Are all the strategic objectives in Afghanistan clearly defined and acheivable by military force?
Of the operational activities that might support our strategic objectives that require civilian expertise, why in nine years have we not sent adequate civilian agency representation and funding?
If military operations in Afghanistan require a single commander, why does the civilian side of the COIN campaign have authority divided between at least a half-dozen senior officials without anyone having a deliverable “final say” reporting to the President?
If Pakistan’s “partnership” is officially a requirement for strategic success (and it is), why would Pakistan be a “partner” in helping stabilize an independent regime in Afghanistan that would terminate Pakistan’s ability to use Afghanistan as “strategic depth”?
Is the Taliban more important to our national security than is al Qaida?
If we can’t get at al Qaida after nine long years to finish them off, why is that?
If Pakistan’s ISI is sponsoring the Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura Afghan Taliban and other extremist jihadi groups, doesn’t that make the ISI as a critical component – the strategic “brains” – of the Enemy’s center of gravity?
Shouldn’t we be targeting the Enemy center of gravity if we are to acheive our strategic objectives? (If we are going to be squeamish and pants-wetting about that, how about the retired and bearded “plausibly deniable” ex-ISI guys running around FATA as “advisers” and fixers to jihadi and tribal factions?)
Should we be sending the Enemy’s strategic brains billions of dollars annually?
For that matter, is the size of our own logistical tail effectively funding the guys in black turbans shooting at American soldiers and burying IEDs? Would less be more?
Can we ever gain the initiative if the Enemy has safe sanctuaries – oh, has anyone noticed that Pakistan has twice as many Pushtuns as Afghanistan and how does that affect the odds for winning a purist COIN campaign….in 18 months?
Are COIN warfare and proxy warfare the same thing to be treated with the same policy?
If we assume the Enemy has read FM 3-24, shouldn’t we make certain that a considerable percentage of our tactical moves in AfPak are not coming out of a “cookbook”? Is the element of surprise something we can use, or is it considered unsporting these days in warfighting doctrine?
Given that most of Afghanistan’s GDP is derived from US military spending, how is the Karzai regime going to afford an ANA of the requisite size that COIN theory requires for an operational handoff at our arbitrary political deadline of 18 months?
And on a related note, if the Karzai regime in it’s entirety was suddenly frozen in carbonite like Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, how much more efficient and popular would the Afghan government instantly become with ordinary Afghans compared to how it is now?
If we can’t work with Karzai why can’t we work with somebody else? It’s not like he was, you know, actually elected 😉
If political authorities are not effectively linking Ends, Ways and Means – some old-fashioned gadflys call this state of affairs “not having a strategy” – and are unlikely to acheive our objectives and said political authorities will not consider changing the objectives, what practical actions can we take in the next 18 months to seize the initiative, maximize the harm inflicted on our enemies, ensure help for our friends and the furtherance of our own interests?