Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal

| April 15, 2021

Biden announced Wednesday that the United States will fully withdraw its troops from Afghanistan before Sept. 11,  the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Finally.

Many allies of Biden have issued statements supporting this major foreign policy decision. There are exceptions, of course. CIA Director William Burns opined Wednesday that withdrawal will inhibit intelligence gathering, and other lawmakers expressed concern about leaving regardless of the situation on the ground.

Biden says keeping US troops in Afghanistan past this summer ‘makes no sense to me’

Leo Shane III

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan will begin at the start of May and finish before Sept. 11, but vowed leaders will remain focused on U.S. security as they end the nearly 20-year-old conflict.

“With the terror threat now in many places, keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes no sense to me, and our leaders,” the commander-in-chief said in a national address announcing the plan.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the draw and expecting a different result. I’m now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan … I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”

Should have left long ago, but better late then never I suppose. Bombing the place back to the 12th century as a parting shot would be a pointless gesture because, really, how could one tell? Read the entire article here: Military Times

Category: Afghanistan, Biden, Foreign Policy

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Anonymous

Trump wanted to get out 1 May, but Democrats scrapped that so they can say we’ll be out by 11 SEP. Politics…

Hate_me

Kind of reminiscent of WWI, prolonging the end to fit a better headline, isn’t it?

RGR 4-78

You are not supposed to remember when they do they do the hypocrisy thing.

Sapper3307

At least we pushed them forward into the Stone Age.

Poetrooper

500 years from now, historians will refer to this past 20 year period as the Afghan Enlightenment…

Anonymous

The only place on Earth where being at war is an improvement…

Denise Williams

As a mother whose son took his last breath in that Godforsaken land more than a decade ago… As a mother who has more friends than not that know first-hand the unique and tragic mixture of pain and pride that knock on the door brings… As a mother who has sat, nearly a decade later, with other mothers, fathers, siblings and extended family who lost their loved one in the same land, mere miles from where my son breathed his last… It is past time. We had a window, a very brief window, in which the application of the full force of the might of the greatest military in the history of the world could have prevented thousands of American deaths. We could have prevented he deaths of untold thousands of civilians who their countrymen used as disposable cannon fodder and movable human shields. But, politicians decided the American public didn’t have the stomach for what would be necessary…the sealing of the Khyber pass…the utter demolition of Tora Bora…the mass destruction of the bloodlines of the Taliban. Our wise leaders treated the American public like delicate children while they sent our children, handcuffed, to engage in war. There have been a few times in history when the annihilation of an enemy was more warranted, and not out of vengeance. We, at least any who read and comprehend, the history of that land knew no other course of action would secure peace for us, for the region, for the world. Perhaps… Read more »

SFC D

May the Lord bless you, Denise. You raised a fine son, remain proud of him and proud of yourself.

Denise Williams

Thank you SFC D, I am beyond proud of who he was but I know the simple truth…he was who he was and I was blessed to be on the ride that was his life.

Fyrfighter

May God Bless you and your son Denise, and you said it more eloquently and succinctly than I can imagine doing.

Thank you.

Poetrooper

Denise, reading what you write makes me wish that all our fallen warriors could have mothers as eloquent as you to carry on for them, continuing their legacy so that they are not forgotten, and to remind others of their sacrifice.

Your son was supremely fortunate to have such a mother to step up to the podium and speak for him when he no longer could.

You have this old soldier’s complete admiration and condolences.

thebesig

It would not have mattered what we did, or how long we did it. Hitting them hard, then telling them if they do anything stupid we will be back to bomb them again? Their response would be to “bring it”. No matter how many of their fighters end up dying in the process. They would gladly die “for Allah” and “his cause”. In the book “Holy War Incorporated”, the author talked about how Islamic fighters slept in the open, not under cover, hoping to be killed from the air so that they could get their paradise and be considered as “dying in battle”. Those who did survive the aerial bombing that resulted were actually disappointed, sad, etc., that they survived. We’re not dealing with people that think like westerners. We’re seeing a form of long term Asiatic thinking, planning, mindset, etc. This is not just about them thinking like it’s still the Medieval Period. Their radical elements believe in the manifest destiny that Islam will dominate the world. They believe that we are headed there. In fact, where the Taliban are openly saying they fought to re-establish control in Afghanistan, their long term goal is to establish Islam throughout the world. The BBC had an interview with a Taliban commander who stated that “the struggle would continue until Islam rules the world”. Our invasion was just a setback for what is a centuries long objective. From a historic perspective, “letting them kill each other”, would only bite us in the… Read more »

11B-Mailclerk

There are things they fear, for example the destruction of one’s tribe, weakening the tribe to the point it is consumed by the its rivals.

That -works-, and it is how they restrain each other.

-proven- to work there, for millennia.

We were too squeamish to make use of what historically restrains them.

Those who claimed to lead us were too bleeping arrogant to study the enemy, and too bleeping stupid to determine that Victory is the only moral objective in War. Absolute Victory.

Or stay out of War.

thebesig

The complete destruction of one’s tribe has been a tactic throughout the world. The “Killing every man, woman, child,” concept that we see in the Old Testament is an example of this. It has worked as a psychological tool for millennia, but has consistently failed to prevent the culture, that the tribe belongs to, from falling under the control of the most powerful alliance of tribes. Had we killed entire tribes, whether they contained combatants or not, it would have worked against us from a PSYOP perspective… Those against us, including those we were fighting, would have leveraged this to turn opinion against this effort… Both in the US and around the world… A lot sooner than when it actually happened. The aftermath of a war was never as smooth as many people believed them to be. See the Spanish American War for example. They had to fight an insurgency in the Philippines right after that. After World War II, they had to deal with a group called “SS Werewolf”. I even read an article, written in 1946, that suggested that we were actually losing in Europe. Even after the US Civil War, the South continued to be a hostile place for federal troops. Even after the American Revolution we had “unfinished issues” that lead to conflicts. The aftermath of wars have had their drawbacks, perhaps we could accuse the leaders that lead any of the wars throughout our history as being too bleeping arrogant to study the enemy and… Read more »

11B-Mailclerk

The folks there have been pruning tribes as a means of control for millennia. It works.

One doesnt have to directly extinguish a tribe. Just weaken it sufficiently so it’s rivals see a good opportunity for consumption.

There are resultant outcomes one can publicize to drive the lesson.

They have a very much harder time retaliating against us, so it is very asymmetric. But it does require a certain ruthlessness and lack of squeamishness the we may no longer poses absent existential threat.

A bunch of my kin, here, are no longer around because the USA used to be quite adept at that sort of thing.

And to the extent we did use it, therw, to pick a bunch of approximately tolerable “allies” to whack the others we wanted whacked, it worked.

De-populating whole areas is feasible, but we got out of that sort of thing in the late 1940s.

Demonstrably historically workable, and to the degree we used it, quite successful.

Certainly not a unique view on my part. Other more scholarly pros have written on it. And the historical evidence is quite evident, once one looks for it.

Sun Tzu advised knowing well self and enemy, thus being victorious. We blew it.

Docduracoat

The So jets did total war in Afghanistan.
Wiping out entire villages, mining the passes, indiscriminate bombing and shelling.
It did not work for them.
No reason to think ruthless war would have worked for us.

Docduracoat

Soviets

11B-Mailclerk

They tried to stick around an rule.

Wreck and leave. Repeat as needed. Deny them the target for the long term, and leave them occupied with their cultural sport to play.

We stuck around. Error.

thebesig

Originally posted by 11B-Mailclerk:
They tried to stick around an rule.

Wreck and leave. Repeat as needed. Deny them the target for the long term, and leave them occupied with their cultural sport to play.

We stuck around. Error.

This would not work. If we just “wreck and leave”, they could claim victory. The more we “leave” after “wrecking”, the more they could claim they have beaten us. “They came, we kicked their asses, they left for, like what, the 50th time? We kicked their asses 50 times!” This would be a recruiting bonanza for the terrorists that we are dealing with.

By the end of 2002, it became evident that our enemy was fluid and illusive. We had to wait for them to congregate in an area. Until then, without information on where they were at, we didn’t have the convenience of “wreck and leave”.

Meanwhile, while we’re busy “wrecking and leaving”, the terrorists are taking their lessons learned to other parts of the world. So, while we “wreck and leave” in Afghanistan, radical Islamists expand their influence, reach, and potency around the world.

thebesig

Originally posted by 11B-Mailclerk: The folks there have been pruning tribes as a means of control for millennia. It works. One doesnt have to directly extinguish a tribe. Just weaken it sufficiently so it’s rivals see a good opportunity for consumption. Again, killing entire tribes has not stopped a whole bunch of tribes, within an area, from falling under the control of a single group of powerful tribes/leaders. When you’re talking about one tribe, within the same culture, doing it to another tribe within the same culture, that’s one thing. However, when the United States is involved, and when tribes shift alliances fluidly. We would have to engage in genocide to take care of the problem. Otherwise, we’d kill one tribe, just to find out that a friendly tribe, what we thought was friendly, was also hostile. We kill that tribe off. But, given that their fighters will hide among non combatants, behind women, behind children, or even those of another tribe, then what? We slaughter innocent people? Great job, our task just got more difficult. We just gave them the reason to close ranks against us… After all, we’re not Muslims. It wouldn’t take much for the other tribe, or even an enemy tribe, to engage in propaganda to get a former enemy tribe to become an ally. Again, alliances shift quickly in that part of the world. 11B-Mailclerk: There are resultant outcomes one can publicize to drive the lesson. And, from a PSYOP standpoint, the resultant outcomes provides… Read more »

Ret_25X

the political class profits from the war. This is the real reason we are not ever going to be willing to apply the only level of kinetic force necessary to win by their “rules”.

The only war the USA ever fought that got away from the elites was WW2 in the Pacific theater. Had that theater been prosecuted according to the same rules of the ETO, Japan would still have an empire and we would still be in some form of state of war with them.

Overwhelming force as an instrument of national policy only works if it is actually overwhelming and you are willing to occupy for generations thereafter.

Genocidal campaigns coupled to Roman style occupations are bad for business and immoral in their essence.

The original counter terrorism campaigns in AFG were the right balance, but somehow we decided we could create some form of Western democracy there…nope. The people there are not culturally accepting and may not be for generations to come.

Just keep their problems there. Anything more is a recipe for wasting life…ours and theirs.

thebesig

Ret_25X: the political class profits from the war. This is the real reason we are not ever going to be willing to apply the only level of kinetic force necessary to win by their “rules”. If the the real reason to why we are in these wars is because “the political class profits from it”, then the need to continue engaging in war would not have even been a political hot point. In the wake of the 2001 attacks, both Democrat and Republican, politicians and electorate, closed ranks with regards to the need to take the war “over there”. However, as the first decade continued, the Democrats opposed the war. Since most of the casualties were coming from Iraq, that was there point of argument. However, even before we invaded Iraq, Afghanistan was starting to become a protracted war. Had it not been for Iraq, the Democrats would’ve been arguing to pull out of Afghanistan a lot sooner. This is no different from the Democrats arguing for defunding the Vietnam War. If the political class truly benefited from this war, or from any war, the Democrats would not have “cut the legs off” of the South Vietnam government. But they did. One reason to why we are not willing to apply the kinetic force, advocated on this thread, is the geostrategic and geopolitical headwinds it would create against us and against America’s interests. Another reason involves the advantage that the terrain gives to the defenders against a modern military. Ret_25X:… Read more »

11B-Mailclerk

My statements are based on what works there, with those tribes. Demonstrably. Historically. You don’t seem to be looking at that. They keep themselves satisfactorily busy at Fratricide. It was Al Qaeda that hit us, not the Taliban. Two very different things. The locals of that sad place can be taught not to ally with foreign idiots who annoy us and stay in their lane. We have -zero- interest in conquering the non-state we call “afghanistan”. This isn’t a ” psyop”, this is a training situation. Teach them not to play that game, and stick to their own. Works for millennia. They, by themselves, are an annoyance to the outside, not an existential threat. They conquer no one. They need outside allies to act outside. We missed that. We stuck around. We forgot who was the real enemy. Run up the cost of being buddies with our enemy. Extinguish a few examples. When we must, fight the main and real enemy as needed in a nice flat place where the enemy can easily bunch up. You seem to have missed my point. So does almost everyone else. It is what works in what we call “afghanistan”. It is what will still work there until those mountains erode down to prairie. No one wants to admit it, but we are not going to exceed the Himalayas in shaping that grim culture. But we -could- have noticed the template. Some folks let pride get in the way of needful. That was the… Read more »

thebesig

Response to 11B-Mailclerk April 16, 2021 Part I 11B-Mailclerk: My statements are based on what works there, with those tribes. Demonstrably. Historically. So are my statements, made based on a pattern, a historic trend, that has allowed me to make predictions. Again, I’ve been studying history related topics for 42 years. Above, I mentioned a book that I read, Holy War Incorporated by Peter Bergen. There are other books, and articles, that I’ve read specifically related to individual tribes and mindsets in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Peter Bergen actually interviewed Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants. He got the information “from the horse’s mouth”. What I argued here, they flat out said they would do. They are not the only ones, I’ve watched video of radical Islamists making the same statements in mosques outside of Afghanistan This is not the only book that I have read, as I’ve read multiple books, and articles, on this very topic… Then placed them within the pattern and context of what I’ve read regarding history in general. You talked about one tribe threatening the existence of another tribe, and the psychological effects that has on the threatened tribe. I responded that this is not unique to Afghanistan but had been in place throughout the world for millennia. Not just in Afghanistan. What you consistently refuse to see is the fact that this explanation does not explain away a historical pattern that I see… Warring tribes/factions “killing each other” until they all fall under a single… Read more »

thebesig

Response to 11B-Mailclerk April 16, 2021 Part II 11B-Mailclerk: We have -zero- interest in conquering the non-state we call “afghanistan”. You do realize that another term for invasion is conquest, do you? We invaded Afghanistan, and then Iraq, so guess what? We conquered. However, if you are talking about conquest for annexation, that is not what I am arguing. If that is what you meant, then your argument, about wiping out tribes, or the arguments others had advanced here regarding “scorched earth”, otherwise bringing heavy firepower to bear to destroy and depopulate to the scale that others hint here, are tactics that ancients used to conquer a territory for annexation. Nowhere, in any of my posts, did I argue that we should “conquer” a country for the purposes of annexation. What I did argue; however, was that we keep fighting as long as we needed to keep the fight… Over there rather than fighting it or dealing with it while on the defense here, in the future. 11B-Mailclerk: This isn’t a ” psyop”, this is a training situation. Human nature does not change whether we are at war or at peace, or anywhere in between. Human nature does not change whether a person is in Afghanistan, in the Pacific islands, or in the West. Nor does it change whether were talking about somebody in ancient times or in modern times. Meaning, your argument on this thread would have psychological ramifications that would aid our adversaries and enemies and serve as… Read more »

QMC

God bless you and your family mam. Your sons sacrifice will not be forgotten.

UpNorth

Bless you Denise, I can’t even imagine how you feel. Thank you for your post, and thank you for your son and his service.

KoB

God’s Blessing and His Peace Be unto you Denise. You have our Thanks for who you are, what you have done, and what you mean to us all. If there is anything at all that we can do for you, and those like you, we are here, ready, willing, and able. In the meantime, I guess I better do something about the dust in here. Maybe change the air filters?

OWB

As always, the most intelligent response in the room. Thank you, Denise.

SFC D

Ghenghis Khan was able to control Afghanistan for a time, but his methods are generally frowned upon today. Hard to believe my visit to that place was almost 20 years ago.

Ret_25X

think of it…30 years since DS/DS and 19 years since AFG…18 years since OIF…

When did I get old enough to have campaigns 30 years ago?

Geez, I feel old now.

SFC D

Exactly what I’m feeling, CSM. I joined for the college money and GI Bill. How did I get caught up in all that?

Poetrooper

Just wait ’til they’re 60 years ago…

11B-Mailclerk

I recall in the 1980s being assured by senior NCOs and officers “not another Vietnam. We learned our lessons.”

Apparently, the folks who make General are untrainable, as are folks who get elected.

Because we set out, once again, to ignore local reality, and set out missing the one thing essential:

A realistic plan for Victory

As in “what does the end state look like, where we win and they don’t?”

AW1 Rod

“This is not conditions-based”. Yup…..of course. Why would you do that? Another military decision not based on actual events (not event-driven) or the situation (military reality/facts on the ground). None of that matters. Just more arbitrary decisions. Pick a date, and tell your enemy so they can circle the date on their calendar. Stellar military planning and strategy. Obama, Trump, and now Biden…..ALL of them (Trump included) with the same questionable military leadership. You see, YOU may just decide the war/fight is over, but maybe your enemy doesn’t give a shit that you decided it’s over. There are two sides in a conflict, and it may not be over for the enemy just because YOU said you’re quitting and leaving. Failure to recognize reality; failure to understand (as our enemy has) that it may never “end”; failure to recognize the “new normal” when fighting terrorism/terrorists (and those who enable and support them). It may never end, and they don’t care if it takes decades. They’ll keep fighting, because they have the WILL and determination. So, there will no doubt be an attack on American interests in the region, or Americans in the region, or perhaps even another terrorist attack against/on the homeland some time in the future. Who knows when? One year, five years, ten years, even 20 years. But it will happen. Then we can tell our kids and grandkids, “Sorry, but you’ll have suffer for it and deal with it, because we didn’t have the WILL to do… Read more »

thebesig

See my reply, above, to Denise Williams. It also applies here. First, this wasn’t an initiative to build an empire. This is unrestricted warfare/asymmetrical warfare. If you read the statements that President Bush made in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, you’d see “unrestricted warfare” as a theme. I recommend reading the book, “Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America”. These concepts are being used by the terrorists, plus more, against us. We’ve seen evidence of the Chinese doing this against us, especially in the later years. Second, our invading Afghanistan, and later Iraq, needed to be done. The attacks on US soil, in September 11, 2001, was not supposed to be “an only” event. Osama Bin Laden was partly getting frustrated over not killing enough Americans. Engaging in massive terror attacks on US soil would give him that kill count. It would also give him something else… Recruitment draw. The terrorists were attacking our interests overseas during the 1990s (those that were associated with Bin Laden). Our reaction was seen as a weakness. They saw this as a war, and our side saw this as “law enforcement”. We emerged from the Clinton years as a paper tiger. Going into Iraq forced the other side to split their manpower between Iraq and Afghanistan. They determined that Iraq was more important so they brought their fighters to bear in Iraq. Unlike in Afghanistan, we have more flexibility with bringing our entire inventory to bear on a flat terrain. As they… Read more »

Martinjmpr

So, there will no doubt be
an attack on American interests in the region, or Americans in the region, or perhaps even another terrorist attack against/on the homeland some time in the future. Who knows when? One year, five years, ten years, even 20 years. But it will happen

And keeping our troops in Afghanistan to act as pop up targets for the enemy helps to prevent this how?

All it does is help them hone their marksmanship at the expense of our soldiers. I say let them get their target practice by murdering each other, you know, the way they have been since Christ was a corporal.

Anything we were going to ‘win’ in Afghanistan, we “won” in the first couple of years. Everything after that was pointless.

Pull out and let the Taliban “win” Afghanistan. I can think of no more fitting punishment for those assholes than being crowned King of the Shitpile.

thebesig

And keeping our troops in Afghanistant to act as pop up targets for the enemy helps to prevent this how? By keeping the fight over there and killing them over here forces them to remain on the defensive rather than allowing them to be strong enough to be a base to build on efforts to bring the fight to US soil. That’s how. I’ve told people, for the 17.5 years I’ve debated this issue, that we have to be willing to fight this enemy indefinitely. Letting them “kill each other” while we stay out of it has, historically, been disastrous to the civilization that adapted that strategy. History shows that the “kill each other” phase eventually comes to an end when those killing each other came under a single leader’s control. The Romans found this out with Attila, and the Chinese found this out with Genghis Khan. They have a manifest destiny that involves bringing the entire world under the banner of Islam. I saw, on a BBC video, an interview with a Taliban commander. When asked about the struggle ending when they achieve their goals for Afghanistan, the commander’s response? The struggle will continue until the whole world is Islam. How much more kills will they achieve, in the United States, once Afghanistan again becomes a strong base for radical Islamic operations? There are a lot more Americans living in the United States than are deployed in Afghanistan. Think their marksmanship, and killing efficiency via terrorist acts in the… Read more »

SteeleyI

You are advocating what I’ve heard called the ‘mowing the grass’ strategy. Essentially, we tolerate a certain level of violence but maintain surveillance and sufficient force to knock them back to acceptable levels when they get out of hand and/or threaten us in the homeland.

Not necessarily wrong, but it does require a long term mindset, what some might call a strategy. Arguably, the last effective US strategy was outlined in NCS-68, essentially our strategy to defeat the Soviets.

https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116191.pdf?v=2699956db534c1821edefa61b8c13ffe

One would think that at some point in the 20 years since 9/11 (in reality, this war as we know it started at least as far back as when we deployed infidel troops to the lands of the House of Saud, Guardian of the Holy Mosque, but I digress) we would have developed an actual strategy for defeating what amounts to a global Islamic insurgency, but we haven’t.

Instead, we have become focused on individual personalities, groups, and events, and lost sight of the fact that although we may lack a strategy, as you point out, our enemy has been consistently pursuing theirs for decades.

thebesig

Originally posted by SteeleyI: You are advocating what I’ve heard called the ‘mowing the grass’ strategy. Essentially, we tolerate a certain level of violence but maintain surveillance and sufficient force to knock them back to acceptable levels when they get out of hand and/or threaten us in the homeland. Not necessarily wrong, but it does require a long term mindset, what some might call a strategy. Arguably, the last effective US strategy was outlined in NCS-68, essentially our strategy to defeat the Soviets. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116191.pdf?v=2699956db534c1821edefa61b8c13ffe Incorrect. Go back and reread the post that you responded to. Nowhere, in that post, or in any post I made on this thread, am I advocating a “mowing the grass strategy”. In fact, nothing I say in the post supports any inference that you made about it. One of the major themes, in the post that you responded to, involved historic trends and human nature. Too many people are advocating that we just leave and let them destroy each other. Not a single one of those people have actually zeroed in on the motivation for those people. Key here is psychology and mindset. Why would they even try to “kill each other” in order to be “King of the crap pile”? Because achieving that status is what they need to do for the next step towards their ultimate objective… Global Islamic law. Nowhere did I argue that we tolerate a certain level of violence, or that we just hit them when they threaten us here.… Read more »

Denise Williams

thebesig- “Their response would be to “bring it”. No matter how many of their fighters end up dying in the process. They would gladly die “for Allah” and “his cause”. “ and “We’re not dealing with people that think like westerners.” I agree with both of these statements in particular as well as the rest of your post. My contention is and remains, hitting them sufficiently hard to wipe out the majority of the leadership buys time. If we’re lucky, maybe the better part of a generation. I understand the Muslim mindset to which you refer and I also understand the leadership and financiers do not share the religious conviction of their followers. For them, the religion is a tool by which they control their masses and insulate themselves. Waging war is expensive and does require the hope of a return on investment. Then again, it is a useful tool to obfuscate their immorality-as defined by their religion-from their masses. Despite all the ways in which we agree, I disagree on the utility and outcome of a scorched earth policy. Our political leaders and those who are convinced of their intellectual and moral superiority decry this idea, not on the basis of it’s lack of efficacy but on a lack of their intestinal fortitude. They not only moralize, they presuppose such a policy will only engender hatred in our enemies. Which brings us to the most salient point, one on which we seem to be in complete agreement…it does not… Read more »

thebesig

We have to do more than take out their leadership. We’re dealing with a mindset, an ideology, that they’re exposed to even as children. Many grow up wanting to become martyrs. If we take out the current leadership, they will quickly be replaced, and they will continue the fight… As they have been doing for centuries. Their leadership and followers do share religious convictions. I’ve seen videos, of services in mosques, where their religious leaders talk about conquering the world, or present other radical ideas. I saw one video where a religious leader talked about a child that talked to him about wanting to be a martyr. He responded with a list of cities that they were going to attack. I’ve seen photos of regular, rank and file, Muslims showing signs, and chanting, demonstrating the same radicalisms that their leaders display. The radicalism that’s associated with their leadership is a lot more imbedded in many of their societies than what people assume in the West. I recommend the book, “Unrestricted Warfare”. Included in this book is how to wage war inexpensively. The leadership disagrees with the scorched earth policy not because of a lack of fortitude, but due to practicality. One of my MOSs is “Psychological Operations Specialist” or simply “PSYOP”. What’s not as praised in a war effort is the PSYOP efforts that take place in the combat theater. Implementing a scorched earth policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else where we are not engaged in major combat operations… Read more »

Anonymous

Where? Bosnia– they eat pig, drink slivovitz and dress up nice for services on Friday because they’re going out clubbing afterward. (Of course, only Germany and Israel accepted them as refugees because Muslim countries didn’t feel them “islamic” enough.)

Green Thumb

War sucks.

26Limabeans

And more than 50 years later as I pull on my
Hanes underwear I notice the label:
“Made in Vietnam”

I was once cautioned to not wear the war
on my sleeve. Put it behind you son.
Afghanistan is no Vietnam but they do share
a common trait….most people could not point
to either on a world map.

Devtun

‘War is a racket’.

-MajGen Smedley Butler-

Anonymous

“For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!” –Mark Twain

Has always been such.

Hate_me

Earlier today, I walked through Arlington National Cemetery to visit a friend. We were in entirely different theaters when he died, but he was one of my earliest friends – from long before either of us enlisted. It’s been over a year since he passed, and I haven’t had the opportunity to pay my respects until now. An old knee injury started flaring up, and the steps were agony; didn’t matter, I needed to do it. One of the facilitators saw me struggling on a downhill and offered to drive me to his section, but walking just seemed to fit the cause. It took longer than I’m proud of, but I eventually found his headstone. I knelt down before him to say what I needed to say and…. nothing. Blank. I had no plan, beyond getting there. I cursed myself for not writing something beforehand, and for not bringing a flask from which to pour him a round. I wished I could think of something profound, anything, that might fit the moment. Anything justifying the pain in my knees or the pain of his absence, any acceptable reason why I couldn’t be there to console his mother and father when they laid their son in the ground. Yet, until it’s over – and really over, a real win as opposed to storming off because we’re tired of the game – I don’t know if I’ll ever find the right words. I just mumbled something mundane about how I miss him,… Read more »

Poetrooper

I think you just spoke quite eloquently for a lot of us, your brothers. We feel what you feel but have great difficulty in conveying those feelings to others in any meaningful way.

Going back to my English Lit days, I believe the word I’m looking for to describe our inability to fully express ourselves is “ineffable”.

My war was Vietnam and like you I share the frustration of not being allowed to win.

Hate_me

Thanks, Poe.

Is it morbid to be proud of what I wrote, given the circumstance?

I think I might turn it into a portfolio piece. Perhaps written over a sweeping image of ANC, or maybe a soldier’s cross….

Initially, I was going to title it “Dustin’s Grave,” but I think “Ineffable” might work better.

OWB

The journey’s the thing. And many, if not most, of us have experienced something similar.

Well done.

Hate_me

Thanks, OWB.

That journey sucks.

He was a good man. Far better than I. Someday, hopefully, I’ll be able to return with something to say.

Denise Williams

Everything you couldn’t say there you’ve said here, because of going there. I hope you feel the catharsis I hear in your words.

Catharsis doesn’t mean resolution, it is a process, and often is the process of continually absorbing and re-absorbing there is no final, complete resolution. Finding peace in the raw injustice that is this life is the resolution I continually seek.

I’ve come to recognize that peace I seek looks a lot like acceptance of non acceptance of the raw injustice that is this life. It is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it, so I call that peace.

I hope you, all of you, find your way there, whatever you call it.

Commissar

We created asinine short term incentives for commanders that did nothing but perpetuate the cycle of pointless metric padding missions that had no hope of achieving any long term objectives.

A tragic waste.

SFC D

That pretty much describes everything the Army does, from PT to annual training objectives.

Poetrooper

One of those rare occasions we agree, Lars. At the culmination of a major battle in Vietnam during which I had operated the tactical net throughout for for a colonel who would later become one of the most recognized heroes of that war, he instructed me to call each company to obtain an enemy casualty account.

His specific instruction was that any trooper who aimed and fired his weapon at an NVA was to be tallied as a KIA/BCC, a Killed In Action/ Body Count Confirmed.

That of course resulted in a huge over-count of 448 enemy dead which was duly reported by American media as evidenced by a Stars and Stripes cover story I read a couple of weeks later.

That was the beginning of my doubts about the legitimacy of what we were doing there and a long life of not ever trusting my government again. It was one of the primary reasons I turned down the promise of an E-7 stripe and OCS from my boss, the brigade commander, and left the Army to complete my college education, a decision I’ve never regretted.

rgr769

The demand of field grade officers, usually LTC’s and Colonels, demanding junior officers submit false reports had a great deal to do with my decision to resign my RA commission, even though I had planned for many years to make the Army my career. Although I have missed the military for many years, I am still happy with that decision. I continue my interest in the military, am an aficionado of military history, and am a minor collector of militaria.

Poetrooper

I, too, maintained strong ties to the military after getting a job which allowed me to travel to military installations, VA hospitals, major naval vessels and Indian reservations, all over the country and even some overseas bases, for almost thirty years.

I ended up with a far broader military experience than active duty would ever have provided and loved every minute of it.

timactual

My disillusionment began in Germany, and it involved competence more than morality. I have been a military history nut since fifth or sixth grade, and enlisted as soon as I could. Right out of AIT I was put in an E5 slot; flattering, but being a “one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind” is a bit disconcerting. The rest of my tour there did nothing to impress me with the competence of the Army. When I got to RVN I thought that things would be different. Surely an actual combat unit would be squared away. Took a month or two, but my enthusiasm wore off and my disillusionment grew. Evidently I was the only person to read Bernard Fall et al. or “Infantry” magazine. Deja vu was an everyday occurrence. When I go home and swapped war stories with my father (23 years Navy) he refused to believe me. Tough choice for an Annapolis grad and WWII vet; who do you believe, your first born son or your government and the institution you served for over 20 years? My last year, at Ft. Benning, just confirmed my opinions as to the incompetence and dishonesty (intentional and otherwise) of the Army. There was no future for me in an organization that demanded so much and in return would throw me under the bus or treat me with disrespect at the whim of a a superior. Like 769 I still miss it occasionally. “The best of times, the worst of times…”.… Read more »

rgr769

The one aspect of my military service on active duty (I spent four years in the 19th SFG(A) and a Reserve unit while in law school) is the camaraderie of a group of men doing a dangerous and difficult job. The sense of it was strongest when I was in Vietnam as a rifle company commander, as you lived with your soldiers 24/7. My military service had more to do with making me who I am than anything else in my life.

timactual

“the camaraderie”

Yep. That’s a major plus. Oddly enough, of my current friends the ones I feel closest to happen to also be veterans.

Martinjmpr

I think it’s more the case that the objectives we set for them are not objectives that can be achieved by military force.

The military is good for destroying the enemy on the battlefield. But trying to use the military for creating stability and a functioning civil society where there wasn’t one before is like trying to use a hammer to drive in a screw.

It’s the wrong tool for the job.

For some reason, we didn’t learn that lesson from Vietnam (where, again, the military was being used to try and do something that the military just isn’t very good at doing, in that case it was creating a functioning civil government in South Vietnam.)

Poetrooper

We can probably thank Douglas MacArthur for saddling us with that nation-building burden because of how he set Japan back on course to become a modern industrial powerhouse in such a relatively short time.

Ditto the success of West Germany post-war.

But then again, we were dealing with the Germans and the Japanese…

Martinjmpr

That’s a good point, too. Just as failure can contain the seeds of future success, too often success in one endeavor breeds a future failure.

The Greeks called it Hubris.

Side note: Don’t forget Korea, another country that our military helped to build up from the ashes of war.

Poetrooper

Yes, I thought of Korea moments after posting my comment. That little nation, too, serves as a shining symbol of what can arise from the ashes of war when given the right opportunity by a beneficent superpower partner.

5JC

Poe- The Germans and Japanese were already industrial power houses. All McArthur did was stay out of the way. Although we can blame him for why Japanese porn looks the way it does.

When I was at CGSC they wanted our class to figure out how to turn the Stan in to Switzerland. My suggestion was to give it to Switzerland and move all the Afghanis out.

I got told to be quiet a lot.

Ex-PH2

It’s because the days of Empire Building (e.g., Persia/Parthia, Greece, Rome, England, France, The Golden Horde, etc.) are no longer in evidence. There are no real new worlds left to conquer.

A Proud Infidel®™

Afghanistan isn’t called “The Graveyard of Empires” for no reason, just ask the British, French and the Russians. I did a year over there and it convinced me that there are people that CANNOT be made civilized!

Skippy

Bout Fing time