Yon: Brits losing Helmand; McChrystal: Need more troops, new strategy

posted at 12:58 pm on August 31, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Michael Yon just got his embed privilege with British forces canceled, perhaps as a result of a little too much truth-telling.  In his last two dispatches, Yon reported that Taliban efforts to push back against NATO’s latest forward efforts in Helmand province, a key Taliban stronghold, had been finding success.  In his last dispatch from his embed with 2nd Rifles, a “truly professional force,” Yon underscores the problems facing the Brits in Helmand:

We need more troops.  The leadership tells us that the Taliban and associated groups control only small parts of the country.  Yet enemy influence is growing, and so far, despite that we have made progress on some fronts, our own influence is diminishing.  For example, an excellent British infantry unit that I embedded with in Iraq and now Afghanistan, the “2 Rifles,” is staked out in the “Green Zone” around the Helmand River.  HQ for 2 Rifles is at FOB Jackson near the center of the map above.  There are several satellite FOBs and Patrol Bases, each of which is essentially cut off from the outside world other than by helicopter or major ground resupply efforts (which only take place about once a month).  The latest ground resupply effort from Camp Bastion resulted in much fighting.  The troops up at Kajaki Dam are surrounded by the enemy, which has dug itself into actual “FLETs.”  FLET is military-speak for “Forward Line of Enemy Troops.”  In other words, the enemy is not hiding, but they are in trenches, bunkers and fighting positions that extend into depth.  The enemy owns the terrain.

The British are protecting Kajaki Dam but otherwise it’s just a big fight and no progress is being made.  The turbine delivery to the dam, which I wrote about last year, was a tremendous success.  Efforts to get the turbine online have been an equally tremendous failure.  Bottom line: the project to restore the electrical capacity from Kajaki Dam is failing and likely will require multi-national intervention to bring it online and to push back the enemy.

We need more helicopters.  Enemy control of the terrain is so complete in the area between Sangin and Kajaki that when my embed was to switch from FOB Jackson to FOB Inkerman—only seven kilometers (about four miles) away—we could not walk or drive from Jackson to Inkerman.  Routes are deemed too dangerous.  Helicopter lift was required.  The helicopter shortage is causing crippling delays in troop movements.  It’s common to see a soldier waiting ten days for a simple flight.  When my embed was to move the four miles from Jackson to Inkerman, a scheduled helicopter picked me up at Jackson and flew probably eighty miles to places like Lashkar Gah, and finally set down at Camp Bastion.  The helicopter journey from Jackson began on 12 August and ended at Inkerman on the 17th.  About five days was spent—along with many thousands of dollars in helicopter time—to travel four miles.  Even Generals can have difficulty scheduling flights.  Interestingly, when I talk with the folks who reserve helicopter space, they say the Generals are generally easy-going about the lack of a seat, but that Colonels often become irate.

This is very disappointing, but perhaps not unexpected.  We need a push to get the Taliban out of Helmand, as their funding comes from the drug trade in that province and their political influence is strongest there.  That makes it key for the Taliban as well, and they were not going to simply walk away.  Yon predicted that the initial success of the NATO forces portended a change in strategy for the Taliban, who now operate more clandestinely after the NATO forces have stopped their advance and try to hold positions.

Be sure to read it all, especially for the photo essay that is always an essential part of Yon’s reporting.  Don’t forget to hit the tip jar, too, as Michael relies entirely on reader donations for funding his front-line reports.

Update: The US commander in Afghanistan shares Michael’s assessment:

The top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan said Monday the situation in the country is “serious” and a new strategy is needed to defeat the Taliban.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent his strategic review of the Afghan war to the Pentagon on Monday.

He did not ask for more troops but is expected to do so in a separate request, two NATO officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter. …

“The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort,” McChrystal said in a statement Monday.

This will present Obama with some tough political choices.  The left wing of his party wants the US out of Afghanistan, regardless of the status of al-Qaeda.  The military wants to keep pursuing AQ, and most of the country would agree with that position.  Republicans will support Obama’s effort overseas as long as he remains flexible on strategy and tactics.


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The left wing of his party wants the US out of Afghanistan, regardless of the status of al-Qaeda. The military wants to keep pursuing AQ, and most of the country would agree with that position. Republicans will support Obama’s effort overseas as long as he remains flexible on strategy and tactics.

This is why I’ll never be a Democrat.

For all of the problems of the GOP from 2005-2008, the fact is, we are supporting a commander-in-chief in a war knowing full well that “politically” one of the end results of a successful afghan war is that the other party will “succeed”.

Contrast that to the Dems, who PRAYED for failure in Iraq simply to get back in power in DC

battleoflepanto1571 on August 31, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Interestingly, when I talk with the folks who reserve helicopter space, they say the Generals are generally easy-going about the lack of a seat, but that Colonels often become irate.

LOL! Some things never change.

Fletch54 on August 31, 2009 at 1:03 PM

“The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort,” McChrystal said in a statement Monday.

That whole commitment and resolve thing is lacking in the current administration.

Vashta.Nerada on August 31, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Open up Oil Drilling in the US and tell that part of the world to go to Hell. US and allied forces have been in that country liberating it for almost eight years. It’s time for the people who live there to sink or swim. If they truly want freedom from the Taliban they need to start earning it themselves.

Tommy_G on August 31, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Has it been like this for a while, or is this a new development. I don’t remember hearing much about problems in Afghanistan until P.BO took office.

Count to 10 on August 31, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Thank you Michael Yon!!

just telling like it is….

Obama needs to do what is right and not what looks good to the libs

cmsinaz on August 31, 2009 at 1:05 PM

What the Taliban really needs is a historical 45 minute speech stuffed with references to Obama’s childhood.

Chuck Schick on August 31, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Open up Oil Drilling in the US and tell that part of the world to go to Hell.
Tommy_G on August 31, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Amen brother!

cmsinaz on August 31, 2009 at 1:06 PM

You can’t bring 21st century democratic process to a region dominated by a culture with a 7th century mindset.

Blast the damn thing back to the stone age (not that much of an effort, really) and get the hell out.

madne0 on August 31, 2009 at 1:08 PM

This has the potential to cause quite a problem, politically speaking, come 2012. This is far from a quick fix.

DJ Tablesauce on August 31, 2009 at 1:09 PM

Obama’s inclinations are always the same as the far left of his party…he kept the Bush policy in place only because it was working and he didn’t have any other ideas, despite his pandering to the nutroots during the election. He used that time, while ignoring our global wars, to try and ram his domestic socialist agenda thru…now that’s blowing up.

So I predict he pulls out of Afghanistan to keep his hard-core marxist base around. He’s rapidly losing the rest of his support in the US, so his far-left nutroots and paid-up crony-capitalists are all he has left.

AUINSC on August 31, 2009 at 1:10 PM

You can’t bring 21st century democratic process to a region dominated by a culture with a 7th century mindset.

Blast the damn thing back to the stone age (not that much of an effort, really) and get the hell out.

madne0 on August 31, 2009 at 1:08 PM

I disagree with the first part (though I would rather it was 18th or 19th century democratic processes), but it sure sounds like the place could use more blasting.

Count to 10 on August 31, 2009 at 1:12 PM

AUINSC on August 31, 2009 at 1:10 PM

Stupid.

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 1:12 PM

News like this makes me nervous for our forces. I have never doubted the ability of the troops to handle anything that is thrown at them, but with all the restrictions placed on them you can only do so much. I do not believe that the current political leadership has the testicular fortitude to do what is necessary. Although I did not completely agree with the Iraq War I did admire Bush who was willing to do whatever was needed to ensure a win for the US and not doing whatever was politically expedient. I can honestly say that I highly doubt Obama will do the same.

txaggie on August 31, 2009 at 1:14 PM

The President should let his commanders decide.

Obama is not qualified to play any part in this decision.

jeff_from_mpls on August 31, 2009 at 1:14 PM

I can’t imagine Obama leaves us in Afghanistan if casualties increase.

And then what?

The supposed “good war”, the country that harbors Al Qaeda, the place where 9/11 was plotted, suddenly it’s not worth fighting, really?

What the h$ll will Obama say then?

What about all the families who lost members in Afghanistan, or on 9/11? What is their comfort?

A ramadan card signed from Barack?

battleoflepanto1571 on August 31, 2009 at 1:18 PM

What did Gen Curtis LeMay say? “Blast them back to the stone age.” But then again they are already there.

major dad on August 31, 2009 at 1:18 PM

txaggie on August 31, 2009 at 1:14 PM

I can’t take the fact that the enemy has known positions that aren’t being taken out as anything but a bad sign.

Count to 10 on August 31, 2009 at 1:19 PM

I can confirm the helicopter problem is widespread.

faraway on August 31, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Getting a little nervous. My brother will probably deploy to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain either next year, or soon after 2010. And much of what he’ll be doing is moving from FOB to FOB, to work with the troops. This helicopter issue is going to make things tough for everybody.

Pope Linus on August 31, 2009 at 1:26 PM

This will become Bozo’s quagmire. He will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

dogsoldier on August 31, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Truth has strange effects, never forget that.

tarpon on August 31, 2009 at 1:31 PM

jeff_from_mpls on August 31, 2009 at 1:14 PM

The last President who was qualified to make any kind of operational decisions was Ike. Everyone else (Republican & Democrat) should let the boots on the ground call the shots with the President saying “I want to win so make it happen”.

txaggie on August 31, 2009 at 1:31 PM

Hawkdriver said that the president wants to cut back 20% “support” personnel causing everyone to do dual duties. He says they are really busy and really tired. Not a great combination.

Cindy Munford on August 31, 2009 at 1:33 PM

About the only thing I agree with Colin Powell about these days was his admonition (and I’m paraphrasing) to not go into a war/battle without a willingness and ability to bring overwhelming force to the enemy.

I don’t see this happening in Afghanistan at all, and didn’t see it with Bush in Iraq, except at the beginning, which we all know about.

Obama, of course, cannot even fathom this concept. Even if he could, there is no way he would engage accordingly, given his anti-war base.

Realistically, we are on a path to defeat there or, at best, a long drawn out war that will make Viet Nam look like a day at the beach.

My prayers are with our troops, who I know would kick ass if given the proper rules of engagement, and their families.

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Evidently most of America doesn’t care if we win this war, since they voted in a Democrat.

Jeff from WI on August 31, 2009 at 1:35 PM

More troops? Nah, just more carpet bombing….Kill everyone in the region and you’ll stop them from attacking.

Tim Burton on August 31, 2009 at 1:36 PM

As Joe Biden would say …. “two words”

QUAG MIRE !!!

stenwin77 on August 31, 2009 at 1:39 PM

This will present Obama with some tough political choices. The left wing of his party wants the US out of Afghanistan, regardless of the status of al-Qaeda. The military wants to keep pursuing AQ, and most of the country would agree with that position. Republicans will support Obama’s effort overseas as long as he remains flexible on strategy and tactics.

The tough choices for the filthy liar shouldn’t start with the political equations and what his corrupt party is going to do in response. The right way of going about this is to determine what makes sense and selling it to the American people and the slimeballs of the left.

Our troops in harm’s way don’t deserve to be stuck in a position where a cowardly President is too scared to escalate the number of troops and unwilling to stop the mission. It’s that kind of status quo mentality that hurt during the Vietnam war. Either the US and its NATO partners are committed to a clear mission in Afghanistan or they need to pack their tents, come home, and wait for the inevitable AQ terrorist attacks.

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 1:45 PM

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 1:34 PM

This is starting to become like Vietnam. A war we had won given away by politicians whose gonads couldn’t be found by an Atomic Force Microscope.

For those of you not up to date the AFM was the baby used to give us the picture of an actual molecule recently.

chemman on August 31, 2009 at 1:47 PM

About the only thing I agree with Colin Powell about these days was his admonition (and I’m paraphrasing) to not go into a war/battle without a willingness and ability to bring overwhelming force to the enemy.

I don’t see this happening in Afghanistan at all, and didn’t see it with Bush in Iraq, except at the beginning, which we all know about.

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 1:34 PM

There are two reasons why this has not occurred. The first, and only moderately important, is that we do not have the manpower to stomp our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan into the ground. The second and most important reason, is that in an asymmetrical campaign, the enemy does not present itself long enough for “overwhelming force” to bare. Even if the enemy did, such operations generally turn the civilian populace against our soldiers, further hampering our efforts. COIN requires both non-kinetic and kinetic operations to successfully defeat the enemy.

Shock the Monkey on August 31, 2009 at 1:47 PM

In other words, the enemy is not hiding, but they are in trenches, bunkers and fighting positions that extend into depth

Fry ‘em then. Napalm the entire valley if you have to. If we can see them they should be corpses shortly thereafter. Bring in some MOABS. A few of those and they’ll retreat to their caves real quick. I imagine you could wipe a real wide path clean with a few MOABs.

Guardian on August 31, 2009 at 1:48 PM

About the only thing I agree with Colin Powell about these days was his admonition (and I’m paraphrasing) to not go into a war/battle without a willingness and ability to bring overwhelming force to the enemy.

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Powell said that so long ago when he was still an honorable General. I wonder if he still supports the “Powell Doctrine” of if his liberalism and SecState duties of recent years has tempered that belief with the “lets apologize and talk to them” crap of the Carter/Obama school of thought.

What I do know is that the troops don’t deserve to be in combat operations that their CINC neither supports or doesn’t support. Running operations on autopilot is unacceptable.

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 1:49 PM

More troops? Nah, just more carpet bombing….Kill everyone in the region and you’ll stop them from attacking.

Tim Burton on August 31, 2009 at 1:36 PM

I’m not sure about the carpet bombing, but it does appear the entrenched bad guys would be vulnerable to focused fixed wing attack. Are the new ROEs preventing this?

The troops up at Kajaki Dam are surrounded by the enemy, which has dug itself into actual “FLETs.” FLET is military-speak for “Forward Line of Enemy Troops.” In other words, the enemy is not hiding, but they are in trenches, bunkers and fighting positions that extend into depth. The enemy owns the terrain.

Seems to me these guys would be sitting ducks.

a capella on August 31, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Hawkdriver said that the president wants to cut back 20% “support” personnel causing everyone to do dual duties. He says they are really busy and really tired. Not a great combination.

Cindy Munford on August 31, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Kind of a polite way of saying the Precedent is implementing policies that will increase the casualty rate. Which then will give him a reason to declare victory and bring the troops home.

chemman on August 31, 2009 at 1:52 PM

This is starting to become like Vietnam. A war we had won given away by politicians whose gonads couldn’t be found by an Atomic Force Microscope.

chemman on August 31, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Those would be hypothetical gonads since, in the case of the filthy liar in the White House, they are only a theory which has yet to be peer reviewed or confirmed in a substantive way.

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Read this book to get an idea of what our guys are up against in Afghanistan.

In the 19th century, a British column of 16,000 troops and camp followers left Kabul headed for Kandahar under a truce with the Afghans. ONE man made it. Thirty more survived but they had been taken prisoner along the way and were subsequently released. The rest were slaughtered piecemeal in the passes.

lonesomecharlie on August 31, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Here we go. The Solution

Guardian on August 31, 2009 at 1:54 PM

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 1:52 PM

+100
I’ll bow to a sharper wit.

chemman on August 31, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Hey lets win, civilians be damned!

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Many believe that the Pashtun people are one of the lost tribes of Israel. If true, some Taliban might actually be descended from Jews, which would be one of the most severe ironies of humanity. Some branches go off and earn Nobel Prizes and unravel the secrets of the universe while advancing humanity by leaps and bounds, while another turns malignant and doesn’t know how to build a road.

Ouch. So much for The Religion of Peace.

Oi vey

pseudonominus on August 31, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Hey lets win, civilians be damned!

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Unfortunately you can’t win without civilians. To marginalize an insurgency you need the populace on your side. Otherwise you’re just repeating the mistakes of the Russians. Also the Russians had a larger force on the ground, so it would be next to impossible to win following that advice given the current situation on the ground. Thank God you are not in charge of our men.

Shock the Monkey on August 31, 2009 at 2:01 PM

If you capture them, you can’t hold them more than 96 hours. So you have to let them keep trying until they finally get themselves killed.

What kind of a result do they expect? They know that if they place IEDs near civilian compounds that we won’t strike them. If they shoot from civilian areas we won’t shoot them. We are going into battle with one arm tied behind our backs.

crosspatch on August 31, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Shock the Monkey on August 31, 2009 at 2:01 PM

Hey….I was being sarcastic. Sorry.

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Hey….I was being sarcastic. Sorry.

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Sorry dude. It’s hard to tell with some people saying “carpet bomb the place.”

Shock the Monkey on August 31, 2009 at 2:08 PM

How soon before ‘cut and run’ becomes popular with the Dems again? This situation is starting to look very much like Vietnam. The more critical the war effort gets in Afghanistan, the closer we’ll get to unilateral withdrawal.

All of our effort in the mid-east is likely to come undone by the neglect of the Obama admin.

docdave on August 31, 2009 at 2:11 PM

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Stupid???

AUINSC on August 31, 2009 at 2:16 PM

How soon before ‘cut and run’ becomes popular with the Dems again? This situation is starting to look very much like Vietnam. The more critical the war effort gets in Afghanistan, the closer we’ll get to unilateral withdrawal.

All of our effort in the mid-east is likely to come undone by the neglect of the Obama admin.

docdave on August 31, 2009 at 2:11 PM

This will start looking like Vietnam the day Obama prevents his generals from carrying out large scale operations and asks his generals to implement a casualty averse strategy (meaning don’t do anything)to appease the liberals back home. This is what Nixon forced his generals to do at the end of the Vietnam War, and let’s hope Obama doesn’t try it again.

Shock the Monkey on August 31, 2009 at 2:18 PM

“How soon before ‘cut and run’ becomes popular with the Dems again? ”

As soon as the opium supply is put at risk and the mob starts pouring millions into the coffers of politicians to get them to pull the troops out.

crosspatch on August 31, 2009 at 2:20 PM

chemman on August 31, 2009 at 1:52 PM

While I agree with your accessment I don’t want to put words in his mouth and I can’t look for the post right now. He compared his group to zombies. It was not comforting.

Cindy Munford on August 31, 2009 at 2:22 PM

What I do know is that the troops don’t deserve to be in combat operations that their CINC neither supports or doesn’t support. Running operations on autopilot is unacceptable.

highhopes on August 31, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Roger that, bro.

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 2:25 PM

crosspatch on August 31, 2009 at 2:20 PM

It’s not called cut & run, it’s “peace with honor”. Do you feel better?

Cindy Munford on August 31, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Shock the Monkey on August 31, 2009 at 2:18 PM

It looks to me that we have already abandoned the will to win and are in some kind of holding action. Not good..

docdave on August 31, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Hey lets win, civilians be damned!

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Hey, let’s all watch The Calibur sling any sarcastic nonsense he can think of out there to see if he can get a response!

Or not.

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Maybe the UK could just make a deal with the Taliban (as they did to Libya) and pull out ALL their troops in exchange for a good oil deal.

What’s that you say? Afghanistan has no oil?
Well, maybe the UK could pull out in exchange for a good deal on opium and handwoven rugs or something.

Maybe 0bama could make a deal with them to pull out American troops for a good trade deal on argula and a nice lapis bracelet for Michelle.

LegendHasIt on August 31, 2009 at 2:43 PM

I didn’t read the story, just what was posted here. But from what I read, the story is a bit skewed.
I am in Afghanistan and my job is to bounce from FOB to FOB supporting US troops. Although I am not a “door kicker” I do have a bit of a perspective here that might be appreciated.

Air transportation is an issue. But, this has been an issue since I first came to theater (2007) and have been told that this has always been an issue. One thing to remember though, non-combat movements in theater have zero priority for obvious reasons, war fighters first, beans and bullets second, and all else on a space available basis. My mission is pretty high pri and I get ZERO preferential treatment when it comes to travel. I travel at the convenience and availability of the military. So for a reporter to (I am refraining from using the term whine) site that as evidence that we are losing ground in theater is not only nonsensical but an outright distortion of conditions. I have NEVER heard of a combat mission being canceled due to lack of air support. I am sure that this has happened on OCCASION, but not problematically. Military transport is too expensive and precious to be treated as a taxi service.

As far as the need of more “NATO” troops…there is a true need. But the need is not necessarily for “just” more NATO troops, it more of a need for NATO troops to do their friggin’ job and engage the enemy! The British have done their fair share of fighting, don’t get me wrong, but they are the exception to, rather than, the rule. And even the British have been known to not engage the enemy when there is a strategic advantage for it because of political concerns back in the UK. Remember, this is a very unpopular engagement for most NATO members back home. As a result they do not have the stomach for putting “their boys” directly in harms way.

And then that brings us to why the US Commanders are likely to request more US troops. They are simply recognizing the reality that our NATO partners are not willing to do the hard work that is required, and that we already are and will have to continue to increasingly pick up the slack left by NATO.

And to throw a monkey wrench into the cogs, let me say that I have seen a marked improvement in security at my current location. We would receive indirect fire (rockets/mortars) on a nightly basis until the surge of US troops started. Now we only have these attacks once or twice a month, but conversely IED attacks have increased country wide.

Why this is important as an indicator of forward movement of a successful strategy is this: indirect fire attacks are typically a more brazen attack as it requires the enemy to expose himself in closer proximity (time wise) to the actual attack. Most of the time they fire the rocket and run rather than setting it up with a remote detonator (although that happens as well). An IED can be planted days or weeks ahead of time and are more attacks of opportunity than anything else. This change of tactics shows an enemy that is feeling stress from a lack of freedom of movement. WE ARE APPLYING PRESSURE IN SOME OF THE RIGHT AREAS.

Why are the Brit’s having a hard time where they are at? I don’t know definitively, I do not work with them any place other than Bastion. But to judge the success of a US surge off of one reporters observation of BRITISH troops who only represent 5% (guesstimating) of the total force seems a bit asinine to me.

But what do I know, I am just a dumb Yank that has lived out here for three years.

Donkichi out.

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Russ Feingold in the Wall Street Journal launches (yet another) trial balloon in search of an exit strategy.

Skandia Recluse on August 31, 2009 at 2:49 PM

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Thanks and please take care of yourself. Adding you to my prayers.

Cindy Munford on August 31, 2009 at 2:50 PM

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM
Thank-you so much for your incite and service. May God keep you safe.

fourdeucer on August 31, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Cindy Munford on August 31, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Thanks!

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:58 PM

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Isn’t this response self-defeating?

The Calibur on August 31, 2009 at 2:58 PM

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Thany you for your input and thank you for your service.

Keep your head down and your powder dry.

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2009 at 2:59 PM

We need more troops. The leadership tells us that the Taliban VC and associated groups control only small parts of the country. Yet enemy influence is growing, and so far, despite that we have made progress on some fronts, our own influence is diminishing.

DIRT doesn’t matter. You don’t defeat a trans-national terrorist organization by occupying medieval villages.

Yesterday, President Obama presented his “comprehensive new strategy” for Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was neither new, nor a strategy. Behind all the rhetoric, he just said, I’m sending more troops and more money.

Barack Obama? I heard Lyndon Johnson. The only LBJ touch that BHO lacked was the word “escalation.”

The rhetoric was masterly. The content was drivel. He said, “The situation is increasingly perilous.” Which situation? Why? For whom? Certainly, it’s becoming more perilous for our troops as we escalate in support of the wrong policy.

Or how about Obama’s ringing claim that the Taliban have “nothing to offer the Afghan people but terror and oppression?” Many Afghans — at least among the Pashtun plurality — don’t agree.

The tribals deep in those valleys and the Pashtuns in Pakistan feel a lot closer to the Taliban’s values than to ours. They might not mind a new road, but they’ll skip the bikinis and Budweiser, thanks. The Talibs are home-boys. We’re the foreign element. Why is that so hard to grasp?

All of this circles back to the core of the problem — and it’s not Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s not worth a mullah’s hemorrhoid. Putting the bulk of our effort into Afghanistan amounts to attacking a crisis in California by rescuing Nevada. It’s Pakistan that lies (and lies and lies) at the heart of this problem.

To his credit, Obama noted Pakistan’s importance. Then he got all the solutions wrong.

Start with his inane — but touchingly American — statement that “the people of Pakistan want the same things we want.” Oh, really?

How many readers think Sharia law would be a good idea? How about beating the crap out of women just for yuks? Or stoning them to death because they smiled at the wrong time? And let’s ban alcohol, bare arms, dating and jobs for women. And grow those beards, fellas!

And how about asking ourselves the fundamental question: “Why is India a success story and Pakistan a complete failure?” Any chance that backward Islam might have something to do with it? We can’t bribe people to succeed.

Our president identified al Qaeda as Pakistan’s No. 1 enemy. That’s wishful thinking. Pakistan’s leading enemy has always been corruption. No. 2 is its home-grown Islamist insurgency. Al Qaeda’s way down the list.

Our pathetically naive president articulated one sound goal — defeating al Qaeda — then told us how he wasn’t going to do it. Like LBJ, all he can think of is more troops and more aid. Can’t we ask ourselves why the Taliban’s thriving? After the military beatings we’ve given them? How many of our troops must die for an empty policy?

Hey, hey, ho, ho, BHO, why don’t your supporters go?

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 3:02 PM

How to win:

Grab an Afghan fighter, interrogate, “Waterboard”, repeat.

IlikedAUH2O on August 31, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Fellas, Adm Muller and Secy Gates have already decided that we are not going to win the war. We are not going to kill the Taliban into begging for terms. We are not going to destroy the Taliban as a military force or a political force. We are not going to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan. What we are going to do is beg the Taliban for terms. We are going to beg the bloody dictators to agree to be a minority party in the country they once ruled by slaughter, and then, we will leave, trusting they won’t kick ass a second time. We will not force them to this agreement. We will just fight until they offer us acceptable concessions.

We are now fighting for a truce, and the Taliban is fighting to win. Central Command is just buying time for the State Dept.

That is the PENTAGON PLAN. And it wasn’t Obama who brought it to you. God save America from the Americans.

Chris_Balsz on August 31, 2009 at 3:06 PM

To get to the FLET, create “roads of death”. Step on the road, plus 3 miles on each side and die. This would be the basis for their Interstate and rail system after we left.

But in the meantime, if a predator from 15k feet sees you on the road, you die.

But then again, we can’t even do that on our own boarders…

barnone on August 31, 2009 at 3:07 PM

Open up Oil Drilling in the US and tell that part of the world to go to Hell.
Tommy_G on August 31, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Amen brother!

cmsinaz on August 31, 2009 at 1:06 PM

Hallelujah!

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 3:14 PM

hillbillyjim and fourduecer, thanks.

MB4, Pakistan is key and if the Pakistanis continue pressing the Taliban on their side of the border we should see marked improvement on the ground in Afghanistan.

I don’t want to make any political statements about this one as I and all my cadre here in Afghanistan have to live with the outcome of those political realities.

OT: MA Governor is announcing that Kennedy’s seat will be filled by special election in January. Finally the MA citizens get to vote to fill the seat.

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Donkichi out.

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Bless you for not saying “over and out”. A Signal Corp friend of mine used to go ballistic every time he heard someone say that.

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Open up Oil Drilling in the US and tell that part of the world to go to Hell.
Tommy_G on August 31, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Works for me.

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2009 at 3:23 PM

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Thanks for the report and, more important, for protecting our backs. Hang in there and give ‘em HELL!

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your buddies, and your families.

TXUS on August 31, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Interesting. I just 10 minutes ago chatted online with a friend of mine who’s a USARNG officer in Afghanistan now; combat arms with experience from a tour in Iraq as well. I mentioned that we were seeing some dreary news out of the country and how things looked from his Staff weeny desk. He said the mission could be accomplished, but:

1} We need more troops.
2) We need to kick the butts of the troops currently there into behaving in a “civilized manner”. He ticked off such things as general arrogance (“we’re better than you”), disrepectful behavior towards women, having fun at the expense of locals who they assumed didn’t speak English (oops…), and “owning the road”.

He said their CO issued “How not to be a d!ckhead” guidelines last week……

quikstrike98 on August 31, 2009 at 3:35 PM

And yes, I asked if “owning the road” wasn’t a survival tactic; he said yes, but it also p!sses people off, it may keep you alive but alienates the populace. His words: “Our job isn’t to stay alive, it’s to win the war”.

quikstrike98 on August 31, 2009 at 3:37 PM

So for a reporter to (I am refraining from using the term whine) site that as evidence that we are losing ground in theater is not only nonsensical but an outright distortion of conditions.

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Interesting. We’re talking Mike Yon, here. Following his reporting on Afghanistan and Iraq for years, I don’t get the impression he’s given to nonsense or outright distortions. Perhaps you and he could discuss this further.

Christien on August 31, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Christien on August 31, 2009 at 3:47 PM

As I stated at the beginning of my post I had not read HIS article and only what was posted here. My comments were based off of what Ed had tied together here and my interpretation of it.

As to your specific quote of mine, if in the context of HIS article he is saying that the 4 mile trip taking 3 days via helicopter is evidence of ground loss, I say that is a gross distortion. If he is merely reporting that the 4 mile trip took 3 days via helicopter, I say that he is correct.

Thought that would be inferred by the context of my post.

donkichi on August 31, 2009 at 4:04 PM

I’m sick thinking about how bad this could get. Obama rode the fence on this – send in a few more troops but not too many because it’s more important to appear to be in charge than it is to actually do what is necessary.

I thought the whole point of the Obama admin was to “learn from the mistakes of the previous admin”. But no, it’ll just be more flag draped coffins for us to bring home.

God Bless Michael Yon and the work he is doing.

gopmom on August 31, 2009 at 5:32 PM

If enemy forces are fixing themselves onto the battlefield in trenches where are our Predators? Pakistan?

Didn’t BO bulk up A’stan already? With what?

MarkT on September 1, 2009 at 12:34 AM

We do need to get the hell out if we’re not going to fight to win. Just ridiculous we allow our children to go into harm’s way this poorly supported.

MarkT on September 1, 2009 at 12:36 AM

His words: “Our job isn’t to stay alive, it’s to win the war”.

quikstrike98

Newsflash for your friend: Dying needlessly doesn’t win wars.

xblade on September 1, 2009 at 8:21 AM