I am obliged to my regular commenter, 'Back of an Envelope' (who I wish would choose a more succinct psuedonym!), who points me in the direction of the ineffable Richard North who has written a post on the incipient corruption lying at the heart of our MoD High Command to which I drew attention in the preceding post. In the course of his post, Dr. North introduces us to Col. Harry D. Tunnel IV, an American officer of, shall we say, very decided views as to the operational policy in Afghanistan, in general; but in particular, to the utter uselessness (in his view) of Maj. Gen. 'Nick' Carter, British Army, and his superior at the time - circa 2009/10. Here they are:
You may read Col Tunnel's views (if you are up to taking on military jargon!) courtesy of Michael Yon, surely the very best war correspondent of his era, here. In essence, according to Col. Tunnel, Carter is an ineffectual tosser unfit to command a latrine work-party. You see, Col. Tunnel thinks that what armies are actually for, when you strip away the BS, is to kill people - mostly the enemy but if a few civilians get in the way, well, hell, that's war! There is considerable merit in Col. Tunnel's, er, robust views and in any normal war between conflicted armies his notion complies with Lanchester's Square Law of Attrition which states, in simplified terms, that if you can kill more of the enemy over time than he can kill of you, then the rate of difference will increase exponentially and you will win - all other things being equal! (Ah, yes, military strategists have learned a thing or two from the second-hand car trade when it comes to weasel words!)
But of course, the campaign in Afghanistan is not one of two armies facing off against each other. It is one, clod-hopping, stumble-bumming army (because that is the nature of all armies everywhere) facing a more or less hostile population who, whilst they might hate each other for sundry tribal and/or religious and/or political and/or business reasons (usually the latter!), are combined in their desire for all foreigners to fuck off and leave them alone. In so far as I can understand it, Maj. Gen. Carter's operational inspiration arose from a desire to make nicely-nicely with the civilians and by holding the roads open at all times to allow trade to flourish thereby winning friends and influencing people. To which I can only ask - where do they find these little innocents? And why do they put them in charge of armies? Col. Tunnel is entirely right to suggest that putting troops into static positions guarding roads is simply to offer perfect targets for the enemy. And who in hell actually likes any government, let alone one held in power by foreign troops?
Now, in the unlikely event that Maj. Gen. Carter reads this from ex-Cpl. Duff and complains, my answer is simple - just look at Afghanistan - NOW - TODAY - after years of all your clever, subtle strategies and tactics! You lost, Carter, but so did you, Tunnel, you poor man's John Wayne! The pair of you should have taken one look at the country, and another look at recent history, and then told your bosses in Washington and London that there was absolutely no chance of ever running Afghanistan. If they failed to listen to you then you should have put the lives of your men before your rabid desire for higher rank - and resigned!
The only operational plan that might have achieved some success should have been applied years ago when you should have wrecked the country's infrastructure (not a long job!) and departed, leaving a letter on the presidential desk telling whoever it would be who would eventually run the cesspit country that they had better behave because we know where you live and we can send a missile straight through your front door if you don't!