The President’s plan

I have been thinking about this posting all day since I saw the initial news last night that the President is going to call for 10,000 troops to withdraw by the end of the year. Of course last night the reports were that it would be 5,000 at the end of the summer and then another 5,000 in the spring. 

I am not sure if those reports were wrong or if he had a change of heart, but now the “official” story is 10,000 by the end of this year. 

So at the cusp of the worse fighting season we will see in Afghanistan since the start of the Global War on Terror, the President is going to announce a pull-out of troops, thereby telling the Taliban, AQI and our other enemies that their waiting game is paying off.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love for this war to be over. LOVE IT. But I also don’t want the last 10 years to be in vain. I don’t want my brothers and sisters who have fallen on the field of battle or are living lives forever scarred and changed to be all for nothing. I struggle all the time with the right answer for Afghanistan. I literally commit have a dual-minded struggle going on.

Sometimes I think we should commit everything we have and go in there and kick ass, to all be damned. By kicking ass I don’t mean just killing everything in sight, but instead going in with the appropriate amount of forces to secure the place, clear the areas of interest, hold them and then build and transition. We may have 100,000 troops there right now but that is still not enough. We need to lock down that country on all sides and eradicate the cancer. This means holding the government accountable for dealing with corruption and for prosecuting its own citizens and officials who are corrupt.

The other part of me wants to go back to the strategy I had when I first came back in 2007. Put the country on notice that they have 18 months to clean their act up, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and secure their own country. Big boy rules apply and they need to start acting like it. At 18 months we pull out everything, and I mean everything and come back home. However we leave them with the caveat, which is that if we suspect they are allowing terrorists to train and plan and attack from their country, then we reserve the right to come in there with whatever we have and eradicate the threat. 


What you read above was what I had written so far before the President’s speech last night. I had written that in the late afternoon and was meaning to get back to it and finish it up to post before the President spoke, but got distracted with family matters. 

So now the speech has happened and we all know that the President is planning to pull out 10,000 this year and another 20,000 next year so that all 30,000 “surge” troops are pulled back out.

By the definition of “surge” that makes perfect sense. You surge them in for a specific reason and as soon as that objective is achieved then you pull them out. My problem with it is that it shouldn’t have still been considered a “surge” but a regular increase of forces. Those forces were and are still needed. Yes by them being classified as a “surge only” force then they should be pulled out…once he objective is complete. 

So what was the objective? According to the President on Dec 1st, 2009….

After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

So as per his words the objective was to “seize the initiative” and “build Afghan capacity“. I am wondering, does he or more importantly do the combatant commanders feel we have now successfully “seized the initiative“?

Maidan Shar, Afghanistan • It took the U.S.-led coalition $106 million to build Afghanistan’s largest police training center, while insurgents needed only a single mortar shell to show the challenges facing the Afghan security forces.

The round crashed down and exploded within the grounds of the facility during its inauguration Wednesday, sending panicked police recruits crawling across the floor of a meeting hall and prompting bodyguards to bundle one of Afghanistan’s vice presidents and the government minister in charge of police forces into helicopters and flee.

I would say we are a long way from quite seizing anything of substance. How much Afghan capacity has been built if they cannot even secure a police training center?

So we are going to pull out these surge troops before they accomplished their objective, because the timeline is up?

We have a common saying the Army. We train to standard, not to time. The same holds true here, we fight a war based on mission and objectives not based on a deadline. 

Heck even the top military commanders are not happy about this plan by the President. 

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that he supports the plan, although he had recommended a less aggressive drawdown schedule.

Obama’s approach adds risk to the military mission, Mullen said. But he added, “It’s manageable risk.”

I know Admiral Mullen is trying to walk a thin fence, but I think he needs to be a little more of a NO man in this case. 

I will close out this blog for now as I have covered a variety of topics and I could go on for quite a while about this topic. I will close it with this old Afghan saying.

“You Americans may have the watches, but we Afghans have the time”

Time is on their side and now they know all they have to do is wait us out….


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