Tuesday, October 06, 2009

...In Which I Rise to the Defense of General McChrystal 
So General McChrystal is getting excoriated by the leftards in the media, by Gen. James Jones, Obama's National Security Advisor, and now by Generalissima Pelosi herself for providing a forthright answer to a question directly in his purview by a member of the media.

The treatment he is getting is outrageous.


1.) The question was whether the General would support Biden's suggestion to dramatically lower troop strength in Afghanistan, and try to fight it with special operations forces and Predator strikes. The general said he would not.

There are strong doctrinal resources for this: COIN doctrine, however imperfect the fit with the Afghanistan battlefield, holds that the "key terrain" in the counterinsurgent fight is the population itself. The fight is not for control of real estate, but for the loyalty of the people.

That takes boots on the ground.

The second doctrinal reason to reject the Biden plan is that COIN, by its nature, is intelligence driven. The best source of battlefield intelligence is a strong relationship between our soldiers and marines on the ground and the local population. If we enact the Biden plan, the result will be a rapid retreat from the battlefield, leaving the population, including many who risked everything to support us, to the tender mercies of Taliban reprisals. If we retreat even a little from our commitment to village and tribal elders who have stuck their necks out to support us, word will spread like wildfire and the village and tribal elders will cut their own deals in order to survive.

In my view, we may already be seeing this happening: In a vicious firefight last week, in which an American outpost was in danger of being overrun, the Taliban was able to stockpile hundreds of weapons in a nearby village mosque. Large numbers of villagers must have known. And yet no one alerted coalition forces.

The logistics for massing materiel already underway, the Taliban managed to quietly gather in battalion strength to launch two deliberate attacks against American and Afghan outposts... and again, no one alerted Coalition forces.

This is symptomatic of a huge tactical intelligence failure on the ground. American forces were not, apparently, present in enough strength to defend the position and patrol aggressively simultaneously - with disastrous but not unsurprising results: A poor relationship with the people of the neighboring village and the ceding of the tactical initiative.

General McChrystal is seeing the same compromise being made all over the country: Troop strength being spread too thin. And Biden, without acknowledging the strategic and operational tradeoffs that MUST come with a reduction in troop strength, and without adjusting the General's mission in Afghanistan, wants to spread those troops even further.

So General McChrystal sticks up for his mission - and what's more, advocates precisely what President Obama himself is already on record as advocating: a substantial increase in troop strength in Afghanistan.

"I said a year and a half ago that we needed more troops in Afghanistan -- at least two brigades," Obama said. "John McCain, at the time, didn't think that was necessary, and now there's a convergence around the notion that we need at least two and maybe three brigades in Afghanistan."

McChrystal, then, was simply articulating a view already publicly endorsed by the Commander in Chief. As far as we know, the President has said nothing since that piece was published that would contradict that view. He has long held that Afghanistan is the central front on the War on Terror Group Hug Against Scary Things, and has repeatedly called for more troops in Afghanistan to prosecute that war. McChrystal was well within his guidelines, and when the President has been as vague and noncommital in policy statements as he has - despite a direct request from McChrystal for more troops, what else does McChrystal have to go on besides Obama's own public pronouncements?

Further, given the President's repeated calls for an increase of two to three brigades in Afghanistan, it wasn't McChrystal speaking out of school, it was Biden. I would argue that the Biden plan is the outlier, not McChrystal's statement that he would not support it.

What's more, there is no way that McChrystal can possibly be seen to be bucking the chain of command... because A.) Obama, the commander in chief, is already on record as calling for MORE boots on the ground, not fewer, and B.) Biden is NOT NOT NOT in the chain of command in any sense whatsoever.

I'm very cognizant that subordinates at all levels should take care not to pain their leadership into a corner. But that obligation goes both ways - leaders owe subordinates clear guidelines and directions. And that goes ESPECIALLY when the battlefield situation is vague.

I've noticed for several months now that Afghanistan policy was coming apart at the seams. Not from any one thing, but from having read a variety of news reports and hearing things through the military grapevine, the infantry mafia, the blogger boys club, and the intel syndicate. I haven't had time to blog them lately, and I regret that now. But this was a long time in the making.

McChrystal used the chain of command. He submitted his request to his boss,, General Petraeus at CENTCOM. And that, apparently, is where it languishes, because the President and his National Security decision-making apparatus has not yet produced a product useable for the commanders in the field.

McChrystal used the Chain of Command... the Chain of command, unfortunately, is not functioning.

McChrystal is entitled to know what he is expected to accomplish. He needs to know in order to issue orders down the chain. Every soldier and marine and corpsman and airman on the ground is entitled to know what he or she and their units are expected to accomplish.

Everyone involved in the effort is entitled to a decision from the President.

It's not like he didn't know the Afghan war was waiting for him when he got to the Oval Office.

Splash, out


And Pelosi's an ignorant twit.

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Jason, too many words.

BLUF: Biden is an idiot; returning to a faceless bombing campaign would be exactly the wrong thing to do; we need more troops to buy time while we train Afghan troops; all of this may be pointless if we can't get Karzai's buddies (and relatives) to tone down their corruption.

Damn, at least he is not adding troops
"Everyone involved in the effort is entitled to a decision from the President."

Therein lies the problem. This guy can't/won't make decisions, especially ones that will have consequences that will adhere directly to him. You know this, I know this, and more and more people are coming to know this every day.
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