Senator Chris Dodd on Obama's Afghanistan Strategy

In this video, taken on Saturday, September 26th, '09, Senator Chris Dodd makes sense on the situation in Afghanistan. It starts with Nutmegger John Kantrowitz, from My Left Nutmeg and the Conn-Post Blogs, discussing the shades of Vietnam parallels. But there is an 800 pound guerrilla that too many ignore that I try to point out at the end of the video:

Just so you understand what I am talking about at the end of the video, General Petraeus re-wrote the doctrine for dealing with counterinsurgencies:

The first chapter of Petraeus's manual calls for a "force ratio" of 25 counterinsurgents (here meaning US, allied, and Iraqi soldiers and police) per 1,000 residents. In Baghdad that would require a total force of 120,000. But even with the additional 17,500 US troops President Bush has called for, and a reallocation of Iraqi troops from the North to Baghdad, the total force will be approximately 80,000, a full third less than what the manual prescribes.

I was shooting from the hip and based on my faulty memory, but the numbers I was talking about were sufficiently close to make the point. Thinking in terms of the situation in Afghanistan a quick look at the math tells you what you need to know.

The population of Afghanistan is 28,150,000 according to wikipedia - And the math based on 25 soldiers per thousand residents?


By Genral Petraeus' own standard that is how many soldiers would be needed to effectively stabelize Afghanistan.

Accounting for US, UN and even the Afghanistan soldiers that have been trained up to provide security there are nowhere near enough. And there will never be anywhere near enough without a draft. That is an 800 pound guerilla that nobody will address.

Little wonder why Obama may be suffering from buyer's remorse on campaign statements and early decisions after he was sworn in:

Once in office, Obama compounded the damage by doubling down his bet
on the war. In March, he introduced a “comprehensive new strategy for
Afghanistan and Pakistan” in his first significant public statement
on the subject, which had expansion written all over it. He also agreed
to send in 21,000 more troops (which, by the way, Petraeus reportedly
convinced him to do). In August, in another sign of weakness
masquerading as strength, before an unenthusiastic audience at a
Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, he unnecessarily declared:
“This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.” All of this
he will now pay for at the hands of Petraeus, or if not him, then a
coterie of military men behind the latest push for a new kind of Afghan

As it happens, this was never Obama’s “war of necessity.” It was
always Petraeus’s. And the new report from McChrystal and the Surgettes
is undoubtedly Petraeus’s progeny as well. It seems, in fact, cleverly
put together to catch a cautious president, who wasn’t cautious enough
about his war of choice, in a potentially devastating trap. The
military insistence on quick action on a troop decision sets up a
devastating choice for the president: “Failure to provide
adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties,
higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political
support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission
failure.” Go against your chosen general and the failure that follows
is yours alone. (Unnamed figures supposedly close to McChrystal are already launching test balloons, passed on by others, suggesting that the general might resign in protest if the president doesn’t deliver — a possibility he has denied
even considering.) On the other hand, offer him somewhere between
15,000 and 45,000 more American troops as well as other resources, and
the failure that follows will still be yours.

It’s a basic lose-lose proposition and, as journalist Eric Schmitt wrote in a New York Times
assessment of the situation, “it will be very hard to say no to General
McChrystal.” No wonder the president and some of his men are dragging
their feet and looking elsewhere. As one typically anonymous “defense analyst” quoted in the Los Angeles Times
said, the administration is suffering “buyer’s remorse for this war…
They never really thought about what was required, and now they have
sticker shock.”

At this moment in time the Generals are asking for more troops and, even by Petraus' own standards, they aren't asking for enough to deal with the issue. And that is assuming the strategy of more boots on the ground is even an effective one. It isn't because the whole strategy is based on loonytunes logic [emph. mine], according to Pen and Sword's Jeff Huber:

Obama said that he would only approve another escalation if he has "absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be." McChrystal’s report is incoherent on the subject of strategy.

says, “We must conduct classic counterinsurgency operations” and states
that success depends not on “seizing terrain or destroying insurgent
forces” but on “gaining the support of the people.” That’s laughable in light of the fact that classic clear-hold-build counterinsurgency operations involve seizing terrain and destroying the insurgent forces that occupy it.

notion that we can separate the Afghan people from the insurgents is as
ludicrous as the idea of invading Mexico to separate the Hispanics from
the Latinos. Nor can we pretend to be the good guys when the Karzai government we prop up is as bad or worse than the insurgents. McChrystal admits that Afghans have “little reason to support their government.”

McChrystal says he sees no sign of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. So, his argument goes, in order to disrupt al-Qaeda terror network, we need 45,000 more troops to occupy a country al Qaeda is not in to make sure it doesn’t come back. And what exactly is this al-Qaeda juggernaut we’ve come to quake in fear of? As former CIA officer

Philip Giraldi

recently noted, “An assessment by France’s highly regarded Paris
Institute of Political Studies [suggests that] Osama bin Laden’s
al-Qaeda has likely been reduced to a core group of eight to ten
terrorists who are on the run more often than not.”

If McChrystal and his allies get their way, we’ll have deployed over 135,000 troops to Afghanistan—on top of the roughly 130,000 troops still in Iraq—for the purpose of rounding up fewer than a dozen bad guys. Daffy Duck and Wiley Coyote could come up with a better strategy than that. Our
military leadership and its supporters are a thundering herd of
buffoons whose only real objective is to keep the cash caissons rolling
and the gravy ships afloat and the wild blue budget sky high.

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