Afghanis to Marines: Don’t Leave Too Soon

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 4 months ago

As I have said before, I think too much can be made of one of the central themes or presuppositions upon which population-centric counterinsurgency is theoretically constructed.  The will of the people, it is said, is more than just critical.  It is determinative.  To be sure it does mean something even if it doesn’t take on the position of being the center of gravity in every situation.

But the tired meme that the Afghanis don’t want us in Afghanistan just took another hard blow.  Continuing the claim to the best reporting on Afghanistan (maybe with the exception of C. J. Chivers), Tony Perry with the L.A. Times reports from Nawa, Afghanistan.

It was at the end of a recent after-lunch meeting, with the two sides sitting cross-legged on a tattered rug, exchanging pleasantries and enjoying sweet tea and stone-baked bread.

Haji Mohammed Khan, district administrator for Nawa, a government bureaucrat with three decades’ experience in war and shaky peace, had something he wanted to ask the Marines, some of whom will soon return to bases in the United States.

“Please,” Khan said in a low voice, his sad eyes looking directly at his guests, “don’t let us be here alone. You used your young people, your vehicles, your helicopters to help us. Please don’t turn around and leave unfinished your business here.”

Khan’s quiet plea echoes but one view of the hot-button issue of proper troop levels in Afghanistan, and Khan’s countrymen in Helmand province appear as divided as officials in Washington.

“There are two kinds of people in Nawa,” said Taimour Shah, a farmer. “There are those who like the Americans, but others listen to the religious leaders who don’t want the Americans here.”

There is also a third group: Those who are afraid to get too close to the Americans lest they be left vulnerable to the Taliban if the Americans leave as abruptly as they arrived.

Since a combat battalion of U.S. Marines arrived unexpectedly one hot night in July to replace a platoon of British soldiers and break Taliban dominance in the region, the U.S. mission has been a counterinsurgency operation, which is slow, incremental, labor intensive and frequently frustrating for all involved.

And with the American public agonizing over the U.S. death toll and impatient for the troops to come home, time may be the greatest enemy.

“You [Westerners] have the watches, but we Afghans have the time,” Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand province, has been quoted as saying at a recent gathering.

Even as the Americans are proud of the progress made here, there is a sense that all could be lost quickly if the U.S. military leaves prematurely.

“I think we’re succeeding in Nawa, but like the elders say, if we leave, it will all be wasted,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Reggie Fox, a member of an 82nd Airborne platoon assigned to mentor Afghan security forces. “The insurgents aren’t dumb. They want to outlast the American population.”

The Mosques in Fallujah also sounded off with Jihadist propaganda up until mid-2007, at least until the Marines were seen as winning.  At that point the theme shifted to one of helping the Americans.  There is no substitute for strength, force projection, and longevity.  The  District Administrator for Nawa sounds much like the elders in Garmsir in 2008 when the 24th MEU swept through killing some 400 Taliban fighters.  As the elder said when asking them to stay, “When you protect us, we will be able to protect you.”  So much for the notion that the Afghanis want the Taliban.

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4 Comments on "Afghanis to Marines: Don’t Leave Too Soon"

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davod
Member

Don’t worry. The Coalition’s coming partnership with the Taliban will bolster the Afghan locals support of the troops.

Warbucks
Member

Ask Haji to hold that thought for 5 days ….. we smell fresh turkey cooking apparently coming back from our outpost. Maybe Sarge must have a surprise cooking for us.

Actually what seems to be needed throughout the Muslim Belt is a resurgence and an integration of the true spirit of Masonry…. I am not a Mason, but thank God our founders were.

Sorry if you can not understand me, I can’t talk with my mouth full. Somebody pass me the gravy please.

Dawg
Member
Some Ideas For Afghanistan If I had anything to say about it, I would: Give General McChrystal everything he asked for. And support his strategy and tactics. However, with a few changes: 1.) I would switch back to a more “robust” ROE. 2.) I would reverse the decision to abandon the outposts in Kunar and Nuristan. Instead, I would increase them and reinforce them and set up bases close, very close to key and hostile villages. I would have both stationary Units at those villages and Units that roamed the mountains and whatever roads that exist there, and constantly hounding the enemy, keeping them away from the villages and roads. The Forces necessary for that would be provided. That would be hell on those Troops who have to do the “roaming” and hounding, but perhaps shorter deployments could help? Also, since illegal logging seems to have been their primary source of income, perhaps we could come to some kind of understanding and arrangement with the Korengalis, for instance. Lets say, start a program for forestation and pay them for planting the trees and taking care of it. Something like that. Providing, of course, that they turn on al quaeda and… Read more »
DesertPete45
Member
Big words by dorks who have no investment. McChrystal is worthless. Robust ROE, what damn planet have you been on???? The ROE are embraced by the pantywaste mcchrystal and all the sheads up the chain. So you would do this and that!!! Then let our young men kill the damn enemy. what is the goal?? a stable astan that will be a friend and allie?? it isn’t going to happen. ISAF bull. The only ones doing anything there are the US and UK. Screw karzai he is a hill bandit just as is obama and karzai’s bro is a damn drug runner. You want to win ths war??? Get rid of the ROE, hang karzai by his thumbs, he is a shead. he is a tribal thug. This country is not worth one american life. Screw everyone who has no investment and thinks it is. Impeach and jail obama and the other thugs I mentioned. Get rid of all muslims in our military. It is unity that has made us a great nation not the bullshit diversity. Dammit I can’t take this crap any longer. Where are the men???????????????? Where are the men????????????????????????????????????? We have a group of girls running… Read more »
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You are currently reading "Afghanis to Marines: Don’t Leave Too Soon", entry #4249 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Marine Corps and was published November 24th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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