October 23, 2009

How George W. Bush "Neglected" Afghanistan

Hatched by Sachi

Responding to former Vice President Dick Cheney's charge that President Barack H. Obama is "dithering" over Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Robert "Dilbert" Gibbs said something very peculiar. It was so astonishing (in a ignorant sort of way) that I almost forgot to feel offended.

Gibbs said Cheney was in no position to fault Obama, saying he had ignored a previous request for more troops, lodged with the Bush administration and only met by Obama in March, soon after he came to office.

"The vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan. [Classy syntax, Dilbert! -- DaH] Even more curious given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's for more than eight months," Gibbs said.

"I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously."

"Not focused on Afghanistan" for seven years? Does Gibbs know how many battles we, American and NATO forces, fought and won against overwhelming numbers of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces? Can Gibbs name even a single operation during the seven years of engagement? I seem to recall many such battles. (The link is to all the Big Lizards posts on Afghanistan, going all the way back to May of 2006.)

Does Gibbs, the Mouth of Obama, remember this?

May 23, 2006: “Up to 80 Taliban Dead in U.S.- Led Strike.”

A U.S.-led nighttime airstrike against Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan killed up to 80 suspected militants, the coalition said Monday. The local governor said 16 civilians were killed and 16 wounded....

In a statement, the coalition said it had confirmed 20 Taliban killed in the attack on the village in Kandahar province late Sunday and early Monday, while there were "an unconfirmed 60 additional Taliban casualties...."

"The Taliban has suffered extraordinary losses in the last three or four weeks -- several hundred Taliban killed in the field," [Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry] said. "We're the ones that are moving. They're the ones who are trying to hold."

Consider the fact that every major assault by the Taliban failed dramatically and was repulsed by American and NATO counterattack, resulting in more than 3000 Talibani killed in 2006-2007 alone. By the end of 2007, al-Qaeda forces were by and large kicked out Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan.

Do President Obama and his henchmen know that Bush increased the number of troops in Afghanistan numerous times between 2001 and 2008? Here is Dafydd in April of 2008:

We currently have 31,000 troops in Afghanistan as our component of the NATO mission (the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF); we have already pledged an additional 3,000 Marines for fighting and training purposes (to improve the Afghan National Army). Our ISAF allies have collectively sent an additional 28,000 forces, some of whom fight, while others only participate in nation-building efforts, bringing the total current NATO commitment to 59,000 troops.

The former Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, wants this overall figure to increase by 7,500 soldiers and 3,000 military trainers; outgoing ISAF commander Gen. Dan McNeill wants to increase by two combat brigades (3,000-8,000 soldiers or Marines) and one training brigade (1,500-4000 soldiers or Marines)....

Marines don't use brigades as a normal organizational force; they prefer the regiment. Gen. McNeill is Army, much of our ISAF committment are Marines... so I'm not sure exactly how many troops he calls for. Let's just split the difference between small brigades and big: 5,500 incoming combat troops and 2,750 incoming trainers.

This would mean that we expect our ISAF partners -- all of whom have pledged more troops (France alone will up their committment by at least 700) -- to pony up an additional 3,500 combat troops and 1,750 trainers... unless the next president plans to increase our own committment by more than President Bush has proposed. As noted above, it's unlikely that we can get the full complement from our allies, whose military budgets are woefully small compared to ours (as ours is woefully small, as percent of GDP, compared even to the average of the last 45 years).

However we reach the goal, that would bring the NATO forces in Afghanistan to a total of more than 67,000 combined combat forces and training forces. That, by the way, is all the force that the top commander of ISAF says he needs; he has not called for additional tens of thousands of men.

So what about the Afghan National Army? We have been training them just as we have trained the Iraqi army. As of December 2007, the Afghan army comprised 57,000 soldiers, or about as large as the current ISAF force level. Presumably they are still recruiting, so we can expect tha tnumber to rise along with the NATO forces. But even as they are now, that makes a total integrated army of 116,000 today, rising to about 125,000 over the next year.

This is not an administration that was "not focused on Afghanistan;" rather it looks like an administration that was aggressively engaging facts on the ground, as they constantly shifted. President Bush and his military team were focused on Afghanistan back when all we knew about Barack Obama was that he was present.

I have a question for Mr. Gibbs: President Obama said several times that we should have been focusing on Afghanistan -- that was "the war we should have been fighting" (I suppose compared to Iraq, which was "the wrong war"). If the Obamacle was that interested in Afghanistan, then surely he must had studied the situation carefully all the years we were fighting there.

By the time he took office, the One must have had a firm idea what he wanted to do. So why does he seem so reluctant to try out his new strategy? Especially given that he has his own hand-picked general, Stanley McChrystal, calling the shots on the ground. McChrystal requests a more aggressive approach; isn't this the perfect opportunity to show the world how focused Obama is compare to Bush?

Yet he sits and sits, and dithers and frets. And he can't make up his mind.

Of course, the alternative is that Obama had no clue what was happening in Afghanistan before he became president; he got all his news -- and all his opinions and military strategies -- from the left-stream media; and it was they, not Bush, who failed to "focus" on the war in Afghanistan.

All, that is, except Fox News; and we all know how Obama feels about them.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 23, 2009, at the time of 6:25 PM

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The following hissed in response by: PC14

These are such difficult times for our Barry. That pesty situation in Afghanistan just doesn't seem to want to go away. How he longs for the days when all that was required was a simple: "Present."

The adult playground is a cruel, cruel place.

The above hissed in response by: PC14 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 23, 2009 10:24 PM

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