Not sure how much arm-twisting went on to get Afghan President Karzai to change his mind, but yesterday NATO reported that he was actually on board with NATO’s military campaign and “reluctantly” in support of nighttime SOF raids. President Karzai nor his staff could be reached for comment, but if the old adage of “the first report is a false report” holds true, we can expect some additional clarifying statements over the next few days as NATO, President Karzai, and regional partners meet in Lisbon to discuss an end state for the NATO mission. Secretary Gates yesterday affirmed that there was no distance between President Karzai and General Petreaus. So NATO, the Secretary of Defense and President Karzai are finally all on the same sheet of music. Finally.
Secretary Gates took on the recommendations to cut defense procurement by 15 percent and its research and development by 10 percent yesterday when he met with the WSJ’s CEO Council. He called the recommendation to slash the defense budget “math, not strategy” and that the Departments intent was to “figure out how to kill programs that aren’t working.” Given this position, any effort to review and replace individual equipment and small arms in the near future will compete directly with big-ticket weapons programs and sustaining personnel and manpower requirements. Yes, it is about strategy, but it is also about math. Especially if you consider the fact that the Department has embraced a strategic shift to COIN doctrine (and its application), which requires an endless calculus of “counter-insurgents” and proper individual equipment and small arms to support these endeavors. Unfortunately you can’t have it both ways when trying to sustain US military might under the threats and circumstances that we face.
New Equipment Brings Greater Mobility in Afghanistan
This Youtube video provides some insight into the conundrum troops face when trying to lighten their combat load to improve mobility – a clear sacrifice of safety for survival in higher altitudes. These troops in the Korengal are now wearing plate carriers instead of the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV). Note that there is an underreported deficiency in the IOTV and the pull tab which sometimes, when used “might get caught on something and fall apart”. If the plate carrier is being used to give troopers mobility – no issue, understand, and that is a commander’s risk assessment call. But if the plate carrier is being used to replace the IOTV because it “falls apart”, then fixes to the tab need to be addressed immediately.
“Taps” is played everyday at funerals for our fallen heroes…
“Fading light dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar drawing nigh — Falls the night.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Then good night, peaceful night,
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright;
God is near, do not fear — Friend, good night.”