Monday, October 26, 2009

So, Afghanistan

Lets have a little refresher, of which I was too young to know of and definitely didn't learn growing up.

In response to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and part of its overall Cold War strategy, the United States responded by arming and otherwise supporting the Afghan mujahideen, which had taken up arms against the Soviet occupiers. U.S. support began during the Carter administration, but increased substantially during the Reagan administration.

Following the removal of the Soviet forces, the U.S. and its allies lost interest in Afghanistan and did little to help rebuild the war-ravaged country or influence events there.

After years of infighting, a village mullah organized a new armed movement with the backing of Pakistan. This movement became known as the Taliban. By 1996, with backing from the Pakistani ISI and Military of Pakistan, as well as al-Qaeda, the Taliban had largely defeated the militias and controlled most of the country. Since 2001, with US-NATO intervention, the Taliban were ousted from power and a new Afghan government was formed. Many of the former mujahideen gradually were incorporated into the new Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

Now lets not forget that Osama bin laden was a member of the CIA trained and funded mujahideen and 1988, bin Laden had split from his associates and started al-Qaeda.

Sooooo we find ourselves still in Afghanistan. We have two choices in front of us now. Counter Terrorism or Counter Insurgency if I may take some coined terms. We are beyond just leaving the people of Afghanistan, and we must come to the realization that we will be there for a much longer time then I fear our population has the stomach for.

If we go the counter terrorism route, one in which we are just there to clear out the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, let me offer this analogy. They will be the criminals and drug dealers in a local area of town, and we are the city cops (not much of a stretch for an analogy, but whatever.) Once the cops go in and do a sweep, without continued presence of support from the community the crime and the drugs will just ooze back in.

Now of the counter insurgency way. This way must have the support of the population behind it. That population must have trust in its government. Much like gangs, the people look to who will protect them the most. And we MUST get the afghan people to trust in their government to keep them safe and not the Taliban or others. Now for us to work well in Afghanistan we must have a government there chosen by the people, to ensure that the people will be behind our efforts in securing their safety and our protection domestic and foreign. In a country as mountainous and tribally controlled as Afghanistan, support of the people is a MUST.

Both of these choices require time, money and troops. So I'm going the troops route. We are a volunteer military and our pool of candidates is growing, not in the number of available heroes but in our waist sizes. One way to offset that is the automation of our power, which we are working on.

Next, troop allocations. The current climate in the "news" media is that we must commit troops now! Do it now! Our troops are dying while you sit and twiddle your thumbs! What is so wrong with working on a fully comprehensive plan on the future of our affairs in that region. We have Afghanistan to worry about, a nuclear Pakistan under attack by al-qaeda and the like, Iraq is still being attacked from within, and a possible nuclear Iran to contend with. What is so wrong with not just dropping some 40k of our troops without a proper course of action.

Where are we to get these troops immediately? Pull them from our bases in from the surrounding areas? We are removing troops from Iraq and expect to be fully out of there by the end of next year. What in the hell is so wrong with giving our soldiers time to come home and be with family and relax before us armchair quarterbacks send them back into the tray.

I heard the other day on the radio paraphrased cause my memory is bad at times "I hope we can just sustain long enough in Afghanistan until we can get a better president who can make the grown up decisions."

Time to digress more because I'm already starting it. Why is it that we demand military courses of action told to us on national television? Why is it that we demand to know pending troop activities and asset allocations broadcast on the public airs? Is it really that hard to think that someone over seas with a satellite and sit and watch everything that we say in the "news" media and not use that against us? "HEY! We are sending 10k troops into your town in a week, so go ahead and get ready for us, set up your traps and IED's,"

... Anyways. In the end we are there for a while and will probably end up in other countries because we are down that path now. It is all for our solidarity in finance, resources and protection. But remember this, one can destroy the body but you cannot destroy the spirit. No matter where we go, how much money we invest and countries we help... the religious and philosophical views that align against us will never go away.

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