Small Wars Journal

Subject: Your Request Regarding Possible Incursion into Afghanistan

Mon, 08/23/2021 - 8:13pm


MEMORANDUM FOR POTUS                                                                       1 Oct 2038*




After lengthy and very broad reaching discussions regarding subject Above, we provide the following input to your decision-making process.  These views reflect the opinions of most, but not all of the NSC participants.

Point One: What is our objective?

         We believe it is to eliminate the immediate threat certain persons and organizations residing within Afghanistan hold to us. In that, we have near unanimous approval.  Differences are based on the nature of our incursion and objectives.

Point Two: How do we do that?

         Eliminate the hostile actors and their internal support base.  This will require direct action and exposure of US personnel.

         The NSC does not recommend any stay longer than absolutely necessary to achieve Point Two.

Point Three: Items to consider.

         This is a synthesis of several points raised by the various participants and provided as background for consideration.

                  The Nature of Afghanistan

                           Afghanistan is a cartographers creation.  It is not a monolithic nation and therefore cannot be approached as such in our planning.

                           Kabul is simply a city with a mayor.  It cannot be construed as a capital in our sense. Any attempt to create a National government will fail.

                           The land is an amalgamation of warrior/secular fiefdoms that have minimal to no desire to act as a Nation other than the degree of cooperation necessary to achieve the best outcome/profit for the immediate local leadership. Note the British finally understood this by 1848 and settled, satisfactorily, to simply providing cash incentives for cooperation, doled out on a leader-by-leader basis. The 2000-2022 US experience underscored this reality.

                           The various local militias are just that, small bands with minimal sophisticated weaponry.  This is quite sufficient to maintain local control in consideration of both loyalties and geography. Any attempt to modernize them beyond the very basics is a waste of resources.  Under no circumstances should an attempt be made to mold these militias along our model. It will not work and will collapse the moment we depart. 

                           Attempts to “modernize” the societies within each fiefdom must be based upon local leader acquiescence achieved by resource incentives vice force or moral persuasion.

                           The strongest mindset of the Afghans is their successful history in rejecting all attempts to make them a nation on the strength of an invading entity.  The 100% success rate by the Afghans provides sufficient moral authority within their populaces to insure the strongest overt and covert resistance to external influence.

                           The strongest desire of the vast majority of Afghans is simply to be left alone.

Point Four: Recommendation(s)

  1. Get in and get out as fast as can be achieved
  2. Do not attempt to stay/build/reconfigure
  3. Use resource incentives to achieve desires within the multiple fiefdoms
  4. Keep National egos at bay within your support structures



         Perfumed Prince Hindsight Esq.


*200 years since the British decision to invade Afghanistan

About the Author(s)

COL Nightingale is a retired Army Colonel who served two tours in Vietnam with Airborne and Ranger (American and Vietnamese) units. He commanded airborne battalions in both the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division. He later commanded both the 1/75th Rangers and the 1st Ranger Training Brigade.



Wed, 09/22/2021 - 4:34am

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