Errata for Tuesday
Steve Coll is reporting from Afghanistan this month; I always find him a measured read, and these reports are no different.
To the extent that this pre-negotiating of clearing operations succeeds, not all of the Kandahar campaign may require a lot of shooting.
In some respects the campaign has already begun. Special Forces and C.I.A. task forces have captured seventy mid-level Taliban commanders in Kandahar Province in raids over the last two months, and they have killed dozens of other mid-level commanders, those of us travelling with Mullen were told. (This has degraded the Taliban’s provincial leadership, according to U.S. assessments, and created some confusion and mistrust in monitored Taliban communications. However, the replacement commanders are typically younger than their predecessors, and if they are less skilled, they may also be more vicious and bitter.) In any event, it is a basic precept of revised U.S. strategy in Afghanistan that international forces cannot “capture and kill” their way to victory. The critical aspects of the Kandahar campaign will be political.
I wish he didn’t put period after every letter in the acronyms he uses, because it messes with my line reading, but hey, stupid quibbles in an otherwise solid document. Further down the page, commenter Carter_Nicholas_Charlottesville has a very, very good response.
Dr Jeffrey Groh is moderating the DIME blog this month, which I tend to find hit-or-miss as a resource. He starts with a discussion of network-centric warfare that’s worth a read to dig into the comments (hey, they opened the comments!).
Kings of War moved! Jesus I’m out of the loop. If I’ve messed up a link to your site please do let me know.
I was amused to see this cable from PRT Kunar, Navy Reservist, farmer becomes mayor in Afghanistan:
U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Lewis Nunemaker, a farmer from Argos, Ind., has volunteered after 29 years in the Navy to have his last hurrah at a small forward operating base nestled at the bottom of the scenic, but unforgiving, mountain ranges of eastern Afghanistan. Trading in his sea legs for a land locked last journey near the border of Pakistan, the 49-year-old man now wears a very unique hat: mayor of Camp Wright.
“I wish I had done this earlier in my career,” Nunemaker said, as he sat on a weathered and broken couch in his small office that serves as the mayor’s cell. “It really forces you to lead from the front. You have to keep pushing every day here.”
David Wood, who remains one of my favorite reporters on the US military, reports on Afghan vets and paintball:
The majority of troops, of course, didn’t feel the need for specific treatment – but they do seize the chance to blow off steam. At Fort Drum’s paintball facility, retired Sgt. Maj. Gene Spencer, recreation manager, said he offers all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile rides, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, sky diving — any kind of adventure sports soldiers can think up.
“The whole point of this is to ease the mind-set these kids come back with from the killing,” he told me. “To keep soldiers out of trouble you gotta occupy their minds, let them unwind in a controlled environment.”
Several weeks after the troops got back, Spencer had the soldiers and their wives in for paintball. It turned out to be a joyfully explosive release of tension for couples struggling with difficult emotional and financial problems.
Wood manages to convey sympathy without ever undercutting difficulty, and that something I admire about him and his coverage. He’s also done some similarly cogent yet removed work on DADT that is worth reading. Additionally, Stars and Stripes published this flash article, If the military’s gay ban is reversed, what would change? It’s generally unbiased, though the questions it poses to answer seem more bent towards answering concerns that those not affected by DADT’s repeal might have rather than addressing the repeal itself in any critical fashion.
I had roughly 3000 items in my google reader from the last time I was rifling through the many (many many many) sites I follow and have hacked it down to under 400. That’s my accomplishment for the week; but please forgive if I end up retreading old ground as I read backwards.