Eyes On The Prize
Did I miss something when President Barack Obama stated that he’d make Afghanistan the …. ‘focus of his attention’ when it came to the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda ? Figuratively and literally the military in Afghanistan has been abandoned by the Obama administration . As he seeks to bolster his political clout with other issues and legislation-though warranted that has achieved very little on the political front.
The President’s assessment of the situation remains non too clear. But in the meantime US lives are still being lost.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff under Admiral Mike Mullen , Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the President have had little , if anything to say on this very acute and worrying issue. It is even more perplexing when there are now statements being made by Secretary Gates now asking that General Stanley McChrystal not make anymore comments regarding the situation with regard to the situation in Afghanistan. Now unless I’m mistaken wouldn’t the top US military commander in the country (Afghanistan) and the head of the UN forces there be of the right frame of mind to be letting the public know of the inherent problems that the US military now faces in Afghanistan ?
Courtesy of US Dept of Defense
By Gerri J Gilmore , Armed Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2009 – As President Barack Obama and senior defense and national security leaders reconvened meetings today on the way forward in Afghanistan, they did so with the addition of Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s list of requested resources, the Pentagon press secretary said.
Obama received a copy of McChrystal’s request for resources late last week from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Geoff Morrell told reporters here today.
On Monday, Gates also provided copies of the resource request to senior White House officials, to include National Security Council members, he said.
Obama wanted a copy of the report to read last weekend, Morrell said.
The Afghanistan resources request is now formally working its way through the U.S. military and NATO chains of command, he said.
Morrell referred to the copies provided to Obama and other senior White House officials as “informal” documents that didn’t bear official comments of review or vetting from senior civilian and military leaders. Those leaders, he said, include Gates; Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan.
However, all of the Pentagon’s top leaders, to include Petraeus and McChrystal, have been closely involved in White House discussions on the way ahead in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Morrell pointed out. The White House hosted the first of a series of strategy meetings on Sept. 30.
A second such meeting was held today, Morrell said, with another slated for Friday.
Gates likely decided to hold onto the resource assessment until directed otherwise by the president, Morrell suggested, to limit the possibility of leaking information, such as occurred earlier with McChrystal’s assessment on the situation in Afghanistan.
Everyone concerned, Morrell emphasized, will have an opportunity to “weigh-in” with their opinions.
“Obviously, this has been a slightly unconventional process and an informal copy as I mentioned bypassed the chain of command at the secretary’s request, so he could own it and could therefore make decisions about where it should go, when it should go,” he said.
Today marks the eighth anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, which removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.
“We have seen our amazing military men and women adapt to and overcome daunting terrain, harsh conditions and an agile and ruthless enemy,” Morrell said of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan.
Nearly 800 Americans have died in military operations in and around Afghanistan since the war began, Morrell said. He cited the deaths of eight U.S. soldiers who died there last weekend during an enemy assault on a remote outpost in Nurestan province.
“Our thoughts are with their families and all families who have sacrificed so much in Operation Enduring Freedom,” he said.
Located near the border with Pakistan, the outpost was slated to be closed, Morrell said, as part of McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy to move U.S. troops closer to major Afghan population centers.
An investigation into circumstances surrounding the attack is ongoing, Morrell said. The enemy, he said, paid dearly, losing 100 fighters during the assault and in its aftermath.
Turning to other defense matters, Morrell said the Pentagon is developing a conventional 30,000 pound, massive ordnance penetrator bomb designed to pulverize underground facilities that may store weapons of mass destruction and related systems. The bomb, he said, should be ready for deployment in the coming months.
“This has been a capability that we have long believed was missing from our quiver or our arsenal,” Morrell said, “and we wanted to make sure we filled in that gap.”
There is no specific target list for the new weapon, Morrell emphasized.
The bomb “is just a capability that we think is necessary, given the world we live in these days,” he said.
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Adm. Mike Mullen Head of The Joint Chiefs of Staff addresses members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Unfortunately it’d appear that the President and his Defense Secretary are either under the impression that the war there can still be won by being haphazard and placing the lives of the US military in harm’s way as some sort of collateral damage if only to amp up the political rhetoric that’s now said to be going on. As to the assertion that the President and Robert Gates will acquiesce to McChrystal’s request for some additional 40,000 troops on the ground there in Afghanistan . Well that remains to be seen at this juncture . But it’d appear that it isn’t the priority that the President and his administration would have us believe it was . Clearly this administration seems to have lost touch with reality on this issue. Have they forgot that the lives of US soldiers are now being needlessly sacrificed for the sake of what ? What tangible evidence is there now that we’ve got both the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the run ?
Of the 650 plus lives now lost on this particular battlefront , it has to be said that though we would expect the loss of life in war. But ought we to expect the administration to act as if these lives are now being sacrificed for a cause when it now appears that they seem to have forgotten the purpose of this effort. In all honesty are the Afghan people now in a better place ? And what tangible evidence is there that this military action has met any of its original goals ? The Taliban may well have been overthrown and there’s now said to be a legitimately elected democratic government elected with Hamid Kharzai as its elected President. But Kharzai’s administration is said to be rife with corruption and many of the elected officials are indeed subordinates of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. And what has become even more apparent is that the country is still controlled in large part by these radicals.
Economically the ‘poppy trade’ (its by product being heroin) still pays large dividends for the Taliban and Al Qaeda as it is their main source of income in financing their continued wagering of the continued war in Afghanistan. That particular trade accounts for in excess of 75% of the country’s GDP. On both fronts this war has been wagered with there being little sign of any tangible improvement as to the country’s infrastructure and its citizens’ way of life.
So as it now stands , what’s the present policy now in Afghanistan ? Does anyone within the Obama administration know ? The situation has been made almost untenable because of the present inaction on the part of the President. He’s seemingly at a loss to his express himself with clarity on this specific issue. Something of a comedown from that rousing acceptance speech after he’d won the Presidential election. “Change we can believe in “ . It’s now beginning to ring hollow at present when it comes to this one particular pressing issue. What say you on the matter ?
NB: Eighty five per cent ( 85 %) of the world’s poppy trade and productioin emanates from the country of Afghanistan. And it provides a lucrative source of income for not only the farmers but also for both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Furthermore there’s a growing epidemic of heroin use amongst the Afghani people, in particular amongst the women and children under the age of eighteen.