Small Wars Journal

Afghanistan Situation is 'Serious and Deteriorating' (Updated)

US Military Chief: Afghanistan Situation is 'Serious and Deteriorating' - Voice of America.

The US military's top officer says he believes the situation in Afghanistan is "serious and deteriorating."

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said in an interview on US television CNN's State of the Union Sunday that the Taliban insurgency has "gotten better [and] more sophisticated" in its tactics over the past couple of years.

In a separate interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Mullen said the US military is focused on preventing another terrorist attack on US soil and that its current strategy in Afghanistan is intended to disrupt and defeat al-Qaida, the Taliban and its extremist allies.

The Obama administration is expecting an assessment from its commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, in the next two weeks on the current situation there.

Republican Senator John McCain said in an interview on ABC's This Week Sunday that McChrystal's assessment should say exactly how many troops are needed in Afghanistan.

But Mullen said the upcoming assessment will not detail what resources are needed in Afghanistan. He also would not speculate whether more troops are required there.

Both Mullen and McCain said they expect to have a better idea on what, if any, progress is being made in Afghanistan within the next year to year-and-a-half.


US Military Says Force in Afghanistan Insufficient - New York Times.

Mullen Issues Caution on Afghanistan - New York Times

Mullen: Afghan Fight 'Serious and Deteriorating' - Washington Post

Mullen: Afghanistan Is Deteriorating - Wall Street Journal

Mullen: Afghanistan 'Vulnerable' to Taliban - Washington Times.

Hard Choices on Afghanistan War Plans - Associated Press

More Troops Needed in Afghanistan, Allies Tell US Envoy - Los Angeles Times

More Troops? Why Mullen Won't Answer. - Christian Science Monitor

Mullen: Afghan Conflict Serious, 'Deteriorating' - Reuters

Mullen and Eikenberry on "Meet the Press" - Real Clear Politics

McCain Says US Needs More Troops in Afghanistan - Bloomberg

Concern About US Public Support for Afghan War - Voice of America



Mon, 08/24/2009 - 2:58pm

Some things I have trouble understanding:
1. What the hell is the Quetta shura? If the US knows that taliban HQ is operating in Quetta, what is stopping them from doing something about it? If they dont think the shura is in quetta, then why keep up this charade?
2. Many of my (leftwing) friends from Pakistan suspect that the US is actually trying to get the ISI to help them get out of Afghanistan without it being a PR disaster and is basically waiting for the ISI to make some sort of livable deal with the Taliban. And my Indian friends suspect that in return ISI gets to keep the kashmir jihad going. Is this conspiracy mongering or could it be true? If its not true, I suggest that the widespread existence of these theories is a sign that the US is not able to communicate effectively. If its true, then a lot of people are being killed for PR purposes, which seems immoral.
3. Whats the plan?
I think that the US is not winning in Afghanistan, not because the war is so "complex". Its because at one level its really simple. As Bin Laden said: people will bet on the stronger horse. In this case, far too many people are betting that the taliban will win. Unless there is a decisive change in that assessment, its a self-fulfilling prophecy. It may be that in war nobody will tell you their whole plan, but its also true that in this case not seeing a plan keeps a lot of fence-sitters on the fence. I look forward to being enlightened.

Anonymous (not verified)

Mon, 08/24/2009 - 2:11am

Is the situation really getting worse? What is this assessment based on? Attacks on U.S. and allied troops? These appear to be the anticipated push back against a new strategy that hasn't been given much time to take root. Since the populace is the prize you have to expect a tougher fight with our current populace focused strategy. A tougher fight doesn't mean we're winning or losing, but it probably means we're in the right location to actually confront the enemy.

I am critical of a strategy that doesn't honestly address the insurgent safehaven in Pakistan. Our kid gloves approach in dealing with Pakistan is getting tiresome. Yes the situation is extremely complex, but we our men and women to fight (and sacrifice) because we said this was critically important to our national security (and global security). Maybe we're not convinced is it is important, thus the continued diplomacy with a state sponsor of terrorism. Pakistan has sponsored more terrorism in recent years than Iran, and yet we allow them to maintain an insurgent safehaven in their country, so while our national leadership might feel a little frustrated, I imagine our guys and gals on the front must feel like they're fighting with one hand tied behind their back.

I do wonder what all the fear mongering seems to be about in recent weeks. For some reason we identified the Taliban as part of Al Qaeda, which may now be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but regardless I don't see an out pouring of international support for the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Of course funding from the Middle East continues to come in, and Pakistan probably remains a State sponsor of terrorism talking out of both sides of its mouth, but by and large the world rejects what the Taliban and Al Qaeda stand for, so who is holding the stop watch, where is the finish line and who do they think is going to cross it first? U.S. public opinion? World opinion? Afghan opinion?

We can win this if we're serious, but only if we're serious. The rules of engagement must change, and if diplomacy doesn't we have other tools in the toolbox. Take the gloves off or let's pack up.