It is hard to believe that ten years ago today we started the war in Afghanistan in retaliation to the attacks on our county on 9/11/11. I don’t think anyone in our country could have guessed this war would still be going on ten years later. Ten years of war and over two million Americans who have served in both Afghanistan and Iraq over that ten years, with thousands of them having served more than once.
There is no doubt our military is strained and tired, but boy they have experience in their craft like no other time in our country’s history. There is without a doubt our military is the best trained and experienced they have ever been. However that experience has come with quite a price, and I am not talking about money either.
Ten years and of living and fighting there and we are still ignorant of the people and their culture.
Former U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal said, on the eve of today’s tenth anniversary of the invasion, that the forces had a ‘frighteningly simplistic’ understanding of the country back in 2001.
And he said in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, reflecting on his period in charge of the coalition forces in 2009-10, that even after a decade they still lacked the knowledge required to bring the conflict to a successful end.
He said: ‘We didn’t know enough and we still don’t know enough. Most of us – me included – had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years.’
He said troops did not know the country’s languages and did not make ‘an effective effort’ to learn them when they arrived.
And he added that vital military resources were diverted to Iraq which could have been put to good use in the conflict.
Of the remaining tasks to be accomplished, he said the most difficult may be creating a legitimate government that ordinary Afghans can believe in.
Read more HERE
I have to agree with GEN McChrystal, because I know when I was heading there I had no idea what I was heading into. It was not until the end of my one year there do I feel like I even began to understand the people and the country. That is a big reason why I blogged there and kept it going here. I have had more military members that I can begin to remember tell me how much this blog helped them out in trying to get ready to deploy there.
I know many people are questioning if we should still be there or if we should pull out now. I think the best answer to this question was given last night on the Colbert Report when LTC Jason Amerine. Jason was the Special Forces Team Commander of ODA-574 which is the team that brought Hamid Karzai into southern Afghanistan and helped topple the last Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. When Steven Colbert asked Jason if we should leave now, Jason replied that was an option. “..when the Soviets were defeated, they retreated from the country we left Afghanistan right away and the country fell into a terrible civil war, that’s where the Taliban came from”.
You can see the question from Steve Colbert and Jason’s answer at 19:46 in the clip below.
The perfect answer is that we do need to leave when the Afghans can step up and truly take control of their own country, which means providing security and infrastructure. However to figure out what it takes to motivate the Afghans to do that is the $64,000 question.