Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Lose a War in 7 Simple Steps

One peculiar aspect of American war fighting is our enthusiasm for fighting with self imposed handicaps.

This began in Korea, where we refused to attack certain targets or fight in certain areas, and became standard in Vietnam.  We never lost a battle, but we managed to lose the entire war.  The loss was ultimately political -- we lost the will to win, and the fighting on the ground was dragged out because we severely handicapped our troops ability to win.

We are now recreating the circumstances of the Vietnam war in Afghanistan, and it seems we are bound and determined to lose this war too.

So how do you lose a war against an enemy that is 1/100th your size and mired in the stone age? 

Easy, if you follow the 7 Simple Steps:

1.  Announce that you plan to lose -- the object of war is to defeat the enemy.  To kill them if necessary, but more likely, you convince them that the cost of fighting the war exceeds the benefits.  When you tell the enemy that you plan to leave in a few years, you tell them that all they have to do is wait you out. We have occupied Germany for 70 years with no end in sight.  We occupied Japan for 50 years. What is the point of telling the Afghans that are leaving other than to demoralize our own troops and embolden the enemy?  Why would our troops fight for a place we plan to give back to the savages in a few months?  Why would the savages surrender when they know they only have to endure this pain for a few more months?  Announcing a timetable for withdrawal is announcing that you plan to lose the war.

2.  Cede the Moral High Ground -- we are fighting a just war against people that are trying to kill us and destroy all of Western Civilization.  We do not need to be ashamed of what we are doing.  When we allow the press and the Left to portray the war as nothing more than white man's greed and the deliberate killing of innocents, we have lost the moral high ground.

3.  Defer decisions to the locals -- no offense to the Afghans, but why in the world would we consult with 7th century savages on how we conduct a 21st Century war?  We are fighting over there precisely because the locals were unable to defeat the Taliban in the first place.  Allowing them to plan and run the war is folly.  Like Vietnam, our 'ally' is of dubious loyalty and capability. Letting them plan and run the war effort is like letting a monkey drive a bulldozer.  It ain't gonna end well.

4.  Telegraph your punches --Our Afghan 'allies' in this war have not exactly earned our trust over the past 10 years.  Allowing them to veto night raids, telling them the location of planned patrols, and sharing the location of our ground forces is the same as giving this information directly to the Taliban.  During Vietnam we shared the location of our Green Beret teams with the South Vietnamese, who promptly shared it with the North Vietnamese.  We will come to find out that the exact same thing is happening in Afghanistan, and we are foolishly telling the enemy where to find us.

5.  Give the enemy a safe haven -- War is hell, and it helps to have a place to rest and refit. We lost in Vietnam because we respected borders that the enemy did not.  The Viet Cong routinely used bases in Laos and Cambodia as safe haven from attack, and we lost the war because we would not root the enemy out of these bases.  We are now doing the exact same thing in Afghanistan.  We are respecting a Pakistani border that neither the Afghans nor the Pakistani's respect.  We are allowing the enemy to rest and refit in plain sight in Pakistan, and we will lose this war unless we go after them in these safe haven training camps.

6.  Fight like a bunch of lawyers -- In order to reduce friendly fire and civilian casualties, we are requiring soldiers to get permission to fire from people many levels higher in the chain of command.  Watch some of the video coming out of the war.  It is infuriating to watch Taliban soldiers fighting in plain sight while our troops do nothing but wait for permission to return fire.  These rules of engagement are insane, requiring men bleeding in a muddy ditch to get permission to return fire from lawyers sitting in an air conditioned office a thousand miles.  There are countless examples from Vietnam where these policies got troops killed and helped the enemy win the war.  Why are we not letting the troops fight?

7.  Tell the enemy where to hide -- We have not only placed entire countries off limits, but we placed specific building off limits as well.  We will not strike or attack mosques, as an example.  This is the height of stupidity, as it give then enemy a base of operations that is immune to attack.  Now we have extended that immunity to nearly EVERY BUILDING in Afghanistan(!!!).  Seriously.  We will no longer target buildings for fear of creating civilian casualties. This is a far cry from our attitude in 1945 where we deliberately killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima. We have zero chance of killing the enemy if we allow them safe haven in every building in the country.

When you look at the war as a win-lose proposition, it does not appear that we have the will to win.  We have the technology, the firepower, and the most capable army ever fielded.  We simply lack the will to allow them to win the war.

In fact, the current rules of engagement are so restrictive that we appear to be actively trying to lose the war.

It is criminal to place our troops in harm's way and then prevent them from defending ourselves.

Either win the war, or admit defeat and get the hell out.

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