Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Confirming McChrystal's Policy

I know a number of war supporters are angry that we restrict our use of firepower in Afghanistan to an even greater degree than we did in Iraq. Many war supporters would rather have far more liberal rules of engagement that place innocent civilians at risk rather than risk our troops' lives.

But winning the hearts and minds of locals is the key to winning. While I wouldn't support such restrictive rules of engagement in a conventional campaign, it is absolutely necessary to win the war in Afghanistan.

Don't believe me? Let's look at how our enemies are doing with loose rules of engagement, liberally using roadside bombs (IEDs):

Last year, the Taliban employed 8,159 of these bombs, compared to 3,867 in 2008 and 2,677 in 2007. The peak year of use in Iraq was 2007, when 23,000 were employed. In both countries, most of the bombs are detected and destroyed before they could hurt anyone. In Iraq, the Sunni Arab terrorists (al Qaeda and Saddam loyalists) never fully accepted the fact that the bombs, by killing more Iraqis than foreign soldiers, turned the population against them. That was a major reason for the defeat of the Iraqi terrorists after 2007. The same pattern is playing out in Afghanistan, and the Islamic terrorists still can't come to accept the truth.

Our enemies are failing in the war by their narrow focus on killing as many Americans and other foreign troops as possible regardless of the price that civilians who get in the way pay.
The objective is to win the war. It is not to compile an impressive kill ratio that we can boast about long after we've retreated from a lost war. A lot of people admire the skills of the German army from World War II--but they lost the war anyway.

I'll take a victory over a gushing profile of our excellent soldiers in a lost cause written thirty years from now. Heck, the gushing will be all the better for the win.