Like the Viet Cong? Where Did Taliban Disappear To?

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helmand soldiers.jpg
There is a potentially eery, disconcerting passage in Dexter Filkins’ interesting report on the Afghan, British and American push into the Taliban stronghold of Marja in Helmand Province.
Filkins notes that the opposition didn’t really materialize, despite reports that they had recently received reinforcements. This may mean that the Taliban are tactically disappearing into the population, a move that the US also saw when fighting in Vietnam.
From Filkins’ article:

On the first full day of operations, much of the expected Taliban resistance failed to materialize. Afghan and NATO troops discovered some bombs, narcotics and weapons caches, but the fighting itself was relatively desultory. There was certainly none of the eyeball-to-eyeball fighting that typified the battle for Falluja in Iraq in 2004, to which the invasion of Marja had been compared.
Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afghan defense minister, said in a news conference in Kabul that the Afghan Army had suffered no dead at all, and only a handful of wounded. He seemed a little surprised at the day’s events.
“Actually, the resistance is not there,” Mr. Wardak said. “Based on our intelligence reports, some of the Taliban have left the area. But we still expected there to be several hundred in the area. Just yesterday, we received reports that reinforcements had arrived from neighboring provinces.”
It seemed possible that many insurgents had just faded away, or at least were waiting to show themselves. American and Afghan commanders took the unusual step of broadcasting their intention to clear Marja several weeks ago, in hopes that Taliban fighters would leave the city and thus make it easier to take hold of the place.

– Steve Clemons

Comments

33 comments on “Like the Viet Cong? Where Did Taliban Disappear To?

  1. Eugnid says:

    Firstly, let us recall that the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) consisted of a nebulous “all things to all men” mélange with rigid Communist core running through the middle. Its basic unit was the “fortified village,” Russian Resistance style. While very “democratic” at the periphery it was very totalitarian at the core (often with cadres from North Vietnam). The Taleban is a loose mix of local interests with an overriding but not domineering mullah as a fundamentalist religious tie up to sanctify pre-Islamic Pashtunwali code. But while VCI was a rigid spine at core of amorphous “coalition” of interests, the village structure of Taliban is natural clan groups held together by a military leader and/or a village mullah. As a result, it has the resilience to a blow of a series of balls that can absorb far more shock of a blow than can a rigid structure like the VCI. Unity is a common Deobani/Wahhabi mélange faith and a common force of “natural” lineage. That is why we failed to penetrate the Taleban infrastructure or to destroy it. We always think it’s based on force and $ when it is really natural. It can absorb far more blows and losing far more cadres than could the VCI. The coordination at village level is not as clean as in VC units, but it more than makes up for that with ever ready Pakistani and Arab fidyeen suicide bombers.
    What we never realized is that we’re not fighting a counterINSURGENCY war but a counterREVOLUTIONARY war and we have no counterREVOLUTION to offer. The only solution to problem of alternative to the Medieval Sharia the Taleban offers is to build new NATO run cities in safer NW where youths are educated and work to produce a national administration. Thus we counter the strict good-old-religion revolution of Taleban with a modernization through urbanization counter-revolution that, as in Vietnam, they can’t beat. Anthropologic studied showed that urbanized youth soon lose their ability to ever readapt to rural setting. This is how we almost won in Vietnam– with MODERNIZATION. Islamic youth prefer modernization over medieval ways. Many accept suicide attack because desperate, believing that they’ll never make it to urbanized modernization. But now all we offer them is wooden headed soldiers that like to shoot at “towelheads” and a crooked semi-classic regime of warlords. In that sense we’re repeating Vietnam.

    Reply

  2. DE Teodoru says:

    Firstly, let us recall that the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) consisted of a nebulous “all things to all men” mélange with rigid Communist core running through the middle. Its basic unit was the “fortified village,” Russian Resistance style. While very “democratic” at the periphery it was very totalitarian at the core (often with cadres from North Vietnam). The Taleban is a loose mix of local interests with an overriding but not domineering mullah as a fundamentalist religious tie up to sanctify pre-Islamic Pashtunwali code. But while VCI was a rigid spine at core of amorphous “coalition” of interests, the village structure of Taliban is natural clan groups held together by a military leader and/or a village mullah. As a result, it has the resilience to a blow of a series of balls that can absorb far more shock of a blow than can a rigid structure like the VCI. Unity is a common Deobani/Wahhabi mélange faith and a common force of “natural” lineage. That is why we failed to penetrate the Taleban infrastructure or to destroy it. We always think it’s based on force and $ when it is really natural. It can absorb far more blows and losing far more cadres than could the VCI. The coordination at village level is not as clean as in VC units, but it more than makes up for that with ever ready Pakistani and Arab fidyeen suicide bombers.
    What we never realized is that we’re not fighting a counterINSURGENCY war but a counterREVOLUTIONARY war and we have no counterREVOLUTION to offer. The only solution to problem of alternative to the Medieval Sharia the Taleban offers is to build new NATO run cities in safer NW where youths are educated and work to produce a national administration. Thus we counter the strict good-old-religion revolution of Taleban with a modernization through urbanization counter-revolution that, as in Vietnam, they can’t beat. Anthropologic studied showed that urbanized youth soon lose their ability to ever readapt to rural setting. This is how we almost won in Vietnam– with MODERNIZATION. Islamic youth prefer modernization over medieval ways. Many accept suicide attack because desperate, believing that they’ll never make it to urbanized modernization. But now all we offer them is wooden headed soldiers that like to shoot at “towelheads” and a crooked semi-classic regime of warlords. In that sense we’re repeating Vietnam.

    Reply

  3. Outraged American says:

    Rabbi Dov Zakheim, comptroller of the Pentagon on 9/11, was
    the former CEO of a company that developed the technology to
    control hijacked planes. The company is called System Planning
    Corporation.
    Zakheim was also a signatory to the Project for the New
    American Century’s document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”.
    It said that it would take an attack a new Pearl Harbor to get
    the American public to follow the neo- Conservative (UsRael)
    agenda, and was written, eerily enough, almost exactly one year
    before 9/11/01 and signed by almost everyone who has profited
    from the military/industrial/ terrorism/ Israel complex.
    Take your schtick somewhere else. Or don’t, because, as
    Kathleen G-A says, our sense of humor is on life support so we
    need clowns like you around.

    Reply

  4. marcus says:

    Col.M has Very concise and clear-headed opinions.BUT I cannot understand his statement that israel had something much to do with the invasion of iraq (apart from the noble tradition of america standing by her allies-which in this instance included not only israel but to an even greater extent Kuwait,U.A.E barhain,saudi arabia and every other arab state that had any friendly relations with the Us)
    The overwhelming rationale was the responsibity to protect iraqs minorities and neighbors,saddams WMD(chemical primarily) and his willingness to use them.Iraqs refusal to abide by the terms of his previous defeat in desert storm(specifically shooting at us planes trying to inforce the no-fly zone)and of course what i think was critical which was defeating the arab worlds meglomaniac of the week.
    This brings me to my final point,which is that IF the US is compelled to use force to rid the world of this weeks Arab meglomaniac (irans mad mullahs)you can indeed blame israel for playing an important part-and twenty years from now you can thank her!(when the Osirak reactor was bombed in 1982,the entire world publically condemed israel,twenty years later-not so much)
    BTW Israel has ALLWAYS identified Iran not Irag(since the islamic revolution)as the regions greatest potential problem,

    Reply

  5. Col. Mathieu says:

    We are there because the national command authorities have decided that an ungoverned space – or one “governed” by the Taliban will be a boon for al-Qa’ida and detrimental to the security of the United States.
    You’ll notice I didn’t say discussing the merits or demerits of that cause is off-limits. Whether this little adventure is worth it or not very debatable.
    That said, not sure where Israel figures into this equation. Iraq, sure. Afghanistan? Not so much, unless you’re one of those pathetic fools who believes the Mossad was at the controls of the 9/11 airliners. . .
    None of that makes this an “unwinnable” war. None of that means that the Taliban fleeing contact from vastly superior ISAF forces means it’s Vietnam all over again and we’re going to lose. My point about all the stupid things said both in this article and in the maddening list of comments is that they show a staggering lack of understanding of what’s going on. The Filkins piece itself is good. Slapping a tag on it and saying “It’s the VC again!” Is sheer intellectual laziness on Steve’s part, and plenty of the rah-rah supporting commentary meets even less of an analytical standard.
    Because when facts don’t support your ideological leaps, absurd exaggerations and generalizations do. . .

    Reply

  6. Outraged American says:

    Col. Mathieu, why are we in Afghanistan? Caspian sea pipeline?
    Israel? Search for dead caveboy? Pls. enlighten.

    Reply

  7. Col. Mathieu says:

    Apparently the Taliban’s military commander didn’t get the memo to disappear and be more like the VC. . . .
    The Taliban are a competent enemy. And just like in every war, the death of Afghan civilians in the mistaken rocket attack was a terrible tragedy. I hope we are doing what we can to minimize the ill-effects. But it’s hardly proof people “get it” or “don’t get it” when it comes to COIN.
    Again, COIN isn’t about clearing operations; by definition, the superior counterinsurgent force should be able to do these with minimal difficulty. The next step is holding the villages, patrolling into the terrain, rooting out the political infrastructure left behind, and convincing the local people their lot is with ISAF and the Kabul government, not the local Taliban contacts. That takes time, patience, and huge amounts of tedious effort.
    Whether all that is (A) worth it, (B) viable long-term, or (C) something we’re even capable of accomplishing is up for honest debate.
    But the fact that the Taliban ran away from massive USMC and UK air assaults is hardly proof that they’re either (pick one) weak and on the run or unconquerable enemies.
    Ill-argued article; worse-argued commentary. But hey, throw a few USrael comments and it must be gold, right?

    Reply

  8. Mina says:

    The problem with US Soldiers are they show no
    respect to the lord-land they go to!
    Every one knows that Afghanistan need help to get
    out from talibans who US supported themselves (NOT
    for long time ago)!
    You can have and show some little bite “respect”
    to the local people and then none single of
    soldiers will be “hated” so much overther and
    then they will be more cooperation from these
    “local foks”!
    They want to be free from these maniacs as much
    the whole world want to be free from all damn
    terrorism!
    PS;I’m an Iranian myself not an Afghan but they
    all know the soldiers are need and some respect
    and better “treatment” from US soldiers will NOT
    harm anyone,you know!

    Reply

  9. Outraged American says:

    Roci, why do we want to beat the Taliban? Sometimes the simplest
    questions are the best. In this case, please you and UsRael’s
    warlords, answer me.

    Reply

  10. Roci says:

    You think this is the first time anything like this has happened in Afghanistan? I commend readers of Military History to the events of the Anglo-Afghan Wars.
    First, dispel completely the simple fallacy that our opposition is a rag tag bunch of unsophisticated natives. That was the first and last mistake the British and later the Russians made. The best of the Taliban are University educated, and they know our minds, and our Military in some cases better than our force commanders on the ground. Tactically, the ground is theirs, as is the defensive in any battle upon it. These two principals are paramount for the Military victory that has been so elusive for the West. Again, it comes back to Sun Tzu. But The West is too full of arrogance to learn the easy way, and so must be made to absorb a needlessly hard lesson again in this century, as it has in the previous two. We shall win only when we teach our leaders and our troops to think, and fight, as the Taliban do. To beat someone at their game, you have to play their game.

    Reply

  11. Jamesl says:

    From Army Tech: “The purpose of HIMARS is to engage and defeat artillery, air defence concentrations, trucks, light armour and personnel carriers, as well as support troop and supply concentrations. HIMARS is able to launch its weapons and move away from the area at high speed before enemy forces are able to locate the launch site.”
    So as Praha said, why were they using these things at all? This isn’t just operational.

    Reply

  12. PrahaPartizan says:

    “…Therefore successful counterinsurgency addresses the political and social imperatives that you note. The Russians reduce sand to glass — or Grozny to gravel — but the Petraeus/Kilcallen (Brits in Malaysia) model is the opposite. Take heart. They really know what they’re doing now…”
    Drew, the high command might “know what it’s doing,” but I really wonder about the operational folks, as evidenced by this “rocket” strike which killed a number of civilians. Additional reporting on the “rockets” which caused this indicates that it was a HIMAR strike which went awry. A simple Google search reveals that the HIMAR is nothing more than the Multiple Launch Rocket System mounted on a wheeled carrier rather than the tracked carrier used in the First Iraq War and which we all saw used to strike the Iraqis in Kuwait. The basic payload of that weapons system is large number of bomblet sub-munitions (baseball sized bombs) which get distributed over a large area. Why is anyone firing such a weapon into an area with any civilians? They didn’t “miss” the target. The civilians were collateral damage and the operational guys just didn’t seem to read the memo their bosses had put out that they were changing the way the war was supposed to be fought. All the good intentions in the world aren’t going to turn this around unless more attention to detail is taken by the folks carrying out the policy.

    Reply

  13. LTI says:

    Drew, The assumption of who the ‘murderous bastards’ are and who resulted in the killing of more ‘civilians’, the US ‘liberators’ or the so-called ‘insurgents’ might have a lot to do with the definition legitimate war. Point is, the military is given a job; they accept the efinition of the legitimacy provided by the pols who are just making it up as they go along.
    “Domestic traitors”, rfjk formulation, not yours. Pretty low, huh?
    Captcha: use back button after first rejection; refresh screen for new captcha; re-submit.

    Reply

  14. Drew says:

    LTI: I thought I had made a pretty good case here for avoiding
    non-existential wars, particularly if they are financed by a
    primary adversary. It’s strategically cockamamie, imo, to go
    broke fighting a war that’s irrelevant to the Big Game, much less
    to go broke fighting an inconsequential war that is financed by
    the primary adversary — who then holds the paper on the 7th
    Fleet.
    I’m happy to debate Vietnam, though I fear the decibel level will
    break 90. But in summary, the whole point of
    counterinsurgency, when it works, is that you win by delivering
    security from the murderous bastards that organize to kill
    civilians; thereby you make friends, the inkspot of secure
    ground grows, and it’s not by body counts, as Petraeus
    demonstrated in Iraq. The whole point is trust, not displays of
    power. Westmoreland lost VN, Abrams won it back, then we
    punked out because the entire exercise took too long. Millions
    of Asians then died.
    Therefore successful counterinsurgency addresses the political
    and social imperatives that you note. The Russians reduce sand
    to glass — or Grozny to gravel — but the Petraeus/Kilcallen
    (Brits in Malaysia) model is the opposite. Take heart. They really
    know what they’re doing now.
    Read David Kilcallen. Read the US Marines small wars manual.
    Read John Boyd. Then what is going on here will make sense, at
    least tactically. It’s not possible to make sense of it, whether or
    not you think it’s a good idea, unless you’ve read those three
    sources.
    (I’m now on my eleventh attempt to satisfy the Captcha widget.)

    Reply

  15. j b ferris says:

    Marja reminds me of Mao’s famous statement:
    “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in
    the sea.”

    Reply

  16. lessthanimpressed says:

    dDrew: The so-called surge will be studied by soldiers and historians for hundreds of years. ”
    rfjk: “Oh brother, you civilian, non military types would do well to ditch comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam. Its by no means the same kind of war. And had anyone properly comprehended the linked article regarding the current military operation in Marja, they may have recognized such is unlike anything the US executed in Vietnam.
    “Its exactly how Petraeus deployed and used the 2007 surge of troops in Iraq to positive effect. If it works in Afghanistan the US may have finally cracked the 60 year nut of combating insurgencies and global terrorism.. . . its successes can’t be denied to the chagrin of America’s enemies and domestic traitors.”
    Drew: “The histrionic left doesn’t read or study military history, and therefore doesn’t understand the magnitude of Petraeus’ innovation
    and success.”
    “Domestic traitors”, eh?
    The Vietnam comparison has much more to do with the political environment in which military force is (wrongly or deceptively) chosen. The military tactics may be more or less successful in the short term, but a military solution to a political and social problem misses the big picture. Again.
    Glad you two gladiators found each other.
    Domestic traitors, eh?

    Reply

  17. Drew says:

    RFJK,
    The histrionic left doesn’t read or study military history, and
    therefore doesn’t understand the magnitude of Petraeus’ innovation
    and success.
    I do think that one should note that Petraeus’ intellectual godfather
    is Kilcallen. He carried a rifle, and then wrote the thesis — and
    then was hired by Petraeus.
    –drew

    Reply

  18. David says:

    Sadly, because of the popular American mindset, which is no different than it was when Nixon was elected in 1968, or for that matter while LBJ was president, Obama is forced to play out the military approach, the military being the only institution Americans admire. I expect it will end similarly. We cannot win militarily, and no other option is actually treated seriously or supported by the general public, which thinks mostly in vague, bumper-sticker terms regarding the Muslim world, al-Qaeda, and terrorism. Fold in the prevailing anti-intellectualism that helps to account for the fact that W could even be taken seriously as a president, let alone elected, and the ferocity of the teabag movement (cf. McCarthyism, the extreme expression of shallow American anti-communism), and it is hard for me to see how an American president could actually pursue genuinely enlightened foreign policies or put militarism back into some kind of balanced perspective.

    Reply

  19. rfjk says:

    Oh brother, you civilian, non military types would do well to ditch comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam. Its by no means the same kind of war. And had anyone properly comprehended the linked article regarding the current military operation in Marja, they may have recognized such is unlike anything the US executed in Vietnam.
    The US is not making the mistakes that classic counter insurgency ops are historically noted for since WWII. The US is implementing an entirely different tool kit in tactics and strategy now defined as Security and Reconstruction operations. Its this greatly expanded NSC, inter-agency, civilian/military doctrine of war-fighting that turned the Bush/Cheney, neocon, Zionist/Lukudnik loser around from certain defeat in Iraq and now tested in Afghanistan.
    Its exactly how Petraeus deployed and used the 2007 surge of troops in Iraq to positive effect. If it works in Afghanistan the US may have finally cracked the 60 year nut of combating insurgencies and global terrorism. As I have said formerly, I was extremely skeptical when these concepts were first aired publicly through the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board some 5 years ago, but its successes can’t be denied to the chagrin of America’s enemies and domestic traitors.

    Reply

  20. JamesL says:

    Yahoo news:
    Oops! Twelve members of the same Afghan family were killed Sunday when two NATO (US) rockets missed their target by 1000 feet.”….deeply regret this tragic loss….,” said Gen. Stanley McChrystal…”….regrettable….”.
    A thousand feet? Big OOPS!
    ***************
    “….”Could you please take the mines out?” Mohammad Kazeem, a local pharmacist, asked the Marines through an interpreter. The entrance to his shop had been completely booby-trapped, without any way for him to re-enter his home, he said.”
    The shopkeeper’s plaintive plea was held over from yesterday’s version of Yahoo’s same article. Today the article ended right there, with the shopkeeper still trapped in writer’s limbo and the US army on the move, focused on WMD’s or Talibans or El Kaduz or whatever was on todays’ shopping list.
    Did US troops remove the mines and release the shopkeeper, or didn’t they? Hmmm. The writer seemed to care more about his cool tag line than finding out for sure. But “Together” isn’t a general mine clearing operation; pathways are cleared for US troop movements. First you hold the pathways, then you hold the ground. Right now we’re just holding pathways. Later, through the miracle of military public relations, the area surrounded by pathways will magically turn into “held ground” and we can all wave flags. See “The Miracle of Fallujah”.
    So what’s really going on is: “You all just sit tight and behave and we’ll be back for ya. Someday.” The ‘mine’ part of ‘hearts and mines’.

    Reply

  21. Outraged American says:

    The long arm of Mossad strikes again. Bomb attack on tourists
    in India just after India/Pak announce talks.
    Gee whiz, now who would want India, Israel’s girlfriend, to NOT
    actually sit down and talk with one of Israel’s arch-nemesis
    (what’s the plural, because Israel has so many?) Pakistan?
    And who would target Westerners in an attempt to enrage the
    world? Surely Pakistan? NOT.
    I wrote a short story about this place after visiting it 20 years
    ago. It was absurd even back then, full of Western nutters from
    the Osho Ashram seeking nirvana or whatever. So much for
    Osho releasing his soul into the universe so that we could all
    enjoy his enlightenment…
    India restaurant bomb blast kills nine in Pune
    (excerpt)
    The bomb blast comes a day after India and Pakistan agreed to
    meet for talks in Delhi on February 25.
    The talks will be their first formal negotiations since the Mumbai
    attacks.
    FULL
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8514232.stm
    And DBK, surely you can’t be suggested that the CIA might want
    to control Afghanistan’s opium trade, because they’ve sure never
    tried before?
    Don’t other answering because it’s obvious you’ll bore us with
    details. THAT WAS A JOKE. Happy V day!

    Reply

  22. DakotabornKansan says:

    The military operation by coalition forces in Marjah, Afghanistan is dubbed “Operation Moshtarak.” Moshtarak means “together” in Dari, although the population in Marjah speaks Pashto. The battle plan, once Marjah has been secured by NATO troops, is for the Afghan National Army forces to stabilize and protect the local Pashtuns. But the Afghan army is largely Dari-speaking Tadjiks. Dari-speaking Tadjiks are no more welcome than Americans, who don’t speak the Pashtun language of the locals. Constant reminders to the locals that those imposing authority over them are foreigners. Will this win the hearts and minds of the local Pashtuns?
    While NATO forces will secure Marjah in the short-term, what about the long-term? Recognizing that vendetta and revenge are likely to be Pashtun long-term responses, how will the Dari-speaking Tadjiks Afghan army fulfill its commitment? Will the United States be required to maintain an open-ended presence?

    Reply

  23. drew says:

    Everything I read and observe suggests that there is ZERO
    intelligence security with any coalition activity, so I have no idea
    how an operation like this (a large one involving Afghan forces)
    could have been sprung without the other side knowing days in
    advance.
    In fact, I would be surprised if it isn’t a training exercise, a dog-
    and-pony show for the MSM, and a feint. The Americans had to
    have believed, in advance, that the bad guys would be briefed
    on the plan.
    The real work in this small and dirty war, anyway, is not being
    done with conventional assaults by these rookie Afghan soldiers,
    70% of whom (I read) are illiterate. By securing this city, the
    hunter-killer teams can now do their thing while inkspot
    counterinsurgency theory (cf. Kilcallen) is deployed across the
    villages.
    I agree: the VC-Taliban analogy doesn’t even rise to the level of
    a similarity/sameness problem. I don’t even know where one
    would start, if one wished to make that comparison. Perhaps
    the only thing the VC and the Taliban have in common is that
    they are opponents of a U.S.-backed government. All guerillas
    hide in plain sight. Mao: fishes: sea. Once the people feel
    secure, they kill or reveal the killers.

    Reply

  24. Outraged American says:

    The Taliban disappeared into their HOMEland, Afghanistan,”The
    Graveyard of Empires.” Theyre fighting for their families. We’re
    fighting for what?
    Lest we forget, Avigdor The Thug Lieberman, Foreign Minister of
    Israel, not The Thug Lieberman we have in the “our” Senate, said
    in March of last year that Afghanistan and Pakistan were the
    greatest threats to Israel.
    Onward Judeo-Christian soldiers. Except that there is no such
    thing as Judeo-Christian — it’s an artificial construct forced
    upon America well after our founding — only since Israel
    declare herself a nation. Islam is closer to Christianity (big hint,
    NO USURY) than Judaism is close to either religion.
    Those poor kids on all sides. The Afghans and the Americans,
    and their allies. Dying for Israel, a place the vast majority of the
    latter don’t know F-all about.
    Most A- Mur-Can troops would probably think that a Matzo Ball
    is a disease they could get on R&R.

    Reply

  25. PrahaPartizan says:

    When I read and heard the headlines today ballyhooing the “offensive” into this last area, all I could think of were the headlines to the various chapters from Bernard Fall’s “Street Without Joy” wherein he detailed the various “offensives” the French forces in Indo-China undertook against the Viet Minh. Every last one of them was successful, according to the military at the time. Not one of them did anything to prevent the slow-motion disaster which was the whole policy in the territory.
    The kinetic part of the policy worked to perfection and the inertial part lacked any staying power. The MSM loves this wild-west cowboy portion of the effort, but it’s the mind-numbing, back-breaking, frustrating work of the next 18 months which will determine if any of this ever made any sense. Who will report on the success or failure of that, because the MSM will have left by the end of next week? How will be learn if and when we “won?”

    Reply

  26. Jamesl says:

    Walking into a stronghold unopposed is too much like walking into a trap. How many times will the US public fall for the hammer and anvil theme? What does the US military do if it occupies and nothing happens? What if their intelligence was faulty, like it often is? How many billions will it cost to move in and set up shop? How many dollars per head of dead suspected Al Qaeda/Taliban/Communist/drug runner/anti-US/insurgent/dead ender will be the final calculation? How many dollars will be spent for those “oops shot your wife so sorry great tragedy” mistakes. What color lollipops will be handed out, and what will be the total number of pallets of dollar bribes? How long will the “strike force” stay? What is happening elsewhere while the force is located (committed) there? Once the “battle” is over and the strike force has moved off for another strike somewhere else, how many of that invading force must remain there for how long to provide “stability”? How soon after the shooting and tanks in the streets does the hearts and minds program kick in and ho many reporters will cover it for how long?
    A thousand here, and thousand there, and pretty soon you’ve got an entire ‘rapid response force” in your grasp.
    It would be far cheaper to load up all our spare ICBMS with Homelite generators, fuel, frozen turkeys, Rice A Roni, clean underwear, canned vegetables, medicine, soap, and prosthetic limbs, and parachute a carpet of Things Useful to People over the Afghan landscape.
    They can call this tactic any new name they want, but it’s not new. We’ve done it before, lots of times, with different labels.
    Military intelligence? Really, the US military does not seem to have any.

    Reply

  27. DakotabornKansan says:

    “It may be that no Taliban stood and fought as the invasion took place…Taliban are guerrillas who know they are outgunned, so the whole point of being a guerrilla is that one fades away rather than standing and fighting. They may also fear public backlash if they are blamed for substantial damage to the city” – Juan Cole/Informed Comment
    Implications of tremendous long-term costs. Are we encouraging a gap between increased Afghan government obligations and capabilities? How will the Afghan army or police fulfill its commitment, and how will the Afghan government pay it? Will the United States be required to maintain an open-ended presence and to continue to fund Afghan government operations indefinitely?

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Actually, the resistance is not there,” Mr. Wardak said. “Based on our intelligence reports, some of the Taliban have left the area. But we still expected there to be several hundred in the area. Just yesterday, we received reports that reinforcements had arrived from neighboring provinces.”
    We make decisions on what to believe based on what criteria? Sourcing? How credible is the DOD? Our intelligence agencies? White House spokespeople? The so called “Fourth Estate”? Truth is, we don’t have a fuckin’ clue what the truth is, except the certainty of knowing that what we are being told ain’t it.
    For all we know, we are in Marja because some uppity tribal leader is threatening to disrupt the production of heroin paste, and it has nuthin’ to do with the Taliban.
    I’m just saying, we get lied to how much before ALL the narrative becomes suspect? If one of you can cite a “source” we can deem credible, I’m all ears.

    Reply

  29. Mr.Murder says:

    The NVA and ‘Cong were armed with AKs, mostly produced in China?
    No similarity whatsoevah….

    Reply

  30. David Billington says:

    Steve,
    Have you read the Johnson and Mason article online comparing
    Afghanistan and Vietnam in the November/December 2009 issue
    of Military Review? The article does not take into account the
    absence in Afghanistan of anything equivalent to the North
    Vietnamese army, but the other points in the article may provide a
    framework for understanding similarities and differences.

    Reply

  31. ... says:

    if the military complex needs an endless pit to drop unlimited usa taxpayers money into, who is to stop them? certainly not a usa politician or congress person!!!

    Reply

  32. ... says:

    steve, i don’t think making comparisons with vietnam and hunting down the taliban, or al qaeda are allowed into the usa endless conversations around stuff like this… they have always been out of bounds as they make too much sense….

    Reply

  33. Paul Wicker says:

    It’s all a bloody farce. The US tell the Talibs where and when they’re going to attack so the Talibs can melt away, meanwhile the negotiations for US withdrawal continue in the dark. It’s about domestic politics and looking tough, never mind the innocent dead.

    Reply

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