STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL STATES STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN — ‘MUDDLE ALONG’

 

STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL’S STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN? ‘MUDDLE ALONG’

By: Lawrence Sellin, Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.), U.S. Army Reserve

12/07/2018

There is a mind-numbing consensus among U.S. military leaders, past and present, that goes a long way to explain the 17-year stalemate in Afghanistan. They are clueless and stuck on automatic pilot.

Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, who gives highly paid lectures on “Lessons of Leadership,“ recommended to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that we continue to “muddle along” in Afghanistan.

When asked what should be done, McChrystal responded:

I don’t know. I wish I did … If we pull out and people like al-Qaeda go back, it’s unacceptable for any political administration in the [United States]. It would just be disastrous, and it would be a pain for us. If we put more troops in there and we fight forever, that’s not a good outcome either. I’m not sure what [is] the right answer. My best suggestion is to keep a limited number of forces there and just kind of muddle along and see what we can do.

Echoing those muddle-along sentiments at a Washington Post Live event, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford stated his basic assumption:

Were we not to put the pressure on Al-Qaeda, ISIS and other groups in the region we are putting on today, it is our assessment that, in a period of time their capability would reconstitute, and they have today the intent, and in the future, they would have the capability to do what we saw on 9/11.

Dunford added, “If someone has a better idea than we have right now, which is to continue to support the Afghans and continue to put pressure on those terrorist groups in the region, I am certainly open to a dialogue on that.”

Dunford’s basic assumption — that is, his strategic ends — are correct, but his ways and means are not.

Dunford’s goal for Afghanistan depends upon the ability of the Afghan security forces to take the lead against the Taliban or any other terrorist entity that plans to use Afghanistan as a training or operational base.

For 17 years, the Afghan security forces have never had that ability and are unlikely to have it anytime in the foreseeable future. Even the incoming CENTCOM commander, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, stated that the death toll among the Afghan security forces resulting from the upsurge in Taliban attacks is presently not sustainable.

Putting additional pressure on the Taliban, whether it be political, social or military as Gen. Dunford suggests, is not the answer.

As long as Pakistan politically supports and militarily sustains the Taliban, providing a safe haven for the Taliban’s command and control, recruitment, training and medical treatment infrastructure, no adjustment in the U.S. training and advise mission will be sufficient to produce anything more than the current stalemate.

The political, social and military pressure Gen. Dunford recommends would have a greater strategic impact if it was directed at Pakistan.

Rather than a “muddle-along” tinkering with a failed policy in Afghanistan, the United States should take steps to change the strategic dynamics in the region, not only to affect the peace process in Afghanistan but to provide a better foundation for a future U.S. South Asia strategy, especially in regard to Chinese expansionism.

The strategic centers of gravity are Balochistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Within those lie Pakistan’s pain points and the regional leverage U.S. policy desperately needs.

Gen. George S. Patton once said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. 

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TRUMP’S CLUELESS WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

TRUMP’S CLUELESS WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

By: Lawrence Sellin, Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve
11/30/2018

Yes, it is President Trump’s war now, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. The bad news is: neither do those advising him.

So, the Trump administration has chosen to prolong the stalemate by continuing an expensive, exhaustive and entirely inappropriate counterinsurgency strategy in the desperate hope that the Taliban will be encouraged to join a peace process and agree to terms that will permit the United States to withdraw without the appearance of a humiliating American defeat.

Good luck with that.

The Trump Afghanistan policy remains the same as the two previous administrations: “Our primary mission remains to protect the homeland by preventing Afghanistan from being used again as a safe haven for terrorists to attack the United States or our allies.”

The success of that mission has always been predicated on a single proposition, to buy enough time so that Afghan security forces can successfully take the lead against the Taliban or any other terrorist entity who planned to use Afghanistan as a training or operational base.

In 2010, after serving at ISAF Joint Command (IJC) in Afghanistan, I wrote about our advise and train program in Afghanistan:

Last autumn [2009] the U.S. government announced that after eight years and $27 billion, the results of the Afghan Army and Police training program were so bad that it was declared a failure. If the effectiveness of the training was ever questioned internally, it had no obvious effect.

It was a program on automatic pilot, where everyone was being reassured that everything was going according to plan and ‘progress was being made.’ Despite the fact that symptoms of failure were already appearing in the press years earlier, no one in the chain of command spoke up and hence, no one should be surprised. The pressure to conform is enormous.

Like Afghanistan, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam depended upon a similar proposition: “American ground forces in Vietnam would be reduced through the policy of Vietnamization and the war turned over to an improved ARVN [Army of the Republic of Vietnam] and government capable of defending its territory and its people.”

As we know, that never happened in Vietnam, and it still hasn’t happened in Afghanistan after 17 years.

To paraphrase Clausewitz, we have misunderstood the war we are fighting, turning it into something that is alien to its nature, a conclusion that can offer some clues to the Trump administration.

The war in Afghanistan is not an insurgency. It is a proxy war orchestrated by Pakistan and executed by the Taliban, an extremist group created and supported by Pakistan and composed primarily of Pakistani nationals.

The U.S. military policy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is untenable because Pakistan, through its proxies, regulates the operational tempo of the conflict and, because Afghanistan is landlocked, Pakistan also controls the supply of our troops. Pakistan has effectively used those levers to inhibit the United States from attacking Taliban safe havens and command and control infrastructure inside Pakistan.

Pakistan is an ally of China, not the United States. Pakistan’s aims in Afghanistan are completely different from those of the United States. To view Pakistan as a reliable partner in any resolution of the Afghanistan conflict on terms favorable to the United States is a fool’s errand.

Islamic extremism is endemic in South Asia, largely due to a toleration for or the promotion of that ideology by nation states. That is a regional reality and a U.S. “presence” in Afghanistan will not change it, but merely remain a target of it. Burden shifting is a more sensible approach.

U.S. leverage in achieving a satisfactory resolution to the Afghan war resides less with our presence or our military action in Afghanistan than in managing, to our advantage, the vested interests of nation states.

Financial carrots and sticks have had only a negligible effect on Pakistan’s support of the Taliban because the potential benefits to Pakistan supplied by the Taliban outweigh any measures previously employed by the United States to discourage that support. More effective measures are needed.

Ethnic separatism is Pakistan’s pain point, an existential rather than a financial threat. Greater U.S. leverage, both short and long-term, can be achieved by recognizing and supporting the ongoing efforts by groups such as the Baloch and Pashtuns movements for self-determination, located precisely in the staging areas in Pakistan from which the Taliban operate.

Ethnic separatism in Pakistan is also a threat to China’s investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. The disruption of CPEC would be a major geopolitical setback for Chinese economic and military expansionism.

Instead of our current policy, a recipe for stalemate, the Trump Administration should aim higher at the vested interests of those nation states who benefit from the service the Taliban proxies provide.

The United States cannot succeed operating under strategic conditions favorable to our adversaries. Instability can cut both ways. We should learn to manage it.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa.

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ATTACK ON THE CHINESE CONSULATE IN KARACHI IS A GAME-CHANGER

 

 

It’s Not Seven Years in Tibet.

ATTACK ON THE CHINESE CONSULATE IN KARACHI IS A GAME-CHANGER

By Lawrence Sellin, Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.)

Armed separatists of the Balochistan [Pakistan] Liberation Army (BLA) stormed the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi on Friday, triggering an intense hour-long shootout during which two Pakistani civilians, two police officers and three insurgents died.

Although there have been numerous isolated attacks on Chinese personnel working in Pakistan conducted by the BLA and other insurgent groups like the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and the Baloch Republican Army (BRA), this is the first assault on a major Chinese government facility in Pakistan.

Despite its relative smaller scale, some in the region compare its psychological effect to that of the 1968 Tet Offensive, which convinced many in the American media that the Vietnam war was unwinnable.

Balochistan — a traditionally secular and tolerant province — has also been the home of a festering ethnic insurgency since the partition of India in 1947, when the region was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan.

Despite its mineral wealth, the Baloch have been intentionally kept underdeveloped by the Pakistan government, which has been a cause for sporadic uprisings, along with oppression and alleged extrajudicial killings by the Pakistani military. Since the late 1970s, the Pakistani government has subjected Balochistan to an intensive “Islamization” program to reduce ethnic identification.

The BLA views Chinese investment in western Pakistan, represented by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as a form of colonization. It is.

CPEC is the flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s blueprint for global domination. It is a development plan, a program of infrastructure projects and a network of commercial agreements designed to link the world directly to the Chinese economy through inter-connected land-based and maritime routes.

The CPEC transportation route, meant to connect China to the Arabian Sea through the ports of Karachi and Gwadar, runs through Balochistan. The success of CPEC also depends upon China’s exploitation of Balochistan’s estimated $1 trillion in gold, copper, oil, precious stones, coal, chromite and natural gas.

CPEC calls for the influx of up to 500,000 Chinese professionals into Gwadar for port and naval facility development, as well as expansion of the international airport to handle heavy cargo flights.

The Chinese have visited and bought land in Sonmiani, which houses Pakistan’s spaceport and space research center as well as the site for a planned liquid natural gas terminal. In addition, Balochistan’s Arabian Sea coast will become dotted with Chinese military bases, from which Beijing will dominate the vital sea lanes leading to the Persian Gulf and provide a link to the Chinese base in Djibouti at the entrance of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal — both strategic choke points.

It is easy to see that an escalation in the Baloch insurgency would be of deep concern to Beijing and Islamabad. If CPEC fails, BRI collapses as does China’s plans for global hegemony. Pakistan, now heavily indebted to China through near reckless amounts of accrued cumulative loans, would face financial ruin.

An independent Balochistan would change the strategic dynamics of South Asia. It could significantly reduce Pakistan’s unhealthy influence on Afghanistan, eliminate the Taliban main headquarters in Quetta and its extensive infrastructure sustaining the war in Afghanistan.

An independent Balochistan could provide a direct and stable sea link to that landlocked and beleaguered country. Baloch self-determination may encourage the large Baloch population in the southeast Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan to challenge the authoritarian theocracy in Tehran.

If Balochistan would be restored to its secular and tolerant roots, it would drive a stake into the heart of radical Islam.

The current Trump administration policy in Afghanistan centers on measures designed to encourage the Taliban to seek a negotiated settlement. In that effort, the United States has few cards to play.

Although attacking the Taliban inside Afghanistan seems to be its main element, a more effective approach may be to press Pakistan’s pain point, ethnic separatism, specifically the Baloch independence and Pashtun Protection (Tahafuz) movements. It also provides a foundation for a longer-term strategy to thwart Chinese hegemony in South Asia.

The BLA may have just exposed a card to play.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2018!

The entire staff at Stand Up America US Foundation wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

By: George Washington, President of The United States of America

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.

 

 

 

TRUMP IS RIGHT ABOUT PAKISTAN

 

 

TRUMP IS RIGHT ABOUT PAKISTAN

By: Lawrence Sellin, Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.)

 

During an interview with Fox News, President Trump stated that Pakistan has done little to curtail Islamic extremism — even sheltering al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — despite accepting billions in aid from the United States.

The president implied what many have come to believe: that Pakistan is responsible for prolonging the Afghan war, has nurtured Islamic extremism and, like Iran, has incorporated it as an element of its foreign policy.

That terrorist-reinforced foreign policy includes the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, that killed more than 160 including 6 Americans. It was conducted by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terror gang enjoying the support of the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, and al Qaeda.

It is widely recognized that Pakistan created, supported and has given safe haven to the Taliban. Less well known is the role played by Pakistanis in the development and planning of the 9/11 attack.

Although the perpetrators were Saudis, the planners were Pakistani and not initially members of al Qaeda, but the Muslim Brotherhood. It was largely a family affair.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), son of a Deobandi cleric and often referred to as the “architect” of the 9/11 attacks is Pakistani and was born in Balochistan.

Ramzi Yousef is KSM’s nephew and one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434. He was a co-conspirator with KSM in the Bojinka plot, which included assassinating Pope John Paul II while he visited the Philippines and planting bombs inside twelve United and Delta Air Lines flights out of Bangkok.

Although he was born in Kuwait, Ramzi Yousef is Pakistani. His father was from Balochistan and his mother is KSM’s sister.

Adel Anonn, aka Adel Bani, who had an Iraqi passport and believed to be Ramzi Yousef’s twin brother, was arrested in the Philippines in 1995 as part of a suspected terrorist cell.

Abdul Qadir Mehmood, Ramzi Yousef’s older brother, is wanted in connection with a 2015 terror attack that killed 45 people traveling on a bus from the Safoora Chowk area of Karachi, Pakistan.

Best known as a provider of financial and material support for terrorist attacks, Abdul Qadir has reportedly switched allegiance from al Qaeda to the Islamic State (IS) and is hiding in Wadh, Balochistan, presumably under the protection of IS leader, Shafiq Mengal, a former Pakistani intelligence asset.

Ammar Al-Baluchi, cousin of Ramzi Yousef and maternal nephew of KSM, is a Pakistani citizen in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Charges against him include facilitating the 9/11 attackers, acting as a courier for Bin Laden and plotting to crash a plane packed with explosives into the US consulate in Karachi.

Al-Baluchi’s former wife, Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani militant, was convicted of shooting at US soldiers and is incarcerated in the U.S.

Over the years, tens of thousands of Pakistani nationals, a conservative estimate, were trained and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan. That has never stopped.

During the August 2018 attack in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, 70 of the 400 Taliban killed were Pakistani nationals, whose bodies were returned to Pakistan.

Afghan army chief of staff, General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was behind the five-day siege of Ghazni. He also said many members of Lashkar-e-Taiba were among those killed in Ghazni province.

It is then no coincidence that all five Taliban representatives to the recent U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar; Mullah Shahabuddin Dilawar, Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Dr. Mohammad Naeem Wardak and Abdul Salam Hanafi, carried Pakistani passports and flew out of Pakistan.

The war in Afghanistan is not an insurgency, it is a proxy war being orchestrated by Pakistan.

President Trump was wise to reduce aid to Pakistan. He should not support yet another International Monetary Fund bailout of Pakistan, its thirteenth, money from which will likely go directly to China to repay those debts.

The most effective leverage against Pakistan, however, is not financial but existential. That is, ethnic separatism: erasing the Durand Line and supporting the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and Balochistan independence groups.

That, Mr. President, is something Pakistan will recognize, a taste of its own medicine, so to speak.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. 

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