Afghanistan: Special comment: This week Coalition forces commander General Allen said that only ten of Afghanistan’s now 405 districts, in 34 provinces, are responsible for half of the violence in Afghanistan.
They are Sangin, Nowzad, Musa Qala, Kajaki, Nad e Ali, Nahr e Sarraj in Sangin Province plus Pol-e-Alam in Lowgar Province and Maiwand, Panjwai and Zherai in Kandahar Province.
Allen’s list is not a metric of progress. For several years NightWatch published highly detailed evaluations of the insurgency, district by district and below. Four years ago, the only district that would not have been included in a similar list of the worst districts in Afghanistan is Pol-el-Alam in Lowgar Province. Districts in Ghazni, Paktia and Paktika Provinces would have been included.
Allen’s list is an indictment of a failed policy and failed military strategy. Nothing has changed in four or more years. Nothing the US has done has reduced the volatility of the 12 or 13 Pashtun provinces in southern Afghanistan and the dozen or so districts that formed the heart of the insurgency.
UN surveys from 20 or more years ago reported that Pashtuns had deep and historic links to Pakistan and Iran. There were no jobs in Afghanistan so most Afghan men worked in adjacent countries. In the face of adversity, the men left to finda work and to return after conditions improved. This is information is easily accessible on the Internet.
It means people in border regions had long established “rat lines” leading outside Helmand, Kandahar, Lowgar and all the other border provinces. When US or UK forces moved in, the anti-government and anti-foreign Pashtuns moved on the rat lines to friends and family outside the areas of the US or UK surge. Now they have returned, after the western surge forces left. This is how Afghans have survived for centuries, whether the enemy was lack of rain or foreign invaders.
Afghanistan, as a land-locked country, is a component of a multi-national economic and social system, with southern and northern regions demarcated by the Hindu Kush. No war can be won in Afghanistan without winning it in Pakistan, in eastern Iran, and the southern reaches of the “Stans.” Alexander the Great apparently understood that better than all subsequent western generals who tried.
General Allen’s comments are testaments to military failure, in detail by district, after more than a decade of spent treasure, dead American young soldiers and dead Afghan allies and civilians. The obvious conclusion is the US political and armed forces leadership does not know how to fight a counter-insurgency to a successful conclusion, as both India and Sri Lanka have.
It might have been wise to consult India and Sri Lanka about how to defeat an insurgency in South Asia.
Phi Beta Iota: Program managers and field commanders lie to the service chiefs, service chiefs lie to the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Defense lies to the President. The losers are the men and women of the US Armed Forces, and the people of whatever country the US military has been sent to on the basis of even more lies. Violence does not scale and lies are unsustainabilty. Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN, Commander of USEUCOM and NATO, appears to be the first US military leader to “get” what the rest of us have been saying for some time: the world is unconquerable, ESPECIALLY on the basis of lies. The US Government generally — and the US Departments of State, Defense, and Justice specifically — will copntinue to be “hosed” for so long as lies are the common currency among “leader-clerks” and the truth is rejected as the foundation for decision. If the truth is rejected — if the truth has no place at the high tables of policy, acquisition, and operations — then the US Intelligence Community should be acknowledged for what it is, an $80 billion a year barrel of rancid pork.