Attention Deficit Warfighting

Matthew Cole, writing for Salon.com, has a discouraging dispatch from an outpost in the border region between Afghanistan and tribal Pakistan. The article gives a useful sense of the daily grind in America’s “other” war, but take care to read the passages where US troops describe exactly why we are losing and may entirely lose the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

[T]he troops in Nuristan have also suffered from sheer isolation and the topography of the Hindu Kush. At Lybert (altitude 6,500 feet), the 3-71’s Charlie Company had gone 70 days without a hot shower or a hot meal. They have sustained deaths and injuries from hiking and falling. Soldiers who have served in both Iraq and Afghanistan before said their current living conditions are much worse. “Leadership doesn’t care about us,” said one officer, who requested that his name be withheld to avoid punishment for his comments. “We’ve gone on mission after mission after mission where we’ve gone black [run out] on food and water. They tell us, ‘Pack light, your mission will only be four days tops.’ But then we end up stuck on a mountaintop for two weeks. We didn’t have anything, not even tents. If you can’t get us off a mountain, don’t put us on there.”

Several soldiers and officers I spoke with told me they were unprepared for their mission in the north of Afghanistan. No one, it seems, told them they would have to fight a Vietnam-style war at high altitudes. One officer told me the 10th Mountain’s limited resources and poor planning frustrated him. (He also asked that his name be withheld for fear of retribution.) “Leadership has failed us,” he told me. “They don’t give a shit about us. We’ve been shorted everything we needed. Our training didn’t prepare us for this terrain or this mission. We’re doing the best we can but we’re not getting support.” He said the summer of 2006 had been filled with air-assault missions in which Chinooks delivered 20 to 30 troops to a ridgeline with little food or water, and no plan to pick them up.

[…] Adding to Charlie Company’s frustration, it cannot go on manned patrols in the villages below. Capt. Mike Schmidt, the commanding officer, told me the location of the base and size of his troop limited how much he could do. “We depend a lot on locals walking up from the neighboring villages to give us information,” he said. “We can’t leave the base and do patrols or visit the villages. We don’t have enough soldiers. We’d come back and there would be nothing left — the Afghans would steal everything and the insurgents could take the base.”

Convoys lack air support. Troops guarding the border where al Qaeda and the Taliban have regrouped, and from which they launch increasingly effective incursions into Afghanistan, lack the men to go on regular patrols. Troops endure two or three times the planned mission length because their commanders lack either the resources to resupply them, the helicopters to remove them or the manpower to relieve them. Plainly and unambiguously the effort to stabilize Afghanistan is suffering because we lack the resources to do the job right.

It should be plain to the slowest observer that men and materiel would be available in spades if they were not sunk in Iraq. Nobody, as far as I know, can show now that we absolutely, positively needed to go to war with Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan. Today most will tell you that we didn’t need to invade Iraq at all.

It is only so useful to psychologize why attacking Saddam Hussein so thoroughly captivated this administration before 9/11, immediately after 9/11 and every day since then. Each participant no doubt nurtured his own personal pathology, so there isn’t any single answer to why this group went so disastrously wrong. Maybe there exists a group of Democrats who would have driven America just as thoroughly over the rhetorical cliff. President Lieberman comes to mind. Nonetheless it seems reasonable to wonder where we would be today if we had a leadership with the discipline and the competence to focus on the people who attacked us long enough to finish the job.

***Update***

An encounter from freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy’s visit to Iraq and Afghanistan sums up the entire problem:

Military commanders in Afghanistan told the Iraq war veteran from Bucks County that they desperately needed more troops to deal with a resurgent Taliban. …Murphy said, “they feel like the redheaded stepchild” – forgotten and ignored – as the original battleground in the war against terrorism.

Red-headed stepchild. This in reference to our war against the people who attacked us on 9/11, and who will undoubtedly attack us again. Incredible.

***Uppdate 2***

Dick Cheney, wrong about everything. This person has been on the wrong side of literally every policy issue since Bush took office.






53 replies
  1. 1
    Andrew says:

    Great, now Tim F. hates the troops too.

  2. 2
    Tulkinghorn says:

    Maybe this will stiffen the Dems spines. precipitously backing out of Iraq in order to save Afghanistan may be more palatable than a prudent, staged withdrawal that would still be characterized as cutting and running.

  3. 3
    matt says:

    When you match a story like this with the stories about how poorly some of our troops get treated when they come home, it’s unbelievably depressing. It’s one miserable experience to another for some of these folks. All of it, or most of it, avoidable, with a little care and competency.

  4. 4
    dreggas says:

    But…But…But BUSH SUPPORTS THE TROOPS!!!! Cheney and Snow told me so!!!!

  5. 5
    Faux News says:

    “Great, now Tim F. hates the troops too”.

    Fret not Andrew, Darrell will be here tomorrow to proclaim “Victory in Northern Afghanistan!” and bash Tim SO hard that Tim will go running and yelping back to France from whence he came.

  6. 6
    Otto Man says:

    Look, Tim, we all know that nothing was more important than Operation He Tried to Kill My Daddy. Not securing America, not catching Bin Laden, not anything else.

    Dear Leader has spoken. All loyal Americans must obey.

  7. 7
    lard lad says:

    As if we needed another iota of evidence that, as a means of fighting actual terrorism, putting the war in Afghanistan (and al Qaeda, and Bin Laden) on the back burner for our little adventure in Iraq was either A), blind stupidity on a planet-shifting level, or B), a shameful, ham-fisted attempt at world domination via U.S. control of the Middle East (brought to you by the geniuses at the Project for a New American Century).

    Who am I kidding? I vote for C), all of the above, and weep bitter tears for our country.

  8. 8
    RSA says:

    Matthew Cole’s writing reminds me of nothing so much as Bill Mauldin’s stories of the dogfaces in WWII, even down to some of the arrogant clueless leaders (the CIA guy in Cole’s story). What a cluster fuck. (As a minor saving grace, the article shows what war-time journalism can look like.)

  9. 9
    jake says:

    Plainly and unambiguously the effort to stabilize Afghanistan is suffering because we lack the resources to do the job right Bush could give a fuck about Afghanistan.

    Fuxed.

    First there was Afghanistan. Then Bush got a new toy called called Operation Iraqi Liberation. Now that’s getting a bit tatty and the batteries have run down. Hey, what’s that over there? Iran! Waaaah! I want Iran!!

  10. 10
    Rome Again says:

    First there was Afghanistan. Then Bush got a new toy called called Operation Iraqi Liberation. Now that’s getting a bit tatty and the batteries have run down. Hey, what’s that over there? Iran! Waaaah! I want Iran!!

    OMG, what a perfect description of the level of childishness we’re dealing with here.

  11. 11

    Yeah, but I hear the opium crop is going to bring boom times.

  12. 12
    Zifnab says:

    (As a minor saving grace, the article shows what war-time journalism can look like.)

    You know they don’t care about Afganistan when they don’t even bother to censor the journalists. What is our nation coming to?

  13. 13
    Perry Como says:

    Why don’t we hear more about the wars we aren’t losing?

  14. 14
    Tulkinghorn says:

    Since the soldiers are in Nuristan/Kaffiristan, why not just equip them with Masonic jewelry and have establish themselves as kings?

  15. 15
    scarshapedstar says:

    How dare you steal the troops’ honor?! A troop’s greatest joy is to go on a shitty, unplanned mission with no supplies. And here you are calling them a bunch of pussies. My word!

  16. 16
    Andrew says:

    The resupply mission is a success that hasn’t happened yet.

  17. 17
    Punchy says:

    All you sorry whiners…Hey, I’ve seen Rambo like 19 times. HE doesn’t need food, he just kills pigs. HE didn’t need transpo, he just jacked passing convoy trucks. HE never showered…he just walked thru rat-infested waters (after putting shampoo in his hair–a deleted scene, obviously).

    If these pussies cannot even be half the solider that Trautman made of John, then screw them. I guess I’m supposed to be guilt-tripped into sending them a damn microwave? Maybe I will, with a bunch of dresses and hair scrunchies.

  18. 18
    Rome Again says:

    All you sorry whiners…Hey, I’ve seen Rambo like 19 times.

    Why?

  19. 19
    Teak111 says:

    And now China is placing holds on US credit. Bush clearly trashed several corps before entering politics probably because of his inability to focus and now he’s bringing the US to its economic knees the same way by draining us in two frigging wars. And we all thought his presidency from here on out was a forgone conclusion. Oh no, there is much more to come, freinds, much more. Worst fucking President Ever (WiFPE)!

  20. 20
    Jonathan says:

    A letter writer called Fatboy2004 claimed to be just returned from the area in question and he knows the CG of the operation would make certain the troops were properly supplied if the CG only knew of their plight. The letter writer then went on to say that the only explanation was that the 3-71 unit leadership was not informing their higher command of the need for increased supplies of consumables.

    That was quite possibly the most bullshit explanation I’ve ever heard.

    Y’all might want to check out my reply to Fatboy2004, I filleted his ass.

    It’s right here.

  21. 21
    Rome Again says:

    You know what Jonathan? I’ve had many a debate and/or argument with right-wingers and I’ve never felt the need to show them off afterwards.

    What is it about you that reminds me of an egoist? Hmmm, must be the showoff/braggart thing.

  22. 22
    Dave says:

    OMG, what a perfect description of the level of childishness we’re dealing with here.

    Childishness is being awfully nice there Rome. Disgustingly vomit inducing, is how I’d term it.

    ..and the hypocrisy from those tools at 16000 is on another level..

  23. 23
    Dave says:

    OMG, what a perfect description of the level of childishness we’re dealing with here.

    Childishness is being awfully nice there Rome. Disgustingly vomit inducing, is how I’d term it.

    ..and the hypocrisy from those tools at 1600 is on another level..

  24. 24
    Richard 23 says:

    Now I understand the “Tinkerbell” metaphor and the “clap louder” catchphrase. The worse things can be portrayed, the more leftist wackjobs like Tim clap.

    Don’t you want to win the war on terror? Of course you don’t. Then Bush would be proven right and he would have to get credit for that.

    It’s amazing that BDS is so strong around here that people can’t help but cheer for the enemy. All in day’s work for the ‘reality based’ community.

  25. 25
    Paul in LA says:

    Gee, HOW do you get four major airbases large enough to land planes without fear of shoulder-fired missiles and a 60-acre Citadel/Consulate with six foot thick walls and its own power/water/sewage, within a few miles of the enemy you plan on attacking with nuclear weapons in the next few months?

    You all seem to think that Iraq was a mistake. It most certainly was not.

    Illegal, immoral, disgusting, ruinous, hateful, treasonous — yes.

    Profitable and militarily SUCCESSFUL? In spades.

    “There IS NO MORE IRAQ. There will be three territories.” — Kissinger, early 2004.

    Even if there is to be an Iraq, there will be four major airbases, etc. Fomenting civil war is just icing on the cake. Obviously the Iraqis cannot live without us, so they are stuck with our airbases and will pay our oil companies for the privilege.

    • It was Kissinger Associates J. Bremer that kicked off the civil war by disbanding the entire Iraqi security system and deBaathifying to four levels within a day of arriving in Iraq — supposedly after two weeks warning.

    Kissinger bookends both of the major military disasters in our modern history.

  26. 26
    jake says:

    It’s amazing that BDS ^(Bush Devotion Syndrome) is so strong around here that people Richard23 can’t help but cheer for the enemy ^(George Bush).

  27. 27
    cleek says:

    Now I understand the “Tinkerbell” metaphor and the “clap louder” catchphrase

    clearly, you don’t.

    but it doesn’t look like not knowing what you’re talking about is much of an impediment to you talking about it, anyway.

  28. 28
    Jonathan says:

    What is it about you that reminds me of an egoist? Hmmm, must be the showoff/braggart thing.

    So I’m an egoist. Did you think that was going to hurt my feelings?

    Why is being an egoist considered a good thing in sports and business and entertainment and many other things in life but not in intellectual pursuits?

    Debate is one of the things I’m good at and I enjoy being good at it, I derive considerable pleasure from cutting Busheviks down to size.

    Besides, ThymeZone is at least as big an intellectual egoist as I am. He took great pleasure in humiliating Doubting Thomas on another thread I looked at last night.

    I haven’t been over here in a while and I don’t know if y’all have discussed it or not but Dr Bob Altemeyer has a good online book out explaining just why Busheviks are Busheviks. Based on decades of psychological research, I found it a fascinating and illuminating read.

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  29. 29
    Punchy says:

    explaining just why Busheviks are Busheviks

    Can I just guess? They average a 4th grade education, live in a meth park, and would rather french a cow than shake hands with a Black or homosexual person?

  30. 30
    Gus says:

    Jonathon, personally I like seeing wingnuts taken down a peg. I appreciated the link.

  31. 31
    Faux News says:

    Perry Como Says:

    Why don’t we hear more about the wars we aren’t losing?

    Well there was the War on Christmas in which the Liberals got their asses kicked. WOOT!

  32. 32
    TR says:

    Don’t you want to win the war on terror? Of course you don’t. Then Bush would be proven right and he would have to get credit for that.

    Actually, these two things are mutually exclusive.

    I certainly do want to win the “war on terror” if by that you mean taking down Osama Bin Laden, the al Qaeda network, and their enablers in the Middle East and South Asia. You know, the people who actually attacked us and who actively pose a threat to us. The terrorists.

    But George Bush doesn’t care about any of them. He’s said he “doesn’t really think about” Bin Laden anymore, and he’s letting Saudi Arabia and Pakistan pretend to be our allies. Meanwhile, he’s pursuing a clusterfuck of a revenge fantasy in Iraq, and in so doing, giving al Qaeda the best propaganda they could ever dream of and helping them grow stronger.

    So, yes, I badly want a victory over the real terrorists. But in no way would that victory prove George Bush right.

  33. 33
    Zifnab says:

    I certainly do want to win the “war on terror” if by that you mean taking down Osama Bin Laden, the al Qaeda network, and their enablers in the Middle East and South Asia.

    Who?

  34. 34
    Barry says:

    Jonathan Says:

    “A letter writer called Fatboy2004 claimed to be just returned from the area in question and he knows the CG of the operation would make certain the troops were properly supplied if the CG only knew of their plight. The letter writer then went on to say that the only explanation was that the 3-71 unit leadership was not informing their higher command of the need for increased supplies of consumables.”

    A friend who studied Russian history said that, during the worst of Stalin’s purges, people would say ‘if only Stalin knew what people were doing in his name’. They actually seemed to think that it was the lower-level guys doing the evil things on their own accord.

  35. 35
    Rome Again says:

    So I’m an egoist. Did you think that was going to hurt my feelings?

    No, I didn’t consider your feelings at all, sorry. I told you because I knew you could take it.

    Why is being an egoist considered a good thing in sports and business and entertainment and many other things in life but not in intellectual pursuits?

    Let’s just say that it seems to be an act of desperation the way you need to show off around here.

    Debate is one of the things I’m good at and I enjoy being good at it, I derive considerable pleasure from cutting Busheviks down to size.

    I guess the problem is that you derive so much pleasure from your abilities that you keep suggesting we all act JUST LIKE YOU! I seem to have a problem with that, don’t I? I’m an individual, my name is NOT Jonatham.

    Besides, ThymeZone is at least as big an intellectual egoist as I am. He took great pleasure in humiliating Doubting Thomas on another thread I looked at last night.

    TZ is an egoist, yet he isn’t showing off HOW he does what he does, he just does it, and I respect him for that. It’s not the fact that someone is an egoist, it’s HOW they go about being one. Your way of being an egoist screams out to me that there’s something missing in you.

    I haven’t been over here in a while and I don’t know if y’all have discussed it or not but Dr Bob Altemeyer has a good online book out explaining just why Busheviks are Busheviks. Based on decades of psychological research, I found it a fascinating and illuminating read.

    Yes, I’ve been on his website, awesome. There are many authors/researchers out there now who are introducting this kind of information. It’s not new. I remember Advisor Jim over at Kos introducing his former dittohead series. Altemeyer is doing good work, but he’s not the only one.

  36. 36
    Rome Again says:

    Sorry for the missing blockquotes, I have not had coffee yet.

  37. 37
    Rome Again says:

    Here, let me say this in another way Jonathan…

    I don’t need your talking points. I don’t want your talking points. If others do, fine… I can live with that, but what I see you constantly doing on this forum is telling everyone that they should argue just like you (and here’s how…).

    I have a really hard time being anyone but myself without coming off being insincere and cheezy. I’d rather not go there.

    Maybe if you just toned down the “be-like-me”ness of the whole thing, it wouldn’t scream out to me that you’re in need of therapy so much.

  38. 38
    Richard 23 says:

    So I’m an egoist. Did you think that was going to hurt my feelings?

    Why is being an egoist considered a good thing in sports and business and entertainment and many other things in life but not in intellectual pursuits?

    Shorter Jonathan: Enough of me talking about me. Now you talk about me.

    TZ is an egoist, yet he isn’t showing off HOW he does what he does, he just does it, and I respect him for that.

    Rome Again: Blinded by love.

  39. 39
    Rome Again says:

    Rome Again: Blinded by love.

    If TZ spent half as much time trying to get people to emulate him as Jonathan does, I wouldn’t like that either, and I’d tell him so.

  40. 40
    Shinobi says:

    You know, I recall with great clarity several political debates I had with friends and family right around the time that Bush took as to Iraq. And my entire point was that it was stupid to get involved in a second war when we were still in the middle of the first one. For some reson this was dismissed as me being a “peacenik” or some such nonsense.

    And now here we are. This seems to happen a lot in life, and honesty I would much rather that people LISTEN TO ME in the beginning than to be able to say “I told you so.” It’s like I was playing a game for the “National Security” grand prize and I ended up with the “I told you so” conselation. It reminds me of those stupid plastic jumping frogs I’d always end up with at carnival.

    Seriously, I could really get excited about being wrong more often.

  41. 41
    pharniel says:

    Cassandra Syndrome has a well known Liberal Bias.
    much like REality.

  42. 42
    Rome Again says:

    Seriously, I could really get excited about being wrong more often.

    I know what you mean. It is just another day every single time I log in and find John pointing out something else that is going backwards which the GOP swears isn’t.

    Can’t we get this shit right, ever?

    I want a government I can feel confident in again.

  43. 43
    ThymeZone says:

    Besides, ThymeZone is at least as big an intellectual egoist as I am. He took great pleasure in humiliating Doubting Thomas on another thread I looked at last night.

    Ah, our favorite lying cocksucker is back, Jonny Goebbels.

    Did somebody forget to drop food into your Goebbel cage today, Jonny?

    You stupid turd. Doubting Thomas is a spoof, first of all and second, he had NO ARGUMENT. Just an “opinion” presented without basis or support.

    So, minus an argument, he tried to whine his way out of the pickle he made for himself. Waaaaaaaaaaaahhh, you were mean to me! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    Exactly what you do, which makes me reasonable sure that you could be he, and vice versa.

    Wo what useless I’M A MARINE lying horseshit are you peddling here today, Jonny?

    C’mon, pull it out, let’s have a look at it. Did you eat all the way through the last of the toilet paper tubes we left in your cage over the weekend and now you need something to do?

  44. 44
    ThymeZone says:

    If TZ spent half as much time trying to get people to emulate him

    Why in the world would I want anyone to emulate me?

    Don’t post like I do. That’s really the one and only reliable piece of advice I’d give to anybody who asked for advice.

    Generally I am in a car when I post. But sometimes I like to post from my Sensory Deprivation Chamber. Don’t try this at home, please.

  45. 45
    ThymeZone says:

    Yoo hoo, Jonny Goebbels?

    Where are you?

  46. 46
    ThymeZone says:

    Diarrhea:

    Too many greens and vegetables in their diet can cause diarrhea. If your gerbil has a diet high in vegetables remove them and they should be OK.

    Tyzzer’s is a deadly and highly contagious disease whose symptoms often include diarrhea. Death usually occurs 24 hours after symptoms appear. Antibiotic treatment may not save your sick gerbil, but it may prevent the spread to your other gerbils.

    If you gerbil/gerbils have unexplained diarrhea place your entire clan on antibiotics. Gerbils are small and their health can deteriorate quickly. If you have a seriously ill gerbil, not eating, drinking, and diarrhea, take them immediately to a veterinarian.

    Oh Jonny, you might try this the next time you feel an attack of Diarrhea of the Mouth coming on …..

  47. 47
    Rome Again says:

    Exactly what you do, which makes me reasonable sure that you could be he, and vice versa.

    Yeah, when he brought up DT, I wondered the same thing.

  48. 48
    Rome Again says:

    Exactly what you do, which makes me reasonable sure that you could be he, and vice versa.

    Just don’t go head in the Richard Gere direction with this gerbil thing and we’ll be fine, okay?

  49. 49
    Rome Again says:

    Why in the world would I want anyone to emulate me?

    I never said you did, the point was that you don’t. Umm, you got that part, right? Right?

  50. 50
    ThymeZone says:

    Just don’t go head in the Richard Gere direction with this gerbil thing and we’ll be fine, okay?

    Ewwwww.

    That was Jonny?

  51. 51
    ThymeZone says:

    you got that part, right

    Yes.

    { lecherous wink }

  52. 52
    jdmckay says:

    jake said:

    First there was Afghanistan. Then Bush got a new toy called called Operation Iraqi Liberation. Now that’s getting a bit tatty and the batteries have run down. Hey, what’s that over there? Iran! Waaaah! I want Iran!!

    A Harper’s Mr. Fish cartoon comes to mind.

  53. 53

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