Here are a pair of insightful glimpses into the ground conditions in Afghanistan. For those of you who have been there, you will no doubt recognize that each contains at least some truth. Many members of the public at large, however, will not.
The first is the companion piece to a major report submitted to officials in Congress by Lt. Colonel Daniel L. Davis:
Biting criticism of the upper-level military leadership there, no doubt.
The second is a great wrap-up by the folks at STRATFOR (a.k.a. Strategic Forecasting, Inc):
Read through these two pieces and you’ll see the nexus – al Qaeda (our original enemy in Afghanistan) quickly dissolved and fled (for the most part) wholly intact across the border into Pakistan, leaving the Taliban “home team” to continue fighting us on their terms.
Saying that the US military can’t force the Taliban to fight us on our own terms is no insult to our forces there; it is merely a statement of military/ counter-insurgency fact. Keep in mind, however, that squaring off against the Taliban in a conventional ground war was never our goal in Afghanistan. Keeping al Qaeda from enjoying the wide-ranging freedom to operate that they possessed prior to October 2001 has been the goal.
The former is not possible for any military, while the latter is arguably achievable.
I’m working on what has turned into a pretty depressing report regarding the situation on the ground for the operatives who continue to plug away there, but what really surprised me is how little of the information (although mostly open-source) gets reported, meaning that most Americans have no idea. The Davis article may make news this week, or (more likely) it may not.
As has always been the case, Afghanistan is a broken, dangerous place. We did not break it, but the (limited) extent to which we can fix enough of it to get the hell out is the question that remains.
Surfside Beach, S.C.
The author’s 24-year public safety career includes service as a U.S. Army soldier, S.C. law enforcement officer, and federal counterterrorism official. Currently a Chief of Police, Frederick also teaches criminal justice and terrorism as an adjunct professor and serves as a threat assessment consultant.
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