""It's lunacy to deploy forces to a location simply because the unseasoned, politically driven host government so requests," said a U.S. diplomat who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. "Bear in mind that this operation in what is undoubtedly one of the most remote and difficult locations in all of Afghanistan occurred at the time of discussion about revising our strategy to concentrate our forces in areas of dense population and strategic importance."
Barg-e Matal is deep in rugged mountains where insurgent snipers were so well dug in that American troops resorted to calling in jet fighters and attack helicopters to silence them, U.S. soldiers based there told a McClatchy reporter in September after he was denied permission to visit Barg-e Matal.
The troops, who originally were told that they'd be in Barg-e Matal for four days, said they were under constant attack.
The outpost of sandbags and concertina wire consisted of a girl's school and wooden homes on one side of a river that bisects the village, and the local administration compound where Afghan troops and Latvian trainers were based on the other.
It could be supplied only by dangerous nighttime helicopter missions, and the nearly constant fire made the reconstruction projects on which American counterinsurgency strategy hinges all but impossible. Local officials distributed some U.S. aid to the few locals who remained there, but they hoarded most of it, the American troops said." Mcclatchey
There is a depressing sameness about the series of bad incidents involving American outposts in Nuristan. This article speaks of investigation and punishment for "failure." I won't try to say what the truth is of the performance of the officers involved in the field. I was not there.
On the other hand there is a disturbing pattern of simple incompetence in planning and execution in these incidents. I don't see competence in basic combat operations in defense of position in these small disasters.
At the same time it seems to me that General McChrystal's role in insisting that outposts be maintained under conditions in which they could not be adequately defended is not good. He likes to say that a professional force must accept a disproportionate share of the risk in order to accomplish the mission. To illustrate his commitment to that idea he travels about without body armor, a weapon or a helmet. This is grandstanding. pl
PS I note that Petraeus is now making the rounds giving what are essentially political speeches. I presume that he is looking for a political opening for himself post-retirement. Biden's job might be what he tries for. Today, on MTP he condemned the use of torture in the Bush Administration. That will not endear him to the Republicans, so…