Sorry, but this Washington Post headline -- "U.S. commanders in Afghanistan face tougher discipline for battlefield failures" -- misses the point.
The story concerns "failures" all right, but the three recently investigated incidents in question are not "battlefield" failures. No, these failures, whose names are Wanat, Ganjgal and Kamdesh, have their provenance in the climate-controlled conference rooms of the White House and the Pentagon. These are failures of U.S. military policy, and it is the top leadership of the current and last administrations, those who have formulated, approved and executed the policy, who are responsible for them -- not the mid-level officers, the squadron leader or battalion commander, who, according to the Post story on the unreleased investigations, will be taking the official fall.
I refer, of course, to the policy of "counterinsurgency" warfare, particularly as promoted by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the supreme infidel commander now waging a popularity contest against the Koranically correct Taliban for the affections of the Islamic peoples of Afghanistan. The prize, booby at best, is supposed to enable the United States, at Treasury-breaking and military-wrecking cost, to tame wild Afghanistan into a non-dysfunctional, jihad-free society. Our main weapons: "population-protection," cash and massive public works projects. (Sending troops so equipped into valleys of death like Wanat, Gankgal and Kamdesh is pure "counterinsurgency" negligence, I mean, doctrine.) The Taliban's main weapons: the Koran, jihad and Sharia. After eight-plus years, the Islamic peoples of Afghanistan still can't decide between us. Still, we keep trying, pursuing the unicorn of hearts and minds across Afghanistan even as the reality of Islamic law spreads unchecked across the West.
One place we tried too long is the Nuristan province village of Kamdesh. There, in August 2006, a foothold later known as Combat Outpost Keating was established on indefensibly low ground ringed by mountains as a Provincial Reconstruction Team. Whose criminally stupid idea was it to put an outpost there and leave it there? I doubt investigators asked.
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