. . . There are still corrupt, lazy, incompetent senior officers in the ranks, clinging to positions they’ve bought or traded for. Yet for every one of them, I met five young, hungry soldiers eager to take up the fight. Men like Jawad, a brilliant 23-year-old intelligence officer, or Jamaluddin, a sergeant major who had revolutionized his entire battalion from within.
I watched them wake up early every morning to drive unarmored Ford Rangers down some of the most dangerous roads in the world. They unfurl huge Afghan flags and fly them from every truck. I watched them run toward the sound of gunfire, despite often having only a Vietnam-era flak vest or less to protect them. These men are Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks and, increasingly, Pashtuns — former rivals now working together. They are the beginnings of a nation.
“Winning” is a meaningless word in this type of war, but something is happening in the Afghan south that gives me hope. Rather than resignation, America should show resolve — not to maintain a large troop presence or extend timelines, but to be smarter about the way we use our tapering resources to empower those Afghans willing to lead and serve.
For all our technology and firepower, we will succeed or fail based on what happens after we bring our troops home. . .
Hat tip to Colonel Lang for presenting Major Lujan's view favorably. I can respect the Major's conviction, and he comes across as a real Mensch, but Lang's right as to our inability to deal in the long term . . .
Also, for me from a strategic theory perspective, this is a non-starter.
We simply lack the cohesion to pull something like this off, so maybe we should consider some nation-building at home, although that would require us to come to terms with our own problems.
The ability to perform strategic operations, to achieve extensive political goals requires a high level of both national/social cohesion, as in the means/values mix needed to carry out such ambitions, but also the material resources/international conditions available to see them through.
What would be the historical analogy to the US situation in AFghanistan in 2011? The US in the Philippines in 1925? Or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 1988? Or . . . ?