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"How to Lose the War in Afghanistan" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2017 10:08 p.m. PST

"It is now official beyond question. The senior ranks of the U.S. military and foreign-policy leadership have now fully succumbed to the belief that all problems in the Middle East and South Asia must include, at their core, the application of lethal military power. No other alternative is considered. Worse, the military solutions they advocate have literally no chance of accomplishing the national objectives sought. The latest damning evidence: the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan testified before the Senate last week that he believes thousands of additional U.S. troops should be sent back to Afghanistan.

It is difficult to overstate the utter bankruptcy of a strategy designed to bring peace to Afghanistan based on sending large numbers of U.S. service members back into harm's way. The Washington Post reported in early February that Army Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. said he "believes the new president may be open to a more robust military effort that is ‘objectives-based.' Questioned by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.), the general said he can definitely carry out his mission with less than 50,000 coalition troops, but hesitated a bit when asked if he could do so with less than 30,000."

The results of sixteen years conducting counterinsurgency, foreign military training and counterterrorism operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan should argue persuasively against repeating such a strategy. The results have been utter and complete failures on the strategic level. Supporters of using COIN and CT cite the Iraq "surge" of 2007 as an example of how a properly run operation can succeed. Such endorsements expose a significant lack of understanding of what actually happened in 2007 and, of greater importance, that those individuals have a marked inability to see beyond tactical outcomes…"
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shaun from s and s models Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 2:20 a.m. PST

we cannot lose the war in afghanistan as we have not won it, you have to have something first before you can lose it!

Gaz004522 Feb 2017 2:39 a.m. PST

War by proxy is the best that can be achieved, supporting a regime to combat extremists,alongside some sort of dialogue with the tribalist Taliban to persuade them that collusion with AQ/IS is not in their interests……

Using lethal force on extremists hellbent on seeking paradise by killing their enemies is self defence… a distance, better to fight them 'there' rather than on the streets of Europe or the USA.

Vigilant22 Feb 2017 6:38 a.m. PST

I don't think that anyone has ever won a war in Afghanistan. How do you defeat a people who's national sport is shooting at each other?

Great War Ace Inactive Member22 Feb 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

@shaun: So the US was the proxy for France losing Vietnam? We didn't lose Vietnam because we never had it to begin with……………

Great War Ace Inactive Member22 Feb 2017 8:08 a.m. PST

A'stan is a medieval country. We should use it to give live training to our troops, and never expect "the war" to end, because it never has………….

shaun from s and s models Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 8:39 a.m. PST

who mentioned vietnam? not me.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 10:17 a.m. PST

I don't think that anyone has ever won a war in Afghanistan.

This is such a popular myth that even Wikipedia spouts it. The 1st and 2nd Anglo-Afghan Wars both ended in victories (albeit temporary) for the British; the 3rd was an Afghan invasion of India, which was also repulsed. In the 1st A-AW, the "Army of Retribution" achieved exactly that – to the point that the Afghans offered to attack Russia on our behalf if we stopped occupying their food-producing areas and allowed them to bring in a much-needed harvest. The 2nd A-AW saw Roberts en-nobled as Lord Roberts of Kandahar.

Given that there was almost 40 years between each A-AW – quite a long period in that part of the world during the 19th Century – the idea that the Afghans were never beaten is wrong, certainly by any military standard.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 10:30 a.m. PST

Dear Shaun… when you go to war you can won, loose or sometimes it ended in a draw…

As the conflict is in process… you can be winning or loosing it…

The article mention the last chance…


USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

Just say "no" to nation building. Afghanistan has no strategic importance to the US. Bring our troops and dollars home; let the Afghan people decide their own fate.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 Feb 2017 12:53 p.m. PST

An intelligent and informative article that is worth reading and thinking about. Thanks!

28mm Fanatik22 Feb 2017 1:01 p.m. PST

The days of using military force to install friendly governments have been over since Vietnam. Such political objectives can only be achieved temporarily at great cost, since the enemy can always outwait us and view the struggle as one spanning generations rather than years.

McKinstry Fezian22 Feb 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

My son has done one tour and has been told they are going back in 2018.

He does not hold a high opinion of the Afghan government or the ANA. His opinion is that only a Roman solution will work, make a desert and call it peace.

He thinks we are wasting time, treasure and lives to no avail trying to win the unachievable without doing the unthinkable.

mckrok22 Feb 2017 3:32 p.m. PST

'Mowing the grass' is a method of sorts.


JMcCarroll Inactive Member22 Feb 2017 4:31 p.m. PST

Agent Orange to the rescue !
Should work on poppy seeds.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2017 10:28 a.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)


GreenLeader23 Feb 2017 11:07 a.m. PST

Supercilius Maximus

I was going to say the same, but you put it far better than I could have. Christ alone knows where this 'The British got their asses kicked in Afghanistan' myth started remains beyond me.

28mm Fanatik23 Feb 2017 12:41 p.m. PST

The claim isn't that a foreign power never won any battles in Afghanistan. It's that they never won the war. The US, Soviets, British and Alexander have all won many battles in this unforgiven land but lost the war in the end and retreated. This applied to Britain as much as any of the other major powers.

During the early 19th century, Britain had enormous interests in terms of trade on the Indian subcontinent. It was essential, from the point of view of the British, that a friendly government be place in Kabul to control the various tribes of Afghanistan and prevent opposition to the British rule in India. The previous puppet government, led by Shah Shuja, in Afghanistan had collapsed and so British and Indian forces marched on Kabul in 1840 in to restore their power. Despite initial military successes, by 1842 a popular revolt forced the occupying forces to retreat from the country. A massacre then followed as 20,000 British and Indian troops were attacked relentlessly on the long march back to India. It is said that there was only 1 survivor of the retreat from Afghanistan, one Dr. W. Brydon. A second British incursion into Afghanistan came in 1878 when military planners decided upon the need to counter a perceived threat from Russian imperialist interests by establishing the borders of the empire north of India. Although better prepared for the campaign than in 1840, Anglo-Indian forces once again failed to realise that the fractured Afghan tribes would unite to cast the British out. This took a long time to happen, after major British victories at the Khyber Pass and Kandahar they reached Kabul and began to take petty vengeance on the Afghan people. By 1880 the British once again prepared for a military withdrawal as it had become clear that they were fighting the kind of attritional battle that they could never win. Constant attacks from the various fractured tribes were wearing the men down. The tribes finally united under one banner when the British were decisively defeated outside Kandahar in 1880. The rest of the army, given changing political conditions in Britain, had no choice but to withdraw to India. Afghanistan finally did recognise its ties to Russia after the brief war of 1919 when Afghan forces attacked the British in India. So soon after World War 1 the British had no will to fight another war and so with a peace agreement came a recognition of Afghan autonomy and Afghanistan's official recognition of the new Soviet government.

Excerpted from here:

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2017 11:56 p.m. PST

I notice you carefully omitted the bit where he admits that what he refers to as the "spurious counter-argument" is actually true. His analysis of the 3rd A-AW is completely off – having defeated the Afghans' attempts to invade India and cause an uprising, the British then asked them if they wanted peace. This was then promoted by the Afghan ruler as the British "surrendering" – as a result, Afghanistan is the only nation on Earth whose "national day" actually represents a crushing defeat! The Wikipedia entry has been amended recently, but prior to that it recorded the war as an Afghan victory based purely on fewer casualties, ignoring the fact that the Afghans invariably squirreled away as many dead and wounded as they could, whilst including British losses from accidents and disease, many of which were un-related to the war.

Come to think of it, many of his "spurious counter arguments" (eg Joan of Arc) sound like straw men designed to prove his rather dubious point about conversations in pubs – I doubt most "pub historians" have even heard of Saratoga, let alone know that many of the troops "were not British". You get people like this blogger all the time; mostly they read The Guardian which panders to their self-loathing instincts.

Like the people he is criticising, he also plays fast and loose with the facts.

Rod I Robertson Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Feb 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

The problem with invading Afghanistan is not winning battles or even the war. The problem is winning the peace. Not even the brutal Mongols could win the peace. Afghanistan is a sump into which empires pour their wealth and their blood but get nothing save grief in exchange. The only way to win in Afghanistan is to stay far away from it.

Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 1:24 p.m. PST



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