McChrystal: Bigger force a must for Afghan war

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    well- the President is now faced with a tough decision- but he has no choice from my perspective. He campaigned on a platform that called Afghanistan the priority war rather than Iraq. He relieved the CDR in Afghanistan and replaced him with LTG McChrystal. He doesn't really have any choice but to follow this recommendation. Interestingly- I don't hear folks in Congress calling for more international support as they did when berating the last administration in Iraq- apparently it has become clear that the number of countries involved is not much of a yardstick for measuring success nor much of a relief of the burden. Our NATO allies can be counted on mostly when there is no risk of opposition - for example the death of 6 Italian soldiers in an IED explosion last weekend has the Prime Minister calling to withdraw all Italian troops. Similar debates are ongoing in Germany whose troops are mostly sitting in the North doing virtually nothing (not to mention the UN where about 50 countries pledged Billions in reconstruction support to Afghanistan - the actual trickle is negligable.)

    http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/09/ap_mcchrystal_troops_needed_afghanistan_092109/

    "WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan has told him that without more troops the United States could lose the war that Obama has described as the nation’s foremost military priority.

    Obama must now decide whether to commit thousands of additional American forces or try to hold the line against the Taliban with the troops and strategy he has already approved. Obama made clear in television interviews Sunday that he is reassessing whether his narrowed focus on countering the Afghan insurgency is working and will not be rushed into a decision about additional troops.

    “Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal wrote in a five-page summary of the war as he found it upon taking command this summer"...
    In his blunt assessment of the tenacious Taliban insurgency, McChrystal warned that unless the U.S. and its allies gain the initiative and reverse the momentum of the militants within the next year the U.S. “risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”
     
  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Ah the mark of politicians :basically fiddling while Rome burns in search of the elusive easy button. For all George Bush was taken to task for the line "staying the course"; in counterinsurgencies it is the only path to success.You have to prepare to be there for the long haul & you can't change your strategy (although you can change your tactical approach) every 6 months because things turn out to be more difficult than the most optimistic of your advisors or polls promised you. Nothing has really changed since last March when we sent a Marine brigade there and authorized about 20,000 more troops- except perhaps the resolve of our leadership.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/21/AR2009092103774.html?hpid=topnews
    "Obama's public remarks on Afghanistan indicate that he has begun to rethink the counterinsurgency strategy he set in motion six months ago, even as his generals have embraced it. "
     
  3. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    I have a couple of questions for you guys and would like your points of view.

    How would you define success in Afghanistan?
    What happens when we "win" and how do we know we have "won"?
    Anyone want to wager a guess on how long it will take to win?

    As far as the administration goes - they can't think too long about this. They have had time to get with the program and figure it out. Soon it will be time to $hit or get off the pot.
    Some are saying that Gen McCrystal's Confidential report was leaked to Woodward, and not from the White House but from the military.
    While one could debate the ethics of a military officer leaking a confidential report to the press; the result has brought the conversation out and it will pressure Obama to make a decision sooner than later.
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    This sort of idea what brought up in a briefing with General Paxton last week. A question from one of the observers.....are our allies doing enough. The response centered around knowing the limits of our allies. While Americans have some idea of a German army, that army isn't a 1/10 of the size it used to be. In fact, most of our allies have militaries generally for defense. We can demand more and more, and our allies give what they can, BUT we have to know when asking for more puts an ally to the breaking point, something that means they have to pull out all together and regroup.
     
  5. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    LITS - great point.

    tpg - so our original mission, to get Osama bin Laden and drive the Taliban from power has evolved to one of Nation building.
    If that is the case and we are going to Nation build then we definitely need more "resources". I also don't see this as a 4-6 year exercise; I think it will take much longer than that.
    It seems to me the prudent thing to do is articulate specific goals and the means by which to attain those goals. I am not sure that the American people are ready to admit to nation building. It's one thing to go after the bad guys (al Queda) but a whole 'nother issue to commit to spending years (decades) in developing a new government and nation.
    The administration can pretend that we are doing one thing (going after bad guys) but really do another (nation build) but sooner or later the people catch on and say enough is enough.
     
  6. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Well- JAM asks the $64,000 question to which there is no perfect answer- what follows is my humble opinion- which pretty much dovetails with TPG's opinion. FYI- there are more than just the Marines in Afghanistan- who are pretty recent arrivals meant to take the fight south to Kandahar and Helmand where the Brits and Canadians have been stretched to breaking. The Army has been rotating basically a BCT with a divisional HQ from either the 173d Abn Bde; 82d; 101st or 10th Mtn for the last 6 years- but that effort has been pretty much focused in the North East border with Pakistan in Kunar & Paktika provinces. The entire rest of the US contingent in Afghanistan has been mostly a giant log tail in Bagram AB- Which means that most of the rest of the country has been relatively empty of significant combat forces. So not only has there been not enough focus on providing security to the disparate portions of the country - essentially ceding control to a resurgent Taliban but also not enough PRTs (Provincial Reconstruction Teams) to assist in infrastructure development and when there is a PRT- often very little security to enable them to execute. Likewise the MTTs that are embedded with the ANA- you can't even train in nonsecure areas- so throwing a half dozen US in a newly formed ANA battalion won't get you too far unless they have the equipment, and security to train for extended periods of time.
    So what needs to be done?
    Security. First requirement of combatting an insurgency. The ANA and National Police are not prepared to provide security- the ANA is at least slowly coming up to some degree of efficiency while the police have really very little capability or credibility. But getting up to a reasonable size and level of competence requires some degree of stability- which means that given the level that you are starting with in those organizations- they have to rely on the coalition forces (essentially the US forces). No security- nothing else will matter. So- when Sen Levin says we should turn it over to the Afghans- he's right- just 5 years premature as I believe that's about the length of time it will take to get an Afghan National Army of the size and strength needed to provide relative security to most of the population. In the meantime either we put in forces commensurate to the task to cover much of the country and go after the Taliban before they get themselves completely entrenched in the next 6- 12 months or else it will flop.

    Infrastructure. Frankly- I don't understand how the Loya Jerga (the national constitutional congress which adopted this constitution in 2004)wound up adopting the governmental model it did as Afghanistan has no history of a atrong central government. However be that as it may- no government will have any credibility without a functioning infrastructure- starting with Roads. Without that - it's too easy to disrupt, too difficult to respond to insurgent activity in a timely manner and too difficult to build anything like schools or regional businesses that rely on transporting product from the production area to markets. So to build that infrastructure requires money and resources(which many members of the UN pledged in 2003 and 2004 but almost none have provided) and security. I don't frankly give the NATO allies much credit - their capabilities are basically limited by their own decisions to barebones fund their military establishments , combined with a mind set that sees any deployable military mission as strictly UN type Peacekeeping missions which in reality are not combat missions at all and which generally try to be disinterested bystanders in any conflicts (and having served in Lebanon with the UN long ago- disinterested is code word for useless). The only countries that actually have their soldiers deliberately in harms way in Afghanistan are the Brits, the Canadians and the Dutch- the rest are there for PR purposes.

    So what is success from our standpoint? When can we draw down to an advisory sized effort? I would say that it is when we see relative security in the population centers around the country, significant transportation infrastructure in place or being built on a timeline that will not be significantly delayed by Taliban efforts to halt them; and a trained National army of >250,000- 300,000 soldiers capable of sustained independent actions. As far as some of the unnamed advisors who are spewing out theories like: we will perform CT against Al Quaeda in Pakistan as our major effort- these are the same guys who have been bemoaning the Arab world's turning against us. Now they believe that we can announce a policy of going into a sovereign- relatively functional state at our choosing and they believe this will arrest our declining image in the Islamic world?! They are out to lunch. Our reputation in the Arab and Afghan street is going to be made or broken by staying in Afghanistan; breaking the back of the insurgency and giving them the tools to make it a fucntional national government. It doesn't have to be a 21st Century Liberal Democracy (and it's not going to be that in the 22d century much less in a couple of years)- but it has to be seen as being in reasonable control of its territory.
     
  7. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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  8. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    JAM:
    Just the opinion of a naive old squid. Nation Building(I hate that phrase) is the only option we have in Afghanistan. Until the Afghan Nation can protect it's borders and citizens, terrorist will continue to use that area as a safe haven to strike at us at will. Without a unified Afghanistan nation we as a country will be required to combat these terrorist organizations whether they be taliban or whoever for the foreseeable future. To assist the Afghanistan's to form a unified nation we must provide them with two things guidance and time, time being the most important of the two, or we could just nuke the entire area.
     
  9. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    g
    The Department of State- moving with Glacial rapidity has still not approved the Reserve component of the Civilian Reserve Corps program and it has a 50 total folks- so unless you are already a DOS employee they have no mechanism for utilizing the vast reservoir of experienced nongovernmental citizens out there who could assist in reconstruction efforts. The USAID reps on the PRTs in Iraq are seriously undermanned. Meanwhile because of the security issues international NGOs (NonGovernmental Organizations - for example International Red Cross etc...) are understandably unwilling to travel outside Kabul. So the burden falls primarily on military PRTs (Provincial Reconstruction Teams) which were largely composed of Reserve Civil Affairs units and which are now joint operations as the Army CA community has basically run out of people. For example I know of one PRT where the command was turned over to a Navy O-5 submariner (what a surprise that was to him to get that assignment!). But the State Department and NGOs also resent the military PRTS encroaching on what they see as "their turf" despite the limitations imposed by security and respources. It's a mess. Bottom line- there is no hope for success without more resources for security and a coordinated effort at multiple levels - and faith by the Afghans that the US will not just pick up and go when things get sporty- which the administration is certainly not projecting right now. I can't imagine what "respected military advisors" Mrs Clinton is referring to in the quote in the London Times- but I have not seen any of those opinions published anywhere and even the most "straight leg" Armor officer understands enough about Counterinsurgency and CT operations to know that security is the basic fundamental that has to be provided and I'm pretty sure that no one in JSOC would argue that LTG McChrystal doesn't know how CT works and what the chances are of eradicating Al Qaeda while still leaving a huge swath of instability in Afghanistan. How long will it take to stabilize Afghanistan? How long did it take in Sri Lanka against the "Tamil Tigers"? Answer - a long time, but you can succeed.
     
  10. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Well, look at the Brits in Malaysia. It took them a decade of relatively focused work, and they did some things that the US probably wouldn't seriously consider (building secure towns and forced relocation, etc).
     
  11. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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  12. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    Gen McChrystal will be reassigned and replaced by a Gen who will submit a plan more to the liking of the administration. This pattern will continue until a plan is submitted that has the best chance of making a majority of the voters happy. (politically correct)
    This is My opinion and unsubstantiated by facts
     
  13. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    tpg:
    Interesting question of who leaked the report. My theory is who would gain from it. The Military I don't think so.
    #1 As a member of the military it's not a good idea to get in a peeing contest with the Commander in Chief. see MacArthur vs Truman
    #2 The release of the report to the general population without presentation or explanation in regard to the increase in the number of troops and funding requested would cause a dramatic drop in the public support of the war.
    #3 The early release of the report would slow the already near stagnate presidential review and decisions regarding the Afghanistan war. Causing additional troop casualties.
     
  14. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    tpg- great Politico link. Personally, I like the "book" theory. whoops.

    gunner, on your points -
    1. He may be asking to be "brought home" if not allowed to do his job. He was, after all, Obama's pick.
    2. Maybe. We are just not going to see overwhelming public support for this War anyway. We (collectively Americans) are wishy-washy when it comes to War.
    3. Not slow but speed up. This was not even on the WH agenda a week ago. The WH has been all wrapped up in the domestic agenda that there hadn't been any guidance on Afghanistan. The purpose would be to force the hand - one way or another.

    I see the since McChrystal won't be testifying before Congress soon, he will be going on 60 minutes on Sunday. Interesting.
     
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I wonder what will happen today since 5 more soldiers died. He can't go on forever ignoring the recommendations, if he does it will become a bigger issue than the war itself. Americans turned on Bush as the death toll in Iraq increased, they will do the same to him.
     
  16. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    I honestly don't think the US public will be OK with Afghanistan extending for years, at least not at current troop levels. whether the administration is swayed more by public opinion or the recommendations of advisors remains to be seen. If we try to build Afghanistan into a better nation, that will require many years of work. I'd like to see it happen, but the cynic in me doubts that.

    The more the media picks up on covering Afghanistan, the more public opinion will turn against our presence. It was "out of sight, out of mind" for a while.
     
  17. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I agree, and the cynic in me says that Obama does not have the fortitude to stay the course. I see him pulling out way too early.
     
  18. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    Pima:
    Here is my tactfully bowling ball opinion, Mr Obama is attempting to find a way to break one of his campaign promises of continued support to the people of Afghanistan. He plans to Withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, by citing increasing causalities, Military demands for more troops and no quick victory plan.With these reasons he will state the total withdraw is for the good of America.
    Mr Obama on Afghanistan:
    Lead
    Follow
    or get out of the way
    BUT DO SOMETHING!!!
    This is my opinion any thoughts expressed are not facts just opinions
     
  19. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    tpg:
    I think Mr Obama has made his mind up already and it's the withdraw of troops from Afghanistan. The reason he is asking so many different advisor's is to find the ones that agree with his decision. He can use them as his expert advisor's.Those who don't agree with his position will be thanked and sent on there way. I have to wonder what qualifies some of his advisor's (vice president and chief of staff) to make any decisions on military matters. To ask the person most familiar with the problem (Gen McChrystal)what is required to preform he mission and apparently ignore the request is foolish, but foolish behavior is becoming SOP for this administration.
    These are my opinions and not to be confused with facts:cool:
     
  20. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    Translation please

    Mr Gates will hold onto the request until the White House and Pentagon get to a "Proper Stage" in their assessment of the war in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman explained that it is premature for the request to be considered until the assessment is fully reviewed.

    www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/25/aides-mullen-sign-afghanistan-troop-request/

    I have always considered myself fluent in military double speak, but what I interpret from the above statement
    is that Gen McChrystal's report/request will not be reviewed until all decisions on Afghanistan have been made. That would be stupid and dangerous so my read must be incorrect.

    Does anyone (tpg or bruno) know of a site to see the sanitized version of the request.
     

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