"...it represents a hard look at the challenges involved in implementing Obama's strategy for Afghanistan. The administration has narrowly defined its goal as defeating al-Qaeda and other extremist groups and denying them sanctuary, but that in turn requires a sweeping counterinsurgency campaign aimed at protecting the Afghan population, establishing good governance and rebuilding the economy." Washpost
George will has spoken and he is heard. There can never be enough friends on a battlefield.
My only problem with his thinking on this is that he believes that you can conduct effective counter-terrorism operations from offshore. No, you can not do that on the scale required in Afghanistan. Without a base area onshore you will never be able to obtain the people based intelligence you would need for targeting counter-terrorist operations, the distances will be too great for effective and frequent onshore operations against Al-Qa'ida, and the availability of aerial fire and evacuation support for such operations will be severely limited by the same long distances. In such a situation you would remain dependent on the same armed drones and strike aircraft with which we have been killing many non-combatants. As I have written earlier, the conduct of effective counter-terrorism would require a sizable lodgement or redoubt in the Kabul/Bagram area. Other than that...
That is a minor matter compared to the error outlined in red and blue above concerning the nature of McChrystal's report. Assuming that the Post has gotten this right, it must be said that the logic of thinking that it follows from the goal of preventing Al-Qa'ida's use of Afghanistan as a base that one must rebuild and create a new Afghanistan in a massive and probably unending COIN campaign is totally flawed.
The president's announced goals are essentially negative, "defeating al-Qa'ida and..."
The goals of COIN are essentially positive, i.e., "build a better Afghanistan."
How did this happen? How did McChrystal and his "brain trust" get this so wrong? Ah, it is COIN's "Siren Song" with its soothing aura of progressive benevolence and pseudo-intellectual philosophy.
Once again, the costs inherent in COIN are not worth paying if one does not own the place being fought over.
The president should reject the assumptions underlying the McChrystal Report. Clemenceau was right. Generals should not be allowed to set the agenda for war. pl