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An Exit Strateg

An Exit Strateg

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Noel Jameel Abdullah on Aug 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/27/2013

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Strategy and Stratagem
Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani
Yes, I have heard that the British forces have entered Kabul, and now I am wondering, how they would get out The Khan of Kalat 
y
 
Th
at was
h
undred and fifty years ago. We s
h
ould
h
ave in t
h
e meantime learnt a bit more,also about getting out from Afg
h
anistan- t
h
is eastern version of Bermuda
T
riangle, only t
h
isone sucks in empires and anyone w
h
o
h
appens to be in t
h
e neig
h
bour
h
ood.Just t
h
e ot
h
erday, Obama spelt out a framework t
h
at
h
as all t
h
e ingredients of precisely suc
h
a strategy.Some confusion
 
is understandable
: if the idea is to leave, then why the surge; or, conditionsthat could not be created in 8 years, how could they now be in one & a half.
But t
h
en exitstrategy is not merely a matter of packing ones bags and
h
itting t
h
e road. Like a declareddoctrine, it
h
ides more t
h
an it reveals. And indeed, it must provide sufficient space forfreedom of manoeuvre. How would we
h
ave evolved one if we were asked to?
y
 
I
suppose one would
h
ave started wit
h
a review of t
h
e situation.
o
 
Th
e opposition, call it
Th
e
T
aliban, undefeated and gaining momentum.
o
 
Th
e government in Kabul- t
h
oug
h
not in control of important levers of power,
money and military,
and t
h
erefore not entirely to be blamed for t
h
e mess- losingground.
o
 
Th
e state security apparatus-t
h
e Army and t
h
e Police- w
h
atever its size and evenw
h
en trained, cannot ensure security. Considering t
h
e geograp
h
y, demograp
h
y, and
h
istory of t
h
e Country, it can only be done wit
h
t
h
e
h
elp of regions and tribes.
o
 
Public support to continue t
h
e war diminis
h
ing, at
h
ome as well as amongst t
h
eallies, some of t
h
em even raring to pullout.
o
 
E
conomy, own and of t
h
e allies, under stress.
o
 
Powerful domestic groups, t
h
e Republicans and t
h
e Military for example, building-up pressure for more troops to Afg
h
anistan.
y
 
A surge for a last Hurra
h
 was indeed an option.
Th
e mig
h
tiest country on eart
h
,supported by t
h
e most powerful alliance ever, s
h
ould be able to prevail, militarily. But w
h
atif did not; or, w
h
at was more likely, could not restore stability before people at
h
ome ranout of patience, or t
h
e governments out of money t
h
ey would spare for an elusive victory?An orderly wit
h
drawal in t
h
at case mig
h
t be nearly impossible.
y
 
A surge was still needed, even if as a stratagem.
I
t would serve multiple ends.
o
 
I
f t
h
e good
T
aliban could be persuaded to cooperate by non-military means-money, s
h
are in future power structure, commitment to wit
h
draw- additionaltroops would be needed to bring t
h
e bad ones in line.
 
o
 
I
n case t
h
e non-military manoeuvre failed, additional troops would be readilyavailable to resume battle. (
Th
at is w
h
at a strategic cycle is all about: alternating useof battle and manoeuvre.)
o
 
Since a victory of arms best serves a nations ego, t
h
e military must be seen to
h
aveplayed a significant part in t
h
e ultimate outcome.
o
 
Most importantly, if t
h
e Afg
h
an mission was aborted wit
h
out
h
aving employed allavailable military means, for t
h
e incumbent government it would be politically fatal.
 
y
 
Th
e exit s
h
ould ensure t
h
e following.
o
 
I
t must not be seen as a retreat. One s
h
ould be able to, if not declare victory, at leastclaim mission accomplis
h
ed. Some order t
h
erefore must be restored beforequitting. Remember, it is not only American prestige but also NA
T
Os credibility,per
h
aps even survival, w
h
ic
h
are at stake!
o
 
Th
e successor government in Kabul if not exactly friendly s
h
ould not be a
h
ostileone.
y
 
Since a number of c
h
annels are working to bring t
h
e
T
aliban on board, and assuming t
h
atsome progress
h
as been made, a public policy statement can be spun around t
h
e coreconcept.
I
ts salient points can be rationalised as follows.
 
o
 
I
nduction of more troops, besides serving t
h
e (already discussed) multipleobjectives, would
h
elp pacify t
h
e political opposition, t
h
e military, and t
h
e corporatelobbies (military-industrial complex/ motley crowd of private contractors).
 
o
 
A dateline for t
h
e t
h
inning out of troops can be given, not only to placate t
h
e evergrowing anti-war constituency, put Karzai on notice to get
h
is act toget
h
er, but alsoas a gesture to t
h
e
T
aliban, w
h
ose only pre-condition for a serious dialogue is anassurance t
h
at t
h
e occupation would be vacated.
I
ts ad
h
erence would naturallytake into account conditions on t
h
e ground.
o
 
T
o
h
elp t
h
e main t
h
rust- t
h
e negotiating track- most of t
h
e additional troops s
h
ouldnot be employed on combat missions. Mercifully, t
h
e revised CO
I
N doctrine-protecting key population centres- even t
h
oug
h
it surrenders t
h
e countryside tot
h
e
T
aliban (could become part of an arrangement), provides t
h
e reinforcements adefendable (saleable) role. And undoubtedly, force in being is a sound concept.
 
o
 
T
raining of Afg
h
an security forces by private companies, w
h
o would rat
h
er not trainto get t
h
eir contracts extended, is a waste of time and money. But even if dulytrained, t
h
ey cannot take over from t
h
e allied troops. As part of t
h
e overall exitstrategy, it was still a sound project.
y
 
I
ndeed, all t
h
at Obama said was neit
h
er subterfuge nor
h
ot air. His reference to a clearlydefined mission, refusal to set goals t
h
at went beyond t
h
eir means, and need to retainbalance between national security and economy were t
h
e more substantial parts of t
h
epolicy statement. America will
h
ave to s
h
ow our strengt
h
in t
h
e way t
h
at we end wars
 

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