I received a link yesterday from CourtneyME109 regarding an interesting article in Foreign Policy Online entitled "No Good Choices", referring to President Obama's four proposed courses of action in Afghanistan.
I need to begin with the following caveat. I will always be suspicious of computer models regarding insurgent environments, and it stems from my experience fighting the 21st Century Maginot Line in the Aviation Captains Career Course on the JANUS system*. There are far too many variables to be modeled accurately. Decades worth of formulas and wargames didn't help Helmuth van Moltke (the Younger) in August of 1914--and that was a mere 2GW battlefield, not the modern 4GW one.
Nevertheless, they shouldn't be completely discounted, either.
In the article at FP Online, two defense analysts partook in a series of wargames concerning Afghanistan. I'd be highly curious to see the raw data, and the methodology behind the wargames, but it brings up a number of issues which I think I'd suspected all along. Not the least of which is that the counterinsurgency landscape in Afghanistan is significantly more complex than the French experience in Algeria and the British experience in Malaya (around which much of our current counterinsurgency doctrine is based).
Says the article:
On the flip side, however...
I'm somewhat skeptical of the claims that instability in Afghanistan will automatically lead to instability in Pakistan (andits arsenal of nuclear weapons). Note that Afghanistan had been stable throughout the 1990s, with seemingly minimal risk to Pakistan's stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Moving along, the next link comes from SWJ's Council and it regards the real threat in the region, al-Qaeda. The guys at SWJ link to another article in FP Online ("Destroying al Qaeda is Not an Option Yet") which discusses the current state of al-Qaeda: one that has been significantly wounded not only by Predator strikes--with a good portion of its top leadership dead--but also appearing increasingly illegitimate in the eyes of many Muslims.
Good news for us.
However, the author brings up a puzzling argument. He believes that the concentration of anti-Western Wahhabists in al Qaeda gives NATO a center of gravity to act upon. Should al Qaeda be destroyed, Wahhabists might flock to a number of other groups, with the dispersion making them that much harder to target and kill.
Oh, you mean like al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (Iraq), al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen), Lashkar e-Taiba, and any one of a number of other groups? Thanks, it already happened.
The last link isn't about foreign policy--it's about the families of Soldiers. In an article in the Washington Post, the wife of a battalion commander in Iraq notes a number of issues within the family readiness groups Army-wide. One of her top complaints is one which I agree with:
Finally, the Army should directly fund its mandated Family Readiness Groups. Currently, Army regulations require that fundraising be done within units -- so we bake cupcakes and sell them to our own husbands in the motor pool, effectively taking from the people we are trying to support. We shouldn't have to fundraise to treat families to pizza and bowling while their soldiers are deployed.
Yes, the FRG fundraiser. I would be all for nixing these in favor of direct funding to family readiness groups, although for a different reason than the author puts forward...my issue is with the time spent on fundraisers. I'd rather simply pay $50 out of my own pocket than give up a weekend selling cupcakes or sodas, and I'm certain many soldiers and families feel the same way as well. Many fundraisers take away precious time away from families on weekends and weekdays. Not to mention, in this era, many spouses work--when are they going to find the time to participate in a bake sale?
And that's the blogosphere for today. Oh, with one more note for the guys at al-Sahwa.
*--Good luck in your career course. To beat the game, just put tanks all over the battlefield and the Soviet Army will be destroyed. Don't leave a gap in your line like one student did, or the Soviets will break through. Seriously, we have students that fight like the French Army in 1940. God help us all...