm



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.
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Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:31 pm



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.
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:49 pm



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
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:56 pm

Attack the Taliban from both fronts .....Via Afghanistan & thru Pakistan.But use US Troops.
regds
MEL
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cairo
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:55 pm



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
 
dxing
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:15 pm



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.
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stasisLAX
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:36 pm

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]
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HAWK21M
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:21 am



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.
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MEL
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:11 am

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.
 
baroque
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:11 am



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?
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:22 am



Quoting DXing (Reply 20):
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.

So how comes that the Brits were quite successfull with these tactics? See below:

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
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.

From what I've heard, in Vietnam, there was a constant conflict between Special Forces, who tried a community centered hearts and minds approach with imbedding soldiers in the villages and a kind of carpet bombing approach (best seen in the weekly "enemies killed" lists published by the Pentagon (and advocated by McNamara's corporate leadership types, who constantly insisted on statistical data) , which led to many innocent Vietnamese being killed to boost up a unit's body count, any farmer killed in his rice paddy was automatically counted as a Viet Cong) of the regular military. Thesetwo approachesclashed and endangered the Special Forces types, because they now had the problem of being seen as a "good" part in a "Good cop, bad cop" scenario.

Jan
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dxing
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:52 pm



Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
I've seen the film version of The Fog Of War

Then you really should read the book. Rarely, in my experience, does the movie match up in detail with the book.

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
But LBJ had real fears in this respect.

Then you'll have to point out sources because in all my reading on the subject not once was there a concern that the Soviet Union might actively engage in anything more than technical assistance which is what their "advisors" in Vietnam were there to do. The Soviet advisors supplied by Moscow were to teach the North Vietnamese how to best operate their surface to air missiles as well as repair and fly their Migs. There are consistent reports that some GRU intelligence types also interrogated some of our prisoners but no hard evidence exists to back it up.

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
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.

Which is the policy which you and others are advocating we follow by placing more "boots" on the ground. The problem with this kind of policy is it begets yet more boots on the ground as every time you add troops and things don't work out the way you planned then the civilian leaders are usually lulled into thinking that just a few more thousand will do the trick. Massive troop committment is not the way to win this kind of war or win the respect of these people.

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 25):
So how comes that the Brits were quite successfull with these tactics? See below:

Because different wars and different people require different tactics. We didn't put a whole bunch of troops down in Nicaragua during the 80's. We gave them supplies, funding, and in some limited cases training and let them fight their own fight.
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baroque
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:33 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 26):

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
But LBJ had real fears in this respect.

Then you'll have to point out sources because in all my reading on the subject not once was there a concern that the Soviet Union might actively engage in anything more than technical assistance which is what their "advisors" in Vietnam were there to do.

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 systems and the jet interceptors then. Nothing much in the general swing of things. Oh yes over 1000 AA guns and a few other things. And who knows what is on the black pages!

But I think you misinterpret the significance. You have the CIA saying " If these sources [Russian and Chinese] were denied, the VC/NVA forces would be deprived of their major offensive capabilities....." And this was only up to about the end of 1965.

If not enough, try
http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/star/images/041/0410583001.pdf

This guy saw fit to include it in a book (so it must be true).
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=...&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result

Other than the Russians in Vietnam, I was nodding a bit of furious agreement with some of your comment about Afghanistan DX. I know, it IS a worry.  Big grin
 
dxing
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:31 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 27):
So just the SAM systems and the jet interceptors then. Nothing much in the general swing of things. Oh yes over 1000 AA guns and a few other things

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 sufficed.
Warm winds blowing, heating blue skies, a road that goes forever, I'm going to Texas!
 
baroque
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:29 pm



Quoting DXing (Reply 28):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 27):
So just the SAM systems and the jet interceptors then. Nothing much in the general swing of things. Oh yes over 1000 AA guns and a few other things

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 sufficed.

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 about 1000 Chinese advisers (military technicians) were in N Vietnam. No numbers for Russians (although they could be in the blanked out pages) but for some reason their cost is lumped in with the Chinese personnel costs so there were some. The jet fighter training looks to have been done in China.

Depending on how you read it, there could have been 45,000 Chinese military positioned on the railway lines.

This link suggests the Soviets were busy as bees in Vietnam

http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/sovietunion/vietnam_working.htm

Early in the Vietnam War, a Soviet special group, or "spetsgruppa," composed of GRU officers and employees from various Soviet military industrial organizations, was deployed to North Vietnam to acquire captured American combat equipment and to arrange for shipment of this equipment to the Soviet Union for technical exploitation. Although the U.S. has no interest in the classified aspects of this program, Soviet spetsgruppa members and technicians may be able to provide new details about shoot-down incidents in North Vietnam. For instance, in 1992, representatives of Task Force Russia (the predecessor of JCSD) discovered an F-111 crew capsule at the Moscow Aviation Institute.

Some Soviet influence might be indicated by this:
http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2004/oct/goldgeierOct04.asp
The Nixon/Kissinger linkage strategy suggests that to combine carrots and sticks effectively across issue areas, policymakers need to both have something to offer and be able to deliver on what is being offered. What the Soviets wanted most was an American-Soviet alliance against China, something the U.S. was not prepared to pursue. One of Kissinger's chief aides, William Hyland, has written that "at one point [Soviet ambassador Anatoly] Dobrynin bluntly asked what was in it for Moscow if the Vietnam War ended. And Kissinger rather lamely suggested trade and a summit meeting."[5] You cannot dissuade another country with carrots if the prospective benefits don't outweigh the benefits the target state already receives from the unwanted behavior.
 
Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:51 pm



Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
Klaus, the whole my way or the highway was not really true about Afghanistan under Bush after 2001, neglect was though.

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 two-way communication as every other endeavour of the Bush administration.

The aggressive bombing campaigns which have turned an increasing number of afghans against the foreign troops were one of the issues where substantial differences existed between the american and particularly many european forces but no external ideas seem to have penetrated the Pentagon and the US-led NATO command.

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
It certainly won't be under Obama.

That's why I do indeed have some hope for an improvement of the main strategy.

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
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.

You know, permanently calling other people cowards is one thing. Using your own military more wisely to begin with is another.

Courage is made worthless when the goals and strategies are ill-conceived and headed for failure from the start.

And as you might be aware, we germans know a thing or two about that kind of thing, so nationalistic and militaristic propaganda is definitely not falling on fertile soil over here.
 
GDB
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:34 pm

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 numbers either, flexibility of those there too, peacekeepers, if the situation demands,have to able able to switch to war-fighting, maybe redeploying.
Did we learn nothing from the former Yugoslavia?

Let's just assume that a better plan for Afghanistan does emerge, one that meets the criteria stated, that has the support of the governments involved in Afghanistan. it might still require, at least for a time, more ground forces.
Obama asks, what then?

I don't like the crassness we've sometimes heard from the US in 2001-2008 either, but not all the criticism is rude, ignorant, plain unfair.
Rumsfeld is long gone, Thankfully.
More moderate voices have questioned the commitments of some - again, Germany is not even the main culprit here, far from it.

Dxing, all Cold War US Presidents were constrained to some extent.
If Saddam had invaded Kuwait 10 years before - instead of Iran, the West could not have responded as it did in 1990/91.
Not just with the available forces, but the threat to oil supplies would have to weighed against the prospect of an escalation involving the USSR.
You might have had the lightly equipped US Rapid Deployment Force going in to guard Saudi oil fields and with some aviation and naval assets, hope that presence would deter.
A Desert Shield Lite.
(Conversely, the USSR would likely have warned Saddam off in the first place too).

The only logical way to 'win' in Vietnam, would have been to knock out the North Vietnamese leadership.
With ground forces, a full scale invasion.
Even with the draft, where would the greatly increased forces come from for this? Not from Europe or South Korea in the Cold War, much of the heavily equipped US forces based at home were slated to reinforce NATO in a time of tension too.

Also, it wasn't just being more experienced in the parts of the world involved, that led to the approach of the UK in the operations I mentioned.
Quite simply, the country did not have the assets to do a Vietnam style effort, even scaled down to reflect the extent of these conflicts.
They HAD to find another way.
 
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:06 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 29):
Well it might. Then again, most of the guns were radar controlled so a bit of direct instruction probably helped.

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 were the leaders in keeping it simple.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 29):
Depending on how you read it, there could have been 45,000 Chinese military positioned on the railway lines.

According to the link they were guarding the railways up near their border. Nowhere have I seen anything other than technical assistance provided to run technical items. No troop advisers to speak of.

Quoting GDB (Reply 31):
The only logical way to 'win' in Vietnam, would have been to knock out the North Vietnamese leadership.

Which our political leadership would not have stood for. What the Soviets or the Chinese would have done did not enter much into the equation.
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Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:46 pm



Quoting GDB (Reply 31):
Not calling anyone cowards Klaus, (which I suspect you know),

I find it increasingly difficult to say, looking at the direction your side remarks keep taking. I was just tired of the implications.

Quoting GDB (Reply 31):
but I am thinking that there was a naivety in those crowds.

The Berlin audience for Obama had a large number of american expatriates in it, and obviously the main appeal was that Obama stood for a totally different position of the USA in fundamental matters, hence the cheers. (I'd guess that most of the handful of Bush fans just stayed at home for the occasion.)

I have watched a number of interviews with people from that crowd and most were ultimately realistic in their expectations of what Obama would be able to do on his own, but all were hopeful that he would change things for the better, especially regarding american foreign policy.

People were having fun while looking at a plausible contender for the office of PotUS – can you blame them under the circumstances?
 
Charles79
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:44 pm



Quoting StasisLAX (Reply 1):
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?

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 way in which the US government handled that war. Of course, hindsight vision is seldom wrong and revising history seems to be a political passtime for many. Having said that, I understand why the urge to compare this war--in fact, any war--with previous conflicts, always trying to draw some resemblence. I personally don't claim to be a Vietnam War expert by any means but I cannot draw the same conclusion nor declare that Afghanistan will be America's new Vietnam.

What I do know is that the new administration has the opportunity to ensure that it DOES NOT become the new Vietnam. How to accomplish that tall order is certainly beyond my critical thinking abilities...that's why we pay big bucks to the policy makers! I do hope, though, that the Administration does not forget that the solution does not have to be exclusively a military one. As DXing has already pointed out this is not the type of conflict where hundreds of thousands of troops will necessarily make a substantial difference. I know that the commanders on the ground have been calling for more troops but if you listen to them they never request more than, say, 30 or 40K additional forces.

Now, if the solution is not entirely a military one then what else can we do for Afghanistan? I think the US government--scratch that, the coalition--has to decide what is the objective of this campaign first. In a way you can possibly say that the Bush administration neglected the conflict and the current situation is a direct result of that, but I haven't heard much from the coalition partners (UK, Germany, NATO, et al) nor from the UN, or even from the new administration, as to what is the desired outcome. Is it to establish a democratic government, or at the very least a stable form of government? Is the goal to maintain the territorial integrity of the land, or could we accept a fragmented Afghanistan like it is today, with a loose central government? And what about the economy, how do we stimulate it, how do we create jobs, how do we convince the poppy farmers to switch to corn or something? And of course what is the strategy to ensure that a Taliban doesn't resurface or that AQ never finds safe harbor again?

I do not envy Obama at all right now because his decision can dictate whether we end up with Vietnam part II or not. I just hope that we haven't gotten into a new Vietnam yet.
 
NAV20
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:05 am

Quoting Charles79 (Reply 34):
Now, if the solution is not entirely a military one then what else can we do for Afghanistan? I think the US government--scratch that, the coalition--has to decide what is the objective of this campaign first.

Agree entirely, Charles79. You can't have a 'plan' until you have first established the 'objective.'

Worth remembering why we got involved in Afghanistan in the first place. It was originally a matter of 'hot pursuit' of Bin Laden - NOT capturing the place. In fact, coalition forces did very little fighting, the strategy consisted of giving weapons and air support to the Northern Alliance and other 'anti-Taliban' groups.

Once the Taliban was driven underground the Northern Alliance and other such groups were cobbled together into a puppet government - which is deeply unpopular with the Afghan people, because what said 'government' appears mostly to be doing is sitting tight in Kabul while siphoning off as much money as possible into their Swiss bank accounts......

Personally I see no point in staying there. It's perfectly clear that the problem of 'terrorism' is no respecter of geography. There are 'terrorist cells' all over the world - it's crazy even to think that they'll all somehow 'oblige' the Pentagon by making their way to Afghanistan and queueing up to be killed by the 'coalition.'

In actual fact, the occupation of Afghanistan is probably making things worse. The main 'strategy' currently being pursued is to send unmanned drones over the Tribal Areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, taking photographs and sending back video pictures. If any 'targets' are identified (meaning buildings which are 'suspected' of bring used by terrorists) the drones are sent over again, this time with bombs.

That strategy is inevitably causing a constant drain of innocent civilian casualties; all of whom will be mourned by relatives and friends. The effect of which is presumably to provide a constant flow of recruits into the terrorist organisations........not just from the Tribal Areas, but from all over Afghanistan and Pakistan.

So, IMO, staying in Afghanistan isn't just un-productive - it's very probably downright counter-productive.

[Edited 2009-02-02 18:06:47]
"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
 
Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:32 am



Quoting Charles79 (Reply 34):
but I haven't heard much from the coalition partners (UK, Germany, NATO, et al) nor from the UN, or even from the new administration, as to what is the desired outcome.

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 goals of the sitting US administration.

Basically everybody agrees that the desired outcome would be a stable afghan nation, with a prosperous and well-educated population and the Taliban without support and ideally out of the picture entirely.

The trouble was that the Bush administration basically had the same limited ideas about winning hearts and minds as in Iraq, with foreign ideas being pretty much ignored and unwelcome.

The more the Iraq invasion soured the german population about the US leadership, the less political support was there to put our troops under that same command; Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib basically made it a political impossibility. A separate mission in a separate region was the only viable option under the circumstances, establishing a quasi-parallel strategy in the quieter northern part of Iraq.

All of that simultaneously stands in the context of a still rather recent re-orientation of the german military after spending almost the entire post-war era in a strictly limited defensive mission exclusively on home soil, not least due to suspicious neighbours and the obvious historical ballast.

And of course the political situation had to adapt to the radical changes in the last two decades as well. Uniting two countries which had been front states in enemy camps before (including the two formerly antagonistic militaries!) , funding the rebuilding of the former GDR, turning the role definition of the newly united military around by at least 90 degrees, funding various expensive military programs on the way and in all this still-provisional situation developing alternative strategies for the Afghanistan campaign – we've hat our plate quite full, all in all!

NATO is a sad chapter in the Afghanistan mission. The Bush administration had wanted to circumvent NATO as far as possible (apparently in order to avoid "interference" by the other member nations) even though 9/11 clearly invoked the defense status of the alliance. In the end it was basically the europeans who pushed NATO as a framework for Afghanistan, but the Bush administration still preferred to sidestep NATO where they would have had to involve others in the decisionmaking process.

The situation today is a sad combination of blunders, misconceptions, limitations, frustration and failure on various sides, with the Taliban exploiting every weakness with considerable skill and their usual ruthlessness.

Picking up the pieces and forging a more consistent and more differentiated strategy could make a major difference, and Obama might be somebody who could actually get somewhere, especially with a more constructive cooperation with the other partners and above all a new set of rules and priorities.
 
GDB
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:50 pm

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 military adage was still true, Plan's do not survive contact with the enemy.
This is where the previous neglect from 2001 was shown up.

NATO should have been in there, in strength, from 2001.

However, I cannot agree with the remarks about the use of air-power.
If you are in a major firefight, often from several directions, possibly seriously outnumbered, if it's available you use air-power.
As carefully as possible, but 'carpet bombing' is not happening.
The Taliban deliberately embed themselves amongst civilians, after all, they've been forcing kids, the mentally handicapped, be be suicide bombers.
I'd save the indignation for them.

If there were more troops on the ground, many air-strikes would not have been called, (remember too, often the combat is often intense and at close quarters, having to call in an air-strike in these circumstances is a serious risk to the NATO troops doing so and their have been casualties).
So I doubt the stereotype of a Western Solider acting like he's playing a video game.

If circumstances cause German troops to be in these sorts of situations, they'll maybe have to do the same.

The Drones are controversial, however, despite the (politically necessary) public indignation, I doubt the Pakistani government really opposes them.
Their troops are fighting that war too.
The militants are their enemy as well.
Their use does seem to be getting numbers of senior militants, they can draw on a vast reservoir of manpower, but not of leadership personnel.
Who knows? They might even get Bin Laden.
But it is not a good idea long term, the risk of innocents being killed is real, has no doubt happened.

Their use could also inflame further the fractious political situation in Pakistan, with potentially dire consequences.
Where do you find the balance?
 
baroque
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:57 am



Quoting GDB (Reply 37):
The Drones are controversial, however, despite the (politically necessary) public indignation, I doubt the Pakistani government really opposes them.
Their troops are fighting that war too.
The militants are their enemy as well.
Their use does seem to be getting numbers of senior militants, they can draw on a vast reservoir of manpower, but not of leadership personnel.
Who knows? They might even get Bin Laden.
But it is not a good idea long term, the risk of innocents being killed is real, has no doubt happened.

Their use could also inflame further the fractious political situation in Pakistan, with potentially dire consequences.
Where do you find the balance?

To judge from the results, not where it has been.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 36):
The more the Iraq invasion soured the German population about the US leadership, the less political support was there to put our troops under that same command; Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib basically made it a political impossibility. A separate mission in a separate region was the only viable option under the circumstances, establishing a quasi-parallel strategy in the quieter northern part of Iraq.

The extent to which those two phenomena, and the US duck shovelling associated with them, made the US administration close to a contact poison seems to be underestimated.

The world has been endlessly lectured on the primacy of human rights for something like 50 years, and then suddenly, short term aims have them going out of the window while attempts were made to claim nothing had changed.

It was not only the German population that was soured.

Obama offered the possibility of a change, whether or not this will be realised in actual performance. Just the possibility of a change was a great advance.
 
GDB
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:34 pm

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', more like Amateur 70080 Hours . (Yes, that's 8 years worth).

However, there is a caveat, of course torture, the secret prisons, the renditions, are unacceptable in any situation.
Or Invading a country dubiously and with no coherent Post War plan.

Other things, not like the above but maybe not to many people's tastes, can be the result of getting ones hands dirty on the shop floor, it's easy to judge on cleanliness from the office.
 
NAV20
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:41 am

If the 'enemy' can go on doing this sort of thing, coalition forces may actually find themselves facing defeat:-

"PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - Assailants torched 10 trucks stranded in Pakistan by the bombing of a key bridge on the main supply route for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.

"Increasing attacks on transport depots and truck convoys heading to bases across the border have raised doubts about Pakistan's ability to protect the vital road as the U.S. prepares to send as many as 30,000 more American forces into Afghanistan this year.

"Attackers set fire to at least 10 trucks parked overnight near Landi Kotal, a town close to the famed Khyber Pass that connects Pakistan with Afghanistan, local government official Fazl Rabi said.

"The trucks were returning from Afghanistan and it was unclear if they had carried goods for foreign troops, Rabi said.

"U.S. officials have played down any concern about running out of food or fuel, despite pressure on their supply lines. American forces stockpile enough supplies to last 60-90 days in the event that their supply chain is severed, U.S. officials say."


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/n...sns-ap-as-pakistan,0,5865277.story

More than half the coalition's supplies have to be trucked in along that single road - which is virtually impossible to guard or defend as it runs through high mountains most of the way. Bringing in another 30,000 troops or so would vastly compound the developing supply problem.
"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
 
baroque
Posts: 12302
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:27 am



Quoting GDB (Reply 39):
However, there is a caveat, of course torture, the secret prisons, the renditions, are unacceptable in any situation.
Or Invading a country dubiously and with no coherent Post War plan.

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 that the US threatened to stop sharing intelligence with the UK over an alleged torture case.

In a ruling, the judges said the US had forced the UK to suppress information about Binyam Mohamed, a former UK resident who claims he was tortured.

But the foreign secretary said there had been "no threat" from the US.


Someone is being economical with the truth. The least likely candidates would appear to be Thomas J, and Jones J.

I wonder what Obama has "ruled".
 
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stasisLAX
Posts: 2924
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:25 am

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 40):
More than half the coalition's supplies have to be trucked in along that single road - which is virtually impossible to guard or defend as it runs through high mountains most of the way

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 Bishkek , which was established in late 2001 at the start of the Afghan war.

"The president of Kyrgyzstan said Tuesday that his government had decided to close the last remaining American air base in Central Asia, a move that could present a significant setback to U.S. plans to send more troops to Afghanistan and to open new supply routes that would allow NATO to reduce shipments through a dangerous corridor in Pakistan."

"Located outside Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, the base has largely been used as a transit point for U.S. and European troops and nonlethal supplies into Afghanistan, and as a parking lot for the large refueling aircraft used in the Afghan conflict. About 1,000 U.S. military personnel are currently based there. After Uzbekistan expelled U.S. troops from its territory in 2005, Manas became the only U.S. air base in the region. The flight to the Bagram Air Base near Kabul can be made in as little as two hours, compared with six to eight hours from Saudi Arabia."

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2009020303459.html?wprss=rss_world

And I must say that I applaud the thought-provoking discourse in this thread. Very good stuff, ladies and gentlemen.  bigthumbsup 

[Edited 2009-02-04 21:54:48]
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety!" B.Franklin
 
UH60FtRucker
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:05 am

- 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, but lack the manpower to control vast stretches). We need to fill those gaps, by adding more troops and better interconnecting the patrolling soldiers/aircraft, in order to create a seamless border. Additional troops must be moved into the populated zones to conduct small unit security patrols. And we need to establish the rule that any person not crossing at designated check points along the borders, would be subject to immediate attack.

- We need to work with the Pakistani government to establish a 20-30nm buffer zone east of the border, where we are permitted to conduct air strikes, and small team insertions, to attack against insurgent border crossing points, and terrorist staging points. For all practical purposes, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is nothing more than a line on the map. You only know you're crossing it, because your GPS says so. So we can't allow it be be this impenetrable wall, denying us the ability to strike terrorists living on the other side.

- We need to increase spending on Afghani infrastructure. We have helped raise the average per capita income by 67%, and we need to help double that. We have dramatically slashed the infant mortality rate, and we need to continue to work to lower it. We need to continue building schools - tens of thousands of Afghani children are attending school thanks to new schools built by coalition forces - this needs to continue. We need to provide incentives to return the opium fields to pomegranate and cotton fields. We need to help provide cheaper energy, and more widely available energy. Afghanistan has the ability to dramatically improve the standard of living, but they need our help to do it.

- We need to support Pakistani democracy. Invading their territory, conducting deep strikes, and humiliating them, will not secure us a safe future. There is nothing wrong with working with local tribes, forging deals, and creating alliances. People criticize that we do this in Iraq - yet their cooperation to remain peaceful has created the safe environment needed to begin serious reconstruction of their society. The same should be done in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Basically we need to be smart about this. We will not be able to bomb them into submission - and this is coming from a die-hard soldier!! We need to cut the legs out from underneath the Taliban, and do so in a different fashion: by taking their base of support. Their supporters, needs to become OUR supporters. And we do that by accomplishing the goals I laid out, above.

Secure the area of operation with a large force, provide dramatic improvements in the daily lives of the average citizen, and conduct well-measured strikes of opportunity against the enemy.

The Aharon Doctrine.
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:54 am



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 43):
People criticize that we do this in Iraq

I think it goes without saying that such critics are representative of the most base level of ignorance and arrogance, whichever comes first. Every time I hear people say that "those people can't be reasoned with", I cringe from head to toe. Some people just haven't the first clue what this fight really entails on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis.
If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
 
Klaus
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Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2001 7:41 am

RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:04 pm

Quoting GDB (Reply 37):
Klaus, I don't disagree with your view on the history, so far, of the Afghan mission.

Okay.

Quoting GDB (Reply 37):
However, I cannot agree with the remarks about the use of air-power.
If you are in a major firefight, often from several directions, possibly seriously outnumbered, if it's available you use air-power.

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 be doing.

I'm talking about the level of strategic planning, however, and there it is a narrow-minded military-centered strategy which ultimately puts the military in the position where it has no other option left but to bomb local villages because the infrastructure for a more intelligent approach has not been created by the responsible political leadership. Which does indeed go to neglect again.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 38):
The extent to which those two phenomena, and the US duck shovelling associated with them, made the US administration close to a contact poison seems to be underestimated.

"Duck shovelling"? Never heard that. How does that expression work? 

Quoting Baroque (Reply 38):
It was not only the German population that was soured.

Indeed not.

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 43):
Basically we need to be smart about this. We will not be able to bomb them into submission - and this is coming from a die-hard soldier!! We need to cut the legs out from underneath the Taliban, and do so in a different fashion: by taking their base of support. Their supporters, needs to become OUR supporters. And we do that by accomplishing the goals I laid out, above.

Secure the area of operation with a large force, provide dramatic improvements in the daily lives of the average citizen, and conduct well-measured strikes of opportunity against the enemy.

The Aharon Doctrine.

And in the strategic context you've given I'd say we're pretty much on the same page, including specific military changes where they're needed to support a comprehensive strategy.

You don't stop thinking at the immediate military level, which is the crucial point. I hope and have some measure of confidence that your new leadership has a very similar agenda.

Afghanistan will probably put additional (or at least changed) demands on Germany as well, but under a changed strategy I expect that there will be a much higher level of support for that, even though it's still not going to be a walk in the park.

All the best to you and your family!

[Edited 2009-02-05 05:07:16]
 
NAV20
Posts: 8453
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:25 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 45):
"Duck shovelling"? Never heard that. How does that expression work?

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 and water and then 'strain out' the tiny amounts of food in it, discarding the rest.........

Much like what happened in Gaza the other week. Drop a 2,000-pound bomb on a township, destroying maybe 20 houses and their occupants, in the hope that you may kill one 'terrorist.'
"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
 
baroque
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:30 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 45):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 38):
The extent to which those two phenomena, and the US duck shovelling associated with them, made the US administration close to a contact poison seems to be underestimated.

"Duck shovelling"? Never heard that. How does that expression work?

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.com.au/couriermail/c...s/0,23836,24274706-5003402,00.html
It would be like duck shoveling memo's from departments to departments. Nothing is ever going to happen and no one will be to blame as it's a company and there is "Limited Liability".
https://secure.wilderness.org.au/cyberactivist/cyberactions/07_11_pulp-mill-comments.php?page=38
I don't trust Gunns to be environmentally responsible.
Aren't we just duck shovelling?
We will have to import our paper from somewhere.


I am not sure if its origin relates to the quantities of mud that a duck deals with while feeding or the unpleasantness of trying to shovel the end product of ducks, but it implies an attempt to move something that is not highly successful.

More generally, I certainly agree that the Taliban have probably figured out how not to be bombed into submission. I am less sure how what is essentially a free fire zone 30 nm wide would work. If you were the Talibs, would you not move to the 35 nm zone?

Schools are certainly where a start must be made. The trouble is that the west will never be trusted with selection of the staff. And that is where the Saudis will lend a "helping hand". They have been "at it" for more than 20 years, they are the declared protectors of the faith. It is going to be bloody difficult.
 
Klaus
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:34 pm



Quoting NAV20 (Reply 46):
Guess I can help there, Klaus.

Ah, okay! Big grin
Just never heard it before.

Thanks!
 
dxing
Posts: 5859
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RE: Obama "Unlikely" To Widen The Afghan War

Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:15 pm

Ok, I'll bite and play devils advocate.

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 43):
- 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, but lack the manpower to control vast stretches). We need to fill those gaps, by adding more troops and better interconnecting the patrolling soldiers/aircraft, in order to create a seamless border.

Just taking a look at the terrain involved, the past history of the land and its people, and our past judgements at what it would take to completely secure an area with a maginot type line I have to wonder if even 30k would be enough. And what happens when it turns out that it isn't? Send in another 30k? Sounds vaugely familiar. We had 325k total U.S. forces in Korea in July 1953 and that border is signifcantly shorter than the one between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Vietnam we had even more and the border was still not quite as long as the Afghan/Pakistan border. I understand UAV's as well as electronic monitoring have come a long way since Korea and Vietnam but you would also have to admit they can be defeated.

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 43):
Additional troops must be moved into the populated zones to conduct small unit security patrols. And we need to establish the rule that any person not crossing at designated check points along the borders, would be subject to immediate attack.

Isn't that just what the Taliban wants? To be able to point to those kinds of patrols to impress upon the locals about how the country is now "occupied"? If we start shooting people who cross the border somewhere besides a checkpoint at the Afghan/Pakistan border, why not between the United States and Mexico? In both examples you are truly denying someone due process since dead is not something that can be appealed or overturned. Obviously the Taliban are not wearing a standardized uniform which denotes them as military personel.

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 43):
- We need to work with the Pakistani government to establish a 20-30nm buffer zone east of the border, where we are permitted to conduct air strikes, and small team insertions, to attack against insurgent border crossing points, and terrorist staging points.

So what is to keep the Taliban from falling back and addition 1nm beyond the 20-30nm buffer zone to set up camp and logistics? Are you suggesting that the Bush administration never asked for that kind of permission?

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 43):
So we can't allow it be be this impenetrable wall, denying us the ability to strike terrorists living on the other side.

Wherever you set the wall down and say we won't go any further, the opposing force will just move past that. The Taliban and AQ obviously have the support of the local tribes in Pakistan or the money offered on their heads would have gotten them turned in long ago.


I agree with your ideas on infrastructure, changing the cash crop, and advocating better democracy in Pakistan are dead on but saying that the border can be sealed by just tossing in more troops against an insurgency is a line I've heard once before in my life and seen disproven. Winning the hearts and minds by overwhelming the local populace also hasn't worked out so well in some cultures either. I have a difficult time believing you would want to attack on sight when there is no standard military uniform involved. That just begs one horrible accident to occur after another.
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