Friday, November 26, 2010

COMEDY AND TRAGEDY IN AFGHANISTAN: Even if you accept the fog of war excuses, the US/NATO military operations in Afghanistan have reached an unacceptable level of absurdity. It is no longer a question of winning or losing the war, but has come down to whether the US military establishment is capable of doing anything other than bombing the daylights out of the enemy. Under these circumstances, victory is at best phyrric with destruction of a country as the end result; take Iraq as an example--- all the US king's men and horses are unable to put Humpty Dumpty back on the wall, after they pushed him off of it.

President Obama recently in a cheetleading speech at a NATO conference in Lisbon cited progress in the Afghan war by US/NATO troops. A few days earlier he indicated the that the 2011 draw-down of US surge troops from Afghanistan is now aspirational, dependent on conditions on the ground, and reset a 2014 date as more realistic. So as the American Indian would have expressed it--MAN SPEAKS WITH FORKED TONGUE. Why the President continuously undermines his credibility is unknown especially now as the military operations are branded Obama's war

The fact that General Petraeus called for the reinforcement of 16 Abram tanks this November for the USMC in Helmand and Kandahar provinces did not signal the battle there was going well. Afghanistan is not tank country as the the Soviets learned to their dismay

The Abrams tank has a 120mm canon and a multitude of rounds that can reach over 3 kilometers These rounds include depleted uranium shells that leave residual contamination after fired. The tank will be used mainly as a self-propelled gun since the US forces do not have one of that high calibre for low intensity conflict. So only a small part of the tanks battlefield capability designed for tank warfare will be employed.

The tank is expensive to operate. It uses a gallion a mile on the move and 12 gallons an hour at idle. The last figure I heard that it costs 76.00 usd a gallon by the time gas gets in to a tank of a combat vehicle in Afghanistan due to transport costs. An additional 115 marines will be sent to operate the tanks--ammunition supply, spare parts and maintenance are another headache that has to be brought into the cost calculation--modern warfare is expensive.

Karzai our puppet -off-the string Afghan leader apparently hates the US as much as the Taliban does; he has told the US to get out soonest and turn over the conflict. to the Afghan people. This has left General Patraeus aghast. This is almost as shocking to the US as when Karzai declared during a visit to Japan that he wanted Japan to develop the mineral reserves in Afghanistan that include large deposits of rare Lithium used in battery manufacturing.

Perhaps the most stunning debacle for the US occurred recently when an alledged high-ranking Taliban leader in whom the US had invested time, much money and ballyhoo turned out to be an impostor. The US even flew the guy from Pakistan under escort-- met with Karzai to talk peace. Petraeus used the events foolishly to pop off that the Tailiban are under so much pressure that they are forced to talk peace. The impostor was believed by the US to be the second in command under Mullah Omar, Taliiban leader, but during the process Mullah Omar denied the Tailban were talking peace or negotiating.

So whom do you believe now ? A half-cocked, spinning Petraeus or the bullet proof, one-eyed Mullah the US cannot kill.

If US intelligence is so bad in the Afghan/Pakistan theater operations that it is suckered big time into such deception as the Taliban impostor, you must wonder about the the quality of intelligence used drone targeting, especially in Pakistan. After the the 9/11 surprise attack and the Iraq WMD fiasco, we need much less trust and much more verification in US intelligence operations.

As the Afghanistan war tragically now kills a US fighting man a day; and strategy on counter insurgency operations is failing as evinced in the showcase "government in a box' operation in Marja ,one can question the effectiveness of the US military establishment in a low intensity war. All still remember the Vietnam defeat and view the shambles of Iraq with its continued, extended occupation.

As far as the Taliban impostor, you must wonder who vetted him. Was it CIA or military intelligence or Groucho Marx? The impostor escaped with his swag, his skin and a treasure trove of data on US/NATO leadership and essential elements of information required by the command . The man's acting ability and sang froid deserve an academy award.

Our Commander In Chief, should relieve someone in US high leadership in Afghanistan for crippling incompetence before the triumvirate of Petraeus-Holbrooke and Eikenberry becomes known as the GANG THAT CANNOT SHOOT STRAIGHT or even worse, the THREE BLIND MICE--. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret


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