Tuesday, June 13, 2017

So, we get Stav and Mattis in a room ....

So, SECDEF Mattis (no, I don't get tired of saying this) put it right out there;
"We are not winning in Afghanistan right now. And we will correct this as soon as possible," Mattis said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mattis acknowledged that he believed the Taliban were "surging" at the moment, something he said he intended to address.

From last month, Jim Stavridis outlined 5 reasons we need more forces in AFG

First, it is a tactical necessity. Over the past two years, the Taliban have been steadily encroaching on Afghan government control of territory, and by some estimates they are now in a position to influence the population in 40% of the country. While Afghan Security forces number over 300,000 and have shown real mettle in many places, they are taking significant casualties and still require effective mentoring down to at least the Battalion level. That means an increase in our overall troop strength is necessary.

Second, the emergence of an Islamic State element in Afghanistan is very concerning. While they have largely been unable to galvanize either the population or create cooperation with the Taliban, they have conducted a series of disruptive terror attacks and add further chaos to an unstable system. A larger NATO force can blunt their impact.

A third key reason is to create political capital that can be very helpful when some portion of the Taliban (who are not a holistic organization to say the least) eventually come to the negotiating table. We will never “win” militarily in Afghanistan, nor can we kill our way to success. Sooner or later we will need to bargain, and a stronger NATO force on the ground will give us better leverage.

Fourth, the additional forces send a signal to the Pakistanis, who are still somewhat playing a “double game” of overtly cooperating with NATO, but in reality supporting some elements of the insurgency. This commitment will tell Pakistan we intend to continue to work for a successful outcome in Afghanistan, and will hopefully encourage them to force the Taliban into negotiations.

Which brings us to another key point: what does success look like? Afghanistan is not going to resemble Singapore anytime soon; but it can have a functioning democratic government, general control over much of its borders, the ability to minimize impact from the insurgency, armed forces with high public approval, and a reduction in both corruption and narcotics — the latter two issues posing a longer term threat to the nation than even the Taliban. Getting to that point of success will require security and thus the additional forces.
I've been writing about AFG from the start of the blog, click the AFG tag below if you're new here and want to catch up.

Both Mattis and Stavridis are spot on. Since Obama's DEC09 West Point speech, we turned over all momentum to the enemies of modernity. 

We had a good, long range plan by 2008, but that was all thrown away. There is a lot to do.

Though we are as a nation tired, and on some days I think we should just all just look for the airhead version of the Friendship Bridge and cover what we leave behind in thermite ... but that isn't how this works.

Mattis was the first General Officer to set foot in AFG as a 1-Star, and Stavridis had to do what he could with the Political Level D&G he received from Obama as SACEUR.

A smart person would defer to their recommendations, or at least give them a fair hearing.

If those two gentlemen are standing up and pointing in a certain direction, I'm lacing up my boots and forming up behind them.


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