Obama had no idea of what was really happening on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, when he was making all his vapid campaign promises this year. Well, now he's going to be taking the point, and a lot of people are going to be looking for a clean shot at him.
I hope his campaign-teflon doubles as actual combat-armor.
Afghan Quicksand Awaits Obama
By Michael Yon
November 10, 2008
The Iraq war is over. Barring the unforeseen, the darkest days are behind, though we are still losing soldiers to low-level fighting with enemies that are true dead-enders. Last month we lost seven Americans in combat in Iraq. Peace, however, is not upon us. Another thirty or so Iraqis died today in suicide attacks. Nobody suffers more at the hands of Islamic terrorists than other Muslims.
A new president will soon begin to make critical decisions about Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis at home, and countless other matters. While the Iraq war began, then boiled, and finally cooled before President-elect Obama will be sworn into office on January 20, 2009, the Afghanistan-Pakistan spectacle is just getting started. He was always a fierce opponent of our involvement in Iraq. And, as with so many Democrats in the Senate, he argued frequently, during the campaign, that we should have been focused on Afghanistan all along, because it is the real incubator of the international terrorist threat. Timing being everything, our new president will get his wish. Afghanistan now moves to center stage. The conflicts in Afghanistan and between Afghanistan and Pakistan have the simmering potential to overshadow anything weve seen in Iraq. Here are a few things I hope he understands:
Our enemies are winning. The enemies know it. We know it. Who are they? The Taliban, with its deep local roots, is enemy number one. Al-Qaeda is hanging around to make trouble. Some Paks, who dont want to see a thriving Pushtun state on their border, are our enemies. They fund and shelter the Taliban even though we rely on them to help us defeat it. Nothing is straightforward in this part of the world. We have other enemies in Afghanistan who hate the Taliban.
Most of our allies are not very helpful. With the exception of the British, Canadians, Dutch, and a few others such as the Aussies, we are not fighting this with an A-team of international allies. With a few exceptions, our allies on the ground are comprised of several dozen countries that mostly refuse to fight. The bulk of NATO amounts to little more than a Taliban piņata. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is proving nearly worthless and provides no credible threat to armed opposition groups (AOGs) in Afghanistan. Most of the NATO member countries seem to break out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of Taliban. They piled in when the war looked easy and largely humanitarian. But now that its getting harder and more dangerous, they would like to pile out.
Success or failure in Afghanistan depends on the handful of countries that step up and a multi-pronged, combat/political/nation-building strategy. The Brits field excellent soldiers but are short of enabling equipment, such as helicopters, armor, and UAVs, which could greatly enhance their combat effectiveness. Nevertheless, an outstanding British-led  operation to deliver a 200-ton hydroelectric turbine to the Kajaki Dam could eventually deliver electricity to 1.8 million people. This dam, with its potential to bring light, heat, and the ability to begin industrializing, is a true and serious victory for the good guys.
So, let me stipulate that its still a real fight. While the AOGs are making progress on some fronts, success is no more assured for them than for us. Mostly they destroy things that their countrymen want including peace and the prospect of increased prosperity. They cut off lips and noses and douse women with gasoline and burn them alive. Just recently, a group of enemies apparently tried to bait us into killing a wedding party. If we are going to get groups to the negotiating table, we must pose a credible threat against enemies and a credible promise to the rest. What we dont want is the current situation, where its actually the AOGs that are forcing us to the table, largely due to NATOs general apathy and unwillingness to fight.
To ensure that we have influence over the outcome, we need more soldiers in Afghanistan, and fast. They need to be U.S. forces, British, Canadian, and Aussie; we cannot depend on NATO in general and they dont know how to fight anyway. Unless President-elect Obama knows some kind of magic spell, he will not be able to persuade most NATO countries to do the right thing. Springtime 2009 will likely bring very heavy fighting in Afghanistan. We will not have credible negotiating positions while we remain outgunned by a bunch of old rifles and dinged-up RPGs.
While security in Iraq continues to improve, Afghanistan is drowning in a frothing quicksand. While most of the 2008 fighting season is over, we can be assured that the Afghan national sport guerrilla warfare will become the 2009 Taliban Olympics by April. They know this is a marathon.
Whatever else, Mr. President-elect, this is no time to go wobbly. It is important to note that some top British and U.S. commanders believe that we can make a success out of Afghanistan. Weve learned a few things over the past seven years. Weve truly got a dream team of military commanders with great in-theater experience to advise and guide the next phase. They saved Iraq. Use them well, Sir.
President-elect Obama says he is serious about Afghanistan. (Just dont fumble Iraq, please.) As he must be learning in intelligence briefings, its going to be tough stuff. It will be like solving a human Rubiks Cube during a firefight while the media screams every time you make a wrong move or what is perceived as a wrong move and there is a clock ticking and at some unknown point the Cube self-destructs.
Maybe his recent training in the combat of a two-year election cycle will have toughened him up for the international challenges ahead.
Today I am in Kuwait, heading back into Iraq for an end-of-year round-up. Then its back to the war in Afghanistan for one heck of a fight. Please stay tuned. Your soldiers are locked in a deadly struggle tonight.
Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com
URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/afghan-quicksand-awaits-obama