Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hiding Cards in the Great Game

So apparently the Fraudulency Administration is going to continue to try to hustle the East.
(And I should add to any readers out there who said, or believed, this: No. Donald Trump didn't ever mean what he said when he talked about "disengagement" (or whatever fourth-grade word he used for "getting the fuck out of Southwest Asia") on the stump. He...well, to call it "lied" would be to presume that he even bothered to put the effort into giving a fuck about whatever word salad came out of his piehole...didn't have the slightest idea or care the least bit about the pointless military farkling about west of the Khyber Pass any more than he really meant that you were going to have the best medical coverage, waaaay better than Obamacare. Donald Trump isn't some sort of pacifist, or even an isolationist. He's a conman and, like any good conman, he said what he needed to to get you poor, dumb bastards to buy his snake oil.)
Now this is all the same-shit-different-Groundhog-Day that the U.S. has been doing in the Grave of Empires ever since Dubya's day. IT didn't work when we had damn near 100,000 guys in theatre and it won't work now. I can talk forever about how it's going to be impossible without Pakistani buy-in and how the Pakis won't buy in because of the Kabul government's coziness with India, about how Trump's nonsensical rejection of "nation-building" leaves the problem of Afghan government corruption and malfeasance in place and, thus, ensures the worthlessness of any sort of military success.

But that's not what gets me about the latest round of this idiocy.

It's Orange Foolius' ridiculous obsession with not telling who he's going to direct the Pentagon to send as reinforcements.
(Oh, and another note: I'm hearing people talk about how "serious" and "presidential" the oaf sounded Monday night. Look. Regardless of how "presidential" he sounded his Afghan "plan" is a ridiculous mess of pottage that wouldn't produce a successful toddler's birthday party, let alone a solution to an intractable colonial war in one of the least-hospitable parts of the globe. Focusing on how The Idiot sounded lets the punditry elide what a mess he and his best, "the very best" military advisors have devised. As I noted; over 100,000 troopers complete with horse, foot, and artillery couldn't suppress the Pashtun. Now a couple of new brigade rotations is gonna work. And we're not "nation building" when every swinging richard who has taken a look at this has concluded that one of the single biggest problems is the regime in Kabul, which is loathed when its not ignored by every Afghan outside those leaching off it? So...no. He wasn't "serious" Monday night. He may have sounded "serious", but what he actually SAID was just the same Trump nonsense.)
A combat brigade, like love and a cough, is hard to hide. Trust me, the Talibs have people inside our log facilities in-theatre. When a new unit is due to arrive their advance party is on the ground making coordinations days, weeks, sometimes even months before the main body arrives. The muj will get intel on, at the very least, when and who is showing up long before they get there.

And the muj will also have people shadowing the units in the field AOs. They'll notice when the ADVON guys show up to coordinate the relief with the departing unit (or set up FOBs for a new AO). They may not know exactly which outfit is going to show up, or exactly where and when...but they'll have a pretty good idea that SOMEbody is coming.

But this all fits with Orange Foolius' ideas that war is like some sort of game where you "win" by hiding your cards or something, and, sadly, it also fits with our geopolitical infatuation with tactics as strategy. Every Great Power that has ever meddled with the Central Asian highlands has eventually figured out that you 1) choose your most ruthless local satrap, arm and equip him, and 2) declare victory and leave. Then, when your proxy falls to the inevitable coup or rebellion or whatever you shrug and move on. The whole damn place is pretty worthless.

"Killing terrorists" is just going to end up killing...more people. More Afghans. Meaning that we'll end us sowing Cadmus' teeth and making one or two new muj for everyone we kill. If you want to go Full Roman and make a wasteland? That's pretty much the only way that works. But, hopefully, Trump and his merry band of neoNazis aren't ready to tap their Inner Reinhard Heydrich.

Yet, anyway.

So the only people that this idiot is fooling with his secrecy are the people he's supposed to be straight with; the U.S. public. The Talibs will know before any of us civilians where and who he's sending to slay Afridis where they run.

Which will work just as well as is has for the past 17 years.

I know I've said this before. But, apparently, it's worth repeating; no Great Power has ever solved Afghanistan.

The only way to "win" this Central Asian Game of Thrones is not to play.

But being convinced that you're fooling your enemies by hiding cards in plain sight?

That's a whole new level of derp.


  1. Anyone know how the military plans to move all the stuff needed for the extra troops?

    The obvious choice is Pakistan, but if you are simultaneously pressuring Pakistan there might be (greater) "delays" and "wastage" en route. Alternatives are Russia or Iran. Iran is an obvious no go. Current Russian relations are in the dumpster, so I suspect that they would be *delighted* to help, for an appropriate price.

    Finally, the USAF might be hard pressed to supply them entirely from the air. Do not forget that 4000 extra troops given the current 3-1 contractor to soldier ratio really means 16,000 "Westerners" will be showing up.

  2. My understanding is that the land MSRs run thru Pakistan. I suspect that won't change.

    And it doesn't matter if Trump sends 6, 60, or 600,000. As Napoleon is supposed to have said "The moral is to the physical as three is to one". Imperial troops have the option of leaving; the locals do not. Short of a multigenerational occupation the muj will have the moral authority that will make any purely military solution unenforceable.

  3. Good post FDChief, although with farkling, ADVON, and derp I needed an urban slang dictionary and a US Army glossary of terms to decipher. Don’t stop though, I’m not complaining. It’s good for an old fart like me to learn state-of-the-art lingo.

    And I like the Cadmus reference. That old Phoenician was smart enough to lob a rock among the spawn of those dragon teeth to get them fighting amongst each other. Divide and conquer! I wonder if it would work long enough for us to get out Dodge.

    1. That was the way that most of the other powers managed to get out of Afghanistan; by recalling that the tribes there were happy to fight each other if they lacked a foreign enemy to combine against....

  4. NATO is divided on the issue. Secretary General Stoltenberg applauded Trump’s statement. But German Defense Minister says they increased troop levels in Afghanistan by 18% last year so don’t look to us to follow suit.

    The Taliban is reported to currently control 40% of the country, more during the hours of darkness. Across the border another branch of the Taliban controls 100% of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, is strong in the Northwest Territories, and free to move throughout the remainder of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The ISI in Pakistan give refuge to Mullah Omar and to the Haqqanis. Pakistan considers them and the rest of the Afghan Talibs as a strategic asset.

    How do you defeat an enemy that has a safe haven? In addition, with your LOC going right through that safe haven you are at risk of being cut off, which could easily get even stickier if Pakistan gets enraged over the India threats.

  5. There's no presidential strategy for the war in Afghanistan.
    Trump is a liar, and nothing he says is reliable to any extent, so when he says he has a strategy and will do stuff, there's no reason to pay attention.

    1. I would like to think Mr. Kelly and Mr. Mattis are...okay, this is so "keeping hope alive!" counseling herr Fuhrer that his idea of "victory" isn't going to happen over-night because his crinkly wiener says it will...which, really begs the question...where is he getting his nonsense from?

      I think the only strategy he has is what's been shatted in his brain-pan...I have yet to see anything remotely coming out of him that can resemble thinking.

      I think...no...by now we must know...a lot more men are going to get injured and killed because Mr. Trump is deep into the Dunning Kruger definition of acting like he knows what he's doing even though he doesn't.



  6. Daesh in Afghanistan, also known as ISIL-in-Khorasan, survived Trump’s Mother-Of-All-Bombs in April and several leadership decapitations by drone. Apparently they are getting stronger as they are being joined by former Talibs. They just recently massacred at least 62 Hazara Shias in Sar-e Pol province in the north. Many others were taken hostage similar to what they did to the Yazidis in Sinjar Iraq. Russia and Iran are insinuating that mysterious black helicopters brought the Daeshi raiders to the Hazara village, which is obvious agitprop or to be charitable perhaps just plain old paranoia. Russia has also claimed that the jihadis are receiving air dropped supplies by unidentified aircraft in three northern provinces.

    Russia plans to hold joint military exercises later this year with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on the northern border of Afghanistan. It is surely not in their interests to return to Afghanistan with NATO there, but if Daeshis move across the border into Central Asia things may get very interesting.

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  8. Phil Carter, known to many on this blog, interviewed on MSNBC about Trump's Afghan strategy. Calls it a "formula for forever war".


    1. He's looking a little...wiser.

      I'm glad he's still around...for a bit there I done thought he said, "I'm out!" and walked away into the Alaskan wilderness where the bears, wolves, and wolverines are understandable, and somewhat coherent in their social interactions.

      Not that I haven't thought of it...but wife says she has no interest in living hunter-gatherer style, and I happen to like central air and heat.

      But a foreverwar...Yeah boy...I read that book...grim...or so grim.



  9. The Trumpkins have no more notion what to do about this clusterfuck than Obama or Dubya's people did. This is just not wanting to be the 21st Century Truman "losing China"

    But the part that makes me laugh is Tangerine Tiberius' bizarre obsession with this notion that the muj are doing so well because they know ahead of time that 3rd Brigade 1st ID is gonna arrive in theater in March. And that if he just hides the deployment schedule 3rd Brigade is gonna just sneak up and catch those wascally wabbits!

    And that's completely how I see him; like a bloated Elmer Fudd with his ridiculous combover hidden under that goofy tall hat Elmer used to wear, sneaking around a cartoon Afghanistan lisping Be vewwy quiet! I'm hunting tewwowists!"

  10. He's too stupid.
    Trump thinks that "clean coal" is clean because it was washed.

    1. Yeah, I laughed out loud at that. What an imbecile.

      But what IS scary is the 25% of the U.S. public who still loves him after almost a year of this idiocy. I mean, at this point you can't pretend he is what he claims he is, or what his fluffers try and convince you he is. Nine months of racist stupidity and arrogance. He's not a "populist", he won't stop the drones or the pointless "terror" snipe hunts. He's a Republican, so he wants the same oligarchic destruction of the middle and working class they do. Politically he's a plutocratic sonofabitch and personally he may possibly be the most loathsome human being in public life.

      And yet...all this has not budged the hardcore of his support.

      I mean, I guess I knew intellectually that a quarter of my "fellow Americans" were objectively white fascists, but there's knowing something and KNOWING it. This past year has made it clear that something like a quarter of the citizens of my country would gleefully kill another quarter while the remaining half would look on in bovine confusion.

      And it's hard as hell to run an actual functioning democratic republic like that.

  11. Dangerously stupid. He knows how to play to his base.

    The "obsession with this notion that the muj are doing so well because they know ahead of time that 3rd Brigade 1st ID is gonna arrive in theater" has been a standard misrepresentation of that group of bozos for the eight years of the Obama administration.

    1. I know that a generation without experience of military service combined with relentless fluffing of the armed services has left the American public dangerously ignorant of military matters, mike, but...that's just ridiculous.

      How the hell do you "sneak" 1,500 GIs complete with bag and baggage around? That's happened in no war, ever. An enemy with any sort of functioning intelligence - and the muj, for all their strategic crudity have to have, like any guerrillas, very good intel-gathering - will have a generic notion of where their enemy's major combat elements are. That has NOTHING to do with tactical intelligence. Knowing that the 4th of the 5th Infantry is coming to Helmand Province will in no way help the muj there anticipate what 4th of the 5th is going to DO in Helmand (provided that the battalion commander of 4/5 has a brain cell and has been thinking about how you do successful counterinsurgency...).

      That people believe this is utterly retarded...

  12. Here's a useful little article about WHY "nation-building" is actually crucial for any hope for Afghanistan, the principal problem being that the place is a damn narco-state and that the West is, effectively, fighting itself. Afghans depend on opium growing, which the Western occupation is trying to suppress and thus guarantees that the locals will hate and fight against the occupation. And that, while this fighting takes place and destroys Afghanistan, it's impossible to eradicate the poppy because it's the only crop that provides enough quick profit for the locals to survive on.

    What a fucking disaster...


    1. I think that focus on the economic side is inappropriate.

      The real problem appears to be the ethnic division coupled with Afghan people thinking of themselves as Pashtu/Tadjik/Uzbek, not conservative/progressive/liberal etc.. Without such a dominance of ideology in political culture they end up with one inevitable result: The biggest population group wins elections and proceeds to oppress and exploit the others, provoking uprisings. Attempts to suppress the biggest population group can only be sustained with indefinite foreign assistance.
      Now the most radical and most effective political 'party' of said biggest ethnic group are the Taleban, so an end to that suppression equals a Western "defeat".

      But let's be honest; there's nothing to be gained in Afghanistan. To go to war with more than a mere dozen military observers is a guaranteed loss anyway.

      Trump is so stupid and manipulable that he gave up the one of his primitive anti-Obama positions that actually made sense.

    2. The economics may be immaterial to success for the occupiers, but they are fairly crucial to ensuring failure.

      As for the tribal divisions the rule of thumb in Afghanistan has always been "don't side against the Pashtun". By picking the Hazara-Tajik-Uzbek "Northern Alliance" as proxies in 2002 and continuing to sponsor them the occupiers helped set this mess up to fail there, as well.

      The problem that Trumpy's latest move illustrates there is that his stance on the wars in SW Asia and the Middle East were never really "positions" in the sense on "thought-out political beliefs". Since the fool is nothing more than a man-baby, an incoherent collection of greeds and loathings squalling for attention the only thought he appears to have put into foreign policy is to be against whatever Obama was responsible for. The moment those policy problems became his he turned over anything resembling actual thinking to his bog-standard PNAC GOP handlers who were (and are) never going to abandon the "war on terror".

      His "position" on Afghanistan was as phony as his "position" on health care or his "position" on economic populism. The only positions Il Douche actually holds are "make America white again" and "gimme your money so I can buy more gold toilets". Everything else is part of the grift and thus mere mouth noises.

  13. FDChief -

    I doubt that Trumpy is trying to 'sneak' some troops past the eye of the Taliban. He is just bloviating for the public. He doesn't understand squat about hiding deployment schedules. He has no clue about OPSEC, which is a detailed multi-step process.

    I would bet he does not even know yet 'how many' or 'when'. Has the Joint Chiefs even planned out the details of structure and schedule yet?

    1. He has publicly blamed the problems in the wars in the Middle East on the previous administration's publication of deployment information. He doesn't know dick about military affairs, but in his simpleminded way has found something to fixate one that explains something he sees as troublesome that confirms his prejudices (the stupid nigger told the enemy we were coming!) and continues to believe it.

      The actual physical facts don't matter, in his as in anything else. No, most immigrants aren't criminal rapists. No, there is no such thing as "clean" coal. No, anthropogenic global warming is no a Red Chinese conspiracy. No, ladymen in uniform are not a major problem.

      Doesn't matter what the reality is. He's gonna do whatever his idiot misconceptions push him to. And, where he has none or has no interests ( so effectively everything that makes him no money or doesn't feed his ego) he'll turn things over to his handlers or guys lie McConnell and Ryan...

  14. By the way; I will NOT sign on the notion that reinforcements couldn't be kept secret until hours before their arrival.
    The notion rests completely on the assumption of "business as usual", and as we know "business as usual" offers little but a choice of varying degrees of defeat.

    I am actually on record proposing something (if AFG was worth it at all) that would have required a certain success in keeping reinforcements secret.


  15. When do we get rid of this Afghan tarbaby? Some estimates are that we have sunk a trillion dollars into that hole since 2001. A million million! I thought his campaign rhetoric was to pull us out of there? Another lie.

    At least he has not gone in for Bannon's brainfart to send in US mining corporations to extract lithium and other rare-earth elements reported in Herat and some other provinces. Not yet anyway. Or perhaps he wants us to stay there forever to deny those mining rights to China?

    And he has not gone in for the de-Vos family proposal to send in Blackwater. Not yet anyway, that may still be in the cards.

    His India strategy is bankrupt. New Delhi is well aware of the China/Pakistan alliance and the 100 plus nukes in Pakistan. I expect these threats to Islamabad will backfire and draw the ISI closer to the Taliban. And closer to China.

  16. A trillion in AFG, three trillions in Iraq, six trillions in Bush II tax cuts ... imagine if that had been invested in public infrastructure, preventive healthcare, free STEM college education and avoiding budget deficits during the boom years.

    Though it should be noted that Obama is to blame for most money wasted in AFG, with his stupid move of believing Petraeus' assurance and doing a pointless Afghan 'surge'.

  17. Would the bartender here please check if he sees a similar phenomenon as I did?


    Essentially, look in the weekly statistics of the blog, see if there's something fishy in the referring URLs.

  18. S O -

    Yes, some strange referring sites in our stats also. Nothing real whackadoodle, but some many from two different rightie economic sites, plus some others.

    1. Commentary magazine, a racist Jew with a firearm fetish and a major climate change denier blog are right now big in my stats, and none of them liked to me for real. There were other right wingers big in the stats just last week.