Thursday, 10 March 2011

Strategic Realities in Afghanistan

Common sense would tell you most of this but according to The Examiner the US Military is just waking up to it:

The CIA drone program in Pakistan is creating more terrorists than its killing and America’s dysfunctional diplomatic relations with Afghanistan’s neighbor has emboldened the Pakistani military and intelligence services to continue to aid and abet militants.
Above all, regardless if the Taliban kill more innocent Afghans than Western forces, civilian casualties at the hands of the ISAF have alienated the local populace more than anyone realizes. Plus, although ISAF forces are supposed to protect the population, the very presence of coalition soldiers in a village actually puts the lives of Afghan residents at risk, as Chivers wrote:
When Americans arrive in a new area, attacks and improvised bombs typically follow — making roads and trails more dangerous for the civilians whom, under current Pentagon counterinsurgency doctrine, the soldiers have arrived to protect.

US officials lose themselves in irrelevant minutia and are all about metrics it seems, such as number of Taliban killed or captured per day, reminiscent of the U.S. obsession with body count in Vietnam. However, they are missing the bottom-line figures – such as the fact that the Taliban movement has grown in size over the past five years from a few thousand fighters to approximately 25,000 – a number that has remained flat from a year ago. Hence, the infusion of an additional 30,000 American troops has had little impact overall.
Gains are fragile and temporary primarily because good governance is supposed to fill the vacuum after the coalition “clears” an area and topples the local Taliban shadow government. According to the Afghanistan Study Group, a recent analysis by Orbis Operations concluded something fairly obvious: reconstruction and development cannot alone “win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people without improvements in governance and security. Sadly, the report’s authors suggest the only answer might be to encourage corruption and local warlords to maintain peace and stability:
“…we most likely should continue allowing the Tweeds and Corleones to use development aid to strengthen their patronage networks.”
he morale is low among U.S. troops, many of whom have expressed doubts about the larger campaign’s prospects. And who can blame them? They are wondering about things such as how 100,000 troops are supposed to keep 30 million people secure. And are wondering how the U.S. can win the war with tactical victories while major strategic issues that are plaguing the operation go unresolved. One American colonel put it bluntly:
“You can keep trying all different kinds of tactics. We know how to do that. But if the strategic level isn’t working, you do end up wondering: How much does it matter? And how does this end?”


1 comment:

  1. Not sure the Pentagon is waking up to anything in Afghanistan. Coupled with the blackout provided by Libya, the U.S. media is running a dominant narrative of "winning." Propaganda flows freely over July and 2014, interchanging them between "withdrawal" and "transfer" dates. Apparently Obama's withdrawal is still on but this summer is make or break - a contradiction in forces - while Lashkar Gul is being transferred to the suspect Afghan police. July withdrawals are still a myth until proven real. That extra Marine unit Gates deployed in January could be the WH's scheme. All bad signs for the anti-war movement.