President Obama has agreed with SecDef Gates that a surge is what is needed in Afghanistan to turn the growing tide of violence and to deal with the annual Taliban spring offensive. Units that were scheduled to go to Iraq are being re-directed to Afghanistan with the popular opinion that “a surge worked in Iraq and by golly it ought to work in Afghanistan also.”
I’m reminded of the expression “ready to fight the last war”. Afghanistan has withstood the efforts of would be conquers for centuries, Pakistan is no more settled on its approach to the tribal no man’s land today than it was years ago. Is more troops the answer? I’m inclined to think not exactly.
Merely increasing the amount of US footprint might increase the security for a while, but unless there are fundamental changes in the Afghani tribal security picture, the economy and the government, a troop surge is like adding more crew to the Titanic.
Some fundamental questions need to be raised – which have hopefully been asked answered. Questions like:
Is there an overall information engagement plan for the country?
Have the vagaries of large numbers of disparate tribes with low levels of literacy or specialty dialects been factored into the overall plan?
Are PSYOP soldiers training with the newly redirected units?
Has the linguistic pool been increased to provide the larger force with the coverage they will need?
What lessons learned in Iraq can REALLY be applied to Afghanistan?
Will the low level of technology and mass media aid or hamper PSYOP and information engagement efforts?
Does it make sense to build up a journalistic infrastructure in Afghanistan? If so, under whose auspices?
Given that Afghanistan is a NATO mission will US training and doctrine easily mesh with other nations’?
Are multi-national exercises or combined-joint pre-deployment training planned?
Strikes me that the mission in Afghanistan is far more dangerous and far more complex than Iraq. Afghanistan lacks the urban clusters of Iraq and it’s ethnic composition is more of a mosaic than a simple bifurcation.
It’s clear to me that adaptation and innovation are key to success in Afghanistan. Perhaps we’ll need to mount some loudspeakers on the local transportation show above. (Photo courtesy of: http://www.defenselink.mil/dodcmsshare/homepagephoto/2008-07/hires_080709-M-6668G-021b.jpg)