Afghanistan doesn’t need more troops

Afghanistan doesn’t need more troops

From the beginning of 2007 to March 2008, the 82nd Airborne Division’s strategy in Khost proved that 250 paratroopers could secure a province of a million people in the Pashtun belt. The key to success in Khost—which shares a 184 kilometer-long border with Pakistan’s lawless Federally Administered Tribal Areas—was working within the Afghan system. By partnering with closely supervised Afghan National Security Forces and a competent governor and subgovernors, U.S. forces were able to win the support of Khost’s 13 tribes.

Today, 2,400 U.S. soldiers are stationed in Khost. But the province is more dangerous.

Mohammed Aiaz, a 32-year-old Khosti advising the Khost Provincial Reconstruction Team, puts it plainly: “The answer is not more troops, which will put Afghans in more danger.” If troops don’t understand Afghan culture and fail to work within the tribal system, they will only fuel the insurgency. When we get the tribes on our side, that will change. When a tribe says no, it means no. IEDs will be reported and no insurgent fighters will be allowed to operate in or across their area.

Khost once had security forces with tribal links. Between 1988 and 1991, the Soviet client government in Kabul was able to secure much of eastern and southern Afghanistan by paying the tribal militias. Khost was secured by the 25th Division of the Afghan National Army (ANA), which incorporated militias with more than 400 fighters from five of Khost’s 13 major tribes. The mujahedeen were not able to take Khost until internal rifts among Pashtuns in then-President Mohammed Najibullah’s government resulted in a loss of support for the militias in Khost and, eventually, the defection of the 25th Division in April 1991. [continued…]

Obama seeks study on local leaders for troop decision

President Obama has asked senior officials for a province-by-province analysis of Afghanistan to determine which regions are being managed effectively by local leaders and which require international help, information that his advisers say will guide his decision on how many additional U.S. troops to send to the battle.

Obama made the request in a meeting Monday with Vice President Biden and a small group of senior advisers helping him decide whether to expand the war. The detail he is now seeking also reflects the administration’s turn toward Afghanistan’s provincial governors, tribal leaders and local militias as potentially more effective partners in the effort than a historically weak central government that is confronting questions of legitimacy after the flawed Aug. 20 presidential election. [continued…]

More schools, not troops

Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.

It’s hard to do the calculation precisely, but for the cost of 40,000 troops over a few years — well, we could just about turn every Afghan into a Ph.D.

The hawks respond: It’s naïve to think that you can sprinkle a bit of education on a war-torn society. It’s impossible to build schools now because the Taliban will blow them up.

In fact, it’s still quite possible to operate schools in Afghanistan — particularly when there’s a strong “buy-in” from the local community.

Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea,” has now built 39 schools in Afghanistan and 92 in Pakistan — and not one has been burned down or closed. The aid organization CARE has 295 schools educating 50,000 girls in Afghanistan, and not a single one has been closed or burned by the Taliban. The Afghan Institute of Learning, another aid group, has 32 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with none closed by the Taliban (although local communities have temporarily suspended three for security reasons). [continued…]

Reported ties from CIA to a Karzai spur rebukes

Senior lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday criticized what American officials said were financial ties between the Central Intelligence Agency and Ahmed Wali Karzai, a brother of the Afghan president, with one top Democrat suggesting that intelligence officials had misled him about Mr. Karzai’s role in Afghanistan’s opium trade.

The Democrat, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, demanded that members of Congress receive “untainted” information about Mr. Karzai’s drug connections in light of a news report that Mr. Karzai was on the C.I.A. payroll. [continued…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One thought on “Afghanistan doesn’t need more troops

  1. DE Teodoru

    My memo to Exxum they wouldn’t post:

    Well, Mr. Exxum, if you were confidant and adviser to Petraeus and McChrystal, I would assume they let you in on it. Perhaps doing you propaganda tour on the home front you may have been more used than trusted. CIA and drugs is a long story that mixed logistics and larceny. Now perhaps you will rethink your silly assault on Prof. Bacevich on Lehrer Newshour when all else failed you claimed that you know things he doesn’t know so you are in a position to negate his logic. Now here you are pleading ignorance to the most obvious reality that everyone in the area knew is the fuel that keeps BOTH sides going. Perhaps you guys looked less at history and more with a closed mind than you should have. Perhaps a real inferiority complex about the skinny depth and the shallow breath of what you knew never sure if someone above is not using you as a “useful idiot.” I do believe that advocacy makes you a responsible party for all the moms and dads that enter battle intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb killing locals in frightened defense only to end up making for orphans and widows on the home front as they return in aluminum boxes. It is a shame that youthful patriotism is so abused by the star whores as if the future mattered not. But the West Point class of 76 was certainly not a draw for the best and brightest in America, given the sense of defeat and disdain felt by a nation of draftees. We are a nation destroyed from within. As one who survived 9/11 I can assure you that I never would have imagined that the Wall Street insider could have done so much better than Osama would have ever hoped to do to wreck the American economy. Lastly, let me tell you, by 50 your conscience grabs you by the balls and your dignity screams out at you for what you were advocating and you come to feel personal blame for their sad fate and personal shame for your own survival. Then you’ll have another forty years trying to live with yourself and the memories that shine in your mind like bright lights whenever the room is dark and you are hoping: tonight, dear God, please, allow me to sleep guilt free. We are a nation of tough guys, myopically tactical in our thinking and strategically blind in our morality, who mistakenly think that if we can pull the trigger today, by tomorrow we’ll remember nothing… it will have been just a job done because it had to be. No sir, we are imbedded with the chip of our Judeo-Christian morality that grabs us by the balls and demands account for every bullet and its effects—not now when you’re a young hustler but later when there’s nothing you can say or do to make it right. Your generation did a lot of fire on automatic, spraying bullets, so you have a lot more to account for. You can’t imagine what it will feel like when, like Iraq from where we will be kicked out per the SOFA, Afghanistan ends with the last guy out scrambling up the chopper ladder, AGAIN! Ten years from now memories will beget tears and tears will beget guilt which will beget more tears in a vicious cycle—PTSD long delayed– all because you have a soul and assumed Petraeus and McChrystal do too. May God bring you peace, you patriotically earned it.

Comments are closed.