More American Deaths in Afghanistan

Another sad day as we hear of more military casualties in Afghanistan. It’s been reported that an Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) from the 7th Special Forces Group has been ambushed in Afghanistan. Early reports indicate a Blue on Green incident. This is the Afghan military attacking US forces. In 18 plus years we still cannot trust our partner force. Yes, there are good people in the country, but we have no way to vet those we train and wouldn’t if we could. We wouldn’t have enough soldiers to be an army. Their culture is not ready for our type of government or society. Their academics and western leaning leaders have been killed or run out of the country. What is left is not trainable at this time.

Some pundits continue to promote the continuation of troops in CENTCOM in general. They never produce a lucid plan that describes attainable results. The strategy is filled with platitudes and happy thoughts but little in substantial results-oriented plans. There seems to be no analysis of the results we have seen thus far. When something doesn’t work you change your approach. When the ROI is below a certain mark you cut your losses.

How long will the American public continue to support the troop deployments to a country which is over 18 years of war hasn’t seen any noticeable improvement?

The Taliban, who we are in negotiation with, have reported control of over 40% to 60% of Afghanistan. In 18 years we have not been able to stabilize the country and produce a competent military or government. Corruption is rampant and has been for the entire time of US involvement.

Our troops are great at conducting military operations, they are great training others, but they don’t have the authority to make the changes that would be required to create a stable environment in Afghanistan.

It’s time to leave. We can monitor the situation from afar. If a threat to the homeland is seen (sources on the ground- not necessarily our troops), action can be taken at that time to remove the threat.

Operations with Afghan forces are not essential.

There are situations where troops on the ground are the smart move, Afghanistan today is not one of those places.

Democrat candidates’ debate in Iowa

What stands out for me in this last democrat debate before the Iowa caucuses begin, was the fact that no one had any ideas that seem even remotely possible to implement.  From Medicare for all to free college, it’s all silly pandering with no possible way to enact.  When asked about our ongoing wars, all the candidates except one stated the status quo.

Amy Klobuchar stated, “I would leave some troops there, but not in the level that Donald Trump is taking us right now. Afghanistan, I have long wanted to bring our troops home. I would do that. Some would remain for counterterrorism and training.”

So, President Trump has been bringing troops home, not enough in my opinion but generally the right direction.  One certainly can’t look at the recent deployment of troops in reaction to the Iranian situation as it’s most likely very temporary. We have been drawing down in Afghanistan, so, I’m not sure what she is talking about. She never actually states what her numbers would be.

Elizabeth Warren was the only candidate to say unequivocally that she would bring the troops home.

WARREN: No, I think we need to get our combat troops out.

While I like her statement, I don’t believe her.  But still it was a standout response when compared to the other candidates’ weak responses.

Warren also made some good points when talking about General after General telling us the war in Afghanistan has just turned a corner and now will be different.  So, it appears she agrees with President Trump that Generals can’t always be taken at face value.

Tom Steyer just came across as a bit weird.  I’m mean weirder than the rest of the crowd.

As liberal pundit Van Jones said, “Democrats have to do better than what we saw tonight. There was nothing I saw tonight that would be able to take Donald Trump out. And I want to see a Democrat in the White House as soon as possible.”

I guess we’ll see.

It’s been a while

I know, I haven’t been posting anything for over a year.  What happened?  Nothing really. Maybe that’s the problem.  2020 feels like a year to shake things up a bit, re-awaking the motivation again.  One probably needs to do this every so often.  For the past few years I’ve been a bit stagnant.  This was not all my fault to be fair, we had a medical issue in the family and we were struggling day to day.  That situation has largely subsided and I hope to get back to writing and perhaps changing up the job situation. 

I looked back at my last few posts and feel pretty vindicated.  The Afghan Strategy 2018 post still seems pretty accurate. The Afghan papers would seem to back up my thoughts on the war.  Normally I wouldn’t promote The Washington Post but this article, based on the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reports backs up much of what I was thinking.

Trumps Syrian decision also seems to have help up rather well.  Even though we faced another decision in 2019 that was very similar and the pundits, press, and opponents railed against the President predicting dire consequences, there were wrong again.

So, to the new year, a new start and changes, let’s get going.

Trump’s Syrian Decision

Many will criticize President Trump’s decision to withdraw all US ground forces from Syria as soon as possible.  The argument is that it will allow Iran to cause trouble in the region.  There is also fear the Syrian Kurds will be at the mercy of Turkey. 

Perhaps, but my question is how long do we stay?  What is the end state?  It seems that if we place one foot on foreign soil we must stay forever these days. Are we required to help those that have questionable alliances with the US in perpetuity? Can we afford or desire the dependence that continual support brings? (Much like a welfare state does)

We have been in Afghanistan for 17 years. For what?  A corrupt government?  An inept Army? Does anyone think it will actually get better?  No, not one “expert” makes that claim.  Even with decades of US presence in Afghanistan the Taliban currently control approximately 60% of Afghanistan.  The President of Afghanistan has often been called the Mayor of Kabul since he can’t leave the capital without US protection. We know Pakistan continues to harbor Taliban yet other than cutting off some funding (finally under Trump) nothing has been done. Oh, and how is that poppy eradication program going?

Will ISIS arise again?  Maybe.  So what?  What are our national interests?  We can maintain a Counter Terrorism role without troops permanently stationed on the ground. We can strike from Land, Sea, or Air at any time and if we can’t, well that’s just another reason to come home and rebuild our forces.

Iran is already trouble in the region.  They have been since 1979.  Syria has been run by a dictator Assad for years and controlled by Russia.  So, what?  How does putting our troops on the ground in the middle of this mess help further US security?  Are we, the American people willing to remove Assad, push out Russia, destroy Iran and thump Turkey on the noggin?  I don’t think so.  But we are willing to give vague missions to SOF forces then hang them out to dry when they kill the enemy.

This strategy that the military leadership appears to supports only enhances government contracts (money in someone’s pocket) and keeps our troops in harm’s way for no clear reason. Ask any General or Politician what victory looks like in either Syria or Afghanistan and they cannot tell you.  Oh, throw in Africa also.

Until the US Congress starts declaring wars and defining victory as either total destruction or unconditional surrender of a clearly identified enemy, we need to turn our war funds into national infrastructure funds.

Afghan Strategy 2018

The US Afghanistan strategy is not just flawed, it’s effectively non-existent.  The current strategy appears to be to pull back from the outlying areas and concentrate on the city centers hoping to create a situation where the Taliban will negotiate a peace deal.  This was the strategy used when a complete pull-out was proposed during the Obama administration.

As the US pulled back our forces and tried to increase the ANA’s input into their own defense the Taliban has taken back much of the countryside.  The Afghan government doesn’t have the capability after 17 years to hold terrain.  They can barely protect the key cities.  Remember there aren’t many of these “key” locations, Kabul, Kandahar, Mazari Sharif, etc.

There are other factors, however, that a coherent strategy must address.  It’s been an open secret that the Pakistani’s have harbored and continue to harbor the Taliban in the Waziristan region (probably other regions as well).  The Taliban have, since the beginning of the Afghanistan war, fought in Afghanistan and regrouped in Pakistan unabated. Remember Osama Bin Laden was discovered just down the road from the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad. While President Trump has openly questioned Pakistan’s commitment and cut $30 million in aid.  It is unclear what effect these sanctions have or will have.  Is it enough?

Taliban funding? Has the US stopped the large-scale production of Opium that supplies the Taliban? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported a record-setting Opium harvest in 2017.

“According to the latest survey report released today by UNODC, last year’s record levels of production has led to unprecedented levels of potential heroin production. From the 2017 opium harvest, some 550-900 tons of heroin of export quality (purity between 50 and 70 percent) can be produced.”

Remember the poppy eradication program? Yeah, neither do the Afghan farmers or the Taliban.  It wasn’t real.  Just a show.  One acre burned while ten left alone. Photo OPS then they are gone! Military and civilian leaders claimed they couldn’t really stop the poppy growth as it would hurt the farmers and turn them to the Taliban.  The Taliban that they already grow for.  It must be political logic.

Then there is the challenge of the Afghan government’s corruption? The US was in such a hurry to turn the Afghan government back over to the Afghans that the US didn’t ensure the individuals that were put into power were reliable.  Corruption is a natural state of the Afghan culture. It isn’t easy just put someone in place (or allow a vote) and not monitor and correct the actions of the new officials.  If they are as corrupt as the last what have gained?  It’s understandable to an extent that if US officials actually run the show then the Afghan officials will simply be puppets.  This is true but how else does one implement a concept as foreign as honest government without such a plan.

The US has had 9 Afghan campaign commanders.  This is not that way to “win” anything.  This has become just another rotation.  Check one more block. What is the incentive for a commander to take decisive action?  Why take the risk?  Just maintain what we have had and move on up. This also applies to the idea of Unit rotations.  This is a great plan for Congress who isn’t held accountable for a real “WAR”.  They just continue to fund without declaring war thus continuing the combat in decreased numbers but without end.

“What we’ve got here is a .. failure to communicate.” “Some men you just can’t reach.” (The Captain, Cool Hand Luke-1967)

Padmaavat

Surprisingly good move!

So my wife and I were looking for a movie to watch last night. Both of us wanted something different, a change from the normal Hollywood formula scripts. After opening Amazon Prime we decided on an Indian film “Padmaavat”. Now, having been assigned to some locations in the general vicinity of India (although never actually there) I have had the chance (nothing else to see on local TV) to watch some “Bollywood” films before. They are known for some silliness and lots of music and dancing right in the middle of some drama scenes. It always led to some laughs. The problem was most of these movies were pretty low budget and not very good. Granted I don’t watch a lot of Indian films so there may be many very good films that I simple don’t see in America.


So what is it all about? It’s set in India/Afghanistan in 1303AD. Alluaddin (Bad Guy) a tyrant of the Khilji who marries his cousin the Sultan of Khilji’s daughter then kills his uncle to be the new Sultan. He must possess everything precious.

Meanwhile, the king of Chittor Maharawal Ratan Singh (good guy) meets and marries Padmaavat a beautiful princess. The devious royal priest Raghav Chetan is caught watching Ratan and Padmaavat in a private moment and is cast out of the kingdom. This apparently pisses him off and he vows revenge.

So the turd Chetan travels to Delhi and tells Alluaddin about Padmaavat’s beauty and convinces Alluaddin that his destiny is tied to Padmaavat. Alluaddin spends the rest of the movie trying to destroy the kingdom of Chittor until he’s able to see Padmaavat.

Yes it sounds kind of like a chick flick at this point. But I took it more like an Indian Shakespearian movie. Love, tragedy, treachery, warfare etc…

It has a lot of stunning visual shots although the CGI can be a bit cheesy, but overall not bad. It’s filmed in an epic style which Hollywood is sorely missing these days.

There is no nudity which is amazing, a film of desire and passion with no nudity. Yes, all that can be displayed without graphic sex.

There’s fighting and a little beheading, hey its set in Afghanistan/India. But it’s not overly graphic. It is however an Indian movie so there are a few times when they do break out into dance. I mean really, this is mandatory for “Bollywood” films isn’t it? The dance scenes do kind of fit in though. So it’s not as bad as that may sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7K4vGYL9zI

The overall theme and ending was ideologically wrong for me but still a good movie. I’m not a peace love and lets all die for the cause kind of guy.

Still a good movie. Rotten Tomatoes which I don’t really pay attention to, gave it a 71 % fresh. Google reviews were like 84% like.

Oh yeah and it’s subtitled.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgUBV9p9jfk

Infinite war

Check out Michael Walsh’s article What Price Victory? What Cost ‘Infinite War’?

I hear this side of the argument more and more these days. Once again the question must be asked, “are we the world’s Police?” Walsh indirectly asks that question.

Give it a read.

Excerpts:

“The reaction from the proponents of endless war was illustrative of why, going on 17 years after 9/11, America still finds itself embroiled in Muslim-bred conflicts in which it has no material interest other than strictly punitive…”

…”The moral of the story is: finish the job. So good for Trump for giving the Pentagon a strategic objective and a time frame in which to accomplish it. The Post article quotes another officer, Air Force General Mike Holmes, in a speech earlier this year: “It’s not losing,” he explained. “It’s staying in the game and . . . pursuing your objectives.”

How terrifying to know that, for some senior military officers (who, by the way, are not necessarily on the Right politically), warfare is about “staying in the game.” Both Left and Right have vested interests in keeping conflicts going—progressives get an extended opportunity to effect “social change” on a culture of “toxic masculinity,” while so-called conservatives keep the procurement pipelines open and flowing…”

…”The Germans and Japanese learned that lesson in 1945. Will Islam? If we’re not prepared to teach it to them, then be prepared for infinite war. Because victory is obviously too expensive to contemplate…”

Of course, the reality is that infinite war in very expensive in money and lives.