3 years, 9 months ago
From The New York Times:
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has brought most American Special Operations forces under his direct control for the first time, out of concern over continued civilian casualties and disorganization among units in the field.
“What happens is, sometimes at cross-purposes, you got one hand doing one thing and one hand doing the other, both trying to do the right thing but working without a good outcome,” General McChrystal said in an interview.
Critics, including Afghan officials, human rights workers and some field commanders of conventional American forces, say that Special Operations forces have been responsible for a large number of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan and operate by their own rules.
Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi, the chief spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said that General McChrystal had told Afghan officials he was taking the action because of concern that some American units were not following his orders to make limiting civilian casualties a paramount objective.
“These special forces were not accountable to anyone in the country, but General McChrystal and we carried the burden of the guilt for the mistakes they committed,” he said. “Whenever there was some problem with the special forces we didn’t know who to go to, it was muddled and unclear who was in charge.”
Spencer Ackerman seems to support McChrystal’s consolidation of forces into one chain of command because of the need to protect the population as the center of gravity of the campaign. I do not. To be clear, I do not support the consolidation of forces into one chain of command for the reason that the population is the center of gravity (see Center of Gravity Versus Lines of Effort in COIN). I do indeed support the consolidation of forces.
Ending the silly high value target campaign (capturing mid-level Taliban commanders, only to release them 96 hours later) won’t end unintended noncombatant casualties. The attempt to completely end noncombatant casualties has already contributed to unnecessary deaths of U.S. troops. I support the consolidation of forces because SOF shouldn’t be operating out of the chain of command. If there is a direct action raid and a father or a son is killed in the middle of the night, the infantry (or those attached to the infantry, i.e., SOF) should have done it, under the direction of the immediate chain of command, and they should all be present the next morning to explain to the village why it happened. If you don’t harbor insurgents, this won’t happen. There is nothing like a little time with the villagers by those who did the killing … expending effort policing, teaching and admonishing.