Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Losses for the army in Afghanistan

1. Hitler was of the view that even after the final victory of the Third Reich, it was desirable that low-level warfare should continue on the Eastern Front - to keep the military sharp and prevent it lapsing into a bureaucratized merely peacetime army.

2. When the British army started to take serious losses in Northern Ireland a few years back, recruiters initially tried to minimise talk of operations there. Instead it was skiing in Cyprus, sports in HK. But actually, they found that the danger and excitement of real ops were actually good not just for the quantity, but also quality of new recruits.

3. The probability of dying in Afghanistan is still relatively low. However, the real danger increases the kudos and prestige of every single squaddie out there, as they're increasingly finding when they get back.

My vote? More helicopters + reduce the mission to hunting down the global jihadists and building a proper spy network for after we withdraw from the major military occupation - which should be sooner not later.

It might be argued that the Americans wouldn't tolerate a Taliban government on Pakistan's northern border - what a risk to stability, but the Taliban are really the politico-military wing of the Pashtuns. The non-Taliban Northern Alliance, suitably provisioned by the US, should be able to keep Afghanistan in a suitably chaotic state of civil war for many a decade yet.

Note: since the Afghan National Army is mostly made up of Northern Alliance personnel, this is probably Washington's game plan on a longer timeframe anyway, discounting short-term 'nation-building' rhetoric.