Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"We Can Win"

As James Mann pointed out in his essential piece "Rise of the Vulcans," Great Satan has developed a super savvy cadre of cats whose careers revolve around Pentagon - either they served in the military, worked for the DoD or studied and taught them - sometimes - all of the above.

As one of the 2nd generation of Vulcans (v2.0) Dr Kimberly Kagan is pres and creator of Institute for the Study of War and the author of The Surge: A Military History. She has traveled twice to Afghanistan this year to review military operations, the second time as part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's formal strategic assessment team.

Swapping out commanders in AFPAKland and General Mc's eagerly awaited assesment of the sitch in theatre has sparked concern that AFPAK is going going gone - that Taliban has gained the upper hand in Afghanistan.

Dr Kimberly has a great piece on the challenges, past errors and future designs for actually winning in AFPAK @ FoPo Online.

Her climax answers the quiz "Can We Win?"-

"Some answer simply and sharply in the negative: They claim that Afghanistan has never been centrally ruled (which is wrong) and that it has been the "graveyard of empires" (which is true in only a specific handful of cases).

"Failure is not at all inevitable. The war in Afghanistan has suffered almost from the start from a lack of resources, especially the time and attention of senior policymakers. The United States prioritized the war in Iraq from 2007 until 2009, for strategically sound reasons.

"Some of this parsimony also comes from flawed theories of counterinsurgency: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, for example, misreads the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, which has consistently led him to argue incorrectly against expanding the size of the force there, claiming that it increases the risks of failure.

"We can win in Afghanistan, but only if we restructure the campaign and resource it properly. Adding more resources to the military effort as it has been conducted over the past few years, without fundamentally changing its conception, design, and execution, would achieve little.

"This was also the case in Iraq before the surge, and the change in strategy and campaign plan that followed was as important to success as the additional resources.

"This explains why McChrystal might adopt a different campaign design -- perhaps requiring additional military resources -- when he submits his formal assessment to the U.S. secretary of defense and NATO secretary-general sometime after the Afghan elections.

"The fact that we have not been doing the right things for the past few years in Afghanistan is actually good news at this moment. A sound, properly resourced counterinsurgency has not failed in Afghanistan; it has never even been tried. So there is good reason to think that such a new strategy can succeed now.

"But we have to hurry, for as is often the case in these kinds of war, if you aren't winning, you're losing.

Art -"Kimberly Kills" by Ridiculous Nicholaus


Peter said...

I certainly believe the US Military can win this fight. I am not at all sure that this adminstration even wants to.

There are just too many people in high places in this government that would like nothing more than to bleed the military white with idiotic and ill conceived ventures so they can point to the mess ans say "See! War never solves anything!