A 'DECENT INTERVAL' SOLUTION IN AFGHANISTAN?
"In the course of one week, the burning of copies of the Koran by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan has set off a deadly chain of events that has not only inflamed tensions but possibly exposed a crippling weakness in the American strategy to wind down the war. The emerging U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is built around plans to replace large NATO combat formations with small teams of advisers who will live and work alongside their Afghan partners. But the killing of two high-ranking NATO officers by an Afghan security official — and the subsequent decision by the top NATO commander in the country to recall his personnel from top Afghan ministries — has spurred doubts about whether Afghan security forces can be relied upon to provide for the protection of their Western partners. The consequences of that erosion of confidence, former U.S. officials and analysts say, could be devastating.
“If the trust, ability and willingness to partner falls apart, you are looking at the endgame here,” said Mark Jacobson, who served until last summer as the NATO deputy senior civilian representative in Kabul.
The killing of the U.S. officers on Saturday occurred two days after a man wearing an Afghan army uniform fatally shot two American troops in eastern Afghanistan, the latest in a string of incidents in recent months in which local security forces have turned against NATO personnel. Some of the killings have been perpetrated by Afghan troops whose loyalties lay with the Taliban. But, in most cases, the attacks have been the result of tensions between U.S. forces and Afghans who felt as though they had suffered an insult to themselves or their faith....For now, though, much of the cooperation between U.S. advisers and their Afghan partners is on hold. And even though the decision to withdraw the advisers is probably temporary, it is not clear how U.S. troops will be able to reestablish trust with Afghan security forces".
Greg Jaffe, "Violence in wake of Koran incident fuels U.S. doubts about Afghan partners." The Washington Post. 26 February 2012, in www.washingtonpost.com.
"I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.
What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground. Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.
Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.
My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.
I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base. I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.
From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency".
Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, "Truth, lies and Afghanistan". Armed Forces Journal. February 2012, in www.armedforcesjournal.com.
"The Paris accords with all their ambiguities reflected the balance of forces in Vietnam in the wake of the climatic battles of 1972.
As with any peace settlement, it depended on the maintenance of that balance of forces. We had no illusions about Hanoi's
long range goal if subjugating all of Indochina. In the final phase of negotiations in November and December 1972, I repeatedly
warned Nixon to that effect. But I was also persuaded that our people would not sustaine prolongation of the war for a period
of time that would make a military difference....We were in short not just getting out under the cynical cover of a 'decent interval'
before a final collapse. We hoped for a decent settlement....A non-communist South Vietnam had been given the chance to
Henry Alfred Kissinger. Years of Upheaval. (1982),p. 11.
One does not have to be much of a pessimist to agree with aspects of Colonel Davis' comments. It is not difficult to imagine at this point in time, with it would appear great pressure being exercised on the American and Allied forces by their political overlords to withdraw forces at an increasingly quick pace to see that circa 2014-2015, that Afghanistan could indeed be facing a potential Kissingerian 'decent interval' scenario. Which while in many ways horrendous, particular morally, given the commitments made by many of these same governments to the people of Afghanistan in the early years of this war (circa 2001 and 2002), from a machtpolitik perspective, it matters little per se, if the government in Kabul is pro-American / pro-Western or anti-American / anti-Western. The only strategic rationale for American and Western involvement in this dreadful place is simply that it not be a base for terrorist outrages and attacks on other parts of the world. Or at the very least, no more so than say Yemen or Pakistan is currently. And while I do not gainsay the fact that a precipitous withdrawal of Western forces may have a very negative impact on Pakistan, one is at this point in time, scarcely able to imagine (albeit one can indeed imagine quite well), how possibly the situation in Pakistan can get worse. What I for one fear, is that once there is a rush to the exit doors by the Western powers from Afghanistan, then the entire rickety, Kabul-centered, Afghanistan state apparatus will collapse quite quickly `a la South Vietnam circa 1975. What one hopes will be done, is that some semblance of a Western presence: a combination of air bases and special forces, numbering say at least five to ten thousand, will remain 'in-country' and not be evacuated. Unless there remains some sort of American-Western presence on the ground, it is difficult to imagine that a thousand or so advisers will be able to stop the rot from spreading. Unfortunately, I am afraid that incidents such as this idiotic Koran burning (what sort of people kill because of the burning of some wretched book? Indeed this wretched book!), will only quicken a pre-existing Western strategy of 'Scuttle' in all but name.