Thursday, June 12, 2014

Time Machine

We trained the Iraqi military to fight--and they proved they could do that--but the logistical base was not sufficient to sustain that fighting tip of the spear without our help. This should be a look into the future for Afghanistan where we are planning to do the exact damn stupid thing.

Is anyone in the White House paying attention to this?

Afghanistan is facing a lot of problems with the departure of most Western troops by the end of 2014. But the Afghan police and army are not missing the Western combat troops as much as they are the Western combat support. Right now over 90 percent of the combat operations against the Taliban are being handled by Afghan police and soldiers. But most of the support functions are still being supplied by the Western forces and nearly all those logistical, medical, communications and intelligence troops are being withdrawn. This will hurt the Afghans particularly hard because they have not got enough Afghans with technical skills to replace all those support goodies. Medical support will be particularly missed, as will air support (using smart bombs). This will hurt the morale of Afghan security forces, many of them veterans who have gotten used to the availability of Western levels of medical care for those wounded in combat. The Western air support will also be missed, and will result in more Afghan casualties. One or two smart bombs is often decisive when fighting the Taliban, warlords or bandits. The air surveillance capabilities of the Westerners is also a great help in defeating the enemy and limiting friendly casualties. All the other Western support services have a similar impact and all will be gone. Western military advisors and trainers are aware of this looming shortage and are advising their bosses to see about keeping some of those services in Afghanistan or helping the Afghans to replace them using Afghan or foreign contractors.

Abandon the best troops at the front without adequate support--whether from lack of skills or too much corruption--and they will break and run rather than die for what they think is a government that just doesn't give a damn about their fate.

The Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq collapsed because their morale could not be sustained without all those support services that we once supplied.

Indeed, al Qaeda grew strong enough to rout those defenders because our lack of support prevented the Iraqis from keeping al Qaeda atomized and more worried about surviving than attacking.

But I'm sure the exact same support deficiency will work out much better in Afghanistan. Because, you know ... Osama bin Laden is dead. And stuff.

UPDATE: The Afghans are capable of peering into the future:

The frontrunner in Afghanistan's presidential election said on Thursday he saw some similarities between his country's situation and violence-plagued Iraq that showed the need for a "responsible" U.S. military exit strategy.

Same mistake. Different timetable. My, how the "good war" has fallen.

UPDATE: Will the president spawned by the "Reality-based Community" adapt to the reality of seeing how lack of American presence can undermine success?

Of course not:

"It does not change the approach that the president announced recently that we are taking in Afghanistan," said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

"We are ending that combat mission this year, and we, pending the signing of a bilateral security agreement, will keep a smaller number of troops in Afghanistan focused exclusively on the missions that the president discussed," he added.

Our enemies are just giddy with dreams of opportunity these days, aren't they?