Monday, October 5, 2009


General Stanley McChrystal, the head of NATO forces in the Afghan theater, has thrown down the gauntlet, and President Obama is rather peeved. In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a British international security think tank, McChrystal once again made the case for a surge of upwards of 40,000 troops. He also went on Sunday's 60 Minutes to promote his plan.

Critics are attacking McChrystal for circumventing the usual political channels and going to the public to force his will on the administration.

I wonder, could his more strident pleas for reinforcements and his tactic of turning to the public for help against a beta-male administration be more about saving our troops and winning a war than 'forcing his will'?

The men and women under his command are much more than just boots on the ground for General McChrystal. A good general is like a good father, looking out for the welfare of his children, working to keep them safe but still allowing them to take the risks that often bring success. They are his troops, and it is his job to use them wisely, keep deaths and injuries to an absolute minimum and make as much progress towards victory as possible, not just for prestige, but because those men and women are under his care. They are his responsibility, and people are dying.

I'd say that's reason enough to make waves, wouldn't you?

He wrote a report after a few months in the field, assessing the situation and making recommendations on how to proceed. What he saw did not make him happy, and he was blunt in his assessment to the President. That report then sat on Obama's desk for a month as he flitted around the country, pushing for health care reform. Contact between the president and general have been minimal - never a good idea during a hot war.

Hey, Mr. President, if you really want to save some lives, how about doing some of that 'multitasking' you are so big on and pay attention to the plight our troops are in.

Obama himself hired McChrystal, and one would assume he made sure to put someone in position who reflected his views. But as with many other aspects of this administration, that assumption of common sense seems to have been completely unfounded. But ignoring the issue is not the way to go, and I think that McChrystal was doing what he needed to do to protect his troops.

What other alternative did he have, faced with a Commander in Chief who is more interested in winning the Olympics for his hometown than winning a war for his country?

Let's face it, the past nine months have shown us that the only way to get Obama's chin out of the air and actually listen to others' opinions is to forcefully demand his attention, and that is what McChrystal did. When people are dying, you do what has to be done to get the mission accomplished.

There are those who say that Obama is favoring VP Joe Biden's plan to rely on Predator strikes, special forces missions and training the Afghans. Those are good ideas, but it's just not enough. And, quite frankly, I have yet to understand why Biden is considered such a foreign policy wonk, but Obama's poor judgement of people has reached epic proportions, so I can't really say I'm surprised. Apparently our self-righteous 'representatives' in Washington believe that 36 years on the Foreign Relations Committee has far more weight than 30+ years in the field.

McChrystal is advocating a counter-insurgency plan, along the lines of the surge in Iraq. We need more boots on the ground because, just like Iraq, the politicians under staffed, under estimated and under funded. Which is why wars are usually lost when politicians wage them instead of generals. They are unwilling to spend the necessary amounts of blood and treasure, for fear of losing re-election. Generals just want to win the war, and good ones want to do it with as little loss of life as possible. And, as any good general knows, winning the hearts and minds of the people is vital to success - pushing forward relies heavily on being sure you will not be attacked from the rear. Building a strong relationship with local leaders' support and protection is essential - something a community organizer should know.

The problem here, as in Iraq, is foreign insurgents. It's one thing to estimate the number of locals willing to fight, but how do you estimate foreign fighters? All you can do is compensate as it happens.

Which is what McChrystal is doing.

So let him do it.

The surge won Iraq, whether the left wants to acknowledge it or not, and it can win Afghanistan, too.

But if Obama wants to 'cut and run', he needs to make the decision soon, before more American lives are lost.

1 comment:

  1. McChrystal isn't planning a surge. He's planning a slaughter - of American troops.

    The difference between the "surge" in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq is pretty profound - in Afghanistan, our troops aren't allowed to shoot back in urban confrontations. McChrystal's philosophy is that we can't risk even one civilian casualty, so if the Taliban decides to shoot at our guys from an apartment building they're supposed to just stand there and die.

    And calling this a surge is ridiculous on it's face. The people who literally wrote the book on counter-insurgency estimate it will take a minimum of 450,000 troops to win here - and that's without deploying an overwhelming force to any one area. 1.5 times more than the planned initial troop deployment for Iraq, 4.5 times more than the half-assed deployment Rumsfeld ultimately forced on the Army days before they arrived.

    What it seems McChrystal is doing, faced with running an unwinnable war, is trying to run the body count up to the point that Obama will force him to withdraw. It's a strategy that may ultimately save American lives when compared to a 20 year long war, but the whole thing is sickening.