"… let's examine the hard side, which is the terrain of Special Operations forces. They have two distinct faces. One is the "black" SOF that attacks high-value Taliban targets. These are stealthy and superkinetic operations, using the latest technology to hunt enemy fighters and then capture or kill them. The mission, basically, is to make it very dangerous to be a Taliban operative — and thereby shift the balance of intimidation in this war. The SOF warriors are also targeting the networks that produce the roadside bombs killing coalition troops.
There's a softer side of SOF, too, in the so-called "A-teams" (short for "Operational Detachment Alpha"), which are fighting what they call "unconventional war." They are sent into towns and villages to work with the Afghan army and police — and, under a new program, to assist tribal leaders whose power and authority have been sapped by the Taliban. These are creative operations, employing some of America's best soldiers. They reflect a growing understanding of what counterinsurgency experts call the "human terrain map."
"It's like all the instruments in an orchestra," says a U.S. military commander of the different parts of the battle plan. "You have to know how to play them together."
As Obama has deliberated Afghanistan strategy, the debate has tended to polarize between "CI" and "CT" advocates. But this is a false argument. What the United States actually has in Afghanistan is a mixture. Obama must now decide whether to provide the resources — and take the risks — to test whether this combined strategy can succeed." Ignatius
David Ignatius is an interestng man. I sat on a panel discussion with him and some other people long ago when I still worked for the government. He said at the beginning that it was unfair that I be there since I had access to classified information and therefore knew the truth. I thought that was an odd attitude for a journalist. He seems to have overcome that handicap and to be well and thoroughly briefed wherever he goes.
In this editorial he passes on to us the results of his latest "ration" of information in Afghanistan. He lays out some of the elements of the over all COIN effort that is being created. Some of it is SOF in both aspects. It is striking that Ignatius is just now learning what "unconventional warfare" means in the Special Forces context.
Ignatius poses the question that his briefers want asked. That question is whether or not Obama will give them the forces and other resources they want to execute this strategy that they and their civilian advisers have devised and which they are pressing on the Commander in Chief.
They have missed the real issue in the present dispute.
That issue is not if Obama can be manipulated into doing what they want. The real issue is whether or not the American electorate can be persuaded to support the effort that they want for very long.
I would say that they can not be so persuaded, and therefore a more modest effort should be designed.
The advocates of the "go big or go home" strategy probably think that their information operations will deal with that problem.
I doubt it. pl