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  • Avoiding Vietnam in Afghanistan

    Last Monday, Jackson Diehl wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, which highlighted some necessary steps for success in Afghanistan. Writing from his position in the country, Mr. Diehl noted that troops continue to stream into Afghanistan and the counter-insurgency strategy by General David Petraeus, which was so successful in Iraq, is being implemented. Further, “Polls show a chance to win over the population: Less than 5 percent say they support the Taliban, while more than 60 percent still accept the presence of foreign troops.” Yet, “McKiernan believes the Afghan army, now at 80,000 members, will have to grow to 240,000 before it can defend the country on its own — and that raising it to that level will take until 2016.”

    Diehl notes that we are on the right track in Afghanistan. However, the war is as unpopular as ever, and is still far from a guaranteed success. These remarks are strikingly similar to those of Heritage Foundation expert James Carafano, who in a recent Washington Examiner op-ed, articulated the need to avoid a half-measure war in Afghanistan. By a half-measure war, he specifically refers to President Johnson’s actions during Vietnam. In order to fund his vast and ambitious domestic agenda, Johnson devoted only the bare minimum in allocations to the Pentagon, while simultaneously gutting parts of the defense budget. The result was an incremental strategy in Southeast Asia, which allowed our enemies to adjust and recalibrate their forces.

    For President Obama, who is currently focusing on a domestic agenda of unprecedented scale, it would be extraordinarily easy to repeat the failures of Johnson. To his credit though, Obama’s early moves as president don’t indicate the onset of a half-measure war. Our President did not cut-and-run in Iraq, and he has been consulting our Generals and making use of helpful reports from the previous administration. But as the administration turns more and more to its vast domestic agenda, it would be all too easy to put crucial military decisions on the backburner.

    The question is, will President Obama have the stamina to follow a hard line in Afghanistan? Or will he find it necessary to abandon an aggressive fight in order to advance his colossal domestic agenda? We certainly hope for the former.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Avoiding Vietnam in Afghanistan

    1. Michael Lenart, Lort says:

      President Obama's announcement today that he will send an additional 4,000 troops to train local security forces in Afghanistan- on top of another recently announced 17,000 troop increase- shows promise that the President will adequately address the security problems there. (Additionally, his quiet acquiescence on the continuance of strikes on terrorist targets in the Pakistani border region also somewhat allays the fears of some regarding his aggressiveness in defeating our enemies.)

      One must caution, however, that we do not know whether the increases mentioned above will suffice. Indeed, more U.S. forces may be needed, depending on the how quickly Afghan forces develop in terms of size and quality. We cannot shortchange this requirement. We must be willing to ensure we have enough competent maintainers of order on the ground for Afghanistan to stabilize and, once stabilized, to develop into a reasonably well-functioning country where terrorists and extremists are marginalized.

      The planned 100,000+ drawdown of forces from Iraq should be able to partially resource this requirement. And though political and budgetary constraints- not to mention the need to ease soldiers' deployment frequency after several years of war- will make just a fraction of this 100,000 available, an extra few thousand troops here and there can make a big difference, as was evidenced by the surge in Iraq. The President must be willing to capitalize on the fact that Afghanistan was always the "good war" that Americans across the board favored rather than a more controversial one like the war in Iraq. We have the opportunity now to focus on and resource the Afghanistan war like the President has said we always should have been doing while instead focusing on Iraq. Let's take advantage of that opportunity, for the sake of helping Afghanistan and demoralizing our nation's enemies.

      Captain Michael Lenart

      Student, Command & General Staff College

      Ft. Belvoir, VA

      The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

    2. Aamir Ikram Khan, Ra says:

      Lessons learnt from history are more enduring than those which come out of human intellect. We can be more deductive if we can avoid our bias. Let's analyse the achievements of United states in Afghnistan. Starting from the illegal poppy trade, according to a UN report, this menace was reduced to a slender 2 to 3 percnt during the reign of Taliban, while currently this has increased to more than 90%. As far as the emancipation of Afghan women is concerned, they are still facing their centuries old predicament because Afghan society has evolved a set of rules according to their religion and tradition and they will never hed tham merely because the US or other western countries want them to. Besides, the so called Free World is littered with all the vices that they see and despise in Afghanistan. In the US alone more than 132,000 women get raped every year, so first the self proclaimed Omnipotent should first bring order at home and than look else where. Coming to the topic, no one went into Afghanistan & came out victorious may it be the British or the USSR, what makes the United States think that it can achieve where everybody else failed. And let me tell you something, I have heard & read the accounts of various people who saw the invasion of USSR and the current occupation of the United States, they say that the soviets were more courageous than the Americans, if they were destroyed in the barren & trecherous mountains of Afghanistan, the US will be anahilated. In addition, look what the US has done to it's Economy in pursuance of a futile war which has no end in sight. It has already spent Trillions of dollars but has achieved absolutely nothing. If all these Trillions wer spent on it's people, there would be more prosperity, jobs & opportunities. But to bring the point home, let me tell you one thing, the US has'nt come to Afghanistan to cut the poppy trade or emancipate the Afghan women or provide Democracy to the people of Afghanistan, it's only purpose is to take away the Nuclear capability of Pakistan. And in pursuit of this goal, it is now slowly shifting the war into Pakistan. I am fully aware, as all my countrymen are, that our leadres are traitors and that will not do anything to stop the evil designs of the US, but all the 190 million Pakistanis are willing to do whatever it takes to protect our Country.

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