Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Plan Survives Contact With the Election

We abandoned the surge plan that our military made for winning in Afghanistan. now we must adjust. We can win in Afghanistan. And we need to win. With the way Islamists are getting all jittery around our embassies, if they have a place in Afghanistan to got to for jihad prep schools, they'll go there.

There was no offensive in Regional Command East this year:

The Taliban (and related groups, such as the even-more-fanatical Haqqani network), are far from defeated. They remain secure in their Pakistan sanctuaries, which a decade’s worth of American efforts have done nothing to dislodge. The Taliban even maintain many sanctuaries within Afghanistan itself, particularly in eastern Afghanistan, where the coalition has never had enough troops to do the kind of “clear, hold, and build” operations that have been conducted in the south.

I've noted this lack of American effort in the east after wondering about it all year and reading reports that we intended to do so:

From last winter to this summer, I've asked whether we were going to complete our phased offensive plan by shifting to the offensive in Regional Command East after our initial main effort in Regional Command South in 2010 and 2011. I worried that we weren't going through with it and were giving up the campaign to simply ease out of the war. ...

So we appear to be on a different sort of offensive than the one I anticipated. Casualties in Afghanistan are neither high enough to make it clear we are leading an offensive nor low enough to make it seem like we are avoiding combat.

Rather than taking the lead to knock back the Taliban, we are pushing the Afghans forward while we are still there. We're the training wheels, it seems, to give the Afghans confidence that when they take the lead after 2014 they can stand with our logistics help, intelligence help, and advice.

But our surge forces are out. And we've begun transitioning to Afghans. I still think we could go on offense in Regional Command East with the 68,000 US forces we have in Afghanistan. I believed that before the last surge was ordered.

The problem isn't the lack of troops. It's the lack of willingness by our president to wage the war he escalated.

As a candidate, Obama said he'd virtually invade Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda. Who knew he meant he'd do it with apology videos?

I'm not saying we won't win with our election-influenced strategy. Much is going well. But it is different from what our military planned. They'd hoped the last surge would last at least to the end of this year and hopefully to the end of next summer.

But we have the surge we had and not the surge the military wished to have.