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Success Or Failure, Surge Isn’t Good Idea

Posted by Anthony on December 5, 2009

On Tuesday, December 1st, President Obama announced to the country his plan for a troop surge in Afghanistan.  This came in response to General McChrystal’s report that was declassified back in late September.  It called for more US soldiers to be deployed in Afghanistan to combat an increase of fatalities and insurgent violence.

The move was met with criticism from both sides.  Many oppose the surge because they believe sending more troops is the exact opposite of what the country should be doing.  Others oppose the surge because there is a timetable of eighteen months before troops begin coming home.  Supporters point to the Iraq troop surge and its success, but that is no guarantee of another success in a completely different environment.  The terrain, civilians, and enemy are completely different than that of the ones in Iraq.  And anyway, who determines when the surge is deemed a “success”?  The criteria for this is unknown; it seems to be a ploy to score political points, which today is sadly a more important goal than securing the safety of our veterans.

The decision to publicly declare when US troops would begin to come home is dangerous to military operations.  Who is to say that insurgents will not hide and wait out the surge, and then resurface in eighteen months?  Would it not be wiser to keep any withdrawal information confidential?  Such information should never be released to the public and blared by all media outlets.

With the unwillingness of Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, to combat corruption in Afghanistan’s own government, some question whether it is worth it to continue fighting and helping them.  After all, if they refuse to help themselves, why cater to them?  All of it will be a waste in money, resources, and blood; surely, nobody wants that to happen, which is why President Obama continues to put pressure on Karzai to cooperate.  The war has dragged on for over eight years, and if Afghanistan will not cooperate, then they should be left on their own.

One drawback of this troop surge is an obvious but critical one-it puts 30,000 more US soldiers in danger.  For months now, they have been held back on a leash by strict Rules of Engagement (ROE), one of which calls for US retaliation only in imminent danger.  The measure provides a minimal chance of civilian casualties, but at the expense of an increased chance of soldiers dying.  Rather than have soldiers shoot at the enemy hiding in civilian homes, they are advised to clear out safely unless, again, “in imminent danger”.  It’s a war-are they not always in imminent danger?

What is most mind boggling are the political pundits, radio/TV hosts, and politicians who have no idea how wars are “run”, and yet they call for massive troop increases.  One wonders what they would say if they had a son, daughter, or even themselves who would be shipped over there.  Would they still support a surge?  Do they even know what has been going on in Afghanistan, or is their solution just to put more soldiers into the meat grinder?  These “pundits” need to sit down, shut up, and let the military Generals do the talking, for experience has always been worth more than authority.


9 Responses to “Success Or Failure, Surge Isn’t Good Idea”

  1. dancingczars said

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  2. LeisureGuy said

    The announcement of a withdrawal date is based on a perception of the nature of the conflict and how it will end. Take a look at Joe Conason’s analysis.

    • Anthony said

      The point is to keep the date confidential.

      • LeisureGuy said

        I see you didn’t read the Conason post, in which he explains why the date should be public.

        • Anthony said

          I didn’t find anything on why the date should be public, only a paragraph on the withdrawal date. But with IEDs, insurgents do not need to be at the surface to kill.

          • LeisureGuy said

            The crux of his argument is here:

            But the prospect of a negotiated solution could explain why the president and his war cabinet have laid out a timeline that proceeds from the onset of the surge to the beginning of withdrawal over a period of less than two years. It may also explain why the rhetoric of both the president and his commanders promises to “stop the momentum” of the insurgency over the coming year or so, rather than vowing the extirpation of the Taliban and its allies.

            If a “properly resourced” counterinsurgency force could blunt the Taliban’s initiative between now and the summer of 2011, then it is conceivable that some “elements” of the insurgent movement, which is composed of three major and many minor groups, would agree to sit down for talks with the Karzai regime. At the moment — with everyone agreeing that the insurgents gained the upper hand during the Bush administration’s neglect of Afghanistan — there is little incentive for Mullah Omar or any of the other insurgents to stop fighting and start talking.

            As McChrystal acknowledged last summer, he cannot even accurately estimate how much of the country is controlled by insurgent forces because ISAF has no intelligence about so much of the terrain. Under those conditions, the ambitions of the Taliban remain the same as they were eight years ago — to regain total control of the “Islamic caliphate” of Afghanistan. So from Obama’s perspective, the best and only way to blunt those ambitions is to reverse the course of the conflict, forcing the Taliban and its allies to reconsider their long-term interests.

            The argument of the president’s critics is that by setting a deadline for troop withdrawals to begin, his plan will allow the insurgents to “lay low” for a year or two. But laying low by definition would require the insurgents to slow down or cease their own momentum — and let the ISAF and Afghan forces gain ground. The result would be the same: a stalemate on the ground that might encourage negotiations instead of protracted civil war.

            The presence of the withdrawal date, coupled with strong anti-insurgency work, will force the parties to reconsider their interests and engage—at least that is plan.

            The point is that the public withdrawal date is part of an overall plan and strategy.

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