Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby Steps

Northern Korengal valley

Defeat is a thing of weariness,

of incoherence, of boredom. And above all of futility

-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can,

only as one who has seen its

brutality, its futility, its stupidity

--Dwight David Eisenhower


U.S. military forces left the vulnerable Korangal Outpost in Kunar Province --the "Valley of Death" -- last week, the third to be closed in eastern Afghanistan in as many years, a place in which the executive officer said,
“We’re not really overwatching anything other than safeguarding ourselves.”

The early "baby steps" pap towards winning hearts and minds has failed at Korangal.
Korangal, where Michael Patrick Murphy in June 2005 became the first person to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan, will be no more.

"There have been only two missions to the valley’s southern end since 2005, said Maj. Ukiah Senti, the executive officer of Second Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Lethal, which oversees Korangal and neighboring areas. He said the antagonism from local Taliban and insurgents was so great that it would have taken a battalion-size force to make a foray there"
(U.S. Forces Close Post in Afghan 'Valley of Death'".)

The hostility of the valley's inhabitants to outsiders was evident from the beginning -- this was the "cradle of jihad" -- the first area to rise up against the Soviet occupation in the 1980's.
"The Korangalis speak a language unrelated to Pashto or Dari, the two main Afghan tongues. They practice a conservative brand of Islam and have repeatedly rebuffed American offers of aid" -- not a winner out of the gate.

Winning Hearts & Minds would also seem to be inconsistent with Task Forces named "Mountain Warrior" or "Lethal". Major James Fussell, a former Army Special Forces soldier who spent nearly two years fighting here and recently co-authored of an analysis of the mission said, "[T]he Korangalis were by no means part of the insurgency. Unfortunately, now they are, because they were willing to accept any help to get us out.”

“'The whole point of counterinsurgency is that by securing the local population, you legitimize the government of Afghanistan,' said Major Fussell. 'But the thing about the Korangal and Waygal Valleys is that they don’t recognize any government beyond their little village, and when you go to them and say, we want to secure you and offer you a road, they say, we don’t want a road.”

“I would argue you couldn’t find a single Korangali who wanted any outside assistance (Leaving the Korangal Valley.)”

It can't be said the U.S. achieved nothing;
it animated the local population to ally with the insurgency. The U.S. did this not only through the use of provocative warrior names, but also by dispossessing local leaders of their main resource, a local sawmill.

"The sawmill and lumberyard run by [local Taliban leader] Hajji Mateen was seized by Marines to build the Korangal outpost in April 2006. The troops had set out to penetrate the six-mile-long valley, but never made it more than halfway." Is this a surprise? The Marines gave them quite a "hello".

Seizing the local lumber mill and disrupting the local economy is not a tactic to win hearts and minds. How can U.S. leadership even see this action as legitimate?

Maj. Fussell says, “We had the best intentions, but when you don’t fully understand the culture” it is impossible to make the right choices." And when you're talking about a sparsely populated valley unconnected to the country's government, what could be a "right choice" for the U.S. military?

Of the withdrawal General McChrystal said, “There’s never a perfect answer."

Maybe not, but there were a lot of perfect questions ignored on the path to this phony war.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when king g said he was going to get people all over the world to work together. The plan has worked out just fine since o pickup it up were he left off:(

Friday, April 23, 2010 at 9:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It ain't about winning nothin..
Then we'd have to pack it up and go home.
War is good bidness--build overpriced shit, blow it up, kill a few people of another culture/color/belief, keep the yahoos at the homefront afeared of everything.
Build some more, do it all over again--bingo.
53 cents of every tax dollar going into this beast's maw.

"Healthcare? We don't need yo steenkin' health care."

Now, about that NFL draft...American Idol?

Fries with that?

There it is.


Friday, April 23, 2010 at 11:18:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Minstrel Boy said...

About a year ago Pakistani Taliban said they were going to open up these valleys to give themselves a place to retreat when pressured by the Paki Army. Looks like this was successful.

Many good and brave Americans were killed in these adjacent valleys. They were poorly led at the colonel/major level with disasterous consequences in recent years.

Unfortunately I don't see any lessons learned.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 12:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Lessons learned translates out to mistakes made.
I'm presently reading SLAM's History of WW1 and it sounds a lot like the PWOT.
I'll probably write this when i finish the book.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 4:32:00 PM GMT-5  

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