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23 June 2010


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So Dov Zakheim says "no withdrawal" eh? Zakheim is welcome to take his personal keester and plop it in Afghan-land and see how long he lasts. And Zakheim is basing it on Israel's security, not U.S. interests. We the U.S. need to quit running interference for the Israelis, let the Israelis get their nose bloodied a few times, maybe then they'll tone down their holier-than-thou attitude towards their Mideast neighbors.

Iraq was/is all about Israel's security, not U.S. interests. Afghanistan has become more all about Israel security and less about U.S. interests.

Sen. McCain nor any other member of Congress should have any say in 'abandoning' the set withdrawal from Afghanistan timetable that the President has set as policy.

William R. Cumming

Notice how we pick the flag rank to implement a policy choice? I thought the military strategy was a bottoms up approach? Determining objectives and matching resources or not appropriately?

clifford kiracofe

Good to see the Neocon zombie McChrystal go.

I do recall a newspaper story some time ago indicating that President Obama had enjoyed reading a book on Lincoln and his generals.

Selecting Petraeus is interesting from a politics standpoint. Some say Petraeus is interested in the White House. He will now be hoisted on his own petard in the Hindu Kush.

Following Col. Lang's analysis on SST over an extended period of time, one can assess that the COIN policy is not going to work. SST contributer Brigadier FB Ali, who is from the region, has been explicit in his critique. I have heard the same message on visits to India where I have spoken with very senior retired military. I imagine I would hear the same anlysis from Chinese and Russian senior military.

The US military is in a trance. This is not realism. It is some form of utopian magical thinking and produces zombies like Stan the former Man.

Thus one might surmise that by 2012 the American voter will see more clearly the situation. They will see that their much vaunted military and Petraeus could not deliver.

In the run up to the election, the President can with some honesty tell the public that he followed what the military had advised and had been sorely disappointed.


Unfortunately, none of these [COIN strategy] difficulties have been resolved by relieving McChrystal and replacing him with Petraeus. Why? The same foolish strategy with all its limitations remains in place.

What a dash of cold water this was on my initial euphoria that Obama had made a political masterstroke by eliminating the McChrystal "middleman." Silly me, I figured that this meant Petraeus would have latitude to make new strategy recommendations in the face of obvious failure.

It's not that I'm a great fan of Petraeus: anybody whose Class A Uniform displays every award he ever earned, including gee-dunk medal, is immediately suspect to me. What's more troubling is that Obama displays a stubbornness here that is all too reminiscent of his bank reform legislation: keeping COIN is like keeping "too big to fail," only worse. The consequence is more useless deaths vs. status quo frustration of vital economic reforms.


Perhaps the medal display obsession of the Petraeus "class" of flag officers is in part a response to their distant memory of senior Vietnam-era generals, most of whom had served at length in both the WW II and Korea - and thus had real combat campaigns (and even occasionally awards like the Medal of Honor - for example Lew Wilson) to display.


"A regional diplomacy is desirable because our interests coincide substantially with those of many of the regional powers. All of them, from a strategic perspective, are more threatened than is the United States by an Afghanistan hospitable to terrorism. China in Sinkiang, Russia in its southern regions, India with respect to its Muslim minority of 160 million, Pakistan as to its political structure, and the smaller states in the region would face a major threat from an Afghanistan encouraging, or even tolerating, centers of terrorism. Regional diplomacy becomes all the more necessary to forestall a neocolonial struggle if reports about the prevalence of natural resources in Afghanistan prove accurate.

Afghanistan becomes an international issue whenever an outside power seeks to achieve unilateral dominance. Inevitably, this draws in other parties to establish a countervailing influence, driving events beyond rational calculation. A regional diplomacy should seek to establish a framework to insulate Afghanistan from the storms raging around it rather than allow the country to serve as their epicenter. It would also try to build Afghanistan into a regional development plan, perhaps encouraged by the Afghan economy's reported growth rate of 15 percent last year.

Military operations could be sustained and legitimized by such diplomacy. In evaluating our options, we must remember that every course will be difficult and that whatever strategy we pursue should be a nonpartisan undertaking. Above all, we need to do justice to all those who have sacrificed in the region, particularly the long-suffering Afghan people."



The NJ has these tidbits buried in their question:

"but Afghanistan's location as a potential crossroads between India's growing economy, hungry for both markets and resources, and Central Asia's wealth of oil and natural gas."
"Afghanistan's location makes it a strategic outpost outflanking both Russia and Iran"

Can we please, please explain to the press that the WORLD PRICE is just that, a price on the world market; the only cost difference is transporting the commodity to the buyer's location. No one is going to ship Cental Asian crude 6,000 miles to the US, it is going to be sold AT THE WORLD PRICE and whoever buys it pays to transport it. If ever placed on the market it will affect the world price, not where it is shipped

A strategic 'outpost' 6,000 miles from the US? I'm sure we would welcome a Russian strategic outpost 90 miles away? Last time they did that we had the Cuban Missle Crisis. How about the French in Mexico? Had we not been in the middle of a civil war we would have gone to war with France. How can we possibly be shocked when nations adjacent to 'strategic outposts' take offense - and action; to secure THEIR interests. Just because Afghanistan sits South of Russia and East of Iran does not make it the top strategic concern of the US.

DH, nice to quote Kissinger. He has a nice slogan to fit on a bumper sticker: "America needs a strategy, not an alibi." As to results, his protégée L. Paul Bremer III made America 1/2 million enemies in one day by firing the Iraqi Army and forbidding thier employment by the Coalition Provisional Authority. I'd be rather hesitant of following his advice, especially since it is a only a decade and 1,000 US dead late.

Cold War Zoomie

It's not that I'm a great fan of Petraeus: anybody whose Class A Uniform displays every award he ever earned, including gee-dunk medal, is immediately suspect to me.

Reminds me of what our TI (DI) told us when I was in basic training at Lackland AFB in the mid-1980s. There were a bunch of training courses for foreign allies and he was reminding us in a very nice way to remember to solute foreign officers we may see.

I paraphrase: "solute every g*damn guy whose uniform is full of f*king shiny shit even though he may only be a friggin E2 with all the crap these 3rd-world hellhole countries wear on their uniforms."

We have become them.

Patrick Lang


Amen, brother. George Marshall wore GS brass when he was Chief of Staff. Humility. pl

FB Ali


You quote Kissinger: A regional diplomacy is desirable because our interests coincide substantially with those of many of the regional powers. All of them, from a strategic perspective, are more threatened than is the United States by an Afghanistan hospitable to terrorism (emphasis added).

This is the stupidity that underlies the US misadventure in Afghanistan: taking it for granted that an Afghanistan in which the Taliban play a role will automatically be “hospitable to terrorism”. Some, perhaps including Kissinger, know that it is false, but propagate it nevertheless since it props up the policy that they want the US to pursue. Most, including the administration policy-makers, accept it unquestioningly because they are clueless.

Cloned Poster

Invade Afghanistan, control of a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_drug_trafficking


Col. and Nam Vets (please correct me if I am wrong),

We had three SFG completely dedicated to SEA, deployed at all time during the war , yet we have no SFG dedicated to AfPak nine years into the war.

So are clueless or not taking this theater seriously?

Just think, there is a lot of Serious money being spent over there trying to figure out how these people work by independent contractors.

Contractors, just want more contracts instead of reality based results.

Patrick Lang


By my recollection 1st SF Group had some initial TDY involvement but 5th Group was the in-country outfit. What else? pl


Col., I was under impression the 19th was also there in some capacity.

Patrick Lang


That would be news to me. pl

Patrick Lang


"Horse holders," i.e. personal staff is one thing. Generals have always hand picked them. What I am talking about is the general and special staff of big headquarters like the one in Kabul. Unlike in previous times these staffs are now very largely staffed with "by name" requests. pl

The Twisted Genius


5th Group has Afghanistan in its area of responsibility which includes all of the CENTCOM AOR. I would think a majority of the 5th ODAs are concentrated in Afghanistan. However, other Groups are also spending a lot of time there. My guess is that a lot of ODAs have picked up Afghanistan and/or Iraq as a secondary AOR and are concentrating their efforts there for obvious reasons. 10th Group was heavily involved in Iraq and also has/had teams in Afghanistan. I think it is a matter of marching to the sound of the cannon.

I know SF Groups pick up missions outside their traditional AORs. In the early 80s, 10th Group picked up Lebanon and sent numerous MTTs (military training teams) there to rebuild the Lebanese Army. That didn't work out quite as planned.


Fred and FB Ali, the thrust of the article is that we should do exactly the opposite of Bremmer in Iraq and work with existing provincial power structures, with the goal of discouraging jihadist sympathies.

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