Monday, August 10, 2009

What happened? I thought we were winning?

Commander’s Ouster Is Tied to Shift in Afghan War

I wonder how many people remember that headline in the New York times dated May 11, 2009.

Or the opening paragraph of the article..

WASHINGTON — The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, was forced out Monday in an abrupt shake-up intended to bring a more aggressive and innovative approach to a worsening seven-year war.

Tomorrow makes exactly 90 days since General McKiernan was relieved of duty and disgraced by his commander in chief. So, how is the all star replacement General McCrystal doing with his special warfare fighting skills and his innovative approach fairing?

Well let's see....

Taliban Now Winning
U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Warns of Rising Casualties

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency's spiritual home.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.

So what changed? I don't mean to be facetious, but toward the end of the Vietnam war? A frequently heard refrain of many Vietnam veterans was...."what happened? We were winning when I left."

So what happened General McCrystal? Afghanistan began to heat up immediately after Barack Obama took office. (The Taliban recognizing the weakness of this president IMO) And when General McKiernan tried to explain the situation to the new president? And when he asked for more ground troops to be sent? He was summarily relieved from duty and dismissed.

Yet after 90 days of command in the Afghanistan theater, General McCrystal seems to have accomplished very little, if not in all fairness of analysis having lost ground. Not only have things not improved or even remained static in Afghanistan as a result of the command change, but they have gotten worse. And now? The president's hand picked general to carrying the fight to the enemy in Afghanistan is calling for more troops, just as his predecessor did.

But worse than that, he has broken with decades of war college philosophy, training and instruction to all career military officers. General McCrystal has publicly admitted to the enemy that he is losing the war and to compound that mistake, he has turned to the president and publicly asked for more combat troops.

In essence and on all counts, General McCrystal's actions have completely negated the ruse used by the president to relieve General McKiernan of command in Afghanistan three months ago.

I don't blame General McCrystal, I am sure that he is a fine military officer and I am sure that he knows his job and what needs to be done in Afghanistan to win the war. Pity that the commander in chief doesn't.

So how much shelf life does General McCrystal have left as the commander in Afghanistan? I wonder. Is it possible that he too will soon be replaced with someone else? Someone more capable of losing the war in a reasonable and timely fashion?

I tend to think so. I believe that General McCrystal's days in command of American forces in Afghanistan are limited, as are his career in the Army. His boss doesn't like being made the fool by subordinates, so the general will be the next to be flung under the Obama bus..

Now, if Obama could just figure out a way to fire and replace Joe Biden.

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