The Cost of Muddling Through

By lex, on October 4th, 2009

In the flat plains of southern Afghanistan, the “armed social work” efforts of the Marine Corps begins to bear fruit:

Three years ago, Garmsir market was shot up and abandoned; the scene of pitched battles between British forces and the Taliban. But today UK and US troops have driven them away from the town and Garmsir is held up as a success story.

In the past three months, US marines have built on British efforts to establish meaningful local government. They have engaged in development work and brought an air of modest prosperity to the town…

Lt Col Cabannis says success depends on winning the consent of the local people, not on killing insurgents.

“The way we root them out is not just through security but delivery of governance; the government of Afghanistan has something positive to offer the people and the Taliban don’t.”

He believes that many insurgents can be persuaded to put down their weapons and re-join society and there are discussions under way as to how to achieve this.

The marines’ success is in part due to sheer size; having the force strength to push into new areas, to stay there and to engage in what they call “consent-winning activities” on a much larger scale than Britain has been able to.

In the poorly resourced, mountainous east of the country, in Nuristan province – not far from where the debacle took place at Wanat – a different tale unfolds at a remote combat outpost:

Eight American soldiers and two Afghan troops have been killed in the deadliest attack on coalition troops for more than a year, officials say.

The battle happened in Nuristan province in the remote east of the country when military outposts were attacked, a Nato statement said.

The Taliban said it carried out the attack, and had captured local police.

Violence has escalated in eastern Afghanistan as insurgents have relocated from the south.

These are the costs of half measures: Sufficient force to squeeze the Taliban out of the south. Insufficient forces to keep them from massing elsewhere. Washington has the luxury of time to dicker over strategy. While doing so, time has run out for eight young men who lived and died without any luxuries at all.

The time for half measures and dithering is over. It’s time to go heavy, or go home.

There is no middle path.

 

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Filed under Afghanistan, Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, GWOT

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