Small Wars Journal

Top Military Commander in Afghanistan is Being Transferred

Top Military Commander in Afghanistan is Being Transferred by David Cloud, Detroit Free Press.

The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan is being transferred and another Marine general will take over the war effort early next year as the U.S. and its allies shrink their combat role against the still-potent insurgency. The White House plans to nominate Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, to replace Marine Gen. John Allen, who has directed U.S. and other foreign forces in Afghanistan since mid-2011, officials said. Although Allen is not being forced out, "the president wants somebody who can take a fresh look at the effort in Afghanistan and isn't an architect of the current strategy,"…


This makes what-the 11th, 12th, 13th top American commander (sort of since he may not actually command all the Americans) in Afghanistan in 11 years? I don't know, I've lost count. And this guy has no experience at all in the country. Rajiv Chandrasekaran concluded at the end of Little America that the US Gov is incompetent. He's right.


Tue, 10/02/2012 - 3:41pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Ah! Forgot to respond to your last question: I am not sure CAPS/CORDS/VSO/etc... are 'the way to go'.

I think the question might be better understood if we ask: shall we embed with the local populace or remain behind Hescoe barriers in COPs and FOBs?

It might be an interesting thought excersize to 'walk that dog' from start to finish.



Tue, 10/02/2012 - 3:37pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Right; I don't explain myself well enough most of the time.

HPC/CAPS/CORDS were different programs (and I'm not a scholar so forgive my lumping them together) and from what I've read (Krepenevich "The Army and Vietnam") it seems like (again, subjective here) they would have had a better chance at success had the plug not been pulled due to the opinion of some that the Marines were 'going native' living with the villagers.

If you have been on a COP or FOB you will understand that no, we are NOT living 'with' the Afghans. Perhaps some teams are living with them doing VSO but let me go on record here and predict that green on blue incidents will end that part (co-habitation) of VSO.

Again, not a Vietnam guy; watched in on TV in my diapers. But..........your vignette about Colby not getting data and the Phoenix guys fluffing up numbers fits in with my Vietnam narrative (as designed by Caputo, et. al).

BLUF (or, BLOB): U.S. voters/GOs/politicians don't have the stomach for real VSO, Hamlet Pacification, whatever you call it. Until we decide to go low-intensity, accept a certain level of attrition as a cost of doing business, so as to out-last the asymetric threat, we will always lost. Or, in Army-speak, win smaller. As an aside, Antony Everett (sp?) has a new book on the rise of Rome.…

Again, all these are my own opinions. I've been accused of being a dick. I will treat that as a compliment dum spiro spero if it saves the life of even one U.S. soldier. And yes, even the occasional contractor on the beach :-)

becasued what our lurking friend Move Forward might not know is I still respect her even though she forgot to mention that I was a contractor, too.


Bill C.

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 10:08am

In reply to by Bill M.

I am coming to believe that "knowing oneself" -- as per my comment at Oct 2, 6:10pm below -- is most important.

In this regard, Vietnam and Afghanistan same-same?

Bill C.

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 10:42am

In reply to by Bill M.

Sorry, duplicate entry.

Bill M.

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 1:46am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)


All fair comments, I'm SF and have never understood the excessive excitement about our village pacification program either since it failed. Critical to point the program failed, while the SF ODAs and Marines conducting it were relatively successful in several if not most cases. Sun Tzu is overly quoted in my view, but his comment on knowing your enemy and knowing yourself is a lesson we have still failed to take to heart. If our "system" doesn't support the plan then the plan isn't feasible, even if it could be successful.

That surfaces a question, do we fail because repeatedly shoot ourselves in the foot, or because the enemy is out maneuvering and out strategizing us? I suspect the former is more common than the latter.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 10:56am

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

<blockquote>In September 1961, Congress enacted the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), still the governing charter for U.S. foreign aid. Like the MSA earlier, the FAA attempted to systematize all existing foreign aid programs and included a Development Loan Fund, which would assist with large projects, as well as a Development Grant Fund for technical development. In addition, the FAA provided a "supporting assistance" program (later called the Economic Support Fund) to promote economic and political stability and launched a program to protect American business abroad, the antecedent of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.</blockquote>


<blockquote>Actually, foreign aid went right into war alongside the soldiers in Vietnam, as part and parcel of the large U.S. pacification program in the southern half of that country. Vietnam drew the fervent involvement of USAID, which, as Nicholas Eberstadt has pointed out, made that country the donor for nearly half of its development grants by 1966. Much of this went to fund the ill-fated strategic hamlet program and other disastrous measures, which, while feeding the dislocated South Vietnamese, gutted their economic foundations and thus worked exactly against the traditional objectives of foreign aid. But at the same time, the United States also showed its sensitivity to indigenous economic conditions by hosting the Tidewater conference in Easton, Maryland, where representatives of seventeen nations mobilized in 1968 in response to the threat of famine in India. Their work led to the "green revolution," a movement that brought innovations to agricultural cultivation in the Third World to produce more staple foods and prevent famine.</blockquote>

Read more: The peak of prestige: foreign aid under kennedy - Foreign Aid…

I don't know anything about the linked site, so I'm just bringing this up for discussion. I remain skeptical but I am always skeptical. Just habit and nature.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 10:51am

In reply to by tomkinton

Good comment about spending as a driver of insurgency at the local level (Taliban taxing economic activity).

But I don't understand this part of your comment: "Until DoS and USAID figure out that Hamlet Pacification (see 'the 1970s' doesn't work without real committment (see CAPS/CORDS) we will continue to stumble our way out the door and back to WalMart."

I remain deeply skeptical of the Hamlet Pacification program, full stop, not to mention within the Afghan environment. I don't know why I have such a problem with it but I don't think it was a good idea in the 60s to begin with . It seems to have become a kind of mythology within the military, from my outsider perspective....

<blockquote>As I began to understand this--and it wasn't difficult to understand; all the Phoenix advisers were telling me the same thing--I also began to understand why Colby was making the reports he was. For someone who wanted to go into the field and track down the process of reporting, figuring out what was going on was relatively easy. But Colby did not attempt to do this and consequently he did not know what was fact and what was fiction. When he visited a province he would buy the province briefing. In Saigon he would get the statistics across his desk, period. And what did he--or anyone else at CORDS--know about how they were developed? The district Phoenix committees would write up their phony statistics on captured and killed and report these to the province level, which gussied them up further and reported to the regional level, which reported to Saigon. Just what Major Jack Black had described to me my first day in Bien Hoa. And CORDS in Siagon compiled and reported these statistics as Phoenix casualties.</blockquote>

page 55, Slow Burn: The Rise and Bitter Fall of American Intelligence in Vietnam, Orrin DeForest and David Chanoff

I know this stuff is controversial and can be argued forever without reaching a conclusion but shouldn't that be a lesson in an off itself? What evidence supports the assertion that the CAPS and CORDs is the way to go? It seems to have reached a mythological status for some reason....


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 6:55pm

In reply to by tomkinton

Good comment. Our CDRs all the way to the top still manage to sleep well at night though. Hardy characters they must have.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 9:43am

Afghanistan: bombing yesterday kills 14, including three Coaliton troops and an interpreter, at the Khost City market. Probably the PRT.

Nice, since our PRT in 2010/2011 in Khost bought off the Afghans with 49 million in spending.

MAAWS-A and CERP are not working. Although spending authority at the 0-6 level went from $500,000 per iteration with no limit to $5,000 today and then only with 0-7 approval, we screwed the pooch.

Dollars as OER metrics are killing our poeple. And that means that our CDRs and others are killing our own soldiers.

Until DoS and USAID figure out that Hamlet Pacification (see 'the 1970s' doesn't work without real committment (see CAPS/CORDS) we will continue to stumble our way out the door and back to WalMart.



Tue, 10/02/2012 - 11:50pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill - Nicely put. If our policy makers and senior leaders had been thinking in these terms a decade ago, perhaps a strategy that balanced ends, ways, means and risk would have been developed and implemented. Instead, we are frustrated and in scape goat mode with little chance of anybody being held accountable save the dead and grieving.

Bill C.

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 7:10pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

If what we are actually out to do is to (1) use the opportunity presented by the difficulty to (2) transform the state and the society as we might desire,

Then what should we call such an activity:

a. War?

b. Counterinsurgency?

c. Or, quite simply, forced state and societal transformation?

Or, stated another way, under which of these headings should forced state and societal transformation be placed:

a. War?

b. Or counterinsurgency?

(Herein, I am leaning towards "war" as the proper fit for forced state and societal transformation and not "counterinsurgency.")

Thus, not that we seek to fit COIN into the context of war that messes us up when we attempt these activities, but the fact that we seek to put forced state and societal transformation into the context of COIN?

Robert C. Jones

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 2:58am

In reply to by kotkinjs1


It is because we seek to fit COIN into the context of war that prevents us from establishing a proper context. But that is a 4-6 beer conversation we need to have some day.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 10:45pm

In reply to by Bill M.

"<i>Since we call this a war I guess history will blame or credit the military for its outcome.</i>"

And rightfully so. Is there any other interpretation for history to see? Who developed a PC-COIN strategy to match the president's stated policy? And then who played with the CoAs to get exactly what they wanted from the President?

Bill M.

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 4:44am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

The Generals have contributed in various ways to facilitatng the growth of the insurgencies, but they did so in based on national level policy guidance. Since we call this a war I guess history will blame or credit the military for its outcome.

Robert C. Jones

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 3:37am

Generals come and go, but the insurgency (more accurately, "insurgencies,") continue to grow.

LTG Barno set the strategic conditions to grow the revolutionary insurgencies on his watch, and no subsequent general has done anything to recognize or address that framework.

What each has done, in some minor variation of tactics, is pour various forms of illegitimate energy into the Afghan populace so as to grow the massively widespread resistance insurgencies that threaten to drive us from the country.

We measure our tactical successes with tactical metrics. Yet we apply no strategic metrics to those same activities so as to guage our strategic progress (or lack thereof).

In a conventional fight the sum of tactics may well equal strategy, but not so much in this "non-war" type of conflict. We don't need new generals, we need a new understanding and a new strategy.


Tue, 10/02/2012 - 12:15am

In reply to by Move Forward


What does it matter? They pose less of a potential hazard to the region than the locations of AN fertilizer depots or Al powder. I had this very same conversation with a group of IDF SF soldiers and my argument that if a Scud was to land in your neighbourhood - for you and your neighbours - a chemical warhead was better than a HE warhead. I like to think I was successful in convincing them ( poison gas and Jews make for difficult conversation) but much of the scientific frustration (if that is the correct word) with the lack of chemical munitions' pound for pound lethality is now de-classified.

This distortion with chemical weapons has already caused one BS war surely it can't start another. One of the world's leading chemical weapon experts killed himself when he failed to establish this scientific fact in the minds of certain western political leaders.

Bombs Gone,


Move Forward

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:39pm

In reply to by RantCorp

Many articles explain why it would be difficult to bomb Syrian chemical weapons. This one is the best.…

Key quote:

Even if the Pentagon knew the targets, knew that they contained biological or chemical weapons, knew which specific agents were hidden at each site, had the right vehicles and ordinance to penetrate air defenses and fortifications, determined the agents were sufficiently away from populations and in calm wind conditions, determined their use or insecurity was imminent and that there was a high-probability that all of those factors were correct -- well, it's not that simple.</blockquote>

A key site is very close to Aleppo. There may be 20 or more sites in total according to some of the articles.

If you search google news, you find plenty of other articles that make it clear that Israel might consider attacking these sites themselves with commandos etc if they thought they were at risk of capture/control by more radical elements than the current Syrian government.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 4:22pm

In reply to by tomkinton

I have always understood that pound for pound you were 3 to 5 times more likely to survive an airstrike/bombardment by chemical ordnance than you were high explosives. When it was rumoured (falsely) that the Soviets were using chemical weapons in Afghanistan this subject was very much at the forefront of concerns for various individuals who were on the ground and it was something all of us were keenly interested in. I was struck by the matter of fact way the scientists who briefed us were dismissive of the supposed lethality of chemical attack when compared to high explosive.

Not being a particularly trusting soul of military scientists I sought a second opinion from a personnel friend and as it happened the industrial and academic bods were even more dismissive. The one greater danger they did point out, which Mr Tomkinton alludes to above, was the storage and handling of weaponized chemical munitions was a nightmare owing to its corrosive action on the seals and the fact that it was a liquid and over time tended to ooze out of joins/seams. Sitting in bays which experienced 60 degree direct sunlight in summer and freezing winters it was usually left to penal troops to maintain the storage with obvious consequences when the time to ‘bomb up’ came about.

So I am hoping that when NATO draws up its new list of ‘Reasons to Invade Another Muslim Country’ securing a weapon system which poses more danger to the owner than any potential enemy is well towards the bottom.

Furthermore on the subject of who would be the least welcomed ‘liberators’ I would place Turkey and all its Ottoman Empire baggage a close second to the IDF.

Bombs Away'


Move Forward

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:44pm

In reply to by tomkinton

You missed this:

<blockquote>The relationship was tense in 2003, when Turkey’s parliament rejected a resolution that would have allowed American forces to invade Iraq from Turkish land in the campaign against dictator Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Erdogan, then newly elected, had backed the resolution despite its unpopularity, while the military failed to support the resolution robustly, a factor that some analysts cited as contributing to its failure.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:17pm

In reply to by Move Forward

And if this

"In 2003, Turkey barred U.S. forces from opening a northern front in the war against Iraq, a stunning rebuff to Washington that raised questions about whether the politically powerful Turkish military had undercut a civilian-led initiative to help the Americans"

is what you are referring to, then God help us all. To think that 'the Turkish military had undercut a civlian-led initiative to help Americans'

then I certainly understand your confusion............

Move Forward

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 6:16pm

In reply to by tomkinton

And I knew about your three tours when I wrote what I did.

While I applaud them and your service, it's no excuse to be a dick.

My vacation is actually induced by a contract-delay which explains why as a peon contractor, I must remain anonymous. Although I know plenty suspect my identify. When I do overstep my relative lack of experience relative to most, it's just my perpetual lack of tact coupled to an insatiable desire to see the Army and Marines not get the shaft after a decade of bearing most of these war's casualties and long deployments.

We have more beliefs and training background in common than you realize. The need for the ground component to remain relevant in all joint future warfare is hopefully a primary common theme we share.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:13pm

In reply to by Move Forward

I'm not sure what my solution to Syria would be. I'm not sure of the question. I know it would not be annexation by Saudi Arabia/Iraq.

I am certain of who I am, and for this reason my real name is on this forum.

As for ad hominem attacks on my diplomatic skills, let me just say that my basic branch is Infantry, and since 2005 I have done my best to prepare over 1,500 civil affairs soldiers, every single one of them, to go into combat. Oh, and three combat deployments as a civil affairs officer.

While I don't outright disagree with some of your replies, I have just about zero patience for bloggers who choose to veil their identities.

As a Civil Affairs officer I have lost 32 friends and acquaintances to policies created and supported by people who sound a lot you you do.

I am sick to death of bright ideas getting us killed.


Tom Kinton

Move Forward

Mon, 10/01/2012 - 12:28pm

In reply to by tomkinton

Read the article below and you get the impression that Erdogan was backing the U.S. entry into Iraq from Turkey and others in the Parliament and military were against it. You also learn that his relationship with the military has improved, especially after jailing 300+ officers who may have planned his overthrow as has occurred in the past.…

If you can predict what will happen in Syria and Turkey you must be a soothsayer. The international community won't stand still indefinitely.

<blockquote>The Turks will deal with the Kurds and Syria the same way they dealt with the Armenians and US in 2002.</blockquote>

While Turkey may wish to squash the KPP, they also want access to Iraq Kurd oil. The U.S. and the Kurds have always been friends and we could make it clear prior to helping the Turks that we expect some kind of Kurdish autonomous region, if not nation, in east Syria before we help. Our location there would preclude immediate Turk duplicity while also positioning us optimally if Iraq used military force against its Kurd regions.

As a civil affairs officer, I'm sure you appreciate how ethnicities and this whole Shia vs. Sunni thing is the primary source of continuing insurgencies and tension in the Middle East. If we had hung onto control of both Iraq and Afghanistan a while longer and had insisted on dividing them in some manner along ethnic lines, many of the continuing problems would have disappeared years ago.

<blockquote>Chemical weapons? Air-launched? Syria?</blockquote> I was referring to our bombing of their chemical weapons and the downwind hazard it would present. This is particularly true in the winter when persistent chemicals are more persistent. The Syrians have lots of mustard agent and SCUD missiles that could carry it at Al Safir. According to Wikipedia, in 2007 an accident may have occurred that killed 15 while attempting to load Mustard gas onto Scud missiles.

<blockquote>Annexing Syria? Right. If you think that by drawing an analogy of Seward's Folly with the Assad dynasty is instructive, go back to school.</blockquote>

As a civil affairs officer, I certainly hope you display more diplomacy with Afghans than you do with me. I was referring to Turkey and Saudi Arabia splitting control and borders of what was Syria. Both would be the primary Sunni militaries involved since the U.N. sure won't act...and both are reasonable nations. Just as we would make protection of Kurds a prerequisite of involvement, the Alawites and Christians also need assurances.

The sole reason Saudi Arabia and Turkey would even invade would be if they got something in return...and not just more Sunni extremism problems under a new Syrian regime. Oil pipelines to the Mediterranean and Europe coupled with water access piped to the south are two examples. Speaking of the Louisiana Purchase and Seward's Folly, if China would ante up to purchase some East and South China Sea islands, it might solve some of those problems as well. Why did China just prohibit any talk of such purchases?

A Marine General with multi-national experience in Afghanistan that involves many NATO nations to include Turkey, certainly has developed ties with key leaders that would prove helpful in ending this Syria mess. Regardless if President Obama wins or Governor Romney is victorious, it is likely that something eventually will occur involving our military.

You and yours tend to believe that SOF (particularly the soft side) can solve everything. Active duty Army GPF probably feel differently, don't care to be Rif'd, and Syria and Korea or perfect examples of why an air or sea campaign alone would not suffice. People live on land. Stability problems are not solved by bombing and targets are not going to present themselves in the open saying "here I am, come kill me, and I promise to not move, tunnel, hide, and will stay away from civilians."

I now return to my vacation wondering what your solution to Syria might be? Head-in-sand and throwing more money at the problem won't work. General-bashing and criticisms of the chain of command help very little without real ideas.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 10:20am

In reply to by Move Forward


You've got to be kidding, or you work at DoS. Have you read ANYTHING about Turkish politics? Can you pronounce the Prime Minister's name?

'...if U.S. forces had a Turkey sanctuary and a friendly regime protecting it instead of past sanctuary problems...'

Are you high? Do you have any idea what the Erdogan administration has done to set back the Kemalist/secular movement? It's OVER. The Turks will deal with the Kurds and Syria the same way they dealt with the Armenians and US in 2002. Same result, different method.

Next: Chemical weapons? Air-launched? Syria? Are you nuts? They probably can't even fill the devices let alone trust them to stay on the wing until they get off the runway.

Next: annexing Syria? Right. If you think that by drawing an analogy of Seward's Folly with the Assad dynasty is instructive, go back to school.

Next: 'post-surge appreciation'? Try walking around the market in any 'post-surge' town with a camera around your neck and an American accent. They's appreciate you, allright. Perhaps the greatest crime of the decade was Congress buying the idea that we actually acheived 'results' during the Iraqi Awakening' (the program where David P bought off the cooperation of the Mahdi Army and M. Al-Sadr) and thinking they could buy off the Afghans.

Has ANYONE read Kipling or The Great Game? Are we REALLY this ignorant?

"When you're lying face down on Afghanistan's plains,
and the women come out to pick oe'r your remains.
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brain, and go to your Gawd like a soldier.'

And here is the bad part: I didn't have to look that up, but the people deciding our comrades fate don't even know who Kipling is and they have not read Machiavelli, Chp. 27.

I want to puke.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 2:42am

In reply to by Move Forward

Do you realize how many "IF's" you're counting on?

If Allen is assigned Europe? (that's not a move up)
If the Pres wins the election?
If Syria deteriorates further?
If Turkey allow us to base troops there? (HIGHLY doubtful as it attempts to assert a leadership role in the Arab world)
If we withdraw in 2014 and on and on and on...

Move Forward

Sun, 09/30/2012 - 1:15pm

Perhaps this is an opportunity instead of a shortcoming. If the President wins the election, and Syria continues to deteriorate, we could see reaffirmation of the administration's R2P talk turned into action. With General Allen as NATO Supreme Allied Commander, we foreseeably could see a leader capable of moving, if necessary, more U.S. forces into Turkey. The failure of Turkey to allow a U.S. ground force entry against Iraq could change in this situation where its own border has greater problems and Syria has already shot down their planes.

It would be a good kind of ironic if U.S. forces had a Turkey sanctuary and a friendly regime protecting it instead of past sanctuary problems with Syria and Iran aiding insurgents in Iraq and Pakistan helping some Taliban. Advantages of U.S. forces in Turkey could include a shorter 2013/2014 move out of Afghanistan. It would place us in position to support, perhaps, a Turkey/Saudi invasion of Syria. It would have us near Azerbaijan in the event that Iran makes problems there in the event of a spring 2013 Israeli attack. Wikipedia claims there may be Armenian/U.S. military exercises in 2013 which would set the stage for air overflight rights to Azerbaijan with promises of aid. Georgia could be an alternate path there if they remain friendly to us after upcoming elections.

The problem with just airpower in Syria is the downwind hazard of chemical weapons that could spread effects to endanger civilians. The problem with a no-fly zone is the Syrian air defenses and their potential siting near Syrian civilians. If air attacks proved too effective, chemical weapons could be used against Turkey air bases which would drag us into the war anyway. A small well-defended coastal area makes an amphibious or Naval assault less likely but a Marine General would be well-positioned to orchestrate such an intervention as necessary. If our Army is invited into Turkey to assist their invasion (leading from behind), perhaps with SOF to secure chemical sites and other light/Stryker/armored BCT U.S. forces crossing into Kurd-dominated areas to be received as friends.

If Turkey and the Saudis (with U.S. help) controlled most of Syria, it would solve many of our Hezbollah/Lebanon and Israel northern border problems. It would surround a potentially troublesome Iraq in the event they make problems for the Kurds or grow too close to Iran. It is only about 100 miles from Saudi territory through Jordan to reach Syria and some sort of monetary deal with Jordan could make that possible with promises of a future water and oil pipelines through their territory. Just as Alaska is separate from CONUS, the Saudis could have new territory in a redrawn Sunni-dominated former Syria. Saudi problems with lack of water could be assuaged by diverting some Syrian Euphrates river water to the south in a pipeline, to include perhaps to Yemen to make them more a friend, or cut them off should they continue to radicalize.

Finally, we may see some post-surge appreciation of General Allen's and before that General Petraeus' surge ideas. With a former 60 Marine sites in Garmsir now down to 3 due to too short of a surge, we will see if south Helmand stays peaceful under just ANA control. As we continue to withdraw, let's hope we leave adequate airpower somewhere in Afghanistan to assist the ANA. I fear instead, that President Karzai may institute more control of air-to-ground attacks to leave the ANA ill-prepared to defend themselves.


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 10:29am

In reply to by CBCalif

'I suppose one could also question why are successive Marine Corps Generals being assigned to command this theater of war -- one that most certainly is an Army operation with the Marine Corps units playing a numerically minor role in that effort?'

It's Mattis. He killed EBO; what do you expect?


Mon, 10/01/2012 - 1:07am

In reply to by major.rod

I'm sure (or at least I believe) that there is a strong element of accuracy in your comments and that of JT below. I know that it is a different era than my time, but I never knew a branch of the service happy to place its majority level forces under the command of brass from another branch.

That statement, "fresh look at the strategy" doesn't bode well for the Afghans, especially if the incoming commander has any political sense. It is not a call for approving what is / has going on in that theater and sounds like the administration wants a (much) quicker exit. That doesn't bode well for the future of the ANA forces. They would do well to read about how the US lived up to our promise to support the ARVN / VNAF after we withdrew our forces. How history appears to repeat itself??

Karzai we should hand over to his Pashtun Taliban cousins, and give them wood for their gallows or a sword for his neck -- at least in my opinion.


Sun, 09/30/2012 - 8:45am

In reply to by major.rod

The current situation in Afghanistan is a reflection of poor strategy and execution (both pol-mil) that was well in place prior to Gen Allen arriving in theater. You could hand Einsenhour Afghanistan in 2011with the current resources and we probably wouldn't be any better off today.


Sat, 09/29/2012 - 9:52pm

In reply to by CBCalif

Who the general is might be more of a function of who follows orders best vs. a reflection on a branch or strategy.

Note Gel Fuller's quick relief for telling the truth? As reported in Politico, Fuller responded to Karzai saying Afghanistan would side with Pakistan against America in a war by saying, "Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle?" "You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion, and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care'?" That's a pretty mild response considering what Karzai said. Who ordered Fuller relieved?

Another potential answer for placing a Marine might be the Corps' reputation of being the most conservative of the four branches. Not much variance from the party line tolerated? (Notable exception being the Commandant's comments ref removing DADT)

Finally, Patreaus and McCrystal were problems for the administration. Both had tremendous reputations. McCrystal promoted the surge before the Pres agreed to it and took heat for it. (Note: Petreaus is in charge of the CIA vs. a civilian who could have run for office and McCrystal was also offered a role in the administration vs. writing a tell all book). Picking lesser known Generals tends to make them beholding to the adminsitration and its talking points.

Personally, I lost a great deal of respect for Allen when he attributed Ramadan induced hunger as a reason for the uptick of green on blue attacks as I was never very convinced of his assessment of our success on training afghans and relative silence on withdrawing troops


Sat, 09/29/2012 - 12:55pm

For anyone with a sense of politics, presuming its accuracy, what do the contents of this article tell you about the administration's view of how the war in Afghanistan is being conducted, the results being achieved or not being achieved, the administrations view of top level COIN oriented Army leadership -- a member of whom proposed the current military doctrine being applied (perhaps in the administration's view not so successfully) in Afghanistan.

Quoting "officials," the article notes, "The White House plans to nominate Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, to replace Marine Gen. John Allen, who has directed U.S. and other foreign forces in Afghanistan since mid-201. The article then quotes David Barno, a retired Army general who headed the war in Afghanistan from 2003-05 and reported to be a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank, noting Although Allen is not being forced out, "the president wants somebody who can take a fresh look at the effort in Afghanistan and isn't an architect of the current strategy,"

Read between the lines, and presuming Barno is in communication with the White House or DOD upper command, you don't make an early change in command this close to the end of operations in a theater and don't call for a "fresh look at the strategy" if you are pleased with the results being achieved. The first question is, are they displeased with the results that the theater commander has achieved or are they displeased with the results being produced from applying the [Petraeus & Co.] COIN / nation building strategy to a long term occupation of a foreign land?

I suppose one could also question why are successive Marine Corps Generals being assigned to command this theater of war -- one that most certainly is an Army operation with the Marine Corps units playing a numerically minor role in that effort? It is a long way from the sea to Afghanistan. Among all their brass, they couldn't find an Army general to take command?