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American troops in Afghanistan: US won’t go into North Waziristan

An Afghan man rides his bicycle as he carries his children in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

The second ranking US general in Afghanistan stated on February 1, 2010 that the Taliban could be beaten “without Pakistan’s army moving against militants in North Waziristan.”  In other words, the US isn’t going to force Pakistan to go after insurgents in this safe-haven, nor are we going in there ourselves.  According to Lolita C. Baldor’s article in the Associated Press, posted February 1, 2010:

The Afghanistan war can be won without Pakistan’s army moving against militants in North Waziristan, the No. 2 American general for the war effort said Tuesday, publicly signaling that the U.S. is resigned to the idea that Islamabad won’t take on that terrorist safe haven.

This is the same situation the US had in Vietnam, where for years we knew the North Vietnamese were moving troops and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and Cambodia.  We bombed the trail sporadically, but never destroyed it, allowing the North to continue using it.  This could have ended the war altogether, but US pubic opinion kept our weak leadership from taking decisive action against the North Vietnamese and the trail.  Why bother to fight a war and lose American lives when we won’t prosecute the conflict with everything we have?  Sounds familiar to Iraq and Afghanistan today.  Déjà vu all over again!

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez’ stopped short of calling for more U.S. strikes in the border region, which has been under assault from a well-known but unacknowledged U.S. bombing campaign carried out largely by CIA drones.  But he agreed that there would have to be “some plan to decrease the impact of the safe haven,” including greater efforts by the U.S. and Afghans on the Afghanistan side of the border.

The U.S. has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to mount an offensive in North Waziristan, a region that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called the “epicenter of terrorism” where militants gather to plan attacks that they then carry out across the border in Afghanistan.

“Some plan.”  What does that mean?  Why don’t we go into Waziristan and wipe the insurgents out?  What’s wrong with our national and senior military leadership?  We are losing American troops in Afghanistan as a direct result of this province in Pakistan, but we won’t do anything about it other than CIA drone attacks.  These are fine as far as they go, but they can’t complete the job.  That takes Infantry soldiers on the ground.

Afghanistan war timeline

Because our national leadership is weak, the cost of the Afghanistan war will be higher than it should be.  Because we’re using General David Petraeus’ “counter-insurgency” manual to fight this war (i.e., winning the hearts and minds of the people in Afghanistan instead of wiping out the Taliban), we’re also not winning this war and wrapping it up.  Obama’s Afghan war timeline, which is supposed to end in the summer, is looking very suspect now.

Pakistan’s leaders have repeatedly insisted that their military is stretched thin by its operations against militants in other border regions as well as ongoing flood relief efforts and a long-standing presence along the border with India.

Sorry, but I don’t buy that.  Pakistan is known to be soft on the insurgents, and strong on US money flowing into its treasury (and some peoples’ pockets).  We’re being played for suckers by Pakistan, which is probably in bed with the insurgents.  The only way to win this is to do it ourselves.  Depending on Pakistan to clean up Waziristan is like Tommy Franks depending on Afghan warlords to capture Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, also in Afghanistan.  Let’s face it, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is like a sieve.  It’s almost as open as the border between the US and Mexico.

Rodriguez mapped out some of the progress the U.S. and its Afghan partners have made securing portions of the critical southern region in recent months — bolstered by the surge of about 30,000 more American forces. And he said as Afghan forces get stronger in some areas, U.S. troops there could be shifted to other parts of the country or into training jobs that military leaders are trying desperately to fill.

Asked what U.S. troops are likely to come out of Afghanistan first this July, he said it’s likely that troops who serve in jobs such as intelligence, logistics, medical evacuation and higher level command and control units would remain in country longer that some combat troops because it is more difficult for the Afghans to duplicate those tasks.

Why is America in Afghanistan

I liken the situation in Afghanistan like the game of whack-a-mole at the beach.  Everywhere American troops in Afghanistan are located, the insurgents leave and start killing someplace else.  Then we move there and they leave again.  Just like the Viet Cong did in Vietnam. 

Our military leadership doesn’t seem to learn lessons very well, even though they study the history of past conflicts all the time.  One has to wonder what goes on at the war colleges our senior officers attend if we get these lackluster results from them when put to the test.  But in the end, it’s the civilians who run the show anyway (i.e., Rumsfeld), so 3- and 4-star generals don’t really have any power at all.  They simply implement what some political appointee tells them to do.  A political appointee who likely has no idea what they’re doing.  Like Barack Hussein Obama.

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