Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Too Much Of A Good Thing

As the war in Afghanistan escalates I find myself wondering what we have learned about fighting a war this day and age.

The complaint reigned loud and long in Iraq that our troops were ill equipped for the type of warfare they were encountering. Their body armor was inferior as was the armor on their vehicles. Our uniformed troops stood out like sore thumbs for the enemy to pick off then disappear into the countryside indistinguishable from the civilian population.

So we improved their body armor and reinforced their vehicles. However, the roadside attacks continue, IEDs are in plentiful supply and still the insurgents fade into the population - unless they blow themselves up in a suicide mission.

Now we are increasing troop strength in Afghanistan and better protecting our troops but to what end? They continue to be visible as a uniformed force and their increased protection has weighed them down to the point of decreased mobility.

Believing those who feel the war in Afghanistan is not one we can win, maybe we would do well to withdraw. It's the same old argument. We can't change the world. This long after the 9/11 attack would seem to make the capture of bin Laden academic. One, we still don't know where he is. Two, we don't even know if he is. He has plenty of advocates who will continue what he began whether he is still alive and at the helm or not.

Needless to say, I am anti-war. Especially when we continue to employ that which works in conventional warfare when the wars we are now engaged in are anything but. The new and improved body armor along with other required gear necessitates lugging an additional 80 pounds into combat. To add insult to injury, soldiers are becoming prone to orthopedic injuries. That circumstance can take them out of action all together. That may be good for the soldier but not so good for winning a war!

I found it interesting that these loads are equivalent to those worn into battle by medieval knights. Which force is most likely to succeed? Our troops burdened like the knight in the illustration or the fleet footed Robin Hood from the BBC series outpacing him? This is how it should be, Robin Hood, the good guy, winning. In reality it's just the opposite.

New armor, lighter in weight, is in the works. The trouble is it doesn't cover as much of the torso. Plus it won't be available for several years. So what are we supposed to do here? Will the enemy be sure to fire at the area known to be covered by the vest? Whew. This is wearing me out.

I've got a better idea. Another Dogwalk theory. Let's not wage war in the first place!


Word Tosser said...

It seems in this modern day of technology we could have a radar device on the vehicles that would pick up the IED's much like looking for land mines. Maybe small enough that a soldier could have one on his shoulder, so he too could know he was approaching one.

What have we accomplished in the 8 or 10 year we have been there? Nothing that I can really see.
Putting more men there, as Obama wants to do, will that help? And do what? Other than trying to get bin Laden , what are we hoping for? We don't seem to be finding their training camps? We aren't stopping their terrorist from coming and going in Iran, or any other country. So what do we really hope to get done, and can we?

June Saville said...

Yes. There MUST be other ways ...
June in Oz

Margie's Musings said...

The cost of the war in Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Union. Why don't we learn from other's experience?

This is a culture war. I recommend everyone buy and read Imperial Hubris. This author understands the culture and the issues and he says we cannot win such a war.

John Dwyer said...

I believe we got into Afghanistan because they were a nation that harbored the leader of the 9/11 attack. They refused to give him up and we rightly went after him. We took out that government so that nation was no longer a blatant refuge for this particular terrorist organization. What is our goal now? I believe that even if Bin Laden was captured the war would go on.

Dogwalkmusings said...

John, You of course are correct. The Taliban was in power at the time, they knew where bin Laden was, but asked for whatever proof we had that he was the one who planned the attacks. We told them they didn't need "no stinkin'" proof and they essentially told us - "Up yours!" Bush diplomacy.

Linda said...

I'm cautiously watching the Obama administration to see if they're going to make any changes once the results of the study of the Afghanistan situation is in. They seem to know more troops is not the answer and yet they're doing it. I think they're doing it because of coming elections in the spring. I do hope they're going to get a better handle on this situation. Everybody seems to know they've got a hot potato but nobody knows how to lay it down. I guess it's not a good idea to drop it?

Margie's Musings said...

Right! But 17 of those 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia. We didn't go to war with them, did we?

Dogwalkmusings said...

Margie, you are correct too. The focus was on bin Laden and he was believed to be hiding out in Afghanistan which the Taliban never denied. They indicated they'd turn him over to us with proof of involvement because they were at odds with him themselves. We blew it.

Dogwalkmusings said...


The Afghan elections won't be until August. There will be a gap between May and August without Karzai in power. I have no idea what the Obama team could possibly be thinking.

Margie's Musings said...

Muslims who are against us being on their holy land admire bin Laden. They consider him a hero. If we would take the time to study their culture, we would understand their hatred of us. We are considered heathen. And we have invaded what to them is holy land.

I always have to ask myself how we would feel if the roles were reversed and they had invaded our country.

Anonymous said...

War is as old as the existance of man. It is civilizations great moral downfall and the ultimate barbarity. That being said, some things just cannot be allowed to go un-punished. Sadly, force and action are admired. More importantly, they are deterrants. 9/11 could not go unremarked. I believe the best commentary on (U.S.) retaliation, came from one of our enemies. After the stunning victory by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941, Admiral Yamamoto said that he feared they had simply awakened a sleeping giant. We didn't start it, but we had to finish it. And, thusly, it will always be. Pity. CU