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Archive for June, 2010

For Strategists, Security Scholars and Historians

Friday, June 25th, 2010


A useful tool, much like Zenpundit himself.

National Defense University Library has digitized American National Strategy Documents in a searchable archive.


Pundita on Pakistan

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Miss P. bangs pots and pans, shoots off fireworks, uses her knee to pound a bass drum while blowing a vuvuzela in an effort to draw attention to the Elephant in the policy room no one wishes to address.

It won’t work until a Pakistani-sponsored terrorist pulls off an act of catastrophic terrorism inside the United States and kills a large number of elite Americans in Manhattan or the Beltway. After that point, we’ll get serious and these views will become conventional wisdom.

I just hope the terrorists don’t succeed in Arizona or Kansas – the story will only make page 2, then and policy will stay the course:

Why General Stanley McChrystal is going straight to hell

On or about August 30, 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates received a detailed assessment of the military situation in Afghanistan that included a request for additional U.S. troops. The report was from General Stanley A. McChrystal, Commander, Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan. But as noted on the first page the assessment was a joint effort representing input from ISAF staff and the component commands.On the matter of Pakistan the report noted:

Afghanistan’s insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan’s lSI.

A year earlier McChrystal’s predecessor, General David D. McKiernan, delivered a franker assessment of the same situation. He stated flatly that he was certain there was a “level of ISI complicity” in the militant areas of Pakistan and within organizations like the Taliban.McKiernan’s observation came on the heels of a secret visit by a top CIA official to Islamabad; the visit was to directly confront Pakistan’s most senior officials with new data about ties between the ISI and militants operating in Pakistan tribal areas.It seems the CIA met with the same stonewalling Britain’s government encountered in 2006 when they brought virtually the same charges to Pakistan because their next move echoed the one taken by Britain’s Ministry of Defense: the CIA leaked news of the trip to a major press outlet — in their case, The New York Times.These naive attempts to embarrass a government comprised of terror-masters, dope dealers and professional beggars skilled at wheedling billions in aid out of the West came to nothing, beyond the ISI’s decision to outsource more of their oversight of terrorist attacks on NATO troops to front agencies such as the SSG.

David Petraeus might study Kashmir if he doesn’t want to repeat Stanley McChrystal’s mistakes in Afghanistan

On Monday the RAND Corporation published a paper titled Counterinsurgency in Pakistan by Seth G. Jones and C. Christine Fair. I don’t agree with most of the authors’ recommendations. However, I think the section of the paper titled Pakistan’s Use of Proxy War, which goes into some detail about Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir, will be instructive in light of Pakistani-sponsored actions against ISAF and the Afghans who resist Taliban rule.The section begins on page 6, chapter two. Although I don’t provide the footnotes I’ve kept the footnote numbering for ready reference. (The paper can be downloaded for free in PDF at the RAND website. A summary in PDF is also available):

Pakistan’s Use of Proxy WarfareMost accounts assume that Pakistan first engaged in using militants as a foreign policy tool during the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Pakistan, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and others supported seven major mujahideen groups operating in Afghanistan.”The Mujahedeen could achieve nothing without financial support,” acknowledged Brigadier Mohammad Yousaf, who headed the Directorate for Inter-services Intelligence’s (ISI’s) Afghan bureau from 1983 to 1987, and was responsible for the supply, training, and operation planning of the mujahideen. “Almost half of this money originated from the U.S. taxpayer, with the remainder coming from the Saudi Arabian government or rich Arab individuals.”3

In many standard accounts, Pakistan redeployed these battle-hardened operatives to Kashmir in 1990 when the Soviets formally withdrew from Afghanistan. In fact, Pakistan has relied on nonstate actors to prosecute its foreign policy objectives in Kashmir since its independence in 1947. In that year, the state mobilized lashkars (tribal forces) to seize Kashmir while the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, debated whether to join India or Pakistan….


Good things come in threes. A third post by Pundita – The last American helicopter out of Kabul

… Pakistan is presenting itself as the new viable partner for Afghanistan to President Hamid Karzai, who has soured on the Americans. Pakistani officials say they can deliver the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, an ally of Al Qaeda who runs a major part of the insurgency in Afghanistan, into a power-sharing arrangement.In addition, Afghan officials say, the Pakistanis are pushing various other proxies, with General Kayani personally offering to broker a deal with the Taliban leadership.

Washington has watched with some nervousness as General Kayani and Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, shuttle between Islamabad and Kabul, telling Mr. Karzai that they agree with his assessment that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan, and that a postwar Afghanistan should incorporate the Haqqani network, a longtime Pakistani asset. …

Despite General McChrystal’s 11 visits to General Kayani in Islamabad in the past year, the Pakistanis have not been altogether forthcoming on details of the conversations in the last two months, making the Pakistani moves even more worrisome for the United States, said an American official involved in the administration’s Afghanistan and Pakistan deliberations.

“They know this creates a bigger breach between us and Karzai,” the American official said.

The best American general to replace McChrystal is not Petraeus but rather Curtis LeMay.

Fabius Maximus, Futurist

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

This is good.

Bonus points for subtle sarcasm on FM’s part.

McChrystal Out, Petraeus In

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Story  here.

Watch the statement by the President here.

David Petraeus is best qualified but not the only qualified replacement. Hard to see how this is not also technically a demotion for General Petraeus unless he is going to wear three hats as CENTCOM combatant commander, US commander in Afghanistan and head of ISAF. Perhaps the Senate will insist on that, it has been done before on the civilian side at State and the NSC when Thomas C. Mann held three critical Latin American policy posts for LBJ during the Dominican Crisis of ’65. Kissinger, of course, was both Secretary of State and National Security Adviser  under Richard Nixon for a time. Wonder why Mattis or Rodriguez were not moved up?

Marshall considered stepping down from his Chief of staff post (really a Supreme Military Allied Chief of Staff in practice) to become the commander of D-Day but ultimately he went with Ike, though field command at Normandy had been his heart’s desire.

Good luck General Petraeus.


Thomas Ricks also speculates on Petraeus as triple CENTCOM -Afghanistan/ISAF commander. This would probably placate NATO, Pakistan and Karzai, all of whom were nervous about McChrystal’s departure and reduce the number of Senate confirmation hearings required and get complete unity of command. However very capable deputies and “systems” need to be in place in each command for Petraeus to play orchestra conductor effectively instead of being a fire brigade.

About the worst possible administrative result would be Petraeus being replaced at CENTCOM by an unknown flag officer without direct command experience in Iraq or Afghanistan who fears to take any initiative, while additional civilian political operatives from the Executive branch are granted vague “czar” roles to meddle erratically in AfPak policy outside of Defense and State channels. Just enough chefs to burn down the kitchen.


SWJ publisher Bill Nagle says Petraeus will not will not ultimately wear both hats:

Interesting if predictable developments today with GEN McChrystal being relieved by President Obama.  Er, I’m sorry, resigning.  And certainly an interesting move with GEN Petraeus being promoted, er, demoted, er, reasssigned – yeah, that’s it, reassigned.  That strikes me as a wise move, all the more so because of the explicit statement that the rest of the CENTCOM job will not be his, too.  It’s not like that’s an easy enough job alone and we need to get more mileage out of that particular 4 star billet.

I think there will be tough questions about AfPak strategy and who has what authority in a constellation of bigwigs during Senate confirmation hearing regardless if Petraeus keeps both jobs or if there’s another nominee.


Dr. Barnett says two-hats or one hat, Petraeus is now “untouchable“.

David Kilcullen with Diane Sawyer

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Dr. Kilcullen seems to have charmed Diane Sawyer quite handily, who gave a nice plug for his new book Counterinsurgency.

Hat tip to SWJ Blog.

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