The U.S. is currently engaged in military activity in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, (in addition to many smaller engagements in the Middle East and worldwide), with the Afghan front being the longest occupation.
Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis has just published the first of what will hopefully be two accounts of his time serving in Afghanistan and the deplorable state that the US presence there is in. The full article, titled “Truth, lies and Afghanistan,” can be found at Armed Forces Journal, but a few excerpts and a “Cliff’s Notes” version I’ll recreate here show very clearly how much of a quagmire Afghanistan has become. It is an unwinnable and unconstitutional war that is simply draining resources and costing lives. From Lt. Colonel Davis’ article:
I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces. What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.
As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.
“No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!”
He also provides other examples….
As I entered the unit’s command post, the commander and his staff were watching a live video feed of the battle. Two ANP vehicles were blocking the main road leading to the site of the attack. The fire was coming from behind a haystack. We watched as two Afghan men emerged, mounted a motorcycle and began moving toward the Afghan policemen in their vehicles.The U.S. commander turned around and told the Afghan radio operator to make sure the policemen halted the men. The radio operator shouted into the radio repeatedly, but got no answer.On the screen, we watched as the two men slowly motored past the ANP vehicles. The policemen neither got out to stop the two men nor answered the radio — until the motorcycle was out of sight.
In August, I went on a dismounted patrol with troops in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Several troops from the unit had recently been killed in action, one of whom was a very popular and experienced soldier. One of the unit’s senior officers rhetorically asked me, “How do I look these men in the eye and ask them to go out day after day on these missions? What’s harder: How do I look [my soldier’s] wife in the eye when I get back and tell her that her husband died for something meaningful? How do I do that?”
What is abundantly clear is that the native people in Afghanistan have no desire to put their lives on the line for a war that they see is clearly not their own. The “meaningful” war that the US is engaged in is only meaningful to our own citizens. The government in Afghanistan can’t provide for its people and is perhaps even worse than the original Taliban government from the perspective of the people living in the country. The US has vastly overestimated the allure of a democratic society in a world where theocratic rule is still widely accepted (see Iran, Lebanon). There is no winning of “the hearts and minds,” which is an essential component in a war of this nature, where the US absolutely cannot provide a sustained presence either in number of troops or duration of stay. The same situation is happening in Iraq.
The Afghan National Security Forces already have deals in place in most locations with the Taliban as well.
Davis: “Here you have many units of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF]. Will they be able to hold out against the Taliban when U.S. troops leave this area?”
Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them.