In the spring of 2011, I deployed to eastern Afghanistan for ten months as a Village Stability Operations detachment commander where my team faced a determined enemy whom the United States had been fighting for over a decade.
Why Won’t the US Leave Afghanistan? SWJED Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:33am
President Trump seems to have accepted that the risks of withdrawal outweigh the costs of perpetuating a military commitment to a conflict without a coherent plan to end it. It is one of his more cynical foreign policy decisions, but it has many precedents throughout US history.
With the war at a stalemate, we need to seriously consider new thinking outside the kinetic realm if we expect to move the ball forward toward peace without a Taliban victory.
About the Author(s)
The right kind of strategic instincts were also used by H.R. McMaster and several other local US commanders in Iraq when they formed partnerships with the Sunni tribal leaders to jointly fight the fundamentalist insurgents in Anbar Province. A similar program can still be undertaken in Afghanistan. It is never too late to trust the people.
About the Author(s)
General John “Mick” Nicholson, the outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan, recently created some controversy by stating that US strategy in Afghanistan is working. If he had been a senior commander of the Byzantine Empire, his comments would have made nary a public ripple. He would have been stating a plain fact of the new strategic normal.
About the Author(s)
A Test for Privatization in Afghanistan SWJED Fri, 08/24/2018 - 12:25am
Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater has been pushing the privatization of the Afghan war as an alternative to the present strategy of gradually completing the Afghanization of the war. This is obviously a very controversial proposal, but it is one that at least merits some consideration. There is one remote area of Afghanistan that might well serve as a laboratory for privatization - the provision of construction security for the Ring Road in the remote northwestern region. Completing of the road was the most wicked problem I faced in my time in country, and the situation has not improved since I left in 2012.
How Our Cognitive Solipsism Made Us Limbic Captives of the Taliban – Part 3 of 3 SWJED Wed, 08/22/2018 - 7:23am
Even the U.S. Government's own investigation into and report on the lessons we've learned about stabilizing Afghanistan openly admits broad-cut failure: “Our analysis reveals the U.S. government greatly overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan as part of its stabilization strategy. We found the stabilization strategy and the programs used to achieve it were not properly tailored to the Afghan context, and successes in stabilizing Afghan districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of coalition troops and civilians. As a result, by the time all prioritized districts had transitioned from coalition to Afghan control in 2014, the services and protection provided by Afghan forces and civil servants often could not compete with a resurgent Taliban as it filled the void in newly vacated territory.”
Replacing Afghan Honor with Taliban Disgust: The Specter of Ethnic Cleansing – Part 2 of 3 SWJED Sat, 08/18/2018 - 12:28am
The Taliban fighter today does not seek honor. He seeks cleanliness. When contaminated, he uses blood, the blood of that which is non-Taliban, as soul bleach. Any act, no matter how far outside the realm of human decency or of traditional Afghan honor codes it may be, now becomes possible for a Taliban fighter as long as he cleanses himself in medias res or ex post facto, in blood. Without the modulating elaborations of honor-rooted, traditional, highly evolved, overlapping clan relationships, the resulting cultural product -- the Taliban's fighter -- is more primal, far less sophisticated, and far less stable and predictable than the traditional Afghan warrior.
The Taliban's Weaponization of Moral Authority in Afghanistan - Part 1 of 3 SWJED Wed, 08/15/2018 - 10:39am
Ethnic/tribal identity is so sensitive an issue in Afghanistan today that neither the CIA nor any other entity monitoring demographics in Afghanistan (or its Diasporas) can provide even ball-park statistics about how many or which specific individuals belong to what ethnic, tribal, clan, or sectarian groups (genetic testing is, however, beginning to secure some reliable ethnic data). While Taliban and most other violent extremists proudly self-identify as Pashtun, the tribal, clan, and ethnic identity of the other Afghan today tends to change depending on which side of the street he's standing, which goat path he's using, or the immigration agent to whom he's relating his refugee narrative.
Kabul: The Second Peshawar for Selling Military Uniforms & Equipment SWJED Sun, 08/12/2018 - 12:25pm
Selling military equipment in Kabul has become a cause for concern among both Afghans and their international partners. To maintain law and order, boost the morale of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and strengthen the trust between ANSF and ordinary Afghans, the Kabul police must ban selling military goods in open markets.