Closing Thought–17Aug17

Another US Soldier Dies!

I hate that I must write these types of posts!

More sad news….I reported on Monday about 2 troops that were killed in Iraq.

Now news comes out that a US soldier was killed in Eastern Afghanistan….name is withheld until the family is notified….

One U.S. service member from the Utah National Guard was killed Wednesday during an operation against Islamic State forces in eastern Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Utah National Guard.

Approximately seven U.S. and Afghan forces were also injured in the operation, and were medically evacuated, according to a statement from Operation Resolute Support.

Identification of the service member was pending notification of next of kin, the military said.

“My heart aches for the loss and sacrifice of our members and their families,” Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, said in a statement. “I know that what we do is dangerous and important work for our country’s defense, but this realization does little to console me during times of loss such as this.”

Wednesday’s incident brings the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 11, the same number as were killed in all of 2016 in Afghanistan.
IST offers the family our deepest sympathies for their loss….may he Rest in Peace.

A Better Plan

Yes I am talking about Afghanistan….again.

I have been bitch for over 10 years about how we got into yet another horrible war with NO plan to whether win or to go home.  Sounds all so familiar.

You know it is really not that hard for fight a war using the enemies game plan.

Say what?

That’s right….use their game plan against them.

When I was sent to Vietnam I was assigned to the LRRPs for the 9th Infantry Division….we spent a lot of our time in enemy territory and we needed to know what to expect….we all wer4e given a copy of North Vietnamese general’s book of guerilla warfare….People’s War, People’s Army by Gen. Giap.  It outlined the proper way to fight a guerilla war…tactics, logistics, everything they a soldier would need to know.

I bring this up because the same thing could have been done for our fight in Afghanistan.

Again…..say what?

That is right there is a game plan for Taleban fighters…..it is a book written 1995 by the fighters themselves entitled “Afghan Guerilla Warfare” by Ali Ahmad Jalali.  The book gives details on ambushes, logistics, weapons, bombs making, etc, etc….

Now would it nor have been  good idea to familiarize the troops with what to expect when fighting the Taleban?

Arrogance has doomed a many army in the past….and it is pulling the US military in too many directions to ever come out of the country with a win.

Don’t Privatize the Afghan War—Just End It!

Well said!

I have been a proponent of the US getting out of Afghanistan for several years…..that war is going nowhere fast.

It seems that the president is not happy with the situation in Afghanistan either….now someone in the admin has floated the idea of privatizing the war and letting a horde of mercenaries handle the situation.

Trump’s mercenary supporter Erik Prince has a self-serving proposal for Afghanistan. It must be condemned and rejected.

Erik Prince, the notorious founder of the military contracting company formerly known as Blackwater, has been making the rounds of media outlets to promote his idea for privatizing the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Prince, whose company was renamed Academi, and who now chairs a Chinese-owned company named Frontier Services Group, is unabashedly vying for a lucrative Pentagon contract that would turn over military operations in Afghanistan to a private corporation. He has gone as far as calling for an “American viceroy” in Afghanistan to fix the United States’ failing war.

Source: Don’t Privatize the Afghan War—Just End It – Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists – Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists

The Navy Times notes that the proposal would likely run into legal trouble. Current defense law stipulates that “the use of combat power against enemy forces or hostile actors is inherently in the purview of the U.S. government.” Contractors can provide assistance, but Prince’s plan goes way beyond that. The former Navy SEAL says it would cost about $10 billion year, far less than the Pentagon’s current annual outlay of $40 billion.

I agree with the author….enough time and resources have been spent on the country…..declare a success and bring the troops home and let the country rise or fall on its own.

Oh Yeah–Afghanistan!

Then there is America’s longest running war…..Afghanistan.

These days we do not hear much about this conflict…..most Americans take it for granted and move on to whatever shiny bobble the media dangles out there for them to chase.

But there are people like me that will not turn away from this war and persist in reporting the news as it comes available……

Most people know next to nothing about the country other than bang bang shoot’em up!

Many foreigners and even Afghans are now convinced that the “true” Afghanistan is only what is being shown on the television screens, depicted in magazines, or what is buried deep in the archives and libraries somewhere in London, New York or Paris.

It is tempting to think that the country could be only understood from a comfortable distance, from the safety of one’s living room or from those books and publications decorating dusty bookshelves and coffee tables all over the world.

“Afghanistan is dangerous,” they say. “It is too risky to travel there. One needs to be protected, escorted, equipped and insured in order to function in that wild and lawless country even for one single day, or just a few hours.”

Source: AFGHANISTAN: Examining the Myths, the Lies and the Legends ~ Andre Vltchek

I have often bitched about our strategy in Afghanistan….basically the lack of a strategy….there are many armchair generals out there that give advice…..

Pakistan’s sponsorship of the Taliban is the main reason for the continued stalemate in Afghanistan after almost 16 years. To be sure, there are other ancillary factors that help explain the instability, but Pakistan is the key reason.

The war in Afghanistan will not end, or it will end badly unless the U.S.-led Coalition and its Afghan partners compel Pakistan to cease its malign conduct.

What a win looks like.

A ‘win’ in Afghanistan would not resemble the win in World War II where the Allies thoroughly defeated and then received the unconditional surrenders of Germany and Japan.  The end will be negotiated and conditional.

Source: To ‘Win’ in Afghanistan, Devise a Strategy and Do Not Quit | RealClearDefense

Rah Rah!

Then some see this conflict as a loss and no matter the plan will remain so……

There is a case for a deliberate U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Afghan government remains divided and weak, its security forces will take years of expensive U.S. and allied support to become fully effective, and they may still lose even with such support. Afghanistan is no more likely to become a future center of terrorist attacks outside its borders than many other weak and unstable countries.

Both Afghanistan and a troublesome Pakistan have only marginal strategic interest to the U.S. relative to many other areas where the U.S. can use its resources. Moreover, leaving the region places the security and aid burden on Russia, China, and local states—forcing the countries that do have major strategic interests in the region to take on the burden or live with the consequences.

Source: How the Trump Administration Is Losing Afghanistan | RealClearWorld

And then there is those that feel a new way forward would be a better strategy…..what that is is anybody’s guess.

Even the president is extremely unhappy with the situation ion Afghanistan…..to the point of shouting…..

President Trump isn’t happy about the situation in Afghanistan and his proposed solution is one that will be familiar to Celebrity Apprentice viewers, insiders say. Sources tell Reuters that during a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, an angry Trump said military leaders should consider firing Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, over his performance. “We aren’t winning,” Trump said, per the sources, described as senior administration officials. “We are losing.” Trump also complained about NATO allies and said the US should demand some of Afghanistan’s estimated $1 trillion mineral wealth, the officials say.

Trump complained that China was profiting from Afghanistan’s mineral wealth under a deal set up a decade ago. According to NBC‘s sources, Trump “startled” military advisers including Defense Secretary James Mattis with an anecdote comparing their advice to that of a New York restaurant consultant who cost a business profits with lousy advice about renovating a kitchen. He suggested the owner should have talked to the waiters instead. Trump ended the two-hour meeting without a decision on a new US strategy for South Asia. Pentagon sources say Mattis returned from the meeting “visibly upset” and went for a long walk to clear his head.

As my reader can see….Afghanistan is a real mess and NO one seems to have the answer to the situation.

But yet there is a proposal headed to the Pentagon…..a private army to Afghanistan to takeover the fight….for profit…..

President Trump is said to be frustrated with progress in the 16-year-old Afghanistan war, and a familiar name in US military circles is offering an unprecedented solution. Blackwater founder Erik Prince has floated a plan to the White House that it turn over most of its military duties in the country to private contractors, reports USA Today. The US currently has 8,400 troops there, though their mission is to train and advise, not engage in combat. Prince would replace them with 5,500 contractors, most of them former Special Ops troops. They would be supported by a private air force of about 90 planes. One key point: They would wear Afghan uniforms and operate under Afghan command.

“At what point do you say a conventional military approach in Afghanistan is not working,” says Prince. “Maybe we say that at 16 years.” The newspaper says defense chief Jim Mattis and national security adviser HR McMaster are leery, while adviser Steve Bannon is more open to the idea. The Navy Times notes that the proposal would likely run into legal trouble. Current defense law stipulates that “the use of combat power against enemy forces or hostile actors is inherently in the purview of the U.S. government.” Contractors can provide assistance, but Prince’s plan goes way beyond that. The former Navy SEAL says it would cost about $10 billion year, far less than the Pentagon’s current annual outlay of $40 billion.

An army of mercenaries to do the fighting….sounds a lot like Italy in the 15th century.

I will continue to keep my readers up on the developments in Afghanistan as confusing as they are….maybe my attempt will help those readers understand just how hopeless Afghanistan can be.

Trump Considers a Damn Fine Option

There have been few options in the handling of the Afghanistan War….about the only option so far is to throw more troops at the problems and pray.

But before I continue there is some sad news out of Afghanistan……

Two US soldiers were killed today just outside of the major Afghan city of Kandahar, when a suicide bomber attacked the NATO convoy they were traveling in. NATO confirmed “casualties,” but did not specify if there were any wounded on top of the two slain.

The two slain today makes nine US soldiers killed in Afghanistan so far this year, and while that’s not a lot, increased interest in putting US fighters back on the front lines has definitely made them more available targets in recent months, and this trend of casualties could be rising after dropping off in the past couple of years.

Our sympathies go out to the families.

I know that I have very little praise for our president these days….but I will say that Trump is considering an option that I can agree with in the handling of Afghanistan…..

After months of the Pentagon failing to sell a concrete plan of escalation to the White House, officials now say that the administration is considering getting back on track with a drawdown headed for a full pullout from the country after 16 years.

This is happening for the same reason the Pentagon hasn’t been able to sell the escalations, that a number of officials are unconvinced that the escalation is going to accomplish anything, and that they don’t think there’s a clear strategy for victory.

The Pentagon was more or less uniform in arguing escalations, albeit of varying sizes, and are said to be objecting to the proposed pullout as a “minority viewpoint,” warning that it does not meet the goals of the conflict.

The pullout is unlikely to be immediate, if it ultimately wins out. The plan seems to be to increase reliance on special forces and drone strikes in Afghanistan to try to make up for the largely feckless Afghan military in slowing the Taliban’s expansion across the country.

(antiwar.com)

If you would like to learn more about this turn of events…..

Source: While you were distracted by Scaramucci — Trump considered pulling out all troops from Afghanistan

The only part I do not like about this plan is that they are considering using mercenaries to do the job that our troops are now doing.

Like I said I like the idea of bring our troops home and leave Afghanistan to its own devices.

But there is always more to the story than we get……things will change…..

Stay Tuned!

Afghanistan 2017

The forgotten war….that is what Afghanistan has become.  Americans hear very little about their longest war unless it is news that cannot be ignored.

What are the options that Afghanistan has when dealing with the Taleban?

There are not many options at all….below link has a couple to consider……

The Taliban has seen continuous conflict for over two decades now and despite its overthrow in 2001 by the United States and the 2013 death of its founder Mullah Omar, remains a potent force within Afghanistan.  The Taliban is currently estimated to hold more territory than at any time since 2001.

Option #1:  Enter negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan (GOA).  Although announcing their intentions not to participate in peace talks, the Taliban, or factions within it, have previously indicated a willingness to engage in negotiations to achieve political goals.  This is evidenced by their opening of a political office in Doha, Qatar and engagement in talks in 2014 among other events.

read on…….

Source: Options for a Future Strategy for the Afghan Taliban | RealClearDefense

Everywhere think tanks are trying to make sense of Afghanistan and most offer papers on what the US needs to do to be successful in the country (if that is truly possible)…….

Source: Rightsizing expectations: U.S. policy options for Afghanistan

Just ducky….but there is another option that the US could take……

The generals asked President Trump for a surge of 5,000 troops for Afghanistan, America’s 16-year-long lost war. But the buck doesn’t stop at the Trump White House. Trump told the generals, “You decide.” The White House gave the go-ahead for another surge.

“Only” 5,000 troops, supposedly to help the peace process. Kill and bomb more people to encourage people to negotiate for peace. Do you believe it?

We Americans are persistent. But when it comes to wars, we exhibit perseveration, defined as “the inappropriate persistence or repetition of a thought or action.”

Source: Buzz Davis: Admit defeat in Afghanistan and engage the United Nations | Column | host.madison.com

Me?  I would pull a GW and declare “Mission Accomplished” and bring the troops home.

I would agree with the use of the UN if only there were not a group of five that control everything it does.  If it were truly a body of “united nations” then maybe a real compromise or solution could be found….but we know that is not going to happen so….bring the guys and gals home and turn our backs to the landscape of Afghanistan.

One Living–Another Dead

Awhile back there were several reports that the leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, had been killed….and the peasants dance…..now someone has rained on that parade….

A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on Monday he was 99 percent sure that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed.

“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview.

Source: Exclusive: Islamic State leader Baghdadi almost certainly alive – Kurdish security official

I question since this came from the Kurds is it just a story to keep the money and arms flowing before the “independence” referendum in September?

This would not be the first time a terrorist leader was declared dead and not being so…..

Then far miles away in Afghanistan….

The head of ISIL in Afghanistan, Abu Sayed, was killed in an attack on his headquarters in Kunar province earlier this week, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement on Friday that other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) were killed in the raid on Tuesday.

“US forces killed Abu Sayed, the emir of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) – in a strike on the group’s headquarters in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, July 11,” White said in the statement, referring to ISIL’s other acronym.

Source: ISIL leader in Afghanistan ‘killed in US raid’ | ISIS News | Al Jazeera

Once again it is…..Another he said….they said…..

Many “leaders” over the years have been pronounced dead…only to re-appear healthier than ever…..