Afghanistan; Do We Have a Strategy?

Jul 29th, 2009 | 

At least I knew why we went into Iraq!

 This is a third in a series of articles on Afghanistan.  In my previous articles I have covered the rediscovery of the Green-eyed Girl,  The History of Afghanistan, The Soviet Invasion and the destruction of the WTC.

When Bush 2 came on the TV and told us the reason we were going to take out the Government of Iraq, it was pretty clear to them and us at the time.  Colin Powell was on board and it sounded like Sadam was the second coming of Hitler.  Read my article here to see how the US gave Sadam his start. 

So here we are now seven years later sending more troops into Afghanistan.  No thirty minute address to the nation, no Secretary of State Clinton making an speech to the UN, just small snippets that we are sending more soldiers into Afghanistan.  Quick Quiz… who rules Afghanistan right now?

Currently we have 36,000 troops on the ground and Obama wants to send in 7,000 (two brigades and the Generals are hollering for three!) and they can only come from Iraq.  Violence is on the rise in Afghanistan.  Monthly death tolls of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan surpassed U.S. military deaths in Iraq in May and June, and a militant attack on a recent Sunday on a remote military outpost killed nine American soldiers which was the deadliest assault on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in three years.  Where is the doggone outrage?  Sending 7,000 more men and women sounds like a surge to me!

What is the clear strategy?  Who are we fighting?  Taliban, Al Qaeda, Poppy Farmers?  I keep my nose to the grindstone and even I am having a hard time figuring out who we are fighting and why!

Here are some of the current problems.  MRAP’s. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected.  From a report to Congress:    

072607-D-1142M-001 An MRAP. Costs about 1 million a piece! 

 MRAP’s weigh in at about 20 tons and cab carry up to 17 soldiers.  They are also used as roving battlefield hospital.

road ‘Paved’ road in Afghanistan. Where is my Camel? 

MRAPs are a family of vehicles produced by a variety of domestic and international companies that generally incorporate a “V”-shaped hull and armor plating designed to provide protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  The problem that is happening in Afghanistan is the the terrain is not flat like in Iraq.  terrainMRAP’s have a fixed axle instead of independent suspension which is required driving over rocky cliffs and washouts.  Several have tipped over and many have broken their axles.  We have 2200 and they are having to be retro-fitted to drive on the terrain.  If any of you ride a motorcycle on the beach, you have to put sand tires on it.  Same thing in Afghanistan… but no one was thinking that far ahead.

drud addicts Smoking heroin in Afghanistan 

Drugs.  In my previous article I discussed the drug trade in Afghanistan.  But what about our own troops?  In Iraq, the drug issue was pretty low, however in Afghanistan, drugs and opium is the number one cash crop in the world.  How are our soldiers holding up?  I have researched the DOD on their claims and they say its around 4% that are failing urine testing.  When I look at various military blogs, they are estimating it to be 10% or higher.  I mean the stuff is grown right there in the south.  Hash, cannabis, opium, heroin is readily available.  I can see this getting out of hand the longer we stay in Afghanistan.  Give a young soldier nothing to do in a mountainous desert and you can quickly see the problem this can cause.

troopsSo what is our stated strategy?  Here is what I am able to glean.

  • Disrupt Al Qaeda and the Taliban
  • Promote effective Government in Afghanistan
  • Create a self-reliant Afghan security force
  • Enhance civilian control
  • Involve the international community
  • From a white paper from the US Gov’t…  The United States has a vital national security interest

Yeah… I am not buying all of this!  Here are my reasons that we might be there.

  • Keep the Pakistanis out
  • Ensure the safety of oil being pumped out of the north and assist in a pipeline
  • Stop the growing of poppy’s and interrupt the drug trade
  • Try and set up a US friendly Government

obamaDoes any off this sound like a reason to send in 36,000 troops?  I sure would like to know.  Ok we know there are terrorist camps in Afghanistan, so why don’t we just come out and say we are going after the terrorists?  Do you think anyone can enhance civilian control in this tribal region?  The Soviet Union tried to bomb them into the stone age and went home beat like a whipped puppy.  There terrain does not lay out in any way for a conquering force to succeed.

What did the Russians do?  On a percentage basis, the Soviet Union inflicted more suffering on Afghanistan than Germany inflicted on the Soviet Union during World War II.

The Soviet concept for military occupation of Afghanistan was based on the following:

  • stabilizing the country by garrisoning the main routes, major cities, airbases and logistics sites;
  • relieving the Afghan government forces of garrison duties and pushing them into the countryside to battle the resistance;
  • providing logistic, air, artillery and intelligence support to the Afghan forces;
  • providing minimum interface between the Soviet occupation forces and the local populace;
  • accepting minimal Soviet casualties; and,
  • strengthening the Afghan forces, so once the resistance was defeated, the Soviet Army could be withdrawn.

 sovietWhere did they go wrong?

The harsh and inhospitable land and the deadly treatment that the Soviets received from the people in towns and countryside gradually effected the Soviet soldiers’ psyche, and the indoctrination they had been subject to during their training soon melted away as they increasingly faced the grim realities of the real war. They realized that they were not fighting this brutal war against the imperialists of America and China, but they were set to destroy a poor but proud nation which was only defending their faith, freedom and way of life.

Second, faced with this imposing security challenge, and burdened with a military doctrine, strategy, and operational and tactical techniques suited to a European or Chinese theater of war, the Soviet Army was hard pressed to devise military methodologies suited to deal with the Afghan guerrillas. The Soviets first formulated new concepts for waging war in non-linear fashion, suited to operating on battlefields dominated by more lethal high-precision weapons. This new non-linear battlefield required the abandonment of traditional operational and tactical formations, a redefinition of traditional echelonment concepts, and a wholesale reorganization of formations and units to emphasize combat flexibility and, hence, survivability.

Third, the inability of the Soviet military to win the war decisively condemned it to suffer a slow bloodletting, in a process that exposed the very weaknesses of the military as well as the Soviet political structure and society. The employment of a draft army with full periodic rotation of troops back to the Soviet Union permitted the travails and frustrations of war and the self doubts of the common soldier to be shared by the entire Soviet population. The problems so apparent in the wartime army soon became a microcosm for the latent problems afflicting Soviet society in general. The messages of doubt were military, political, ethnic, and social. In the end they were corrosive and destructive.

Afghanistan-retreat-2 A loss of a son in any country is tragic 

One needs only review the recently released casualty figures to underscore the pervasiveness of the problem. Soviet dead and missing in Afghanistan amounted to almost 15,000 troops, a modest percent of the 642,000 Soviets who served during the ten-year war. Far more telling were the 469,685 other casualties, fully 73 percent of the overall force, who were wounded or incapacitated by serious illness. Some 415,932 troops fell victim to disease, of which 115,308 suffered from infectious hepatitis and 31,080 from typhoid fever. Beyond the sheer magnitude of these numbers is what these figures say about Soviet military hygiene and the conditions surrounding troop life. These numbers are unheard of in modern armies and modern medicine and their social impact among the returnees and the Soviet population was staggering.

800px-US_10th_Mountain_Division_soldiers_in_Afghanistan Note these backpacks are 80 pound! 

Again this is like no other theater of operations we have ever faced.  The enemy has faced down the Soviets before and won.  I hope that our “strategy” whatever it is is well thought out and has some definitive milestones that we are to achieve or I am fearful our troops will be sentenced to a slow death by wandering around the hillsides getting picked off one at a time.

The fact that most of us do not even know who the ruler of Afghanistan (Hamid KARZAI)225px-Hamid_Karzai_in_February_2009 leads me to believe that a diplomatic solution is not even on the table. 

I am concerned that the focus in this country is HealthCare, Cap and Trade, Birth Certificate, and so on.  Afghanistan barely get a mention.  This is a great concern as we now have 36,000 men and women fighting for something… I just don’t know what!



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Posted by on Dec 21 2010. Filed under International, Military, Paul Smith, Political, Republican, United States. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Comments for “Afghanistan; Do We Have a Strategy?”

  1. Nice information. Cheers for this.

  2. Obama has already called on Us citizens to come together and support each other after the member of Congress or over to 17 other people were shot outside an Arizona ( az ) shopping mall Saturday. The us president named the attack “an unspeakable act” . And where could i get your blog rss feed?

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