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President Obama Moves Towards A Final Decision Concerning Afghanistan

Bookmark and Share   If the reports coming out of Associated Press are accurate, President Obama may be prepared to Eikenberry & Karzaitake some measures in Afghanistan which would do us quite well. But those measures will not help us in either the short or the long-term if they are half measures.

AP reported the following on Wednesday evening:

“President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday”.

That news is said to be based upon a “cable” from the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry to the President. The information leaked from that private missive apparently has Eikenberry, a retired General who has served a Command of his own in Afghanistan, pessimistic about the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and their ability to effectively control embattled nation.

The White House is said to be considering three different options not presented to him by his national security council or the any of those charged with prosecoting the war on the ground in Afghanistan.  Each of his own created options will send additional troops to one extent or another but for varying purposes and on a timeline far different from the ones that many feel is appropriate.

One said plan would have a troop surge used to deal with Taliban forces that have recently gotten the upper hand in several regions of the country. Some of these additional forces will be used to hold some areas and buy some time for the Afghani army to reach appropriate strength and capability levels. The remaining troops would simultaneously be used for training the Afghan army.

This is a plan that I support. It is the plan that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice argued for, with the previous administration, for a year before they finally accepted it. Once the Administration did adopt that plan, a troop surge was approved and the plan worked. From that point on, the war in Iraq began to turn around for the United States. The plan was called “clear, hold, build”.

Clear, hold and build was first successfully used by Col. H.R. McMaster in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar. The strategy called for door to door operations that would successfully clear insurgents from the city. Once that was achieved, significant numbers of forces were left behind to hold the city. This allowed residents feel secure and prevented the enemy from simply coming back to the city after we left. With the city now cleared of the enemy and held secure from the enemy, U.S. and Iraqi troops began to build the stable starts of an infrastructure. Wherever this strategy was conducted, it worked. The resurgents were gone and our continued presence, prevented them from returning. As a result, citizens no longer lived in fear and life began to flow unimpeded by terror and violence. To carry out clear, hold and build, more troops and more time were required of us.

This same strategy, or an extremely close version of it, will work in Afghanistan. But it has no chance of working if we expect it to be completed overnight. To carry out such a plan in Afghanistan as a short-term exit strategy will be a half measure and result in a defeat of the purpose of the nine years we have already invested in the Afghani War on Terror.

According to reports, President Obama is simply looking at a way to surrender and leave Afghanistan to whatever fate its ill-equipped government will suffer.

The circumstances we face in Afghanistan are uniquely troubling and to overcoming that which makes it all so troubling will not be accomplished by a quick exit anytime soon.

In addition to waging an effective battle against the Taliban, we have to do whatever is possible to establish a secure, responsible, legitimate government in Afghanistan. If we are not committed to make sure that was is eventually created, than I say pull out right now, because if we are not willing to that, than we are not taking our own plight in the region seriously. But believing for a moment that we are serious about victory in Afghanistan, the most dramatic difficulty that we face in establishing that necessary stable and secure government is the fact that nine out of ten Afghan soldiers do not know how to read. This creates a significant roadblock to any quick training of troops to take our place if we leave anytime soon.

Proper training will be crucial in establishing a stable Afghani government that can takeover our current efforts and continue to render the Taliban ineffective. Under the circumstances, such effective training will take a great deal of time.

I understand that President Obama wants to be able to claim that he ended the war in Afghanistan. He wants to live up to that Nobel Peace Prize that he accepted and received prematurely before he had a chance to do anything. But would it not be a greater accomplishment for him and our nation to b e able to say that he ended the war successfully? For that to be achieved and acknowledged, President Obama can not take any half measures.

If reports are true, Ambassador Eikenberry sees no hope for us in Afghanistan.

Eikenberry wields a great deal of influence over the President in this matter. I only prayer that his defeatism will not be adopted by President Obama, and that the President will continue to wage what he calls a “war of necessity”, to its victorious conclusion. And just to be clear here, victory in Afghanistan is defined by the eventual creation of a government that can do what we are doing——destroy the Taliban and offer the Afghani people a bright future. Anything short of that will leave Afghanistan to again become the breeding and training ground for more 9/11’s to be launched from.

Mr. President, don’t allow that to happen. The future and security of your fellow Americans is far more important than any medal that a bunch of Scandinavians want to hang around your neck.

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