Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why are we in Afghanistan?

From Ralph Peters RealClearPolitics

Within Afghanistan, only a single US program continues to do real damage to the Taliban and President Hamid Karzai wants it to stop.

Our special operations forces (especially, the Army's) have been gutting the Taliban's leadership. Karzai doesn't like that. He didn't like our use of airpower and artillery, either. The Taliban feared them too much and told wild lies about civilian casualties. Most fire support ceased. More soldiers and Marines died.

Now Karzai wants to put a stop to "night raids" by our special operators. If he were actively allied with the Taliban, he couldn't do the terrorists a bigger favor.

A source deep in the fight provided hard numbers-countering Karzai's claims that our strike teams wantonly kill civilians: - Our "most elite" SOF element struck 1043 high-value objectives over the past year, 80% during the hours of darkness. 45% of those black-ops missions-a very high percentage-were successes that "resulted in the capture or death of the targeted individual." - Only a third of those missions-366--required our troops to open fire. They don't go in with guns blazing. On the contrary, these are the most-disciplined soldiers on earth. And night raids limit casualties: An enemy taken by surprise is less likely to respond effectively, so you don't unleash a firefight in the streets.

- In over a thousand raids last year, 18 non-combatants died-because they were bunking with the Taliban and got caught up in a fight. Compare that full-year casualty rate to the 93 people killed in a single day in Mexico's narco-insurgency last week. - Last week alone, the Taliban murdered twice the number of civilians that our special operators killed in an entire year.

- Our top SOF element recently eliminated a half-dozen key Taliban commanders and sub-commanders, seriously disrupting the enemy's chain of command. Top Taliban leaders in Pakistan (protected by our Pakistani "allies") are scrambling to regain control in Afghanistan.

President Karzai's been briefed on these statistics. He ignores them and continues to rail about our SOF forces causing civilian casualties and "violating Afghan culture." Karzai stayed mum, though, about the Taliban's recent hanging of a seven-year-old boy as a "spy." Lynching kids is culturally acceptable.

The doctrine-for which soldiers and Marines are dying in growing numbers-assumes that we're partnered with a host government that has or can build credibility with its people, a government worth fighting for that has the interests of its people at heart. Instead, our troops serve as bodyguards for gangsters. President Karzai has all but dropped the pretense that he wants to defeat the Taliban. He's rushing to cut deals behind our backs.

To show good faith with our enemies, he's methodically stripped us of our military advantages. Air and artillery support were all but eliminated. Our "decisive" Kandahar offensive was neutered. Originally planned for May, the campaign's theme is now "See You In September." Maybe.

Now Karzai wants to halt our SOF strike missions-the only thing left that works in Afghanistan. While CIA drone missions across the border in Pakistan do great service, our troop surge is meaningless - because our troops aren't allowed to do anything useful. According to one officer on the ground, the Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division, which recently wrapped up a thirteen-month tour, "did not target one bad guy." Those splendid soldiers were wasted.

Only our special operators are still in the fight. The rest of our forces have been reduced to serving as pop-up targets. Billions in aid have been squandered. Drug lords rule. Our local "allies" rip us off at every turn.

We went into Afghanistan because the ruling elite were giving succor to a terrorist organization that was causing mayhem around the world. Our purposes were to defend ourselves by closing down the local support. The strategy of developing a Thirteenth Century tyranny into a modern state with energy supplies, agriculture and industry against the will of the local people has been a failure. Let's admit that.

The only sensible option is to withdraw and not waste our treasure and troops there any longer. We should leave with a threat. Any more interference with us and we will come back and bomb you indiscriminately.

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