Ed's Blog

"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."

AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

The American generals that now command and have commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan are among the best warfighters in U.S. history. The U.S. troops under their command are the most skilled, battle-hardened warriors America has ever put in the field. So what went wrong in Afghanistan that’s making victory so elusive if not impossible?

The answer to that question is not the violent reaction to Quran burnings or the massacre of Afghani civilians by a U.S. soldier. Neither is it that “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires,” “it’s a tribal society immune to a strong central government”, “the real problem is in Pakistan,” or “the government of President Hamid Karzai is corrupt.” All are facts, but they are not the principal reasons the NATO effort in Afghanistan, despite success on and off the battlefield, is floundering. (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

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53 Responses

  1. LinkedIn Group: US Military Veterans Network

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    1. Battle Hardened is giving way to Battle Fatigued.
    2. Lack of clear objective. Osama bin Laden is dead already.
    3. Micromanagement by Washington DC. special interests and an abdication of leadership. i.e The good idea fairies versus a disengaged CIC.
    4. Lack of support by the American Electorate.
    5. The national debt.
    6. Announcment of withdrawal timetables, puts time on the side of the Taliban.
    7. A US puppet government that is crooked as a dogs hind leg.
    8. Pakistan the friend-emy.
    9. Insufficient aggression in theater.. Decimate the Taliban 1, 2, 3, 4 or however many times it takes to make them want to surrender. They have to want to surrender and that can not be negotiated at a “table” or purchased.
    10. What would Curtis Lemay have done? “All war is immoral and if you let that bother you very much, than you are not being a good solider.”

    Posted by John Evangelisti, P.E., PMP

  2. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Hearts and Minds. Afghanistan is a country where no real government will ever have true control over their people. The Men and Women in uniform might be the best trained in history, but does not negate the fact that the Afghan’s simple know history all too well. The enemy and the people know we are leaving eventually, therefore they know once we leave things will go back to what they where before. Question is does the U.S. pull out cold Turkey? or do we negotiate with those we have called terrorists? What really is the Governments best interest?

    Posted by Daniel Goff

  3. Charles W. Raymond III says:

    Hello, Ed
    Certainly your point about the Buck stopping at the President is well taken.

    But, nevertheless it is madness to dismiss, as is done, the reality of the tribal society that is essentially ungovernable as it works its way towards a better goal of a central government that facilitates growth and development.

    The United States is still a long long way from being the perfect society even after more than 220 years and counting.
    Western civilization is a long way from The Enlightenment but has yet to reach perfection, and even with the Magna Carta back some 700-800 years, we are not yet perfect.

    Finally, until religion ceases to be the important thing in life in the regions of the Hindu Kush and the Indus basin, there is little that a secular coalition can do to impose its way of thinking and doing on the region.

  4. LinkedIn Group: US Military Veterans Network

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Do you think we fired our warrior leaders, and replaced them with yes men?

    Posted by Joe Bylander

  5. Dongsok Shin says:

    What is your definition of “winning”? Why is it worth the death of any more American soldiers for a goal that doesn’t seem to stick? What’s in it for us other than more lives lost, more money down the drain, more ill will around the world. You credit H.W. with doing it correctly, but did it have a lasting effect?

  6. LinkedIn Group: Campaign for Liberty

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Perhaps in the latest sintuation the individual is a war weary soldier, on his 4th deployment, who, based on his Iraq injuries, should not have been deployed in the first place. Perhaps one could blame the stateside officers who apparently don’t watch and listen to the soldiers who’ve returned from combat tours. As a combat veteran from the forgotten war, I can still recall the complete lack of interest in the wellness of the individuals by their superiors, when a combat deployment was ordered.

    Posted by Rob Taylor

  7. LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Ed,

    I agree with your assessment. But as you pointed out, the “sufficient resources” must be “brought to bear in a timely manner.” I think it is far too late to win because the US will never “build trust and confidence between the people and government” after our ten plus years of occupation.

    One thing to point out is that the facts that you dismissed as not the reason for NATO’s failure are certainly significant contributing factors. By the very nature of tribal society the tribe seeks to be self sufficient, maintain their identity and autonomy and protect their people. This means that tribes exist in balanced competition, antagonistic and constantly feuding where no one leader can dominate for long. The rise of any one tribe or a central government eventually leads to harsh rule and corruption as a means to control the tribes. As long as the US supports the central government of President Karzai, we will always have a problem winning the trust of the Afghani people because tribal society cannot accept central control.

    So what should the US do now? No matter how many troops and resources are sent to Afghanistan, it is too late to undo the damage inflicted on our relationship with the Afghani people. They will never trust the US and any effort to improve their situation will be thwarted at every opportunity. The best we can hope for is to cripple the Taliban before we bring our troops home. We will need to leave the task of nation building to someone who could gain the trust and confidence of the people and hope that a humane balance of power will ensue.

    Posted by John Laszakovits

  8. So basically what you’re saying is that if the coalition had a million or so more troops in Afghanistan the war may become winnable?

    Wow, what a f*cking genuis you are!

  9. Bob says:

    Ed,

    It is believed by many that the definition of “Insanity” is to continue the same course of action and expect a different result. Many soldiers that had intentions of making the military a career have thrown in the towel over their multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can’t really say that I blame them. I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a “Dove”, but as I said two years ago, there is not a definable victory to be had in Afghanistan. We have scattered the real enemy (al-Qaida) into cells all around the globe and killed a few of their leaders. It is time to claim that as a victory of sorts and concentrate on securing our own borders in our own country.

  10. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Let the place split naturally into its tribal areas. The old Northern Alliance 1/2 down to Kabul – NATO keeps a presence in with enough Air and an ARRC to mallet the problem South when it needs it and to keep the North free of problems. Not perfect I know, but I don’t believe that place will ever be governable again as a complete state without a massive willingness of the West to invest long term in the place with both Blood and Treasure – and besides you can’t fight gravity. Saying that I suspect that is also what the Pakistanis want, and I am loathed to give them what they want after their distinct lack of help the last decade +.

    Posted by John “Chris” Gallagher

  11. LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    What constitutes winning? There is no goal, so the most we can achieve is a policing action, and that’s forever. There are many groups in the world that are not capable of self-governing. During the Cold war, the USSR just declared their countries atheist. What’s weird is to go against the Taliban, we have allowed Afghan farmers to supply 90% of the world’s opium.

    Posted by Gerald Sweet

  12. LinkedIn Group: US Army

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Great article. The number of forces issue haunted us in Iraq until we had a real surge of forces to provide security, and is a major obstacle to mission accomplishment in Afghanistan. We need to work with the Afghanistan military to secure the villages, and not abandon them. An unsecure village is a safe haven for the Taliban or Al Qaeda. The Taliban and other militants must be rejoicing that President Karzai has asked us to move out of the villages. The movement out of the villages is counter-productive, and is going to have long term negative effects for the Afghan people. If the Afghan military was truly ready to take over, it would be time for us to move out of the villages. I just hope that the Afghan military and police are up to the challenge of providing the security in all of these villages when we leave.

    Posted by Robert Markovetz

  13. Tony says:

    The article, while good, looks at the Afghanistan issue as though it is a real war, it is not. It is and has been a confluence of counterinsurgency and nation building, isolated to a backward society that in the main has no inkling of where it stands in the word a large. The past studied insurgencies mentioned had at their base a vector, unique to the time, of expansionism. there was a vector that could be re-directed. In the present case, a clear vector is hard to find. In fact we have tried mightily to define it so we had something to change, something we could employ our system of counterinsurgency against. The catalyst for our angst, was not given birth in the mix of Taliban and Al Qaeda as a vector originating in Afghanistan, but rather in deeply seeded animosities harbored in other Arab and Persian countries. So, what war are we fighting? It appears that we are nipping at what would be political low hanging fruit, tenacious though it may be, it is irrelevant compared to the real protagonists,in the grand scheme of world order. It is regrettable that we continue to view the Afghanistan and yes the Pakistan issue through 20th century distorted prisms. All the kings horses and all the wonderfully trained, battle hardened, dedicated troops are being wasted in a non war conjured by an overly arrogant and super sophisticated American political, military thought process.

  14. LinkedIn Group: US Military Veterans Network

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    I don’t “blame” the defense bosses for gutting the military. It just seems to me there is a lot of saluting the flag, and marching on. From the outside, it looks llike anyone that asks questions or makes different recommendations to the WH is fired, or gets moved.

    This “new” group of guys agreeing that it is wise to make us all pay more for insurance is an example. He says he wouldn’t mind paying extra. I guess not, since he will make ove 6 figures when he retires. Seems to me he could have made the average Joe’s voice heard during those hearings.

    I know the bigger picture, the military has to “learn” to do more with less… Heard that for all my 22 years serving. We had to pick up sticks, and pretend that they were rifles when training after the Carter years. Couldn’t afford to repair weapons/equipment if drawn out and trained with.

    Having said that, we are fighting “their” war again. Anyone that pretends to know how the enemy thinks is mistaken. We know his intentions, but not the reasoning. We are beginning to understand his culture, but not accepting the realities of it. An uneduacted people need rulers, not politicians running their country. I believe history has proved this time and time again. We have evicted an entire government from their power base, and expect them to follow our rules in order to move back in. Not ever going to happen. they believe in what they are doing so intensely that they are willing to commit suicide. Give this place to China, I believe that they would run it right. They helped bleed Soviet Union into the poor house, I don’t mind if China goes the same way.

    Posted by Joe Bylander

  15. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE
    COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    I think you Americans spend too much time fighting the President and not the real adversaries. When so many Americans refer to Mr. Obama as a Muslim or non citizen, I shake my head wondering how this can go on while wars are still underway.

    President Obama managed one withdrawal (the debacle called Iraq) and God Speed shall manage the other. Ultimate clean up guy now that the yahoo’s have left the building.

    What went wrong? Imperial hubris. Same thing that caused the other Empires to join the Afghan graveyard. Let’s hope somehow the U.S. will still save itself from this mess.

    Posted by Mubin Shaikh MPICT

  16. LinkedIn Group: Defense Industry Network

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    The same thing that happened in Vietnam is happening in Afghanistan. We are not being allowed to fight the war the way we need to, in order to win. Again, like Vietnam, Good Soldiers, Gutless Politicans!!!!

    Posted by Dennis Clark

  17. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Forum

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    If you dont understand people culture and respect their religion you cant win the minds and the soles of the people. You have to understand the terrain , the weather and the politics in the region. If you go in with hate towards Islam you can expect what happen when American soldiers slaughter woman and children.

    When you hurt the people that house you ,you got no place to stay.

    Posted by Sizwe Abrahams

  18. LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Perhaps the goal is not to win in Afghanistan. Maybe we are there to stir things, test weapons, manipulate the minds of the American people, bankrupt our country, make political points, further erode our Constitution, and other selfish motivations. We may never know.

    Posted by John Rackliffe

  19. Ron Singer says:

    ED:
    I continues to enjoy reading your articles. This one particularly is “on the money”. You accuratly and clearly decsribed why we have not and will not succeed in Afghjanistan. All the best,
    Ron Singer

  20. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    It is very easy to play ‘armchair General’ and point out ‘what we should have done,’ but the problem is we DIDN’T! Fact is, BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan were essentially ‘lost causes’ within the first six months. WHY? Because we DIDN’T follow the ‘Powell Doctrine,’ which was specifically conceived and designed so that we would NEVER fight another stupid Vietnam-type conflict again. It had been TESTED, and TRIED and found TRUE in the First Gulf War, and yet, it was ignored, and (no surprise) we have essentially LOST. And once that momentum, that REAL ‘shock and awe’ is lost on the populace, there is NO getting it back. Fold up the tents boys, it’s time to go home!

    Posted by Eric Husher

    • Charles W. Raymond III says:

      Congratulations Eric for bringing up the Powell Doctrine, its application in 1991-2 and its dismissal ever since. Egotistical SecDefs who don’t understand the concept of “A Nation at War”, along with their enabler Presidents have created this situation today. I wonder if and when we’ll a McNamara style apology from them?
      Reddagger18

  21. LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    The U.S. goal for Afghanistan is crystal clear and has been expressed by both the Bush and Obama administrations and our military leaders for a long time. The goal is to provide the support necessary to assist a relatively friendly Afghanistan government to build up enough police and military capability to keep the country under reasonable control so the Taliban cannot take over the country once again and provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda operations.

    Posted by John Flynn

    • Charles W. Raymond III says:

      Yes, the goal is crystal clear as you state, except it’s based on wrong premises and a complete misreading of the nature of the people of the region.
      RedDagger18

  22. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    @Eric- you are so right. We lost the initiative early on and started nation building, which has turned out to be an expensive debacle.

    Posted by James Westover

  23. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Well James, we ‘started’ all sorts of things, most of which were made up on the spot, and none of which were followed through to any reasonable conclusion.
    The ‘Powell Doctrine’ works on a very simple and very effective premise, and essentially, it can be boiled down to the notion that you must never give the enemy any chance or even a shred of ‘hope’ that somehow, they might be able to fight back and win. Because if you DO allow for any sort of hope, then the enemy will begin TESTING the boundaries, TESTING your resolve, see what he can get away with, and eventually, identify your vulnerabilities. And once that happens, the quagmire is inevitable, and you will eventually be engulfed in it. War can NEVER be fought ‘on the cheap!’

    Posted by Eric Husher

  24. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Eric, actually, war can be fought on the cheap by cutting out all the expensive perks, and cease handing bundles of currency over to the bad guys and hoping that they’ll like us. War should be war, not some country club experience.

    Posted by James Westover

  25. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    James, the problem of fighting a war on the cheap is that it in FACT becomes very much more expensive in the long run through stupid things like handing out bundles of cash in hopes of ‘buying loyalty.’ Did you know that when they added up all the costs associated with the First Gulf War, in which we deployed a military of a size and equipped to fight WW3, and then balanced it out with all the funds that were provided by all the coalition countries that for whatever reason couldn’t send troops, we actually MADE money?

    Posted by Eric Husher

  26. LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    The discussions are interesting. Yes, the buck stops with the president. But I cannot be critical of Obama’s hesitancy to send additional surge troops. Let’s be perfectly clear, the generals work for the president, not the other way around. Let’s not elevate them to the position of running the country through the eyes of a war fighter; they are only advisers and executors. Regrettably, the political interpretation made it impossible to govern as a president with a country to run, not simply a “war”. The message I read when he was hesitant was I’m giving all of you an opportunity to seek other solutions. I give him credit enough to know that this is only a “war” in as much as the “war” on drugs is a “war.” There is no cohesive political objective that stands up to serious scrutiny and the fundamental rules of the Just War. There cannot be when dealing with a socially backward society, which is perfectly happy without a strong central government. It is absurd to think that there is a path to cohesive governance where there is no desire for that concept within the population at large. I’m afraid that we have applied far too modern thought processes in trying to understand the deepest motivations of the population of Afghanistan. This has been an interesting, if not costly, intellectual exercise in domestic political influence on world affairs, military political thought processes and analysis, and simply fuzzy thinking with regard to America’s role in world affairs. And yes, he made a bad long-term decision by sending in the additional troops. He simply prolonged the inevitable. A rudderless country, driven by 13th century values and social stagnation, which has no overriding influence or value to the modern world; and lest I forget values corruption, deal making, and treachery as a way of life. Whether or not it is essential to “defeat” the Taliban is essential to our security is the topic of another discussion.

    Posted by Tony Kopacz

  27. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Forum

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    The author’s argument is hypocritical. It states that “the buck stops with the commander-in-chief” but then derides President Obama for a series of decisions aimed at first refocusing and then drawing down the Afghan military mission. If “the buck stops with the commander-in-chief”, does not President Obama have the authority to make those decisions? Oddly, the author’s argument appears to be that President Obama’s chief sin is being insufficiently deferential to his military leadership–a point which itself undermines the premise that “the buck stops with the commander-in-chief”.

    Posted by Jonathan Roberts

  28. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    @ Daniel…I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Neither history nor current indications on the ground, in any way except the most very basic concept, support your premise that everything will go back to the way it was in Afghanistan pre 9-11. The British left, and left Afghanistan changed. The Soviets left, and left Afghanistan changed reeling; spiraling towards a new regime and civil war. Then we came. When we leave, we will leave Afghanistan changed as well. There is nothing to indicate that Taliban/extremist rule in Afghanistan after our withdrawal is a forgone conclusion. The current regime and the ANA are not simply going to offer their throats, and they will be more than happy to accept assistance from us to fight the Taliban not unlike they did when they were fighting the Soviets.

    @ Steven…The buck stops with the CinC if for no other reason than he accepted the job, and therefore the responsibility. Versions of history tend to be political, so perhaps some blame may fall to others, but the fact remains that, for whatever reason, he asked for the job. “Vociferous” American politics…yeah…that’ll happen, and the left and right extremes are becoming more extreme…within the next couple of decades, we’re heading for some nasty stuff, likely leading to our limited, temporary withdrawal from the international scene. When we return…and we will…we may be more than one government. I hope our cousins across the puddle are ready to step up. You’re right in that we didn’t capitalize on the successes and relationships established in 2001 and early 2002…sorry about that. Once “big army” moves in, its difficult to get them to listen. In future situations such as this, it would likely be best to keep them largely sidelined during any real decision-making. They simply don’t get this kind of war or the people involved in it. Its not their fault…that’s not what they’re for.

    @ Mubin… How can this go on? Because we’re free and if needs be, we’ll die that way. The withdrawal from Iraq? Actually, while I have no love for GW Bush, that was a deal worked out during the Bush administration. Obama did nothing but follow through on it, although it would have been nice if he had been able to negotiate the US leaving some “advisers” behind…oh well. Afghan Graveyard? Seriously though, the forces in Afghanistan are in no danger of taking any serious losses regardless of the enemies currently faced there. If you insist on calling this a victory for the enemy, it is a political victory…certainly not a military one. Imperial hubris? Really? The only empire the Afghans have ever defeated was the British and even that victory is extremely arguable, especially from a military standpoint. Not to take anything away from the afghan fighters of the day, but the Soviets were butchering them like cattle before the US began providing them a superior means to resist. Your notion of an “Afghan Graveyard” of empires hardly holds any credibility. Actually, most empires that have encountered Afghanistan have merely rolled right over it, conducting an initial conquest with little effort.

    @ John “Chris”…I agree that Afghanistan will never be truly governed as a single state…not without an internal change at least. Afghans, like most poor nations in the central and southwest asia, see themselves in terms of family, tribe, etc., first. Being a citizen or member of a nation-state tends to be an afterthought, and in many of the more remote areas, the notion never enters their thoughts. As such, any foreign power may easily keep them off-balance by simply exploiting this painfully obvious internal weakness.

    Posted by CJ Johnson

  29. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Mubin-Sorry, I want to see something a lot more definitive than Slate.com.

    Steven-Sorry, as someone who’s been out among the Afghans, I disagree. It is going to take a shift in their thinking and customs–for the Pashtuns, at least–not possible without working with/on them for two or three generations. Did we do it right immediately after the invasion? Of course not. But your basic line of thinking is skewed.

    Posted by Kent Christen

  30. LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Why is it skewed? It did not seem to be skewed when the Director FBI vocalised that exact same sentiment.

    I paraphrase but it went something along the lines of “We went into a hotel to arrest a criminal…and ended up staying to redecorate as well.”

    The truth is we won the battle and then we waited….and waited some more….our enemies regrouped…we carried on waiting….then we said to the Brits…here, have Helmand Province, you will prob only need a Battlegroup to secure it…forget about narcotics…waiting…

    When the reconstruction effort got underway the entire Afghan Police Training Mission consisted of 26 Germans!

    Posted by Steven Feeney

  31. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    What’s your definition of “won,” then? That’s why. We hadn’t won in 2002. We still haven’t won, and we probably won’t.

    We screwed it up at the beginning because we misread how to handle the reconstruction and governance piece. The Tajiks were probably ready for self-government, they’d been doing it for years in northern AFG. The Hazara are not, but might be now–except the Pashtun radicals will probably exterminate them and the Tajiks will let them. The Pashtun were not ready then and are not now. They may never be, because we’ll leave (and it’s past time for us to have done so), and they’re incapable of civilized behavior or governance.

    The reason is because they haven’t put together anything resembling a government capable of functioning in the modern era for well over 35 years. No one over the age of 15 understands the concepts. And they won’t, because the West is leaving. We can’t expect the Pakis or Iranians to teach them, even if they had pure motives for doing so. Which they don’t.

    Posted by Kent Christen

  32. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    “misread reconstruction and governance”

    We were never there for those reasons. We tacked them on after a few years. If stabilization and development were part of the plan from the start we would be in a much better position than we are now.

    My definition of won is that we achieved the military aims in 2001/2. Then we hung around with a massive bullseye on us and everything slowly unravelled…

    I only simplify because text is limited and this is LinkedIn not a peer reviewed journal. However my hypothesis would stay the same.

    Not to mention our presence in Afghanistan also flooded the world with opium for the last 11 years and locked Iran into a strategic encirclement…no wonder they rushed the bomb. I would do as well with US airbases in Turkey and the Gulf and Land Forces camped out on both sides of my border! ;-)

    Posted by Steven Feeney

  33. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Yep, we sure did. We got bin Laden (stated objective)! Oh, wait, we didn’t. We deposed the Taliban and set conditions for them to not take over when we left (stated objective). Oh, wait, we didn’t. We got Mullah Omar (stated objective). Oh, wait, we didn’t. Care to continue? We hadn’t accomplished our objectives in 2001 or 2002 when I was there the first time. We STILL hadn’t completed our objectives when I went back in 2009/2010.

    And, yep, those stalwart Iranians wouldn’t have tried to build a bomb if we hadn’t shown up, right, Scooby? Right, Raggy! Yup, they wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for us pesky Americans.

    Posted by Kent Christen

  34. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Well Mr Christen it seems we will not be able to agree on this one. I take quite a few issues with your post but I fear we will just go round in circles.

    I am not sure why you are writing “we didn’t” after each objective. If it is sarcasm then it fails when you mention Mullah Omar.

    The Taliban were dismantled completely by Mar 2002. It was then that mission creep set in. However Iraq stole all of the resources and Afghanistan was plagued with two separate military missions and two separate chains of command working independent of each others.

    Iran would still have pursued uranium enrichment but I don’t think strategic encirclement helped them come to the negotiating table do you?

    Posted by Steven Feeney

  35. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Actually in regards to Iran, once Afghanistan and Iraq had become occupied, they REALLY put the brakes on their nuclear ambitions, and were in fact, quite ‘cooperative’ in the hunt for Al Qaeda and other terrorist-types. But once the Iranians realized how feeble our hold actually WAS in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and how quickly the situation deteriorated into open revolt, THEN the Iranians seized their chance and threw everything they could into the effort to build nuclear weapons.

    And why? Because they KNEW they had but a limited window of opportunity in which to do so, and while the hands of America and the West were well-stuck in the twin tar-babies of Afghanistan and Iran, they KNEW that such a chance would never come again, and that the actual ‘threat’ of simultaneous invasion from both sides was in fact, nothing more than a chimaera.

    Posted by Eric Husher

  36. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Forum

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    If in Afghanistan victory seems so elusive if not impossible it´s not a military fault. I also don’t believe the warfighters now are the best warfighters ever in US history or world history. I believe they are doing their best and they are as good as the warfighters in Vietnam, WWII and before that, from US and from other countries… Exceptional soldiers are few along the history. US warfighters have the best technology money can buy and it create illusions in public opinion. But is not the machine that makes the man. Military structure it’s only a branch of the foreign policy. Is the politic directions one should revise. The reason about any war lies in economic factors (since the beginning of mankind history) and the control of natural resources, not human rights, the freedom fighting or religion that so many wanted to mask with. Tell that to your public opinion and the world… with the present behavior and equipment you can destroy countries and their social achievements and traditions, change governments… and what about the day after? Communism did not end, WMD were not found or destroyed and radicalism and anti-US movements are growing all over. Is the pressure over Iran making some relief? Are we living happier than our grandparents or we just have more toys? Is mankind going in the right direction? Is the weapon stronger than the pen? Can we make someone accept our ideology if we kill him first? Sincerely hoping all world politicians take the best moves IOT influence peace in the world, by other means than war…

    Posted by Carlos Martins

  37. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    There must be some Manifest Destiny that says Israel, Great Briton, and the United States of America must rule the world. But, like the Romans two thousand years ago, our system is falling apart. Our moral rudder is laying on the bottom of the ocean.

    Posted by Gerald Sweet

  38. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Commenting on the original article:

    The problem with Afghanistan war really stems from the fact that you simply cannot change the way people think in a decade into the way we think, which hase taken thousands of years and countless wars to achieve. This war was doomed to fail from day one, since democracy and human rights are as alien to Afghans as Christianity was to the people of the middle east during the crusades. But much like the crusades, there really was no other choice but to go to war in Afghanistan. It would not matter how many troops or money you put into this war, ultimately you would have had to kill an entire generation of Afghan elders and tribal leaders in order to succeed, this of course being politically impossible.How else do think leaders like Julius Caesar conquered most of the known world..?

    How ever this war has served its purpose in the way that it has forced western countries into real military cooperation (and also Russia) and it has shown the US, that Europe is ready to make sacrifice for the US, as the US has done for Europe during the 1st and 2nd world war. This if treated with respect bodes well for the future of our continents. It is time to leave Afghanistan, Bin Laden is dead, which is a big political victory for the US, since it goes to show you cannot hide anywhere if you are a villain and threat to humanity…..

    Yours sincerely
    Tobias

    Posted by Tobias Peredery

  39. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    The expression of power in the world has very little to do with moral rudders. Look at ancient Greece, Persia, Rome, Britain, Spain, France, Japan, Germany, U.S., Russia, China – all major world powers at one time or another. I doubt anyone would come to the conclusion that some sort of moral rudder was the key factor leading to any of their individual rise, peak and fall from world power status. However, for a country to be a nice place to live and thrive for its general population (regardless of world power status), there needs to be laws that are based on allowing the society to live and work together productively regardless of various individual religious-based moral beliefs. That means those laws have to be based on non-sectarian principles. That doesn’t mean there can’t be any overlap or that the laws shouldn’t be moral. For example, the basic principle of do to others what you would want done to you, is probably a pretty good basis for some set of laws for the general society. Other debatable religious-based issues that followers of those religions consider moral, or immoral, may very well not meet the standard of being a valid basis for laws that apply to the whole society. Sorting out which are which is the nub.

    Posted by John Flynn

  40. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    I have had the pleasure to review and reflect on the comments you all made regarding our involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as I have over the past ten years with other forums. I recall the narrative our nation and armed services had after 9/11 that inspired men and women within the United States to answer the call. While the whole world was not with us, the coalition we sought and achieved provided us with a chance for initial success in Afghanistan (we were so close). When our nation’s leaders decided to reallocate our scarce forces to Iraq for ‘their validated reasons,’ we not only failed to capitalize on the many successes we did achieve in Afghanistan, but also created potential no-win situations in both areas of operation by diverting our purpose and effort. There is a no win situation for the U.S. and many of our allies in the long term for both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the stress of multiple deployments on our forces (who are supposed to be warriors, not diplomats) over the past decade has created an environment and situation that will most likely degradate our presence and influence in the region, foster new threats to the U.S. and its allies, and establish a well-trained, U.S. fighting force that have continued to sacrifice their families and friends for what they believe to be a just cause. While the actual body bags will never likely never approach those of previous wars, the psychological body bags will. I am interested in hearing from those who can articulate clearly what our current narrative is regarding both Afghanistan and Iraq. I am more interested in seeing our nation’s and service’s leaders demonstrate a strong(er) will with (much) less hubris, and show some willingness to practice what our forefathers preached about leadership and true sacrifice. We need ‘more generals and admirals’ at the front of the line willing to stand for and die for these principles, and diplomats/non-government organizations along side for reconstruction, before there can be any semblace of lasting stability in both regions.

    Posted by Tom Sweet

  41. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    @Tom- More General/Admirals/diplomats/NGO’s? In my experience, they are more of the problem than the means to an end. Too many different non-compatible idea’s that tend to make a soup sandwich out of the situation.

    Posted by James Westover

  42. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Suggested reading on the subject of kings and kingdoms: The Book of Daniel Chapter 2. Please consider that God will ultimately prevail and whoever is a world power now or going to be next God raised up that kingdom for His purpose. We must all understand that when we depart this earth our spirit will live on either separate from or with God and to be with Him one must enter through His Son Jesus Christ.

    Blessings,

    John

    Posted by John Rackliffe

  43. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    @ Tom…I have to agree with James. I have plenty of experience, at the strategic and tactical levels, on the ground in both of these theaters. The senior, conventional, military staff are, generally speaking, more part of the problem than the solution. They are far removed from the changing realities of the situation and the only Iraqis or Afghanis they have ever really gotten to know are their peers (Generals, Admirals, Diplomats and Politicians), who are just as removed. They never truly get a feel for the culture they are dealing with or the needs of the average Iraqi or Afghani. Hell, most don’t even know the situation of their own troops. That problem is compounded by the fact their commands rotate so frequently (a General’s “combat” tour leads to another star and a different posting) that by the time they might start formulating a clue, the new guy rolls in to shape things in his own image. The only general officer I saw in either theater who knew what he needed to do was sacked. Don’t get me wrong, its not completely their fault. This is the way we trained them (inflexible, risk-averse, career-focused rather than goal-oriented…and more often than not, a little arrogant). With very few exceptions, they focus too much not losing than on winning.

    Posted by CJ Johnson

  44. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: Naval Postgraduate School Alumni

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    We have lost our way on Afghanistan. We routed Al Qaeda and forced the Taliban to flee. The Afghanis themselves have never posed a threat to us and we don’t need to fix their stone age country. We didn’t break it! It has been broken and disfunctional for hundreds of years. If the Taliban returns, we just need to watch them to make sure they don’t harbor another group like Al Qaeda that means to attack us or our interests from there. If they do, “Jawbreaker II” + another 6 month expeditionary campaign to remove the threat. That is it – period! Everything we do doesn’t have to be a lifelong committment or some sort of “Save the Children” charitable effort. We can’t afford it and what’s more they might not really want it.

    Posted by Kenneth McElroy

  45. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    James,

    Appreciate comment and agree (apologize for subtle sarcasm). The analogy I used was to intimate that none of these groups or individuals (that I am aware of) are (really) willing to fight the fight and die for the cause. Yes, the interests of many chefs in the kitchen (the collective) is not working and has indeed muddied the water as you stated, when one great head chef with a “powerful message/credible and consistent narrative” would be a good start. The President? CINC? Congress? People? As we shifted our efforts to Iraq from Afghanistan, many of my colleagues and I hoped (prayed) that at least some GO/FO’s or government leaders would be willing to turn in the stars or positions based on their convictions, or at least shape the discourse for more informed decision making instead of our genuflecting. That did not happen. When the same folks then starting changing their thinking and positions (20-20 hindsight) and attacking the administration, that is when it became disheartening/sickening. I am fearing the same happening with Afghanistan, even as we discuss troop withdrawals and hybrid presence/solutions. While it would never happen (repeat never happen), it would be wonderful is someone stepped up to the plate and planned/coordinated a town hall meeting (live and televised world-wide) involving our President, Afghanistan/Coalition Partner and Allied Leaders, Field Commanders, and even the opposition (possibly Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders guaranteed immunity and/or engaging from secure locations during the debate). A true discourse over a two-hour period of time. Imagine the tweets, texts, and discourse that would follow throughout the U.S. and world before and after this town hall meeting. That I would engage in…

    Posted by Tom Sweet

  46. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    Sorry, you’ve forgotten one critical thing–had we left in 2002, the

    Taliban would have walked right back in and taken back over. Six months
    later, bin Laden would have been releasing videos 6-12 months later from

    Kandahar. The Taliban was not dismantled in 2002–they are the modern muj.
    They went to ground and changed tactics.

    The biggest mistake was accepting the NATO command overlay. ISAF is a
    useless construct.

    And if you think the Iranians ever had any intent on negotiating, then

    you’re completely misreading the situation.

    Posted by Kent Christen

  47. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    I had my first glimpse of what failure in Afghanistan would look like, when the ‘great invasion’ consisted of some 2,000 SF guys, some of whom were riding horses. HARDLY the kind of ‘shock and awe’ I had come to expect of the US military, and the results spoke for themselves (Bin Laden skips out of Tora Bora).

    Posted by Eric Husher

  48. Reposted from LinkedIn says:

    LinkedIn Group: The Intelligence Community

    Discussion: AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

    And here’s ANOTHER tip, after ‘mission accomplished’ in Afghanistan, they reopened the borders with Pakistan and ALLOWED the Taliban to walk right back in, as part of the 250,000 displaced Afghans that had fled to Pakistan. So really, whether we left in 2002 or not makes no difference, because the Taliban still waltzed back in to Afghanistan, and we LET THEM.

    Posted by Eric Husher

  49. [...] AFGHANISTAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF [...]

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