The War Addicts Alternative Mission in Afghanistan



The War Addicts – 2016 and Then Some

by Tom Engelhardt

Sometimes it’s the little things in the big stories that catch your eye.  On Monday, the Washington Post ran the first of three pieces adapted from Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars, a vivid account of the way the U.S. high command boxed the Commander-in-Chief into the smallest of Afghan corners.  As an illustration, the Post included a graphic the military offered President Obama at a key November 2009 meeting to review war policy.  It caught in a nutshell the favored “solution” to the Afghan War of those in charge of fighting it — Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General David Petraeus, then-Centcom commander, General Stanley McChrystal, then-Afghan War commander, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among others.

Labeled “Alternative Mission in Afghanistan,” it’s a classic of visual wish fulfillment.  Atop it is a soaring green line that represents the growing strength of the notoriously underwhelming “Afghan Forces,” military and police, as they move toward a theoretical goal of 400,000 — an unlikely “end state” given present desertion rates.  Underneath that green trajectory of putative success is a modest, herky-jerky blue curving line, representing the 40,000 U.S. troops Gates, Petraeus, Mullen, and company were pressuring the president to surge into Afghanistan.

The eye-catching detail, however, was the dating on the chart.  Sometime between 2013 and 2016, according to a hesitant dotted white line (that left plenty of room for error), those U.S. surge forces would be drawn down radically enough to dip somewhere below — don’t gasp — the 68,000 level.  In other words, three to six years from now, if all went as planned — a radical unlikelihood, given the Afghan War so far — the U.S. might be back close to the force levels of early 2009, before the President’s second surge was launched.  (When Obama entered office, there were only 31,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.)

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Or consider the three $100 million bases (or parts of bases) that Walter Pincus of the Washington Post reported the Pentagon is now preparing to build in Afghanistan.  These, he adds, won’t be ready for use until, at best, “later in 2011,” well after the Obama troop drawdown is set to begin.  According to Noah Shachtman of the Danger Room blog, one $100 million upgrade for a future Special Operations headquarters in northern Afghanistan, when done, will include: a “communications building, Tactical Operations Center, training facility, medical aid station, Vehicle Maintenance Facility… dining facility, laundry facility, and a kennel to support working dogs… Supporting facilities include roads, power production system and electrical distribution, water well, non-potable water production, water storage, water distribution, sanitary sewer collection system, communication manhole/duct system, curbs, walkways, drainage, and parking. Additionally, the project will include site preparation and compound security measures to include guard towers.”  

A State of War to the Horizon

Tell me: Does this sound like a military getting ready to leave town any time soon?

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And let’s not leave out the Army’s incessant planning for the distant future embodied in a recently published report, “Operating Concept, 2016-2028,” overseen by Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, a senior advisor to Gen. David Petraeus.  It opts to ditch “Buck Rogers” visions of futuristic war, and instead to imagine counterinsurgency operations, grimly referred to as “wars of exhaustion,” in one, two, many Afghanistans to the distant horizon.

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3 comments

    • Edger on October 1, 2010 at 5:19 pm
      Author
  1. embarking on a new war. One with Pakistan. The masters of war are saying that this is just another front on our endless, boarder less an war on terra. Here we go again! Take a nap edger its off we go again to war to war…

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