A great career that is not ending

GEN David Petraeus has ended his military career after 37 years in uniform, but he is not leaving civil-service to this country. 

 
Gen. David Petraeus is bidding farewell to the Army that has been his life and the troops that have been his family for 37 years.
America’s best-known general is taking off his uniform before starting a new chapter as the 20th director of the CIA next week, where he will keep waging war on al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, but in a far different manner.

The soldier-scholar-statesman is to be sworn in as the nation’s spy chief on Sept. 6, less than a week before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

It’s a sharp and unexpected career turn for the man many thought would ultimately become the top officer in the land – chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – after six command assignments, including four in war zones. He is credited with turning around the Iraq war and helping pivot the still uncertain campaign in Afghanistan.

After taking a step-down from the Commander of CETCOM to assume command of ISAF, GEN Petraeus could have easily become the Chairman of the JCS. Heck there was even talk of making him a 5 star General for a while by some in Congress. Yet he has decided to take over as the Director of the CIA as a civilian. He has punched every ticket needed, and it would not surprise me to see his next job after this as President. It may not be in 2012, but I could see him being elected in 2016. 

A follow up to the President’s Plan

Yesterday I posted a blog entry about the President’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. Around the time I was posting that, apparently GEN Petraeus was testifying in front of the Senate committee which was confirming him as the head of the CIA. ‘

It appears that GEN Petraeus has the same reservations and concerns that ADM Mullen had.

Hours later in a Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next director of the CIA, GEN. David Petraeus, the current commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, nearly echoed ADM. Mullen word for word. “The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation than what we had recommended,” Petraeus said.

Gen. Petraeus said that over the past month he had a series of meetings with the president during which he recommended a number of different options for reducing the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, each with its own risk assessments.
Petraeus conceded that no general ever has all the troops and resources he wants, but when the president makes a decision “it is the responsibility of the military to salute smartly.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/06/23/military-leaders-would-have-handled-afghan-war-drawdown-differently/#ixzz1QCjXCDnt

So it is not just the SecDef, and Admiral Mullen warning that the President’s plan was too aggressive, but also the top combat commander in Afghanistan (the same guy that turned around and won Iraq and will soon be the CIA Director), GEN Petraeus. Yes it is ultimately the President’s choice, but that also means he can NEVER blame anything on anyone else, not on President Bush, not on GEN McChrystal, not on GEN Petraeus, not on ANYONE. This is HIS war to lose so I hope he realizes that and takes that to heart. 

Video of Gen Petraeus (P4) presenting awards for Valor

While visiting Regional Command South to see and hear what is operationally and strategically important, Gen. David Petraeus made time to present multiple awards of valor, including the Silver Star, Bronze Stars for Valor, Army Commendation Medals for Valor, and Purple Hearts at Forward Operating Base Wilson. He also handed out coins to engineers that worked on the Kandahar Power Bridging Solution. Produced by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller.

Ignorance is Bliss

It is hard to believe that after nine years of war, there are so many people who are ignorant to what our soldiers are doing in Afghanistan. I mean I can understand that from 2003-2009 most people were almost completely ignorant that we were even still at war in Afghanistan because the MSM focused almost all of their coverage on the war in Iraq. It was not until President Bush in late 2008 started planning to surge forces into Afghanistan in the spring of 2009 (yes that was President Bush, not President Obama who authorized the original surge) that most news outlets started talking about Afghanistan regularly. To be quite honest, because of GEN Petraeus and President Bush’s push for a surge in Iraq did things calm down in Iraq and many of the daily kinetic battles taper off to the point that MSM was bored there.

The combat activity in Afghanistan was there the whole time, with it really starting to ramp up in 2006, but you would not have known it by watching the news. Which I think is one of the reasons why blogs like this one and others like AWAC, Afghanistan Shrugged and Afghan Quest became so popular. There was a small percentage of the population that did care about what was happening in Afghanistan and they went looking for someone who was talking about it.

But back to my original statement that people in large are ignorant to what has happened and is happening in Afghanistan. I run into people all the time that are clueless of what is asked of our American service-members serving in Afghanistan. I am not talking about the ones going to every USO show that comes into the base, I am talking about those that are truly “outside the wire”. I talk to civilians, DOD or DA employees and sometimes even military members that have no clue. I am not sure if I should be pissed off, sad or glad for them.

I mean how dare they not know, not understand, not care. Who the F@#$ are they to get up every morning, check their Blackberry, flip on CNN, and eat their cheerios without knowing who’s soul left this planet overnight because they were doing their job as a warrior when 300lbs of homemade explosives ripped their body apart. They should be made to know, they should be made to see it, they should understand what a select few of full time soldiers and citizen-soldiers are doing for them. Your “I support the Troops” yellow ribbon magnet is not doing it for me anymore. I don’t buy it.

But at the same time it is very sad that these people walk through their day, bitching about the traffic on their commute into the office, frustrated that someone took the last of the coffee from the break-room without re-filling the coffeepot and angry when a meeting cuts 15 minutes out of the normal 90 minute lunch. Why would they want to walk through life so ignorant? There was a quote from the movie The Matrix that I think resonates a lot of truth when I think of these people, “Ignorance is Bliss”. I mean you don’t know what you don’t know, and if you don’t have to bother your day with thinking about guys who are missing the birth of their first child, not making it home for their father’s funeral, or watching their buddy die in their arms then I guess life is good for you I ‘spose.

As I said, sometimes I am not sure if I should be GLAD for them. I mean how lucky they are NOT to have to worry about all of that mess. It was said by a soldier (Dustin) in the docu-movie At War that “there is a difference between WANTING to go war and WILLING to go to war”. I mean many of us who go to combat do so with the thought that we go so others don’t have to. I have said that and think that also, so it is conflicting for me personally to be upset when people are ignorant to what our troops are doing and going through. Me and my brothers and sisters have walked the battlefields, we have carried the stretchers to the waiting medevacs, we have attended fallen soldiers ceremonies so not everyone has to go through that….ignorance is bliss I guess. Lucky for you to not have to go through that pain.

So maybe my anger or sadness is jealousy, maybe I am jealous that you, the ignorant American, get to go through life putting no more skin in the game than a $3.99 yellow ribbon magnet from the local 7-11. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want your pity, I don’t want your pat on the back, I don’t even care if you say “thank you for your service”. I don’t need thanks and I don’t need your pity because I am proud of what I have done and the service I have given to this country and still give. I would never do anything different with my life than be a soldier, as it has defined who I am and who I have become. Don’t feel bad, sad or sorry for me. Just be glad there are those like me that do what we do so you can still check that Blackberry and enjoy that 90 minute lunch.

But what you can do is pay attention and not be sheep. As ugly as combat is, don’t pretend to understand it or voice your “opinion” on it. Just try to understand what our American men and women are doing for you and pay attention to all the places we have men and women deployed. Don’t stick to the idiot boxes of big heads for your daily infuse of information as they will only tell you what they want you to hear and how they want you to hear it. Go the web, read blogs, Google it, look around for yourself. You are an American with more freedoms and liberties than most in the world. Use those freedoms and the power of the internet to find out for yourself what our mighty and awesome military does for you. You owe it to yourself as an American to appreciate what you have beyond your own life.

It is Time to Lead, Follow, or get the hell out of the War

Ok Mr. President and circle of advisors, it is time for you to figure out what you are going to do. Your VP said you would be tested in the first 6 months, and even though you have been tested domestically, this is your first real test on foreign affairs and definitely the first test on military matters.

Back in April the Administration announced a strategy for Afghanistan. Nobody really knew what that meant except it was going to focus on giving $5 million dollars a year to Pakistan for 5 years, and was supposed to surge in civilian experts. Of course the surge of military that happened in the spring was already planned for by the previous administration. Also, the surge of civilian experts never happened.

A few months later we see the General that had been in charge get fired and forced to retire because he was not the right man for the job. We then see GEN McChrystal and Rodriguez get put into place as the “best guys for the job”.

As soon as he was put into place, McChrystal was ordered to do a comprehensive 60 day review to define what is needed to succeed in Afghanistan. That review was sent to CENTCOM and the Pentagon on August 30th. Today is Sept 30th and now we are hearing a meeting will happen today with the President, VP, SecState, CJCS ADM Mullen, CENTCOM CDR GEN Petreaus, and of course GEN McChrystal via secure video. According to GEN McChrystal in an interview over the weekend, he had only talked with the President once since taking over Afghanistan. ONCE? The President has talked with Leno, Letterman, and countless other talk show and TV hosts once, if not more than once.

I don’t understand what the problem is. We have the NATO chief calling for a surge.

Stepping into an intensifying debate, the new head of NATO said Monday that more allied troops are needed in Afghanistan to help train the country’s security forces.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who took over Aug. 1, said he agreed with an assessment in August by Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, who emphasized the need to secure Afghan cities.

"We have to do more now, if we want to do less later," Rasmussen said during a speech in Washington.

http://www.military.com/news/article/new-nato-chief-backs-afghan-surge.html

We have GEN Petraeus, who is considered the architect of the turn-around and winning in Iraq, backing GEN McChrystal.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, says he endorses Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy in Afghanistan.

The Afghan assessment is contained in a confidential report prepared by the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. The thrust of McChrystal’s assessment is that without more troops by next year the eight-year-old conflict could result in failure.

Speaking at a conference of military and civilian counterinsurgency experts, Petraeus said the current multi-dimensional approach is the only way to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, the Voice of America reported. He said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen also has endorsed McChrystal’s assessment, the report said.

http://www.military.com/news/article/petraeus-backs-mcchrystal-on-afghan-war.html

And of course we have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen backing GEN McChrystal.

More American troops are likely to be needed to win the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. military officer told skeptical Democrats on Tuesday, citing a need to demonstrate U.S. resolve in an increasingly unpopular war.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a proper effort to counter the Taliban insurgency "probably means more forces."

http://www.military.com/news/article/mullen-more-forces-needed-for-afghan-war.html

And last but not least we have the words from GEN McChrystal himself. The man who was put into place by this administration to steer the war in Afghanistan to a success. The man was put there to replace GEN McKiernan who apparently was doing things wrong, according to this administration.

The situation in Afghanistan is serious and growing worse and without more boots on the ground the United States risks failure in a war it’s been waging since shortly after the terror attacks of September 2001, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, says in a confidential report.

"Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it," McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary. His 66-page report, sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Aug. 30, is now under review by President Barack Obama.

"Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating," McChrystal said of the war’s progress.

While asserting that more troops are needed, McChrystal also pointed out an "urgent need" to significantly revise strategy. The U.S. needs to interact better with the Afghan people, McChrystal said, and better organize its efforts with NATO allies.

"We run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves," he wrote.

In his blunt assessment of the tenacious Taliban insurgency, McChrystal warned that unless the U.S. and its allies gain the initiative and reverse the momentum of the militants within the next year the U.S. "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible"

http://www.military.com/news/article/mcchrystal-send-more-troops-or-fail.html

 

But of course, what do those 4-star Generals and Admirals know? They could not possibly know what it takes to win a war. This is why we have such profound and experienced-laden individuals like the SecState telling the President what needs to be done.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed back against the US military’s blunt warning that the battle against insurgents in Afghanistan would likely be lost within a year without more US troops.

Clinton’s comments in an interview with PBS television late Monday came amid reports that the Pentagon has asked General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, to delay a request for more troops.

In the interview, Clinton expressed "respect" for McChrystal’s assessment that the United States would likely lose the war in Afghanistan within a year without more US forces.

"But I can only tell you there are other assessments from very expert military analysts who have worked in counter-insurgencies that are the exact opposite," she said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090922/pl_afp/usafghanistannatounrestmilitary_20090922075436

And of course we can’t forget the Vice President, who is sooooo smart in foreign policy that he wanted to break Iraq up into a three state nation based on ethnic lines. Like that is not a recipe for a civil war disaster. Anyway, the VP wants to invoke the Bill Clinton way of dealing with bad guys, just throw some bombs at them and it will all go away. What an idiot to think such a thing.

The vice president’s plan: Scale back the overall American military footprint in Afghanistan, drop the mission of rescuing the country from the Taliban, focus on strikes against Al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border – the real threat to U.S. national security — using special forces and Predator missile attacks.

Biden, with a son serving in the military and years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also brings one memory to the table that the 48-year-old Obama does not. At 66, Biden has a visceral feel for the American casualties in Vietnam.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/09/biden-begs-obama-no-more-troops-to-afghanistan.html

But the reality is that the American people and the military leadership of this country want a decision made. They want it to be the right decision and they want it now.

Critics are lambasting President Obama for hitting the pause button on the war in Afghanistan, making U.S. commanders seeking thousands more troops there wait for a decision as he tries to get the "strategy right first."

"The commander in chief is the commander in chief, period," said retired Army Lt. Col. James Carafano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "You can’t fight a war from Washington D.C. There’s only one way this works: You have trust and confidence in the leaders on the ground, or you don’t."

Some critics are going so far as to ask whether Obama is more concerned with finding a political strategy to ensure his re-election than he is in finding a military strategy to win the eight-year war.

That question has been raised after Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top general in Afghanistan, revealed Sunday that he has spoken to the president only once since he took command in May.

"It is nutty," said Bing West, a former Marine and defense official in the Reagan administration. "Obama is stuck with his war of necessity yet he can’t bring himself to face the fact he doesn’t even know his commander in the field!"

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/29/obamas-delay-troop-request-afghanistan-stirs-criticism-war-strategy/

 

It will take time to build up the infrastructure to handle 10,000 more troops, much less 40,000 more. It takes time to move that many troops and start the wheels in motion. But we need to stay on the offensive and not give the enemy a chance to reorganize or plan their next move. We need them on their heels. We also don’t need them to take advantage of this in-decisiveness via their own I/O and media campaign.

Strike while the iron is hot, listen to the experts and the “best man for the job”. Not to the bloviating Hillary Clinton who is a shell of a Secretary of State, only having that job to keep her from running again in 2012. Or to the VP that was picked solely for insurance and to give some experience to the ticket, but has proved to be more of a liability than an asset via his mouth. Wasting time being on Leno, Letterman, the Sunday talk show circuit or even worse wasting money and time flying to Denmark to wine and dine the Olympic committee in order to get the Olympics and millions of dollars into the most corrupt city in this country is not proper time and task management.

When the forces surged in the spring I was for it as long as they were allowed to do their job. As long as their presence their was not wasted. I wanted them to go in and get the job done and not just be IED fodder.

There are only two outcomes to a war, WIN or LOSE, VICTORY or DEFEAT. So now it is time to decide. This is a tough decision for the President, that I understand. But it is also a fairly simple one. Do you want the all the lives lost and ruined after eight years of war to be in vain? Do you want to give the enemy a huge I/O victory by allowing them to say they beat us like the Russians? Do you want to give up all we have gained and provided the people of Afghanistan? Turn your back on them now and you might as well be signing the death warrant of not only thousands of Afghans, but more than likely hundreds if not thousands of Europeans or Americans at some point in the future.

Petraeus predicts tough months ahead

…well after Bouhammer did HERE and HERE. But then again maybe the fine General has been reading this blog. At least he could have given me a hat-tip (H/T) as a courtesy.

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1167159

The above story was written on April 21st.

But then on July 9th, General Petraeus emphasized again that this year is and will continue to be

http://www.military.com/news/article/petraeus-months-of-tough-combat-ahead.html

On July 15th, the following story comes out, www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,532845,00.html

As of Wednesday, at least 46 international troops, including 24 Americans, had been killed in Afghanistan this month, according to statements by the U.S. military and the NATO command. That matches the tolls for the two previous deadliest months — June and August of 2008.

The rate of deaths in July — about three a day — is approaching some of the highest levels of the Iraq war.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, four-star general or Afghan vet with a blog to figure this out. It is pretty much common sense. I am sure the General feels the same way as me, which is we both wish we were wrong on this prediction.