- Sep 21, 2012
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- Sin City
The Afghanistan Papers reflect what we soldiers knew on the ground: "Victory" was always an empty talking point.
There are numerous articles about the secet papers uncovered that shows we have never “won the war” in Afghanistan. Most are dry and dusty.
This is about the actual realities from a soldier who was there several times and is well-worth reading. Nitty-gritty, it tells what the generals and politicians don’t want you to know.
“I have no visibility into who the bad guys are,” Donald Rumsfeld writes in one of the Afghanistan Papers’ collected “snowflake memos” from 2004, three years into the U.S.’s longest war—not long before I finished Ranger School and reconnaissance school to head to Paktika province as the executive officer of a rifle company with the 173rd, and a full four years before I would return as a company commander to Kunduz province. On the first deployment, our brigade lost 43 soldiers killed, and I couldn’t guess how many wounded, in one of the more difficult deployments endured by a conventional unit. On the second, our brigade lost three soldiers killed and many more wounded; I personally gave out two dozen Purple Hearts to my company. We were fighting and dying to achieve objectives that no elected leader could fully articulate. Army officers like to toss around an old saw by the Prussian military theorist Karl von Clausewitz: “No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war, and how he intends to conduct it.” By that standard, there never should have been an Afghanistan war.
And here’s the nut of the whole thing:
There is probably another story yet to be written about how this is the type of war one gets when elite special operations units lead the fight—numerous high-value targets killed, with the occasional wedding party thrown in for good measure. For now, though, let’s lay a great share of the blame on those who earned it most: the political and military leadership at the top, across our divided political spectrum, who together steadfastly refused to define an achievable victory in Afghanistan and refused to do the difficult, honorable thing and bring the soldiers home—leaving us to kill and die downrange, while thanking us for our indefinite service with boisterous platitudes.
The whole thing @ Another Bright Shining Lie