The NY Times reports Two deadly attacks on remote posts highlight Afghan risks.
Insurgents carried out a bold daylight strike on two bases on the Pakistani border, killing eight Americans and four Afghan security officers in the deadliest attack for American soldiers in more than a year…
The provincial police chief, Muhammad Qasim Jangulbagh, estimated that about 300 militants took part… The Americans fought back with helicopters, heavy guns and airstrikes, but the insurgents were persistent and the battle lasted into the afternoon…
The LA Times adds the attacks were a “Fierce and tightly coordinated onslaught” by “insurgents”. “The Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the attack, but NATO’s International Security Assistance Force blamed ‘tribal militia.'”
Also, the LA Times reports this latest Assault points out U.S. vulnerabilities in Afghanistan. This “was precisely the kind of attack” that U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal wants to avoid by “ordering troops to withdraw from such small outposts, concentrating instead on defending population centers”.
By coincidence, Saturday’s battle came at a time of renewed scrutiny of an attack that took place in Nuristan in July 2008 and came to be known as the Battle of Wanat. In it, a thinly manned American-Afghan outpost was nearly overrun by insurgents, and nine U.S. soldiers — about one-fifth of the American contingent there — were killed in desperate close-quarters combat.
The Washington Post reports the Battle of Wanat is a Symbol of the U.S. military’s missteps in the Afghan war. “The rocket-propelled grenade and rifle fire was so intense that most of the soldiers spent the opening minutes of the battle lying on their stomachs, praying that the enemy would run out of ammunition.” At the end of the battle on July 13, 2008, nine U.S. soldiers were dead and 27 were wounded.
Back in the U.S., The Hill reports President Obama’s decision on Afghanistan strategy due in ‘a matter of weeks according to Retired Gen. James L. Jones, the president’s national security advisor. “We have time on the president’s schedule,” Jones said. “He’s going to devote an enormous amount of his time to lead us do this.”
Whatever Obama chooses, “I can assure you that the president of the United States is not playing to any political base,” Jones said.
Of course, that is because Obama will ultimately play to the M-I-C base. Foreign Policy reports The CIA finds job security in Afghanistan.
Popular discussions of U.S. alternatives for Afghanistan focus on three options: McChrystal’s beefed-up counterinsurgency campaign; a counterterror campaign using special operations raids and drone strikes; and abandonment…
One thing all of these options have in common is a requirement for greater CIA participation…
Afghanistan seems bound to provide job security for the CIA.
Lastly, the CS Monitor wonders Is U.S. strategy in Afghanistan working? “Counter-insurgency methods” have now become the U.S. military’s “preferred method of conducting warfare in an era of global terrorism and stateless enemies.”
Many worry that the US has tilted too far toward a trendy new type of warfare that is eroding its conventional capabilities and might lead it to commit to more expensive, open-ended conflicts 40 years after Vietnam.
“I think the notion of using the Army to change entire societies … is highly problematic,” says Col. Gian Gentile, head of the military history program at the US Military Academy at West Point.
“President Obama has defined the mission in Afghanistan as rooting out Al Qaeda and preventing a return of the Taliban to power”. However, “nowhere in McChrystal’s memo did the words ‘Al Qaeda’ appear. The definition of what it means to defeat Al Qaeda had expanded – from disrupting, capturing, or killing its operatives to creating conditions that wouldn’t allow their return.”