Patterico's Pontifications


Voting Present on Afghanistan

Filed under: Obama,War — DRJ @ 2:52 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Taliban violence is escalating in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the Taliban leaders almost certainly noticed President Obama’s delay in acting on General McChrystal’s request for more troops. They aren’t the only ones.

Today on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein says the mission is in serious jeopardy:

“I reviewed all of the intelligence and looked at the situation, and it was pretty clear to me that violence was up 100 percent, 950 attacks in August. The Taliban now controls 37 percent of the people in the areas where these people are. Attrition in police is running 67 percent, either killed or leaving the service.

And the mission is in serious jeopardy. I think General McChrystal, who is one of our very best, if not the best at this, has said a counterterrorism strategy will not work. The president said to us very clearly, just as you said, George, we will not pull out.

Now, if you’re going to stay, you have to have a way of winning. The question is, what is that way? And I think the counterinsurgency strategy, which means protecting the people, not shooting from afar, but securing, taking, holding, and providing security for a period of time is really critical.”

Later in the interview, Feinstein summed up the U.S. role in Afghanistan and why Obama should send more troops now:

“Now, should we stay there for 10, 12 years? General, I don’t think so. I don’t think the American people are up for that or want that. But I think — I don’t know how you put somebody in who was as crackerjack as General McChrystal, who gives the president very solid recommendations, and not take those recommendations if you’re not going to pull out.

If you don’t want to take the recommendations, then you — you — you put your people in such jeopardy, just like the base in Nuristan. We lost eight of our men. We didn’t have the ability to defend them, and now the base is closing, and effectively we’re — we’re retreating away from it. And so I think the decision has to be made sooner, rather than later.”

Obama announced his strategy for Afghanistan in March 2009. Just over six months later, he’s set to announce a new strategy that may be at odds with the recommendations by his hand-picked General. Obama was raised by a mother whose generation famously believed we should “Give peace a chance” but the reality is Obama needs to give war a chance.


15 Responses to “Voting Present on Afghanistan”

  1. “…We didn’t have the ability to defend them…”

    And now, we have disturbing reports of weapon failures (both the M-4 & M-249) in the field, ala VietNam.

    AD - RtR/OS! (6e8409)

  2. Are you saying the logistical support isn’t adequate or something else?

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  3. It should be of great concern to many when Barcky makes Feinstein sound like a principled statesperson.

    JD (c0e41e)

  4. Here’s a Denver Post report that talks about what AD referred to in comment 1.

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  5. The failure isn’t with the M4 or M249. It’s with the lack of support.

    When I was in the Philippines, where everyone and not just the MNLF or the communist rebels, had a rifle their view was the “armalite” (all M16 variants are armalites in the P.I.) was fine for a first world nation. But not so much in the third world where you were hard pressed to find enough work to feed your kids, let alone buy solvents and lubricants and have the extra time to spend on maintenance.

    It seems to me they had a point. We chose the M16 and its kissing cousins to ease the load on the infantryman. But it also seems to me that the infantryman and his rifle was just one piece of the puzzle in a combined arms strategy.

    Where are the rest of the pieces? I just can’t see the answer being a more reliable .22 caliber varmint rifle. How about a little support from air, artillery, and/or armor. I’d say from the Navy, but Afghanistan is a bit out of range for NGFS. And air support, now that we retired the Tomcat.

    Steve (cf69c0)

  6. And now, we have disturbing reports of weapon failures (both the M-4 & M-249) in the field, ala VietNam.

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 10/11/2009 @ 3:02 pm

    The M4 and the SAW are just fine.

    Badger 6 (7c42f3)

  7. Not having had the “pleasure” of using the M-16 or any of it’s variants in a combat situation, I can’t speak from first-hand knowledge.
    But, the preliminary reports from Afghanistan seems to suggest that prolonged full-auto fire is causing a degrading of the weapon.
    Many have complained about the basic design of the gas-system, which has been redesigned on several AR variants (but not ones used by DoD), to eliminate gas-impingement into the receiver, and substituting a piston to activate the mechanism.
    It could be that prolonged full-auto fire is causing heat build-up in the receiver, along with fouling, preventing the weapon from cycling.
    But, there have been noted casualties in some recent fire-fights where weapon failure has occurred.
    Not Good!

    On the subject of the 5.56mm round…
    Going back to the 7.62, particularly in an area such as Afghanistan with its’ long-ranges and heavy apparel, might be a positive step; and in fact, many units of both the Army and Marines are taking the field with selected riflemen being issued the old M-14, which has always acquitted itself well.

    AD - RtR/OS! (6e8409)

  8. Comment by Badger 6 — 10/11/2009 @ 5:54 pm

    I defer to your expertise Sir, but the report that DRJ cited above (#4) from the Denver Post is very disturbing.

    AD - RtR/OS! (6e8409)

  9. Let’s not let ourselves get dragged off, tempting though it is, on a discussion of weaponry when the topic is Obama’s weaseling on Afghanistan.

    Steve (cf69c0)

  10. Individual weaponry, that is. Anyone who’s seen my gun safe can tell you I like rifles. But I like ships and airplanes just as much, and can see the need for other stuff like arty that just never took my fancy.

    Are we just going to vote “present” on this, too, and just say to the infantryman, “We decided you really are on your own, so you need a gun with a bigger bore. Cuz’ nobody’s coming to help you.”

    A mission might be nice, too. I don’t know if the one McChrystal was assigned to flesh out was the right one. But since both the team Obama assigned to produce the white paper in March and the hand-picked commander he chose to write the current assessment came to the same conclusion, I’d just feel better if Obama paid them some attention before putting his finger in the wind and doing something different.

    As if those infantryment in Afghanistan didn’t know well enough already they’re on their own.

    Steve (cf69c0)

  11. We lost eight of our men. We didn’t have the ability to defend them, and now the base is closing, and effectively we’re — we’re retreating away from it.

    That’s misleading.

    The Kamdesh base was attacked 36 hours before the scheduled closing ordered by Gen. McChrystal.

    The ISAF release:

    Despite Taliban claims, the movement of troops and equipment from the outposts are a part of a previously scheduled transfer. The remote outposts were established as part of a previous security strategy to stop or prevent the flow of militants into the region.

    In line with General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency guidance to pursue a population-centric strategy, ISAF commanders decided last month to reposition forces from remote areas with smaller population densities to population centers within the region.

    steve (19dec5)

  12. steve,

    In a recent post on that subject, I specifically noted the Kamdesh base had been scheduled for closure when the attack occurred. But as the link demonstrates, Feinstein is also right because it will undoubtedly appear to the Taliban and the local population that the Americans were run out of town.

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  13. Denver paper’s headline “Weapons failed US troops during Afghan firelight”

    Glad to see the multiple layers of fact checking and editorial review. And that none of their editors and fact checkers know what a “FIREFIGHT” is.

    Am not going to get started on the M-4 or 5.56 NATO controversies.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  14. i will defer to Badger 6, who’s cred needs no references, on the suitability of the M4/249 in theater.

    that being said, i can speak to my 20 years of burning ammo at various ranges during my uneventful, by comparison, so called career.

    Break-Free, or CLP is a great product in most cases, but if you are firing lots of rounds,especially military ball, which is notorious for being dirty ammo, it’s got some draw backs. since the Army doesn’t issue LSA anymore, i found over the years that 30 weight worked wonders.

    yes, it will attract sand, etc, even more than CLP, but it will also wash away gross contaminants if you use enough. it also washes away the carbon, and helps cool the weapon as it smokes off…. if you’ve got a pig or a 240, putting a thin stream on a hot barrel can make all the diff in a tight spot.

    not claiming to be an expert, but my teachers all had right sleeve patches, and the lessons held true for me all the way to when i pulled the plug.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  15. […] Quigg at Huffington Post (hat tip Patterico and Missy): It fundamentally harms the long-term cause of global peace if America permits itself […]

    Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » Give War a Chance (e7cd22)

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