Archive for the ‘news’ Category

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Karzai wants U.S. to reduce military operations in Afghanistan

In the starkest terms to date, President Karzai said that the visibility and intensity of US/NATO operations must be reduced and that US SOF night raids end. “It’s not desirable for the Afghan people either to have 100,000 or more foreign troops going around the country endlessly,” he said. These were not off the cuff remarks, but instead provided to reporters in an hour-long sit-down interview (an exasperated General Petreaus responded – see associated news report).  Karzai continues to highlight that US/NATO operations are exacerbating the war fatigue Afghans experience daily.

While US/NATO continues to make the claim for a 2014 transition date for full security and the end of combat operations, Karzai increasingly appears to support accelerating the pace of withdrawals and the transition.  His avowed “skepticism” of US policy in Afghanistan will only complicate the next two weeks of debate and the ongoing review, while ground commanders and SOF units continue “endless” operations (to include night raids). 

Karzai did express gratitude for the American support Afghans have received, but questioned the administrations motives.  If this is the “status” of where the US/NATO-Afghanistan relationship, where the President questions “motives”, we have failed in our strategic communications. 

 Petraeus Says Karzai Comments Hurt War Effort – Report

“Astonishment and disappointment”?  Hurting the war effort?  “Undermining General Petreaus?” Hypothetical references to “an inability to continue US operations in the face of Karzai’s remarks”?  The remarks were not a “no-vote confidence of General Petreaus.”    

It is becoming increasingly harder to see the path to any positive outcome in Afghanistan after this recent public rift (of many) between President Karzai and General Petreaus.  The bottomline is that US/NATO policy objectives are at odds.  The US/NATO mission of COIN, with its requisite resources and timeframe, cuts against the grain of Afghan sensibilities, while the reality on the ground is that any progress is not only not welcome but appears counter-productive. Worse yet is that the senior commander and President Karzai continue to raise the stakes of any effective outcome with increasingly public disagreements.  Nothing good can come of this.

Marines Learn Lessons From Tragedy in Afghanistan

Marines deploy for seven-month stints and rotate in and out Afghanistan under a tight set of conditions and protocol.  It has become clear that the most dangerous time for any unit is during this transition period as the new unit adapts to the situation on the ground and the redeploying unit thins their lines.  As this report highlights, even after repeated deployments, this transition often leads to tragedy – but in this instance the Marine unit applied lessons learned to overcome their losses and improve their tactical posture.

As in every conflict, the enemy gets a vote.  Here, in vicinity of Patrol Base Fulod, the enemy has shown its ingenuity and tenacity by improving their tactics and procedures while engaging Marines – and this should not be a surprise.

Future soldiers may be wearing ‘Iron Man’ suits 

Raytheon has developed a XOS-2 exoskeleton “Iron Man” suit, which they hope to deploy to the field no later than 2015 – the initial application is to support material handling and logistics.  It’s incredulous the amount of science and technology creative energy being expended on this project when the obvious emphasis should be placed on improving core soldier platforms (i.e. Body Armor, Helmet, Carbine, Side Arm, and Combat Boots) of which we have seen little improvement?

 Consider smaller Afghan force: US panel 

A Council of Foreign Relations task force released its anticipated study on the war in Afghanistan – bottomline, these experts recommend that if the US reaches a point this summer in 2011 where there is not significant progress and “not working”, then a “more significant drawdown will be warranted.”

Key highlights:

  • “The task force endorses strategies for Pakistan and Afghanistan that place severe demands on the American people. The task force does so knowing that, at best, the margin for US victory is likely to be slim.”
  • “If progress is being made, the United States should be able to draw down its forces starting in July 2011, based on conditions on the ground.”
  • “However, if US efforts are not working, a more significant drawdown to a narrower mission that emphasizes counter-terror objectives with fewer US forces will be warranted.”

The new date to watch in Afghanistan: 2014

 July 2011?  Forget about it…

Stamp released in honor of Beetle Bailey

 If you still use snail mail and you are writing a letter to a deployed trooper, brighten up his day and use a Beetle Bailey stamp.

Colonel (R) David Hackworth – November 11, 1931 – May 5, 2005

Happy Birthday Hack!

History of Veterans Day

Today we honor of all Veterans who put their lives on hold to serve their country – the sacrifices made on behalf of our freedoms are immeasurable.

Thank you for your service!

Is Obama wobbling on Afghanistan withdrawal timeline?

A slight kerfuffle erupted yesterday on the wires when McClatchy Newspapers reported that the Administration was getting wobbly on the plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.  SFTT has monitored this issue for the past few months because of the implications a policy reversal will have on morale and quality of life for deployed troops and their families – and will continue to provide merited updates as the review continues and the outcomes become known.

What Politico does nicely here is to provide the transcript of the senior administration officials briefing to reporters this past Tuesday (11/9/10).   The official briefed the re-statement of the administrations intent to abide by the Presidents order to begin transition and withdrawal of US forces in July 2011, the mechanics (i.e. metrics, frequency of previous reports and internal policy making reports) of the review, the input of the “outputs” of the pending Bonn Conference to the process, and the timing of the release of the review.  For those interested in these details the exchange is revealing.

What is irksome is the soft-shells that have been recently launched by senior military and civilian leaders describing how 2014 is the preferred “transition date”.  The problem is that these heavyweights probably carry more influence to the outcome than an “unnamed senior administration official”, and that indeed is the issue.

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