F O R T A P A C H E AFGHANISTAN by P.T. Brent 15 August 2012
In the past few days our Corps lost six Marines in Afghanistan – scant news coverage – what is the matter with us?
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.”
A candid remark from: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
before leaving office in July 2011
Our troops need to come home.
And later – and we will share with you one tried and tested solution –
American bravery and sacrifice are frustrated by a plan, which was flawed from the beginning and will never work. Afghanistan is a corrupt pseudo democracy that continues to rob us of our precious lives and resources. Billions are squandered for the enrichment of a few. Less than 10% of the territory is under effective control. The local police and army are ineffective, untrustworthy and will not stay the course of reform. Sanctuary in Pakistan makes pursuit sublime. Post ten years of U.S. occupation 95% of the world’s opium crop still flourishes. Ten frustrating years and over 300 billion American dollars have been consumed. Two million veterans, 300,000 stress cases and rehabilitation – all well earned and deserved, which will us cost billions.
It is time to curtail the imprudence of this unconvincing “Americanization” of the world. It is, however, not the time to cease destroying terrorists’ cells that threaten our country with another 9/11.
Is there anyone who believes we can “Americanize” a country the size of Texas whose customs have had little change since the time of Christ? Is there a rationale to our taxpayers funding of this giant “military / industrial” complex?
We Americans aka “infidels” have freed Afghanistan – and have attempted to create a little Indiana in a culture that wants none of it.
One Arab general and an ally once pointed out we can never be brothers. Christians will always be infidels. Human rights – a concept that will never be embraced in this culture.
America’s longest war has linked the United States to the same failed efforts of numerous other failed conquerors and Afghan invaders going back to before the time Christ. In the 1800 the British failed then Russia failed in the 1900’s.
The invasion and relocation of a large land force to serve the people of a country who are flummoxed by our often-unwelcome presence.
Mind boggling – Afghanistan to the tune of two billion a month with no end in sight. Loss of American lives — priceless.
Solution Fort Apache – Imagine:
A string of bases, which are well protected, and in viable range of terrorist activities. Human intelligence and/ or drones offer electronic surveillance alerts directing our forces to the enemy. The effectiveness of drones both the economically as well as less risk in pilot lives is becoming widely acclaimed.
The answer echoes back to the 1800’s and the days of the U.S. Cavalry. The soldiers had to protect our country’s interests and cover vast landmasses with few resources. This will sound familiar to our many Afghan Veterans, it was the Wild West. We established a network of forts and intelligence scouts that offered protection at reasonable cost in lives and resources. Hopefully, with better oversight and control than we had in the 1800’s. Today forts are more sophisticated and unmanned aircraft and state of the art electronics enhance the scout’s “Intel”. Some are far away and other are on navy ships at sea.
The French Foreign Legion has practiced the same tactics that our U.S. Cavalry did in the 1870. The cost in human life, logistics as well as the economics dictate practical imperatives. In Djibouti Africa, where on my visit, I went on patrols as a journalist with Marines. This type of outpost may afford the framework of a practical solution. In this forlorn section of the Horn of Africa, the Legionaries had established Camp Lemoine – now garrisoned by United States Marines and U.S. Army soldiers. When intelligence whether it is human or electronic reveals a terrorist training camp, the Marines or Special Forces destroy it. Which will deny the enemy command and control centers as well as training bases in areas where they exploit destitute populations. Not much different than the troops back in 1870 just fewer horses, better weaponry and no bugles.
The U.S. Cavalry in 1870 attacked rebellious tribes. The Wild West was far too vast and costly to civilize and govern. After destroying the enemy our troops could regroup and have shelter within their forts. The economics are minuscule compared to the loss of precious life. Currently, dollars exit at the rate of 2.8 million per hour in Afghanistan.
The majority of our troops need to come home. Virtuous as it may sound “Americanization” of the world will not work. The pragmatic mission is to fight terrorism overseas before it hits the United States.
Our troops need to come home.
Author’s Note: This has been the haunting issue since one Easter weekend in OIF where mortuary affairs had a pallet of 32 transfer cases in stock – three days late only four were remaining – Marines from Ramadi were on a final journey home. Last month I attended the funeral in Chicago of another Marine KIA from Afghanistan.
P.T. Brent is a United States Marine Corps infantry veteran 2/24 who served as a journalist on multiple trips to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa
Updated February 25, 2008
U.S. SPENDING ON IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN BY MONTH, WEEK, DAY, HOUR, MINUTE, & SECOND
(based on adjusted DOD FY 2007 obligations)
Iraq Afghanistan Total
Per Month: $10.3 billion $2 billion $12.3 billion
Per Week: $2.4 billion $469 million $2.9 billion
Per Day: $343 million $67 million $410 million
Per Hour: $14 million $2.8 million $17 million
Per Minute: $238,425 $46,296 $284,722
Per Second: $3,973 $771 $4,745
SOURCE: Data from Amy Belasco, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” Congressional Research Service (updated February 8, 2008). Totals may not add due to rounding.