Saturday, September 01, 2007

Spinning Our Wheels

A pretty frank admission for the military, particularly when the government back home is trying to sell the idea of progress in Afghanistan. Whack a mole:
Canadian soldiers here are trapped in a loop that has the fourth iteration of troops battling for the exactly the same ground their predecessors in southern Afghanistan fought to take.

“We essentially have to start from scratch, you know,” Brigadier-General Guy Laroche told The Globe and Mail this week in an interview at the main coalition base at Kandahar Air Field.

“Everything we have done in that regard is not a waste of time, but close to it, I would say.”

Canadians have been fighting and dying for the same pieces of ground in the same two volatile areas – the lush plains of the notorious Zhari and Panjwai districts that border the Arghandab River – just west of the provincial capital since February, 2006.

The pattern is always the same: The Canadians invariably win the military battle, send the Taliban and the various warlords and drug criminals who are their natural allies on the run, hand over to the fledgling Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and then find most of their hard-fought gains are lost in the fetid stew of corruption, ineptitude and tribal quarrels that remains the norm in this part of the country.

If those comments don't speak to a drastic re-think, I don't know what does. Laroche basically acknowledges the futility of trying to defeat the Taliban militarily, hardly a moral booster or a testament to justifiable loss of life. How many times have we heard the word "success" attached to a particular offensive? Sorry to say, but it begs the question, are people dying in vain, as opposed to the heroic rhetoric of the "support the troops" crowd?


Anonymous said...

great blog on the best piece of journalism on Afghanistan to reach MSM

Anonymous said...

I meant to add to the above compliment that the confusion and dissaray covered in Chritie's article is likely directly due to the US unwillingness to turn command/decision making over to either the UN or NATO.
US vanity and greed will be the ultimate undoing of the good intentions of the rest of NATO and secure failure in Afghanistan.

Steve V said...

"likely directly due to the US unwillingness to turn command/decision making over to either the UN or NATO."

We never seem to hear much about who is calling the shots, only vague references to NATO. NATO is just a front for the Americans, and it makes the war more acceptable to Canadians. There is the illusion of control, but someone should be asking how our input effects strategy.

KURSK said...

While a military victory in total is a noble goal for any military, the ability to disrupt the enemies command and control as well as future decision making goes very much towards that end.

We stay the course, and disrupt as much as possible ..over there..Al-quedas ability to organize
and plan future attacks from a safe base, and we are doing the job.

All the other humanitarian concerns are just frosting on the cake.

Steve V said...


I don't see any evidence that the Taliban is neutered with this strategy, and they never will be with the safe haven along the border, not to mention the situation articulated above. The only way to stabilize the country is too provide aid, and create an environment where people turn away from the Taliban.