Archive for the 'The Long War' Category



Losing the Forest for the Trees: Drone Strike Kills al-Libi

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 4 months ago

Hat tip to Hot Air.

The New York Times as well as other media outlets are now confirming, along with the Obama Administration, that Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, has been killed by a drone strike in a remote, Pakistani village last week:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Central Intelligence Agency drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal belt killed Al Qaeda’s deputy leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, American officials said on Tuesday, dealing another blow to the group in a lawless area that has long been considered the global headquarters of international terrorism but the importance of which may now be slipping.

***

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said that as a result of Mr. Libi’s death, “there is no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibility, and that puts additional pressure” on Al Qaeda, “bringing it closer to its ultimate demise than ever.”

***

If his death is borne out this time, it would be a milestone in a covert eight-year airstrike campaign that has infuriated Pakistani officials but that has remained one of the United States’ most effective tools in combating militancy.

***

One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described Mr. Libi as one of Al Qaeda’s “most experienced and versatile leaders,” and said he had “played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts.”

As damaging as these “decapitation operations” may be to Al Qaeda, we seem to be losing the forest for the trees.

While the U.S. focuses on sending missiles through the windows of every, significant Al Qaeda leader that remains (and each, new one that sprouts up), the war against Militant Islam has long since moved on to other, more threatening venues.  Iran, for example, is a declared enemy of the United States, bent on developing nuclear weapons, but U.S. policy has never reflected anywhere near the seriousness accorded to Al Qaeda, despite the fact that Iran poses a threat that is orders of magnitude greater than Al Qaeda.  Islamists appear poised to take absolute control of the most populous Arab state in Egypt and are actively taking advantage of the civil war in Syria where U.S. intransigence has created a vacuum among the rebel forces.  Turkey is moving doggedly toward an Islamist state that will seek to dominate the region in direct conflict with U.S. national interests.   Pakistan seems to be increasingly in the grip of Islamists who occupy key positions in its military and intelligence services.   More ominously, Europe is increasingly subject to the influence and intimidation of Islamist immigrants who regularly resort to violence to undermine traditional, Western values.   In the U.S., any talk of Islamists or their ideology is forbidden throughout the federal government.

For all that George W. Bush may have gotten wrong during his eight years in office, and in particular with his war planning, he did understand that the United States (and the West at large) was not fighting only or even primarily against Al Qaeda, but against a broader ideology– islamofascism, if you will– that motivated not only Al Qaeda but an entire movement of muslims determined to impose fundamentalist Islam upon the world.

As a last, side note on the al-Libi assassination, we should be careful what we wish for.  The U.S. may succeed in debilitating Al Qaeda’s operation capabilities to such an extent that they will change tactics and resort to the sort of “lone wolf” terror tactics that traumatized Israeli society in the intifada days of a decade ago.  Anyone who lived as I did in the Washington, D.C. area in the Fall of 2002 well remembers how just two persons, acting on their own in seemingly random fashion, could seriously disrupt an entire region.  It is a wonder that the Islamists have not resorted to this tactic in any concerted way.  Let’s hope that they don’t.   But, considering how little strategic thinking seems to be going on in D.C., “hope” may be the only thing left.

Presidential Apologies: A Contrast in Religious Sensitivities

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 8 months ago

There is something strange about the uproar over the apparently accidental burning of Korans at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

This article from the Associated Press is headlined for Newt Gingrich’s criticism of President Obama’s apologies to Hamid Karzai over the Koran burnings.   Whether you agree or disagree with Gingrich’s points, the defense offered up by White House is thought-provoking:

Even before Gingrich’s comments, White House spokesman Jay Carney sought to counter any criticism of the president’s apology.

“It is wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities to this issue, the understandable sensitivities,” Carney told reporters traveling to Miami with the president on Air Force One. “His primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of the American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there. And it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

There are at least two, underlying assumptions in the White House messaging on this.

Muslim Sensitivities

First, Obama’s apology to Karzai was “wholly appropriate” due to “the understandable sensitivities” of the Afghanis.   Presumably Carney is really referring to the Afghani’s muslim sensitivities.   In Obama’s view, then, Islamic “sensitivities” are to be given such respect that any offense– even an indisputably unintentional and accidental one– demands contrition and a grave apology from a United States President.

What is this sensitivity that requires an American President to bend the knee and humbly seek forgiveness?  It is the apparent veneration of a book by muslims that forbids any act of disrespect or dishonor.   This is medieval thinking and, while we can comprehend that Afghanis inhabit a culture and religion that is largely mired in the 7th Century, it is not incumbent on Americans or America’s President to cater to or endorse such magical thinking.

We feel no need, for instance, to apologize to muslims for the dogs that American soldiers often use for bomb detection or even companionship on bases in Afghanistan despite the fact that dogs offend many muslims’ “sensitivities.”    Admittedly, there is no need to go out of our way to unnecessarily offend, but it would seem that we give validity to magical thinking when we apologize for inadvertent offenses to that thinking to which we, ourselves do not subscribe and even hold, privately, in contempt.

Note, too, the contrast in the way Obama treats Islamic beliefs about a book and his treatment of the Roman Catholic beliefs about contraception.  He is frankly not concerned about the Catholic sensitivities when it conflicts with his agenda and, most disturbing, is willing to ride roughshod over important First Amendment rights in the process.

Rewarding Violence

The second rationale provided by the White House is that the apology emanated from the need to protect our military forces in Afghanistan (and probably elsewhere in the Middle East).  The underlying assumption is that muslims will resort to random and not-so-random violence against Americans if they are not placated and appeased.

Comparing the treatment accorded the Afghan government and the Roman Catholic Church, the lesson here seems to be that if you are a religious group that respects the law and addresses its grievances through debate and political action, then your sensitivities– even ones protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution— can be abused and violated by Obama and his myrmidons on the Left.   But if you happen to belong to a religious group that will readily and predictably resort to violence at any unintentional or even accidental slight to your sensitivities, then you are pursued like a wounded child, begged for forgiveness and placated.

This incident should be yet another clear marker for all of us that the West, so far, is on the losing side of the war with Militant Islam as we are willing cede our own cultural beliefs to them simply because they readily resort to violence.    This is like parents who defer and pander to their 17 year-old because they fear his violent temper and unpredictable tendency to violence.   Such a scenario never ends well.

It will not end well for America, either, if we persist in these behaviors.

UPDATE: An interesting contrast to the U.S. position on the accidental burning of the Koran and the intentional burning of the Bible by U.S. forces in 2009.   I do not subscribe to the notion that the Bible– as a collection of paper and ink bound with a cover of some sort is invested with mystical qualities that render the book itself as inviolate.   To do so would be to engage in the same sort of magical thinking that muslims have toward the Koran.   At the same time, the article makes good points about the perception of Afghans who see Americans falling over themselves to seek forgiveness for a few, mistakenly burned Korans while holding their own sacred book, the Bible, in apparent contempt.

Lessons Learned In The War with Militant Islam, Part One: Naming the Enemy

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 10 months ago

December in Western Culture is always an appropriate time of year for reflection– remembering that all-important point in history when God invaded our world in human form.   This particular December, however, is especially appropriate for reflection on what has variously been termed “The Long War” or, “World War IV,” or, by this Administration as, “Overseas Contingency Operations” as the President has unilaterally declared that the Iraq War is over and the books are closed.

It is my intention, then, to offer up over the next weeks what I consider to be the lessons we have learned in the 30-plus years since the re-birth and rise of Militant Islam in 1979.   I wish I could preface this series with optimism and confidence of victory.   I wish I could write that the West is winning, however slowly, the great struggle against this latest fascist incarnation, but reality will not permit.

It is time to face this awful situation squarely, not with fatalism or despair but with determination.   It is impossible to ignore the steady drumbeat of politically correct programs that hamstrings our efforts, or another miserable candidate who garners applause with 1920′s style isolationist rhetoric.  American leaders seem all too adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and mistaking our friends and enemies.

Barring the advent of national leadership which is nowhere evident, or a miracle of some kind– of which history is not replete— we must bravely conclude that, for now, the American public at large will not rouse itself to effective action.   We are caught in yet another national whirlpool of apathy, denial, distraction and delusion— just as we were in the 1930′s and the 1990′s– from which the only escape is a national trauma on the scale of a Pearl Harbor or September 11th calamity.  We have pushed our luck far too many times and refuse to get serious about taking the fight to the enemy– indeed, a president is applauded when he promises to “bring the troops home” without regard for consequences.   Ear-pleasing platitudes are what the Public demands, so it is no wonder that the politicians serve it up by the plateful.

If there is any ground for optimism in this Long War, it may be found in the capacity of our enemy to bouts of incredible stupidity.  To be sure, the U.S. is no less prone to such lapses, so in this respect the Long War is like a game of football in which the side committing the fewer mistakes will win.   I take from this a grim hope that the inevitable attack against the U.S. by the Islamists will be limited to a similar scope and scale of the 9-11 attacks.   Is it too ironic to pray that the Islamists be so stupid again?

As terrible as such an attack would be, American history suggests that we are only roused to great and decisive action by such, limited attacks.    If the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor, it is difficult to say when the U.S. would have openly entered World War II against the Nazis.   Without an American entry in December 1941, it is doubtful that Normandy is invaded in 1944.    Without an invasion of Normandy in 1944, it is possible that Hitler’s scientists finish development of an atomic bomb.

To reference more recent history, it is clear that the U.S. would not have invaded Afghanistan nor deposed Saddam Hussein without the September 11 attacks.  It is perhaps a sign of our timidity and half-hearted approach that we have failed to achieve any, definitive victory in the War even 10 years later.   Nonetheless, it is clear that the September 11th attacks stirred America to a unity of action and purpose (albeit squandered and now cooled) that has not been seen since 1945.

To be clear: I do not wish any, such attack against the homeland.   I do believe, however, that such an attack is increasingly inevitable.   It is only right, therefore, that we consider all of the lessons learned in the 10-plus years since September 11, 2001 in the hopes that we not repeat those mistakes.   With the frightening prospect of an attack lingering on the horizon, I offer the first of at least nine lessons from this Long War:

Lesson #1:  Clearly identify those responsible and what they represent.

Regular readers will know that I detest the moniker, “War on Terror.”

As many pundits and writers have pointed out, “terror” is a tactic.   It is not something we can fight and defeat.   And to the extent that we refuse or avoid recognizing the Enemy and calling it by the proper name, we splinter our efforts, lessening the odds of prevailing.   In this season of presidential campaigns, Americans should insist that the Republican candidates at the very least make a clean break from political correctness and honestly name the enemy.   Militant Islam, Radical Islam, Islamofascism.   The point is that all Americans and the world must understand that these attacks originate from an ideology and not simply from a criminal enterprise or a fringe group of shadowy “terrorists.”

The 9-11 attackers were trained and motivated, at the very least, by an interpretation of the Koran and Islam that joyfully and obediently embraces a violent and decisive confrontation with anyone, muslim or not, who does not adhere to their doctrine.  It is a seething belief that the entire world must be conquered and subdued to the will of their god, Allah.  It is not an ideology that can be appeased or reasoned with any more than other, authoritarian doctrines.    The West should have learned from its experiences with the Nazis and Communists that an ideology embraced with religious fanaticism cannot be appeased or mollified but must be defeated and discredited.

Militant Islam may very well prove to be the most virulent of the authoritarian ideologies to manifest itself since the rise of the Ottoman Empire.   We are fighting against a body of believers numbered in the tens of millions, even if they only consist of a minority of muslims.  This is not a fringe group.  Islamists are spread across continents and ethnicities.   Compounding this danger is the apparent surge of power and influence of Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Middle East.

Since 9-11, the U.S. has been rightly pursuing the militants, not only in Afghanistan but literally across the globe.   But while the U.S. military has worked wonders in places like Fallujah, Ramadi, Marjah and the Philippines, the larger U.S. government has acted like an adolescent who cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.  Too often the focus on military operations has resulted in a complete failure to engage in the larger war of ideas in places that are not hot zones but are no less critical.   Worse still, the U.S. State Department has often worked at cross-purposes with the military.

Consider Lebanon.  The U.S. invasion of Iraq, despite all the hand-wringing and wailing of the Left Wing Media, created a powerful opportunity for the rise of a non-Islamist coalition.  We forget that the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon came on the heels of the capture of Saddam Hussein and even anti-U.S. figures such as Walid Jumblatt were reluctantly praising the elections in Iraq:

The January 2005 vote in Iraq also appeared to play a role since it supported the notion that Arabs craved democracy. (Lebanese Druze chieftain Walid Jumblatt gave credence to the importance of these developments when he said, “It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. . . . When I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.”)

But the U.S. simply could not summon the will to support democratic groups in any, meaningful fashion.  The U.S. foreign policy establishment preferred to coddle and reach out to thugs like Bashir Assad in Syria.   And so Lebanon has slipped ever more deeply into the control of Hezbollah, funded and controlled by Iran through Syria.

Recently we have seen Egypt, Tunisia and Libya sliding into the Islamists’ camp.   The U.S. seems not only oblivious to this developing disaster but actively supportive.  Whether this folly is generated by a fear of offending muslim sensibilities or an arrogance that the U.S. can co-opt or mold the Islamists once they are in power, the net result is the same.   Ironically, the Obama Administration does not want to be seen as meddling in the internal affairs of Egypt or Iran, but has no such qualms with interfering with formerly pro-American allies like Honduras and Colombia.

This refusal to acknowledge the enemy will forever cripple our war efforts and will enable the enemy.   A muslim who does not subscribe to the Wahhabist version and rejects militant Islam should be no more offended when we target the Islamists than a 1940′s German would be offended by our targeting of Nazis.   In fact, our refusal to clearly identify the enemy in this case creates a dangerous confusion in the minds of non-muslims and muslims alike.   Muslims need to clearly and unequivocally choose sides in this War.   Are they with us or with the Islamists?

The current taboo allows and encourages a shadowy world where loyalties remain unknown and ambiguous.  It is no interference with freedom of religion to ask whether a mosque is preaching Militant Islam.   No one has ever asserted that freedom of religion includes a right to advocate for the subversion and overthrow of our Constitution and nation.   It is incumbent on members of any congregation, muslim, christian, jewish, or mormon, to report and, if necessary, testify against leadership that advocates violence against others in society.   Personal knowledge of violent plots combined with a refusal to report them constitutes at least passive participation in a criminal conspiracy.    In time of war, however, the failure to expose the efforts of the enemy to recruit for and advance attacks is treasonous.

For some mysterious reason, however, no Administration has ever dared to clearly identify militant Islam as the enemy.  Instead, we have tried to fight Islamists as a criminal enterprise  (Reagan, Bush I and Clinton); as nameless, religionless “terrorists” (Bush II); and now as a “specific network” consisting only of Al-Qaeda (Obama).  We cannot defeat an enemy we dare not name.

Civilizational War 10 Years After 9-11: Can the West Recover?

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 1 month ago

It is appropriate to consider, ten years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, what has transpired and where we find ourselves.

A number of excellent writers have undertaken to do this, so I will not re-invent the wheel.  At the same time, however, there are a few points that seem to be missing from the analysis.

So, for example, Barry Rubin over at Pajamas Media has an article titled, “Ten Years After September 11: Who’s Really Winning The War On Terrorism?”  Rubin has an excellent summary of the Al Qaeda strategy and its place in the larger context of Islamic militancy:

Let’s be clear. Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon to achieve several goals:

–To become the leader in a worldwide jihad.

–To persuade Muslims that America is weak and can be defeated.

–To stir far more Muslims to jihad, that is a Holy War that today can be defined as an Islamist revolution.

–To mobilize forces in order to challenge and eventually to overthrow all of the existing regimes in the Sunni Muslim areas, replacing Arab nationalism in many of those countries with Islamism as the main ideological force.

I would suggest that al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks largely succeeded in three of those four goals. Only in the first did it fail, and for a very good reason. Precisely because it carried out the attacks, al-Qaeda became the main target for U.S. efforts and repression by leaders in Muslim-majority countries. Consequently, it has suffered greatly from losses.

By the same token, however, other Islamist forces have largely been left alone by the West or faced far less pressure. Such groups include the Muslim Brotherhood groups, Hamas, Hizballah, and the pro-Islamist regimes in Syria and Iran. In fact, Islamist groups and Islamism as an ideology have advanced impressively, especially in the last few years.

I would differ with Rubin that Al Qaeda did not succeed in becoming the leader in worldwide jihad.  Clearly, in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, Al Qaeda was easily the most visible terror group and most heralded in the Islamist world.  The fact that Al Qaeda has suffered a disproportionate number of decapitation operations by the U.S. does not mean that it did not accomplish its goal of jihadi leadership. In fact, it could be argued that Al Qaeda has succeeded brilliantly in this regard to the extent that the U.S. has been distracted from fighting other no-less dangerous groups which share the wider goals of Islamist domination of the West.

Indeed, Rubin alludes to this as the very problem afflicting U.S. policy:

Where is terrorism weaker? Other than Algeria, where it was defeated in a bloody civil war, it is hard to find any such examples, though in other places  like Morocco and Saudi Arabia — terrorism has not made gains.

In many places in Europe, the Brotherhood and even more radical groups have made important strides in gaining hegemony in neighborhoods and over Muslim communities. Governments have not combatted this and even have encouraged it, arguing that the organizations are not presently using terrorism. But with growing radical Islamist ideas, the level of terrorism and intimidation also increases.

A key factor is the failure of the U.S. government, which basically defines anything that isn’t al-Qaeda as not being a threat. Within the United States, a major terrorist attack has been averted, though luck seems to play a role here (underpants bomber; Times Square bomber). At the same time there have been many more small-scale attacks. One way the U.S. government achieves positive statistics is to redefine specific events — a shooting at the El Al counter in Los Angeles, an attack on a Jewish community center in the Pacific Northwest, the murder of a military recruiter in Arkansas, and even the Ft. Hood killer — as non-terrorist, non-Islamist criminal acts.

So are things much better a decade after the September 11 attacks? Aside from the very important aspect of avoiding a huge successful terror attack on the United States, the answer is “no.”

Another PJM article by Raymond Ibrahim emphasizes this point as well.

The unfortunate fact is that, even if al-Qaeda were totally eradicated tomorrow, the terror threat to the West would hardly recede, since al-Qaeda has never been the source of the threat, but simply one of its manifestations. The AP report obliquely reflects this: “Senior al-Qaeda figures have been killed before, only to be replaced,” even as the Obama administration is optimistic that “victory” is at hand.

To get a better perspective on the overall significance of the latest killing of an al-Qaeda member, consider how at the turn of the 20th century, the Islamic world was rushing to emulate the victorious and confident West — best exemplified by the Ottoman empire itself, the preserver and enforcer of Islam, rejecting its Muslim past and embracing secularism under Ataturk. Today, 100 years later, the Muslim world has largely rejected secularism and is reclaiming its Islamic — including jihadist — heritage, lashing out in a manifold of ways. Consider how many Islamist leaders, organizations, and terrorists have come and gone in the 20th century alone — many killed like bin Laden — only for the conflict between Islam and the West to continue growing by the day.

This is the essence of where we stand today.  By and large, the Obama Administration and its supporters on the Left refuse to face the fundamental nature of the conflict.   While it is true that Al Qaeda carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001, those attacks were merely a manifestation of what has been a perpetual civilizational conflict between Islam and the West since the militant spread of Islam after 632 A.D.  The militant strain of Islam has always sought to expand and dominate non-muslim peoples and it always will.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes in Carnage and Culture:

In the century between [the death of Muhammad and the critical battle of Poitiers, France in 732 A.D. which stopped the incursion of Islam into Southern Europe], a small and rather impotent Arab people arose to conquer the Sassanid Persian Empire, wrest the entire Middle East and much of Asia Minor from the Byzantines, and establish a theocratic rule across North Africa…. [B]y the mid-eighth century, the suddenly ascendant kingdom of the Arabs controlled three continents and an area larger than the old Roman Empire itself.

The Arab conquests were a result of two phenomena: prior contact with Byzantines, from whom they borrowed, looted, and then adapted arms, armor, and some of their military organization; and the weakness of the [Persian Empire and remnants of barbarian conquests of Asia and North Africa].

***

[The conquests by early Islamic militants goes beyond adopted technologies and weak adversaries]. There was to be a novel connection between war and faith, creating a divine culture that might reward with paradise the slaying of the infidel and the looting of Christian cities.  Killing and pillaging were now in the proper context, acts of piety.

***

For the rest of the ninth through tenth centuries, the war between [Islam and the West] would break out in northern Spain, southern Italy, Sicily, and the other larger islands of the Mediterranean [which] became the new line of battle between the two entirely antithetical cultures.

(pages 146-149).

Although Hanson is commenting upon distant history, it is remarkable how applicable these observations remain today and how little the nature of Islam has changed in 1300 years.   Militant Islam in the 21st century still maintains the “novel connection between war and faith” and a “divine culture that might reward with paradise the slaying of the infidel.”   True, militant Islam has traded in the scimitar for  suicide bomber vests and I.E.D.s, but the subjugation of unbelievers remains the same.

We seem to be making a fundamental mistake in the West when we fail to see the broader context of the struggle.   September 11, 2001 was not a “tragedy” but an act of war.  A tactical strike by militant Islam at the financial, military and (it was hoped) political heart of the West.   And it was not the first such strike.  Militant Islam has been on the march in modern times since at least 1979 with the founding of the theocratic state of Iran.  As Mr. Ibrahim writes in his article, the muslim world is quickly turning (or, more exactly, re-turning) to militant Islam as a means of forcing an expansion of power, in the Middle East in the short term and in Europe and even North America in the long term.  This is not some new phenomenon to any student of history but a continuation of a struggle between two civilizations: one based upon Greek and Roman thoughts of law and liberty with Christian overlays (Western democracy) and one based upon the all-encompassing rule of the Koran which sublimates the individual in every aspect of life.   The two cultures are thoroughly incompatible and the history of the world has shown that peace has only, ever reigned between the two when Islam was too weak to force its will upon the West.

This, then, should be the take-away from 9-11:  we are in a desperate struggle for civilizational survival that is being fought on the battlefield, certainly, but also in the courtroom, in the media, in politically correct driven government policy and think tanks, and in the very essence of our culture— how we view our basic freedoms and the means we are willing to employ to cherish and defend them.

Sadly, I see little evidence, ten years after the attacks of 9-11, that America’s leaders are at all willing to face this larger context.  It is too frightening.  The risk of being called xenophobic, or Islamophobic or chauvinistic is too intimidating.   So we will fight where we find it convenient to fight.  Drone attacks that take out an Al Qaeda leader but leave in peace Iranian leaders  who have killed far more Americans than Al Qaeda or the Taliban.   We will look for the first opportunity to declare victory, as when Osama Bin Laden was killed, but ignore the mortal threats to peace and economic security posed by a nuclear Iran or a growing Hezbollah or Hamas.   We will sacrifice precious blood and treasure gaining great victories in Iraq and Afghanistan only to throw it away in hasty withdrawals under the smokescreen of “transition.”

Can the West recover in time?

Obama’s Afghanistan Speech

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 10 months ago

The speech was ghastly, dreary, dreadful and morose, full of wishful thinking and blame of others for the situation we now face.  Obama seemed to be unable to stay focused on Afghanistan, appeared bored with the subject, and even seemed a bit peeved that he had to deliver such a speech.

The first part of the speech rehashed information that most people alive today already know, and then proceeded to place the blame on Operation Iraqi Freedom for the low troop levels in Afghanistan.  That Generals McNeill and McKiernan requested more troops for the campaign in Afghanistan is true, but at least McKiernan’s desires were made known during Obama’s tenure.  Even this doesn’t fully explain how the situation in Iraq related to Afghanistan.

During much of the time from 2004 (around the time of Operation al Fajr) to 2007, thousands of religiously motivated foreign fighters (AQ) flowed into Iraq per year to fight the U.S. forces.  These are fighters that didn’t go to Afghanistan because they were headed for Iraq.  Whatever else one thinks of the initial invasion of Iraq, the subsequent counterinsurgency phases (Operation Iraqi Freedom II and III) were the center of gravity of the fight against religious globalists (even though we had to fight our way through an indigenous insurgency in Iraq to get to AQ, this insurgency being somewhat less committed to the religious cause of AQ).  To blame the situation in Afghanistan entirely on Iraq just doesn’t comport with the facts.

Slow to give up the finger-pointing even though he chides us for failing to do the same, Obama eventually transitions to his strategy.  He does mention population centers and securing the population (and Kandahar will be a big focus of the effort).  But he insisted that the cornerstone of the strategy was turnover to Afghan Security Forces, and couples this insistence with the strangest of demands: that U.S. troops begin leaving Afghanistan in 2011.

I have repeatedly claimed that seeing the population as the center of gravity of a counterinsurgency is doctrinal intransigence and stubbornness, and that multiple foci should be pursued in small wars, including an enemy-centric focus if that is deemed wise at some particular point in a campaign (such as early on).  But if Obama has been listening to his generals (and it sounds as if he has, at least to some degree), it would explain the focus on population centers and startup of the Afghan Security Forces.  Obama insists on placing the burden on the ANA and ANP, and sooner rather than later.

So assuming that Obama has selected population-centric counterinsurgency as his strategy, he certainly doesn’t appear to understand exactly what that entails.  We have been training the ANA and ANP for eight years now, and had Provincial Reconstruction Teams deployed throughout Afghanistan for years.  Army human terrain teams have studied the tribes, agricultural experts have advised and counseled Afghan farmers, and U.S. Soldiers and Marines now must be aligned with Afghan Army in order to conduct operations.

Yet in the Afghan Security Forces, drug addiction continues, they sleep on duty, they refuse in cases to go on night patrols, they have proven to be generally inept and unreliable in fire fights, and the Afghan people hate the corruption within their ranks.  Training up an Afghan Army is not about teaching them to fire a weapon or go on patrol.  Instilling esprit de corps, reliability, commitment and faithfulness is not about thirteen weeks or even a year of basic training.  It’s about a culture, country and social and religious milieu that can sustain such an institution.

Pointing to an end date for troop presence is the height of irresponsibility.  It’s either an intentional lie (in which case he is a liar and the troops’ families have false hope for and end date), or it’s the truth, in which case he clearly has confused ideas on just how long counterinsurgency takes to succeed – if it can succeed at all.

Finally, the speech wanders off into foreign territory by discussing the use of soft power to end the threat of nuclear weapons.  The claim is that work to end nuclear proliferation will enhance national security, but thus far the only change to nuclear weapons has been on the American side.  The Russians have now been invited to examine our nuclear weapons installations, and nuclear warhead refurbishment (strongly recommended by the DoD and DOE) has been denied and de-funded.  All the while, Iran insists that its very own nuclear program is non-negotiable.

I was recently at a funeral where I had a chance to speak with four World War II veterans at one ad hoc gathering.  Upon hearing that my son was in the U.S. Marine Corps, they conveyed their heart felt thanks to both him and me.  They had battled the Japanese in the South Pacific and the Germans in Europe.  But they knew what we face.  They used the phrase “long war,” and they didn’t know who John Abizaid was.  They simply knew that we were in a long war – the longest one our republic would ever face, and much longer than the one they faced.

U.S. industry fabricated some 55,000 Sherman tanks to prosecute World War II.  Our industry is being shut down due to all manner of issues, including environmental regulations.  Large scale steel fabrication is now done primarily overseas, and the current administration cannot bear the thought of deploying fewer American warriors to Afghanistan than tanks we deployed during World War II.

Afghanistan matters.  The Durand line means nothing to al Qaeda and their supporters, the Taliban.  Pakistan, whom the U.S. very much wants to focus on its internal threats rather than India, awaits our own intentions.  Pressure must be kept on AQ and the Taliban on both sides of the alleged border, because there is no border.  While Pakistan awaits our direction, so does most of Europe.

With the current leadership unable to make a case for troop presence beyond 2011, we are poorly prepared indeed for the battle ahead.  I missed the initial speech and had to take it in later, but my daughter told me that it was ghastly, dreary and dreadful.  She was right.  It would have been better if it had never been made.

Taliban and al Qaeda Ideological Alignments

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 12 months ago

In Connection Between the Taliban and al Qaeda we discussed the first hand account by David Rohdes of the New York Times after he was kidnapped by the Afghan Taliban, transported to Pakistan, spent time among both Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, and then finally escaped some seven months later.  His experience, coupled with data we had previously cataloged and analyzed, is convincing and compelling evidence of the hardened and more extremist theological alignment of the Taliban, and thus of their alignment with transnational insurgents and global actors such as al Qaeda.

Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.

Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.

But questions remain.  There are some (not identified in this article) that have weighed in saying that Rohdes is merely offering perspective or speculation, not facts.  There are others who have gone on record with analyses (parsing the Taliban into many different factions) that seems at the outset to cast doubt on Rohdes’ observations, at least, in a normative sense.  Myra MacDonald, for instance, outlines the main insurgent groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and weighs in questioning whether some of them share the global aspirations as al Qaeda.  In this same analysis she links Vahid Brown writing for Jihadica who even questions whether the Taliban and al Qaeda may be diametrically opposed.

Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban and al-Qa’ida’s senior leaders have been issuing some very mixed messages of late, and the online jihadi community is in an uproar, with some calling these developments “the beginning of the end of relations” between the two movements.  Beginning with a statement from Mullah Omar in September, the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta-based leadership has been emphasizing the “nationalist” character of their movement, and has sent several communications to Afghanistan’s neighbors expressing an intent to establish positive international relations.  In what are increasingly being viewed by the forums as direct rejoinders to these sentiments, recent messages from al-Qa’ida have pointedly rejected the “national” model of revolutionary Islamism and reiterated calls for jihad against Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan and China.  However interpreted, these conflicting signals raise serious questions about the notion of an al-Qa’ida-Taliban merger.

We covered the al Qaeda rejection of the nationalistic model for jihad in The Globalization of Jihad in Palestine, and there is no question that the infighting between insurgent groups can become deadly.  It’s this supposed rift between factions of the insurgency that the U.S. administration wants to exploit.

… the Obama administration has indicated that it intends to make a fresh attempt to engage more moderate Taliban groups in talks with the Afghan government – in a determined effort to woo at least some of them away from the fighting that is claiming increasing numbers of American and other Nato forces’ lives.

Mullah Mutawakkil, once a confidant of the one-eyed Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was held at a US base in Kandahar in 2002 after he gave himself up to American troops.

Now he is being politely wooed by a stream of senior US officials who make discreet visits to his villa, which is guarded by armed police, to hear his thoughts on what the Taliban mood is like and whether any of its leaders are ready for talks.

A soft-spoken and intelligent man who was one of the Taliban regime’s youngest ministers, Mullah Mutawakkil is cautious about what can be achieved, but even so his thinking is music to tired Western ears.

He believes that the Taliban would split from what he called their al-Qaeda “war allies” if a deal was within reach. Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph in the guest room of his Kabul home, he insisted that a settlement to end the war was possible – and that it would be the West’s best chance of stopping terrorists from turning Afghanistan back into their base again.

“If the Taliban fight on and finally became Afghanistan’s government with the help of al-Qaeda, it would then be very difficult to separate them,” he warned.

But there is, he says, another option. Taliban leaders are looking for guarantees of their personal safety from the US, and a removal of the “bounties” placed on the head of their top commanders. They also want a programme for the release of prisoners held at the notorious Bagram US air base in Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay.

In return, he says, the Taliban would promise not to allow Afghanistan to be used to plan attacks on America – the original reason for American invervention (sic), and the overriding aim of US policy in the region.

A Morton’s Fork to be sure.  Settle with Taliban who might bring back al Qaeda safe haven, or send more troops in what may prove to be an increasingly unpopular war.  But perhaps not.  Perhaps the choice is clearer.  Commenter Amm Sam at Jihadica offers a clear and unvarnished view of the debates between the globalists and the nationalists.

The Taliban’s statements of late have to be understood in the context of the US debate on what strategy to pursue in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar is trying to influence the debate by signaling to the Obama Administration that they aren’t a threat – but should we take Mullah Omar’s word for it? Of course not. If you look at the discourse of the Taliban, from spokesmen and commanders to the footsoldiers quoted in David Rhodes’ excellent 5-part NYT series, you see that the Taliban as a semi-coherent movement has drifted into the global jihadist perspective over the last several years. They are still primarily focused on the region, but less so now than ever.

Only now do we see this shift from Omar in the heat of Washington deliberations on Afghanistan.

In fact, the Haqqani group, the Taliban who held foreign al Qaeda fighters in such high esteem in the Rohdes account with the New York Times, is operationally allied with Mullah Omar who is said to be ready to jettison al Qaeda’s presence after a return to power.

Most violence in the province has been linked to the Haqqani network, which operates out of havens on both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border and has taken responsibility for dozens of attacks around Afghanistan.

The group was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who made his name as a leader of the Islamist uprising against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. More recently, the militants introduced the use of suicide bombings to Afghanistan.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, said his fighters didn’t want to capture heavily populated areas because the operations would likely result in significant casualties among insurgents and civilians. Still, he made clear his group had no intention of abandoning its focus on Khost. “Every now and then we want to carry out coordinated group attacks,” he said.

An American military official who recently served in eastern Afghanistan said the U.S. had intercepted communications suggesting the Haqqani leadership was closely coordinating its activities in Khost with Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader, who is believed to be in Pakistan. “It’s a division of labor, with each group focusing on a different part of Afghanistan,” the official said.

The official said some U.S. intelligence officers suspect that the Haqqani leadership had offered to conquer Khost in exchange for a promise from Mullah Omar that the family would be allowed to rule large swaths of eastern Afghanistan if the armed group eventually retook control of the country.

And it’s now believed that the Taliban and / or al Qaeda are helping the Gaza insurgents to fabricate much more sophisticated bombs for use in their terrorist efforts.  The battles between certain factions of the Taliban and al Qaeda must be seen as internecine spats – as intramural struggles.  They don’t represent a terminus.  They are quite public debates over strategy and tactics rather than policy and doctrine.  It’s important not to conflate one with the other.  Believing that any faction of the Taliban would actually risk their lives to battle al Qaeda because of the former’s focus on the region and the focus of the later on the globe is not only unwise, it is profoundly bad logic.

As for David Rohdes, everything and everyone else takes second place (or less) to direct, first hand knowledge to someone who has been there and seen these things first hand.  Rohdes is now in the position of being a subject matter expert – perhaps the foremost and most knowledgeable one in the world.  Rejection of his analysis because it creates discomfort for one strategic option (i.e., separating the “good” Taliban from the bad) is paramount to rejection of the preeminent scholar in the field of study.  From his time with the Taliban, Rohdes has earned the equivalent of a Doctorate in Jihadist Islamic studies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Finally, the fact that certain jihadi web sites may be “abuzz” with emotion over a coming split between the Taliban and al Qaeda simply isn’t important.  It’s as irrelevant and insignificant as the silly and gross exaggerations of U.S. and NATO casualties inflicted by the Taliban at the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Voice of Jihad).

Mullen Pops Jones in the Back of the Head

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 3 months ago

You know all about National Security Advisor Jim Jones’ terse warning to the commanders in Afghanistan that they had gotten all of the troops they were going to get?  As it turns out, Mullen decided that he would respond by giving Jones a pop to the back of the head.

WALLACE: You talked about troop levels. I want to talk about not just in southern Afghanistan but throughout the country…

MULLEN: Sure.

WALLACE: … because there seem to be mixed messages this week about our troop level policy for Afghanistan.

National Security Adviser James Jones was quoted this week as telling U.S. commanders they are not to expect any more troops beyond what the president has already promised.

You were quoted the next day as saying the top new commander, General McChrystal, is going to make a review, and he can ask for as many troops as he wants. Admiral, which is it?

MULLEN: I’ve had — I’ve had discussions with General Jones, also with the president, and I think we’re all committed to making sure we resource this correctly.

President Obama has committed the forces that we’ve asked this year. General McChrystal, who is the brand-new leader there, is in the middle of an assessment. He’ll come back in about 45 days with his assessment in terms of what he needs.

My guidance to him had been, “Tell us what you need, and then come back and we’ll work that.” And it’s guidance that both General Jones and the president understands and support.

I think one of the points is we have to make sure that every single American that is there is one that we absolutely need.

In addition, the commander on the ground has to assess with a new strategy, and he’s a — and new leadership — really zero base — not just what’s there, but what he needs for the future, and we expect that sometime the end of July or middle of August.

We’ll see if the administration deploys the necessary troops and does the necessary logistics to ensure that the campaign ends acceptably.  In the mean time, it couldn’t be clearer.  Jim Jones is not a serious man, and as a sign of his impotence and uselessness to us in his current position, Mullen has had to tell him to shut up because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  Jim Jones should resign.

Prior:

Calling on National Security Advisor James L. Jones to Resign

Afghanistan: The WTF? War

Where is the Afghan National Army?

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 3 months ago

General Nicholson asks what is apparently the popular and salient question.  Where is the Afghan National Army?

About 650 Afghan soldiers and police officers have joined the estimated 4,000 Marines in the offensive.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The fact of the matter is, we don’t have enough Afghan forces,” Nicholson said during a telephone briefing from Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan. “And I’d like more.”

While there is a plan to send more Afghan troops to the region, Nicholson said, “they’re just not available right now.”

Nicholson said he would like to have all of his Marine battalions paired up with Afghan battalions – a process he predicted would take at least several months.

Ralph Peters is asking the same question.

LAST week, 4,000 US Marines launched a major operation in Helmand, the poppy- queen province in southern Afghanistan. The Marines performed magnificently, reaching their objectives with minimal casualties — mostly from the 110-degree heat. But something important was missing: Afghans in uniform.

A few hundred Afghan players showed up in the backfield. But the village elders saw American guns.

The Marine mission is to provide security for villagers, build trust and instill confidence in the Kabul government. This would all be far easier if the Afghan military and police were competent, trustworthy and present.

After 7½ years in Afghanistan and despite extensive efforts, we and our NATO allies have produced only a now-you-see-’em-now-you-don’t Afghan army. The police are corrupt, partisan and loathed by the population.

There is yet again another discussion of the same thing at the Small Wars Journal, a subject we already briefly addressed.

We have seen this before in Iraq where the goal was training and turnover to the Iraqi Security Forces.  Note however, that Marine operations in the Anbar Province didn’t start with ISF assistance, or even end with it.  Given national patience and the fortitude to see the campaign through, there is no reason that the Marines need anyone else to perform counterinsurgency operations in Helmand – at least, not right now.  It’s no different from the campaign in Anbar.

Eventually the Marines will leave, just as they left Anbar.  But we are at the beginning stages of true COIN operations, and The Captain’s Journal is no more surprised at the lack of functional, reliable ANA troops to accompany and be mentored by the Marines than we are dismayed by the lack of ANA support for the Marine Corps operations.  Surprise and dismay at this development underscores a basic naivety concerning where we stand in Afghanistan.

But the message isn’t coming through.  So let’s have another round on this issue, this time in pictures.  Here is the latest DoD report to Congress on Afghanistan, and a graph of ANA readiness.

The following description attends the pictorial metric.

As of November 2008, the ANA had seven battalions and one brigade and one corps headquarters rated at Capability Milestone (CM)1: capable of operating independently. Twenty-nine battalions/squadrons, six brigade headquarters, and three corps headquarters were reported at the CM2 level: capable of planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations at the battalion level with international support. Twenty-five battalions/squadrons, four brigade headquarters, one corps headquarters, and the ANAAC headquarters were reported at the CM3: partially capable of conducting counterinsurgency operations at the company level with support from international forces. Six battalions/squadrons and one brigade headquarters are reported at CM4: formed but not yet capable of conducting primary operational missions. Finally, there are eighteen battalions/squadrons and two brigade headquarters that are still not formed or reporting.

We must see the better part of this decade as lost time in Afghanistan.  That doesn’t mean that Soldiers’ and Marines’ lives have been wasted, or that our efforts have gone to no avail.  It does mean, however, that we have been barely able to maintain conditions inhospitable to a major Taliban takeover.  We are starting from scratch, with a steadily degrading security situation.  For another pictorial description, see the following video with General Petraeus, and pay particular attention to the presentation around 2:20

This particular graph of security incidents has not come out in the public domain that I can find, but it is helpful.  We must see the situation as similar to the one in Iraq at its worst, and then again, the conditions are even worse than that.  The country is almost non-existent, there is no sense of nationalism, and there is significant drug abuse and incompetency in the Afghan National Army.  It has been estimated that if the ANA were to implement drug testing, it would lose as much as 85% of its forces.

Surprise at this statistic and at the lack of ANA troops to accompany the Marines through Helmand only underscores a basic naivety concerning the situation in which we find ourselves in Afghanistan.  We are starting over, and impatience with the campaign will only bring frustration to ourselves and the Afghanis.  This will be the longest campaign of the long war.

Calling on National Security Advisor James L. Jones to Resign

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 3 months ago

As we had previously discussed, a recent visit by National Security Advisor Jim Jones to the front lines in Afghanistan was an opportunity to say, one Marine to another, you get no more support from us.  You’re on your own.

During the briefing, (Brig. Gen. Lawrence) Nicholson had told Jones that he was “a little light,” more than hinting that he could use more forces, probably thousands more. “We don’t have enough force to go everywhere,” Nicholson said.

But Jones recalled how Obama had initially decided to deploy additional forces this year. “At a table much like this,” Jones said, referring to the polished wood table in the White House Situation Room, “the president’s principals met and agreed to recommend 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan.” The principals — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Gates; Mullen; and the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair — made this recommendation in February during the first full month of the Obama administration. The president approved the deployments, which included Nicholson’s Marines.

Soon after that, Jones said, the principals told the president, “oops,” we need an additional 4,000 to help train the Afghan army.

“They then said, ‘If you do all that, we think we can turn this around,’ ” Jones said, reminding the Marines here that the president had quickly approved and publicly announced the additional 4,000.

Now suppose you’re the president, Jones told them, and the requests come into the White House for yet more force. How do you think Obama might look at this? Jones asked, casting his eyes around the colonels. How do you think he might feel?

Jones let the question hang in the air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted room. Nicholson and the colonels said nothing.

Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have “a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.” Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF — which in the military and elsewhere means “What the [expletive]?”

Nicholson and his colonels — all or nearly all veterans of Iraq — seemed to blanch at the unambiguous message that this might be all the troops they were going to get.

To which The Captain’s Journal responded:

It’s his job – while all of the other principals are outlining a strategy and force projection that they believe will be endorsed by the President – to be whispering in the ear of the President: “Listen to them, but only so far.  Iraq has taught us that this is harder than we think it will be on our first or even second or third take.  If they’re telling you that the Afghan National Army can substitute for our own troops, they aren’t accounting for the drug addiction, incompetence and treachery of the Afghan Army.  This will be long term, protracted, part of the long war.  Iraq was long and hard, and Petraeus rightly said that Afghanistan would be the longest engagement in the long war.  Fully expect for them to come back asking for more troops, because they will need them.  You are a wartime President, sir.”

But his malfeasance in office gets even worse, and we recently learned about the apparently extent of the error in his Afghanistan narrative.

How this is Obama’s war as opposed to America’s war we aren’t told.  Nor are we told how sending more troops to kill Taliban and secure Afghanistan is risky to the campaign in this horrible report.  The report is mostly worthless, except for what we learn about Jones, who said:

The arrival of new troops, coupled with a strategy that is much broader, and that is more multifaceted, has the potential to turn this thing around in reasonably short order.

Really?  Seriously? In reasonably short order?  Remember those words.  So what is this new strategy?

“This will not be won by the military alone,” Jones said in an interview during his trip. “We tried that for six years.” He also said: “The piece of the strategy that has to work in the next year is economic development. If that is not done right, there are not enough troops in the world to succeed.”

This statement is remarkable not for what it advocates – the softer side of counterinsurgency and nation building – but for what it doesn’t.  Michael Yon’s most recent report from Afghanistan shows the need for a vibrant economy in order to prevent low level insurgents from earning money by working for the hard core Taliban.  But Jones misleads us when he states that we have tried military action alone for six years.

There has been significant effort put into construction, projects (consider for instance the Kajaki Dam and the effort placed into reclaiming the ring road), and nation building (see The U.S. Department of Agriculture Does COIN).  More could be done, but it isn’t correct to assert that there has been no effort placed into economic development.

It is equally incorrect to say that the military option has been tried.  No, the high value target campaign conducted by clandestine SF operators against mid-level Taliban commanders has been tried.  Classical counterinsurgency with significant military force projection (like with the Marines in the Anbar Province of Iraq) hasn’t been tried until now.  And hence, the reason the Marine Colonels went ashen when they heard Jones say that they had all of the troops they were going to get.  They come from the Anbar Province, and they thought that they were going into the Helmand Province of Afghanistan to conduct classical counterinsurgency.  Apparently not, and so there will remain vast amounts of territory in the hands of the Taliban.

As for economic revitalization while the Taliban still roam free, Philip Smucker gives us a look into what this means.

QALA-I-NAW, Badghis province – At dusk when the sun slips over the parched hills in northwestern Afghanistan, spreading a pink hue over the land, families and caravans stop to spend the night in the poorest province in the poorest country of Asia. The wells are dry, lights do not burn and hopes remain muted.

This is a story about people living in an arid, unforgiving moonscape; one that could be mistaken for the middle of nowhere, but could one day be a major stop on one of the most important highways in Asia.

For three years, the United States, China, the Asian Development Bank and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have promised the residents of Badghis province integration with the rest of Asia. They have vowed to complete the last link of Afghanistan’s national ring road, which will connect western China and Central Asian countries through Afghanistan with Iranian seaports and world markets.

Blocking the way, however, is an expanding Taliban insurgency, which feeds off the idea that the world does not care enough to complete the work. As attacks on road workers have increased and US-led NATO offensives have failed to pacify the region, the stakes have grown ever higher.

“Promises have been given and most of them have been broken,” said Monshi Ramazan, the embittered head of the Badghis’ provincial council. Meanwhile, Taliban attacks on government and NATO’s mostly-Spanish forces are up by 300% in the past three years.

Halima Ralipaima, the head of Badghis’ Women’s Affairs Department, said that she had been “unable to travel in the province for two years” and that her workers were now being kidnapped and held hostage by the Taliban. She said the Taliban were threatening to destroy even small educational gains for girls made since late 2001 when the Taliban were driven from power.

Delays in completing the road – effectively managed by insurgents determined to stop it – have led Western analysts and NATO officials to warn that the Taliban are gaining steady support across Badghis. Once far-removed from the fighting elsewhere in Afghanistan, Badghis, they say, has become a new insurgent base and the Taliban’s “gateway to the north” – the same route to conquest that the insurgents took in the mid-1990s when they rose to power.

There are signs, however, that with an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Taliban fighters now lying in wait for Chinese and Afghan road workers, NATO and the United States military are finally taking the threat – and their own promises – seriously.

… it wasn’t until five months on the job, last September, that 55-year-old Tucker of Charlotte, North Carolina, realized that “we had given the highways away to the enemy. I was shocked,” he said in an interview.

Tucker found out the hard way when he asked for air support in northwest Afghanistan from the massive NATO and US base in Kandahar and was told that the helicopters he needed were required for southern resupply operations. “I told them that they should resupply by vehicle and the answer back was that, ‘we don’t control the roads’,” said Tucker, who sniped that the Kandahar base had become little more than a NATO “R&R facility”.

“That is what happens when you are running around trying to kill the enemy in a zero-sum game and you don’t have enough troops,” he said.

Worse still, even though Jones knows that the Colonels need more troops and that economic revitalization won’t occur without security, his narrative is that some economic development can “turn this thing around in reasonably short order.”

If we have learned anything from the experience in Iraq, it is that there must be national and institutional patience.  Counterinsurgency done right takes a long time, and Petraeus himself said that of the campaigns in the so-called long war, Afghanistan would be longest.

I did a week-long assessment in 2005 at (then Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld’s request. Following our return, I told him that Afghanistan was going to be the longest campaign of what we then termed “the long war.” Having just been to Afghanistan a month or so ago, I think that that remains a valid assessment. Moreover, the trends have clearly been in the wrong direction.

So not only has James Jones told the Colonels that they don’t really need the troops they say they need, and not only is he purveying the wrong narrative about what we have done in Afghanistan, he is asserting that the “new strategy” will turn the campaign around in reasonably short order with Petraeus asserting that it would be the longest of the campaigns in the long war.

Jim Jones is not a serious man.  He is clearly way over his head in the office of National Security Advisor, and the narrative that he is peddling is not just wrong – it is dangerous because it is so misleading.  It’s time for Jones to tender his resignation as National Security Advisor and allow someone to tackle the job who is up to the job.  It’s time for the General to retire.

Prior on Jones: Afghanistan: The WTF? War

Prior Featured Articles:

Marines Take the Fight to the Enemy in Now Zad

Taliban Tactics: Massing of Troops

And others in the Featured category

tamiflu capsules Swine Flu Cancun tamiflu or relenza
Tamiflu wikipedia tamiflu withdrawal 588. Treatment For Stomach Flu Rumsfeld tamiflu rumsfeld’s growing stake in tamiflu 397.
soap note on tamiflu Swine Flu Update incubation period for swine flu
swine flu cases Tamiflu Effective tamiflu suspension
how is the swine flu transmitted Cancun Swine Flu swine flu origin
flu symtoms Tamiflu Roche stopped tamiflu early
roche tamiflu Tamiflu Canada swine flu
tamiflu rumsfield! San Luis Potosi Swine Flu Rumsfeld tamiflu rumsfeld’s growing stake in tamiflu 397.
flu prevention signs! Swine Flu San Antonio tamiflu without a prescription
flu treatment Parvo Tamiflu swine flu prevention kits
buy tamiflu w/ no prescription Tamiflu Cod flu symptoms
alendronic acid tamiflu, Over The Counter Tamiflu “san luis potosi swine flu”
swine flu cartoon Donald Rumsfeld Tamiflu what are some treatments of swine flu
flu mask p95? Flu Vaccine Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis cold and flu remedy
order tamiflu Swine Flu Mask tamiflu pregnancy
can you get better from h1n1 without tamiflu Swine Flu Locations comprar tamiflu
acheter tamiflu Swine Flu Veracruz there is no treatment for swine flu
how long does the flu usually last Swine Flu Conspiracy swine flu cdc
tamiflu or relenza Herbal Tamiflu Recipe tamiflu for children

The Pakistan Border and Covert Operations

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 1 month ago

An unusually clear-headed letter appeared in Pakistan’s The Post concerning the Pakistan-Afghan border, ending with the following observation.

Ordinarily, coalition partners should not be concerned about border issues when they have a common objective and Former Ambassador Zafar Hilaly made a valid point that the enemy neither respects nor recognises borders, and yet the nation quibbles about border violations. The fact that militancy found a willing stronghold within the tribal belt shows how easily these people surrendered their ‘sovereignty’ to the enemy. Those who vow to defend our territorial integrity against the ‘Farangi’ invader forfeited the right when the first Taliban crossed over to Pakistan after 2001. But someone needs to clean up this mess and it is preferable to have Pakistan at the helm only because our national pride will not permit otherwise. If Pakistan can convince the Americans that they can sort out their side of the border, they must then convince this nation to let them.

For the last four years Pakistan has been gaming the campaign against extremists in order to continue to procure money from the U.S. They shoot at empty buildings, pretend to engage the Taliban fighters, and then “make agreements” with them through jirgas. Although the recent bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad has been called Pakistan’s 9/11, The Captain’s Journal is still skeptical. It is more than just the Pashtuns who have given up their right to defend Pakistan from U.S. incursions. The Pakistan Army’s gaming of operations against the Taliban for U.S. dollars has also lost them the credibility to conduct real operations against the Taliban or complain when the U.S. does.

The U.S. must take whatever action deemed appropriate by CENTCOM and its new head General Petraeus. But regular readers of The Captain’s Journal know that we do not advocate treating the campaign as a counterterrorism campaign against high value targets. Special forces, we have claimed, cannot win a counterinsurgency. This requires infantry. Steve Coll of The New Yorker recently made an analogous observation concerning covert policy.

On television shows and in the movies, we romanticize covert action of this kind as bold and daring, but military history suggests that it is usually of very limited strategic value. It is usually most effective, as it was during the Second World War, when it serves as a kind of extension or multiplier of a successful overt policy. This may have been the case, too, with the covert action arm of the “surge,” which Bob Woodward has highlighted in his recent book. But covert action fails, as at the Bay of Pigs, when frustrated and desperate Presidents seize on secret war as a substitute for a successful declared or open policy that also involves diplomacy, economic measures, and so forth. The problem with covert U.S. raids in the Pakistani tribal territories today is not that they are unjustified—the Taliban and Al Qaeda are vicious adversaries, and they pose what the national-security lawyers call a “clear and present danger” to the United States and to Pakistan. The problem is that in the attenuating months of the Bush Administration, covert policy has dominated U.S. policy, and often controlled it—and it obviously isn’t working.

As an editorial note, we don’t necessarily agree with Woodward’s characterization of anything concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also, Coll’s assessment that more diplomacy and money are needed in order to consider our actions “policy” is amusing. Diplomacy and money – along with covert special forces and CIA operations – have been the cornerstone of our policy in Pakistan from the beginning.


26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (675)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (28)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (6)
Ammunition (14)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
AR-15s (38)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (34)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (44)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (15)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (4)
Body Armor (16)
Books (2)
Border War (6)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (26)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (1)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (5)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (214)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (114)
Department of Homeland Security (9)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (5)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (1)
Featured (160)
Federal Firearms Laws (15)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (252)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (38)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (205)
Guns (568)
Guns In National Parks (2)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (34)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (33)
Islamists (37)
Israel (17)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (71)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (8)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (1)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (11)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (7)
Logistics (47)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (229)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (22)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (20)
Mexico (24)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (10)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (13)
NATO (15)
Navy (19)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (205)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (17)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Police (116)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (137)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (75)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (27)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (139)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (22)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Survival (10)
SWAT Raids (50)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (86)
Thanksgiving (4)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (10)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (4)
U.S. Border Security (11)
U.S. Sovereignty (13)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (2)
Uncategorized (38)
Universal Background Check (2)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (2)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (5)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (11)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2014 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.