We once had a pretty good plan for AFG, one that began development in late '07 and brought us the uplift in '08/09 and on. It sidelined for a large part the ineffective NATO forces and build a conditions based Shape-Clear-Hold-Build process, slightly modified as time progressed.
In spite of the original sin of Bonn, too much hope, and the unfortunate trusting of NATO to do what it promised - there was a path that gave AFG the best chance to bring security to their nation and as a result, increase our own security.
For years you have read here and over at BigPeace my posts about the importance of Conditions Based planning - the route to victory for thousands of years - vs. Calender Based planning which has another history to it, one of retreat and defeat.
That is where we are heading. Fred & Kimberly Kagan get close to it.
Everything Secretary Panetta said about the transition approach envisioned at Lisbon is true—that process, excessively binding and bureaucratic in our opinion, does foresee the gradual and conditions-based transition of the task of securing all of Afghanistan to the Afghan security forces. At some point—not specified at Lisbon or in any public statement or document before this one—the mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), would change from defeating the insurgency alongside the Afghans to assisting the Afghans in securing their own state. Could that point come in late 2013? Perhaps. But there is no way to be sure now. Announcing it as a fixed timeline now, therefore, would be not only foolish but irresponsible.What Panetta is talking about is Calendar Based wrapped up in Conditions Based dressing.
Secretary Panetta said one thing about Afghanistan that is certainly not true: “Consolidating those gains is going to be what we have to do in 2012, ensuring that we continue the transitions, ensuring that we continue to improve the Afghan army during this year.” If those goals are the limits of our campaign in Afghanistan for 2012, then our mission there will fail. The reason is simple: You cannot consolidate gains that have not yet been made.
If that is the case, then we are not in this to win. The present administration has neither the will, the plan, or the patience to get us to a condition we reached in mid-08 in IRQ - the opportunity to declare victory and go home.
Since the President's West Point speech he has been clear - he just wants out. First it was 2011, then 2014, and now 2013 it seems. Since he telegraphed that desire, the enemy has been given a lifeline - a reason to be patient. They know victory is theirs if they wait.
Sure, there is a small chance that AFG will reach some benign limbo - but that is just hope. Hope has a low probability of success. Conditions Based decisions increase the odds of success in the out years - Calender Based is only focused on the short term check in the block.
We've been here before. Vietnamization worked, and with USA support following the North's invasion in '72, South Vietnam in effect has won its own peace.
Then we had Watergate and the '74 election.
The Left could not let a victory in Vietnam stand, and when they had the chance they cut off the South while their Communist fellow travelers doubled down support to the North so when they had a do-over in '75, the South was lost and so was the war.
So again, we find ourselves with people from the same cloth.
If we are not in this to "win" this, then what exactly are we doing? If you are not in it to win - then what is the morality of asking one more family to sacrifice their son or daugher?