Thursday, March 15, 2012

Where To From Here?

 Way back in the last millennium, Great Satan"s Total War avuncular avatar expertly laughingly LOL"d recent repentant rowdy slave trading confederate pleas for chivalrous mercies with the Clausewitizian caveat "War is heck, b!tches"

Comp'd w/Uncle Leon"s Afghandyland uncomfy visiting visionary vespers

“We will be challenged by our enemies, we will be challenged by ourselves, we will be challenged by the hell of war itself."

Check. Got it - yet the quiz is - what next?
Some are wondering whether it's time to declare this mission accomplished -- or with Afghanistan so troubled, perhaps it's mission impossible? In fact, it is mission incomplete: The Afghanistan mission is going worse than we had all hoped, but better than many understand. With patience and perseverance, we can still struggle to a tolerable outcome.
The plan for 2012 and 2013 focuses on several key priorities. First, international forces will work to secure areas south of Kabul, so the country's ring road connecting it to Kandahar can be safely traveled and so the capital can be better protected from insurgents by a layered defense. Most of the ring road is already reasonably secure, or at least usable; international forces now need to work with Afghans to complete the job.
Second, the International Security Assistance Force will deepen its hold over the south, while gradually handing off more responsibility there and elsewhere to Afghan forces. Major developments are in the works already on this front, and in the course of 2012 we will see major U.S. and other NATO troop reductions in Helmand and Kandahar.
Third, international forces will continue their efforts to strengthen Afghan security forces to their requisite size and capability -- a process that will remain intensive for about two more years, before reaching the goal of at least 350,000 trained and equipped Afghan army and police members who have not only gone through basic training, but spent at least a year in the field in a form of apprenticeship with NATO forces. It is important that the U.S. administration stay committed to this goal, which will be reached by late 2013 or early 2014 based on current trends.
None of the above is requitable less foreign combatty NATO cats are in the hood

As best understood - there are 3 deals that could be dealt 

Exit By Denial:

We can go on trying to preserve as much of the past strategy as possible. We can continue setting impossible goals for transforming the Afghans and for continuing levels of U.S. and allied funding and support.
We can ignore all of the pressures building up on both sides as mistrust continues to rise, pledges are made and not kept, and outside forces and spending drops faster than planned. We can focus on empty policy statements, concepts, and conferences. We can continue to report nothing but good news or spin reality as best our public affairs officers can manage. We can waste much of the limited time left before 2014, play out a partisan debate through November 2012, and then join our allies in blundering out as best we can.

Honest Exit
We do not put political cosmetics and face-saving gestures first. We accept the fact that we will not sustain the level of effort needed through 2014, much less beyond. We accept what this means for peace negotiations. We don’t promise the Afghans more money and forces than they will really get.

We deal with the human consequences of these actions and ensure that those Afghans who worked with us are safe. We provide at least enough money and support so that, if there is a chance that the Afghan government and forces can survive with a far lower level of resources, they have at least that much support.
 We try to work with Pakistan, China, Russia, the Central Asian states, and even Iran to do as much as possible to limit the role of the Taliban and other insurgents, protect the non-Pashtun areas in the north and the large numbers of urban and other northern Pashtuns, and give Kabul a meaningful role. These efforts may well fail, but they at least offer the Afghans some chance.

Real Transition Exit
The most challenging. Plan with real resources through a period that is likely to last at least through 2020. This does not mean going on with the current strategy. It means a comprehensive and honest reassessment of what can be done to enable the Afghans to do things their way and largely on their own as soon as possible.
 It means dealing with Afghan anger and perceptions by ending much of the criticism and calls for reform. It means accepting the fact that continued aid will have to go to the same power structure that now exists and facing the reality that most current abuses of government, policing, human rights, and the justice system will only change when Afghans are ready to change them.
 It means a zero-based examination of what kind of Afghan security forces can really be created with the money and time available, as well as what level of U.S. and allied advisory and partnering presence is both needed and feasible given the security problems and tensions on both sides and real world future resource constraints. It means accepting a narco-economy, power brokers, and Afghan management of development and operating aid funds, where the most that can be done from the outside is penalize gross waste and corruption.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to know how feasible such a strategy really is. It requires a transition plan we have failed to develop, a level of interagency and international cooperation and realism that does not yet exist, and a far more honest dialogue with the Afghans than has taken place to date. It is the most responsible strategy of the three, in theory, and the one most likely to serve our longer-term strategic interests, but it is far from clear that we can go from “exit by denial” to a “real transition” plan in practice.

Pic - "Afghans, the Taliban and neighbors such as Pakistan can reasonably conclude that Great Satan, rather than trying to win the war, is racing to implement an exit strategy"


SteveS said...

I've never seen Sherman's letter to citizens of Atlanta before. Not quite the warmongering madman he is usually portrayed as. And as good an explanation of "We'll kick your ass until you give up" as an exit strategy as you'll find. I think they called that 'winning' in the olden days.