Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy: Protect the cities and cede the countryside to the Taliban; Update: Who feeds whom?

posted at 9:17 pm on October 28, 2009 by Allahpundit

This makes perfect sense to me — as a political strategy. Militarily, it sounds like they’re creating another Lebanon, where Hezbollah dominates the south of the country but by and large leaves Beirut alone (aside from the occasional advance to remind the government who’s boss). If you think having U.S. drones in the sky over Taliban-controlled areas will keep Al Qaeda out — which hasn’t happened in the Pakistani tribal areas, although I guess hope springs eternal — then fair enough. Politically, though, it’s perfectly sound. Hawks get a build-up in urban areas, which aren’t under threat, and doves get fewer new troops deployed to Afghanistan than expected, and it’s all very reasonable and compromise-y and Change-ish. And of course it shows voters how firm Obama’s hand is on foreign policy, declining McChrystal’s request for a big troop increase in favor of a more modest, nuanced one.

Sure, it means essentially ceding huge parts of the country to jihadist nutbags. But that’s how “pragmatism” works, baby.

At the moment, the administration is looking at protecting Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Herat, Jalalabad and a few other village clusters, officials said. The first of any new troops sent to Afghanistan would be assigned to Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual capital, seen as a center of gravity in pushing back insurgent advances.

But military planners are also pressing for enough troops to safeguard major agricultural areas, like the hotly contested Helmand River valley, as well as regional highways essential to the economy — tasks that would require significantly more reinforcements beyond the 21,000 deployed by Mr. Obama this year…

[The new] strategy would be open to complaints that American and allied forces were in effect giving insurgents free rein across large parts of the nation, allowing the Taliban to establish ministates with training camps that could be used by Al Qaeda…

Military officers said that they would maintain pressure on insurgents in remote regions by using surveillance drones and reports from people in the field to find pockets of Taliban fighters and to guide attacks, in particular by Special Operations forces.

But a range of officials made the case that many insurgents fighting Americans in distant locations are motivated not by jihadist ideology, but by local grievances, and are not much of a threat to the United States or to the government in Kabul.

That’s the whole bet, succinctly stated — that, if left alone to govern themselves, the Afghans fighting alongside the Taliban will behave like most Iraqi Sunni insurgents and lay down their arms. If that bet proves wrong, then the only thing preventing the creation of a de facto Talibanistan in the rest of the country will be … drones. More from Max Boot:

The Taliban right now are still working to secure the countryside and it would be a grave mistake if we allowed them to pursue that strategy hindered only by a few air strikes that inevitably would be ineffective unless we had troops on the ground to generate accurate targeting intelligence. That doesn’t mean that we should send forces into remote outposts where no one lives. McChrystal is, in fact, pulling back such small bases, and rightly so. But his strategy envisions major operations to secure the Helmand River Valley, a rural area but one with plenty of substantial towns and villages. This is the economic heart of southern Afghanistan and the country’s major poppy-growing region. His strategy also envisions taking control of the rural areas that surround major cities such as Kandahar and Kabul. In the case of the capital, that means pacifying provinces to the south such as Logar and Wardak. The approaches to those cities have been in the grip of the Taliban, and breaking their vice grip will require more troops.

Similarly, Baghdad did not start to become secure in 2007 until the U.S. deployed substantial surge troops to the “gates” of the city — the belt of rural territory surrounding the capital including the “triangle of death” to the south. If the Obama strategy does not envision a similar offensive in Afghanistan, it will be making a terrible mistake. But if such an offensive is planned it will take a lot of troops — 10,000 to 20,000 probably won’t cut it, especially if most of those are providing combat “enablers” (medevac, air support, route clearance, intelligence, and the like).

The kindest thing that can be said about The One’s strategy, I think, is that it may quiet the Taliban down for a year or two, just long enough for us to declare victory in training the Afghan army and then skedaddling before the inevitable offensive on the country’s population centers begins. If the jihadists have any strategic sense at all, they’ll lie low for a while after moving back into the countryside to give Obama some political cover (see, we can trust them!) and to consolidate their gains. If they’re willing to fight for seven years to reclaim the country, they should be willing not to fight for two or three to create enough space for The One to pull out. Then they can make their move and, when they do, we can shrug it off as us having done what we could. There’s your “exit strategy,” I guess.

Update: Via e-mail, a great question from a military reader.

One thing I’ve noticed that’s missing from every single city vs. country argument I’ve ever heard, and seems entirely applicable to the recent post on Hot Air: When city and country disagree, who feeds who?

Do the people in the countryside get their daily bread from food grown in the cities? No, it seems to work the opposite way. The country folks grow the food if the government lets them, and then it’s shipped in to feed the city folks.

If the country folks decide they aren’t on the same team as the people in the city, well, sucks if you live in the city. Either get with the program, or get real thin real quick. At least American liberals in coastal cities have big corporations to provide their organic foods from all over the world, what do you think the Afghanis have while they’re under assault by jihadist extremists?


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Pretty good article from July by George Friedman.
http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20090713_strategic_calculus_and_afghan_warR Square on October 28, 2009 at 11:47 PM

I found it unserious. Obama’s brave talk about the importance of this war is breezily dismissed as just so much campaign rhetoric. ( Well I knew this b..s artist was lying, but I’m sure I was of a tiny minority.)

And it contains this whopper.

U.S. President Barack Obama is in the position Richard Nixon found himself in back in 1969. Having inherited a war he didn’t begin, Nixon had the option of terminating it. He chose instead to continue to fight it.

As if these two wars could be compared in terms of casualties and strategic importance. I don’t recall no Viet Cong wanting to take over the world. Of course this guy pretends al Qaeda isn’t a factor. We were told they weren’t a factor in Iraq by these types. But then the Surge targeted al Qaeda and peace broke out. They lied.

Basilsbest on October 29, 2009 at 12:13 AM

Another problem we have with Obama’s plan(if this is it) is that I don’t see how it addresses Pakistan.

I know that Biden and the sheep that still think this guy is smart believe that drone attacks and special ops will take care of this problem.
I think the fact that NOBODY IN THE PENTAGON WOULD SIGN OFF ON BIDEN’S PLAN speaks for itself on how idiotic this stance is.

At one time, Obama spoke about how important it was to rid Pakistan of the jihadist training camps and that success in Afghanistan relied on success in Pakistan also:

When John McCain said we could just “muddle through” in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell–but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives. . . .
I will . . . finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama
August,2008

“We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”

“[al Qaeda] are now operating in 60 countries. We have to go to the root cause, and that is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s going to be critical. “

“…every intelligence agency will acknowledge that al Qaeda is the greatest threat against the United States and that Secretary of Defense Gates acknowledged the central front — that the place where we have to deal with these folks is going to be in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.”
And until we do, Americans here at home are not going to be safe.

Obama on Afghanistan/Pakistan during the 2008 Presidential debates


So let me be clear:
  Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan.  And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban — or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON A NEW STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN
 Room 450
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

…and of course Obama talked about how important it was to rebuild Afghanistan and show the people our commitment to defeating the Taliban/al-qaeda:

Obama on the long haul:

“And despite what the Bush Administration has argued, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we were distracted from our efforts not only to hunt down al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but also to rebuild this country so that people have confidence that we were to here to stay over the long haul, that we were going to rebuild roads, provide electricity, improve the quality of life for people. And now we have a chance, I think, to correct some of those areas.”

When Obama needed to look strong on National security and needed votes, he was all about ridding the Afghan/Pakistan theater of Taliban/Al-qaeda.

Now that Obama and his liberal supporters are not on the sidelines pointing fingers and whining……not so much.

If Obama wants to back up his rhetoric with action,he had better start taking the Taliban/Al-qaeda relationship more seriously because you can’t kiss the Taliban’s a$$ and defeat al-qaeda at the same time.They both have to be defeated:


The Long War Journal: Analysis: Al Qaeda is the tip of the jihadist spear

Written by Thomas Joscelyn & Bill Roggio on October 8, 2009 2:12 PM to The Long War Journal
Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/10/analysis_al_qaeda_is.php

General Stanley McChrystal and other top military officials do not believe the strategy outlined above is adequate. The McChrystal plan for Afghanistan calls for America to wage a counterinsurgency campaign similar to that which evolved in Iraq. Underlying the McChrystal plan is the belief that if the US and its coalition partners prevent the Taliban and its allies from returning to power in Afghanistan, then this will necessarily weaken al Qaeda’s allies and, in turn, al Qaeda itself. In the military’s view, al Qaeda is not a standalone problem but instead one head of several on a jihadist hydra.

In the piece below, we take a look at the insurgency in Afghanistan more closely – from al Qaeda’s perspective. We do not think that a shift to a predominately counterterrorism campaign utilizing airstrikes and the like is sufficient to beat back the threat to America’s interests. In fact, we argue that such thinking is rooted in a dangerous ignorance of al Qaeda and our terrorist enemies. Al Qaeda was never a self-contained problem that could be defeated by neutralizing select individuals – even though capturing or killing senior al Qaeda members surely does substantially weaken the network.


Instead, Osama bin Laden and his cohorts deliberately fashioned their organization to be the tip of a much longer jihadist spear.


Well Hillary may be over there opining about “turning pages” but Pakistan is doing anything but:


Right at the Edge

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/magazine/07pakistan-t.html?_r=2&ref=world&pagewanted=print

By DEXTER FILKINS


Whenever I hear about Pakistan fighting the taliban I remember this quote: “I cannot lie to you,” Namdar said, smiling at last. “The [Pakistani] army comes in, and they fire at empty buildings. It is a drama — it is just to entertain….America’

“The army agreed to compensate the locals for collateral damage,” the official said. “Where do you think that money went? It went to the Taliban. Who do you think paid the bill? The Americans. This is the way the game works. The Taliban is attacked, but it is never destroyed.
“It’s a game,” the official said, wrapping up our conversation. “The U.S. is being taken for a ride.”

The Pakistan government has a long history of making deals with the tribes to give the impression they are taking the jihadist seriously so that they can continue to get money from the US.
They would give us intel and a big fish every now and then but the main leaders of al-qaeda and the Taliban would always “get away”.

Pakistan’s ISI has a long history of working with the Taliban:

Afghan Strikes by Taliban Get Pakistan Help, U.S. Aides Say

By MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT
NYTimes
March 26, 2009

The American officials said proof of the ties between the Taliban and Pakistani spies came from electronic surveillance and trusted informants. The Pakistani officials interviewed said that they had firsthand knowledge of the connections, though they denied that the ties were strengthening the insurgency.

American officials have complained for more than a year about the ISI’s support to groups like the Taliban. But the new details reveal that the spy agency is aiding a broader array of militant networks with more diverse types of support than was previously known — even months after Pakistani officials said that the days of the ISI’s playing a “double game” had ended.


…not only intelligence help and cover, but also funding


Diverse Sources Fund Insurgency In Afghanistan
Restricting Cash Flow Difficult, U.S. Says

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, September 27, 2009

U.S. officials said there is no evidence today that the Saudi, UAE or other Gulf governments are giving official aid to the Taliban. They said they suspect that Pakistani military and intelligence operatives are continuing to fund the Afghan insurgency, although the Islamabad government denies this.

I know that sometimes we have to work with demons to try and defeat the devil but the democrats complained about this for years and now that they are in charge, they are pretty much doing the same thing.
What happened to “hope and change”?

Even now the deals the Pakistani government is cutting with the tribes helps certain tribes gain more power and does nothing to stop their main objective of taking over Afghanistan:

Pakistan Cuts Deals With Anti-American Militants
Monday , October 19, 2009

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan

Both allow their lands to be used by fighters who cross into Afghanistan and are loyal to the Mullah Omar, the head of the Afghan Taliban. Omar is believed to be living in Pakistan.


As the region’s British colonial rulers did decades ago, the army is exploiting tribal rivalries to try to gain control in the region. Nazir is an old-time opponent of the Mehsud tribe, while Bahadur is reportedly angry over the appointment of Hakimullah as Taliban chief.


The Long War Journal: Pakistan carefully advances in South Waziristan

Written by Bill Roggio on October 20, 2009 12:46 AM to The Long War Journal

Both Bahadar and Nazir sponsor al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and Pakistani jihadi groups and host training camps for these Islamist terror groups. Powerful elements withing Pakistan’s military establishment view Nazir, Bahadar, the Haqqani family, and other groups as ‘good’ Taliban as they do not attack the state but focus their efforts on jihad in Afghanistan.

I think the country would be a lot better off hearing and seeing some concrete measures to stop this corrupt and dangerous game by Pakistan .
Instead we get more immature rhetoric about how much smarter they are and how everything is still Bush’s fault.

The democrats will probably get as much success from “turning the page” in Pakistan as they got from their “reset” button in Russia that has produced nothing but Obama looking like a naive,self absorbed narcissist.

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 12:15 AM

U.S. President Barack Obama is in the position Richard Nixon found himself in back in 1969. Having inherited a war he didn’t begin, Nixon had the option of terminating it. He chose instead to continue to fight it.

Basilsbest on October 29, 2009 at 12:13 AM

]

Life magazine also declared the Vietnam War “Nixons war” after only 3 months in office.

Liberals also took to the streets in massive anti-war protests within 6 months of Nixon’s Presidency after doing nothing for the 4 years that LBJ sent over 500,000 troops in.

Here we are 10 months into Mr. smart power’s Presidency and he is still whining about Bush.

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 12:19 AM

Why are we following the failed strategy of the Soviets?

They controlled the major cities but left the countryside to the Mujahideen.

They failed and we will also if we use the same strategy!

Doesn’t anyone in the White House read the U.S. Army’s analysis of the Soviet Afghan War?

All they need to do is call the Foreign Military Studies Office at Ft. Leavenworth and they can provide the with all their research and documents of the Soviet’s operation in Afghanistan.

Or they call Lt. Col. Lester Grau. The Army’s expert on the Soviet Afghan War. You can even download his book “The Bear Went Over The Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactic In Afganistan” off the internet http://www.ndu.edu/inss/books/Books%20-%201996/Bear%20Went%20Over%20Mountain%20-%20Aug%2096/BrOrMn.pdf

It is so frustrating that we have learned absolutely nothing.

panzerkardinal on October 29, 2009 at 12:20 AM

Which would you prefer, to continue to whisper your hate into our ears, or do you prefer that we just give up?

Skandia Recluse on October 28, 2009 at 10:51 PM

My hate? “Physician” heal thyself.

MB4 on October 29, 2009 at 12:33 AM

Why are we following the failed strategy of the Soviets?
panzerkardinal on October 29, 2009 at 12:20 AM

The same reason they are following the same socialist policies that have failed throughout history around the world.

liberals live in a bubble were they pat themselves on the back and tell each other how smart they are based on “feelings” and faux moral superiority.

Reality and facts only get in the way of their ideology.

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 12:34 AM

My hate? “Physician” heal thyself.

MB4 on October 29, 2009 at 12:33 AM

Your disdain for the US Military is unmistakable. I have never read any post from you that supports any military action of any kind, in any time frame.

And yes I do hate. I hate enemies of this great nation, and I hate those who spread poison as you do. I am an honest man.

You are not.

Skandia Recluse on October 29, 2009 at 12:40 AM

If this is the half-assed, ball-less plan 0bamao plans on implementing then he is planning on losing. This is just going to get more good Americans killed for no good reason. Might as well up stakes right now.

WarEagle01 on October 29, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Your disdain for the US Military is unmistakable. I have never read any post from you that supports any military action of any kind, in any time frame.
Skandia Recluse on October 29, 2009 at 12:40 AM

MB4 is a veteran of the War in Viet Nam.
The fact he has a different opinion on how to proceed in Afghanistan then me or some other people does not mean he “hates the military”.
The man is a vet.

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 12:43 AM

The person who posts comments as MB4 claims military experience. IF that is true, there is something in his history that has so poisoned his world view that his judgment can no longer be trusted. Trusting laimed military experience without verification is foolish in the extreme, especially on internet discussion boards.

He is a troll. Very good at what he does, but a trouble maker none the less.

He has never, ever posted any workable solution to any problems discussed on this blog. I suspect that he only post on threads that are related to the military.

He hides behind the words of others more literate than he stealing original content from other sites and posting that original work here.

The person posting comments here as MB4 deserves no more respect than any other traitor for that is what he is. He seeks to discourage, demoralize, and wear down anyone who defends this country.

Engaging him in honest debate is to play his game for him.

Skandia Recluse on October 29, 2009 at 12:52 AM

The person posting comments here as MB4 deserves no more respect than any other traitor for that is what he is. He seeks to discourage, demoralize, and wear down anyone who defends this country.

Engaging him in honest debate is to play his game for him.

Skandia Recluse on October 29, 2009 at 12:52 AM

I am not going to get into a protracted argument about MB4 because he is a grown man and can take care of himself.

But I will state that I have had many discussions with MB4 concerning domestic and international policy and found him rational and usually backs up his opinions with links and facts.

I have agreed and disagreed with him just like I have agreed and disagreed with my wife of over 20 years.

It’s life.

It does not make MB4 a “traitor” anymore than it makes my wife one.
I think it just makes them honest and credible.

I don’t trust someone who is always “agreeable”.
They turn out to be liars.

I value MB4′s insight and pay attention to what he posts because I know he has experienced War/military life and it also keeps me from getting into a bubble on the issues.

I can appreciate your passion and stand for defeating the jihadist and share in it.

I just chose to focus my anger and dissatisfaction on the disastrous policies of the Obama administration and liberals who truly don’t support our military and are pushing for a socialist take over of this country.

MB4 does not fall into any of these categories and is surely not a traitor.

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 1:11 AM

This assessment puts Obama’s Afghanistan Plan (if what is reported is true) into perspective:


Fewer Troops is Better: Riding Unicorns Over Rainbows

BY Herschel Smith
http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/10/28/fewer-troops-is-better-riding-unicorns-over-rainbows/


Regular readers know that I reject the narrative (of now mythical and magical proportions) that the campaign for Anbar was all about the tribes. It was much more complicated than that.

In Haditha it required sand berms to prevent the influx of foreign fighters into the city, combined with a local police chief strong man named Colonel Faruq to bring the town to heel. In al Qaim it required heavy kinetic operations by the U.S. Marines, combined with a local police chief strong man named Abu Ahmed to keep out foreign fighters and bring local insurgents under control. In Fallujah in 2007 it required heavy kinetic operations by the U.S. Marines followed on by gated communities, biometrics, and block captains (or Muktars) and strong men police all over the city.

There may also be some virtue to the notion of better engagement of the tribes. Steven Pressfield has a continuing stream of conversation and analysis at his blog on this very topic (to be fair, I should also mention that Joshua Foust has another view on this, and both positions are well worth studying). But after the tribes are engaged and the ANA has been reorganized, the tribes cannot stop the Taliban and allied foreign fighters alone, and the ANA is far from ready to take on defense of their country from internal threats.

The military people who are not tied to Obama politically (like Jones) know that it is going to take a serious commitment and more troops to have a chance at success in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

The procrastination by Obama concerning his second strategy policy in Afghanistan plus the appearance that he is going to introduce a politically based strategy instead of a military one that gives us the best chance of success has done nothing but send a message of weakness and ineptness to our enemies.

When will Obama use his mighty media machine and allies to fight against the jihadist with the same intensity that he fights against FOX News and Republicans.

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 1:28 AM

Frankly, I’m not going to believe that this is really what we’re going to do until I’m reading it somewhere credible and not the NYSlimes.

Rule #1: Never get your war news from the NYTimes. Never.

Jenfidel on October 29, 2009 at 1:37 AM

Strategy is literally above my pay grade of E-4. Suck on that Bambi. More than you ever earned.
Older and wiser now, I see the Filthy Liar is pushing the envelope of lying.
Whenever there is a departure from what worked before in a similar situation, the smell of BS returns. Lousy managers, as chronicled in Doonesbury, always propose stupidity.
On A’stan, bitch, complain and force FL to unleash his appointed general. McChrystal has the backing of two levels above. Two levels with similar experience. Good enough for me.
On the home front, kill his destructive “initiatives”. they are just SOS socialist warmed over. All of us have seen this movie before in book form. 1984 and Animal Farm are the best known.
No longer E-4 but my oath to protect and defend is still in effect. And that carried a blank check for my life. Try that on Filthy Liar.

Flying 50 Star America

Let’s roll.

Caststeel on October 29, 2009 at 2:21 AM

The person who posts comments as MB4 claims military experience. IF that is true, there is something in his history that has so poisoned his world view that his judgment can no longer be trusted. Trusting laimed military experience without verification is foolish in the extreme, especially on internet discussion boards.

He is a troll. Very good at what he does, but a trouble maker none the less.

He has never, ever posted any workable solution to any problems discussed on this blog. I suspect that he only post on threads that are related to the military.

He hides behind the words of others more literate than he stealing original content from other sites and posting that original work here.

The person posting comments here as MB4 deserves no more respect than any other traitor for that is what he is. He seeks to discourage, demoralize, and wear down anyone who defends this country.

Engaging him in honest debate is to play his game for him.

Skandia Recluse on October 29, 2009 at 12:52 AM

That’s what you resort to when you’re losing the debate – name-calling and ad hominem attacks.
- Michelle Malkin

Traitor? You sound so much like the worst, most hating, Olbermann “liberal”, maybe even obsessed stalker, with all that malarkey and slander.

You are so consumed with hate and venom you do not seem to be able to see straight. You need to look inward and examine yourself or have that checked out by a professional as it is likely very unhealthy for you and maybe those around you.

We teach them to take their patriotism at second-hand; to shout with the largest crowd without examining into the right or wrong of the matter, exactly as boys under monarchies are taught and have always been taught. We teach them to regard as traitors, and hold in aversion and contempt, such as do not shout with the crowd, and so here in our democracy we are cheering a thing which of all things is most foreign to it and out of place, the delivery of our political conscience into somebody else’s keeping. This is patriotism on the Russian plan.
- Mark Twain

Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let man [Skandia Recluse in this case] label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country.
- Mark Twain

MB4 on October 29, 2009 at 2:26 AM

a trouble maker none the less.

The person posting comments here as MB4 deserves no more respect than any other traitor for that is what he is. He seeks to discourage, demoralize, and wear down anyone who defends this country.

Skandia Recluse on October 29, 2009 at 12:52 AM

You really sound very much like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez.

KentAllard on October 29, 2009 at 2:48 AM

This administration is derelict in its duty. The leader of that administration should be charged accordingly.

Viper1 on October 29, 2009 at 6:45 AM

The Obama Plan is the ‘Oil Drop’: secure the cities and try to spread ‘order’ into the countryside.

There is a problem with the ‘Oil Drop’ in that it requires a coherent National government that can execute it locally, that realizes it is in a struggle for the hearts and minds of the entire population, that such a government can execute a full scale COIN from local policing to army attacks, that such a government is viewed as legitimate, and that the government can properly put in place the means necessary to remove insurgents and replace them with local based solutions and infrastructure to offer something better than the insurgency.

We have none of those. Iraq was more than just 2007, and 2003-06 witnessed the movement to secure the countryside, the small towns, and remove the supply lines of insurgents (both al Qaeda and Iranian sourced). This put the cities as the ‘last refuge of the insurgents’ where they had to kill civilians, lots of civilians, because the military was effective against them. ‘The Surge’ was the effort to remove the remaining strongholds, push the insurgency out of them and then deplete them in a secured countryside. That insurgency is now stuck with high profile attacks that does not garner it friends nor power, just blood on its hands… unless we cede unsecured space to them.

Afghanistan does not have a widely acceptable government that is competent in matters of military and policing, so it cannot self-secure the countryside. Retreating to the cities is the prescription for failure that has happened so often in Africa, SE Asia and S. America that it isn’t funny. Of all the ‘Oil Drop’ attempts only Colombia has had some success with that and its struggle against FARC isn’t over more than a decade later. Philippine governments have worked very hard at removing countryside support against the al Qaeda backed insurgents in the form of the Moros, but that had much in the way of pre-existing secured countryside to start with and a coordinated effort on the part of the Philippine government.

The reason you read about Algeria with the French is that it was a temporary ‘success’ but long term failure that still, to this day, provides havens for insurgents and transnational terrorists. Unable to cement the victory in the countryside, Algeria was left on its own and fell into disassociation once more.

We do not have the preconditions for a ‘Surge’ style campaign. To get to that is a major kinetic effort sweeping along Talibe and al Qaeda supply lines, interdicting and uprooting them and removing their sources which are, unfortunately, in Pakistan. Pakistan cannot do this alone. Afghanistan cannot do this alone. The US cannot do this sitting in the cities as targets. You do not win COIN campaigns by sitting in cities: you get out and fight and establish security and re-inforce it at the local level. You can, however, lose them that way.

ajacksonian on October 29, 2009 at 7:15 AM

The person who posts comments as MB4 claims military experience. IF that is true, there is something in his history that has so poisoned his world view that his judgment can no longer be trusted. Trusting laimed military experience without verification is foolish in the extreme, especially on internet discussion boards.

He is a troll. Very good at what he does, but a trouble maker none the less.
Skandia Recluse on October 29, 2009 at 12:52 AM

MB4 is not a troll and he has a right to comment on this blog like me and you and I will continue to read his comments as well as yours when I see your name.

yoda on October 29, 2009 at 8:01 AM

At least American liberals in coastal cities have big corporations to provide their organic foods from all over the world, what do you think the Afghanis have while they’re under assault by jihadist extremists?

what kind of bullshit is this? we coastal liberals are subsidizing the American farmer so that in developing countries people can’t sell their stuff to us. hey let’s have free trade and let the American farmers go bankrupt which they deserve.

sesquipedalian on October 29, 2009 at 8:05 AM

This “strategy” has been tried before.

And it didn’t work against the Vietcong, either.

Track-A-'Crat on October 29, 2009 at 8:35 AM

Where is Hillary Clinton? Looks like she got kicked out by John Kerry. We are already losing the psychological warfare.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. – George Santayana

It is tragic we can’t learn from Russian experience in Afghanistan and our own in Vietnam. Russia conducted the same strategy – Secure towns and leave the country side. We know how that worked out. We lost Vietnam in congress. To contrast look at Iraq.

There is no alternate to “fight it out”.

PS: Mullah Omar and Bin Laden are probably laughing and can’t believe their luck. They are on the verge of a win due to election in US. Similarly Putin and Ahmadinejad are feeling luck.

antisocial on October 29, 2009 at 8:55 AM

No meaningful objective in Afghanistan can be achieved through a “strategy” like this (and the chances were remote to begin with, anyway).

Barry is preparing us for retreat and he’s rehearsing the Blame Bush Doctrine already.

Track-A-'Crat on October 29, 2009 at 9:11 AM

How well did this work out for Mexico?

FeFe on October 29, 2009 at 9:13 AM

“The kindest thing that can be said about The One’s strategy, I think, is that it may quiet the Taliban down for a year or two, just long enough for us to declare victory in training the Afghan army and then skedaddling before the inevitable offensive on the country’s population centers begins.”

Hey, isn’t that what the Democrats in Congress finally did in Vietnam and Cambodia with a weak Republican president, Mr. Ford; we saw how well that worked. And of course the Democrats cut off aid from the “corrupt” government in Vietnam and allowed the peace loving North Vietnamese communists to take over and slaughter those who had trusted us. So 58,168 Americans died for what! And how did the forgotten war, the Korean War, ending work out under Republican President Eisenhower after 36,940 American deaths. Does government ever learn from history!

My son has served 15 months in Iraq and will return next year to either Iraq or Afghanistan, so If our weak kneed president is going to go down that road from the past, then let us pull out NOW. We veterans from the Vietnam Era have said that we will not allow our children to sacrifice and be sacrificed for a no win solution and an ungrateful nation; we mean it. Those anti-war folks demonstrating in March 2007 in DC sensed it when the Gathering of Eagles descended on DC to show them what power and numbers we possessed.

Remember this: In 1975 the former Cambodia Prime Minister Sirik Matak, to whom the U.S. ambassador offered asylum as his country was being over run by the Communist Khmer Rouge, said, “I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty … . I have committed this mistake of believing in you, the Americans.” So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and a month later was killed by the Khmer Rouge, along with about 2 million other people.

Enough said.

amr on October 29, 2009 at 9:25 AM

when it comes to killing muslims who killed thousands of Americans this commander in chief is a leader in grief besides a wealth robbing thief.

bluegrass on October 29, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Google a map to follow along, and maybe this will help make sense the strategy. And remember the old adage, ‘Amateurs talk tactics; Professionals talk logistics.”

Jalalabad is on the Afghanistan side of the Khyber Pass. Control that pathway through the mountains, and you control what enters from the markets of Peshawar and Pakistan in general.

Herat sits near the Iranian border and controls the flow of goods from places like Mashad, Iran.

Mazar-i-Sharif borders Uzbekistan near the choke-point of the Friendship Bridge that runs from the railhead/fuel depot at Termez, Uzbekistan into Afghanistan. It was the main supply route for the Russians.

Kunduz sits in the Tajik part of Afghanistan and in addition to rumors of natural gas in the area, it controls the flow of any supplies coming in from Tajikistan. It was the last stronghold of the Northern Alliance before the US intervened to overthrow the Taliban government in 2001.

Kandahar is the heart of Pashtun country. Control that and you control the southern border crossings from Pakistan into Afghanistan; from places like Quetta.

These places, together with Kabul, form the main populations centers of Afghanistan and are surrounded by the flat plains of the country where food can be grown. They also surround the mountains of the Hindu Kush. Those peaks take up the entire center of Afghanistan from China almost to Iran, dividing the country nearly in half. Those mountains rise up to 22,000 feet. There’s not much corn or wheat being grown up there.

Now picture a road that runs around the perimeter of the country linking these cities. That’s the Ring Road presently under construction. When finished it will provide a way to rapidly move men and, more important, food and supplies around the country. It will provide a better way of life to Afghanistan in a similar way the Interstate Highway System did for us.

Control those cities, control the road and you pretty much control what comes into the country. As for the guys hiding up in the mountains…remember the Ken Burns series about our Civil War? Remember the opening where the late historian Shelby Foote told the story about the captured Confederate trooper who, when asked by his Union guard, “Why you fighting so hard Johnny Reb?”, replied, “I’m fighting because you’re here.” The best thing might just be to leave them up in the mountains, alone.

And as far as Obama goes…I suspect this is more the vision of Generals Petraeus and McChrystal than him.

potkas7 on October 29, 2009 at 10:20 AM

March 2007 in DC sensed it when the Gathering of Eagles descended on DC to show them what power and numbers we possessed.

amr on October 29, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Thank you and your son for your service.

Was right there with you and the Gathering of Eagles counter protesting against the liberals and their twisted ideology in DC.

We need to hold Obama accountable for all the promises he made to win the war in Afghanistan and eliminate the threat of the Taliban/al-qaeda in that region.

We cannot allow him to sacrifice our Soldiers for political games and half-measures.

One thing democrats care about is their political power and legacies.

If they know that they will pay a steep price for failure in Afghanistan than maybe they will provide the military with the support and resources to win.

This will be Obama’s second “strategy” on Afghanistan since he took office.

The buck stops at the Presidents desk.

No Troops
No Freedom

Baxter Greene on October 29, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Caststeel on October 29, 2009 at 2:21 AM

You are not alone . There are a great many who covet our oath and are oath keepers.

flyoverboy on October 29, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Gee, holding the cities and ceeding the country-side is EXACTLY what the Soviets did. How did that turn out for them again?

rspock on October 29, 2009 at 12:53 PM

This should work out about as well as Dien Bien Phu did for the French. Obama’s a moron!

TrickyDick on October 29, 2009 at 1:36 PM

That’s what you resort to when you’re losing the debate – name-calling and ad hominem attacks.
- Michelle Malkin

Traitor? You sound so much like the worst, most hating, Olbermann “liberal”, maybe even obsessed stalker, with all that malarkey and slander.

I’ve asked you point blank whether you want full commitment or abandonment and evacuation, and you want evacuation. That’s defeatism and to choose to lose is giving “aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States” that they could not force out of us.

Chris_Balsz on October 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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