Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear President Obama

I think you all know how I love to share what our boots on the ground have to say. Today, some helpful insights from one of our best in Afghanistan. Writing on Afghanistan Shrugged, he says:
Dear, President Obama

I know that you just took office about 48 hours ago and you’ve got a lot on your plate; but I thought I’d provide you with a small letter for SA, situational awareness. I’m sure that GEN Petraus will provide one for you also; but mine comes from the trenches of the War On Terror. My team is out here every day making sure that the policies you set forth get carried out; so we see the impact, successes and failures first hand.

First, let me describe the current situation from my fighting position. It’s not great. Currently we’re chasing the wrong thing, that being enemy forces. They can always recruit more people, we need to attack the motivations to join the enemy. Eliminate the supply.

Predators, ROVER and other implements that we’ve paid billions for are most often used to second guess the guys on the ground and tell them that they’re not seeing what they’re seeing. If this seems convoluted it is! It boils down to this, you’re getting shot at and some dude a long way off is telling you you’re not and that by the way you better not shoot back at the enemy.

Logistics suck! No if, and or buts about it. This is day 26 for this team without mail. This is a lot different then you’ll see at the big FOBs where there’s ubiquitous ice cream, coffee and hot chow, and totally different than Iraq. They throw away more than we eat. I haven’t seen a PX in three months and I just ran out of deodorant and soap today, my wife mailed some to me in the middle of December but haven’t seen it yet. As they say, “Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics”.

There are some great American Warriors here doing their darn best to win the war, but the higher ups are too afraid; so they won’t let them off the FOB to do the work that needs to be done. They track things like how many rounds we expended and what patch you’re wearing on your ACUs instead of issues like how many feet of road or the number of schools built.

So now that I’ve painted a little picture of what it looks like, let me indulge myself and highlight a couple of things I think we could do to close the deal.

Roads, we need more of them. A lot more! This is the cornerstone to building Afghanistan and the government. The Romans were successful not because of military technology, it helped, but because they built an extensive road network. Many of which still exist today and are in better shape than roads in Afghanistan.

Without roads the Afghans don’t really need a centralized government. That’s a broad statement but I’ll qualify it here in a minute. The tribe pretty much provides what they need. The tribe protects them, settles disputes and enforces laws. They’re more than capable of doing this and have been for the last several centuries. They fulfill the basic governmental requirements common defense, law and order.

The tribes though can’t build and maintain roads. Now, you need a centralized government to construct, maintain and protect the roads. You get an influx of money as people work on the roads and they quit getting paid to blow us up and it stimulates a demand for goods and services.

With the road comes inter-province commerce for which you need regulation by a central government; a function a tribe can’t accomplish. Sounds kind of like a little situation we had around 1776. The road brings money, communication and progress. You cut the link between Pakistan and the tribal regions because it’s now easier to travel to the interior of Afghanistan to get medical treatment, goods, services the whole lot.

So with a simple road we’ve now created an environment friendly to the support of the Afghan central government. That doesn’t exist now. It’s a lot easier to explain to the Afghans that the Army and police protect the roads and regulate commerce. Additionally taking the, “this is a war on Islam” factor out of the situation. ...

Be SURE and go read the rest here. If we spread this one far enough, maybe President Obama will actually get to read it. And then he may "get" it...

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