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Thread: Vietghanistan

  1. #1
    Senior Member LostInNerSpace's Avatar
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    Default Vietghanistan

    I like to have TV shows playing as I work. They hold my attention in the background and allow me to work, it's an ADHD Band-Aid. Lately I've been watching back-to-back World War II documentaries.

    The key factor in winning WWII was sacrifice. It was a war of attrition. NAZI Germany, militarist Japan and fascist Italy all had one thing in common. Their leaders each had a complete disregard for human life. They were more than willing to send their solders to die in battle. All the allies suffered loses but the war would have had a very different outcome if it were not also for Stalin's complete disregard for human life. Stalin sacrificed nine million of his own soldiers. After the war he executed soldiers who surrendered and even people who were caught alive living in territories taken by the enemy. About 20 million Russians died in WWII.

    One could say Afghanistan of today is comparable to Germany at the end of WWII. There are obviously differences in culture, ideology and terrain. But, like Afghanistan today Germany's infrastructure at the end of the war was almost non-existent.

    Ground combat troops in Afghanistan today would have to take and hold every city to stand a chance of succeeding if they are going to fight and attempt to win an insurgency. Let's assume we take and hold every city in Afghanistan. Then what? How long can we hold it? Who will surrender? Their ideology does not allow for the possibility of surrender. Are we also going to take and hold Pakistan? Or build a 1000 mile wall through the mountainous Afghan / Pakistan border?

    The Russian's lost approximately 100,000 troops taking Berlin in the final days of WWII. They were fighting a severely depleted and weakened German army comprised mostly of teenagers and old men.

    Wikipedia reports as of July the total number of troops in Afghanistan stood at 101,000 (68,000 US troops). Another 40,000 troops is obviously a politically motivated low ball figure. Are we planning to take and hold, not a city the size of Berlin, but a country twice the size of Germany with 140,000 troops, and prevent more insurgents joining the fight from Pakistan and elsewhere?

    Not going to happen. We will literally bleed troop loses until we hit our pain threshold. That pain threshold for the Soviets was 15000. They quit after losing 15000 troops. About a million afghans were killed in that war. The Afghan's looked upon that as a victory. What is our pain threshold?

    That kind of defeat in Afghanistan will make for a very angry public because people like to feel powerful, not weak. They will take it personally and feel the pain of defeat.

    Fighting an insurgency is not a viable option. The Taliban will kick our asses just because they are prepared to die. Even after the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan a group of die hard Japanese officers stormed the Emperor's palace to prevent the tape of his surrender from being broadcast to the Japanese people.

    Different cultures, same mentality.

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    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    There's a reason why they call Afghanistan "the graveyard of empires." I actually supported the initial invasion of Afghanistan post-9/11, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq (as well as tactical mistakes along the way) made success there far more difficult. I don't foresee a clean mop-up to the situation there.
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    Courage is immortality Valiant's Avatar
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    Nobody has taken and held Afghanistan since Alexander the great...
    That's a good track record. Back then, they didn't believe in Allah and their culture was radically different.

    I wouldn't touch that country if I had hundreds of thousands of different attack aircraft, ten million soldiers, forts, hundreds of thousands of top tier western tanks and millions of SFs and a very stable and strong economy.

    The only two options that I see would be retreat or ethnic cleansing. Russia, India, USA + NATO and China could in theory sweep through the middle east and africa, and kill everything that moves.
    That would solve it, but it would also make the "terror" thing seem pretty ridiculous in comparison.

    The middle east cannot be conquered with martial force if it is to be left intact.
    It must be conquered ideologically, religiously and economically.

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    No Cigar Litvyak's Avatar
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    This is not a war on a nation, it's a war on a common symptom - and since this is only surface treatment without substantive changes, it can never be won. It is the first global civilizational clash after the fall of the bipolar world (Huntington), and mainly originates from the western civilization's desperate grasp on their shrinking advantage vs. the claims of the rapidly developing countries without proper democratic background. Short-term solutions seem to be limited, and even long-term solutions are problematic if countries continue to be ill-represented in the largest international organizations.

  5. #5
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    If you're going to compare the war in Afghanistan with WWII; you'd be better off comparing it to German campaigns against partisans. This might be of assistance to you:
    German Antiguerrilla Operations in the Balkans (1941-1944)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litvyak View Post
    This is not a war on a nation, it's a war on a common symptom - and since this is only surface treatment without substantive changes, it can never be won. It is the first global civilizational clash after the fall of the bipolar world (Huntington), and mainly originates from the western civilization's desperate grasp on their shrinking advantage vs. the claims of the rapidly developing countries without proper democratic background. Short-term solutions seem to be limited, and even long-term solutions are problematic if countries continue to be ill-represented in the largest international organizations.
    Very well put, sir. +1

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    Whisky Old & Women Young Speed Gavroche's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YourLocalJesus View Post
    Nobody has taken and held Afghanistan since Alexander the great...
    That's a good track record. Back then, they didn't believe in Allah and their culture was radically different.

    I wouldn't touch that country if I had hundreds of thousands of different attack aircraft, ten million soldiers, forts, hundreds of thousands of top tier western tanks and millions of SFs and a very stable and strong economy.

    The only two options that I see would be retreat or ethnic cleansing. Russia, India, USA + NATO and China could in theory sweep through the middle east and africa, and kill everything that moves.
    That would solve it, but it would also make the "terror" thing seem pretty ridiculous in comparison.

    The middle east cannot be conquered with martial force if it is to be left intact.
    It must be conquered ideologically, religiously and economically.
    Yes that relate with some remarks I've heard from war in afghanistan partisans, and others partisans of a "civilisation"of the middle-east. They see so many difficulties to achieve that goal that they sometimes say we must destroy theses countrys in totality and rebuild then. (but keep saying they just want "the good" of middle-east peoples). I think that retreat would be the best option, and that USA should have never do any intervention in that area.
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    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Reading over these posts is driving me crazy!

    It is usually dangerous to compare different wars to one another. Wars are very complex--it's not as simple as how many do we have vs how many they have vs how many we are willing to lose. The conflict in Afghanistan is not a conventional war--it's a guerrilla war. Taliban wages an insurgency while US and Allies wage a counterinsurgency. Mixed in to the picture are the terrorists--independent, small in number, though they will cooperate with Taliban insurgents. Guerrilla warfare has a completely different set of rules than conventional warfare--because it is primarily a political rather than military conflict.

    Yes Afghanistan has not been conquered and held in a long time. But before judging that it is impossible for anyone to win there, one must look at the strategies and tactics used by both the invaders and defenders in each conflict. Were the counterinsurgents competent, both politically and militarily? At least in the case of the 1980s Afghan war, the Soviets waged a poorly run counterinsurgency effort against the guerrilla mujahideen. One must look at how the insurgents operated in each conflict---what tactics did they use?, were they receiving foreign aid?, did they have secure base areas or foreign refuge?, did they have popular support?

    Counterinsurgency is hardly ever finished quickly. Why? Because insurgency indicates a political problem, and such problems are complex and difficult to decide.

    It has been argued that US and allies cannot win the current conflict in Afghanistan and that they should retreat. While there have been and are serious challenges to the counterinsurgency effort, I think this judgment is too quickly made.

    Why do insurgents employ guerrilla tactics and strategy? Because they have no chance of winning a conventional confrontation against the government or occupying force. You will find that terrorist tactics are used when even guerrilla warfare is turning out badly for the insurgents. Thus, terrorism is a strong indication of a weak insurgent force. For all guerrillas, the ultimate goal is to eventually become a conventional force that come seize state power (sometimes occupying forces leave before this happens).

    The current situation is complex--there's no way of proving on a forum whether US will win or lose. My assertion is that the US is not doomed to failure. There are measures that can and should be taken that would most likely result in victory. I can't always answer whether the US and NATO are taking these measures because of lack of data--but that doesn't mean they aren't.

    A peaceful path to change must be offered--not necessarily through equal and free elections. Acceptable political paths to peace vary among societies. It is worth noting however that Afghanistan has been having elections for years (i am aware of the recent election issue) and Taliban is not winning there. Obviously the people don't really want Taliban back in power.

    The conflict area must be isolated. This means ensuring that insurgents and terrorists cannot cross international borders or receive foreign aid (military, financial, or other). Pakistan is the big issue on this one, as it has had problems with insurgent strongholds. Notice though that the Pakistani military has been waging an offensive against strongholds. Whether the offensive will be effective long term is unclear to me---but it does show that the border issue there is not hopeless. Closing off this Pakistan border is critical; foreign aid and safe refuge was given to the mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict through Pakistan.

    Third, the allies must commit a sufficient level of forces for a number of reasons. Past counterinsurgencies indicate that at least a 10:1 ratio of counterinsurgents to guerrillas is needed. It is unclear whether this ratio is present in Afghanistan. Committing overwhelming forces intimidates insurgents because it demonstrates the occupying force is putting a high priority on winning. Low levels of forces indicate to insurgents that the occupying forces are only half-heartedly engaged and thus make them more daring and give them higher morale. High levels of forces also generate a more secure atmosphere among soldiers. Overwhelming forces make it look like we are winning--which makes civilians more likely to cooperate and share intelligence and makes them less likely to support insurgents. In the end, high force levels result in fewer casualties.

    It is critical that we win over the favor over the Afghan population, or at least their neutrality. We do this by practicing rectitude toward civilians, by enforcing military discipline, and by establishing civilian security. We must raise Afghan forces and police. Natives are more effective in protecting their own territories--that's where their families are. Insurgents need the civilians to provide them with food, supplies, and intelligence. If they are cut off, it is a big blow.

    It's so much more complicated than all this, but I cannot stress enough that it is a winnable war--so long as Washington and the American people want to win.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member millerm277's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LostInNerSpace View Post
    Ground combat troops in Afghanistan today would have to take and hold every city to stand a chance of succeeding if they are going to fight and attempt to win an insurgency. Let's assume we take and hold every city in Afghanistan. Then what? How long can we hold it? Who will surrender? Their ideology does not allow for the possibility of surrender. Are we also going to take and hold Pakistan? Or build a 1000 mile wall through the mountainous Afghan / Pakistan border?
    The plan, would be to create a stable enough government and military/police force, that it can operate effectively on it's own (with us giving aid and training of course for a while to come). Assuming you do that, you will be successful. It's the sheer size of the job that's the issue. The taliban are a large force, but many work only for money. Fix the infrastructure, and create the beginnings of a functional economy, and the number of fighters will be a quarter or less of the ones they have now. They HAVE to hold all the territory they enter, and pacify it for a long time, sweeping through doesn't work. If security is created, the people will trust in you. If you just bring destruction, and leave, letting the taliban return a couple months later, no one will respect you.

    The Russian's lost approximately 100,000 troops taking Berlin in the final days of WWII. They were fighting a severely depleted and weakened German army comprised mostly of teenagers and old men.
    Bad example, IMO. They were a semi-trained conscript army. At that point, they had equipment, but they would not hold up to our standards of what a "soldier" should be able to do.

    We have a massive technological advantage and training advantage that the russians didn't really have in close urban warfare against the germans. This should be winnable.

    Fighting an insurgency is not a viable option. The Taliban will kick our asses just because they are prepared to die. Even after the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan a group of die hard Japanese officers stormed the Emperor's palace to prevent the tape of his surrender from being broadcast to the Japanese people.
    Didn't we just successfully do this in Iraq, even after 3-4 years of letting it "blossom"? It is not, by any means, easy. However, it is possible. I see no other option than winning.

    We lost ~4700 soldiers in Iraq to date from all nations. Afganistan has resulted in ~1500. Casualties in Afganistan for this year, are only about half of what they were in Iraq at the peak of the insurgency. I'm not buying that we'll ever see 15,000 casualties anytime soon, or at a fast enough rate that it bothers people greatly. Secondly, public opinion on Afganistan, I would say...is much more mixed than polls might suggest. No one likes it. However, unlike Iraq, they don't necessarily think it's a pointless war (mismanaged), and if you question most people.....they usually think we need to find a way to stabilize it, not run away with our tails between our legs.
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  10. #10
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    Afghanistan lacks identity. Forcing one on it may ultimately prove to be effective, but is it ethical? Dunno.
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