Afghanistan Getting Worse

REPOSITION OUR FORCES

by Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (Ret.)

General David Petraeus has been serving in the U.S. Army since 1974

(Aug. 30, 2010) — We see more casualties each day and the leadership standbys a self-destructive and self-defeating strategy of “counter-insurgency” (COIN) doctrine and nation-building. The COIN principle is not based on winning; it is based on political whims and is not a true tenet of warfare. Warfare is, and always should be, about WINNING or do not go to War. Great Generals and Admirals of battles past had enough acumen and understanding of the tides of battle to change the strategies and tactics to turn the tide on the enemy. Not today!

Latest report received by Stand Up America today. Please read and understand what he is saying with identical messages coming forth from the troops the past two years. As I said on the Fred Thompson radio show when General Petraeus departed for Kabul that you will see no change and the situation will get worse.

Report from a Colonel in Afghanistan.  I feel confident in quoting him as we have received so many other reports from others serving in Afghanistan validating what he is saying.………

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 24 (UPI) — Throughout my career I have been known to walk that fine line between good taste and unemployment. I see no reason to change that now. Consider the following therapeutic. I have been assigned as a staff officer to a headquarters in Afghanistan for about two months. During that time, I have not done anything productive. Fortunately little of substance is really done here, but that is a task we do well. We are part of the operational arm of the International Security Assistance Force commanded by U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus. It is composed of military representatives from all the NATO countries, several of which I cannot pronounce.

Officially, IJC was founded in late 2009 to coordinate operations among all the regional commands in Afghanistan. More likely it was founded to provide some general a three-star command. Starting with a small group of dedicated and intelligent officers, IJC has successfully grown into a stove-piped and bloated organization, top-heavy in rank. Around here you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a colonel.

For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information. Even one tiny flaw in a slide can halt a general’s thought processes as abruptly as a computer system’s blue screen of death. The ability to brief well is, therefore, a critical skill. It is important to note that skill in briefing resides in how you say it. It doesn’t matter so much what you say or even if you are speaking Klingon. Random motion, ad hoc processes and an in-depth knowledge of Army minutia and acronyms are also key characteristics of a successful staff officer. Harried movement together with furrowed brows and appropriate expressions of concern a la Clint Eastwood will please the generals. Progress in the war is optional.

Each day is guided by the “battle rhythm,” which is a series of PowerPoint briefings and meetings with PowerPoint presentations. It doesn’t matter how inane or useless the briefing or meeting might be. Once it is part of the battle rhythm, it has the persistence of carbon 14. And you can’t skip these events because they take roll — just like gym class.

The start and culmination of each day is the commander’s update assessment. Please ignore the fact that “update assessment” is redundant. Simply saying commander’s update doesn’t provide the possibility of creating a three-letter acronym. It also doesn’t matter that the commander never attends the CUA. The CUA consists of a series of PowerPoint slides describing the events of the previous 12 hours. Briefers explain each slide by reading from a written statement in a tone not unlike that of a congressman caught in a tryst with an escort. The CUA slides only change when a new commander arrives or the war ends.

The commander’s immediate subordinates, usually one- and two-star generals, listen to the CUA in a semi-comatose state. Each briefer has approximately 1 or 2 minutes to impart either information or misinformation. Usually they don’t do either. Fortunately, none of the information provided makes an indelible impact on any of the generals.

One important task of the IJC is to share information to the ISAF commander, his staff and to all the regional commands. This information is delivered as PowerPoint slides in e-mail at the flow rate of a fire hose. Standard operating procedure is to send everything that you have. Volume is considered the equivalent of quality.

Next month IJC will attempt a giant leap for mankind. In a first-of-its-kind effort, IJC will embed a new stovepipe into an already existing stovepipe. The rationale for this bold move resides in the fact that an officer, who is currently without one, needs a staff of 35 people to create a big splash before his promotion board. Like most military organizations, structure always trumps function. The ultimate consequences of this reorganization won’t be determined until after that officer rotates out of theater. Nevertheless, the results will be presented by PowerPoint.*

  • (Name protected…… is a Colonel in the U.S. Army and a veteran of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is currently serving his second deployment to Afghanistan. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army or U.S. government.)

Winning this specific war against forces impelled by Islamic ideology calls for unconventional measures and not the conventional actions followed by lengthy occupations such as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such an unconventional war doctrine heavily leverages the core capability to break enemy states, target and destroy the enemy’s capability to bring harm to America“.  

Why do the United States and its military/political leaders and strategists still languish in failed strategies from World War II to the present?

Yes, we have operational war planners at all levels of command, senior policy and politicos in the White House and Department of Defense, a National Security Team and a multitude of military commands positioned around the globe to guide and lead us in national security. But where are the common sense and rational senior General and Admiral Strategists that we have trained and schooled to be innovative, aggressive and win our nation’s wars quickly and decisively? Just recently on Fox news, I watched a report by Jennifer Griffin from Kabul with General Petraeus and his staff. I was intrigued with what I watched of the same high tech, air conditioned command and control centers in modern or rebuilt buildings from which the Senior Commanders run the day-to-day operations. I observed the same when I visited Baghdad on two occasions and in the logistical control center in Kuwait. Then I observe the Marines in Kandahar running conveys after convoys and clear and hold operations getting blown up each week by Iran provided IEDS. The senior leaders watch in their sequestered briefing rooms with HD monitors galore and all the high tech communications equipment that you would find in an AT&T data base center. This really does not compute for me nor would it with General Patton.

I rarely hear any of them talking about the valued Principles of War that successful combat leaders in the past have used to achieve success and victory. They cannot even talk in terms of victory, winning and bringing the troops home. Or maybe, they do not want to for politically correct reasons at home. Just visit the Pentagon some day and you will see the entire senior command structure philosophy from DOD down to Brigade that are so “process oriented” that very little is accomplished on a day-to-day basis other than our troops carrying out raids and patrols one after the other. Unfortunately, American leaders are increasingly trying to transform this force into one optimized for counterinsurgency missions (when, in fact, we are not, in my opinion, fighting insurgencies but rather, Islamic Jihadis and a fomenting global Caliphate) and conventional war followed on by long-term military occupations.

We cannot seem to be able to discern between the differences in conventional and non-conventional warfare. The war against mainstream Islamic Jihadist forces and a sick ideology has been, and will continue to be, one requiring unconventional solutions. This is a point that the White House and the Pentagon fear to call this war against a pronounced ideology. It is not a war on terror as we first analyzed; it is a war against people subscribing to Jihad and a derived ideology from the Koran that has evil global intentions as much as the Nazis and Third Reich.

While America’s adversaries today may prefer to engage the U.S. using proxies and develop radical Islamist organizations and jihadists, there is no rationale in declaring to the people of the United States that we are in a long war and accept that as a reason to not achieve a quick and decisive victory. It appears we fight more in agreement with the so called United Nations, allies, and the likes of China and Russia than to stand up for own sovereignty. It is time to relegate these so-called allies to the sidelines.

Like Reagan, it is time to call their bluff. They know we hold the big cards, so why are we so timid? This only fosters eastern thought that placation is a sign of weakness. A weakness they will turn into an asset and a political card to play to the uneducated masses they control.

Based on superb intelligence, we can launch required strike operations from any number of secure global sites and bases. True, these radical Islamic forces pose a major terror threat abroad and at home but we can defeat those efforts as well. The American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan – where insurgents have been able to build and deploy more than 80,000 IEDs while under occupation – calls into question the ability of occupying forces to root out terror networks without hitting the sources and sanctuaries that supply them like Iran.

Many describe our efforts as helping to recruit more fighters and more ideologues. This is no way to stop all the threats to our homeland. The only true way to stop that threat is to give them what they respect; pure force of arms, resolve and will. Otherwise, they sit in their sanctuaries and count up the moral victories they have achieved and embolden future efforts. However, significant threats to the U.S., ranging from the military capacity of regional powers to weapons of mass destruction development programs to significant terrorist infrastructures, can be targeted and destroyed by conventional and unconventional military capabilities.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Paul E. Vallely, Major General (USA/Ret.) is an author, military strategist and Chairman of Stand Up America and Save Our Democracy Projects.

One Response to "Afghanistan Getting Worse"

  1. jetstream   Monday, August 30, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    But where are the common sense and rational senior General and Admiral Strategists that we have trained and schooled to be innovative, aggressive and win our nation’s wars quickly and decisively?

    Maybe, sir, this is what has gone wrong:

    Wired’s Spencer Ackerman reports that Col. Lawrence Sellin, a 61-year-old Army reservist, has been dismissed from his post in headquarters with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force less than 48 hours after he published an op-ed, via UPI, complaining that the “war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information.”

    Powerpoint instead of strategic planning.

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