I must admit I was not shocked to hear a secret report for Pentagon brass that efforts to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) are beset with deep-rooted problems which could take years to overcome.
NBC-TV foreign correspondent Richard Engel said the privately-commissioned report:
1) — Contends nepotism, corruption and absenteeism among ANA officers makes success impossible. ANA troops on the ground, however, are doing some fighting.
2) — Quotes a finding: “If Afghan political leaders do not place competent people in charge, no amount of coalition support will suffice in the long term.”
3) — Charges Afghan leaders inflate the numbers of army and police as much as 50%.
The 25-page report, said to still be in draft form, will be presented to Gen. David Patraeus, head of Central Command, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, senior commander of troops in Afghanistan.
Engel, appearing on the NBC nightly news show and later on MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow Show, said the military brass already knows the problems and findings in the report. As a result, it shows that President Obama’s timetable to begin returning troops home by August 2011 is impossible.
The correspondent said all the military commanders he talked to said the number one priority in Obama’s mission is to train the ANA and they estimate it will take a minimum of four years and as long as 10 years. The surge of 30,000 additional U.S. troops is to provide stability on the ground to enable the training efforts.
What is troubling is that if the military knew this, then the president knew. It cements the charges Obama set a deadline to consider troop withdrawal simply to appease the left wing of his party. That’s a damn sinister act when he knew full well the deadline was arbitrary, capricious and impossible to achieve.
I never could satisfactorily connect the dots of Obama’s Afghan mission as it relates to a more stable Pakistan. The price in treasure and lives outweighs any hope of victory in a country with such a corrupt and unstable government.
Why does the U.S. strategy to fight al quada in the Afghan provinces require 100,000 U.S. forces and 50,000 NATO personnel when it is equally effective fighting the extremists with special ops and drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or any other Islamic-ruled state bedeviled with terrorists.
I’m disappointed in the president. It reminds me of Tonto telling the Lone Ranger, “He speaks with forked tongue.”
Jerry Remmers worked 26 years in the newspaper business. His last 23 years was with the Evening Tribune in San Diego where assignments included reporter, assistant city editor, county and politics editor.