Wednesday, December 2, 2009

President Obama's Afghan speech

I did not see his speech, but I read it. Anyone who reads it cannot help but agree in many aspects. And no person can agree with someone on EVERYTHING. That being said, I found a couple of interesting items that I would like to share:

"I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests."

This first quote is in reference to the 3rd choice that he debated. That choice was to have what he considered to be an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan. I think that he is playing politics here. President Obama wants to end the war and be out well before the election in 2012. This is a political deadline and like President Kennedy, he is attempting to place a deadline on our direct involvement in the war.

I would also like to draw attention to President Obama’s rejection to the surge in Iraq. He was against the war in the first place and was decisively against the surge in Iraq. The present strategy he is enacting is at first glance, the same idea. We place 30,000 new troops in Afghanistan beginning next spring. This is different in that the soldiers will be going in as quickly as possible. In Iraq, they were added in very small increments that took 6 months. The surge in Iraq was aimed primarily at gaining control of Baghdad. We already had our enemy surrounded in that great city, we just needed additional forces to chop it into pieces that we could attack one at a time.

This new effort into Afghanistan is aimed at most of the country, with the Afghan Pakistan border being a major focus. We do not have our enemy surrounded and we will be engaging them in the best defensive terrain in the world. Our current aim is to use approximately the same amount of force in about the same amount of time and expecting the same results. Well, I doubt that we will get anything near the same results and I expect that our withdrawal timetable will not be much different that what was specified last night. If memory serves, when then Senator Obama specified a withdrawal from Iraq by March 31, 2008, Iraq was at the high point of the combat that our enemy could not sustain. A withdrawal at that point would have allowed our enemies to recover. (They will do so anyway, but it will take them far longer now) Time will tell what our President will do. I expect the withdrawal to take place on schedule. Whatever is going on in Afghanistan will most likely make little to no difference.

"We will have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power."

This quote scares me. I am a firm believer in having too much force available. Just in case things go wrong. Otherwise, the losses in soldiers and equipment can potentially be much higher. General Eisenhower once said that if he were given a battalion and ordered to take a hill that was held by a company of enemy soldiers, he would take losses, but he could do it. Given a full division, he would not lose a man. Colin Powell called it ‘overwhelming force’. I have been a believer in this philosophy for a long time. It bothers me that our commander-in-chief (During a war) does not believe in this concept.

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