While we are all celebrating, having parades or throwing bricks at the TV while countless "talking heads" give the new president a grade for his first 100 days (only two grades allowed it seems: A or F), we are still fighting a war. Now the name of this war has changed from the War on Terror to something less "Bush-like" while our men and women are still dying no matter what we call it.
The Obama administration is still going to concentrate on Afghanistan and gradually withdraw from Iraq (providing Iraq does not blow up) but here is where the non-hunting dog thing comes to bear.
The president is ordering 21,000 additional soldiers into Afghanistan, which is not enough but is a more politically acceptable number than the 100,000 that is really required. However, shorting the number of soldiers needed in Afghanistan is not as destructive as not having enough agriculture experts, police trainers, road builders, teachers, governmental experts and energy experts going to the war zone. The United States of America has more than enough professionals within our own government to supply both military and non-military support. There is only one tinsy-wincy little problem: Besides the military, our government cannot tell, order or otherwise make any other government worker go into a war zone. Take your time, go ahead and throw up!
Once more it is time to say do not go into a war or invade a country which is like going to war but just not calling it a war unless the entire government is ready to go to war, not just your intelligence and military community!
Allow me a moment to review what we are up to and how deep in the well of whale poop we are. When we went into Afghanistan, for all the right reasons, over seven years ago and stayed, we became nation builders. We owned Afghanistan, with all the good and bad that comes with it. When you become a nation builder, you have to bring almost as many trainers, builders, road builders, agriculture experts, etc. as you do soldiers. What you must do — and we fail to do every time — is that once you secure a place, you have to begin rebuilding the place immediately, and we have not done that in Afghanistan. The consequences of our not doing this right for the last seven years is that we have to still do it. More soldiers will die, more civilians in Afghanistan will die and, of far lesser importance, political careers will be lost.
What we have in Afghanistan is a rebuilt Taliban and Al Qaeda, both of whom got their asses kicked by a few hundred Special Forces, CIA, Air Force planes and a couple of Brits to round out the team in less than 30 days, seven years ago. To make things even more dangerous, Afghanistan's neighbor and the co-host of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Pakistan, is in danger of collapse. Why do we care about Pakistan? Because Pakistan has atomic bombs!
So if Afghanistan is ever going to approach the tactical success that so far is Iraq, then we must get help there now. The president is going to have to send in with all the military muscle an equal amount of non-military help. If we cannot or will not get the rest of our government involved, then farm out the requirements to contractors. And if not, then get out of Afghanistan now. We cannot get done what we, and more importantly Afghanistan, needs done without this.
Afghanistan currently supplies over 90 percent of the world's opium and heroin. I will remind us all that the United States of American is the largest user of heroin on the planet. It would seem as if we have many reasons to get this right, and yet to this date we have not. The poppy fields in Afghanistan take days to cross, the stuff is grown right in front of us and to date we have nothing. We have held countless meetings, we have talked with concern in our political voices, but we have done nothing. Well, not quite true. We have allowed opium production to increase over 60 percent in Afghanistan. Nice job!
What we have done is make the same mistake that we made in Iraq, mainly using Reserve soldiers to replace the civilian jobs/trainers that the full-time government employees refuse to fill. For example, we have over 17,000 government workers in the Department of Labor and yet not one of them can be ordered into Afghanistan. So instead of changing the rules, we are taking the easy way out and attempting to fill the jobs with Reservists who even breathe in the direction of the job requirement. No one is served by the idiotic policy. The Afghanistan effort does not get the right person for the job, the Reservist is not doing his or her job, and the smoke screen continues. This war has been unfairly borne on the able and strong shoulders of our National Guard and Reserves. These great men and women have been filling in for those who are refusing to serve for far too long.
We cannot win in any traditional sense in Afghanistan, but we can do a hell of a lot better. If I had a hunting dog this bad, I would not put the dog down but I would stop hunting. Fix the way we are doing Afghanistan or stop doing it.
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.