Commander In Chief Decision Watch: Day 51

On 8/30 General Stanley McChrystal submitted his comprehensive plan to accomplish the Afghanistan mission President Obama declared.  He and the troops continue to struggle, and continue to wait for their Commander in Chief to make a

On October 20, White House Press Secretary Gibbs told reporters that consideration of General McChrystal’s report and resource request continues, with no sense of urgency:

I have continued to say a decision will be made in the coming weeks as the president goes through an examination of our policy.’

Administration officials have suggested that President Obama may not approve McChrystal’s strategy and instead order something less than a fully resourced commitment to success in Afghanistan because the Afghan government is less than ideal, with apparent corruption at high levels.  Some officials have said the strategy should focus training Afghan forces instead of continuing to fight back against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

In his strategy recommendation, McChrystal asserted four “main pillars.”  Numbers one and two are the very issues Administration officials have recently floated as pretexts for not accepting McChrystal’s plan and denying his request for additional troops:

  1. Improve effectiveness through greater partnering with the Afghanistan National Security Forces. We will increase the size and accelerate the growth of the ANSF, with a radically improved partnership at every level, to improve effectivenes and prepare them to take the lead in security operations.
  2. Prioritize responsive and accountable governance. We must assist in improving governance at all levels through both formal and traditional mechanisms.
  3. Gain the initiative.  Our first impreative, in a series of operational statges, ist to gain the initiative and reverse the insurgency’s momentum.
  4. Focus Resources. We will prioritize available resources to those critical areas where vulnerble populations are most threatened.

In 66 pages McChrystal lays out detailed strategies and tactics for each of his four pillars, including training Afghan security forces and making the government more responsive and accountable.  He explains why all four must be pursued in order to ensure success.

Yet the Vice President and the Political-media establishment, utterly bereft of competence, have tried to plant the impression in the public mind that General McChrystal failed to consider, or was unaware of the need to improve the Afghan government and security forces.

One wonders if the President and his people have even read the report.  McChrystal begins with a statement of his commitment to the mission that was assigned to him by President Obama:

NATO’s…Military Plan and Pesident Obama’s strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and prevent  their return to Afghanistan have laid out a clear path of what we must do.  Stability in Afghanistan is an imperative; if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or has insufficient  capability to counter transnational terrorists – Afghanistan could again become a base for terrorism, with obvious implications for regional stability.

Contrary  to the impression left by media reports, McChrystal did not simply emerge from nowhere to start harassing the Administration for more troops and resources.  McChrystal, who was appointed by Obama to command the Afghanistan operation, did exactly what the Commander in Chief ordered.  He exhaustively assessed the situation and developed strategies and tactics to achieve Obama’s stated goals.

More from McChrystal’s report:

The situation in Afghanistan is serious; neither success nor failure can be taken for granted…many indicators suggest the overall situation is deteriorating…there is also a crisis of confidence among Afghans — in both their government and the international community — that undermines our credibility and emboldens the insurgents.

Further, a perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents.

Obama’s response has been nearly two months of public dithering and vacillation.  High-profile administration officials, including the Vice President, have publicly proposed ill-considered half-measures.  This public display of angst and incompetency and has only made things worse by confirming the Afghan perception that America lacks resolve.

General McChrystal did his best to convey a sense of urgency:

Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.

So far, nearly two of those near term 12 months have been lost to Presidential temporizing.

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