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Afghanistan: Boots on the Ground Report: The Cost of Delay

27 October 2009 No Comment

Today eight American troops died in two separate bomb attacks in South Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month of the war for U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban. Brigadier General (R) Anthony J. Tata at Biggovernment.com writes about the cost of President Obama’s indecision in Afghanistan.

While the Obama violinists’ supple wrists magically fiddle with their bows, the firefights continue in Afghanistan. General Stan McChrystal’s thorough assessment requesting 60,000-40,000 additional troops is now over seven weeks old and the Obama administration’s duplicity is becoming more evident by the day.

This amazing lack of dexterity is rather stunning given then candidate-Obama’s pledge that this was a war of necessity that we must win. Was that really just a headline grabber to convince moderate democrats that he would be strong on defense? It is increasingly appearing that way.

So let me be clear about the cost of delay:

First, while Obama has deliberated, troops he has previously described as “under resourced” are fighting and dying…and still under resourced.

Second, the Taliban are terrorizing civilians in those areas that lack significant or any coalition force presence and very courageous political leaders at the local governance level are left defenseless.

Third, we may miss the window of opportunity presented by the traditional Taliban operational pause in December and January.

Fourth, we exponentially complicate the deployment and reception of the 40,000 troops as ships have to be ordered, planes scheduled, operating bases built, and supplies delivered.

Fifth, had Obama acted promptly, he may have had additional troops to help with the election runoff agreed upon this week.

Sixth, with each day that Stan McChrystal’s request goes unanswered, the president gives the green light for his legions of political hacks and pudgy pundits, none of whom can hold McChrystal’s jock strap, to malign the general and minimize both his stature and his assessment. No biggie to McChrystal personally, but the enemy makes hay with this kind of thing in the terrorist recruiting world.

Make no mistake about it, General McChrystal states clearly in his assessment the criticality of time. He highlights that we must win this in the next 12 months. Obama has already burned through nearly two months of that time making sure he shows McChrystal who’s the boss. His indecision is costing time, lives and trust.

Keep reading…

More… Max Boot’s A Prescription for Tragedy in Afghanistan

The New York Times describes the emerging strategy as “McChrystal for the city, Biden for the country,” a blend of the diametrically opposed approaches advocated by the general (who favors a counterinsurgency strategy) and the vice president (who wants to do counterterrorism operations only). The Times writes that “the administration is looking at protecting Kabul, Kandahar, Maza-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Herat, Jalalabad and a few other village clusters, officials said.” In the rest of Afghanistan, presumably, operations would be limited to a few air raids and Special Operations raids. Other media reports suggest that the administration is looking to send 10,000 to 20,000 troops — not the 40,000 that McChrystal wants.

To Washington politicians, this no doubt sounds like a sensible compromise. To anyone steeped in military strategy it sounds as if it could be a prescription for tragedy. The administration seems intent on doing just enough to keep the war effort going without doing enough to win it. That is also what the U.S. did in Iraq from 2003 to 2007, and for that matter in Afghanistan from 2001 to today. The ambivalence of our politicians places US troops in harm’s way without giving them a chance to prevail.