Two days ago, a Soldier from my unit, 2nd Infantry Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan. SSG Michael Ollis, 24 years old, was killed when Taliban insurgents attacked FOB Ghazni with a vehicle-borne IED, indirect mortar fire, and small arms fire. The insurgents penetrated the wall of the base, and remained inside, fighting for 6 hours.
FOB Ghazni is controlled by Polish forces. Soldiers from 2-22IN moved through FOB Ghazni on their way north while leaving Ghazni, only a couple of weeks from returning home. SSG Ollis made it 8 months. This was his third deployment to a combat zone.
I ask that you say a prayer for his mother and father, the two surviving members of his family.
“Deeds Not Words”
The burning of the Korans at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and the subsequent riots and murder of 5 NATO soldiers put all questions to rest about our future in the country. There is nothing more the US can gain in this war. Amid our apologies and groveling, our warped attempts to prove we are not imperialists, the Taliban and crime lords thrive, resting peacefully in Pakistan. And we still pace the floor like Hamlet churning the possibilities through Washington’s mushy head.
The cultural differences between the US and many Afghans are so great, they simply cannot be overcome in a manner that benefits in any meaningful way the US. The country is still largely run by thieves and criminals, and outside Kabul there is little true support for the US effort. Our national prestige is being drained away by the ridiculous “sensitivity” of Pashtun Muslims, whom seize upon any sleight as a reason to engage in mayhem.
Why are we still there? It’s time to leave, and let Afghanistan face the reality it created for itself. A future of crime, chaos, fundamentalism and misery. To the Afghan government and the Taliban: Keep your evil inside your own borders this time.To Washington: Stop embarrasing your nation and its troops with your equivocating and hand wringing. Bring back the pop-up targets you’ve provided for blood drenched, hateful Islamists.
Bring our boys home.
While redeploying from Afghanistan back to Germany, I passed through Kabul International Airport. Inside the recreation center, several Pakistani military officers played table tennis. They were part of the military partnership between America and Pakistan.
As I sat watching the game, a Pak officer approached and sat down next to me. He inquired about my 101st Airborne combat patch. He told me that the 101st recently left Afghanistan, so he wondered why I was still there. I told him that I’d deployed as an individually attached soldier. In other words, though I was in a combat zone with the 101st, I was on loan from another unit and my deployment cycle didn’t quite sync with the 101st.
The officer was extremely charismatic and smooth. He combined the attributes of Pakistan’s old English military masters with Eastern guile. I’ve read of some other accounts similar to mine. People who meet Pakistani military officers are somewhat beguiled. I was immediately put on the defensive by this officer, but I believe that if it wasn’t for my current job and my experience as a cop, I would have come away thinking: “Maybe we’re just misunderstanding Pakistan.”
We know what Pakistan is up to politically and militarily. Yet Pakistan’s ability to say one thing and do another is unparalleled. I believe Americans, who’ve grown up in a country where trust is common, despite media cynicism, are easily led by such well-honed deceptive skills. This is why our policy regarding Pakistan remains unchanged despite evidence that we should probably take a harder stance.
Admiral Mullen’s recent comments on Pak duplicity ring true to me. But I believe the snake charmers in Pakistan will continue to lead many astray.
Recently, Israeli Major-General Eyal Eisenberg predicted an “Arab Winter” in which the revolutions taking place around the Arab world culminate in a multi-front general war against Israel. While it remains to be seen if that’s the case, I take a very dim view of what’s happening in places like Egypt and Libya. Not surprisingly, many on the Left are overjoyed at the Arab Spring. To them, it’s about Muslim hippies fighting The Man. At an intellectual level, they may sense the guile and will of Jihadist Islam, but they willfully ignore this in favor of Coke and a Smile in Muslim lands.
The Arab Spring fits quite nicely into the Global Insurgency theory of modern terrorism. This theory posits that Islamic Salafists (those holding to rigid, medieval views of Islam and life in general), are not only working in local insurgencies, but hope that various uprisings around the world will eventually coalesce into a greater Islamic state. It is similar in ways to Mao’s and Lenin’s doctrines. The local fighters of course do not think at this level, worrying only about their immediate needs. But people at the top of al-Qaeda and similar terrorist organizations do think about the big picture.
We must also consider how clever al-Qaeda’s masterminds are. Jihadists, for instance, have actually studied the homosexual movement in America in order to find out how such a small group can cause so much change on its behalf. I believe that many in the jihadist movement came to recognize the Western mind’s affinity for a popular uprising. In stead of a “top down” jihad, with men like bin Laden and Abu Zarqawi getting lots of media attention, the jihadist movement is now trying to put a grassroots face on its global insurgency. And it’s worked brilliantly. There’s very little to indicate that those who’ve seized power in Egypt and Libya know very much about running a country, but al-Qaeda got what it wanted: the removal of secular Arab leadership from the Sinai Peninsula with all the trappings of state power left intact and with no Western troops on the ground to make sure things turn out the way the West would prefer.
The Palestinian cause represents the great Red Herring for al-Qaeda. Arab despots and terrorist groups need the Palestinians because it keeps the worlds eyes off what those Arab leaders are really doing. No mater what happens, they can keep pointing to Israeli “oppression”, which is why Palestinians never really want to come to the discussion table and cut a real deal; they’re being manipulated and funded by terrorists in order to maintain pressure on Israel. The Palestinians are being used as a classic, global insurgency agitation tool. The Palestinians will continue to sucker-punch Israel. Al-Qaeda et al hopes that Israel will respond in a way which negatively changes world opinion against the Jewish state, thus opening Israel to attack by Arab states without Western intervention.
Moammar Gaddafi has been wrenched from power by a group of rebels whose composition remains ambiguous and possibly quite dangerous.
In the end, it seems like the West is worse off than it was a year ago; the entire Sinai Peninsula is essentially under the control of the combined forces of al-Qaeda in Iraq, The Muslim Brotherhood, and a rag-tag group of insurgents whose loyalties will likely go to the highest bidder. We now have to worry about Gaddafi’s massive stocks of surface-to-air missiles and his alleged loads of chemical weapons. What? WMD you say? The rebels descending on Tripoli have already raided some of the Libyan military’s weapons stores. We must assume that al-Qaeda has operatives stalking the land trying to get their hands on weapons not otherwise easily obtained. After all, the highest numbers of foreign fighters that entered Iraq to join the insurgency were from Libya and one of the Libyan rebel leaders admits to fighting and recruiting for al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Without NATO forces on the ground, expect chaos to reign and civil war-lite to be the order of the day in Libya.
Meanwhile, the media largely ignored events in Egypt prior to the recent death of Egyptian security officers in clashes between Palestinians and the IDF. Egyptian prisons were opened up after Mubarak resigned, releasing hundreds if not thousands of hard core jihadists. Many Egyptian police stations are subject to attack and some have been abandoned. The gas pipeline between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai has been attacked 5 times. Yet nary a peep from the media, whom loves a good revolution. A look at history shows bad things happen in Egypt when the jihadists are released from jail, even in an act of goodwill. Sadat paid the price for such folly.
Perhaps most troubling is that Egypt and Libya border one another. While it may not be the Caliphate, it seems the same forces are active in both countries, and their proximity will make whatever plans al-Qaeda has in the region all the more tenable.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and its the elements that are most willing to employ force in the Muslim world that always fill the voids. Fundamentalist Islam has doomed the Muslim world to these options: Either a heavy handed if anti-extremist ruler controls the country with harsh laws and uses of his security forces to crush extremists; religious extremists maintain power in many of the same ways while funding proxy terror orgs, as Iran does; or fundamentalist militants rain chaos and destruction, such as in Somalia and Yemen.
None of this bodes well for Israel, and ultimately the West. The Long War just got longer.
America no longer has the will to fight and win wars. If our enemies are able to weather our airstrikes, we are wholly unprepared at nearly every level to place sufficient pressure on fanatical guerrillas whom find war a preferable state to peace. Never in history has an army enjoyed such a monopoly on firepower and mobility as does America, and yet been so unwilling to use it.
We are blessed by the geographical bulwarks of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and cursed with partisan demagogues in Washington who know little of military history or the culture of war. Perfectly willing to start a war, the politicians don’t want to hear what it takes to win it. No matter how much data multi-million dollar computer networks feed those in the Pentagon and Congress, few of the recipients of that data can feel our wars; the data crunchers and politicos can know the wars, but the visceral sensations of ground commanders and grunts will always be beyond them, as thus we can assume that almost all of their decisions will prove inadequate. When war does not fit into comfort zones or proffered theories, many believe we just need to try harder to make the theories work. Few would question the theories themselves lest horrible answers become truths.
Washington’s elites are safe when we lose. The 25 year old squad leader in Afghanistan is not.
The quaint mythologies of counterinsurgency theorems have us following a Yellow Brick Road paved by Non-Governmental Agencies and State Department aid money. We hoped that Oz was a place where suicidal zealots laid down their rifles and stopped making bombs in exchange for a school house and a new pair of shoes. When the curtain was thrown aside to reveal the Wizard, we saw his bloody hand raised skyward, grasping the severed head of the school teacher. And even when the sheer brutality and power of the Taliban terrorist revealed itself, we refused to believe what we saw. We prefer to think that all men want peace, that brutality doesn’t work, and that killing cannot be the answer. Convenient dreams for those in Washington whose greatest daily danger is a Tweeted revelation of sexual misconduct. We question ourselves whereas the men of old, seeing the world more clearly than do we, quickly identified the problem and dealt with it. Swimming is oceans of information, we find it more difficult to choose proper paths, but the ancient warriors of yore, though lacking technological aids—perhaps because he lacked those aids—instinctively discerned human psychology.
Enter Alexander The Great. Imagine for a moment that future technologies could spring the Macedonian king back to life and the modern social and political delusions that prevent decisive victories in war have vanished by the wayside. Now place Alexander in command of history’s most powerful military and charge him with defeating the insurgency in Afghanistan. First, we’ll have to listen to Alexander give us a history lesson. Contrary to revisionists whom extol the invincibility of Afghans fighters, Alexander was never defeated by the people inhabiting the land we now call Afghanistan. And then he would tell us that his tutor, Aristotle, wasn’t about giving peace a chance; the father of Western philosophy implored young Alexander to force Hellenistic ethnic supremacy upon the world of the barbarians.
To the Neo-Alexander, defeating the Taliban begins with an offer to meet insurgent leadership at the bargaining table. And here’s the offer: Submit or die. This language resonates with the Taliban at a far deeper level than does the current Coalition Force offers of reintegration and power sharing. A reasonable man, Alexander offers the Taliban their religion and way of life in exchange for their weapons. The sovereign lines of the Pakistani border mean nothing. They are semi-porous membranes that hold back American power and allow insurgents to move freely to and from their safe havens in Pakistan. In response to each suicide bomber making his way from Western Pakistan, Alexander orders biometric identification through DNA testing, and using covert CIA intelligence cells seeded throughout Pakistan, identifies the village from which the suicide bomber originated. The Macedonian orders B-2 bomber and Reaper drone strikes on all known Madrassas in the village. No apologies are offered for civilian casualties. The retributive strikes are timely and painful. The suicide bombers quickly transform from heroes to sources of great pain in the villages. Soon, being a suicide bomber is disgraceful, not honorable.
The terrorists resort to using their greatest weapon: The media. In response, all media embeds are ordered to leave Afghanistan. Journalists stream into North and South Waziristan, hoping to document American atrocities. Members of the Haqqani Network set up ad hoc repeater stations, hoping to broadcast propaganda from small, handheld Motorola VHF radios. America counters by dropping electromagnetic pulse bombs at random intervals into the tribal areas. These weapons destroy any modern electronic equipment, leaving journalists to their pens and notebooks and Haqqani insurgents to courier communications.
As for terrorist infiltration along the Pakistan border, Alexander knows that not every infiltrator can be stopped. However, it is possible to make crossing into Afghanistan too painful a gamble. Areas along the border are declared free-fire zones. Approximately 5 kilometers on each side of the border are free-fire; that is, since the areas are assumed cleared, anyone in those areas can be fired on. The 5 kilometer range allows for ranges of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and Haqqani Network rocket fire, such as which killed two American Soldiers at FOB Salerno in May of 2011 (with no punitive action taken by the US military out of respect to our Pakistani “friends”).
Entire villages will be held accountable for the actions of individuals that live within them. Villagers in Afghanistan always know what goes on within the village. Villages where US forces are attacked will be subject to curfews and those found to be involved in insurgent activity shall be given a field trial by US military officers and if found guilty, executed. Special Operations night raids and air assaults will be constant in areas infested with Taliban, al-Qaeda and Haqqani fighters. Protests by villagers about the night raids will be ignored, as most of these protests are spawned by agitated insurgents. The cooperation of local villagers is the goal, but America under Alexander will place the safety of her troops and the destruction of the insurgency above the safety of villagers. Civilian casualties will be avoided when possible, but local Afghans will need to provide intelligence and information to American forces in order to ensure that America kills the right people. Otherwise, the insurgents will merely use civilains as living shields. Cooperation will help both the Afghans and America. The “sanctity” of the people will no longer be assumed; entire populations can be just as evil as individuals. The terrorists will be held to the same standards that the US military is held. All war crimes will be prosecuted in the field if possible.
The shrines of dead al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters will be closely monitored by payed CIA informants. Sympathizers who come to venerate terrorist grave sites will be followed, and at a convenient time, interviewed and their biometric data entered into a huge data base known as BATS–Biometrically Automated Toolset. These people will be placed on watch lists, denied entry to US bases, and denied the possibility of serving within Afghan government security forces for 5 years. Individuals assessed to be of a higher threat level shall be denied access and government work on a permanent basis.
Alexander will reward the friends of America. India, the largest democracy on Earth, will be provided special trade rights. She has earned it. A full embargo of Pakistan will commence. We have treated our enemies better than our friends in hopes that our goodwill would bring them to our side. But they mistook our goodwill for weakness. Those who fought bravely beside us, such as Britain, did not get 4 billion dollar rewards, such as did Pakistan.
Every chance will be given to those in the Federally Administered tribal Region of Pakistan to formally surrender Siraj and Jallaludin Haqqani, the familial leaders of the Haqqani Network. America will make war for a better peace denied her by maniacs. Letters will dropped in each village in North and South Waziristan, telling the inhabitants to give up their weapons and submit to searches of their residences. Aggressive actions taken by Pak military units will result in 5,000 lb GBU-28 Penetrator Bombs being dropped on all Pakistani nuclear missile sites, which have been carefully tracked by the National Ground Intelligence Center and the National Geospatial Agency for years. Alexander–a genius at war–knows that this war will escalate. All wars escalate. But no one can out-escalate the United States Military.
Villages not wishing to submit to search will be given 24 hours notice to evacuate. Then the village will be razed by Fire Support Teams (FIST) utilizing 155 mm Howitzer fire and B-52 Arc Light strikes and tactical airstrikes under the guidance of Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) teams. Not only will there be no apologies for these actions, Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) units will broadcast images of the destruction to other villages, warning them of the implications of resistance.
Anything less than the above guarantees an American defeat in Afghanistan. If our leaders cannot do what Alexander would do, they should save the blood of our Soldiers and Marines and bring them home. And they should never again begin or escalate a war for political gain if they don’t intend to win it.