Archive for January, 2012

Glen at TCJ is on track

January 25, 2012

Glen over at The Captains Journal has it right.

Respond to asymmetrical attacks with overwhelming firepower and force, Proportional Response Doctrine Notwithstanding.

Somehow the U.S. attitude has evolved into a nonsensical “kinder and   gentler” way of war.  Perhaps this is the result of the doctrine of “Proportional Response” that is embedded in the additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions in 1977 (protocols to which the U.S. is not a signatory).   This doctrine aims to limit both the resort to armed force and the type of actions undertaken once armed force has been initiated.   Proportional Response, however, took its modern form in the aftermath of total war in World War II.   The limitations attempt to spare civilian populations from the horrors of war, particularly where no, legitimate military advantage can be gained.

Unfortunately, warfare in the 21st Century has side-stepped the best intentions of the Geneva protocols.   And, I would argue, this is actually a deliberate development by asymmetric enemies such as Militant Islam that shrewdly recognize the weakness of States which feel bound to the protocols even where the Islamists do not.  So, for example, it has become routine practice for Al Qaeda to insinuate itself in the midst of civilian populations for the deliberate purpose of using the population as a shield against attacks by U.S. forces.   The Taliban practice this as well to devastating effect, forcing U.S. commanders to let enemy combatants go free or risk being brought up on charges like the Haditha Marines.

Read the entire post.  

When I complete my current assignment I hope to come back to this subject. 

Seems about right to me

January 20, 2012

Nangalam: A symbol of the Afghan war’s troubles

By

Clarissa Ward

Most Americans in Afghanistan are doing their best in a war that’s now in its 11th year. Why has it taken this long?

CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward found one reason in the Pech Valley. Americans lost their lives there building a base called Nangalam. When they tried to hand over their gains to the Afghan army, the base went to ruin.

This is one part of Afghanistan that America thought it could finally leave. But U.S. troops are back, trying once again to train their Afghan allies.

Army Major Guillermo Guillen, from Southern California, is frustrated.
"You’re relying on us to do all your security for you. You need to be participating," Guillen told an Afghan counterpart.

On a recent patrol, some Afghan soldiers were not wearing helmets. One chatted on his cell phone.
"We’re not going to be here forever, you need to take care of yourself," Guillen said.

The U.S. military left Nangalam base last February, handing over to Afghan forces. But within weeks, things went badly wrong.
Enemy forces returned to roam freely through the valley. The Afghan commander deserted. Hundreds of his soldiers followed

.
"I believe there was some of (feeling of abandonment) amongst the (Afghan) soldiers. It’s probably what led to some of their leadership leaving," Guillen said.

The Afghan forces that remained ransacked their own base.
All the electric wires have been pulled out. Anything of any value was taken. You can see the wiring hanging out of the light.

Just about everything else that could be moved was sold for cash.
Without American support, the Afghan army refused to resupply the base. The soldiers were living in filth.

For the U.S. military, it was an embarrassing example of what might happen when security is handed over to Afghan forces across the country, and so four months after leaving, a small group of U.S. troops was sent back in.

Today, American contractors are back on the base repairing the damage, with U.S. taxpayers footing the bill, again.

A new Afghan army unit has been brought in, with a new commander, Colonel Turab. U.S. officers have nicknamed him "Honest Abe."
And he was honest to a fault about the prospects for the Afghan army.

(Credit: CBS News)

Marines – Outrage? Really?

January 15, 2012

I’ve let the Marine urination issue simmer a couple of days.  I knew the outcome but wanted to see it unfold before I commented.

What the Marines did was wrong.  You should never video yourself urinating.  It’s bad form. They should receive a stern talking to.

Now to the reaction.  This is why we are failing and will continue to fail.  There was no outrage in Afghanistan and in reality there isn’t any now. However while the Marines may have started this our military and civilian leaders have compounded the problem with their over the top apologies and condemnation of a stupid act.  The have played into the hands of the enemy by showing them once again our weakness.  They the enemy and our so called friends, can perform any number of completely real atrocities yet we will cower before them for a simple show of disrespect.  Well earned disrespect I might add.

We continually hold those that are not only entrusted with our national safety but those we ask to kill for us to such an unreasonable standard that is self-defeating.  It’s easy to hold such noble ideas when you’re not that ones doing the fighting.

Our weakness is in the fact we show too much respect for those that don’t deserve it. They see us as weak and they are right.  At this rate they will win.

Umm yes it probably was.

January 14, 2012

Was $73B of Afghan aid wasted?

Washington has appropriated nearly $73 billion for reconstruction and development in Afghanistan since 9/11, according to SIGAR’s October 2011 quarterly report, up $17 billion in each of the past two years. That’s a lot of money for our indebted nation.

for giving this aid. Maybe they do. Taxpayers, however, whether they support our efforts or not, still deserve answers to basic questions: Where has all this money gone? Has anyone verified it went where it was supposed to go? Is it cost effective to run aid programs in a war zone?

The answer is no. The money isn’t going where we think it is — and $73 billion is a ton of treasure to waste…

At USAID, for example, NGOs’ administrative costs at most programs are about 30 percent. This means, for every dollar from USAID, 70 cents goes to recipients on the ground and the NGO keeps 30 cents to cover overhead.

Thirty percent in administrative costs may sound high, but in Afghanistan, USAID has struggled to keep NGO overhead costs below 70 percent — more than double the norm. Costs can escalate when organizations operate in a war zone. But a mere 30 cents out of every dollar for Afghanistan goes to aid.

It gets worse.

Of that 30 cents, frequently only half reaches the intended recipient. The remainder is lost, stolen or misappropriated by Afghan workers and officials. Many projects don’t even attain their own internal goals, according to reports from inspectors general and the Commission on War-Time Contracting. The June 2011, Senate Foreign Relations Committee report concluded that few, if any, of these aid programs are sustainable in the long term.

Add in the cost of the USAID’s bureaucratic superstructure — including $500,000 annually for each U.S. employee in Kabul, and the supporting staffs in Washington — and sometimes less than 10 cents of every dollar actually goes to aiding Afghans.

I’m shocked, shocked I tell ya!

Who is right? What to do?

January 14, 2012

By Ken Dilanian and David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times

January 11, 2012, 6:39 p.m.

Reporting from Washington—

The U.S. intelligence community says in a secret new assessment that the war in Afghanistan is mired in stalemate, and warns that security gains from an increase in American troops have been undercut by pervasive corruption, incompetent governance and Taliban fighters operating from neighboring Pakistan, according to U.S. officials.

The sobering judgments, laid out in a classified National Intelligence Estimate completed last month and delivered to the White House, appeared at odds with recent optimistic statements by Pentagon officials and have deepened divisions between U.S. intelligence agencies and American military commanders about progress in the decade-old war…

…In a section looking at future scenarios, the NIE also asserts that the Afghan government in Kabul may not be able to survive as the U.S. steadily pulls out its troops and reduces military and civilian assistance…

The findings prompted a sharp response from Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander of Western forces in the war, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, who filed their objections in a one-page written dissent. The comment was also signed by Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander of Central Command, and Adm. James Stavridis, supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Military and Pentagon officials argued that assumptions used by intelligence agencies were flawed…

Are the assumptions the intelligence agencies are making wrong?  Is the military brass simply optimistic because that’s the script?  Hummm. 

President Obama to cut military budget

January 6, 2012

wh-obama-pentagon-defense-cuts_20120105111106_320_240I don’t see how this could be  a surprise to anyone.  This was the plan, run up the debt, feed the welfare monster, create more dependency and cut the military.  This was the person who ran for President and the person voted in.

Now can we cut the military?  Sure there are lots of placed full of waste and abuse.  There are programs that we don’t need.  There are operations that need to be scaled back or stopped altogether.  Unfortunately, we will probably not touch most of that and instead cut forces.  They are the easiest cuts to make. 

Day one

January 1, 2012

It’s day one.  A new day in a new year.  How can we make the best out of it?  The world can look pretty depressing sometimes.  When I get down though I often find hope in a old poem book that has been in our family at least 35 years or more. “It can be done” a book of inspirations. Here is just one of the poems collected in this book.

 

When you’re lost in the wild and you’re scared as a child,     And death looks you bang in the eye;   And you’re sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle     To cock your revolver and die.   But the code of a man says fight all you can,     And self-dissolution is barred;   In hunger and woe, oh it’s easy to blow–     It’s the hell served for breakfast that’s hard.


You’re sick of the game? Well now, that’s a shame!     You’re young and you’re brave and you’re bright.   You’ve had a raw deal, I know, but don’t squeal.     Buck up, do your damnedest and fight!   It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,     So don’t be a piker, old pard;   Just draw on your grit; it’s so easy to quit–     It’s the keeping your chin up that’s hard.

 
It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten and die,     It’s easy to crawfish and crawl,   But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight,     Why, that’s the best game of them all.   And though you come out of each grueling bout,     All broken and beaten and scarred–   Just have one more try. It’s dead easy to die,     It’s the keeping on living that’s hard.

 
 Robert W. Service.
From “Rhymes of a Rolling Stone.”