It Takes A Clue

Nothing will sour the morale of combat troops faster then the realization that the commander at the top receives frequent visits from the Good Idea Fairy.   Which is a good start point for explaining why  General Stanley A McChrystal took to the pages of Foreign Policy last week to explain the unexplainable.  The story starts with McChrystal’s observation that the SF tier 1 guys found  al Qaeda difficult to collect, fix and target because they were so decentralized.  So McChrystal made up his  own “network” and his centralized, vertically integrated, fixed chain of command network beat the AQI with their horizontally integrated decentralized chain of command.  I’m not buying that about Iraq but the focus of the article was how this genius system was implemented in Afghanistan by the regular military and what do you know the “mo better” network has since delivered us the current spate of good news about the Taliban getting tired of fighting.

BGen Jody Osterman with the Sub Governor of Naw Zad district Sayed Murad touring the Naw Zad bazaar last week
BGen Jody Osterman with the Sub Governor of Naw Zad district Sayed Murad touring the Naw Zad bazaar last week

The article linked above and all the other recent reports stress that the rift between the Taliban fighters and their leaders who are safely ensconced in Pakistan stems from the losses being inflicted on them in the Helmand and Kandahar Provinces.  The pressure being brought to bear on the fighting Taliban has very little (if anything) to do with the nighttime high speed low drag tier 1 special forces raids designed to “decapitate” Taliban leadership.  The whole decapitation strategy is suspect as numerous observers have noted over these many years of SOF raiding and I ask again if somehow a military adversary managed to “decapitate” our leadership would we be weaker or stronger?  Wait that is a stupid example and missing the point (as B correctly observed in the first comment on this post).  The first commenter on Gen McChrystal’s article says it much better than I can:

This essay is interesting in that it describes an effort that for all its success was limited to an extremely small (and disproportionately resourced) line of operation. The author portrays this as an inclusive endeavor while it was decidedly not inclusive in many respects. My experience in working with the General’s Task Force is that it was the most difficult organization to work with in theater and it only functioned as a network if you or your organization were willing to completely subordinate yourself, your resources and your mission to his very narrow line of operation. Most of the time his line of operations, while very important, was not the primary or most important line in the country or region. In the end establishing the Iraqi government as legitimate and enabling its organs to function as designed proved to be the decisive operation

HVT raids do produce results but it seems to me that what has brought the fighting Taliban to their knees is hard fighting infantry who have moved in with the people and deprived the villains of maneuver room while killing ever increasing numbers of them using ROE completly different from the horseshit inflicted on them by McChrystal.

A great example of this would be Naw Zad which is currently home to the headquarters of Charlie Company 1st Battalion 8th Marines.  The rest of the battalion is handling Musa Quala which, like Marjah, was infested with Taliban but is now safe enough for the battalion commander to walk around the bazaar without body armor and helmet.  The Captain at Naw Zad (and he’s there on his own because he’s that good) is surrounded by Taliban.  He has an area of influence which he is constantly expanding and he does this with aggressive patrolling.  He has the clearance to shoot 60mm mortars and run rotary wing CAS guns (Cobra or Apache gunships employing their guns only; rocket or Hellfires have to be cleared) without coordinating with his battalion COC.  He has no problems at all with the current rules of engagement and has never been denied fires when he has asked for them.  He doesn’t get second guessed, he doesn’t get micro managed and his example is proof that the rules of engagement have been “re-defined” radically.  For readers who are not familiar with how badly McChrystal’s ROE hampered forces in the field read this recent post by Herschel Smith on Ganjgal.  Success in the South has nothing to do with ninja night raids and placing a good percentage of the tactical intelligence piece behind a classified curtain where only the tier 1 headhunters can use it.

I was able to spend a lot of time talking with the officers and men currently serving in Naw Zad and here is what they bitch about:  They don’t like the weight they are forced to carry and strongly feel the use of  body armor should be determined by the mission and enemy.  Wearing it in blistering heat or while climbing the massive mountains is so physically debilitating that they have felt on several occasions that they were unable to defend themselves. Many of their Marines are suffering chronic stress fractures, low back problems as well as hip problems caused by carrying loads in excess of 130 pounds daily.  “We’re fighting the Mothers of America” said one; if we lose a Marine and he was not wearing everything in the inventory to protect him that becomes the issue.  Trying to explain that we have removed the body armor to reduce the chances of being shot is a losers game because you can’t produce data quantifying the reduction in gun shot wounds for troops who remain alert and are able to move fast due to a lighter load.  We are all required to read Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation but it is clear nobody understands it.

I used to bitch about the same thing 20 years ago and it is reassuring for us old timers to see some things never change.  It is also really nice to hear that the bitching is not about restrictive ROE and meddling from on high which is all my old buddy Jeff Kenney talked about while leading the Eastern Region ANA embedded training team.  His Marines were the ones killed at the Ganjgal fight and let me tell you something – he was bitter to the point of despair about it but sucked it up because that is what high caliber professionals do in this business.

Capt Ben Wagner
Capt Ben Wagner, second from right, in the Naw Zad bazaar

Captain Ben Wagner, the CO of C1/8 is one of the many young officers in the Corps born of battle.  He was a rifle platoon commander in the first battle for Fallujah.  He lost a lot of Marines and had to halt the attack and pull back an experience which no doubt left a deep impression.  He told me (paraphrasing here folks as I’m not a great note taker)

“I can push north or south and run into Taliban controlled villages who will put up a stiff fight but I don’t want to fight for something I can’t hold.  Instead of focusing on the Taliban we focus on the population which is why it is so busy around here at night.  We patrol every night using machineguns and sniper teams in the mountains for overwatch.  In the morning at first prayer we make it a point to walk past the mosque in whatever village complex we were working the night before.  The message is simple; you guys can sleep tight because we’re out every night all night watching over you.”

During the time I spent in Naw Zad over 200 famlies came into the Marines zone of influence from Taliban controlled territory.  I wanted to talk tactics and hear war stories but all the Marines wanted to talk about was reconstruction.  They have cleared more bad guy territory then anyone thought possible and now the entire 1st Division is focused on getting the economy going so they can move on.

High tech is expensive to develop and deploy but inexpensive to defeat.  The devil Taliban are throwing flocks of trained birds against the GBOSS to try and blind the Marines
High tech is expensive to develop and deploy but inexpensive to defeat. The devil Taliban are throwing flocks of trained birds against the GBOSS to try and blind the Marines. (Just kidding) I made that up but you do see the birds sitting in front of the lens sometimes when scanning the area with the GBOSS and I find that really funny.

And guess what?  Move on they shall because we are apparently finishing up with the “stability” phase and moving onto the “transition” phase of the Afghanistan campaign right on schedule.  This move is based on the successes of the past year along with glowing assessments of progress across the board for all ANSF organizations.  One of the Chim Chim’s was in the VTC where this was announced so I’m getting the scoop first hand. There has been real progress made over the past year yet most of that progress is limited to two southern provinces.  While Chim Chim was listening in to the announcement of transition from on high suicide bombers were attacking the Jalalabad branch of the Kabul bank just over a mile away.  In Jalalabad City the Provincial Council has laid siege to the Governors Compound, bussed in armed supporters from the various warlord factions for some low scale rioting, launched a half ass RPG attack at the PRT compound last Thursday night just to let the Americans know they are unhappy and demanded that Gov Sherzai go away because all the promised swag for not growing poppy never materialized.  None of this chaos seems to be of any concern to the army brigade stationed in Jalalabad because they have a network.

They have a giant SIPR network full of the latest “classified” intelligence.  You have to be a special cleared person to see “classified” intelligence which is much better than unclassified intelligence because…. well … cleared people put it into the system and they are smarter than everyone else because they’re cleared.   The situation in Jalabad is a perfect example of McChrystal’s  network in action.  The network is reality for the army in the east and if the drama happening just a few miles away isn’t on the network they don’t have to respond to it.  See how fiendishly clever McChrystal was?  Let me provide a hypothetical example and I stress hypothetical as I have no idea how these systems function but have spent years observing the “effects based” results.

ISAF watch officer: “Hey Pecan Pie we’re hearing Karzai is sending a 10 man delegation to diffuse the armed standoff outside the Governor’s compound to stop the Provincial Council  from throwing the Gov out and naming one of the warlords as governor”

Duty Officer  Pecan Pie: “What’s the date time group on the message about armed groups outside the Governor’s compound?”

Watch Officer:  “There is nothing in the system on it; my terps are watching footage from earlier this afternoon  on Tolo TV News.”

DO Pie: “If there is nothing on this in the system what do you want me to do?”

Watch Officer “Oh I dunno; but if Governor Sherzai gets thrown out of the province and decides to return home to Kandahar where he will have to re-arm and re-fit his militias to protect hismself from Karzai’s brother I bet a lot of stuff will be in the system along with the words “incompetent, catastrophe, and who is responsible”.

DO Pie: “Well that is as it should be I guess but I’m reviewing my commanders instant action matrix and there is nothing in it about the overthrow of a governor by the Provincial Council; my intel section has gone up as high as “Oracle” level but found nothing about this so called news story although we can see a lot of armed people in the streets with our UAV’s but again nothing in the system to tell us what it all means.”

Networks are modern fool’s gold for ground commanders; networks promise to do the heavy lifting while you sit back on the FOB eating the pecan pie. The only way to get the intelligence required to do COIN is by getting it yourself.  Every infantry commander worth his pay knows this which is why they (on the rare occasions such things happen) are drop jawed stunned when useable intel filters down to them from on high.  It doesn’t take a network – it takes somebody with a clue, lots of good infantry, and the intestinal fortitude to take tactical risks for strategic gain.  That last trait is the exact opposite of having the intestinal fortitude to cover up the friendly fire death of a former NFL player with a silver star and concocted heroic story.   I wish McChrystal would have the decency to act as an old general should and just fade away.

37 Replies to “It Takes A Clue”

  1. >if somehow a military adversary managed to decapitate our leadership would we be weaker or stronger? If we lost in one fell swoop every member of the senate and most of the cabinet would we be worse or better off for that loss?

    That’s the wrong way to put it. If that company operating on its own lost three commanders in a row, plus the guy who comes in from over the border to train them in marksmanship, tactics and demo, as well as the guy with the suitcase of cash that they use to sustain themselves, would they be weaker or stronger? If they had reason to believe that the reason this keeps happening to them is that one of the squad leaders or team leaders, or possibly somebody in BN or BDE staff is ratting to the enemy, but they can’t tell which one, would they be weaker or stronger? What about if their ASP gets hit and they have to homebrew their demo? Are they now better off?

    The issue with the decapitation paradigm isn’t conceptional, it’s implementational. You can’t replace the conventional guys with the SOF guys, but you can use SOF HVT hits as a force multiplier, just like the bad guys use their subject matter experts, financiers etc. as force multipliers to their nugs.

    1. That is a fair one B and if a company lost three commanders in a row that would be devastating. There is no question that HVT hits are high quality enablers the problem with them is the disruption their sudden unexplained intrusion into the battle space causes the ground commander and the cost/benefit of the resources dedicated to the mission. The first commenter on Gen McChrystal’s article says it much better than I can:

      This essay is interesting in that it describes an effort that for all its success was limited to an extremely small (and disproportionately resourced) line of operation. The author portrays this as an inclusive endeavor while it was decidedly not inclusive in many respects. My experience in working with the General’s Task Force is that it was the most difficult organization to work with in theater and it only functioned as a network if you or your organization were willing to completely subordinate yourself, your resources and your mission to his very narrow line of operation. Most of the time his line of operations, while very important, was not the primary or most important line in the country or region. In the end establishing the Iraqi government as legitimate and enabling its organs to function as designed proved to be the decisive operation

      I’m going to modify the first quote because it really is missing the point isn’t it?

      1. Tim,

        The “let’s swoop in and shit all over your battlespace with no deconfliction” thing is an implementation issue. It’s a problem, of course, but in Iraq we were able to hit HVTs with minimal disruption to the battlespace by using the local “elite forces” (how elite a guy that’s wearing goggles screwed backwards to his helmet is, well, that’s a whole separate topic for discussion.) We were able to get in and out of some really politically sensitive areas at will by putting a local face on the mission. It seems to be hard for CF to do that, for whatever reason.

        As for the commenter…well, yeah, Tier 1 guys are dicks sometimes (though every time I would go knock on their door and talk to them about ways our mission could supplement their mission if they just gave me some resources, etc., they would be much more helpful than my own chain of command.) The Tier 3 guys can be much worse with their inferiority complexes and so on. But this makes zero sense: “I can honestly say that regional efforts were significantly degraded due to the overwhelming amount of collection and analysis assets that went to supporting this one effort in both Iraq and Afghanistan.” WTF?! There is a national collection and analysis infrastructure which is available for the organic intel assets available to the conventional guys. In fact, I know this because I would go over to the conventional guys everywhere I went and see what they knew and how we could support each other’s missions. They had better access to the infrastructure than we did, and were better equipped half the time. That infrastructure and equipment didn’t just come along-the guys that the commenter is bitching about went and developed them, using their budget, and then the conventional guys got on board.

        The problem isn’t that the cool guys are hogging all the cool stuff. The problem is that, like Stalin said, “everything is determined by your personnel.” In every conventional intel shop I visited, there would be a couple of competent guys doing their best and actually thinking, and a dozen nugs copypasting and flowcharting their deployment away. If guys like the commenter were capable of giving their competent intel dudes their leash instead of castrating them with micromanagement, they would find that the collection and analysis assets they have are more than enough. But that would mean thinking outside the box and not being obsessed with rank and regs, and would entail actually taking a risk and betting on your enlisted guys. It’s a lot easier to blame the cool guys for hogging the cool toys.

        I’ll refrain from commenting on the Iraqi govt and its “organs” for now.

  2. We decapitate our military leadership through end of tour rotation every 6-12 months.

    The Taliban may be getting tired but so is NATO. Most of the Europeans and the Canadians are in the process of or talking about leaving or substantially reducing their forces. The US is talking draw down. The majority of public in every NATO country is for withdrawal. Everyone is tired of this but the difference is the Taliban have no place to go. The can go on the reservation for a while and then head out back on the war path which is why the military aspects of the war are so much less important than the political.

  3. Great post Tim and you are really digging into the meat and potatoes of what is going on over there.

    One post on strategy that was really cool the other day that I wanted to share was one from Chet Richards–an associate of John Boyd’s. He talked about the moral aspect of strategy, and how important that is to winning a political/military/business fight. It is this moral fight that is crucial to sealing the Taliban’s fate in these provinces I think. Sure we can dominate physically, or even mentally, but to achieve moral superiority would be awesome and pay huge dividends.

    To me, if the Marines can increase their moral/mental/physical standing in these villages, while at the same time isolate the Taliban morally/mentally/physically, then they will achieve their goals there and elsewhere in Afghanistan. They must become a ‘good idea’ for these villages and their future, and at the same time make the Taliban ‘a bad idea’.

    My final commentary is what Boyd had to say about Guerrilla Warfare, and how crucial it is to have a government that accepted by the people as being legitimate and morally superior to the Taliban. So the other aspect of this war that has to happen is the government must dominate the Taliban morally/mentally/physically.

    Here is a quote from the post.
    The strategic game, as Boyd called it. It can be played on three levels — physical, mental, and moral — but victory at the moral level level usually trumps the other two. There are few exceptions in war and practically none in business and politics.

    Picture this: You’re a grossly overweight state governor. Fiscal times are the worst since the Great Depression. Plus you’ve just given $800 million away to your richest constitutents. How, then, do you take on a much larger group of citizens making an average of less than $70,000 per year?

    No problem.

    As Boyd would advise, you need to lay out a strategy that focuses on the moral level of conflict, that is, you want to get the majority of consitituents to identify with you and your cause not because you’re a brilliant orator and can win them over by logic (although that can work, too), but simply because they identify with you and feel you’re cause is right.

    Boyd lays this out in Strategic Game, charts 46-57 and particularly charts 47-49 and 56.

    And here is chart 47 of The Strategic Game.

    •Physically we can isolate adversaries by severing their communications with outside world as well as by severing their internal communications to one another. We can accomplish this by cutting them off from their allies and the uncommitted via diplomatic, psychological, and other efforts. To cut them off from one another we should penetrate their system by being unpredictable, otherwise they can counter our efforts.

    •Mentally we can isolate our adversaries by presenting them with ambiguous, deceptive, or novel situations, as well as by operating at a tempo or rhythm they can neither make out nor keep up with. Operating inside their O-O-D-A loops will accomplish just this by disorienting or twisting their mental images so that they can neither appreciate nor cope with what’s really going on.

    •Morally adversaries isolate themselves when they visibly improve their well being to the detriment of others (i.e. their allies, the uncommitted, etc.) by violating codes of conduct or behavior patterns that they profess to uphold or others expect them to uphold.
    Break guerillas’ moral-mental-physical hold over the population, destroy their cohesion, and bring about their collapse via political initiative that demonstrates moral legitimacy and vitality of government and by relentless military operations that emphasize stealth/fast-tempo/fluidity-of-action and cohesion of overall effort.

    *If you cannot realize such a political program, you might consider changing sides! Page 108


    Without support of people the guerillas (or counter-guerillas) have neither a vast hidden intelligence network nor an invisible security apparatus that permits them to see into adversary operations yet blinds adversary to their own operations. Page 109

    From Patterns of Conflict

  4. Good read! harlan well said.”Wow” a lot happens when your off line,doing fun stuff. 🙂

  5. One of the fallacies of the GWOT is of a centralized command structure in either AQ or the insurgency. AQ is a franchise operation for the most part.Yes, the center does occasionally plan and finance missions, but these days they have been highly circumscribed through effective tactics.

    Yes, they are a hydra, but a decentralized one.

    the Taliban are an amalgem of everyone who wants to take a shot at the foreigner for any given reason. Decapitating their mid-level leadership on a regular basis surely puts a crimp in their style, but as long as the foot soldiers are restless, they will take pot shots at our multi-million dollar Rube Goldberg devices and attrit our finances. This is a defined goal of AQ already.

    Flying F-18’s from carriers and B-1’s from Bahrain makes little economic sense, and they are hitting gasoline convoys from Pakistan regularly. They know how to drive up our costs and that we are weary of the war.

    In the meantime, the internal mau mauing seems to continue.It sounds as if the CIA, DIA, SF community is the same self propagating, low effective bureaucracy that the theater intelligence commander complained of back before/during McChrystal’s tenure.

  6. Couldn’t agree more with your last sentence. There’s a lot of things that piss me off about Afghanistan, but I reserve special contempt for good old Stanley M, so forgive my rant. I haven’t read McChrystal’s article, but from your post, it seems that he’s trying to justify our dubiously effective whack-a-mole approach to the conflict by citing what…reports that the Taliban are getting tired? Bollocks. We’ve been over there long enough for an entire generation of “tired” Talibs to retire and be replaced by fresh fighters that were children when we first showed up. Except now the Taliban is picking up disenfranchised and un/under-employed young men who might not be ideologically aligned with them, but have seen their futures evaporate at the hands of Karzai and his criminal syndicate, woops, I meant government.

    In fact, now that I think about it, why can’t we make Karzai a HVT?

  7. Tim, there is a lot of good stuff in your article.

    Maybe I don’t understand what McChrystal is saying, but I interpreted him to be arguing for a network that included the ANSF and unconventional local actors [GIRoA and tribal leaders, local business leaders, and local militias.]

    There are parallels between what McChrystal is saying and NDS’s vision. However, NDS wants to be the administrator of this network with MoD, MoI and ISAF intelligence fed into it. Similarly MoD and MoI intelligence want to administer the network. Then there is ISAF HQs [NATO], ISAF Joint Forces HQs, and various national intelligence services who want to manage the network or some portion thereof.

    However, if a true flat interactive network between all stake holders could be established, it would be an amazing asset.

    Agree with you on over classification and the danger of myopic addiction to a single classified network. Suspect so does McChrystal. His response might be to say that local organizations should use the network for intelligence and other enablers, utilize there many other local assets [including local relationships], and take independent action on their own initiative.

    That is the point of the network. A flat structure where each node has autonomy and takes independent action using their own intelligence and their own initiative; customizing to local conditions while utilizing the resources of the network.

    Isn’t this what Google, Facebook, ARM Holdings, Apple, McKinsey, Motorola Mobility, Oracle, Electronic Arts, Intel, and many other global companies try to do day in and day out?

    Do we have a case of miscommunication on all sides?

    The first commenter on Gen McChrystal’s article was also brilliant and accurate. What happened in Iraq didn’t match McChrystal’s vision of a fusion of ISF/MNF-I/GoI and non-conventional local intelligence networks. However it was good enough to contribute towards the ISF winning their war.

    Tim, what would you think about McChrystal becoming the chief advisor to Afghan MoD, MoI or NDS, under Gen Petraes’ OPCON? Still think he has some contribution left in him.

    Whatever his other mistakes, McChrystal was a tireless advocate for surging the targeted end state capacity, quality and budget of the ANSF. Pre McChrystal and Petraeus only about 1 K ANP and 4 K ANA were being trained at any given time versus 11 K ANP and 24 K ANA now. and an end state target of 23 K ANP and 24 K ANA training seats.

    Ergo, part of the reason there are 20 K ANSF in Helmand today versus 4 K pre 2009 is because of McChrystal’s efforts and his ability to persuade Washington and other resource providers to contribute towards NTM-A.

  8. I can’t believe any general officer would argue that ANSF or Afghan civilians should have access to classified intel let alone input information. The US military is loathe to share with NATO allies and the SOF don’t want to share with US conventional forces.

    I would imagine Bradley Manning and Wikileaks have made net working even less likely.

    To have everyone in the loop you need unity of command and that is not going to happen outside of very small organizations.

  9. Baba Tim is true to his earth child roots. Gen McChrystal may be trying to re-invent himself, but much has transpired in both Iraq and Afghanistan (AFG) to validate some of his assertions. Whether or not the Taliban are “getting tired” will be played out in a few months. I’m not holding my breath.
    Does anyone really believe that the ANP or ANA are capable of securing the population and maintaining rule of law anytime soon? How well is that working in Iraq?
    WRT our COIN strategy; the biggest problem is that AFG isn’t Iraq. And now that we’ve had time to re-visit lessons learned from Iraq, and have a historical context, how successful was COIN there?
    More importantly (for AFG), would we have achieved any success if there hadn’t been the Sahawa (Awakening) in al Anbar? Is there anything remotely close to that happening in AFG?
    Now Zad will be an important district to achieve success, as defined by proponents of COIN. They are now at the “build” stage. In order for the populace to return to some normalcy, the bizaar must be open along w/ building a number of other GIRoA sponsored infrastructure projects and initiatives.
    The Marines can only take development so far. Without a civilan surge of US AID, pro’s from Dover types, chances for sustaining the gains made by Marines become greatly marginalized.
    Any guesses what happened to development money ear marked for Iraq? Much of it was transferred to AFG.
    As we move closer to 2012 and more previously oppressd middle eastern countries vie for attention in their pursuit of democratic reform and barring something catastrophic in AFG; does our US AID money stay in AFG or go elsewhere?
    In the mean time, look for more Measures of Effectiveness that will help quantify success in AFG.
    One last thought regarding the Taliban; they are home grown and are part of the tribal dance.
    One last alibi. Best read during my deployment that included Sangin and Now Zad, Great Game. Peter something … Brit author. The US may be dangerously close to re-playing the British role, whilst Russia, China and Iran and maybe India watch and wait for an economic opportunity that will/is occuring due to relative stability created by us, the good guys.

  10. Peter Hopkirk. His book, On Secret Service East of Constantiople, on German attempts at infiltrating Afghanistan during WW 1 is also a good read.

    I thought what was happening at the strategic level was obvious. While we’re scurrying around the Islamic world spending boatloads of borrowed cash and making enemies left and right,the Chinese are busy buying up businesses and resources throughout the world (when they have time available from counting US interest payments).

    It’s not too late for the US but it must get a grip on it’s finances, get over the desire to get involved in everyone’s business and the need to maintain the military forces needed to attempt world wide dominance. The danger is that if the US continues on the road to insolvency the Chinese authoritarian capitalist model will become the template of choice and the US will be left out in the cold.

  11. Who of you reading this blog actually thinks that the population wants to be secured by government forces? Who of you actually believes that the Afghan populace approves of and supports the propped up Afghan Govt? How much snake oil and PSYOPing of our own people is necessary before we come to the realization that the mission statement of ‘denying AQ an area for blah, blah, blah’ would NEVER be approved as a mission statement in ANY military leadership school? Doctrinal terms to describe task, purpose end-state that is actually achievable? Instead we get caught up playing ‘buzzword bingo’ where the term buzzword has become it own. So now we through the terms around like “comprehensive”, “transparency”, “population centric”, etc. ALL hollow. When is the last time that we had a ‘comprehensive’ plan in anything? And now ISAF wants to direct and control reintegration. So now we are experts on Afghan culture and know who is dirty and who is not. If that is the case then why don’t we start at the top and with his step brother and facilitate the house of cards to come crashing down. We can’t. And the reason being is that we didn’t have plan when we started this mess, we came up with one in the ensuing action but wouldn’t resource it and now we are looking to get out but don’t know when, how or how to cloak it. So now we follow the latest bright and shiny object “VSO” which is nothing new, only rediscovered as a way of living and working amongst the population. We’ve propped up a false economy based upon lack of due diligence by US personnel to pay local prices, have developed NO industry focused on the wrong group of people to influence and are expecting what to be gained from all of this? It’s too bad that we send our beloved, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and our children to work and possibly die in this environment from some of the most unappreciative people on the planet. Now we have developed another culture of entitlement outside the shores of the US. What is the solution? It has to start with a “CLUE” obviously.

    1. >Who of you reading this blog actually thinks that the population wants to be secured by government forces? Who of you actually believes that the Afghan populace approves of and supports the propped up Afghan Govt?

      You’re making an assumption, which is that in order to govern a population (as if there is such an entity instead of a huge set of actors with conflicting interests and desires), you need that population to desire your governance. This assumption shows an ignorance of Afghan history and indeed most of human history. Did “the population” want to be secured by Babur? Did it approve of and support him? Yet Babur conquered Afghanistan and only left because he had better things to do (conquer half of India.) Half of his memoirs, the Baburname (I recommend the Thackston translation) consist of him massacring various rebellious Afghan tribes and receiving the survivors’ pledges of loyalty.

      What about Abdur Rahman? Nadir Shah? The Mongols? Was their rule a result of winning hearts and minds through civil affairs and NGOs?

      >So now we are experts on Afghan culture and know who is dirty and who is not.

      What are you, Diogenes, looking for “a man” with a lantern in broad daylight? If your thesis is that we can’t govern by proxy until we find an Afghan proxy politician that will turn his nose up at a bribe and rides a majestic unicorn, I got news for you-that’s not how it’s ever been done, and it will never happen like that. The only people that don’t want a cut of the action are the ones that want all of it, and they’re not working with us. Want an incorruptible Afghan civil service and police force? Settle down for the long haul, create an American colonial service and mixed American-Afghan institutions like the Brits did in India. What’s that? Your attention span is months, not decades? You balk at a couple of thousand American dead? Then any efforts you make in the foreign policy field outside of Washingtonian neutrality are doomed by your own weakness.

      >What is the solution? It has to start with a CLUE obviously.

      Physician, heal thyself. Guys like you and Josh Foust get mileage out of pointing out the weaknesses in policy (“not enough cultural awareness!” “Too much corruption!”) but never seem to have any constructive visionary advice and restrict yourselves to platitudes (“more cultural awareness!” “Less corruption!”)

  12. WOW, B (wonder if that stands for BRIT) you sound like a defeated and angry man. Some of your points are well taken, but at the end of the day what really happens to Lessons Learned? Unless there was a catastrophic military failure, they are given a cursory look and shelved.
    True most Americans didn’t even know where AFG was on a map, even after the Soviets invaded it. And true most Americans still don’t know much about AFG history or current events. But we are where we are now. These blogs help contextualize the Now in AFG. Good, bad and down right fucken ugly.
    BTW, Field Daying the Population ain’t in our play book as a means control the untamed and unclean masses.
    What I found on the ground is that they want some sort of normalcy. They’ll tolerate any semblence of government that allows for that; and guess what? The Taliban happen to be part of their governance piece.
    We can stare at something all day long and won’t understand what it is we’re looking at. In retrospect, we’re kind of picking up where the Brits left off; civil and militarily. Look how well they did in Central Asia.
    America’s biggest weakness is that we are not fully vested in AFG. We have no national interest at stake here and the concept of fighting terrorists or an insurgency may run afoul w/ GIRoA’s re-integration program. Let alone Pres Karzi’s new and improved plan to develop his country.
    It may be time soon to declare victory and leave, much like the Brits after their 2nd AFG war. In the end, good men and women have died or have had their lives forever altered because of what they did in AFG.
    Guy’s like Tim don’t need to do my critical thinking for me, they just need to point out what they see on the ground, in their AO and perhaps add a little flair when they opine.

  13. Hey B, thanks for you observations. Mine are based on walking the ground and talking to real Afghans not half-ghans. Hmmm seems like just yesterday, because it was, in a known area for growing in Nangarhar having the conversation with the folks in the bizarre about governance, their desire for independent action and the fact that they keep the Taliban at bay because they run the poppy industry for them. At the time NO ONE of the US troops knew anything about the Afghan mafia run area and afterwards we were a bit confounded by the yes and I will state it, cultural complexity that existed in the area… (Gasp) The is NO panacea over here but we spout off a few buzzwords not knowing if they even translate accurately in to Pashto or Dari, put a few people in Ministries who have never even managed a bank account and we think that we pretty much have it licked… eh? I never stated anything about finding the ‘star’ to back over here. There are none. They all bitch about corruption until given the opportunity to take their additional cut for themselves when they get into a position of influence. I can’t say that I blame them do to the fact that we aren’t going to stick around much longer and that sweet teat milk of Uncle Sugar is oh so addictive… Was any population ever secured by any invader here? Hmmm seems the answer would be, NOPE. Most beat or killed the population into submission. Not even the Taliban when in power ‘secured’ anything. It appears to be a series of oppressors that continue to role through here. Now are you going to state that I am insinuating that we are on our own journey of oppression? Is that going to be your ‘thesis’? My attention span here is as long as we can afford it. The day is coming pretty soon in which we bankrupt ourselves due to our ‘foreign policy’ and the $$ that we give away for what is it again? Oh yeah, so we can feel good about ourselves. Things would be different if we were here to fight a ‘moral’ battle. No one in the US would give two yanks on a dog’s bullocks had bin laden not paid his way to stay here and could be tracked to the area following the calamity in the US in SEP 01. How many afghans were involved in the 9/11 attacks? answer, nishta. You didn’t see us dropping ordinance on saudi arabia nor germany though… I digress. Constructive visionary advice? Advise and assist only at this point. If the numbers of ANSF that we have propagated thus far can’t handle things with US advisors then perhaps the outcome is allah’s will. It is not worth another drop of US blood over here in order to solve their insolvable differences… and yes, it most certainly is culturally based. I look forward to your retort.

  14. 1. Seems we were greeted warmly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    2. After a few weeks, with most problems remaining unsolved, the locals got bitter.
    3. Read LTCOL Lynch’s blog and commentary looking for answers.
    4. Answer seems to be: hard slogging and time spent if you want results.
    5. Applications at odds with the superficial appearance of events in our own culture.
    6. Two comments on items I am a bit informed upon.
    7. First, withholding intelligence from people in the field.
    8. According to a retired Army intelligence CWO,
    the CIA had files on the local irregulars in Vietnam, going to the names of squad leaders.
    9. This information sat in file drawers in the CIA compound on Ton Son Nhut AFB. Was seldom disseminated to anyone outside of the organization.
    10. Why?: Fear of compromising sources and methods and an organizational culture that treated information like the crown jewels, rather than a useful tool.
    11. When we patrolled, we knew where the hot spots were, in general. Knew none of the local players. Were often surprised.
    12. Our interpreters were not locals -and, anyway, we distrusted them as much as anyone else.
    13. Lack of that knowledge certainly cost lives and I am bitter about that.
    14. Depending on who you talk to, the Chinese intervention in Korea, November of 1950, had similar circumstances.
    15. Point: Restricting operational intelligence helps the bad guys more than us. Assuming the stuff is accurate, to begin with.
    16. How much actual damage has wikileaks done?
    17. Second. Had “The Soldiers Load…” crammed down my throat in Basic School.
    18. Had already gone through a year of patrolling with a 90 pound ruck courtesy of the Army.
    19. Once the BDA had been loaded, had room for a carton of cigarettes and some insect repellent.
    20. In the heat and humidity, would have to stop and rest after a klick or so of movement.
    21. Thought the Marines had a different outlook, keeping #17 in mind.
    22. Our loadouts using the ALICE pack were at least as heavy as anything I experienced in the Army.
    23. In Iraq, the troops from both services were carrying a similar load -and slapping it onto an armored vest, to boot.(Flak jacket wasn’t heavy- whereas the IBA with strike plates outweighed an M-60)
    24. Don’t recall a lot of stress fractures or lower back problems. May have been and I just didn’t notice.
    25. Don’t have any good answers to this one. Patrolling on foot, it’s nice to have the kitchen sink on hand when you need it.
    V/R JWest

  15. Tim,

    Thanks again for writing this great blog. Am reading a lot about Afghanistan day by day. Your voice is a valuable one. Thanks to you I can understand many things much better, can see what’s the real cases are in the area and realize that our lack of knowledge costs lives.

    “Networks are modern fool’s gold for ground commanders; networks promise to do the heavy lifting while you sit back on the FOB eating the pecan pie.” I know not much about Afghanistan, but I know a lot about Networking. That quote is fitting for all kind of networking! 🙂

    Keep up your great work, take good care of you, watch your 6! Looking forward …. CO

  16. Navguns and Chim Chim-no, I’m not British. I’m a murican. And I don’t know much about Afg-all my time was in Iraq. But I’ve been reading a lot about British colonialism, and how they were able to turn a profit on occupying and administering areas much bigger than either country and just as lawless, with primitive technology, instead of losing money, with minimal troop numbers (5000 to occupy and control the 25 million strong population of modern Egypt and Sudan, 50K troops to control modern India and Pakistan and put down the Sepoy Rebellion.) They didn’t spend too much time massacring people, but made it obvious that they reserved the right to do so and would if they had to (as opposed to our approach where the worst we’ll do is to stop giving you money, unless you’re actively shooting at us-and the locals all know it.) When you read their history, they had as vague and conflicted a statement of purpose going into these places as we did going into Afghanistan, but they were able to turn it to something productive by creating mixed institutions, empowering their junior guys, having a long timespan in mind and making it absolutely known that they reserved the right to hang anybody in the country if they made a pain in the ass of themselves. Then they wrote books about what they did and how they did it. These books are in English, readable, detailed and more self-critical than any American general’s memoir I’ve come across. They’re better than anything Galula or Trinquier wrote (though we don’t do anything like what those two recommended either, we at least pay them lip service.) Having read them, I noticed that we not only willfully ignore their lessons, we do the exact opposite. Then we wonder why our efforts are such a disaster. W

    The problem with declaring victory and leaving (which the Brits absolutely did not do after the 2nd Afghan War, BTW-they actually achieved victory, defined as putting a guy on the throne who did their bidding while maintaining power until his death) is that we as a country will have learned nothing. All we’ll have gotten from our decade of involvement is dead Americans, wasted money and a few hundred thousand Afghan refugees that were dumb enough to side with us, living in our cities. Then in twenty years we’ll do it all over again in some other third world dump.

    Stay safe and take care.

  17. B- thanks for your comments. I did 3 tours in Iraq and don’t think we had a great handle on that civil-military effort either. In contrast, Iraq is ultra modern compared to AFG. The tribal customs and interaction is very different as well.

    COIN, as largely defined in AFG, is grounded in our experiences in Iraq. Big problem when there are huge differences. And the problem w/ Galula is that his model is based on the Cold War.

    Also, huge fundamental differences w/ US involvement today vs mid/late 19th century Brit involvement. We have no empire to protect (buffer) nor do we derive significant trade or commerce vital to our national interest.

    Yeah, we can argue the relative merits the Brits achieved by bringing their guy out of exile from India and placing him on the throne, but it wasn’t long after his death that they (and Russia)recognized AFG as an independent nation vs a protectorate or colony like India.

    Your close is strong; that might be what many are starting to realize. Fact of matter is that if we don’t have a significant civilian surge of USAID, State Dept, PRT, etc., the military’s best efforts are doomed to failure.

    That’s one thing the Brits did well; institutionalized civil service. Their efforts were syncronized w/ their military activity.

    Absent a comprehensive development strategy and given current US financial state of affairs, the probability of success may be marginal at best.

    So perhaps we define what “win” looks like, engage in a few more initiatives, then declare victory and leave.

    American’s like to win. Cheers

  18. “Fact of matter is that if we don’t have a significant civilian surge of USAID, State Dept, PRT, etc., the military’s best efforts are doomed to failure.”

    I’ve seen nothing in Afghanistan to indicate that enlarging the US gov civilian employee base will do anything but cost billions more. The unaccounted for cash and corrupt project system is a large part of the problem. Having more US gov folks without a clue, adding more layers to the bureaucracy and on short tours ensconced in FOBs guarded by PSDs whenever they emerge is a huge waste of resources.

    There is no way to “win”. We’re on the hook for close to a trillion dollars. The only thing to do is cut our losses, reduce the costs as quickly as possible and get out. I’m open to leaving behind some SOF, strike aircraft and drones to take out any AQ who surface but all of the nation building crowd should get out as soon as possible, certainly no later than spring 2013.

  19. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. My best guess WRT civilian pro’s from Dover? They ain’t coming, they never were. They never fully materialized in Iraq.

    BLUF … US Military Forces can only go take the ball so far. After the Clear-Hold stages it’s Build. We can argue the scale, but BUILD is not what our military does w/in the context of COIN.

    Civil-Military operation don’t work if our civilians don’t show up.

    Hard to argue that the Billions we’ve spent on development in AFG have produced tangible benefits to the United States of America.

    As far as follow on military enablers; what would their mission be? Uphold the democratically elected government of AFG?

    It’s a complicated business, mired in international gamesmanship. But that still doesn’t excuse decision makers from making tough decisions and adding clarity to the mission. There still are real lives at steak here.

  20. >Civil-Military operation don’t work if our civilians don’t show up.

    Civilian-Military operations don’t have a chance of working if civilians show up. Say what you will about our military, it’s got some stuff going for it-a bit of professionalism, discipline, unified command structure (sort of,) and the potential for loose informal networks of like-minded do-gooders. The civilians? State? Most of the NGOs? Yeah. Por ejemplo, the FSOs who refused to go to Iraq.

    Our civilians ARE pretty good at taking a bad situation and making it worse. Like in Libya or Iraq.


    The link is to an article that addresses the lack of knowledge about Afghanistan that infests the US gov. I’ve always thought that optimism about the US mission was directly tied to a lack of knowledge about the place. Ten years in it appears that the power centers in the US deliberately foster a lack of knowledge instead preferring “experts” who can be be relied upon to produce the required sound bites or policy papers.

  22. BTW “expert” is perhaps the most overused term in describing those with opinions about the war. To begin to justify yourself being referred to as an expert on Afghanistan fluency in spoken and written Dari and Pashtu should be the starting point and then proceed through a university level understanding of it’s history, politics and culture. I suspect no western government employee exists who would qualify.

    Could we have produce such people? Given the money put into service academies and graduate studies for serving officers perhaps but it would have had (past tense as it’s too late for Afghanistan the damage has been done) meant a major change in organizational culture of the military.

    1. J Harlan, awe . . . you overstate your point. There are a few true “experts” by your definition. Problem is that they are often a bigger problem than folks far less knowledgeable on Afghanistan. Khalilzad anyone?

      More seriously there are many expatriate Afghans or children of expatriate Afghans. If we had brains we would hire many tens of thousands of them. Many of them would love to serve Afghanistan . . . J Harlan . . . bet you have met many of them. Problem is that we don’t have brains.

      And to be perfectly clear . . . it is not too late by a long shot. In fact to go further, to argue that the Afghan economy can’t match Indian per capita levels, and to argue that Afghan freedom and democracy can’t achieve Indian levels of success is borderline racist. Afghanistan is the mother of many modern civilizations and doesn’t need paternalistic condescension.

      Harlan, does someone need to know Pashtun to understand Afghanistan? Isn’t Dari or Pharsi good enough? Dari is far more widely spoken among Afghans and by Afghanistan’s media. Many top leaders of the ANSF, Afghan civilian institutions and the Afghan parliament speak Dari far better than Pashtun.

      Regarding the impact of foreign aid on Afghanistan . . . if it is spent on short term consumption . . . the RoI is likely to be much lower than foreign aid spent on long term investment [surging Afghan capacity.]

      To argue that ANATC or ANPTC have gotten too much international aid doesn’t meet the laugh test. The Education ministry has gotten a little more aid but still not enough.

      Large scale international aid into ANATC, ANPTC and the Education ministry is likely to lead to massive distortions in the Afghan economy for decades to come. But even these distortions would be offset by the surge in Afghan capacity they enable. Unfortunately, to date only a small fraction of international aid has been directed to these three agencies.

      “I can’t believe any general officer would argue that ANSF or Afghan civilians should have access to classified intel let alone input information. The US military is loathe to share with NATO allies and the SOF don’t want to share with US conventional forces.”

      Too true. McChrystal fought extremely hard against this culture. McChrystal tried to force “embedded partnership” and “strategic partnership” or joint HQs, joint planning, joint situational awareness, joint intelligence, shared mission sets between ANSF and ISAF. McChrystal also tried to force intelligence sharing between ISAF and the ANSF, arguing that the value of this “network” would greatly offset reduced OPSEC.

      Unfortunately, the 8 thousand ton ISAF gorilla sat on McChrystal despite his best efforts.

      “I would imagine Bradley Manning and Wikileaks have made net working even less likely.”

      Sadly true. Think that was part of their motivation.

      Harlan, most of what you say is pretty darn perceptive. That is what makes it so darn depressing. 🙁

      The same truth has many sides. Positive and Negative.

  23. “Harlan, does someone need to know Pashtun to understand Afghanistan? Isn’t Dari or Pharsi good enough?” Go back I read what I wrote.

    If you remember back to 2001 the mission was a punitive expedition designed to wipe AQ out and the Taliban as well if and when they got in the way. That mission failed. For a number of well intentioned reasons ISAF was allowed to shift to nation building. That’s worked a bit but at huge cost and meanwhile the Taliban reconstituted itself and a very corrupt GOA was allowed and helped to flourish. “It’s too late” to get the liberal democratic ally that some NATO officials in 2002-3 hoped to build in any time frame and at a cost that is supportable politically in the west.

    If most Afghans want to live in their version of Spain then it’s for them to take the initiative because the patience of the west is just about done. And that’s before the 2014 presidential election. What are the chances that’s no another fiasco?

  24. Here’s the 28th “my two cents worth” thoughts.

    We should have been teaching the “classics” to our kids instead of “feel good about your self” gumbo. My generation–you remember, the ones who shouted “Hell no, we won’t go” went into politics with a vengeance, as they also became “enlightened” teachers wherever they could.

    Ergo: we’re being led by clowns whose sense of reality exists while getting high on music and the writings of Che et al. Nation building is Rodney King on steroids…which he knows gets one nowhere: you need a valid license!

    Wrapping our warriors with 10 thousand dollars of gear might make phony moms happy (example, Cher…mother of Chasity) but does little relative to what Herodotus presented some centuries past.

    Planned Parenthood makes great sense, even as a daughter snorts coke: Whitney and Bobbi are so proud! Charlie tells us he is a “winner” while all I can do is recall his lines from Platoon for dear old Grandma!

    Just how rich are our companies that build MRAPs?

    We only wanted the oil from those wells in Iraq: How’s that game going and who told us this “truth” some years back? Can we buy some great Afghani hash or dope on the streets of Detroit?

    Sorry, but I am going to play golf with the President as he goes out for his 61st time! Dick Durbin has your back, not to fear.

    John Kerry (the very definition of “warrior”) has new speech writers working on a surrender…whoops, let the cat out of the bag on that one!

    Islam, religion of peace: Ali never lies, right?

    Our military has once again be played for suckers! Just listen to Gates most recent speech at West Point: read between the lines.

    Even Major Hasan gets better treatment than the troops at the tip of the spear!

    I don’t like my generation very much, some not at all. Got my reasons too…every time I visit my VA hospital!

    And finally: Hack was right!

  25. “Islam, religion of peace” True. “Ali never lies, right?” Agreed. But be careful. Ali is honored by Shiites and viewed less positively by Sunnis. You don’t want to be accused of being sectarian. Osama Bin Laden has massacred many Shiites.

    Better to say that “Ali and Aisha never lie, right?” Aisha kind of being the mother of the Sunni Hadith and Sunni-ism.

    I liked Gates’ speech.

    You are wrong about the motivation of the Iraq war being oil wells . . . except only indirectly. The Iraq war wasn’t about business, strictly personal. It was mostly about hatred for Saddam Hussein.

    Harlan, again . . . the large majority of Afghan movies, TV shows, entertainment programs, news shows, blogs, newspapers and soft culture are in Dari . . . a type of Pharsi. Dari is the language of business, legal documents, courts, the ANSF senior officers, the Afghan parliament. Even many of the 41% of Afghans who are Pashtun speak better Dari than Pashtu. Knowing pharsi or Dari by itself can open up a lot of understanding about Afghanistan.

    “That mission failed” . . . the mission you describe was never attempted. The Taliban and AQ and their allies redeployed to their strongholds east of the Durand where they could train, refurbish and strengthen themselves. That was the mission, wasn’t it? That is what I and many other people thought the mission was in 2001.

    “It’s too late to get the liberal democratic ally that some NATO officials in 2002-3 hoped to build in any time frame and at a cost that is supportable politically in the west.” Can you define “liberal democratic ally”? I would consider India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iraq, Turkey, Albania, Kosovo, to all be “liberal democatic” allies. In my opinion they are all successes. Why can’t Afghanistan achieve that? For this to work, Japan, South Korea, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Stans, Australia, Arabs, will all have to contribute greatly. What does the term “west” mean? Is Japan western? Japan’s $1 billion/year in annual grants to Afghanistan [mostly to MoI] are invaluable. The South Korean contribution to Parwan is valuable. Are they western? Is India western? It is hard to see how Afghanistan can succeed without substantial Indian and Chinese involvement.

    Not sure if this is what you mean Harlan . . . but I get the sense that you see the current period as somehow special in Afghanistan. Why? The war between GIRoA/ANSF and their international allies against the Taliban and its allies is likely to continue for a long time. What we need to figure out is how much to help the GIRoA/ANSF, how to help them best, and over what time frame.

    As you alluded to . . . GIRoA annual long term steady state expenditure is $15 billion/year. Annual revenue is $1.7 billion/year. This is a larger problem for Afghanistan than the Taliban. We need to think long and hard about how to reduce the long term Afghan budget deficit.

    The only way the GIRoA can surge its long term revenue is rapid GDP growth. How can this be achieved? Is there any option other than Nation building? Specifically:
    -increase Afghan education ministry budget to $3 billion a year, fully funded by internationals.
    -increase Afghan infrastructure spending, financed with international borrowing that the Afghans have to pay off.
    -redirect the $10 billion annual ANSF budget [fully financed by international grants] to ANATC and ANPTC. The ANSF serves as a tool to increase Afghan human capital and facilitate Afghan innovation when ANSF leave active service, much as IDF vets facilitate Israeli entrepreneurship and innovation.

    Fully financing the ANSF and Afghan education ministry alone will likely cost $260 billion in international grants over 20 years. Without this, Afghanistan’s GDP growth and annual revenue are likely to be sluggish.

    If we aren’t interested in facilitating Afghan nation building we should be honest and publicly declare that the ANSF needs to be reduced to less than 100 thousand troops and denied mortars, artillery, armored vehicles and most combat enablers.

    Rumsfeld until he was fired, bless his soul, argued your point Harlan. Rumsfeld publicly lobbied to reduce the long term authorized size of the ANA to 50 K or 55 K, and similarly reduce the ANP. Rumsfeld opposed long term US taxpayer funding for the ANSF. His plan was to reduce the ANSF budget and get it fully funded by taxpayers from countries other than America.

    1. Anan:

      Religion of peace you say? More like religion of control…get down, prostrate yourself five times daily!

      As to oil in Iraq: That was the “left’s” cry against Bush and Cheney’s old pals at Halliburton, not mine!

      I’d rather have a “Rumsfeld” on my team any day, than an “Obama-Mao” metrosexual little man!

      1. RJ, was Halliburton attacked partly because it was an “AYE-RAB” company with its headquarters in Dubai? Another reason it was attacked was probably because it extracts oil and NG . . . and is blamed for global CO2 emmissions. Cheney being former CEO was a bonus.

        RJ, Rumsfeld in my opinion, was a jerk. He tried to block training/equipping/funding/advising of the ISF 2003-2006 and the ANSF 2001-2006. As a result, we have wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and American blood in direct combat operations that would have been unnecessary had we been willing to spend much less money on Foreign Internal Defense centric capacity building.

        Many Afghans, Turks, Iranians, Russians and Indians think that under Rumsfeld the US purposely sabotaged the ANSF to try to keep them weak for some ulterior purpose. [Possibly as a quid pro quo to the deep state to convince it to truly turn on AQ and Taliban linked networks.] RJ, through incompetence Rumsfeld has fueled enormous unnecessary anti Americanism among anti Al Qaeda and anti Taliban groups.

        On Islam, “peace” . . . “control” . . . what is the difference? In what religion do we not humble ourselves before the transcendental? How is islam any different?

        There is a virulent strain of Takfiri extremists that belong to a subset of Salafis, which in turn are a subset of Sunni muslims. This extremist strain threatens 1.5 billion muslims and 5 billion nonmuslims. This is why we need to collaborate with muslims to defeat our common enemies.

        Shiite extremism also exists, but is a much smaller global threat. The Shiite majority is actively taking them on . . . and touch wood . . . hopefully will smash them.

        RJ, have you visited musim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Kosovo, Albania, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Iran, Turkey? Do you find the locals to be extreme? Are Kabul residents extreme? Kabul city has grown from 1 million people in 2001 to 5 million people today and is a booming diverse cosmopolitan city with many internationals. [Many Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Europeans, Iranians, former Soviet, Americans, etc.] Are Kabul Afghans extreme?

  26. Anan;

    Hugs and kisses for you!

    Those were Jews flying the planes into the World Trade Centers, right? A Swiss who opened fire at Fort Hood, right? Bombs in shoes are also a favorite of those soft leather-loving Italians, right? Time to go after those nasty Peruvian Catholics if they aren’t confessing all their sins! Kosovo…ain’t that near the home of a blood sucker…Dracula?

    Ok, let’s take a shot at midgets, but aim lower! How about those yellow people? However, I like that color-maybe not. We still have the red savage…let’s bomb a casino in the southwest!

    I met some Halliburton guys up in Williston, North Dakota a few years back…they were wearing these red jumpsuits, really sharp looking!

    While we’re up in the Dakotas, let’s get us some of those ducks. Give a shout out to the Robertson family of LA to come up and blacken the skies with their Benellis!

    You do know what a duck is, right? Waddles, quacks, swims, and flies like a duck…so therefore it must be a (what?).

    You put together your team, I’ll have mine. At midnight we’ll meet in the Sinai at the mall (Baskin Robbins) to settle this little problem.

    Listen for some Joe Tex music: That’ll be us dancing up on you and your pals!

    Soothing, just like the “call to prayer” that Obama-Mao loves to hear!

    Stay five yards apart…you have bad body odor, pal!

    There are nice people all over this planet, even you I suspect I would consider nice after a few minutes of truthfully sharing who we both ,or think we are, or want to be.

    Maybe that’s all we really need.

    1. “Hugs and kisses for you!” Ha Ha! Love you to. But in a “straight” way. 😉

      You are a blast. If you visit the Bay Area, we should meet up. Keep it cool dude. Humor is God’s gift to us mortals . . . so that we could enjoy life.

      You are right about the conspiracy theories. They are nuts. But lots of folks believe them.

      The muslim truthers are the real deal. They believe Al Qaeda and the Takfiri did 9/11, and that the JOOOOS and CIA secretly back the Takfiri.

      Khamenei is pushing the theory that the Jews are in cahoots with the Takfiri extremists and are trying to make the world Shiite less. And then go after the normal Sunnis, Ruskies, Indians, Chinese, Christians, and everyone else. Unfortunately their propaganda is starting to be partly believed by the world more generally [Russians, Europeans, Indians, Iranians, Afghans, Iraqis etc.]

      Notice how intensely OBL and Zawahiri hate Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah. Why? Because the Shiite extremists accuse the Takfiri of being Jewish and CIA collaborators.

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