Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Somalian Deja Vu?

Dr Frederick Kagan - one of the original Iraq Surge creators and advocates - shares a cautionary tale of deja vu.

"Somalia remains a cautionary tale. Its importance to American national security was relatively small. But the commitment of American honor and prestige to the effort increased that importance.

"The humiliating loss of 18 soldiers shook the prestige of the United States and emboldened our enemies, particularly al Qaeda, which continually refers to Mogadishu as evidence of America's weakness. And the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces following that disaster led to the complete collapse of Somalia, ongoing civil war in the Horn of Africa, and an expanding campaign of piracy in the region. It has also strengthened an al Qaeda affiliate preying on the corpse of the Somali state.

"Even so, one might have argued in early 1993 that the benefits of succeeding in Somalia were not worth the likely costs. The Clinton administration effectively made that decision by placing an arbitrary limit, not based on military requirements, on the number and nature of the forces it would send.

"But that limit made no sense on the ground, with the result that an enemy the United States had disdained was able to inflict an extremely damaging and visible defeat on the U.S. military and derail U.S. foreign policy in the region.

"Obama has said that he does not intend to withdraw from Afghanistan or abandon the counterinsurgency mission he announced on March 27. The White House debate appears to be focusing on an attempt to specify precisely what American objectives are in Afghanistan and avoid needless mission creep.

"But there is also much debate about whether or not to provide the theater commander with the resources he has requested, and which he needs to conduct any kind of counterinsurgency campaign. The example of Somalia can best inform this debate.

"Gen. Stanley McChrystal's force recommendations are based on his assessment of the requirements to accomplish the mission the president gave him at an acceptable level of risk both to the mission and to the American soldiers he commands. Narrowing the mission, even if that were strategically sensible, does not necessarily reduce the requirements to ensure that the risk to U.S. soldiers remains acceptable. The U.S. Army has said that it can produce the forces McChrystal has requested.

"Gates has withdrawn his concerns about expanding the U.S. footprint. There is no military reason not to give the theater commander the resources he requests.

"There is every reason, on the contrary, to do so, if only to avoid the risk of endangering American soldiers and increasing the possibility of another "Black Hawk Down."

Pic - "The Messenger"


Peter said...

Actually, the "Blackhawk Down" incident was only a defeat because the media said it was. We lost eighteen soldiers. That's too bad but in my war, Viet Nam, eighteen troops lost in one fight was just business as usual.

The soldiers in "Blackhawk dow completed their mission, they delicered the bad guy prisoners to the base. They also killed a few boxcar loads of bad guys, and would have killed far more, with fewer of our own as KIA and WIA if we'd had the tanks and AC130 Specre aircrat on station as the commanders on the ground asked for.

The lesson of "Blackhawk Down" is one I hope General MacC has learned, if the idiots in Washington, DC do not come through with the men and women, and equipment the commander on the ground requests, retire. And go public.

Personally I propose a Constitutional Amendment, no United States troops shall be put into harms way when Democrats control any one of the three branches of government.

Peter said...

Sorry for the typos. Preview is my friend. Preview is my friend. Preview is my friend. So, why do I always forget to use it?