Daniel L. Davis
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.