Hear no evil, See no evil and …


"The defense official denied any tension between the military leadership and the White House over the pace of decision-making on Afghanistan.

"There is no sense of unease here with regard to the president's review of strategy," the official said.

Admiral Mullen and the rest of the joint chiefs of staff agreed there was a need to examine the mission six months after Obama unveiled a strategy focused on improving security and economic development, the official said.

But the top officers recognize that counter-insurgency campaigns are "dynamic" and that there is "a very fine line between success and failure," he said."  AFP


Mullen, Petraeus and McChrystal met at Ramstein Air Base.  What was this about?  Did Gates send Mullen to deliver the appropriate reminder about who it is that commands their obedience?

Was that the message actually delivered?  We will see.  pl

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, government. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Hear no evil, See no evil and …

  1. It would be interesting to have historical documentation of President’s meeting with flag rank officers in a non-ceremonial and substantive meeting! Probably unobtainable but it would be interesting to know this even for just this Administration! Who was in attendance and what was the purpose substantively?

  2. Mike says:

    This is me being cynical, I admit, but it seems more likely they’re cooking up strategy for putting the screws to their “foot-dragging” civilian bosses. That’s the sort of strategizing the Pentagon seems to have down cold. I’m open to the possibility that you’ve got better sources, though.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Mike. No. I think you are right. Do you like that idea? Pl
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  4. Patrick Lang says:

    It won’t open for me. pl

  5. Dick Shave says:

    There is a long article in the New Yorker this week about Richard Holbrooke and his team working on the situation. Assuming you’ve read it, I’m interested in what you think of “the Bulldozer” and his chances.
    Onward and Upward,
    Dick Shave

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    I have not, but I wish him well. pl

  7. LeaNder says:

    It won’t open for me. pl
    mj’s link The rules murdering our troops

  8. Patrick Lang says:

    As I have said before, to deny fire support to troops in contact with the enemy is simply criminal.
    I wonder who the generals are who talk to Peters. pl

  9. Fred says:

    Just where are all the Afghan troops we’ve trained in the past 7 years; or in just the past 12 months?

  10. Mike says:

    re:I think you are right. Do you like that idea? Pl
    Apologies if I was unclear. No, this is one of those times I wouldn’t mind being wrong.

  11. Robert in SB says:

    Good to know that the NY Times is still Ralph Peters Obsession. Rupert Murdoch sure can pick em. This article is classic Peters. Blaming the the democrats for everything, and keep Murdochs base salivating.

  12. robt willmann says:

    This is a sad and dangerous state of affairs, presenting another example of domestic deterioration to all propaganda, all the time, directed internally at the people in the U.S.
    The issue is also raised in the preceding post on the Angst of the Legions.
    What makes it even worse and dangerous is that this attitude has infected some of the military, obviously the higher echelons at the Pentagon.
    For example, recently the Associated Press published a photograph of a badly injured Marine who subsequently died. Immediately the propaganda attack began, euphemistically called “information operations”, with even Defense Secretary Robert Gates getting into the act by declaring how indecent it was of the press to show one photograph — just one — of what war actually is for the soldiers who fight it, and the civilians on both “sides” who are forced to endure it.
    Initially, the Big Wurlitzer cranked up to sell the two wars based on false pretenses. Then when the Iraq situation was collapsing, Gen. David Petraeus was seen as sufficiently malleable and ambitious to be romanced in the media, including as the subject of a shameless puff piece in Newsweek magazine. Petraeus was brought to Washington to help kick the can down the road for the Republicans, placate the public, and sell the project promoted by the (Un)American Enterprise Institute and retired Gen. Jack Keane known as the “Surge”, a cover word for a vicious population suppression and control operation, which included the ethnic or sectarian cleansing of entire neighborhoods.
    After allowing himself to be compromised, Petraeus was rewarded with a promotion to head of Central Command. Now here comes McChrystal’s paper with recommendations, and since Petraeus is above him in the chain of command (I think), he certainly approves of it.
    McChrystal’s paper is said to present the president with just one option, as “take it or leave it” — tied to the buzz word “failure” if you don’t do this — and is trumpeted in the media, making the setup more obvious.
    Where, really, is Gen. McChrystal in all of this, with a reputation as one who can competently execute operations? Did he and does he really believe the silly hype that some Afghan people, who don’t have much indoor plumbing or many paved roads, are actually going to float across the ocean, storm the beach at Hilton Head, South Carolina, and sweep through the U.S., taking it over? Or that Iraq, after being heavily bombed, including to its civilian infrastructure, in the First Gulf War, followed by economic sanctions and intermittent bombing throughout the Clinton administration, was an imminent, clear and present danger to the U.S.?
    Now, the above news article states there was a “secret meeting” at at the Ramstein base in Germany. McChrystal’s paper was to be “formally” presented to Gates today (Saturday), “but Gates has decided to hold off presenting the request to Obama until the administration completes a review of war strategy”.
    But this is contradictory. McC’s paper has already been leaked. Was it written to point to an existing strategy that is being “reviewed”? I don’t remember President Obama’s little public speech made on the Afghan strategy a few months ago as saying that it was a sweeping reincarnation of the “Surge” operation; rather, I think he said something about disrupting Al Qaeda; you know, that supposed organization that makes Vladimir Putin and Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap (at age 98) quake in their boots.
    McChrystal’s leaked paper does not present tactics to apply to the “strategy” Obama stated a few months ago, which I saw on television. Instead, it recommends troops for a different “strategy” — one of escalation — under the double cover words “securing the population”, which in turn mean the “Surge”.
    The sinister side of this is the public way in which these generals are helping others set Obama up, either to change his existing strategy to one of escalation in line with McChrystal’s paper, or subject himself to a political beating by the promoters of these wars who will use McC’s words (if he actually wrote them) that unless Obama adopts his recommendations, the “mission” (undefined) will be a “failure”.
    I doubt that Obama had already planned to do what the McChrystal paper suggests, and he is just coyly playing “hard to get” to appease those against the war that he might be against escalation, even though he is for it.
    More likely, Obama needs to watch out. Petraeus is said to be politically ambitious for that oval-shaped room. And the patron of Robert Gates is the Bush family, both for his brief stint as CIA director and now as Secretary of Defense.

  13. stanleyhenning@mac.com says:

    Pardon me,but—
    Isn’t it ironic that the Russians are allowing us over-flights to Afghanistan? Have we thought about letting them and the Chinese worry about the place? Both are likely ecstatic that we are wasting our human and material resources there even though the place is in their backyard, not ours. After all, they hold Shanghai Cooperation Organization annual counter-terrorist exercises along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Yes, when we leave, the Taliban will likely help the Al’ Qaida set up terrorist training camps again and we should be prepared to use drones to blow them up, but why continue to tip toe around trying to avoid harming “civilians” , training Afghans who may only turn their guns on us, and acting as a security force to protect a man who may not last a day beyond our departure?

  14. Where is our Ridgeway?
    As for Peters, since 2001, his writings have well channeled the rage of the “angry white man’s” mind as it contemplates action against the enemy (brown, backwards and muslim). A far cry from his more thoughtful non-fiction (and even prescient fiction) of the 1980s and 1990s.

  15. robt willmann says:

    It looks as if Gen. McChrystal is to appear on the CBS “60 Minutes” program tonight, 27 September 2009, to talk about Afghanistan.

  16. Subkommander Dred says:

    This is the same Ralph Peters that said the Taliban could you save the military authorites a lot of time and legal bills by executing a captured American soldier who he stated had deserted his post. Thus, his assertion that “I’m more concerned about supporting the youngest private on patrol than I am with the reputation of any general” rings pretty hollow with me.
    Now, just so you understand me, I agree with your statement that to deny troops in contact with the enemy fire support is simply criminal. However, the circumstances of the war in Afghanistan is such that we have gotten very good at taking out wedding parties or villagers siphoning fuel from stolen tankers with fire support, but in terms of actually killing the enemy, not so much. As to Mr Peters suggestion that it’s our rules of engagement that is responisble for soldiers and marines getting killed, my only response is that for the past 8 years we have poured billions of dollars of weapons and military training into that country with a result that the Afghan army and police exist largely in name only while the Taliban hit when and where they please. I suppose in that sense, Ralph Peters is right; I place the blame squarely on the politicians (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) for sending the horrible incompetence of executing that war. Just as I will blame Obama and Biden for keeping them there. For a political campaign that touted “Change” and “Hope,” I have seen none of the former, and I have very little of the latter.
    Pete Deer
    Charlottesville, Virginia

  17. Arun says:

    If we’re there to protect Afghan civilians from the Taliban, then how can killing them while fighting the Taliban be a step in the right direction?
    If our mission is merely to fight the Taliban, damn the collateral damage and the consequences, then certainly clarity is possible (massacre everything that remotely resembles a Taliban).
    Alternatively, if we determine we lack the means to achieve our objectives, then also clarity is possible (we should get the hell out of there).

  18. N. M. Salamon says:

    It would be interesting if someone could come up with an approximate cost of the total force requisite from Petreus and Co per year and approx total for the seemingly 10 year endevour.
    IMO that the citizens of USA had their fill with mission and cost creep in Iraq [Iraqui oil will pay for this–LOL], and without doubt the politicians and Mr. Obama is well aware of this trap.
    Recalling that public option in healthcare might be defeated by costs, cost which are probably far less than the envisoned cost of this “new” stragy by Petreus and Co.
    Thanks for considering the above. Look forward to some input!

  19. Mark Logan says:

    MJ: Peters description of the ROE’s may be an inaccurate one.

  20. “Admiral Mullen and the rest of the joint chiefs of staff agreed there was a need to examine the mission…”
    Here is a Chinese take from a well placed authority:
    “Afghan peace needs a map
    BEIJING, Sept. 28 — Afghanistan’s political and social turmoil has been aggravated by different intentions of the participating nations that constitute the coalition forces.
    In the short term, the fragile Afghan regime is finding it difficult to tame its restive domestic situation. Still, a prescription could help bring the country out of the mess if key players adopt a peaceful and reconciliatory approach in their push for the end of the war.
    The United States should first put an end to the war. The anti-terror war, which the former US administration of George W Bush launched in 2001, has turned out to be the source of ceaseless turbulence and violence in the past years.
    To promote much-needed reconciliation among the parties concerned, the US should end its military action. The war has neither brought the Islamic nation peace and security as the Bush administration originally promised, nor brought any tangible benefits to the US itself. On the contrary, the legitimacy of the US military action has been under increasing doubt.
    Public opinion within the US on the war has undergone dramatic change. According to a recent poll, opinion in favor of the war has declined from 53 percent in April to 39 percent, while opinion opposed to the war has increased to 58 percent from 46 percent. The US Congress has also cast doubt over the Obama administration’s Afghanistan strategy. The opposition from 74 percent Democrats and 70 percent independent votes to the war would be a big restraint on the Obama administration’s larger military strides given that the new president cannot afford to bet his political fate on a unpopular war.
    Since taking office as president, Obama has been under pressure from the Pentagon for military reinforcements in Afghanistan. The calls of war opponents over that of supporters will give the young US president the best chance to extricate himself from the Pentagon’s pressures. If Obama resolutely decides to stop the war, that would not only meet the US public expectations and save more American lives, but also help recover the US’ peaceful image and enhance the president’s personal political prospects.
    Another way to help Afghanistan break the current deadlock is to promote reconciliation among the Afghan government, the Taliban and the country’s major warlords, all being key actors that can play an influential role in deciding the country’s prospect. In addition to the US factor, the chaos in Afghanistan is also closely related to the long-standing domestic strife between factions. Afghanistan experienced numerous wars and conflicts in history, including invasion by the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and the US war. The war-ravaged Asian nation is undergoing a chaotic battle that has involved the US-led coalition forces, its government troops and domestic warlords, the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The disorderly confrontations and strife do no good to anyone but have only caused untold suffering to Afghan people.
    Afghanistan’s political disorder is also the main cause of its domestic chaos. The country’s presidential election on Aug 20 has so far failed to produce a final result.
    The recount of votes in more than 600 polling stations alleged to have suffered fraud is expected to last another two or three months, which will add to the chaos. The US has urged Afghan president Hamid Karzai to hold a second round of voting. It seems that Karzai has hammered home the perception that the US is not a reliable partner that can help end Afghanistan’s current predicament. Talks, he thinks, is the only way out. The Afghan president is likely to open the process of tri-party peace talks with the Taliban and major warlords provided that the US ends its military action.
    Support from the international community is needed to help Afghanistan make a substantive move toward peace. The international community can take advantage of the ever-mounting anti-war calls within the US to prompt the Obama administration to end the war and withdraw US troops. Germany, France and Britain have planned an international conference this year to discuss the gradual withdrawal of Afghanistan military deployment. International pressures may offer Obama another excuse to withdraw US troops. The UN Security Council should carry the baton from the three European nations to convene a conference on the Afghanistan issue and try to reach a consensus among its five permanent Security Council members and draft a roadmap and timetable for resolution of the thorny issue. In the process, a ticklish issue is whether parties concerned can accept the Taliban as a key player in Afghanistan and how to dispose of the Al Qaeda armed forces, an issue that has a key bearing on the outcome of any international conference on the Afghanistan issue.
    Surely, an international peacekeeping mission is needed in the absence of US troops. With the aid of international peacekeepers, the Afghanistan government and its security forces can be expected to exercise effective control over domestic unrest and maintain peace and security.
    The author is deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies ”
    (Source: China Daily)

  21. Mark Stuart says:

    Clifford KIracofe
    It might be the publicly advertised consensus in Beijing. But is is their genuine position considering what one commentator on here previously stated:
    …Both [China and Russia] are likely ecstatic that we are wasting our human and material resources there even though the place is in their backyard, not ours…

Comments are closed.