Stop Making Sense

It is proving impossible to get a read on “the Afghan street” since our Commander in Chief articulated the new set of tactics for Afghanistan at his speech at West Point.   It is clear the dynamics on the ground have changed and that this change is being driven by the fact that our great communicator placed an arbitrary date on when we will be done and start going home.   Of course nobody in Afghanistan or any place else on planet earth believes we will start to pull out in 18 months but that is not the point.   Afghans currently populating positions of power have paid hefty sums to be appointed to those positions and are insisting on getting a good return on their investments before the gravy train leaves the station.   My military friends have seen the same thing as they fight endless battles on the Niper net to get the food allowances and other petty cash paid to their Afghan Army soldiers without getting the Afghan senior officers they mentor fired for bringing the problem up in the first place.   It is most depressing and leaves little for me to write about as I cannot blog on specifics which were told to me in confidence.

It is good to see the Army out and about in places like Kunar Province but this is not COIN because COIN takes living with and protecting the local population. Driving around glad handing the locals is a good thing but accomplishes nothing except adding stats to the unit ops board
It is good to see the Army out and about in places like Kunar Province but this is not COIN because COIN takes living with and protecting the local population. Driving around glad handing the locals is OK but accomplishes nothing except adding stats to the unit ops board.

I am at the moment inside both the loop and the wire.   There is a huge problem which we are trying to help fix and that is the “hold and build” portion of the “clear, hold and build” tactic which is our current strategy (even though it is not a strategy but I have been over that and will leave it for now.)     Here is the interesting thing – as we talk with the Marines (the only outfit on the ground who has successfully done the clear part of the mission and have an institutional legacy of innovation and thinking outside the box) – I am recognizing a concept which is at the heart of the Tea Party movement as well as the current alarm in American at our elected representatives shoving massive government take overs of our economy down our throats.   And here it is:   our government is not capable of developing or executing innovative, cost effective solutions to unique problems.   They are only capable of knee jerk reactions to events which have already happened all the while treating us citizens as if we are stupid, incapable of recognizing hypocrisy and too lazy to do anything about it.   The American ruling class may be proved correct in their assessment of a lethargic, uneducated, disconnected population and if so then my fellow Americans deserve what they will get which is a nanny state from hell coupled with generations of debt.

Downtown Jalalabad, busy, noisy, crowded, and relativly safe
Downtown Jalalabad, busy, noisy, crowded, and relatively safe.   Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province is in the east which despite the degree of insurgent activity remains clam enough to allow everyone (except the US Government agencies and the US military who remain locked down behind the wire in their various FOB’s) to get projects and commerce flowing.

Case in point – the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents/contractors in Khost.   There appears to be much confusion as to how this happened.   At first we were told the bomber was a known asset who could freely come and go as he pleased.       Now it is being reported that this cat had never been to FOB Chapman before but had provided “actionable intelligence”   in the past and had some really hot scoop which drew down the senior guys from Kabul.   Which is it?   I don’t know or care because it doesn’t matter.   The bad guys have smart bombs too and one of them found its way onto FOB Chapman. As I have repeatedly pointed out in past posts it is always easier and much cheaper to defeat a technology than it is to field it. How much does it cost us to keep the drones flying so that we can hit “high value target?”   We don’t know because those budgets are classified but it took less than 100 dollars worth of explosives for the bad guys smart bomb to score a big hit against us on multiple high value targets.

Here is the question – how many years have they (the CIA) been doing the exact same procedure in the exact same place? Does not field craft 101 state that you cannot run a static agent operation from the same base for almost a decade? Especially when that operation is designed to target bad guys for termination – would you not think that maybe running off the same base with the same security procedures for year after year is a bit unreasonable?

Downtown Lashka Gar - the capitol of Helmand province which is in the south. Not too crowded not
Downtown Lashkar Gah – the capitol of Helmand province which is in the south. Not crowded, not noisy, not too busy,   not that safe. The Taliban are costing the people of this region their shot at getting back to where they were in the early 1970’s.   Do you think they do not realize this?

Our vaunted CIA never leaves the wire under any circumstances even in tame places like Jalalabad so all their intel comes from people who walk into the FOB’s.   How good is the product they are producing using these risk averse intelligence gathering techniques and procedures?   It is worthless – or as the general in charge of military intelligence put it “marginally relevant.”   Maj Gen Michael Flynn is one of those general officers I would really like to know – a man who clearly is fighting the Counterbureaucracy battle with skill, insight and passion like a true patriot. The wires are currently humming with this report on the state of our intelligence efforts.   It seems that after all the time, money, and blood we spent in Afghanistan we are unable to provide the war-fighter or decision-maker with any useful intelligence products.

This picture was taken today outside on of our secure bases in the Helmand - that is a local Afghan guard doing the searching. I asked the ISAF guys at the gate who that guard was and how long he had been working for them. They had no idea.
This picture was taken today outside one of our secure bases in Helmand Province – that is a local Afghan guard doing the searching. I asked the ISAF guys at the gate who that guard was and how long he had been working for them. They had no idea. We have all the money in the world for MRAP’s,   bat wing stealth fighter jets and aircraft carriers but no money for a simple bomb dog contract which would substantially increase the personal safety of the 1000 or so servicemen on this base.   That is your Big Government at work – lots of smart people acting stupidly as a matter of routine.   If you are a British citizen don’t laugh – this is one of your bases.

It appears the only “actionable intelligence” being generated on the ground is being generated by infantrymen on the ground which is to say generated by the Marines in the south (the only armed force consistently outside the wire and “on the ground” in theater.)   My father, a retired Marine Corps general officer often told me the only intel he ever received in 35 years of active service worth more than a warm cup of spit was intel he generated himself with his Marines.   My Dad hated the CIA, hated Special Forces – pretty much had no use for any “special” organization to include the Marines’ own Force Recon.   All they had ever done for him was to get his Marines killed in stupid rescue missions which he was forced to launch in response to urgent requests from some “snake eaters” who had discovered that they could not, in fact, just melt away into the jungle when the NVA were in the area and on their ass.

Let me try a little application of common sense starting with the   attempt on Christmas day to blow up an American airliner which was handled so amateurishly by the current administration.   Mark Levin and the rest of the freedom media has that aspect of the story covered so I’ll take another angle.   The underpant bomber (I know I should say suspect) who I shall now call Mr. Bacon-strip was in the tropical paradise of Yemen for demolition training.   He was issued a pair of underwear with det cord sewn into it and a chemical ignition system and told to fly into Chicago and blow up the plane just before it lands.   His detonator failed which allowed a journalist from Europe (of all places) to jump the little turd, give him some chin music (good thing he is not a SEAL or he’d be in legal trouble) and stop him from trying to ignite the explosives which apparently had caught fire and burned off a good portion of his Johnson.   In response the “experts” at Homeland security issued a dictate that no passenger can have anything in his/her/their/its lap or watch the entertainment system or read a book for the final hour of international flights.

Two questions; was this a good operation from the oppositions point of view? (The attack in Khost sure was and I hear they even filmed it.) And what the hell is the purpose behind taking away everything from passengers on the final leg of an international flight? Conventional wisdom seems to be of the opinion that the operation was well planned and executed minus the faulty detonator and the response by American Homeland Security is stupid and pointless.   Conventional wisdom is wrong.

I have taken more than my share of demolition classes over the years – the longest being a ten day assault breacher course (back in the 90’s that course was classified available only to us “special” folk – assault breaching is now a common infantry technique.)   After that training I was very proficient with demolitions and would have had no problem figuring out a how to set off det cord with or without a proper detonator.   My initial demolition training with the Marine Corps at The Basic School was just four hours after which my classmates and I blew up an old tractor – there was nothing left of it but a smoking hole in the ground.   When you are working with educated, bright, motivated people like Mr Bacon-strip mastering demolitions takes little time or practice.   So how long was he in training?   Weeks? Days? Hours?   Get the point?

Why is this Kuchi family camped out at the base of the Spin Ghar mountains with all those donkey's? Let me guess "engaging in appropriate international trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan?" You think? Of course not and the shame here is all you need to do is go talk to these people slip them a modest amount of money and some antibiotics and they' ll be on their way without any dramas. If you are really smart you would slip some transponders on the damn donkey's but that is spy shit best left to the CIA if and when they ever get off their FOB's.
Why is this Kuchi family camped out at the base of the Spin Ghar mountains with all those donkey’s at this time of the year? Let me guess; “engaging in appropriate, legal, and necessary   international trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan?” You think?   Of course not and the shame here is all you need to do is go talk to these people, slip them a modest amount of money and some antibiotics for the animals, and they’ ll be on their way without any dramas and without hauling tons of ammunition over the border for the bad guys who have taken the time to talk with them and slip them a little money.

Then the jerk goes to Europe, buys a one-way ticket to America with cash, doesn’t check in any luggage…..is that state of the art field craft for al Qaeda?   Of course not; that little shit (…sorry I mean man caused disaster suspect)   did everything he could to get caught by behaving in a manner which shouted to anyone paying attention “I am a terrorist.”   This attempt was amateur hour and you know why I think it was?   Because the guys pulling this little jerks strings had no intention of blowing up a plane.   They wanted what they got – a failed attempt which embarrasses the U.S. (as if the current administration needs help in that area,) costs us tons of money to re-mediate and leads to what they really want which is the harassment and stigmatization of Islamic people flying into western nations.   Remember the various organizations flying the al Qaeda flag are at war with us and they need to keep their base motivated just like we do.   What better way then to finally force the United States to treat all Muslims as suspects with our heavy handed TSA?   It will piss them off …. just ask Michael Yon who was recently detained at the SeaTac airport for exercising his constitutional right to call bullshit on a petty agent of the state who demanded to know his level of income.

What about the Homeland Security response to Bacon-strip?   Why force people to remain in their seats for the final hour of a flight?   I have heard pundits saying that the terrorist would just blow the plane up two hours before hitting the United States so the rule is pointless.   I agree the rule is pointless as is much of crap we must put up with to fly around the United States but there is a certain logic to it.   Terrorists are not going to blow up a plane two hours out because the plane then falls out of the sky into the ocean and nobody knows what happened nor do they really care.   Remember the Air France plane which plunged into the Atlantic en route from Brazil last year?   Not many people do and nobody knows why that plane went down.   It could have been the first Mr. Bacon-strip for all we know but we don’t know and never will because the ocean is a big, deep, cold, dark place which knows how to keep a secret.   Janet Nepolitano isn’t really a brain dead bureaucrat incapable of saying anything other than focus group pablum.   She knows we can’t really protect our selves from terrorist aboard international airlines and has therefore put in rules that will hopefully get them to act outside the United States.   If a plane full of mostly Americans gets blown up outside the US that is not her problem and if she is really lucky it will go down in the ocean and be nobody’s problem.

Turning our attention back to Afghanistan we see nothing but doom and gloom.   This article, featuring expert analysis by retired Army General Barry McCaffrey says we should expect 500 casualties per month this summer.   If you did not have a reason to ignore talking head generals before you have one now because McCaffrey’s opinion, shaped by unlimited access inside the US military security bubble, is about as stupid as anything else emanating from the Temple of Doom (a.k.a. White House.)     Barry McCaffrey is one of those generals I have no desire to ever meet.

Armed AID workers? This is the model the boss and I have pushed for the past year and one we proved can work in the most heavily contested regions of the country. We are at it still but find it hard to generate more than passing interest from the various US government agencies in Kabul who are busy gurading their rice bowls as the coutry continues to slide into anarchy. Amy Sun is responsible for bringing real hope and change - in the form of a Fab Lab and high speed internet to the kids of Nangarhar Province and it has cost the American taxpayer not one red cent. Do you think that US AID of the Department of State want to reinfoce her success by funding more Fab Labs? Nope. What they care about is their rice bowls and nobody is going to upset their apple carts by bringing in technology and program which actually work.
Armed AID workers? This is the model the boss and I have pushed for the past year and one we proved can work in the most heavily contested regions of the country. We are at it still but find it hard to generate more than passing interest from the various US government agencies in Kabul who are busy gurading their rice bowls as the coutry continues to slide into anarchy. Amy Sun is responsible for bringing real hope and change – in the form of a Fab Lab and high speed internet to the kids of Nangarhar Province and it has cost the American taxpayer not one red cent. Do you think that US AID of the Department of State want to reinforce her success by funding more Fab Labs? Nope. What they care about is their rice bowls and nobody is going to upset their apple carts by bringing in technology and programs which actually work.

McCaffrey sites the Army debacles at Wanat and FOB Keating as examples of very clever fighters with ferocious combat capabilities who I guess are going to pick up their game this summer and put the whoop ass on us.   The Taliban affiliates and their foreigner mercenaries can be cleaver and have demonstrated the will (occasionally) to advance under fire.   But Ferocious combat capabilities?   Like what?   They throw everything they have after planning for weeks at isolated American troops and accomplish what?   They can’t even inflict double digit casualties.   When they mass like they did at both Wanat and Keating the American military (after the attack never before) lifts all its restrictions on artillery and air delivered ordinance, puts its SF teams and their Afghan Commando counterparts into the field, and proceeds to run down any group larger than two people who seem to be heading towards the Pakistan border.   The SF guys I talked with who responded to the attack on FOB Keating are certain that they bagged every dirt bag involved in that attack.   Even the Iraqis who, also suck at fighting, could do better than that.   There are brave Taliban fighters and even a few who can hit what they are shooting at but small groups of brave fighters are no match for the American, British, French or even the German military because we know the two C’s; combined arms and cohesion.

We have been at this going on nine years.   The security situation has steadily deteriorated in that time.   We are fighting (for the most part) Pashtoon peoples who have some sort of Taliban affiliation.   We are not fighting the Tajiks, Uzbecks, Hazara, or Turkimen peoples who populate the northern portions of the country.   In this respect our current operations are not anywhere near as difficult or comprehensive as those mounted by the old Soviet Union.   We spend billions to be here and most of that money is ending up in the pockets of Afghan elites and war lords or the corporate coffers of various European and American companies.   It seems to me that if we had small teams of guys going about the countryside telling all who care to listen that we’ll pay 1 million dollars to anyone who produces a live Taliban and 2 million to anyone who produces a live al Qaeda foreigner that we would not only save billions but we would have finished this adventure a long time ago.   That is just one hair brained idea – I have hundreds more.   How about dropping plastic bags containing   porno magazines, a loaded syringe full of heroin, 3 little bottles of good scotch and a cell phone which only dials 900 numbers into areas along the border which are known routes of infiltration.   I know ….what am I thinking…plastic bags?   Bad for the environment and they’ll produce greenhouse gases when burned so the program would need to purchase carbon credits from AlGore……

Yes that is a seriously stupid plan which would never really work….well it would work but the fallout would be intense and rightfully so.     But I tell you one thing – at least it is a plan which is more than most the military outfits operating in this theater have.

27 Replies to “Stop Making Sense”

  1. Absolutely brilliant. But, I know what you look like so I fear your career will be limited to print or radio…Semper Fi!

  2. It seems to me that if Afghanistan is like the wild west with rocket launchers, we should set up shop like local sheriffs with radios and air support.

  3. A friend of mine suggested that all airline stewardesses should be topless, which – in theory – would keep the muslim extremists off the planes and the male passengers happy…

  4. 1. You’re beginning to sound as bitter and pessimistic as I am.
    2. Read MGEN Flynn’s polemic. Thought it an effective blue print for intelligence collection and utilization -and wishful thinking.
    3. Agree that the population at large is going to be on the receiving end of some really bad governance. Whether they deserve it or not is moot. Good leadership forestalls that sort of thing. Too bad there doesn’t seem to be much of that around, eh?
    4. Keep hearing that Afghanistan is nothing like Vietnam.
    5. Boy do I see that wheel turning round and round.
    6. Here’s one instance: unlike you, I hated the place I operated in (VN). Left without a backward glance in 1971. Come April of ’75 when the house of cards fell down, found I had more of a psychic investment than I realized. Ruined more than that year.
    7. Hope you don’t wind up going through something like that.
    V/R JWest

  5. great post, and great thread title.. BZ babatim

    same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever
    was… same as it ever was….

  6. The reason the army can’t go around in disguise is that they’d be illegal combatants….well that’s what Uncle Dick told me.

  7. I read MG Flynn’s paper as well, and while he makes some excellent points, he failed to mention that part of the reason our intelligence sucks is that all our collectors are mostly stuck on the FOB. That’s why we’ve become so hooked on technical intelligence. The kind of relevant intelligence that Flynn yearns for comes from meaningful interaction with the populace, period. In my experience with Afghans, especially Pashtuns, if you suddenly roll up into their village with your MRAPs, Star Ship Trooper suits, and “foreign” interpreters (even if your terp is from Afghanistan, if he’s not from the neighborhood, he’s “foreign”), they will tell you two things: jack and sh*t. We are reminded constantly that Afghanistan is a country broken by decades of war; no one trusts one another. But trust is only obtained by building meaningful relationships with people, and our current force protection policies make the process of building rapport impossible. As I sit here at my desk, on an unnamed FOB in Regional Command East, I would dearly love to grab a few of my soldiers and head out to the local market to see what’s going on in town today. Perhaps I could report back to my leadership that local farmers are concerned about a drought next year because of the light snowfall this winter, or that the mullah down the street is preaching anti-coalition/government propaganda. I’d get this information from shop keepers and kids that I’ve built a relationship with over the past few months. But I cannot just walk off the FOB because that would be the end of my career. Instead, I’m going to check out BBC.com, call a couple guys I know like Tim, and continue to be disgruntled that I have NO idea what’s going on outside my FOB.

    1. That sounds incredibly frustrating. And believe me, those of us who provide “technical” intelligence know that the folks on the ground rarely get anything meaningful and that most of what we do doesn’t amount to spit. It’s just as frustrating. What’s the right answer for all of this angst? Is it simply a leadership problem? Are senior leaders just that out of touch or do they simply not care? I have a hard time believing latter, but sometimes you do have to wonder. Bottom line is that those of us who aren’t on the ground right now in A-Stan are just as frustrated as those of you there. Keep the faith.

  8. 1. VSV E2’s commentary:
    2. Police rolling into DC’s Ward 8 will get the same response from the locals.
    3. And they share a language, for the most part.
    V/R JWest

  9. How about a Top 10 List of ways to win in Afghanistan?

    Read in a auto repair shop:

    1. Cheap
    2. Fast
    3. Good

    Pick any two.

    Seems we haven’t picked any, because we don’t know what we’re picking!

  10. As usual, bang on.

    I’m not surprised that the British Army hasn’t got a decent bomb dog contract because frankly outsourcing is still a very new thing in British military circles but I am shocked that they’re just dumping it on some random bloke off the street. Mentioned it to Dad and he wasn’t very pleased, obviously a “crap hat” set up, etc.

    Whats more puzzling is whats happened to all the basic stuff that the Army have learnt in over 35 years of the Troubles as well as spending most years between 1945 – 1979 fighting random insurgencies overseas?

    If they had hired some random guy to watch the gate at an RUC or Army base in Derry in the 1970s heads would definitely roll so why the bloody hell are they being so lax now.

    The fact that the MOD aren’t providing the money for bomb dogs isn’t the crime here, its the fact that the British Army seems to have forgotten all its learnt over the past 50 years after just 10 – 15 years of wandering around Bosnia and Kosovo.

  11. Prestwick: Very good questions. Why are our more well educated, highly ranked, computerized, volunteer, middle class armies unable to do tasks (i.e pacify districts in Helmand)which in 1945 would have been seen as a minor campaign?

    Is it possible that the all-volunteer army in which recruits must be attracted with constantly improving conditions of employment and trained soldiers convinced they should re-up aren’t up to protracted operations?

    There may be ways to organize the leadership element of our forces for protracted operations (intensive language training before assignment,much longer tours,accompanied tours and more frequent leave) but I doubt a careerist military would be happy with this type of fundemental change.

  12. I should have added that the time spent in pursuit of graduate degrees to prove you are very clever indeed and intelligent enough to be a lieutenant colonel would be better spent on language training, in the field or having fewer senior officers. The trend toward the “soldier scholar” should also be worrying as the search for an easy PHD will consume more time of those aspiring to a star. Academic qualifications replacing practical experience is not a good trend…and even worse in the US military it’s spreading to the NCO corps as more and more effort is put into preparing to get out of the military.

  13. stop in to the helmand blog to see whats happening on that side of Afghanistan. then come here, and find out your there. stay safe tim.

  14. I think you & I vote differently, but you reveal some truths that on reading seem self evident.

    If we try to fight the wrong kind of war, we will win a war that does not yield the end we seek. There is no Force to be with us, and winning the Drone Wars wins us nothing.

    Dropping Playboys and whiskey is a tactic that must have occurred to many of us, but I suppose even though we are so at odds with our enemy we find it more honorable to shoot him than corrupt him. That probably speaks well of us.

    We need to be smart & innovative in our approach, flexible and agile because the enemy will be. Maybe whiskey and Playboys aren’t quite the right answer, but your comparison of smart bombs, our$ versus theirs, seems on point. Simplicity is sometimes the best technology.

    Real innovation never comes from the top at such distance to the action; those leading need to figure out how to foster ground level innovation within the C&C structure. This is a truth even beyond war and governments.

    We feel we are a country rich enough to win a war, but our effectiveness makes all the difference. If we are 1/100 or 1/1000 as effective with our resources, we are foolish to think we have a chance.

    If we’re waiting for the President to round up some bomb dogs, we’re in trouble; it’s got to come from 100 levels lower in the chain. That said, it sure would make sense.

  15. Tim,

    I am not in complete agreement on your assessment of MG Flynn. I think MG Flynn should heed the warning of glass houses and not throw his stones either forcibly or in the wrong direction. Prior to his current assignment he served as the J2 for Central Command (CENTCOM) and before that he was the J2 for JSOC, so he carries some blame in his own rucksack for “getting it wrong” these past eight years. Simply stated he is grasping and unfortunately it is typical military hubris that allows this kind of leader to spout this type of criticism, yet he carries a portion of the blame. As the J2 for CENTCOM, he was the senior intelligence officer for the CENTCOM AOR yet I don’t recall him saying then we were “getting it wrong”. MG Flynn talks a good game about cultural intelligence and the ever oft-spoken COIN strategy of engaging the people, but when 95% of your forces are bedded down inside cozy FOBs and rarely ever “leave the wire” then it is not surprising for the past eight years intelligence analysts have “gotten it wrong”. It is saddening that a person who is probably more responsible for this current state of affairs isn’t held accountable, yet is allowed to criticize the very state of affairs he contributed to and is then lauded by the SECDEF as some sort of visionary. Again, this is nothing more than Department of Defense double talk and hypocrisy. Simply stated (again) this is pure hubris for which our beloved DoD knows no end!!

  16. Bilbo,

    Amen brother. I too was not impressed with Flynn’s self-flagellating critique. I mean really, if he’s the head intel guy, who is he trying to persuade with that paper? Himself?? It’s no secret (no pun intended) that intelligence operations out here have been under-funded and mis-managed from the top down for years. Intelligence is supposed to drive operations in a counterinsurgency environment; guys like Flynn need to grab the wheel instead of sitting around writing useless white papers.

  17. E2,

    As Tim rightfully pointed out there is no REAL strategy in Afghanistan. The current solution is to stand-up some headquarters, sweep some key nodes (i.e. central Helmand), hope that IED and catastrophic SBIEDs decline (for a while at least), train/equip some Afghan’s, and call it a success. So I am not shocked or surprised that white papers and other PowerPoint presentations make their way around Afghanistan as GO/FO’s ‘talk the talk’ but little to nothing really changes in our actual tactics and techniques. Anyway, the POTUS has set the deadline and there can be no real “win” in Afghanistan so let’s make some generals more popular and spend billions of dollars…it’s a template that has served DoD well for the past quarter century and longer.

    I garuantee you the infantry will spend no more time conducting foot patrols under this Obama administration then they did under past regimes. Nor will the management of nation building projects be handled any better or quality control enforced any more rigidly than in the past. All the while billions of tax payer dollars will be thrown into the country as nothing really changes in the way of defeating or neutralizing the ideology that threatens our country.

    In 10 years Afghanistan will still belong to the drug lords and radical Islamic psycho’s but guess what? Instead of talking about COIN and nation building the government and pundits will be talking about high-end, high-intensity conflict, and they will be blaming the Obama administration for cancelling the F-22 and other pork defense projects while the Chinese pass us in the arms race…GO/FO’s will scoff at COIN and cultural awareness and all this other talk about ‘soft skills’….mark my words.

    Our military is not flexible nor agile enough to change rapidly which is why we’re over eight years into this war and still talking about how we should do this and do that… C’mon, are we serious about winning? I don’t think we are and I believe there is little to no political or senior military will to make those hard changes a reality because if there were it should have happened a long time ago!!

    Also, the SOF guys talk a good game about their small unit tactics, language abilities, and so on but don’t let them fool you. They also suffer from bureaucracy and careerism in their senior ranks. They aren’t the COIN experts by a long shot. They are smaller so the bueaucratic a$$ pain is less but it’s still there and they still go through the PowerPoint nightmare of the CONOP process just like the conventional “big Army” types. Bottom line, they are not agile and they are not cohesive. Just at look at the various SOF entities across Afghanistan and trace their C2…there is a complete lack of unity of command and with that comes lack of unity of effort. Nothing is nested and nothing is mutually supporting…

    There is no right answer in Afghanistan and in the end we will have not defeated the radical Islamic theology that threatens us nor increased our safety at home. We will still remain at risk from any idiot who will kill himself in the name of Allah…

    Sad indeed is this war as was the one in Iraq….but wars do make lots of money and senior military careers are built on them. So I guess there is some silver lining in that…

  18. Bob McDonnell response to SOTU last night:

    “Americans were shocked on Christmas Day to learn of the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit. This foreign terror suspect was given the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen, and immediately stopped providing critical intelligence.”

    Perhaps Bacon Strip was an effort to determine Eric Holder’s treatment of enemy combatants?

  19. I think we are all looking at this wrong. The question about what to do is flawed from the start. The question is what we can get them to do. Set a way to allow the men of the various tribes a place to talk. Then if any chooses not to make it rain on them, but not through our arms. Simply do not extend the protection to them.

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