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Crocker is a 37-year veteran of the Foreign Service and spent virtually his whole career in the Middle East and South Asia. He was U.S. Chief of Mission to six countries: Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. He is a Career Ambassador and was awarded the Medal of Freedom.
Does Crocker have the answer to Afghanistan? Well, no easy answer. In this essay for Newsweek, in which he recaps his career, Crocker says:
1) Don't expect what worked in Iraq to work in Afghanistan,
2) The Taliban and al Qaeda have strategic patience; the U.S. better get some, too.
3) The world, and the bad guys, won't allow the U.S. to walk away.
So no simple answer, even from Ryan Crocker. But his Newsweek essay is still worth reading.
And from the Conclusions:In fragile, failing, or failed states, it may take a generation for an indigenous force to reach a level of self-sustainment, in which case the U.S. must prepare to engage in a long-term cooperative security arrangement with the host nation.Nations that require security force assistance and security sector reform are likely also to require external funding for these tasks. Foreign contributions are necessary for success and can have a double benefit -- by contributing to the growth of state finances as well as security forces.Organizations with responsibilities like MNSTC-I have to be staffed with leaders experienced in operating large, institutional organizations and staffed with members able to link their tactical, day-to-day actions to strategic effects. The Army must train its officers and its general officers better to meet these management requirements.
Building Security Forces and Ministerial Capacity: Iraq as a Primer.
The Associated Press statement concerning this affair can be found here. A Small Wars Council discussion on this issue can be found here.
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More at Prospect.
Cracking on in Helmand - Stephen Grey, Prospect.... Even in chaos and dysfunction, the British army is good at preserving a belief in order and purpose. And when men die their officers steel them and move onwards with poetic speeches, just as Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thomson did on 10th July 2009, after a dreadful day near the town of Sangin in Helmand in which five of his men were killed. In his eulogy Thomson wrote about men saluting the fallen, and returning to the ramparts. "I sensed each rifleman tragically killed in action today standing behind us as we returned to our posts, and we all knew that each one of those riflemen would have wanted us to 'crack on'... And that is what we shall do."Crack on. From Basra to Sangin, I've heard that phrase as regularly as Amen in church. Cracking on: the army's greatest quality, and perhaps its greatest weakness. I remember standing vigil on Sergeant Johnson's body at dusk on a hilltop, after he had died in the battle for the town of Musa Qala in December 2007. His fellow soldiers were silhouettes, drawn close to their commander. On the horizon muffled bombs flashed through the drizzle. Major Jake Little told his men to put their grief to one side, to deal with it later. After the battle.Cracking on could also mean failing to challenge impossible orders, or unwillingness to expose a flawed strategy...
More at Prospect.
1. Afghanistan and civil-military relations,
2. Communication breakdown.
SFC Golden produced fourteen works of art as a member of the Soldier-Artist Team 25 in 1990 that documented ROTC training at Fort Lewis, Washington. He designed the May 1992 cover of Soldiers magazine featuring women in the Army during World War II, the 1991-1994 Army Aviation Association Commander's Conference posters, and the Armed Forces Day posters for 2001 and 2002. His works of art are featured in the Center of Military History books, Portrait of an Army and Soldiers Serving the Nation. The Army Historical Foundation also featured his work in the book The Army, published in 2001. SFC Golden has been the subject of articles and interviews for ArtForum and Der Spiegel magazines, German public television and public radio, and the Hartford Courant newspaper.
He won first place in 2000 in the fine art category of the first Military Graphic Artist of the Year (MILGRAPH) competition, and again in 2002.
SFC. Golden studied fine art at the School of Visual Arts in New York and the University of Arizona. He entered active military duty in October 1984. His assignments include the 13th Support Command, Fort Hood Texas; 2d Infantry Division, Camp Casey, South Korea; Training Support Activity, Eighth Army, East Korea, Yongsan, South Korea; and the 10th Aviation Brigade, Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Tracking Bin Laden won First Place - DINFOS MILGRAPH 2002, Military Graphic Competition, Fine Art category.
Continue on for several examples of SFC Golden's work...
More at The New York Times.
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Much more at Kings of War.
Major Josh Wineera, New Zealand Army, has served in Iraq, East Timor, Bougainville, and Bosnia. He is a guest lecturer at the New Zealand Defence College and Massey University, and is a part-time Master's student at the Centre for Defence Studies, Massey University.
Those interested in attending may view the meeting on-line at this link and participate via Adobe Connect as a guest. Remote attendees will be able to ask questions and view the slides through the software.
More at The Los Angeles Times.
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What's Right With Afghanistan - Michael O'Hanlon and Bruce Riedel, Wall Street Journal opinion.The national mood on the Afghanistan war has soured fast, and it's not hard to see why. American combat deaths have exceeded 100 for the summer, the recent Afghan election was tainted by accusations of intimidation and fraud, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen says the security environment there is "deteriorating." Meanwhile, congressional leaders worry about the war's impact on the health-care debate and the Obama presidency more generally. Antiwar groups are starting to talk about "another Vietnam." Opposition is mounting to the current policy - to say nothing of possible requests for additional troops from the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.The questions and concerns being raised are legitimate. Clearly, the mission has not been going well. Problems with our basic strategy, especially on the economic and development side, still need immediate attention. Moreover, our Afghan friends have a crucial role to play in both security and development, and if they fail to do so the overall warfighting and state-building effort will not succeed.However, it is important to remember our assets, and not just our liabilities, in the coming debate over Afghanistan policy this fall. Democracies sometimes talk themselves out of keeping up the faith in tough situations, and we should avoid any such tendency towards defeatism, especially so early in the execution of the Obama administration's new military/civilian/economic strategy, which combines stronger and more widespread counterinsurgency measures with increased nation-building efforts. Indeed, the US, our NATO allies, and the future Afghan government - be it another Hamid Karzai presidency, or a new administration - have a number of major strengths in this mission...
More at The Wall Street Journal.
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Visit Information as Power.
Theme: In the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, U.S. policymakers will look for new approaches to implement U.S. national security strategy. Security force assistance will attract a lot of attention and is likely to be a "growth business." But security force assistance is no panacea. Top U.S. policymakers will have to give their attention to some significant reforms if security forces assistance is to achieve its promise and avoid some of its perils.
Read the whole essay here.
See Cartoons by Cartoon by John Cole - Courtesy of Politicalcartoons.com - Email this Cartoon
A Catalogue of Errors that Shames the UK - David Cameron, The Times opinion.Twelve days ago, Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi was released by the Scottish government. His freedom came two decades after a bomb, which was smuggled on to Pan Am Flight 103, exploded over Lockerbie, killing 11 people on the ground and 259 people on the plane. The only man convicted of the crime, al-Megrahi spent just eight years in prison - less than a fortnight for each victim - and was welcomed back to Tripoli as a returning hero.Decisions concerning the fate of criminals, not least those responsible for mass murder, often provoke widespread public anger. But the outrage at this one has crossed continents and damaged our relationship with our closest ally, America. It has been a fiasco.At its heart lies a series of failure of judgment. The first failure was the decision by Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, to release al-Megrahi on "compassionate grounds". Due process found al-Megrahi guilty, a verdict upheld on appeal. The Libyan Government accepted responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the Lockerbie families. Any doubts about the safety of al-Megrahi's conviction should have been tested by the second appeal, which he instead withdrew. That is why I said that compassionate release was completely inappropriate. We are dealing here with someone convicted of one of the biggest mass murders in British history. Al-Megrahi's victims were not allowed the luxury of "dying at home". What on earth was Mr MacAskill thinking of when he made this utterly bizarre decision?The second misjudgment was Gordon Brown's failure to speak up clearly and promptly. On a matter fraught with such emotion, and with the potential to damage Britain's reputation abroad, a decisive lead from the Prime Minister was required. Mr Brown should have condemned the decision to release al-Megrahi. At the very least, he should have expressed an opinion. But all we got, day after day, was a wall of silence, finally broken after a long week when Mr Brown declared that he was "angry" and "repulsed" at scenes in Tripoli. We all were...
Much more at The Times. David Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom. He has occupied both positions since December 2005.
Is the War in Afghanistan Worth Fighting? - Washington Post opinions.On Monday the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan called for a new strategy to fight the Taliban. The Post asked experts whether the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting. Below are contributions from John Nagl, Andrew J. Bacevich, Erin M. Simpson, Thomas H. Johnson and Danielle Pletka.
Afghanistan Commander's Report Submitted, But Secret - Al Pessin, Voice of America. The US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has delivered his eagerly-awaited assessment to his bosses in Washington and Brussels, but the document is being kept secret. Pentagon officials say it will be followed by international consultations and possibly requests for more US and international forces. According to a NATO release, General McChrystal writes that "the situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable." The general is quoted as saying success will require "a revised implementation strategy," as well as commitment, resolve, and increased unity of effort. But that is all that has been made public. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he has not yet seen the assessment, but told reporters what he expects it to contain. "I think that his assessment, without having read it, I suspect is going to point to the challenges that remain before us in Afghanistan. I think it will also point to areas where we can do better and can make improvements in our strategy and tactics," he said. Some civilian advisers invited to Afghanistan to help General McChrystal prepare his assessment have said he needs more troops to put down a resurgent Taliban and establish security at least in Afghan population centers. Some analyses of the current situation have been fairly dire, including one by the top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, who has said security in Afghanistan is "serious and deteriorating." But Secretary Gates says he expects a balanced assessment from General McChrystal.
Gen. McChrystal Calls for New Strategy in Afghan War - Yochi J. Dreazen and Peter Spiegel, Wall Street Journal. The US and its allies need to change course in Afghanistan to salvage the faltering war effort and prevent the Taliban from extending their recent gains, the top American commander in Afghanistan warned in a highly anticipated strategic assessment. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said that conditions on the ground were "serious," but expressed confidence that the war could still be won if the US and NATO better coordinated their efforts and focused more heavily on protecting the Afghan populace from Taliban attack. The report, which wasn't released publicly, concluded that the Taliban had survived a series of recent US military strikes and were pushing deeper into once-stable parts of northern and western Afghanistan, according to three officials familiar with its contents. The report argued that the US and its allies needed to devote more troops to vulnerable Afghan population centers in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar Province and eastern Afghanistan's Khost Province, the officials said. It also emphasized the importance of limiting corruption in Kabul and building stronger local and provincial governments across the country, the officials said. The report didn't call for any additional US forces. Gen. McChrystal will instead detail any request for more troops in a second document next month, according to US officials familiar with the matter. The commander is considering asking for up to eight additional brigades, or roughly 40,000 troops, but the officials said no decisions had yet been made.
US General Calls for New Strategy Against Taliban - William Branigin, Washington Post. The commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan called Monday for a revised strategy and increased unity in efforts to defeat radical Islamist insurgents in the country, saying that the situation is "serious" but that success can still be achieved. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal delivered the assessment as he sent a long-awaited strategic review to the Pentagon by way of the US Central Command. The review was also being sent to NATO headquarters. McChrystal stopped short of requesting more troops for Afghanistan in the review, but news agencies quoted NATO officials as saying he was expected to do so in a separate recommendation. The strategic review comes as Afghanistan's radical Taliban movement inflicts increasing casualties on US and NATO forces in an insurgency against the government of President Hamid Karzai, who is locked in a slow-moving reelection battle against former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.
Groundwork Is Laid for New Troops in Afghanistan - Dexter Filkens, New York Times. The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, said Monday that conditions on the ground were "serious" but that the war here is still winnable, part of a long-awaited assessment of the American-led war. Officials in Washington say that while the general's classified report did not request additional American troops, it effectively lays the groundwork for such a request in coming weeks. The change in strategy envisioned by General McChrystal would invest the United States more extensively in Afghanistan than it has been since toppling the Taliban government in 2001, Washington officials said. For President Obama, who already ordered another 21,000 troops to Afghanistan this year, the prospect of an even more extensive commitment of American troops would test his political commitment to the war at a time when he is already trying to tamp down discontent in his liberal base. In recent weeks, senior American officers here have said that they do not have enough troops to succeed. The American commanders and officials in Kabul were ordered to neither reveal the details of the assessment nor talk about them.
Gen. McChrystal Calls for Overhaul of Afghanistan War Strategy - Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times. The top commander in Afghanistan has submitted his initial assessment of the war in Afghanistan, calling today for a full overhaul of the military's war strategy, NATO officials said today. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the newly appointed head of US and NATO forces, wants to intensify development of Afghan security forces, improve the country's government and refocus economic development initiatives, according to a description of the assessment released by NATO officials. The assessment is meant to be a more "philosophical" look at the current situation and does not contain any explicit requests for more troops or other resources. "The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort," McChrystal said in the assessment, according to NATO officials. The assessment reflects McChrystal's belief that the military needs to follow an overhauled counter-insurgency strategy that focuses on making Afghan citizens feel safer, military officials said. The report was forwarded today to NATO and to Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of US Central Command, which controls forces in the Mideast.
US Commander General Stanley McChrystal: Afghanistan Strategy is Failing - Matt Spence and Deborah Haynes, The Times. The campaign in Afghanistan is failing and the strategies in place must be revised, the commander of US and NATO forces said today. General Stanley McChrystal described the situation in the country as "serious", but said success could be achieved there with a new approach. Gen McChrystal today delivered the results of his 60-day strategic assessment to US and NATO commanders in a long-awaited review of strategy ordered by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates. He said: "The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort." Gen McChrystal has been working on the review since President Obama put him in charge of the war on June 15. His review, sent to the US military's Central Command (CentCom), responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to NATO headquarters in Brussels, is not expected to make firm recommendations about future troop levels. That recommendation is due out in another report later in the year. However, military officials say it will form the basis for a decision about force size which could be taken within weeks.
Obama Aides See Need for More Troops in Afghanistan - Adam Entous and Arshad Mohammed, Reuters. Many of President Barack Obama's top advisers on Afghanistan agree with military commanders that more troops are needed to reverse Taliban gains in the country's east and south, US officials said on Monday. But there is wariness within the White House to another large-scale increase at a time when public support for the eight-year-old war against a resurgent Taliban is eroding, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Military commanders and administration and congressional leaders have held preliminary discussions about future troop options, including sending a second 5,000-member Marine Regimental Combat Team to southern Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold, participants said. This would boost the number of Marines in the country to 15,000-18,000 from just over 10,000. The debate is expected to intensify after Monday's long-awaited assessment of the war by US Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal called for the United States and its allies to change strategy, laying the ground for a likely request for more troops later, officials said. McChrystal has about 103,000 troops under his command, including 63,000 Americans, half of whom arrived this year as part of an escalation strategy started by former President George W. Bush and ramped up under Obama. The force is set to rise to 110,000, including 68,000 Americans, by year's end, stretching the US military to its limits, military officials said.
Marine Commander Sees Progress in Afghanistan - Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times. The general in charge of US Marines in Afghanistan said Monday that progress is being made in wresting a key southern province from Taliban control but cautioned that process will be slow and difficult to measure. Marine Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland also said the Marine Corps was ready to send more troops to Afghanistan if asked by top US officials. "Everything we're doing is preparing to put more forces in theater," Helland said. The Marines' goal is to train the Afghan security forces to carry the fight to the Taliban. The training is going slowly, Helland said. "They don't understand leadership, they don't understand noncommissioned officers," he said. "To use a Marine term, they're a herd. But once trained, they're warriors." Helland is set to retire Friday after 41 years of military service, beginning as an Army enlisted man with the Special Forces in Vietnam. For the last two years he has been the commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Force Central Command, with authority over Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Marines have 12,000 troops in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, where Taliban fighters are entrenched and opium poppy fields provide an illegal cash crop that funds the insurgency against the US-backed central government in Kabul, the capital.
New Strategy, Not Troops, Needed for Afghanistan - Joshua Foust, Registan. General Stanley McChrystal has finally come out and said what the rest of us have known for years: there needs to be some fundamentally new thinking in Afghanistan. While the various news stories talk about McChrystal's desire for a new strategy, all they seem to focus on is the (informed) assumption that he will request new troops in a separate, perhaps followup assessment. It seems, then, that Gen. McChrystal is taking his cues from Anthony Cordesman, who is out in the Washington Post saying that what we really need is more troops. Like many commentators on McChrystal's review team, Cordesman comes from a deep background in military studies but knows comparatively little about the vital civil side of the equation - therefore, all the problems he sees are problems of security and not necessarily other things. What is needed, however, is not necessarily more troops. As I wrote back in January, adding more troops to the mix would only make sense if they were going to serve a new strategy, one fundamentally different from the current, failing, strategy in the country. The biggest sin Gen. McChrystal has committed so far, at least in my view, is that there is actually very little "new" about his command so far, fawning media coverage notwithstanding. So if the reports of General McChrystal's report are right, then he is making the right decision to craft a new strategy for the country. The trouble is, to really know how to move forward, simply having an intimate understanding of the Army and military operations will only get you so far. You also have to have an intimate understanding of Afghanistan as well, and that kind of understanding simply wasn't on the McChrystal review team (nor is it on the many think tank panels that purport to discuss Afghanistan but just rehash vague generalities)
More at The Washington Post.
Also see The Afghan War: A Survey of "Metrics" by Anthony H. Cordesman and Nicholas B. Greenough at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.The Afghan-Pakistan conflict is a complex conflict that covers two countries and has ideological, political, governance, economic, military, and security dimensions that are extremely difficult to measure and portray in summary form. NATO/ISAF, the United Nations, the US Department of Defense, and various polls and nongovernmental organizations have, however, gradually developed summary metrics and maps of the conflict. Whilke these data have serious gaps, and often attempt to "spin" the war in political directions, they stil provide a useful overview of developments in the conflict and are beginning to go beyond the military dimension to the political and economic dimensions and to show how Afghans and Pakistanis perceive the conflict...
Full Reports and Subreports at CSIS.
Meanwhile, Michael Sullivan of National Public Radio reports that in Vietnam, Calley's My Lai apology barely registers.Ten days ago, the only man convicted for the My Lai massacre publicly expressed remorse for what happened there in March 1968. The publicity-shy William Calley told a Kiwanis club lunch there was "not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened. I am very sorry." After his apology, Voice of America expressed interest in having Calley apologize on the air in Vietnam, but few seem interested in hearing it.