Sunday, August 16, 2009

Replaying the Huertgen Forest

A defeat of the first magnitude. This is how military historians describe the American loss in the Huertgen Forest. The Huertgen forest campaign was fought in Germany between September 1944 and February 1945. The battle is known for a lack of leadership, poor strategic planning and disregard for the elements of weather and terrain. It also one of the few battles fought in American history where our number of casualties outnumbered the enemy’s, almost 2:1.

Barack Obama is preparing for another Huertgen Forest in Afghanistan. His glaring lack of leadership on Afghanistan has brought us to a place where General Stanley A. McChrystal, Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said, The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan and warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come. His inability to provide a clear strategy has Allies looking for leadership, and his reliance on campaign politics as basis for making military decisions is putting our presence and gains in the CENTOM AOR in serious trouble.

McChrystal is in a tough position. He is caught between a very aggressive enemy, as he describes them, and a Commander-in-Chief who went on the offensive for health care, not warfare, and has said very little about Afghanistan. Last week, administration spokesman Gibbs said that Obama wants to win in Afghanistan. That's very interesting since Obama has said that victory is not the goal in the Afghanistan. So what is McChrystal to do? Ask for more troops? Nope. The President has said that “My strong view is that we are not going to succeed simply by piling on more troops” and National Security Advisor Jim Jones told several Marine colonels and lieutenant colonels on the ground in Afghanistan that if there were new requests for force now, President Obama would quite likely have “a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was quoted in the news today saying: Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is free to ask for whatever he needs, but when the general submits a revised war plan in the coming weeks it will not contain a request to expand the U.S. fighting force. It seems that the commanders on the ground been brow-beaten into not requesting more troops, and are certainly not “free to ask” for whatever they need.

The over arching concern facing troops in Afghanistan is the fact that Washington might not be in the mood to send more. Never mind strategic requirements, the ivory tower set in DC just doesn't feel like it because it might be bad for press or the elections. Press? What press? The war flew off the front page of America's papers on Jan. 20 at 12:01pm. There was almost no news coverage of the fact that July was deadliest month for American soldiers for the entire war and that August is continuing on the same path. 43 American soldiers were killed in July 2009. The previous high was 28 killed in 2007. What is lacking in all of this is the DNC feigning concern for America's soldiers and using an all-too-willing press to shill their lame message of false concern.

The number of casualties is a tragic consequence of Obama's lack of leadership and focus. Even Gordon Brown gets it. Surprisingly, his rhetoric on Afghanistan is very hawkish, almost Bush-like. During his July 15 Prime Minister's Questions before Parliament, he said: We are fighting in Afghanistan to keep from fighting them in the streets of Britain. Sounds like Bush saying, if we don't fight them in Iraq, we will fight them here. That's the famous line that the liberal smart-set liked to lampoon. At least one Western leader understands what's at stake. To be continued........

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