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Whats your opinion on Afghanistan?

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brihard View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 1:44pm
But we CAN'T force them to commit to battle. It simply doesn't work.

We CAN tell everyone to 'get out of the area- anyone here after _____ date will be condiered an insurgent'. We did it in Kandahar in 2006, but it didn't work particularly well. we still get blown up regularly in the areas we supposedly 'secured' during Operation Medusa in the Panjwai district.

The enemy is in and of the local population. We cannot sufficiently restrict their freedom of movement and still allow a local pattern of life at the same time. The ability just isn't there. We cannot in every case dictate the terms of the war; sometimes we *must* fight them their own way because that way is minimally invasive to the local population, and because any other means of fighting will just piss the locals off too much and drive more of them from our side.

You're mistaken in thinking we must eliminate an enemy from an area, and then improve that area subsequently. It's more likely to be concurrent, if not, in fact, the other way round. The enemy exist in given areas because of local sympathies to the insurgency, and we cannot eliminate those sympathies except by concrete actions to help the locals. Promises mean nothing- we must go in, build things, create growth, do medical and veterinary outreach, replace the destroyed Opium crops with viable alternative.s Only when such things are done will the locals cease actively supporting the insurgents. Even at that they may play neutral and accept the presence of both forces; the Taliban are fond of 'night letters'; essentially propaganda often in the form of threats delivered to local leaders. We need to demonstrate that through our presence suich threats are not credible, but to do that we must make a concrete impact on the enemy's ability to act and to project influence into areas neighbouring their own.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the 'inkblot' school of counterinsurgency theory, but essentially it likens our presence to spots of ink spilled on a map, which is actually rather accurate. We need to increase our geographic presence and establish lines of communication and cooperation between ourselves, the government, the NGOs, and the local people. It's a hundred little thigns that all have to happen at once. It's not like you can definitively say one day "OK, they're gone" and the next go in and start building. You have to send in the civil-military cooperation guys, determine the needs of the locals, and then send in the engineers to accomplish quick-impact projects that will have a concrete positive impact on the lives of the locals. *Then* maybe someone will come to you with info about an IED factory.

At the end it's all about perceived credibility. They must see us as having more strength, more power, more willingness to fight than the insurgents. The Afghans traditionally side with whoever is stronger in an area. That's the best way to stay alive.

Sorry Linus, I'm not trying to be a dick here, but from the arguments you're positing it's clear that you're completely out of your depth here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote __sneaky__ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 1:45pm
Originally posted by slackerr26 slackerr26 wrote:

I have a feeling FE wont be returning to this thread..
We were shooting for the forum, but baby steps are acceptable I guess.
 
And brihard all i can really say to that is... Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 2:31pm
We also did that in Fallujah, and it had a much better effect on the area. Something can fail horribly once, and work greatly a different time (Hello Hannibal)


Here's where our problem lies: You come off as making it seem that my "13 weeks of military experience" makes me unqualified to discuss anything about military matters with someone that has been in for years and has been deployed, when something such as this is more of an opinion based discussion, and not a hard written education based one, such as debating the proper number of platoons to send to a place, or how to clear a city block correctly. . But you are right about one thing: You have probably gone through counter-insurgency schooling, whilst I have not, which is why I don't get in to specifics.

We have differing views on the matter. You seem to me as one who wants to win their hearts to win the fight, while I have traditionally been one to want to win the fight to work on the heart. I guarantee you have had CO's on both sides of the fence: Some wanting to carpet bomb the whole area, and others wanting to give them indoor plumbing. One is not better then the other, they are just differing views on how to get to the same outcome we all want: Less good people dead.



One of the biggest misconceptions about me is that people think I'm pro-war, pro-death, anti-helping, which is not the case. I don't want war, and I don't want fighting, but I realize it has it's place.


Many (not all) of our enemies, in Iraq AND Afghanistan, are types that cannot be reasoned with. Someone who is willing to blow themselves up and take 100 civilians with them is not someone who we should even ATTEMPT to reason with, in my eyes.

I'm all for giving the people over there better lives, and in the process, hope that they give us actionable intel to help us fight. But I also realize that many of them also play both sides of the fence. I don't blame them, as that is probably what is easiest for them, but doesn't make it any more acceptable.



Yes, human-impact projects have a place. So do words. And so does violent action. You can't rely on just one or the other, but when you lean more towards one, the other suffers, and the problems that it can fix end up growing.





But, I do have a question: Do you think we are doing everything we can militarily to win this, 8 years later? Humanely? Diplomatically?

Or should we improve on all 3 fronts?

Edited by Linus - 21 September 2009 at 2:35pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:19pm
At no point have I suggested that you're out of your depth specifically because of our relative military experiences, but also based on your answers it's clear you haven't done the study into this that I have, nor have you hoisted aboard the lessons learned.

There are two schools on hearts and minds- one is that the traditional concept is vital for winning a war. The other holds that 'two in the heart, one in the mind' is a nice way to drop a target. I buy into both. In most cases, sympathies can be swayed by civil action and aid efforts, but in some cases, some enemies are so implacable as to only be dealt with effectively through PRECISE, DISCRIMINATE force. Aircraft certainly have a role, particularly for close air support, but they've been far too willingly employd to take out point targets based on sketchy information, often resulting in mistargeting of assets at best, or civilian deaths accompanying a legit strike at best.

You're constraining yourself improperly by thinking of this as a military win. I'll put this out there.

WE CANNOT WIN THIS MILITARILY 

If we want to simply keep killing Jihadis, that's fine. Young idiots coming out of the madrassas with dreams of glory and a half magainze of AK rounds are an infinitely renewable resource. We can kill tens or hundreds of thousands of them, but if more keep coming we are at best in a stalemate.

Terrorism and radical islam are sociological phenomena. These kids will strap bombs to themselves because they're disenfranchized, ignorant, indoctrinated and desperate. There's nothing on this earth really worth living for in their worlds; that's the cause. The symptom is a small handful of them are mentally or emotionally vulnerable to being radicalized, and they then explode themselves spectacularly somewhere. More likely than not somewhere in Southwest Asia, but at times it could be New York, or London, or Tel Aviv, or Madrid, or what have you.

The 'war on terror' is a jingoistic, idiotic misnomer, because terrorism is not a discrete enemy, but instead is merely a tactic. Is a suicide bomber any more 'terrifying' than a hellfire missile out of the night's blackness fired from a helicopter so far away you can't even hear it? Is planting an IED any more 'cowardly' (a term I reject) than firing a cruise missile from a hundred and fifty miles away? Is an artillery shell fired deliberately into a civilian area any less morally ugly than a suicide bomb in a pizza shop?

The reason we mustn't 'take the kid gloves off' as you were put it are severalfold. It doesn't work. Sure, they cleared a lot of people out of Fallujah, but Fallujah was a huge urban center. I'm not sure how much time you've spent in Southern Afghanistan, but it isn't exactly an urban society. Iraq also has a historical tradition of relative stability and peace under a central government, even if it was a tyrrany. Afghanistan hasn't seen a stable government with popular support since the 70s. In a power vaccum in Iraq, the winner will rever tthe situation to more or less what it was before- the population united under one strongman leader, with some pigs being more equal than others. Afghanistan's default setting is a highly fragmented tribal society. Fallujah worked because they DESTROYED the insurgent elements there. In Afghanistan, however, they simply melt away and come back later. Like I said, we've tried it already. If Fallujah is the best parallel you can come up with to what you think we should be doing in Afghanistan, well, there's not much I can say.

We could be more active, more brutal in pursuing and destroying legitimate targets, but because of the environment and the weapons of war that result in an unacceptably higher civilian toll. The notion of 'collateral damage' doesn't fly nearly as well in a local community as it does on CNN. What if Canadian police fleed a multiple murderer across the border into Michigan, finally cornered him in a gas station in Detroit, and killed him in a fusilade of gunfire- accidentally killing six civilians while they were at it? Or even if American police did it, to dodge your obvious jurisdictional objection to my example? 'Collateral damage' is one of those nice sanitized terms the government has successfully spoon fed the media to allow it to pretend war isn't about human beings getting mangled. Every looked - really looked at one of those Apache gun camera videos and wondered about the guys coming apart from 30mm? You think every single person ever killed by an apache helicopter was a legitimate bad guy?

We wil 'win' this conflict by helping to establish a recognized, legitimate state with a security apparatus that can control extremist activity on their own territory, and that actively work to improve economic and living conditions such that fewer people are driven to radicalism, or Jihad, or terror, or whatever term you would pick for it. Killing a lot of people will continue to be necessary, but it is NOT the goal of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. It's fortunate that our mission allows us to take out some bad people, but we can't simply shrug and accept the losses of innocent life that have traditionally accompanied it. When we can recognize the Afghan civilians as having the same intrinsic human worth as our own, we'll be making a good start at things, and maybe they'll see that respect and start playing ball with us. The fighting we are doing is not useless in any way, but it is NOT the main effort of our mission there, nor is our end state dependent on how much we can destroy, or how many we can kill.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tolgak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:44pm
Thank you, brihard.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:47pm
I point you towards this, because it tends to be where you end up focusing on my "mistake", even though we're on the same page for it.


Quote Yes, human-impact projects have a place. So do words. And so does violent action. You can't rely on just one or the other




We're on the same page. We need all 3. The only difference between you and I is that I do not think we are doing enough militarily, and instead hoping that the humanitarian impact is enough. I'm not saying it has to be "EXPLOSIONS OR BUST", but I do believe the war aspect of well, war, is being played down, atleast in the wide view.



Yes, making lives better can reduce the amount of Jihidi "idiots", as you say, but there will always be SOMEONE who will want to fight just because they want to, not because their family has outdoor plumbing or their goat stepped on a land mine left by the Soviets. Those are the ones that cannot be reasoned with. Those are the ones that NEED to be eliminated, and ASAP.

Ever hear of the "werewolves" in Germany after WW2? They didn't do insurgent activities because they were disenfranchised or lacked basic necessities of life. They fought because they truly thought what they were doing was right, and no amount of education to the contrary changed that. They had to be met and destroyed.

Or how about our very own "home-grown" terrorist? They weren't raised in a 3rd world country, being taught that America was the devil and it needed to be destroyed. They came up with those thoughts in their own sick minds.

Again, not every enemy can be converted ;/ deterred by us being the better people, and that's when something has to be done.


I'm wondering where you came up with me thinking collateral damage is a good thing, or even acceptable. Yes, it happens, but that doesn't mean I think we should ignore it. Of course I don't want a JDAM dropped on a suspected insurgent munitions cache that's right next to a school, that's stupid.   But I'm sure you as an infantryman felt a lot more secure when you knew you had artillery batteries and friendly fly-boys overhead to back you up at a moments notice when crap hit the fan, correct?

"Speed, surprise, and violence of action" is a maxim for a reason.




Quote
The 'war on terror' is a jingoistic, idiotic misnomer, because terrorism is not a discrete enemy, but instead is merely a tactic. Is a suicide bomber any more 'terrifying' than a hellfire missile out of the night's blackness fired from a helicopter so far away you can't even hear it? Is planting an IED any more 'cowardly' (a term I reject) than firing a cruise missile from a hundred and fifty miles away? Is an artillery shell fired deliberately into a civilian area any less morally ugly than a suicide bomb in a pizza shop?


The difference in all (except the last one about the artillery shell... unless it's one of the guided ones) is that WE don't do it against civilians on purpose. It's not the same type of "terrorizing". Ones a legit tactic, the other is a cowardly act (as much as you hate that word). We tend to do what we can to minimize / eliminate civilian deaths, while they do what they can to increase it.






A military win and a humanitarian win are NOT mutually exclusive. You cannot have one without the other.

Edited by Linus - 21 September 2009 at 3:50pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skillet42565 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:50pm
Why are you arguing with someone who has actually been there and fought?  You don't know jack **edited** compared to him.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:54pm
Originally posted by Skillet42565 Skillet42565 wrote:

Why are you arguing with someone who has actually been there and fought?† You don't know jack **edited** compared to him.



Since you missed it before:



This is a debate of opinion, not of just one school of thought. There is no hard and true answer to this, as it is a "this is what I think should be done" topic. There are people with decades of schooling and hands on education with how to fight, and they STILL disagree with eachother. You have generals saying go in with the whole army, and you have other generals saying we need to do things diplomatically.





If they can't agree on the best approach, what the hell gives YOU the right to say one person or the other is wrong? Grow up.

Edited by Linus - 21 September 2009 at 3:56pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skillet42565 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:00pm
As someone with no combat experience trying to argue on the proper way to fight a war with a veteran of that war, you look silly.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote High Voltage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:02pm
Originally posted by Linus Linus wrote:


If they can't agree on the best approach, what the hell gives YOU the right to say one person or the other is wrong? Grow up.

Because one person has two weeks experience, while the other has actually been to the country you guys are debating.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:09pm
Originally posted by Skillet42565 Skillet42565 wrote:

As someone with no combat experience trying to argue on the proper way to fight a war with a veteran of that war, you look silly.


And you're someone who fails to read the whole thing, and instead zones in on a single section and refuses to acknowledge anything else.



For you:

Quote not a hard written education based one, such as debating the proper number of platoons to send to a place, or how to clear a city block correctly


Translation: I'm not telling you how to clear a city block. I'm not telling him how to run his squad. I'm not telling him how to fire his rifle. I'm not telling him how to survive a firefight. Therefor, I'm not telling him how to fight a war.


He's not the commanding officer of NATO forces. He isn't in charge of writing strategic plans on how to occupy the country and pacify the resistance, therefor how am I telling him what to do?


I'm simply stating what I think, with my less than educated view, what we need to be doing differently, which is exactly what this thread called for, which is exactly what every single pundit, congressman, and Joe the Plumber do when asked the same thing.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ThatGuitarGuy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:20pm
Originally posted by Linus Linus wrote:


What I do know is we need to quit fighting them on their terms and force them on our terms. They know they can't possibly fight a straight up fight, which is why they use insurgsjt tactics. We have to force them to face us in a battle, JUST like we dis in Fallujah. They only had 2 option: run or fight. Those who fought, died. It works, amd we need to do it more.
 


And how exactly do you propose the coalition forces do this?  How do we make them meet us in a straight-up fight?  They're used to their "insurgent tactics" working.  That's what they're going to keep doing, because it works.  They know they would lose in a full on military force battle, which is why they will do everything they can to make sure it doesn't happen.

Look at the revolutionary war.  The Colonists fought as the insurgents are fighting now, guerrilla warfare, hit and run tactics, and they pretty much demolished the British and their formations and battle-tactics.  It worked for us, so we didn't change. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:31pm
Originally posted by ThatGuitarGuy ThatGuitarGuy wrote:


Originally posted by Linus Linus wrote:

What I do know is we need to quit fighting them on their terms and force them on our terms. They know they can't possibly fight a straight up fight, which is why they use insurgsjt tactics. We have to force them to face us in a battle, JUST like we dis in Fallujah. They only had 2 option: run or fight. Those who fought, died. It works, amd we need to do it more.

And how exactly do you propose the coalition forces do this?† How do we make them meet us in a straight-up fight?† They're used to their "insurgent tactics" working.† That's what they're going to keep doing, because it works.† They know they would lose in a full on military force battle, which is why they will do everything they can to make sure it doesn't happen.Look at the revolutionary war.† The Colonists fought as the insurgents are fighting now, guerrilla warfare, hit and run tactics, and they pretty much demolished the British and their formations and battle-tactics.† It worked for us, so we didn't change.†


Already conceded that I didn't have the answers ;)


We forced them to do it in Fallujah and it worked. And as Bri stated, we tried again in Kandahar and it didn't work.   But like everything in war, nothing is certain. (ironic statement).



Forcing them to commit to an area to fight would force them to fight us in the open, where our clearly superior training, tactics, and weaponry would win. We just have to find what they are willing to defend, and that's the hard part, as from all the people I know over there have said, they really aren't willing to commit to much.


Edited by Linus - 21 September 2009 at 4:32pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skillet42565 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:35pm
I honestly cannot wait until you get ran over by an ambulance or something.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:36pm
Originally posted by Skillet42565 Skillet42565 wrote:

I honestly cannot wait until you get ran over by an ambulance or something.



Ditto. Workers comp.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skillet42565 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:50pm
No, I meant death.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:53pm
Originally posted by Skillet42565 Skillet42565 wrote:

No, I meant death.


Oh, I'm sorry, I missed the plainly obvious meaning behind your immature post. My bad.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:54pm
Of course not. They KNOW from experience that if they commit, they die. Hence they don't commit. We can't make them, either- they can continue skipping around or, if need be, fading into the population for a while. There's also an extremely porous border with Pakistan thy can use. They've realized that wedding themselves to particular ground is a recipe for disaster. Besides, they don't need to hold ground- they just need to prevent us from doing so. Anything that is not a win for us is by default an effective loss. Any effective insurgency (which they very much are) is by default decentralized.

You keep talking right past what I'm saying, and it's starting to piss me off. Yes, we need to take military action in many cases, but right now our presence is disproportionately military in nature, and what civil groups are there mostly seem to sit around and write reports. There's no concerted civil-military effort, and a lot of the NGOs are afraid to have ny real association with us. PAradoxically, this denies them the protection needed to get much done.

There will always be a few who need to be fought, but the point I've made repeatedly is that that is NOT rightfully the role of the U.S., or NATO, but of the Afghan government through the Afghan NAtional Army and the various police services. The numebr of true radicals is very small. Most fighters are occasional fighters in between harvests, and are motivated by tribal allegiances or by easily avoided grievances such as the inadvertant bombing of civilian targets.

We had it won in 2002 and 2003, then Bush effed up and sent the U.S. military to Iraq. Had we used those numebrs, committed them to Afghanistan, held ground and exploited our success we could have done it. The enemy were essentially destroyed, and waht remained were in effect 'stunned'- unsure what to do, without the resources to do much of anything, and without andy command and control structure. We mistakenly mistook this for instant victory, and U.S. troops were diverted to Iraq.

Our military efforts are about what they should be. We need VASTLY more commitment to rebuilding and development.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skillet42565 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 4:55pm
LOL2WEEKS
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 5:08pm
Originally posted by brihard brihard wrote:

We need VASTLY more commitment to rebuilding and development.



I've agreed with you on most everything you've stated, but we keep rehashing the same points. Yes, Bush effed up. Yes, humanitarian missions are a must, and need to continue. Yes, trust has to be earned / maintained with the populace. Yes, their military needs to be involved in some of the operations / decision making processes.




So please, answer what I've asked twice now:

Do you think we cannot improve on what we are doing there militarily?

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