Monday, December 29, 2014

The vanity of declared peace

Funny thing happened yesterday - the Voice of America put out an article, "US, NATO Mark End of War in Afghanistan" and after SWJ and I had some sighs and slow head shakes - they changed the title of the article to, "US, NATO Mark End of Afghanistan Mission."

Snort ... but the html still reads, ""

Fine, I'll let VOA fix their apparent fail, but it is quite illustrative. You see, I know, SWJ knows, and the title editors at VOA know that you simply cannot declare a war over by walking away (that is called surrendering the field, or like the Elector of Bavaria at Blenheim, running away to leave the fighting for others). If you are reporting the news, and not trying to make it digestible, then you should have stuck with the original title.

You see, title #1 was more in line with the words of the United States Commander in Chief,
“Today’s ceremony in Kabul marks a milestone for our country. For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan,” Obama said. “Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”
Just so we're clear, let me pull that out for you to scratch-n-sniff a bit,
“Now, ... longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”
OK, he called it a war, but it would be nice for President Obama to exactly define "responsible conclusion." The Taliban are not done. AQ is not done, the ANSF are not done. The over 10,000 Americans that will stay in AFG are not done.

But hey, we are just talking semantics right? We are all happy to lie and die for semantics, natch.

If it has concluded, then who has won? Have we reached our criteria for success? All our decisive points achieved? Reached all our decision points to complete the transition phase? How about our objectives? Do we have our end state? Mission of a "Safe and Stable Afghanistan?"

Of course not, those are things one has in an actual operational plan. We left that construct in December of 2009, as we have discussed in exhaustive detail. 

Buy hey, let's look at the revision we did to the OPLAN before the DEC 09 West point speech. Slide 79 is a good snapshot if you don't have time for the full brief.

You know what, if I don't show you, who will? 

As best I can in an open forum, let me give you the last full measure of a doable plan for some type of success in AFG. The above pic is one slide produced from Revision 4 to OPLAN 30302 - the Operational Level OPLAN for AFG produced in April of 2009. This brief was from 2010 before the first post-DEC 09 revision was put out.

Dig through it yourself, here is the whole brief by BG Berger, French Army. Nice guy.

Conditions based planning is long gone, what we have been working the last half decade is all calendar based political BS in line with the kind of thinking that got us the Islamic State.

Since December of 2009 we have created the conditions for a long term problem much worse than if we had simply slogged along with what was working and doable, district by district shape-clear-hold-build. But no.

Again, almost weekly I find myself quoting Trotsky,
"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."
We cannot walk away for the problem of expansionist, fundamentalist Islam. We couldn't in IRQ and we won't be able to in AFG.
The NATO-led military alliance in Afghanistan formally ended its 13-year-long combat mission, leaving a relatively under-trained Afghan national security force to fight the deadly Taliban insurgency largely on its own.
"Our new resolute mission means we will continue to invest in Afghanistan's future, our commitment to Afghanistan endures," Campbell said.

NATO’s Resolute Support mission will consist of about 13,000 mostly American personnel that will continue advising, assisting and training Afghan national security forces in their fight against the Taliban.
At its peak, there were about 140,000 troops from 50 countries taking part in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan.

It was launched under U.S. leadership to invade Afghanistan 13 years ago to remove the Taliban from power for sheltering the al-Qaida network that plotted the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Washington has since spent more than $100 billion on Afghan reconstruction in addition to its estimated $1 trillion war effort.
We are doing to AFG what Clinton's DoN did to the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY in the 1990s. Here is that quote again;
... leaving a relatively under-trained Afghan national security force to fight the deadly Taliban insurgency largely on its own.
That is the opening error that will compound from here.

Just as you cannot expect any good from pulling a carrier out of the yards incomplete, you cannot leave a conflict with a plan incomplete and expect your desired effects to appear out of the south end of a north flying unicorn.

Back a bit more than a half a decade ago in Destile Garden, we outlined best case and worst case scenarios about the post-Bush 43 AFG conflict. What we have now isn't the worst - the original Obama summer '11 withdraw was close to the worst - but this is near to one of the bad scenarios we pontificated about that I have to say that we more or less had it wired.

There is hope that this will flop in the good area - if Pakistan wakes up and the new AFG government gets lucky, then so will we. Experience tells us, however, that to trust in luck is not the best strategy - but it is what we have.

People forgetting the recent past and the hard lessons learned in blood and treasure? Yea, it's a thing.
“Experience shows that the first casualty of peace is such wisdom, if any, as has been learned in war.”
Richard Henry Tawney (1880-1962)
British economic historian
In his book Why Britain Fights (1941)
In this case, a declared peace. Do the math. 

We also need to be honest about what the President is doing. He is simply doing something to mark a line on his Presidency bucket list. He was elected twice by the American people. In his mind, they knew what he wanted to do - and he is doing it. The aftermath will have to be fixed by those who will hold the office after he leaves.

He has a lot more to do in the next 25 months, so stand by.

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