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08 February 2010

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walrus

No deal with the Afghan Government? Just an opening gambit to start the bidding?

William R. Cumming

It seems amazing how both Tribal politics and the Taliban have eluded the foreign policy and military elites in the United States. Perhaps more should have studied the history of the British Empire before becoming one (an empire)!

BillWade,NH

Big battle shaping up:

"The Marjah operation -- dubbed Mushtarak ("Together") -- is the biggest push since US President Barack Obama announced a new surge of troops to Afghanistan, and military officials say it is the biggest since the 2001 US-led invasion.

It is seen as pivotal to McChrystal's counter-insurgency theory, which meshes military operations with the civil and political aims of establishing governance and security as the basis for development."

From:

http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Taliban_defiant_as_Afghans_flee_ahe_02082010.html

Mad Dogs

Pat wrote: "...and no more paying off Taliban leaders to let our logistics work!"

It seems that paying off/supporting the Karzai "government" has a price higher than money - from Richard Engel of NBC News:

Did 'pandering' cost American lives at Afghan base?

...Military officials familiar with decision making in eastern Afghanistan suggest that delays in closing COP Keating were motivated by politics in Kabul and a desire to appease the Afghan government. They spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject matter...

...In June, just two months before the vote, the governor of Nuristan, Jamaluddin Badr, a Karzai ally, complained to the Afghan government -- and in the Afghan media -- that his province was too unstable for elections. Specifically, the governor worried a village called Barge Matal would be overrun by insurgents. By any standard, Barge Matal cannot be considered vital to American security interests. It is tiny and remote, with a population of roughly 2,500.

Nonetheless, the Afghan government requested U.S. assistance in securing Barge Matal before the August vote. The U.S. military complied. After all, the U.S. mission was, and remains, to support the Afghan government.

In July 2009, about 200 American soldiers were dispatched to Barge Matal. Since U.S. forces didn’t have an existing presence in the area, the troops set up a temporary base in a school...

...Around 25,000 votes were cast in Barge Matal, approximately ten for every person in the village. A cynic might say U.S. forces were called in so Barge Matal would be secure enough for local officials to rig the vote. I have spoken to cynics within the U.S. military leadership in eastern Afghanistan. They go further than that. They believe the Afghan government used the military (which brought in the ballots by helicopter) to provide cover for vote rigging and that the Afghan request to secure Barge Matal had deadly consequences for U.S. troops.

Four American soldiers were killed from July through September while securing Barge Matal. But this was only the beginning. Five more American troops were killed on Sept 8 in nearby Ganjgal, in part because resources they required (air and drone support) were diverted to help the soldiers in Barge Matal. If air assets are sent to one area, they must be pulled from another.

The knock-on effect of Barge Matal appears to have also indirectly contributed to the deaths of the 8 American soldiers at COP Keating...

Jackie

Col.,
The logistics have always looked bad on this one, we're further away than the Soviets and they didn't win a thing. And what would one win, anyway? I really would like to know the answer to that.

There is an article today in the NYTimes about the Kabul Highway. Now, there is a scary piece of work. It makes Pikes Peak Hwy look like a piece of cake and I lost my nerve on that road.

I think the Afghans are truly fearless, in every way, and should probably be left alone by outside forces.

Jose

Surge to get the Taliban to talk, sound like Foolbama's "secret plan".

One side lacks resolve while the other is full of it, is that why we are "broadcasting" The Marjah operation and begging for talks?

PirateLaddie

As noted earlier, Pathan tribals control the transport system in Karachi and are most of the "blue ball truckers" who haul our MREs, fuel & porta potties up from the port, through mountain passes and into Affie. Supply lines are at the sufferance of the kin of people we are visiting with "death from above."

Stories of these folks "going off to kill the grandson of the man who ambushed their grandfather" are not that far from the day-to-day reality in the neighborhood. Even an elementary knowledge of Harry Flashman's exploits in the area would have yielded a better gameplan.

Cold War Zoomie

It seems amazing how both Tribal politics and the Taliban have eluded the foreign policy and military elites in the United States.

Is there such a thing as being "over-educated?" We harp and harp on the anti-intellectual knuckleheads running around but I think being reared in the elite classes of society leads to a different kind of ignorance - a complete misunderstanding of how "ordinary" folks live and think in any society. A poor farmer in Afghanistan and a poor farmer in El Salvador have a common core outlook on life based on their hardscrabble existence and living off the earth. Their culture and religious beliefs are built on top of that core outlook, and produce differences for sure. But speak to a farmer in just about any society and you'll see common threads.

How many of these think tankers and policy elites ever picked peas or swung a swing blade in their lives? How many understand what life at the bottom is like?

They cannot empathize with the people they are supposedly saving.

On the other hand, your typical ground-pounder understands. And many of them have been predicting accurately what would happen.

N. M. Salamon

This effort by the USAin Afghanistan is self defeating for the protagonist:

Observe:
http://www.businessinsider.com/the-oil-export-crisis-has-arrived-2010-2

And your elites are burning oil at $1000 a barrel [or gallon] in he empty areas of Afganistan.

There is only one word which can describe such action: NUTS!

par4

War for fun
War for profit
War without end,Amen.
The graveyard of empires will succeed at it again.

Ramtanu Maitra

The on-going visit of Gen. Jones to Pakistan is centered around seeking support of the Pakistani Army in the planned talks with the Afghan Taliban for sharing power in Kabul with Karzai, according to Pakistani sources. Meanwhile, our old friend-turned-enemy Hekmatyar is ready to join the fray. This leaves the question unanswered: Why Gem\n. McChrystal is putting up such a big “show” in Helmand? Isn’t Kandahar the base of the key Taliban? Helmand is where opium grows, but not necessarily stays.And, it is February, the opium season is over.

Patrick Lang

RM

Good to hear from you.

I think the problem is that Stanley does not really have the marines under control. their instinct is to kill enemy fighters, not sit in towns doing "good works." As a separate service they have the ability to be very uncooperative if they want to do so. pl

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