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Obama's Afghanistan plan moves much too cautiously

2 Comments

1 April 2009 

President Obama announced a goal to stand up 216,000 Afghan security forces by 2011. This falls far short of assessments by our own military that a security force of 400,000 is needed to secure Afghanistan.

Today there are 80,000 Afghan police and 82,000 soldiers in various stages of readiness. Obama's aim to train 54,000 new soldiers and police in 33 months, which equals about 1,600 new recruits a month, is less than bold. At this rate, approximately a dozen years and hundreds of billions of dollars will be needed to reach 400,000. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

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Please Remember that the British Government is not the British Soldier

9 Comments

31 March 2009

I am very proud of the British units I was in combat with in Iraq: 2 Rifles, 4 Rifles, Queen's Royal Lancers, Duke of Lancasters, 2 Para (Afghanistan).

This writer would return to combat with any of these units at the drop of a hat.  Big politics is one thing, but these soldiers are something that the United Kingdom should be proud of.  As an American, I am proud to know them.  I'll prove my point by contacting the British Army right now to request they take me back with them in combat.

Read more: Please Remember that the British Government is not the British Soldier

Brothers at War -- Screenings

8 Comments

31 March 2009

Gary Sinise has gotten personally involved with helping to promote this movie.  I am in Asia (Thailand/Singapore/Laos/Malaysia) and have not yet seen it, but the reviews are outstanding.  I spoke at length yesterday with the Director/Producer Jake Rademacher, and I asked Mr. Rademacher to send a schedule of film screenings. 

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Tons of Arms Flowing into Mexico, But From Where?

98 Comments

30 March 2009

Nobody seems to dispute that tons of weapons apparently are flowing into Mexico.  A big question is, where are they coming from?  The only casualties assured to occur are those people who are shot by the real guns from the questionable sources, and the truth.  There are almost certainly people within the U.S. government who would fit the facts to fit their agendas, and there are vast numbers of citizens who would do the same.  Iraq and Afghanistan provide stark international reminders of this on the global scale.  It seemed that every cranny of government and civilian political organizations, overtly lied or spackled over inconvenient facts that did not lead to pre-determined outcomes for Iraq, in particular.

Read more: Tons of Arms Flowing into Mexico, But From Where?

Obama on Afghanistan: Disappointing

37 Comments

27 March 2009

President Obama has just spoken on AfPak.  I closed my eyes and listened closely to his words, coming via the BBC from the other side of the world.

The President's words were disappointing.  He talked about our goal to reach a force level of 134,000 Afghan soldiers and 82,000 police by 2011.  This is not even in the neighborhood of being enough.  Further, the increase of 21,000 U.S. troops is likely just a bucket of water on the growing bonfire.  One can only expect that sometime in 2010, the President will again be forced to announce another increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

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Waiting...

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27 March 2009

Many of us are waiting -- not so patiently -- for President Obama's announcement of the new strategy on AfPak.  No matter which road we chose, it will be long and filled with liquid, political mirages.

Carlotta Gall has emerged as a premier voice on AfPak.  I've noticed over time that she seems to be ahead of the curve on reporting, and so when her name appears, my eyes focus on her words.  It remains popular to bash the New York Times, but when it comes to war reporting they are tough to match.  Alternative media sources seem to be mostly avoiding serious firsthand Afghanistan reporting.  Have any non-active duty dedicated-bloggers spent a year there yet?  I'm currently reading through the latest of about $600 worth of books on the fight -- waiting quietly in the back of the room, for today --before the rough journey ahead.  Unfortunately it looks like Mexico might fill the off-seasons from AfPak.

Read more: Waiting...

McCaffrey on Mexico - 23 March 2009

139 Comments

26 March 2009

General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey continues to sound cautions and alarms on Mexico.  Clearly he loves the place and doesn't want to see it fall apart.  For their sake or for ours.  I would highly suggest that journalists reach out to McCaffrey through his website.  His latest comments were published on Nationaljournal.com.

Interesting to note that apparently tons of weapons are flowing into Mexico from the United States.  During the Iraq war, weapons were/are coming from Syria and Iran.  Many Americans wanted to attack those countries for aiding the weapons flows, or even just turning a blind eye.  Now with Afghanistan: weapons flood in from Pakistan.  What about our country in regard to Mexico?

Read more: McCaffrey on Mexico - 23 March 2009

Gary Sinise to Continue Long March

15 Comments

25 March 2009

Gary has been supporting troops for more than two decades not just in word, but in a long stream of deeds.  Our troops post his photos on headquarters walls in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I recall during the darkest days of the Iraq war, Gary Sinise and Laura Hillebrand were helping big-hearted American donors to send millions of dollars worth of supplies to Iraqi kids.  During stints between the war, I even flew out to Kansas City just to visit the warehouse of Operation Iraqi Children, and there were pallets upon pallets of those same supplies that I had been seeing soldiers distribute to smiling Iraqi kids.  Americans at home were a big part of relieving the plight of those children, and helping turn the war around, and Gary and Laura were important “go betweens.”

Read more: Gary Sinise to Continue Long March

Small Talk

21 Comments

23 March 2009

Gary Sinise is an incredible American.  We were swapping some emails over the past week and I saw this article about his latest support for our troops:  Commentary: We can't do enough for our veterans.

Gary mentioned to me that he will be heading back to Afghanistan this year (that’s predictable!), and I’ll try to take a quick break from slogging around the battlefields to see Gary while he’s there.  Gary Sinise and Bruce Willis are among the few true movie stars who courageously supported our troops, even when Hollywood insiders were telling me that actors could lose jobs for supporting the troops.  Laura Ingraham, during one of our live interviews, once asked about my Hollywood connections.  Laura caught me by surprise and I denied connections.  By that, I was really saying I don’t hang out in Hollywood, but technically my answer to Laura was incorrect.

Read more: Small Talk

Treatment of Prisoners

27 Comments

20 March 2009

Before I lived in Germany and Poland for about six years, the Army taught me German and some Polish.  And so there were countless conversations with older Germans and Poles, and I heard earfuls of stories.  The older Germans were very respectful toward our "Greatest Generation," but pretty much hated the Russians because of their brutality.  The theme nearly always drifted to the very humane treatment we afforded German prisoners, while the Russians killed them off.  We even had German prisoners working on farms, and after the war, many Germans returned and married American women!  But the Poles didn't like the Germans or the Russians because of the very same reasons.  They had been mistreated, but the Poles have great respect for America because we treated them well.  Americans are extremely welcome in Poland, but that place sure is cold.

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Soldiers and Sinise

6 Comments

20 March 2009

A soldier emailed me with a surprise.  I did not know that Gary Sinise was involved with a film about soldiers, but you know if Gary is involved, the movie will be top-quality and accurate.

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Our Must-Win War

19 Comments

20 March 2009

By now, President Barack Obama must be acutely aware of the spiraling AfPak situation.  Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have penned a very smart piece about the tough road ahead.  There is a subtly to this piece insofar is it might indicate the Obama Administration is quietly bucking what is likely a very expensive and exhausting plan from the Pentagon.  Active duty Generals cannot make such public declarations as seen coming from Senators McCain and Lieberman, but military leadership can get its message out in other ways.

Read more: Our Must-Win War

The Myth of Kurdistan

1 Comment Published: 18 March 2009

The Myth of Kurdistan
Iraq's northern enclave used to be called a model for the rest of the country. Not anymore, say Kurds.

Lennox Samuels
NEWSWEEK
March 23, 2009

Until the old man is out of the way, everyone else who hungers for power in Iraqi Kurdistan is on hold. It could be a long wait. Despite his chronic bad knee and a Mayo Clinic heart operation last August, 75-year-old Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, is a survivor. At present, he and his longtime rival, Massoud Barzani (together with their families and their respective political machines), still control the largest part of what's worth controlling in the three northern Iraqi provinces that make up the autonomous region. Government ranks are filled with their relatives. Barzani himself is president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, while his nephew Nechirvan is its prime minister and his son Masrour is in charge of intelligence. Talabani's son Qubad is the Kurds' man in Washington, while a nephew heads counterintelligence. Backers once touted Kurdistan as the model for a democratic Iraq—perhaps even for a total makeover of the Middle East. But if anything, the place seems more and more like a stagnant, feudal principality.


Water Torture

130 Comments

16 March 2009
 
There has been much discussion recently about what constitutes torture.  Between research/travel in preparation for a return to Afghanistan and Iraq, I have been working on a couple of dispatches regarding torture.  Meanwhile, several U.S. military officers -- all combat veterans -- have weighed in privately.  All are staunchly opposed to torture.  At least my opposition to torture is in good company with these veterans.  We can beat the terrorists without it, and in fact can do far better without using barbaric methods.  We get huge amounts of information from normal people when they realize we are morally superior to the terrorists.  High ground is always tough to keep, and moral high ground is particularly tough to hold.  But we can do it and will win battles because of that high ground.

Read more: Water Torture

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