My Views on Afghanistan, ROE’s, & Losing A War

| August 25, 2012

So most of the time, I write made up and mostly hilarious stories at The Duffel Blog, but occasionally, I will take some time to write something serious. I don’t normally toot my own horn over here but since Jonn is away and won’t be posting it for me, I must break my own rule.

Published at Business Insider, “MARINE: Strict Rules Of Engagement Are Killing More Americans Than Enemy In This Lost War“:

When I returned and transitioned to a role as an infantry instructor in 2006, my peers—who only had deployed to Iraq—quipped that I was part of the “forgotten war.”

And where are we today?

Six years after hearing those jokes, the war is forgotten by everyone except the men and women who continue to fight it. My mostly quiet wartime memory of 2005 has exploded into a battlefield of heavy combat with the casualties to go along with it.

And yet all the blood, destruction—all the efforts of our military—cannot change the unfortunate and highly probable outcome that our 2014 exit from Afghanistan will be marked as a failure.

I don’t want to believe it, but we are losing this war.

Each day our soldiers and Marines leave the wire, only to face increasing attacks from a determined enemy. An insurgency that continues to enjoy support—even from inside a corrupt government in Kabul as well as Islamabad.

And they don’t just face Taliban AK-47s and improvised explosives. They also continue to face the guns of their supposed allies, Afghan National Army and Police forces, who have killed over 30 U.S. military personnel just this year alone.

As we try to win hearts and minds, the Taliban uses fear—and in a culture of tribalism and tradition, it is fear that works.

You can continue reading the whole thing here.

Category: Military issues, War Stories

Comments (17)

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  1. Perspectives | August 25, 2012
  1. Doc Bailey says:

    There was a time I held out hope that we could still win. That hope has long since faded

  2. Shamus62 says:

    This is the point in a poker game when you have one last shot at winning the whole thing…either we go “all in” or we fold and walk away from the table.

    Anything else is just a mistake, and in this case, we aren’t just going to lose our pot of plastic chips.

  3. dnice says:

    Tactically, I think you are right on point. I happen to be reading Owen West’s book now (see
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Snake-Eaters-Unlikely-Brothers/dp/1451655932 ) and there is a relevant quote on p. 122:
    “But protecting them [the Iraqi people] or winning their approval was not the right way to articulate the mission to his young advisors and Iraqi soldiers; it muted the underlying purpose of soldiering, which was winning in combat, and put them in a position to fail. In this sense Major Mohammed was right. Before benevolence, the combined team had to appear as winners.”

    Strategically the current Administration hasn’t had the will to win since they first came to power. In retrospect, I should I have joined with Code Pink on day 1 to bring everyone home.

  4. SJR says:

    I haven’t forgotten the war in Afghanistan. I think about my fellow Americans over there every day.

  5. “As we try to win hearts and minds, the Taliban uses fear—and in a culture of tribalism and tradition, it is fear that works”

    Sounds like the GOP campaign against the Taliban-DNC.

  6. 2-17 AirCav says:

    The classic war where the winner plants his flag and does what he will with the vanquished is ended. In a limited sense, it’s like a cop who busts a dealer. Will that end the drug trade? No, and the cop knows it will not. Does he therefore disregard the dealer? No, it’s his duty to enforce the law. And if he is hurt or killed in attempting to arrest the dealer, is that a wasted life because, when all is said and done, that dealer or another will continue to ply their trade? Is it?

  7. CI says:

    @6 – I think that’s an excellent analogy, and quite appropriate regarding the Taliban. I would extend it further however, and say that while the Cartel [AQ] remains generally untouched, no amount of effort against the dealer will bear fruit.

  8. B Woodman says:

    Send in the the politicians and generals who created the hands-tying ROEs.

  9. Ex-PH2 says:

    No one I know has forgotten the war in Afghanistan. Maybe it’s because I’m not too far from Great Lakes, the Navy’s only remaining recruit training command, and the families come to restaurants and hotels nearby for graduation.

    It is a constant reminder. But how long is it going to continue? There is no strategic mineral composition in Aghanistan. The USGS did a survey over there and published it. I’ll post it for anyone wants to see it. It’s long and boring and says “there’s nothing here”.

    There is no reason for us to be staying there unless the intent is to win, and I don’t see that now. It seems to have withered away since 2009.

  10. Rock8 says:

    I have to echo what dnice was alluding to: The only successful war is when you vanquish your enemy without question , then show him mercy. Then he knows what you are capable of and is grateful for your kindness.

    This accounts for the success in the rebuilding of Japan and Western Europe. The mixed results in Iraq can be attributed to not pulling on the bit hard enough in the beginning.

    And Afghanistan is a lost cause; we will never win because we did not bring every village to its knees. Because of its culture and terrain it probably never was ‘winnable’. Of course if we had not lost UBL at Tora Bora in December 2001 we would not be in the pickle we are today.

  11. Common Sense says:

    The ROEs are ridiculous! When I read that snipers had to fill our a report for every kill, I knew we were doomed to fail. Does the enemy have to submit paperwork for any actions? Has any military in history had to do that? Our guys should never have to fight with a lawyer over their shoulder.

    We’re also fighting an enemy that doesn’t care about its people, its children. The only thing they respect is strength and power and only see our benevolence as weakness.

    If we don’t intend to use the full force of our military, then we shouldn’t enter a conflict. Period.

  12. Dragoon 45 says:

    @10 Actually Afghanistan is very mineral rich. China has signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Karzai’s government to try to mine a bunch of rare earth minerals.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html?pagewanted=all

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    OK, but this is the link to the USGS open survey report

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2011/1229/

    It’s 337 pages long in pdf format. This is another reference number: OCLC No.: ocn755014016

    Enjoy it. Get yourself a large cup of coffee before you start.

  14. SFC Holland says:

    Four more days until R&R. You can bet your ass I am gonna forget all about Afghanistan for two weeks! Of course I will still have six months left after that but the next two weeks are going to be awesome.

  15. Hondo says:

    SFC Holland: enjoy the well-earned break, and Godspeed.

  16. Ex-PH2 says:

    I’m echoing Hondo, enjoy your R&R. If you want a care package when you go back, send your info to Jonn or TSO to e-mail to me. I’ll send crackers, peanut butter, sports magazines, whatever, but NO PORN!