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Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Plan for Afghanistan

The long commentary below is a week old, but getting permission to publish sometimes takes time.

The author is Mr Carson Morris who is a Director of the Association for Intelligence Officers and works for a well known Defense Contractor as an Executive Vice President, where he is involved in the Afghan question. You can look him up on the WWW. Suffice it to say he has been involved in the Intelligence Dodge since 1970, including supporting the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy and acting as advisor on Defense Intelligence Oversight.

Carson Morris had made some comments to a small group about the situation in Afghanistan and was invited by some associates to "fish or cut bait;" pretend he was POTUS, and identify actions and orders he would issue.

To quote Carson:
I took a bit of umbrage to this; in the Mideast I've been skinning and eating for a long time.
Having overcome his umbrage, he laid out a solid plan. It may not be the plan you would write, but he has the advantage of being the first one to put something down on paper and other plans are just going to be derivative.

All that said, I would love to test the limits of the Comments Section. Please consider:
  1. It is possible none of Carson's corrective actions can turn adverse trends around quickly. What short-term policies and programs should POTUS additionally prescribe?
  2. What mid- and long-term initiatives might supplement or replace the eleven that Carson champions?
So, on to the plan of Carson Morris, President of the United States.


This Afghan/Pakistan business troubles me deeply, as do the one-song counterinsurgency types making a career of their unique solutions and now focusing on Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not a nation and never will be. Many who have been on the ground here know that, but the last thing our country needs is to be sold into continuing an unwinnable war in a non-nation against a religious group that belongs to no nation and is very adept at strengthening its ranks by playing the anti-westerner theme.

Even more so than two years ago, I hear the anti-West cries across Afghan and throughout Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and northern Pakistan. The Afghanis are likening the US occupation to that of the Soviets; not in practice but in our just being here. They're quite willing to accept the Taliban as a political party, despite the strictures of Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalism, if it's the price of every day security.

And a point that evades the COIN bunch and the neophytes in the new Administration is that we don't have an insurgency in Afghan; rather, it's a civil war. You and I know the Afghan-Pashto tribes can't be separated from those in the FATA, but US policy-makers continue to believe the Afghani/Paki border is inviolate.

How do we get the point across that the problem isn't so much Afghanistan as the fragility and corruptness of Pakistan and failure by the US to clean up the FATA? I see this as exacerbating as we ratchet up the resentment of the Afghanis by moving in more troops and limiting their involvement to Afghanistan. Many in the US can't (or don't want to?) distinguish between Al Qaeda and the Taliban because an enemy, any enemy, is good for the cause or the business. Fortunately, I've recently had the assets to call some strikes across this border that have clobbered some Taliban training centers and depots, but they're too few and each strike has to be argued although we've spotlighted many more than we've been able to hit.

The continuing posturing by the USMC commandant and MARSOC commander is reminiscent of interservice rivalry that doomed Eagle Claw [the failed US hostage rescue operation in Iran, April 1980], because everyone claimed a piece of the action. The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is fanning the flames of continued involvement, not for reason of national objectives but to perpetuate their COIN cause. I rarely agree with the people who are worried about the Army's conventional capabilities, but I have to agree with their rejection of the COIN advocates' one-size-fits-all concept of counter-insurgent warfare.

We need to bring this enterprise to a close quickly and in a manner that gives some hope of future stability and does not further alienate the Afghanis.


1. Immediately initiate a three-pronged psychological operations (psyop) program using all media--internet, radio, TV, and discussion forums:

Psyop #1 - Explain in Islamic terms and context why we're in Afghanistan. Objectives are security for the United States, its allies, and other friends -- especially Afghanis -- not to re-form Afghanistan in Western image. Emphasize intent to withdraw US armed forces ASAP, ie when those objectives are reasonably fulfilled

Psyop #2 - Counter Al-Qaeda and Wahhabism Quran spin with teachings by moderate and accepted Arabic scholars selected from across Islamic countries

Psyop #3 - State firmly our intent to decimate Al Qaeda plus its supporters in the FATA and concurrently to protect non-combatants.

2. Appoint as ambassadors to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and neighboring Iran only fully qualified businessmen and scholars conversant with relevant Islamic culture and history.

3. Open private dialogues with Iran. Initially work toward a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) partnership designed to improve on-scene visibility of their nascent space program. Later open to Deputy Level negotiations that emphasize U.S. efforts to assist Iran in gaining recognition and respectability in Middle East. Privately seek to fragment Mid East political entities.

4. Encourage Iranian and Tajik economic exchanges (even fund them if necessary) to further fence Afghanistan

5. Encourage cultivation of foodstuffs and biofuel as alternatives to opium poppies and drug production

6. Encourage mutual interest of Tajik, China, and India to diplomatically squeeze Pakistan

7. Enlist China's aid to cool off Kashmir and further politically squeeze Pakistan

8. As a political - not military - statement, increase significantly number of armed Predator and unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) strikes. Forbid use of Hermes 450, Eitan, or any UAV being used by Israel in the Gaza to deny adverse propaganda.

9. Treble the number of US covert action, Special Operations, and paramilitary forces operating in FATA forward. Deploy similar forces into the rear areas of North and South Waziristan and Tribal Agencies of Kurram, Khyber, Mohmand, and Bajaur.

10. Accept no logistic routes offered through, or controlled by, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Company. Recognize that Putin retains tight ties with members of the former Soviet KGB (Committee of State Security), its Russian successor, the FSB (Federal Security Service), and his burning ambition is to restore former Soviet hegemony.

11. Secure Afghan "border" in Afghanistan with US conventional troops but allow no incursions by them into the FATA.

That is Carson Morris's stand. What is your stand?

Regards  --  Cliff

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