It is Time to Lead, Follow, or get the hell out of the War

Ok Mr. President and circle of advisors, it is time for you to figure out what you are going to do. Your VP said you would be tested in the first 6 months, and even though you have been tested domestically, this is your first real test on foreign affairs and definitely the first test on military matters.

Back in April the Administration announced a strategy for Afghanistan. Nobody really knew what that meant except it was going to focus on giving $5 million dollars a year to Pakistan for 5 years, and was supposed to surge in civilian experts. Of course the surge of military that happened in the spring was already planned for by the previous administration. Also, the surge of civilian experts never happened.

A few months later we see the General that had been in charge get fired and forced to retire because he was not the right man for the job. We then see GEN McChrystal and Rodriguez get put into place as the “best guys for the job”.

As soon as he was put into place, McChrystal was ordered to do a comprehensive 60 day review to define what is needed to succeed in Afghanistan. That review was sent to CENTCOM and the Pentagon on August 30th. Today is Sept 30th and now we are hearing a meeting will happen today with the President, VP, SecState, CJCS ADM Mullen, CENTCOM CDR GEN Petreaus, and of course GEN McChrystal via secure video. According to GEN McChrystal in an interview over the weekend, he had only talked with the President once since taking over Afghanistan. ONCE? The President has talked with Leno, Letterman, and countless other talk show and TV hosts once, if not more than once.

I don’t understand what the problem is. We have the NATO chief calling for a surge.

Stepping into an intensifying debate, the new head of NATO said Monday that more allied troops are needed in Afghanistan to help train the country’s security forces.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who took over Aug. 1, said he agreed with an assessment in August by Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, who emphasized the need to secure Afghan cities.

"We have to do more now, if we want to do less later," Rasmussen said during a speech in Washington.

We have GEN Petraeus, who is considered the architect of the turn-around and winning in Iraq, backing GEN McChrystal.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, says he endorses Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy in Afghanistan.

The Afghan assessment is contained in a confidential report prepared by the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. The thrust of McChrystal’s assessment is that without more troops by next year the eight-year-old conflict could result in failure.

Speaking at a conference of military and civilian counterinsurgency experts, Petraeus said the current multi-dimensional approach is the only way to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, the Voice of America reported. He said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen also has endorsed McChrystal’s assessment, the report said.

And of course we have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen backing GEN McChrystal.

More American troops are likely to be needed to win the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. military officer told skeptical Democrats on Tuesday, citing a need to demonstrate U.S. resolve in an increasingly unpopular war.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a proper effort to counter the Taliban insurgency "probably means more forces."

And last but not least we have the words from GEN McChrystal himself. The man who was put into place by this administration to steer the war in Afghanistan to a success. The man was put there to replace GEN McKiernan who apparently was doing things wrong, according to this administration.

The situation in Afghanistan is serious and growing worse and without more boots on the ground the United States risks failure in a war it’s been waging since shortly after the terror attacks of September 2001, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, says in a confidential report.

"Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it," McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary. His 66-page report, sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Aug. 30, is now under review by President Barack Obama.

"Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating," McChrystal said of the war’s progress.

While asserting that more troops are needed, McChrystal also pointed out an "urgent need" to significantly revise strategy. The U.S. needs to interact better with the Afghan people, McChrystal said, and better organize its efforts with NATO allies.

"We run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves," he wrote.

In his blunt assessment of the tenacious Taliban insurgency, McChrystal warned that unless the U.S. and its allies gain the initiative and reverse the momentum of the militants within the next year the U.S. "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible"


But of course, what do those 4-star Generals and Admirals know? They could not possibly know what it takes to win a war. This is why we have such profound and experienced-laden individuals like the SecState telling the President what needs to be done.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed back against the US military’s blunt warning that the battle against insurgents in Afghanistan would likely be lost within a year without more US troops.

Clinton’s comments in an interview with PBS television late Monday came amid reports that the Pentagon has asked General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, to delay a request for more troops.

In the interview, Clinton expressed "respect" for McChrystal’s assessment that the United States would likely lose the war in Afghanistan within a year without more US forces.

"But I can only tell you there are other assessments from very expert military analysts who have worked in counter-insurgencies that are the exact opposite," she said.

And of course we can’t forget the Vice President, who is sooooo smart in foreign policy that he wanted to break Iraq up into a three state nation based on ethnic lines. Like that is not a recipe for a civil war disaster. Anyway, the VP wants to invoke the Bill Clinton way of dealing with bad guys, just throw some bombs at them and it will all go away. What an idiot to think such a thing.

The vice president’s plan: Scale back the overall American military footprint in Afghanistan, drop the mission of rescuing the country from the Taliban, focus on strikes against Al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border — the real threat to U.S. national security — using special forces and Predator missile attacks.

Biden, with a son serving in the military and years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also brings one memory to the table that the 48-year-old Obama does not. At 66, Biden has a visceral feel for the American casualties in Vietnam.

But the reality is that the American people and the military leadership of this country want a decision made. They want it to be the right decision and they want it now.

Critics are lambasting President Obama for hitting the pause button on the war in Afghanistan, making U.S. commanders seeking thousands more troops there wait for a decision as he tries to get the "strategy right first."

"The commander in chief is the commander in chief, period," said retired Army Lt. Col. James Carafano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "You can’t fight a war from Washington D.C. There’s only one way this works: You have trust and confidence in the leaders on the ground, or you don’t."

Some critics are going so far as to ask whether Obama is more concerned with finding a political strategy to ensure his re-election than he is in finding a military strategy to win the eight-year war.

That question has been raised after Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top general in Afghanistan, revealed Sunday that he has spoken to the president only once since he took command in May.

"It is nutty," said Bing West, a former Marine and defense official in the Reagan administration. "Obama is stuck with his war of necessity yet he can’t bring himself to face the fact he doesn’t even know his commander in the field!"


It will take time to build up the infrastructure to handle 10,000 more troops, much less 40,000 more. It takes time to move that many troops and start the wheels in motion. But we need to stay on the offensive and not give the enemy a chance to reorganize or plan their next move. We need them on their heels. We also don’t need them to take advantage of this in-decisiveness via their own I/O and media campaign.

Strike while the iron is hot, listen to the experts and the “best man for the job”. Not to the bloviating Hillary Clinton who is a shell of a Secretary of State, only having that job to keep her from running again in 2012. Or to the VP that was picked solely for insurance and to give some experience to the ticket, but has proved to be more of a liability than an asset via his mouth. Wasting time being on Leno, Letterman, the Sunday talk show circuit or even worse wasting money and time flying to Denmark to wine and dine the Olympic committee in order to get the Olympics and millions of dollars into the most corrupt city in this country is not proper time and task management.

When the forces surged in the spring I was for it as long as they were allowed to do their job. As long as their presence their was not wasted. I wanted them to go in and get the job done and not just be IED fodder.

There are only two outcomes to a war, WIN or LOSE, VICTORY or DEFEAT. So now it is time to decide. This is a tough decision for the President, that I understand. But it is also a fairly simple one. Do you want the all the lives lost and ruined after eight years of war to be in vain? Do you want to give the enemy a huge I/O victory by allowing them to say they beat us like the Russians? Do you want to give up all we have gained and provided the people of Afghanistan? Turn your back on them now and you might as well be signing the death warrant of not only thousands of Afghans, but more than likely hundreds if not thousands of Europeans or Americans at some point in the future.

13 thoughts on “It is Time to Lead, Follow, or get the hell out of the War”

  1. Hello, been lurking for a while, enjoying the blog. I wanted to chime in with another “+1” for this post. I like Obama, and voted for him, but this delay is killing me. I can understand the desire to know that the strategy you’re committing to is the correct one, but I just don’t understand the lack of urgency.

    In my opinion, there is no way things like Healthcare reform or the Olympics could possibly be more important than getting this war right.

    Anyway, thanks for the thoughts — I enjoy your blog.

    1. CK,

      Thanks for your comment. As a person who voted for Obama, I think your opinion is very important. It shows that it is not just one side or another who thinks a certain way.

  2. I could not agree more! This war is in serious danger of sliding out of control. The commander in Afghan was replaced because of his expertise…listen to this man and let the decisions about resources and troops be up to the leaders on the ground.

  3. great read.must agree with you.i would think Gen.McChrystal can hold his own,for now. as for Obama he has to many irons in the firer. but i think he trusts McChrystal assessment.and will think it out with the best info, he has at hand.

  4. The country is run by the old 60’s anti-military bunch; so I’m not sure what the surprise. What I don’t want to see is that our soldiers are sacrified for political purpose, and die in vein.
    Obama doesn’t have a clue, and is trying to find a way to withdraw, that’s reality.
    Let’s call a spade a spade; we are looking very weak, and no change back to pre-9/11 strategy will change that.

  5. I am so glad your around to speak up and speak out. Seems to me Obama is doing everything he can to avoid making these important desisions, which really angers me, Our sons and daughters are over sea’s busting their busts, getting hurt, getting killed. Obama needs to learn some work ethics, do his job or resign !!!!!

  6. I understand the desire for a quick action, but I believe strongly that the President is correct in not rushing into a decision. Let’s face facts: since the original Obama Administration strategy document was published in March, there have been significant changes both politically and militarily — none of them good. Support for the war has eroded significantly during the past 12 months and at an increasing rate during the past 6 months. The legitimacy of the Afghan government, questionable before, is now a joke. Our military position is worse than it was in March. All of this and more argue for a thorough strategic review. GEN McChrystal’s analysis was predicated on the strategy announced in March; if, as a result of this strategic review, the strategy changes, the analysis of what’s needed may well change also.

    We’ve seen the results of ad hoc strategic decision making before (think Vietnam and Iraq 2003-2007). Having personally been at the effect of ad hoc policy changes in Vietnam, I would much prefer a thorough, thoughtful review of our strategy. This is not going to go quickly. Meetings will have to be held, consensus obtained among many differing views (most of which have both pros and cons), documents will have to be prepared and circulated widely throughout the executive branch and Congress, as well as throughout the policy establishment. It could take quite a while but, hopefully, the end result will be worth the wait. We’re lucky in one respect: with winter coming on, the pace of combat operations should slacken. At least in this sense, this is probably the best time for a review.

    Like a majority of voters, I voted for Obama. I didn’t do it because I liked all of his campaign promises or his slogan of “Yes We Can”. I took those about as seriously as I take any politician’s promises. I voted for him because he was the smartest guy and appeared to be a deliberative thinker willing to reach out to people with views that differed from his own. Right now he seems to be doing what I hired him to do.

    There’s another side, as well, to the question of McChrystal only speaking to Obama once since he was confirmed in his post. Modern communications and technology make it easy to circumvent the chain of command. In Vietnam, this was common — battalion and brigade commanders, and often commanders of support units, tried to circumvent the chain of command and instruct the people on the ground what to do, how to do it and where it should be done — often with disastrous consequences. The same was true at the strategic level. We saw the same thing in Iraq, and we all know how well that went. It’s too early to tell, but I have hopes that this signals a return to the tried and true World War II approach — pick the best guy you can find for operational command and then communicate with him through the chain of command rather than directly.

  7. CIC To Do List:
    1. Conduct Focus Groups on Afghanistan
    2. Poll base & monitor body count
    3. Ask Zbigniew Brzezinski what to do
    4. Follow orders

    The men behind Barack Obama part 2

  8. Im devastated. That so many smart people cant see that our President is an ideologue And his ideology is foreign to anything this country or the constitution allows. This man does not care about our great men and women who serve! unless they can be used for his own political expediency.. He and his administration are on an active mission to dismantle the very essence of our nation. Its disgraceful how our men and women are left swinging in the wind, sinful!!!! Sorry my rant ,this is a great site, just came across it today.Keep up the great work God bless……..

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