Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've got several items cooking on the old blog-stove, and usually that means that I'll serve some of them half-raw, and the others burnt beyond chewable. Among them is a long-overdue update (with photos) of a recent trail-ride aboard the famous kNockahoma. But first...

Long before I started blogging, I had wished for a way to get the straight poop from soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was after launching this space, in an effort to improve the quality of reporting that I received, that I found sites like the John Locke Foundation, The Wild West, and Sister Toldjah, who in turn, led me to Ken's and these guys: BLACKFIVE. What I have so far read, seems to echo my long-held belief that no short-term fixit plan solves the problem of religious zealotry-based terrorism, and that we're far better off finishing the job, than pretending it's finished.

The following is excerpted from Retired Special Ops Master Sergeant "Uncle Jimbo" James Hanson on the BLACKFIVE blog. Internal links are his. If anybody knows of a better blog by soldiers, let me know of it...

Posted By Uncle Jimbo

President Obama has now taken ownership of the war in Afghanistan and stepped fully into his role as Commander in Chief.

In his first such action as president, Obama ordered an additional 17,000 combat troops to Afghanistan.

The first thing I want to do is call BS on my headline. It was wrong when the anti folks on the left talked about W's war, Iraq and Afghanistan are both America's wars and have been from the start. It was disgraceful for them to act that way and I will fight any attempt to do that to President Obama. Unlike many of the Born Again Ass Clowns Americans who have just discovered they can love and respect their country for the first time in their adult lives, or at least for the last 8 years, I owned a flag and flew it when Clinton was President. I applaud the plethora of new flags I see around, but I think it represents a sad aspect of the patriotism of folks who only feel proud when their team is in power.

But let's get back to Afghanistan. First I will repeat my admonition to Obama to make sure he is not simply trying to cover his political ass and campaign promises by sending more troops to that hell hole without the commitment to work toward victory. What victory means is something we can discuss, but it is more than simply adding a couple of combat brigades to be pulled back when pressure from his left wing spins up. Afghanistan is the longest of long wars and if the effort is not going to reflect this, then don't make it. Use the troops you are sending to squash the bad guys where they have weaseled into, and then let's bomb their bases flat and trust that time-honored dictum "Rubble doesn't make trouble".

I have been in a journalism fellowship for the past days for military reporters and we have met with a number of experts on A-stan and questioned them intensively. The overall consensus I see is that there is no history of, and little likelihood of building, a modern nation state there. Additionally without some answer to the free reign and safe havens in the tribal areas of Pakistan, it will be extremely difficult to create security. This requires a strategy that is not too ambitious but more importantly that is not simply political cover attempting to prove that Obama is not the "cut & runner" all his calls on Iraq would suggest. Any legitimate effort would certainly require an effort comprising all of his four years in office, and likely beyond. That will take a will to face up to calls of "quagmire" and "bring the troops home". I hope President Obama can learn from the fact that he was dead wrong on Iraq, and will listen to Gen. Petraeus and the folks who gave us the winning strategy there as he and his team look for answers in Afghanistan.

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