Oh I'm all fired up again. And you guessed it, it's about Afghanistan.
We're running a story on Military.com about a leaked strategy report on Afghanistan compiled by the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They're arguing that the national goals for Afghanistan should be dialed down, the objectives scaled back and the quest for democracy abandoned.
A report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff advises focusing more on squeezing Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside neighboring Pakistan while de-emphasizing longer-term goals for bolstering democracy.
So, is Pakistan all of the sudden going to let us send troops into the SWAT? Oooh, I get it, we're going to do war from a distance, launching hellfires at wedding ceremonies in Miran Shah from an air conditioned trailer in Nevada.
The Joint Chiefs' plan reflects growing worries that the U.S. military was taking on more than it could handle in Afghanistan by pursuing the Bush administration's broad goal of nurturing a thriving democratic government.
The plan calls for a more narrowly focused counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan and operations to root out militant strongholds along the Pakistani border and inside the neighboring country, according to officials who confirmed the essence of the classified report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan publicly.
And you think it was the Democrats who wanted to get out of Iraq? That it was Rumsfeld's fault for trying to get troops out of Iraq before "victory" was achieved? He was doing EXACTLY what the uniformed chiefs wanted. Get in, maneuver warfare, kick the government out and leave. Bing, bang, boom. And now they have an administration that cares so little about defense policy that they keep most of the same people from the Bush administration in place. They see an easy target to just roll over.
They want to get back to maneuver warfare training, big, set-piece tank and infantry battles against Soviet troops flowing across the Fulda gap. Artillery barrages, heliborne cavalry charges, massive parachute landings.
Just read what my colleague over at DoD Buzz found out about an Army captain who just completed his career course:
That the Armys big-battle mindset hasnt gone far, despite eight years spent fighting two counterinsurgency wars, can be seen in this article on the Small Wars Journal web site by an Army captain who recently completed the captains career course and had this to say: "With rare exception, the exercises which hone officers skills in these areas are focused on the conventional Fulda gap-style battle Despite all that has been written about third-generation warfare (Blitzkrieg) and fourth-generation warfare (state vs. non-state), we operated largely in the second generation of warfare."
Don't think for one second that this view isn't widespread within the Army. We all wondered how we could have given up all of that subject matter expertise in counterinsurgency warfare gained through all the blood and toil of Vietnam. Now you see why.
And here's the most laughable contention of the JCS...
Part of the recommended approach is to search for ways to work more intensively and effectively with the Pakistanis to root out extremist elements in the border area, the senior defense official said...
...The Joint Chiefs' report advises a greater emphasis on U.S. military training of Pakistani forces for counter-terror work. The training efforts also would expand and develop the Afghan army and police force, while at the same time work to improve Afghan governance.
First of all, we ARE training the Afghan army, and despite MSM reports, doing a pretty good, steady job of it. I commend the forces working closely with the Afghan troops and I know from first hand knowledge that they have a close, solid rapport with their Afghan brethren. But the most idiotic contention is that the Paks will root out the Taliban and, oh, that they'll take US training...Right...
The Paks have shown little interest in defeating the Taliban because they're far more focused on the external threat (real or imagined) by an ever more powerful India. And let's not forget, most of the Talibs and AQ folks are Pakistani...you think for one second the Pak army is going to enthusiastically fight their own -- many of whom have sympathy for that brand of Islam? Not a chance.
Just check out this amazing news report to see what I'm talking about...(notice the Pak tanks literally running away from battle...and did the morale sound good to you?)
So, what's the answer? I'm not sure. But it seems to me we need to keep the democratization and counterinsurgency effort going in Afghanistan. The way it's reported, the JCS plan is an excuse to abandon that country. People like Dave Petraeus, who were red headed step children in the institutional Army before Bush doubled down in Iraq, will (I pray) not allow this abandonment to happen. We owe it to the Afghans (with whom I have great personal affection and admiration) not to ever allow that country to descend into the Hobbesian miasma that it was from 1990 to 2001.
The Afghans will help us defeat the Taliban, contain militants in Pakistan and crush al Qaeda. We just need to stick with them and if some Pentagon brass think it's too much work, well tough noogies. Tell Gunny you can't hump that pack anymore because it's just too much of a burden and see what he says...that's what I say.