Unfinished Business: What We Need to Do in Afghanistan

E-mail Col. Hunt

While we all sink into further economic depression and listen to the endless bickering in Washington D.C., there are still the small details of Iraq and Afghanistan. The last administration would not get to it with these places and their implications on terrorism and how we as a nation must defend ourselves, so let us discuss.

There is military and some political success in Iraq, but at too high a cost in American military and Iraq civilian casualties. Iraq freedom and their own twisted form of democracy may help the U.S. in the future, but it is too soon to tell. The bottom line with Iraq: over 4,100 dead soldiers and over 40,000 wounded, and nearly $1 trillion spent. All costs we should never have had to pay.

Now let's look at Afghanistan. You might remember Afghanistan. It is the country from which Al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. It is the place we took with less than 200 special forces and CIA guys in 30 days. Afghanistan is also the place where we let Usama bin Laden escape from to Pakistan. It is the place that provides over 92 percent of the world's raw opium. Afghanistan is the place where we are losing a fight we had won six years ago.

The president just approved an additional 17,0000 soldiers and Marines to go to Afghanistan. On the same day, the general in charge there said it is going to be a bad year and that we are going to have to keep more soldiers in Afghanistan than we have there now, for the next three to five years. We will have a new ambassador to the country, a man named Karl Eikenberry, a retired three-star general. To add some real complication and drama to this already difficult issue, we now have to deal with the massive ego and other issues of Richard Holbrooke, who is the new "envoy."

All this happened without hardly a blip on the TV or radio. We seem not to care.

The new boss man also just announced when we would pull out all our combat brigades from Iraq: in the next 18 months. It's about damn time.

The Bush administration failed in Iraq and Afghanistan because it refused to fight, refused to acknowledge the nature of the type of conflict they were in, and refused to listen to anyone.

Now as I said above, there is a tentative success in Iraq and we are deciding how to go about fixing the mess that is Afghanistan.

Don't you just love how in the first month of the Obama administration we have idiots suggesting that now Afghanistan is Obama's Vietnam or his war? What do these clowns expect any new president to do, keep getting it wrong as the last administration did? I think not. I think it is six years late in getting Afghanistan right and here is how to do it:

We must get fully involved in Pakistan. Without helping Pakistan control its borders and internal conflicts, without calming Pakistan down, getting them some stability, Afghanistan will never get better. We must help Pakistan to stop being a safe haven for terrorists.

We must get Afghanistan to grow something else besides opium. This is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income of less than $800… a year!

We must understand that a military solution is not the answer in
Afghanistan. It is usually not the solution anywhere. While our great military works with increasingly reluctant NATO and more importantly a much-needed trained, competent Afghanistan police and army, there is much more to do to secure the place from the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

To begin with, we should consider the Taliban and Al Qaeda one in the same. For some crap reason — which I suspect is totally political, hence my unique "crap" feeling — we have only been referring to gains of the Taliban back into Afghanistan as if Al Qaeda is not riding on the same dirty ass donkey back into Afghanistan as is the Taliban.

We need hundreds of farming experts, police trainers, highway engineers, teachers, doctors, translators, brick masons. In short, we need an army of help to go along with these brave army and Marines that have just been ordered back into harm's way.

The majority of these "helpers" should come from our own government and the help should be mandatory, just like a soldier's. In other words, a tour of duty.

The last administration only demanded that soldiers and Marines sacrificed for this war, and it took over seven years to begin to get Iraq marginally successful and to have Afghanistan the mess it is. If we are to have any chance to get Afghanistan even half right, we better begin this new way, and be ready change when we have to.

As with Iraq, Afghanistan will not go as we planned. It will remain for years… unfinished business.

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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.