Friday, December 4, 2009

Afghan strategy

President Obama is committing 30,000+ new troops to Afghanistan. beginning next spring. Unlike Iraq, the fighting in Afghanistan is not concentrated within the cities. Some of the most contested areas tend to be along the Pakistan border. While 30,000 soldiers will give our position in Afghanistan more muscle, the areas involved are much too large to enact a piecemeal strategy that we used in the cities in Iraq. We will be unable to isolate the battlefield in anything like the effectiveness we were able to in Iraq. By necessity, the army will strengthen the patrolling that it projects from the bases we control. This is far different from the idea of "once we take an area, we hold it."

President Obama assured us that Afghanistan is NOT Vietnam. He is correct in this assessment in that the U.S. will withdraw far earlier in the process. (At least from his perspective in that he only became involved in January) However, like Vietnam, we do not have the manpower to ‘occupy’ the countryside of Afghanistan. Our tactics of ‘search and destroy’ will be a necessary use of our superior firepower. The amount of combat will go up as we escalate. I doubt our enemy will allow it to reach the levels of fighting we witnessed in Iraq in 2007. Like Vietnam, we will win the battles. Unlike Iraq, these battles will be indecisive as our enemy disengages and ‘melts away into the countryside’. More like Vietnam than Iraq. I expect the outcome to be the same as Vietnam as well. We will fail to 'hold the ground' and exit in time for the elections of 2012. This way, our Commander-in-Chief can say that he ended BOTH the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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