Monday, November 26, 2018

A Military Solution to a Military Problem in Afghanistan

Afghan cities remain vulnerable to enemy attacks:

Though a 1,000-fighter strong Taliban takeover of Ghazni City was repelled by a combination of U.S. and Afghan forces earlier this year, conditions remain for the insurgent group to take other vulnerable urban centers, according to a recent report.

One urban center cited in particular is Farah City, which faced Taliban control as recently as May.

I keep hearing our military leaders say there is no military solution to ending the war. And perhaps the Taliban are too deeply embedded in Pakistan with government support to really wrap up a battlefield victory in Afghanistan for long.

I once thought Pakistan had to come to their senses regarding the jihadis. They have not.

But there is one thing that has a military solution--securing the Goddamn cities by going on the offensive and atomizing the enemy so they can't mass to attack cities, as I wrote not too long ago:

We need to seize the initiative from the enemy and by relentless pursuit on the ground and with air and fire support make the Taliban think more about what we will do them than about what they will do to us.

Do that and we atomize the enemy--that is, force them into smaller and smaller combat formations out of the need to survive--and deprive them of the ability to even freely attack--let alone defeat--even small friendly outposts.

Once the enemy is atomized, small platoon-sized friendly outposts and patrols are safer and can extend a net to deprive the enemy of the ability to use the people and resources of areas now untouched by friendly government forces. This will extend a zone of defense around cities and big bases that deny the enemy the ability to approach unseen and attack in force.

Friendly forces must also have reaction forces all over the place (mobile by ground and air assets) along with responsive fire power, resupply, and medical evacuation. This will allow the government to react to enemy attacks quickly to hold those outposts that come under attack.

Atomizing the enemy makes friendly security forces in small outposts more likely to fight. They will know that the enemy can't mass much and can't mass for long because friendly forces will be on their way. Right now, Afghan forces manning those outposts have real reason to think they are on their own and that surrender or retreat are better options than fighting off an attack.

And yes, with such a low level of skills, Afghans need outside help to maintain weapons and equipment and to advise them on how to use the equipment. The government troops' jobs are far harder than what the Taliban do, who rely on simple techniques of killing and inspiring fear.

We can talk about statistics of control and opinion polls to divine whether we are in a stalemate, but the simple fact is that the enemy's clear ability to mass troops to attack cities and overrun smaller outposts indicates we are not winning this war.

And that kind of battlefield success will do wonders in the conference rooms.