Where does the Afghan Mission go off the Rails?
The Afghan Mission and Strategy is Flawed. When did it leave the original Objective?
A liberal friend and former AP reporter asked me for my thoughts on the Afghanistan Mission yesterday. He wanted to know where I thought the mission was going off the rails. After contemplating the issue and thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that the problem with the Afghan mission was a clear mission. Questions that arise are: Are we in Afghanistan to do nation building? or is it to stop Al Qu'aeda from establishing training bases? Is it to defeat the Taliban? or training the Afghan Security Forces to handle their own governance and security needs? None of these questions seem to be addressed in the Obama Afghanistan Strategy.
The military does quite well when they have a clear cut mission. One of the principles of war is Selection and Maintenace of the Aim. In other words give me a clear cut mission and all plans will fall in line in support of that mission.
The mission should read something like this:
Provide a safe and secure environment in Afghanistan.
Out of this mission the following Objective should follow:
"1. Secure all of Aghanistan.
2: Train a specified number of Afghan troops by a certain date.
3. Train a specified number of Afghan police by a certain date.
4. Provide security for both the UN and NGO entities to improve the life of Afghans.
5. Provide security for diplomats and assist in governance. The latter is a must if NGOs and the diplomatic corps want to do their work throughout the country. It also behooves the other NATO countries to take over certain sectors in the country all pulling on the same rope.
Needless to say, this would require many more troops than are deployed to Afghanistan at this time. You can attach completion dates to those objectives, but they must be flexible and constantly reviewed by the Commander on the ground and the partners in the State Department and a reliable Afghan partner.
A detailed estimate of the situation should result in determining whether or not a central government is suitable for Afghanistan or if governance has to be regional.
It may very well be that the wheel has to be reinvented and regional governance has to be in place before super imposing a central government.
Given the complicated nature of Afghanistan, it is evident that this would be a time consuming task that cannot be achieved in six months or even two years. This would be a long term commitment, but perhaps the only one that would work.