January 4th, 2010
08:50 AM ET

What does winning look like in Afghanistan?

Editor’s Note: U.S. Army Cpt. Brandon Anderson is a Company Commander in 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, deployed to southern Afghanistan. A 2003 graduate of West Point, he is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are the author’s, and do not reflect the official view of the U.S. Department of Defense.

U.S. Army Cpt. Brandon Anderson on patrol in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Cpt. Brandon Anderson on patrol in Afghanistan

In February of 2008, I found myself riding in the back of an ANA ambulance with a wounded Afghan teenager. Shrapnel from a suicide bomber outside of Kandahar City had lodged itself in his neck. He was bleeding while trying to scream. I was holding him and trying to keep him calm, while the driver kept looking backwards toward me, as if to ask, “Is he going to die”? I could not answer that, because I did not know myself. What I did know was that a young man had been maimed, and I could not understand why.

Presently, the American people and Army, along with their allies in Europe, Asia and the Mideast are grappling with a hybrid of insurgency and terrorism. The al-Qaeda terrorists who have struck America, Britain, Spain, and other nations have embedded themselves within the Taliban insurgent network that spans Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not a war that can be decided in the outcome of a single battle, or through the body counts and hilltops that are so germane to a conventional fight. Rather, the present conflict is focused on the people - their security, unity and support. Western armies are incredibly good at fighting and winning the pitched battles that their fathers and grandfathers fought and won in the Gulf War and World War II. Presently, al-Qaeda and those who protect them have neither the capability nor resources to compete with the West in tank-on-tank conventional wars. As a result, their approach has evolved.

The guerilla fighter seeks victory by ambushing and exhausting his opponent, not by open combat. However, the element that allows the guerilla to hide effectively and conduct his attacks is ultimately decided by the people, by their level of support and the nature of that support. Support for insurgencies can be active or passive. Active support for insurgencies comes from a public that morally and ideologically supports the insurgent’s cause. Passive support comes from fear - fear of reprisal, punishment, torture or death.

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan believed in what the mujahedeen were doing and supported them actively. Presently, in Shinkay District of Zabul, Afghanistan, people fear retribution for informing on Taliban activities. It is not hard to understand why. A year before the arrival of my Task Force, the Taliban came to a village in my area to intimidate and punish those who worked with the government. Teachers and base workers were rounded up in the town and publicly beaten. The men were beaten until they cried. One man would not cry. The Taliban viewed this as a threat, so they marched him to the school where he taught and cut off his ear. Throughout southern Afghanistan, the Taliban and those who support them continue to target the civilian population with beatings, intimidation, and suicide bombers to undermine the government and cement their passive support. It is this passive support base that allows them to hide. It is this layer of protection that must be stripped away for a successful counterinsurgency strategy to take root.

So what does winning look like? It begins with providing meaningful security and reasons to support the government. Counterinsurgents work simultaneously on the fronts of security and political reconciliation, with the goal of winning active support for the government. This is done by providing persistent security and extending government influence. Afghan and Coalition forces establish security through combined patrolling to isolate the insurgents from the population, both physically and morally. Through this crucial interaction between the people and government, information is passed on insurgent actions and a network is built. Frequently, this is as simple as a community tip line with signs in the bazaar, or getting to know the people in the villages to the point that they trust you. Government influence is extended through improved schools, wells and roads. As the Afghan people unite with their military and police to create an effective network, it denies the insurgency the freedom of movement necessary to ambush, bomb and intimidate the Afghan people.

Things are changing in Shinkay. The Taliban have overplayed their hand by murdering a village leader and member of the Shura. His body was found with a note that accused him of informing on insurgent forces. The local people have retaliated, and the Afghan Army, Police, and Coalition forces have seen a spike in local reporting. This information has led to the capture of two members of the Taliban cell responsible for the murder, with more on the run. This is the tipping point, when the insurgents cannot move unseen. This is where passive support turns into defiance.  This is what winning looks like on the ground in Afghanistan.

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soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Thalia Roeber

    What does winning look like in Afghanistan? – Afghanistan Crossroads – CNN.com Blogs – favourable page to bookmark

    September 15, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tyler Young

    bowling balls are dangerous on the foot if you mishandle it.-`,

    September 30, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pinoy

    Capt.Anderson,God bless you and your unit always.Pray for the covering of Jesus 's blood and ask angelic host to protect you and your unit. Maintain combat patrol always.For a change ,try to stalk your enemy in one place where they normally or known to pass or transit.Stalk for two or five days and setup ambush along these places.This a normal tactics the scout ranger does here in philippines.Normally they ambush the enemy after few days of waiting and stalking.They walk at night and hide by day. But you must train your men and toughen them to climb and run on the mountains.Same endurance with the taliban figters. It is better to way laid and ambush them,than you walkin into their traps.

    January 17, 2010 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  4. Stuart

    I think this area will be trouble as long as the people thereabouts continue the traditions of marrying their close relatives. Their off spring have just as much energy as the rest of us but are far more easily lead by the religious types there because of this inbreeding. I'm afraid this common throughout Pakistan.
    Stay safe.

    January 11, 2010 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Xopher

    Captain Anderson,

    Finally, an informed and concise piece on the matter of Afghanistan. Free from the political bias and personal opinion that plagues the modern media and public psyche. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own agenda that they are paralyzed to make the proper choices and decisions that need to be made to better our future. Thank you for your continued commitment to our country.

    January 7, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. Beasterdamas

    Winning? That is the most horrible word for the outcome of war...There is no such thing...War is nothing but a loss all the way around...Nobody comes out ahead in a case like this...Besides this isn't really a war is it...I mean if it was a real war it would have been over in a few minutes not a decade later...How about saying that there was "A Measured Success" and we successfully trained up the Afghanis to a competent standard and then we unleashed them on their own country men...

    January 6, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Siar

    THIS MESSAGE IS TO THE US NATION

    Dear all,

    you don't know where your money, the taxes you pay etc.. goes, you might be still remembering the september 11 attack, it was a very sad, so many innocent people died out there. let me clear one thing the US government is playing a double role game, it is playing as a supporter and aider to the insurgents in order to stay in Afghanistan.
    why USA is interested to stay in Afghanistan? Because the USA does not any competetors the USA wants to stay as a superpower by making the central asia's situation worse day by day, let me tell you something to all those soldiers who fight in afghanistan you better hurry up and get yourself out of this country otherwise you will face the same situation as the russians faced when they invaded Afghanistan.
    the afghans no more need any foreign forces to stay in afghanistan, USA is the murderer of our president DOCTOR NAJIB, the Government of USA is responsible for all these wars and damages which the people of afghanistan is suffering.

    i am asking you all US Citizens please stop your government, otherwise this might lead to bigger and bigger disasters, despite of all security measures why some one was able to plant bomb in an airplane in christmas this is just a game nothing else.
    when the US could find sadam from beneath the earth, why it cannot find OSAMA who is on the earth.

    i would like to criticise the media also which is not sincere in this point, so many evidences have been provided that clearly showing the NATO and US forces directly providing weapons and amos to the insurgents but none have been published yet.

    i don't think so if this comment will be published, beacause it is criticising the US government. so hope CNN is atleast an independant news agency.

    January 6, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Doc

    Legalize drugs and tax marijuana? What the heck are you talking about? That will never happen. What would all of those government agents do for work? DEA, Border Patrol, Coast Guard, Customs, Airport Personel, Other us military personell. I am not sure you ever heard of spend it or lose it. The government will continue to justify the extreme detriment that drugs pose to the American people, to continue to obtain funding and support for these entities. If we truely wanted to get rid of some freakin poppy fields in Afghanistan or severely stem the flow of drugs to the US, we could have done this a long time ago. Drugs and war are big business my friend. Drugs keep alot of people working and making money. Why are we still in Afghanistan? There is nothing there. IRAN!

    January 6, 2010 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian Dwels

    Kick some ass Brotha!

    January 6, 2010 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. PFC Jacob Esanbock

    Hello sir im heading to your brigade on the 12th of Jan look forward to joining 2nd ID

    January 5, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ken Williamson

    If the battle against Al Qaeda and company is important, it must be important to all. Yes, some forces from other countries are there, but not in a fair proportion and too often not in direct combat roles. And let' see OPEC match NATOs financial share of the battle.

    Absent a proportional contribution by other countries, mostly old Europe, and absent major financial contributions by countries immediately at risk, such as Saudi Arabia, we need to go home now. There is no reason this fine Captain should be in harm's way while some German sits by the Rhine and sips hot chocolate and laughs at the foolish Americans.

    God bless our troops. God make our leaders wise.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CapitanPR

    Dear CPT Anderson:

    No doubt you are doing your job well under extraordinary circumstances. Watch your six!

    However who is supporting our troops back in the mainland. Public resolve is like a flag following the wind, it may change at any time.

    Watch out for your men and bring as may as you can home in one piece. To the politicians I say, legalize and medicate drugs. Tax the hell out legalized pot. This will defuse the huge "bomb" we call drug trafficking, After this is done what will the poppy fields of Afghanistan and the Coke fields in the Americas be worth, Nothing!

    But there in no politician willing to pay such price. Our war machine must go on, sad situation we are in with no light at the end on the tunnel in sight!

    January 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chelsea

    I understand the losses that are happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. My cousin was just hurt in Iraq and will be home soon for surgery to recover and my boyfriend is headed to Afghanistan very soon and it worries me so much, knowing what all is going on over there. Part of me wishes President Obama would just pull out all our troops, seems to me sending more over isn't helping win and get out of there yet, just has all these families suffering that have lost family in the war. But thank you Cpt. Anderson and all who have and continue to fight for our country, you all are true heroes.

    January 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rita A

    Thank you CTP Anderson for your hard work and sacrifice! Thank you for informing and educating us sitting in our offices/homes far far from the hell you live in every day. To all servicemen and women: your work is deeply appreciated! America is thinking about you and praying for your safe return! GOD BLESS

    January 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mr. Pham, Bran

    No matter winning or loser however we need more secured our homeland. We do not wants to see agian about the North West airline about two weeks ago
    GOD BLESS USA

    January 5, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Charley B

    In its current format this is not a winable war. The only military solutions are extermination or withdrawal. Our continued support of a corrupt government serves only to drain resources. The people there will never love us no matter what we do. If we mean to fight this war then grow the balls to take the necessary steps to get it over with. If we do not then stop sacrficing our young men and women and get the hell out.

    January 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Cpl Hamilton

    hello people iam in afghanistan and its going to be like iraq in a few years i can say with confidence. iam a scout sjniper on the ground in helmand province, i see good changes everyday in afghan

    January 5, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  18. Andy

    I applaud CPL Anderson for his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, and wish him a most speedy and safe return.

    It is unfortunate that "winning the hearts and minds" is an afterthought of our foreign policy. Perhaps it would be wise to move it up the priority list to someplace before "blow stuff up and shoot lots of bullets".

    The enemy we face is ignorance and despair. The Taliban and similar organizations are the end result of these highly curable conditions. People need three things to break away from the cycle of despair, food, water, and a safe place to call home. Until these basic needs are met there is no room in their day to day lives to allow for education. Without an education and critical thinking skills they are easily manipulated by the the likes of the Taliban.

    We cannot ignore the current threat posed by these organizations, but I feel the military solutions to the issue are only self-perpetuating in the long term. These are people who still live by the "eye for an eye" principle. Every "Taliban" we kill has sons or fathers, cousins and uncles, sisters, brothers and friends. It can only be a self-perpetuating cycle of violence.

    We have spent 235 billion in Afghanistan to date. I have to imagine if the same amount was spent proactively in the years after the Soviet occupation on infrastructure and education that we would not be commenting on this article today.

    I hope that the next "preemptive war" will be fought by an army of engineers and teachers.

    January 5, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  19. David Rockefeller

    IT'S ALL ABOUT THE TAPI PIPELINE.... Pipeline from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and then into India.

    HELLO PEOPLE WAKE UP!

    January 5, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  20. Erin banker

    very good picture of whats going on, but if there was more of these responces from troops mabey we'd et a bigger picture of whats going on in diferent places so we and the armed forces would know what to do

    January 5, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  21. DW

    CPT Anderson,
    Thank you for giving us a clear picture of what our troops are facing. It means so much to hear it from your educated perspective and it gives me some hope that there is a way to defeat the Taliban. I hope it does work. I just wish that so many precious lives didn't have to be lost to accomplish these goals, includng the lives of the people of Afganistan and Pakistan. It also makes me hopeful seeing the agreement you are recieving from fellow military. The words of posters who are not living the nightmare seem to have all of the answers, Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it falls on deaf ears when they have not walked in your shoes.

    Thank you so much for the sacrifice you all are making to help try to overcome such a fanatical and violent enemy.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  22. Larry Lawson

    Thank You to all the troops risking their lives to make this world a safer place, but we are fighting in the wrong place. Iran should be wear we take the fight to. What the Government is doing to their citizens over there is very close to genicide!!!! Iranian people stand fast God is on your side, and the People will prevail..You men and women of Iran stand fast changes will occur. Do not give up your fight, wich should be the world's fight. This Iranian government reminds me of Nazi Germany, and it too will fall. GOD SPEED and give the government HELL. They deserve it!!!

    January 5, 2010 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
  23. Anton

    Why America hates Muslims? I think for what America wants to earn all the money. America has its own interests, and the Muslims theirs. America was silent about their interests and tells of the triumph of democracy and the Muslims do the same thing, just talking about Islam. In fact, all simply can not produce more than necessary, and can not be traded aiming at the buyer with a revolver. I wish you success in Afghanistan but in the success of your unbelief. Yes, and that Anderson did with those Taliban who seized? killed them? or tried to start, and then killed?
    Anton, Russia.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  24. Pinoy

    Your situation is similar in the philippines.The NPA was beaten in 1986-1990.Before 1986,NPA,grew to nearly 39,000 regulars and an active mass base.Now they just 5000 active fighters which engaged mostly in criminal activities. On 1986,the main reason for rebellion was taken out,in the person of Pres.Marcos.Marcos was percieved corrupt and power hungry and ordered killing of thousands of political opponents. In Afghanistan,political stabilty and transparency in key to defeat Taliban.The more the government is corrupt,the more taliban will thrive.Second,the Phil.military employed a massive disinformation and deception that the NPA ranks was inflitration by miltary inteligence ,creating a big mistrust within the ranks.The NPA undergone an intensive purge in their ranks which resulted 10,000 killings in mindanao alone.Thirdly,NPA exact taxes on masses which people go against NPA and form Alsa Masa movement against NPA. The NPA was driven out from their mass base.Lastly,Government created an elite unit called Scout Ranger.This unit set ambushes against NPA in their turf.This unit stays months in the jungle just to kill NPA.
    In the context of Afghanistan,these experiences might be changed.You have to factor religious and state of Afghan Army.The Afghan army must be beefup and motivated to meet the challenge.
    Anyway take a look on our experience,hope you can improve you strategy in your AOR.God bless you and your unit.

    January 5, 2010 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
  25. Cheryl

    Wow. A lot of interesting discussion on , I believe, the hugest challenge of our times. None of us know the outcome of this perplexing, terrifying, and daunting situation. All i know is that I am forever endebted to every single brave frredom fighting soldier who has sacrificed and put their life on the line for the cause of freedom. I will never meet you face to face, but know that I, and millions of others like me, hold deep love and appreciation for you in our hearts. Thank you and God bless you.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
  26. JOHN

    Yes I admire Cpt. Anderson risking his life to help the people of Afganistan. However, what I see is that Afganistan is the same old poor country it was before the US invaded. What the country needs is industry, infrastructure, and a work force willing to work to improve their standard of living so they are invested in peace. This is supported by the fact that we can win taliban fighters over by paying them more than the taliiban does. The Afgan people are no different from anyone else, they want to improve their standard of living. They want to join the world economy. Then, and only then, will they live in peace.

    So is the answer more troops, or more industry. ?

    January 5, 2010 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  27. Max

    One final thought. The soldiers at the tip of the spear are often the last to know that the war is over. By that I mean, they keep doing the same thing until someone comes along and tells them to do something else. McChrystal is like a fish out of water. He's used to leading men who live and eat COIN, and now he's stuck with a ton of regular forces who just want to kill everyone and go home. I'm hoping he puts most of those 30,000 troops in Kabul, Khandahar, and Jalalabad. I say this, because COIN is a special forces/green beret expertise. Five guys can organize a city of 10,000 or less. Those five will have 500 surrounding them. Green Berets also speak the lingo of tough. Regular Army troops are like bowling balls. They are mostly kinetic energy, and they don't turn very easy. To follow the analogy, they pick up speed going downhill, and they slow to a crawl going uphill. Bowling balls are like nuclear weapons. Useful only in the extreme.

    January 5, 2010 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  28. CW2 Chapin

    CPT Anderson,
    This is a tuff post.
    I thank you all who support us in our efforts to help this country. For those that are Nay-Sayers, I would suggest you look closer at history and less at the nearsighted scowl you have on your own face. I have seen the happiness as well as the anguish here. It is true that there is hate among some but it also is true that there are people that really want change. The people here would like the freedom of living peacefully without retribution for their political and religious beliefs; the things that we in free countries take for granted all too much. It’s easy to say just ignore the problem and keep our way of life but what about the efforts to get us to “this way of life.” The sacrifices that you, I and others have made to effect change in this world will probably just go into some misguided history book but we in our hearts know that we did what we must do. If only a few feel the freedom, it will spawn into a web that will entrap the political and spiritually depraved and hopefully grow in to a nation of believers.
    For those who say we spend too much, what sacrifice have you had to endure? High gas prices, poor nightly news, or a little volatile stock market. Maybe you haven’t had the freedom of travel around the world, walking the silk trail of South West Asia. I haven’t checked in awhile but I believe the United States still spends less than 5% of its GDP on National Defense even during war time economy. We spent over 30% GDP during WWII and we had a booming economy. This is just my opinion.

    January 4, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Osagie

    You want to know what it looks like? k I'll tell you,it looks like the soviets in 1839, the soviets in 1992. THE FACT IS THAT IT IS ELUSIVE. Learn from history and get your baggages out of there

    January 4, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Sun Tzu

    Considering the author...How can any manner of criticism come out of my mouth?! Cpt. Anderson is using his heart and compassion for the 'people' in a pursuit to remedy the hurt and pain surrounding him. If only there was a solution capable of ending thousands of years of conflict, however; I'm afraid Afghanistan and the sum of the Muslim extremist population in the Middle East will never be conquered. Repressed, slowed down a bit – yes; but conquered? Never. We, as Americans, use a variety of resources to identify and solve problems. Our 'enemy' uses one source – Religious Conviction. These extremists will die before they are conquered. Is that winning? The only way to 'conquer' those who view Jihad as a DUTY to God is to change the way they think. We call it education! They call it Faith. Fight fire with fire...but that isn't politically correct now is it! According to MY faith; the Christian faith, the offspring of Esau (Muslims) will FOREVER be in conflict with the offspring of Jacob (Israel). The offspring of Cain (killed Abel) will FOREVER be unwelcome wherever they go (Cain's offspring went on to live in this area). And the TRUTH only starts there with so much more prophecied millenia before 2010! If these Bible stories have come true; why aren't we looking to the best resource we have to UNDERSTAND the Mid East? It's what our enemy looks to (Koran – their Bible). From a strategic standpoint, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." – Sun Tzu. Instead of trying to understand them, we fail at every attempt to bring them within our understanding. Talk about hypocrites; they kill so we call them "Terrorists". We kill the terrorists and everyone within a smartbombs throw and call it "collateral damage" then wonder why we can't win! If only the powers that be had the heart of Captain Brandon Anderson...

    January 4, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Jim Dezieck

    Well spoken and I commend your bravery and service to both our country and the Afghan people whom you have helped. I wish you were right. However, nothing in Afghanistan's history suggests that the US will prevail – just ask the British and Soviets. Nothing in the Afghan's current events supports success – terrorized citizenry whom are justifiably equally afraid of the Taliban and the warlords, the latter of whom are now being re-armed at the expense of the legitimacy of the Afghan government. A central government plagued by corruption gives the people no confidence. An economy with little promise. Flawed American policies for dozens of years has only served to weaken the country in ways that today's precious investments cannot undo. Your ideas for helping are sound and not unlike those we employ within America's high risk areas with some success but decades of investment. However, we cannot be there forever, cannot sustain this support, cannot find a precedent for our government having stying power and cannot expect reasonable Afghans to assume that cooperating with us will not result in severe retaliation sooner or later. I wish I were wrong and hope events prove me so. In the meantime the longer we stay the more violence we bring on both innocent Afghans and our soldiers, both now and in the aftermath. With best wishes for your safe return.

    January 4, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  32. John

    Captain,
    Are we trying to rebuild Afghanistan?
    Are we trying to win the minds of Afghans and stop passive or active support
    of the Taliban?
    Well, if we are, we need to re-focus and chase Al-Quaeda.
    They are the guys who attacked us on 9/11/01, over 8 years ago, not the Taliban.

    We got side-tracked into rebuilding Irak at the cost of over 4000 American lives.
    Now we are re-building Afghanistan.
    What's next? Attacking Yemen, then re-building it?
    Attacking Iran, then re-building it?

    Let's get Al-Quaeda instead.

    January 4, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Mikael Jorgensen

    Captain Anderson-

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and intimate knowledge of a very intense and complicated situation. You make us proud. Stay safe!

    January 4, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Long Term View

    CPT Anderson's points are consistent with any insurgency. This is nothing new to those familiar with this type of warfare. Similarities abound with past conflicts and yet Afghanistan has its unique cultural bent. Defeating Insurgencies are the generally the same. Support until the country is self-sufficient in securing itself. The issues still remain. Will local to national government develop the integrity to win and keep the people's trust and keep out corruption? (No answer here but this is the key factor) Will the Taliban/Insurgents learn from their mistake mentioned in this article? (Probably yes we would be infantile to presume they would not as they have shown they study war as much as we do) Does the coalition have the corporate resolve to see this through to the end? (Yes only if we are making sufficient "progress") Thus we need to realize this is a chess game and we must be constantly studying the board. It will be an evolving conflict just like Iraq. Not quite as simple as CPT Anderson implies (wait unitl the enemy makes a mistake) but still the war is "winnable" We as a people need to see more of what CPT Anderson has seen. Which is hard to show on TV. He is doing an impossible job against impossible odds and He is leading his soldiers to success. We who are safer here because of his soldiers service need to be more supportive of their efforts. SUPPORT OUR TROOPS SUPPORT THE WAR! They will get home sooner that way!

    January 4, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Alan

    After reading Ted Weidman's early response I had to pause for a few moments and consider if his commentary was a somewhat stark description of America, a condition which has become decidedly worse over the past decade. To wit: we read stories regularly about our own corrupt government, corrupt politicians and their lobbyist money lords, corrupt banking institutions and investment firms, incompetent management at every level of business and an electorate that is essentially paralyzed – shocked and awed by the grandiose scale of it all but doesn't possess the compunction, will, or commitment to change things. Perhaps Cpt Anderson can come home from the turmoil and corruption of Afghanistan to wage patriotic campaign, perhaps a "counter-insurgency", if you will, to save our own country. I quote Ted Weidman verbatim: "You need to clear up the corruption and somehow have a government and people that really want freedom over economic greed."

    January 4, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  36. George

    As long as there is Saudi Arabia as know it, as long as there is Islam as we know it, there will be jihadi mullas and there will be their jihadi followers. FDR are demanded unconditional surrender of the Nazis; he did not fight WW2 to reform Nazism, or win over Nazis and protect them.

    January 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Judy Marks

    Thank you, Brandon, for all you are doing! I am a friend of your Mom's and we are all very proud of you! You, along with my sons and others, are doing a wonderful job! We keep you in our prayers!

    January 4, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Joe

    Only through hard work will we win this war. As a Marine we know that this wont be won over night, and the Captain's words, while true, will take a long time to see in real life. This insurgents in Afghanistan fight with more spirit than they did in Iraq.

    January 4, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Chris

    Excellent report and spot on. As I read, however, I was struck by whether the Afghan government will fulfill their end of the effort...namely reliable and trustworthy governance. I have no doubt that our Soldiers will do their part, but they can't do the job alone. Respect and trust in government begins with truth...

    January 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Hokayshenao

    I think the information was put, nicely.

    January 4, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Shark

    Hollywood......

    NICE write up..... keep it up. I am sure I will be back over there.... I am sure my old place at Price is still available.

    Shark

    January 4, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Jon

    You speak the truth. And I do have to agree with Jo. Winning is always possible. But Afghanistan is a place where people have been fighting amongsts themselves for thousands of years. It has expierienced blood. But you can win. But it doesn't mean you can't kill them all.

    January 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
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