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View Full Version : U.S. Issues Armed Forces Journal: Lt. Colonel puts it all on the line...


Taco John
02-06-2012, 06:38 PM
This is a long, but consequential read:

http://armedforcesjournal.com/2012/02/8904030

Excerpt:

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.

Taco John
02-06-2012, 06:49 PM
In August, I went on a dismounted patrol with troops in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Several troops from the unit had recently been killed in action, one of whom was a very popular and experienced soldier. One of the unit’s senior officers rhetorically asked me, “How do I look these men in the eye and ask them to go out day after day on these missions? What’s harder: How do I look [my soldier’s] wife in the eye when I get back and tell her that her husband died for something meaningful? How do I do that?”

One of the senior enlisted leaders added, “Guys are saying, ‘I hope I live so I can at least get home to R&R leave before I get it,’ or ‘I hope I only lose a foot.’ Sometimes they even say which limb it might be: ‘Maybe it’ll only be my left foot.’ They don’t have a lot of confidence that the leadership two levels up really understands what they’re living here, what the situation really is.”

BucEyedPea
02-06-2012, 07:11 PM
This is why Congress needs to debate any war instead of transferring their authority over to presidents, not rubber-stamp their approval, not respond in a knee-jerk fashion and set clearer objectives that are do-able and/or declare war officially. So we don't have our military and their families needlessly die. To think that binLaden was killed with so much less. What a tragedy!

whoman69
02-06-2012, 07:21 PM
You really think a Lt. Col. is going to put his pension on the line by putting his name on an article like this?

Taco John
02-06-2012, 07:33 PM
You really think a Lt. Col. is going to put his pension on the line by putting his name on an article like this?

BY LT. COL. DANIEL L. DAVIS

Taco John
02-06-2012, 07:35 PM
You really think a Lt. Col. is going to put his pension on the line by putting his name on an article like this?

He's apparently aware that he's put himself in great jeopardy:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ill-get-nuked-for-revealing-afghan-failures-admits-us-army-colonel-6612097.html

alnorth
02-06-2012, 08:12 PM
The military is good at two things (well, 3 if you include national defense): Killing people and breaking things. Sometimes in our nation's history we need to kill people and break things, and when that need arises, the military is there.

The military is not worth a damn at nation-building when the local population is not behind the effort (setting aside for a moment whether we should do such a thing, pretend that for some reason we should). We need to stop asking them to do that.

alnorth
02-06-2012, 08:28 PM
I liked one of the last sentences of the article.

"Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose."

The bolded part never seems to be an option.

Sometimes a president or a congress might think a fight or a war will be easy, they might miscalculate the cost and difficulty, etc. When things don't go well, they ramp up the effort, because.... the USA can never lose. If we aren't achieving the stated objectives in a campaign, we either have to figure out a way to win, or if that is not possible, we need to lie and spin our way out of it for years and years and years, to save face and eventually declare "victory", conveniently ignoring bad news.

They do this because they don't want to admit to making a mistake and answering hard questions about whether the money and lives are worth it. They need to get over it. I might still ask those hard questions, but we should at least start by being able to admit "you know what, this now appears to be a more difficult operation than we thought. The cost no longer appears to justify our goals. We should withdraw." We seem to be able to cancel wasteful programs that spent money that never should have been spent, we ought to be able to cancel wars with a simple matter-of-fact explanation that basically boils down to "oops".

If we can at least get our presidents and congress to do that much, to at least end failing wars early, maybe then we'll progress towards electing presidents and congresses that don't start unnecessary doomed wars to begin with.

Amnorix
02-07-2012, 08:09 AM
You really think a Lt. Col. is going to put his pension on the line by putting his name on an article like this?


I applaud his efforts, but regret the necessity of his dishonorable discharge and loss of pension.

I haven't had a chance to read it, but it's been nearly 10 years. It may well be time to exit Afghanistan, regardless of its status. Permanent occupation isn't the way to go.

listopencil
02-07-2012, 03:02 PM
This is why Congress needs to debate any war instead of transferring their authority over to presidents, not rubber-stamp their approval, not respond in a knee-jerk fashion and set clearer objectives that are do-able and/or declare war officially. So we don't have our military and their families needlessly die. To think that binLaden was killed with so much less. What a tragedy!

^

/thread

whoman69
02-07-2012, 04:33 PM
He's apparently aware that he's put himself in great jeopardy:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ill-get-nuked-for-revealing-afghan-failures-admits-us-army-colonel-6612097.html

Worked out well for Billy Mitchell. Even if you're right, you can't go public about disagreements with superiors in the military.

Taco John
02-08-2012, 12:32 PM
Worked out well for Billy Mitchell. Even if you're right, you can't go public about disagreements with superiors in the military.

I think he is weighing the morality of no speaking out and allowing many more good men to die uneccessary deaths, and losing his own personal status and security - and making the decision that he can best live with.