The plan put forth by Senator John McCain is the perfect example of big government incompetence. The Prince plan is, in contrast, a perfect example of free market competence. Eric Prince and his team have done the hard work of mission analysis by developing tasks from which to build a table of organization and equipment (TOE) to meet a clearly defined mission with an articulate endstate. His plan has annual cost of less then 10 billion. His efforts developing his plan have not cost the taxpayer a penny.
Senator McCain and his staff have developed a plan without any mission analysis, any TOE, any idea of the total numbers it will take or the amount it will cost. His office staff plus the staff of the Senate Armed Services committee wrote his plan and assuming most of them worked on it for a few months McCain’s plan has already cost the taxpayer millions of dollars; every one of which might as well have been flushed down a toilet.
As predicted in my last post his plan is fraught with stupidity and fuzzy logic while ripping off ideas from the Prince plan. For Example:
In the short term, establishing U.S. military training and advisory teams at the kandak-level of each Afghan corps and significantly increasing the availability of U.S. airpower and other critical combat enablers to support ANSDF operations; and In the long term, providing sustained support to the ANSDF as it develops and expands its own key enabling capabilities, including intelligence, logistics, special forces, air lift, and close air support.
Kandak is a Pashto word meaning a battalion and McCain apparently agrees with Prince on the need for trainers/mentors at the battalion level. The Prince plan includes introducing low cost, effective tactical fixed wing fighters as well as low cost helicopter support. The Afghans need this desperately and without the injection of tac air and logistic/dust off assets they will continue to lose ground to the Taliban.
Senator McCain’s plan calls for increasing U.S. aripower while ignoring the fact that our airpower is currently in crisis and does not have the ability to surge back into Afghanistan. Our fighters lack spare parts and there are no operating fabrication lines to make more. Pilot flight hours, on every platform in the inventory, are lower then the baseline needed to maintain proficiency . Historically low morale among aircrews is reflected by the inability to keep experienced pilots in the services regardless of the amount of retention bonuses offered.
Mr. Prince did the hard work to come up with a solid dollar amount that is a fraction of the projected spending on Afghanistan. Senator McCain did zero work on the details and has come up with a plan that will require ten’s of thousands of additional military personnel and will raise the price tag to well over 100 billion a year.
The numbers required to fulfill Senator McCain’s vision are, of course, unknown but we can make a good guess. The pending merger of the Afghan Border Police (ABP) and the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) into the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) will add 12 brigades to the 24 brigades currently staffed by the ANA. Each brigade is supposed to have 4 maneuver battalions as well as logistic units and organic fire support (mortars and artillery). There are also SOF brigades, artillery and armor battalions, brigade and corps level headquarters that will all need mentors. Add in the typical tooth to tail ratio for the American military (around 20 to 1) and we get well over 100,000 men (and women) to staff and a support this “plan”.
The remainder of this plan consists of bullet points that are nothing more than Master of the Obvious (MOTO) statements. For example:
Establish security conditions in Afghanistan necessary to encourage and facilitate a negotiated peace process that supports Afghan political reconciliation and an eventual diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan;
Forge a regional diplomatic consensus in support of the long-term stabilization of Afghanistan through integration into regional patterns of political, security, and economic cooperation.
Bolstering the United States counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan
Increasing the number of U.S. counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan
Providing the U.S. military with status-based targeting authorities against the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups that threaten the United States, its allies, and its core interests.
Is there anyone, who has been paying attention to our efforts in Afghanistan, who believes we have not been trying to do exactly this for the past 16 years?
The McCain plan will increase costs exponentially. The FOB’s that were once established to support 100,000 plus troops were torn down or handed over to the Afghans. Reestablishing those FOB’s will take so much time, money and effort that it is mind boggling. Plus we will need to put large convoys of American troops on the roads of Afghanistan where they will be hit by IED’s and ambushes long before they ‘mentor’ a single Afghan soldier. Smart contractors are better able to use those same roads without being easily targeted. There are dozens of post on this blog dating from 2008 to 2012 that explains that in detail.
Were I a conspiracy theorist I’d speculate that McCain put this “plan” out there to ensure the Prince plan is adopted. It is clear, when you compare the two, that Washington is incapable of coming up with a workable solution to Afghanistan. We do not have the air assets, troop numbers, money or national will to even consider the McCain plan. It is also clear that the only person with a viable plan for Afghanistan is Eric Prince.