Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Ignoring Changes

I'm not inclined to listen to anything this analyst says given that he strangely assumes the only variable in Afghanistan is American troop levels.


[Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War,] called it “completely impossible” to think 15,000 troops will tip a war in favor of the United States when previous presidents were unable to do so with a force of 100,000.

To turn the page on Afghanistan's issues, which include rampant government corruption and an oppressive political system, would require a kind of diplomatic effort that seems non-existent in the Trump administration, he told The Hill. [emphasis added]

Far be it for me to quibble with a director with so much obvious nuance flowing through his veins, but that "war" ship sailed long ago. The Taliban and other assorted jihadis and drug gangs spend a lot of time shooting, bombing, and terrorizing. If our enemies spent all their time on PowerPoint presentations, I might think he has a point about winning without war.

And more to the point, is he really trying to argue that there is no difference between the Afghanistan security situation of 2009 pre-surge and today?

Is he really willing to argue that Afghan security forces aren't far better today than they were pre-surge and even during the surge?

The fact is, Afghan troops are fighting. But they need the logistics, intelligence, and firepower support that is tough for even modern countries to achieve--or will you tell me American logistics, intelligence, and firepower wasn't critical to help the Europeans take on a puny Khadaffi military in the midst of a civil war?

That kind of help doesn't require 100,000 troops.

And as I said many times during the Iraq War, of course non-kinetic means are vital in a counter-insurgency campaign. But whatever percent kinetics are, whether 10% or 90%, the kinetics are the first percent that needs to be achieved. Without defeating the enemy efforts to combat corruption and instill rule of law will be pointless, as a COIN expert expressed many decades ago:

George Jacobson, an "old hand" who altogether served eighteen years in Vietnam and was a mainstay of the pacification program in these later years, often observed that "there's no question that pacification is either 90 percent or 10 percent security, depending on which expert you talk to. But there isn't any expert that will doubt that it's the first 10 percent or the first 90 percent. You just can't conduct pacification in the face of an NVA division."

It really isn't nuanced if the enemy marches on Kabul and executes hundreds of really honest Afghan bureaucrats.

Anyway, I tuned Miles out after I read that line. His lack of nuance offends even me.

Lord, I wish our enemies were overflowing with "win without war" groups.