June 1st, 2010
09:59 AM ET

Is there a Plan B for Afghanistan?

Within weeks, 20,000 U.S., Afghan and coalition forces will have poured into the Kandahar region of southern Afghanistan - a longtime Taliban stronghold. The mission: establish security for the people, improve local government and push the Taliban out.

It's the biggest battle yet in the counterinsurgency warplan of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. U.S. forces have already struck Taliban targets in the area, but McChrystal is now trying to make it look like a more gentle war.

"We're not using the term operation or major operations, because that often brings to mind in people's psyche the idea of a D-Day and an H-hour and an attack," he said at a Pentagon briefing in May.

But what happens if this Plan A doesn't work? Some people say Plan B is to make Plan A work.

"In a sense, that's right because there are always alternatives but in this case the alternatives aren't that attractive," says Stephen Biddle, an occasional adviser to McChrystal.

One alternative is the acceleration of Afghan forces' training, Biddle says, but "there aren't a lot of options other than that. Do you make troops on patrol walk faster?"

No one expects the insurgents to cut and run. They haven't in nearby Marjah, where U.S. troops are using a similar strategy and have been fighting for months. Marjah was supposed to give the U.S. the momentum to move on into Kandahar as the next target.

But McChrystal recently called the Marjah campaign "a bleeding ulcer."

"When Gen. McChrystal referred to Marjah as a bleeding ulcer, he was talking about the perception of the outside world," says Gen. Nick Carter, Commander of Regional Command-South, ISAF. "And of course, in the same way that it's important that Afghan perceptions go in the right direction, it's important that the outside world also has the right perceptions."

For McChrystal, the clock is ticking. He says he will know by the end of the year if his plan is working.

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Shower Caddy 

    ulcer is a very painful disease, i hate ulcer:""

    October 14, 2010 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. Leon Murray

    i had an ulcer last year because i am fond of skipping meals and working too hard. it was quite painful*.:

    August 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LCpl. Johnson

    First of all, everyone that says that winning the hearts and minds is impossible. Not true, now not everyone will love the coalition, or the US for what we are doing there. You never will, you will always have that 10% (as it is said.). Not everyone follows the original Koran. People say that the Koran has never been changed? Maybe not the official one, but to be honest, and frank. Those entries which where stated above, where added in. Not sure on the date exactly, but I have seen an actual Koran. Had a Bangladesh student stay at my house, and she was Muslim. No where did it say anything about violence.
    On a second note, I have heard a lot of commotion about how others have tried to fight the Taliban before(notice how i said Taliban not Afghans). The only super power that we should really look towards, is the USSR. Every other quest in time, was of a different Era. Now, the thing that separates us from the Russians. Is they had a simple tactic, that caused them to fail. They never left the safety of there vehicles, the Taliban knew that..and used it to there advantage. We on the other hand, we have boots on the ground and assault threw an ambush. We do not turn tail and run like they did. That's why we are still in Afghanistan. We are head strong, and arrogant. We as American troops and citizens do not give up. That's how we won in Iraq, and that's how we will do it in Afghanistan. The Taliban is not use to fighting, they are use to everyone running. How else do you think we have pushed as easily as we have. Of course, there are casualties. There always will be in war. How blindsided do you have to be, to put a death toll. It happens, it's a shame to see. To see my fellow brothers in arms dying. But, it is our job to defend our country and fellow troops.

    June 18, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • LCpl. Johnson

      Too add to my first note, not all Muslims are evil. Believe it or not, I have worked with several true die hard Muslims. They are human, they make mistakes. Some just are raised in the wrong environment, or they are manipulated easily. Simple as that.

      June 18, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. geen

    this pro war adminsitration..a pro war presdent, a pro war sec of state a pro war sec of defense...should be recognized for what it is doing: ala Richard Nixon and HIS moronic sec of defense and state, Obama is escalating this illegal war, much like nixon did another illegal war 40 years ago, which killed over 59000 for nothing. right now, the body count for both of these bush/obama wars stands at roughly 5500..and increasing daily...(and..by the way..when Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize–you remember! ten days after his escalated the war on afghanistan, the body count was 5200.......get the picture? from this ashamed Vietnam Vet, END THIS QUAGMIRE!

    June 15, 2010 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. hampster

    Immediate Viet Nam type withdrawl from Afghanistan. Do it quick before Karzai has a chance to escape!

    June 14, 2010 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. hampster

    Viet Nam type withdrawl from Afghanistan!

    June 13, 2010 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. Fraidoon

    On behalf of Afghan that now i am living in Herat province Afghanistan, since US gov and other world community helping us to build the infrastructure of Afghanistan helped alot, if you compare 8 years ago with now there is a big difference in reconstruction, education, economoy, democracy and the country now in evolution development.

    we highly appreciate US families who sends their sons and daughters to bring good life for Afghans, in this perioid people's vision is quite changed, we do not have warlord commanders now in country, everday there is good changes practically seen,

    we are Afghan and an Islamic in favor of the world, Islams says to respect other relegion in the world, those who are like Taliban claiming for Islam and killing innocent people and even burned the Holy Quran, Islam rejects them even as human, even they are worse the Animals and they are vampires.
    ICI of Pakistan supports Taliban and Pakistan has direct illegal intervention in Afghanistan, fortunately they get failure in every attempt they make.
    as said before, one of the main solution way for eradication of Taliban and Terror is to put pressure in Pakistan to attach and target their training places and ICI of Pakistan should stop supporting Taliban.

    ICI itself is the main source of all problems in Afghanistan

    June 13, 2010 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. ybs

    It'll be bloody the next few months but relax ladies & gens! Obama made the right choice – McChrystal is the most capable general for pummeling the Taliban. Sure, we'll make mistakes but mark my word – we are going to sock it to them this summer and once again, next summer. Like the Somali pirate situation, we can't kill them all but now they think twice before messing with another U.S. ship! The only way that the Taliban could retain some sort of power is to serve Osama's head on a plate. Until that happens, we'll pummel them into submission, or at least, they will think twice before messing with us again. Just watch!

    June 12, 2010 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
    • ybs

      No worries about the tight deadline! If needed, Obama/McChrystal will adjust it. About ROEs, it's McChrystal's call, not Obama's. Discipline is good and that is how we will win!

      June 12, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Smith in Oregon

    General McChrystal's shake and bake Government and Afghanistan Police, Security forces to plug into each area where the Taliban are briefly routed has already shown failure in Marjah. And yet the same cookie cutter approach is now being pushed upon the poor Kandahar people with likely the same failed results.

    Plan B, pull the American troops out of Afghanistan, declair mission accomplished, Osama bin Ladin and his mentors have long ago fled Afghanistan, top ranking former US Military officials are now quietly stating Bush-Cheney purposely Osama bin Ladin escape the US Military invasion of Afghanistan. Whatever, prepare for America's pull-out of Afghanistan in 12 more months and the American public should tell their respective lawmakers to keep a very close watch on the US Military begging for total equipment replacement returning from Afghanistan and Iraq for new upgrades, and urge them to say NO.

    June 5, 2010 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Angered

    History definately repeats itself. When the british had their version of the ROE we were like forget you guys we aren't gonna stand in a line and let you shoot at us. and we got our freedom because of that. We did good in WWI and WWII because we had an exact enemy and the media was respectful of the military and what they had to do in order to win. In Korea and Vietnam all of a sudden we turned into the british with our ROE's basically making us stand out for the enemy to shoot us before we can kill them. and by the time we are able to try and kill them most of the enemy is gone.

    And now that we have our drones that we can kill the enemy without them being able to kill us people are throwing their arms up saying this isn't fair how are we suppose to fight a war if the enemy can't kill us... They are making us fight with our hands tied behind our back... and also with Obama in office with how he is going to "change" everything I haven't seen him do a single thing other than pushing a bill through with the american people's backing and having to take it away. All he has done is continued to run the united states into the ground...

    June 3, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. Harry

    How about get the hell out of the country? I mean seriously when did we decide to pull a USSR and plan to stay for 30 odd years?

    June 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anonyms

    What about a large public works project in Afghanistan, to use as a diversion. Local people would have jobs and this would build a BETTER COUNTRY.

    June 2, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • questfortruth

      We are already doing that. They love our handouts.

      June 2, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jesus Cristo

    Plan b is easy... BRING OUR TROOPS HOME. OBama is just like Bush. Or actually they are taken over by the establishment and they cant think form themselves with all the propaganda they get from their advisors..

    June 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    One wonders if there is a Plan A, much less a Plan B.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tyler

    I agree with what a number of other posters have been saying, particularly in regard to the timetable set by president obama. We were in Iraq for more then seven years and we still have an ongoing influence in the country to this day. It makes little sense to say "We're going to be in and done in eighteen months!" expiration date on the war and expect to actually meet that deadline. It would have been wise of President Obama to have consulted his military advisors and General Mchrystal before making promises to the american public that seem impossible to keep.

    I certainly hope that the war only takes eighteen months, it would be great to see our troops out of the middle east and back in the states for some much needed R&R but I'm too much of a realist to see that happening.

    June 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  16. GabeK

    This has now become Obama's war and we just exceeded 1,000 (1,075) American men and women dead in this theater of operations. I though he promised to get us out withing 12 months? It's been a year and a half and it's not getting any better. What is Obama's magic number of dead Americans before he COMMANDS (that's what a Commander-in-Chief does...) the Generals to pull up and bring or men and women home? BRING OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS HOME; NOW!

    June 2, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  17. Suker

    When the Afghan Corps commanders do not let contractors on base to do the work that the world govts and NGOs have provided unless they pay bribes, and now those bribes are written into the contracts as a "fee," I see there is absolutely no hope for this group of people. They might be nice, but they are just simple farmers and are the kind of people that will sell out very easily. Because they are simple, they fail to see and realize big picture consequences of their actions. There is no saving them.

    June 2, 2010 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  18. dh4222

    Why is all the focus on Kandahar and the southern provinces? Pakistan is where they are all coming from and we need to secure the borders on the Eastern front instead of focusing all of our resources down south. We need more troops in the East then the South. There are alot of small combat outposts in Eastern Afghanistan that need more resources. How do I know this you ask? I am here on a small outpost in Eastern Afghanistan and we are shorthanded on troops and resources.

    June 2, 2010 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  19. Corinthia

    No matter who you kill, or how many you kill - you can't win a land war in Afghanistan - anyone who has any knowledge of history could have told you that before we went into the country. And no matter how long we stay, nothing will change, this is draining the American treasure and damaging our economy during a recession – we don't have the means to keep doing this.

    June 2, 2010 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  20. Mark

    Plan B? How about get the heck out!

    June 2, 2010 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  21. Matt H

    Of course the taliban and al qaeda are evil and need to be stopped, no argument there....i'm just saying it like it is.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Matt H

    Hey John you cannot defend your country by invading another country. That is like an oxymoron (like military intelligence?) Get your priorities straight. 3000 people died on 911 because of people like you who are good at making enemies with people who are different. A just war isn't always a winable war. People continue to die including innocent civilians, not just heros who were brainwashed into thinking that force is always the best way to go.
    By the way what is so bad about peace and love?

    June 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert Keener

      I agree pull our forces out. Then we shall send YOU to talk to the terrorists and explain what they are doing is wrong and how they should agree to peace and love as you suggest. I am willing to give your way a try. Im sure Bin Laden would love to sit and have some tea with you and learn that his views are not quite so good. He may even come to the U.S. with you, go to ground zero, and beg for a thousand pardons as he didnt really mean to do what he did with his followers assistance.

      June 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  23. DRIBB

    did ANYONE read the post by Abdulameer...uh hello. time to get rid of these people. there is no "giving them democracy". nor the idea of it there. its time to get rid of those who constantly insist on harming us. The truth is ugly. but im pretty sure seeing the twin towers fall was even uglier.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Melvin

    As long as Obama is in the WH this war is doomed. Man made disasters? Can't use the words major operations?
    ROE's=don't shoot. Our poor Troops, I feel really bad for them to have to serve under such nonsense crap. Obama couldn't save his old home week for Labor Day? If skipping out on Arlington while our country is at war isn't a screw you I don't know what is. All the top brass is sucking this man to keep their jobs and leave their careers on high notes, what a joke.

    No one is talking about the 100 million dollars of supplies lost in the fire at Leatherneck, they plan on doing an assault, excuse me, a journey into Kandahar w/out those supplies being replaced first?

    No, they don't have Plan B, this country can't deal w/terrorists stateside, what do they think they can do over there?

    June 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  25. navyboy

    I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.

    June 1, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  26. chad

    Carpet bomb the whole place.

    June 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      carpet bombs dont work on tunnels. but i see where youre coming from. haha.

      June 4, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  27. SFC

    Can you say cut your losses and run..

    June 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Gary

    Anyone who thinks the US can come to some final victory over the Afghan people, have no clue as to what is going on in Afghanistan. There is no central Government, there are no resources other than manpower and a small amount of agriculture. Anyone who believes that we are in Afghanistan for any reason other than to secure pipelines for oil and gas is a moron. No good will come of this "War" not to the US or Afghanistan. End it now while we are not losing too badly.

    June 1, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Gary before you start speaking of oil and natural resources that were stealing from afghanistan, how about you learn what they export first. There is no oil supply in Afghanistan. Its mountainous and the soil is just rich enough to grow certain crops. I suggest you people educate yourselves before speaking on this blog. No pipelines go through this area. Afghanistan is the leading supplier in opium. Opium is a base product for what Gary? Heroin! Im glad that college education youre going for and what liberal university is spewing pure nonsense to you is being affective. I suppose 9/11 isnt the reason were over there? Or maybe Gary you forgot what its like to see two planes crash into the twin towers. This idiotic reasoning of conspiracies and the government wants oil for it's self is absurd! We dont need a war for oil...We have plenty here in reserves and areas that our good friends here at CNN (liberal environmental etc) seem to fight against. Oil in afghanistan Gary? Realize that the taliban helped AQ with its plan on 9/11 (housing them, training camps, money etc). Get real people understand why were there! Bill Clinton could of pulled the trigger on UBL a long time ago... Stop thinking about world opinion. Israel doesnt and they do fine. Its time we realized were fighting terrorim by ourselves and no matter how bad the liberal media and you all want to turn this into a vietnam...its no where close. These people want to inflict harm on our soil and they have. Grow up and see it for what it is.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Robert Keener

        I agree with John. On September 11, 2001 you might recall a "small" incident that occured. Innocent civillians were attacked without mercy and without provocation. We as Americans pledged "We shall never forget. Funny how so many weak hearted people are willing to walk away from that commitment and the memories of those that cannot speak for themselves. I believe we owe it to them to provide the means necessary to bring all those responsible to justice. We are at war, a war not of our choosing, but a necessary war-one thrust upon us. If we walk away it will let the rest of the world believe they can punch us in the eye and walk away laughing. So, in closing I shall remind you of what Mr. Beamer (a victim of 9/11) said "let's roll". He had the courage to stand up to the terrorists, do you?

        June 2, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  29. David

    The Afghanistan affair is not working, is just draining the economy of the US togheter with the "Iraq Question", the only ones who are benefitting from this wars are the arms manufacturers, dealers, politicians and their acquaitances, the US people are being deprived of better education, public schools are lowering their expenses, the recession that the US economy is suffering is due to this wars and the deficit growth is because of this expedition as well. Nobody is winning that war that has no reason to exist. Has to stop and the problem has to be resolved by some other way than to spend trillions of dollars.

    June 1, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Bill


    June 1, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  31. hr

    Will somebody explain how we are better off running Afganistan than the Russians were?????? After years and billions of dollars we still have not eliminated Bin Laden and the Taliban – Afganistan bankrupted the Russians – we are well on the way to the same end are we not??????

    June 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Randy

    Ahhh.... the religion of peace.... NOT

    June 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Abdulameer

    Our whole plan is ill-conceived because it is based on our winning the hearts and minds of the population. Well, that is impossible, and, therefore, our plan is doomed to failure. The hearts and minds of the Afghan population is thoroughly devoted to Islam, the Koran, Muhammad and sharia law. Here is a sampling of the doctrines of Islam which motivate the hearts and minds of all religious Moslems:
    –“ the (only) religion (acceptable) before God is Islam." (3:19)
    - " If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him." (3: 85)
    - “You are the noblest community ever raised up for mankind.” (3:110)
    - The unbelievers among the people of the book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures. (98.6).
    - Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve. (8.55)
    –The unbelievers are your inveterate enemy. (4:101)
    - Mohammed is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. (48:29).
    - It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer, accidents excepted. (4:92)
    - Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. (5:51)
    - Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme. (8:40)
    - Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. (2:193)
    - The true believers fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil. (4:76)
    - We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. (3:151)
    - I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers. (8:12)
    - Muhammad said to the Jews: "If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. “
    - Allah's Apostle said, "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' "
    - Mohammed said, "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever says, " None has the right to be worshipped but Allah , his life and property will be saved by me." (otherwise it will not).
    - Mohammed said, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him."
    - Mohammed said, " No Muslim should be killed for killing a Kafir" (infidel).
    - Muhammad said: "Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, …"
    In addition, the most popular manual of Islamic sacred law, approved by the highest Islamic religious authorities of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, says: "Jihad means to make war on non-Muslims." What could be clearer than that?
    And, how about this:
    Ayatollah Khomeini, the most important Moslem leader of the 20th Century, said: "Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies.... Islam says: whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! the sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other Koranic psalms and Hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim."
    And, how about this:
    From Jihad in Islam by Sayyeed Abdul A'la Maududi, one of the most prolific and most widely read and influential Islamic writers of the 20th Century:
    “The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy.”

    The only difference between the Taliban and the rest of the Afghan population is the degree of strictness they want in applying Sharia law.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ImNoExpert


      June 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Outlier

        Abdulameer seems to think the heart and minds things is a waste of time also. The only thing these people (and I'm being generous with the term) understand is a bullet. We should leave them, and every other potential enemy with the understanding that for every one of us they take, we take all of them. How much longer are we willing to turn the other cheek, so people can slap the $h1t out of that one too!

        June 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • questfortruth

      "Afghan population is thoroughly devoted to Islam, the Koran.....We can't win hearts and minds"
      is a silly statement. I saw many devoted to Hashish, charity, their community and families spending little time doing anything resembling religion. I also saw some who seemed really devoted. Blanket statements are ridiculous. We had many villages helping us because they appreciated the medical attention we provided or schools, food, electricity, clean water etc... More of the population was thoroughly devoted to what you describe when the Taliban beat them into submission. I had many villagers personally express how much they appreciated not having the Taliban abusing them because we drove them out of their villages. They pointed to crops growing near the village and said that could not happen under the Taliban. We provided the money for villages to hire locals to build schools which was really appreciated. It was sad though because the Taliban would rocket the schools and destroy them because villagers sent their daughters to get an education. They thanked us. I was even more surprised how many really want the American lifestyle as they understand it. That was the most common subject we discussed when we spent hours with them daily for fifteen months. Their most common concern expressed to me was that we would leave and the Taliban would once again abuse them. I could go on but I think other readers will get the point.

      June 2, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • questfortruth

      A question I have regarding this people devoted to Islam is regarding greed and corruption. Is this a positive thing in the Koran? That really is one of the biggest hindrances including the fact that most tribes do not like neighboring tribes. Is that a teaching in the Koran? One Muslim hating another because they are in different tribes though share the same faith and culture. You are seriously near sited if you think we are Afghanistan's biggest problem. There is a reason the middle east is so impoverished. Might want to consider that.

      June 2, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Matt

    I think this is the first war I've seen where we tell the enemy our battle plans beforehand. I wonder how this would have worked in WWII? I can just see the headlines: Romel throws D-Day invasion back into the English Channel!!!

    June 1, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Outlier

    Apparently, several of you were uncomfortable with my “round them up” approach, fretting that we might mistakenly take some innocents. To which I offer; when a surgeon removes a cancer, he will invariably also remove some healthy tissue to ensure he gets all of the disease. America needs to get in touch with her inner warrior. We are there to hunt down those that wish us harm. Period. When they’re gone, we can come home. Building a hospital or a school after bombing a village is ridiculous, and is only done to appease those here in the US that shirk the responsibility of principles. Wars hurt, they’re supposed too. Let’s wrap this one up.

    June 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • ImNoExpert


      The "winning the population" methods you reference are part of a counter-insurgency tactic with the goal of, well, winning the population. The idea is that the insurgents draw upon the local population for support, supplies, and especially recruitment. By acting ruthlessly, America would likely kill off those who hide behind the population, but the cost is that future insurgencies may spring up out of resentment by the population, or the same resentment fueling current insurgencies, making them stronger.

      But by winning the population over, you cut off or undermine the supplies and support base for the insurgency. The people won't fight America if America is helping them out with food, education, helthcare, etc. We also gain an ally in that area and have a credibly positive reputation in the international community for things like "humanitarian support" and "spreading democracy", etc.

      It takes longer and is more financially costly, but its much more in line with American values and interests than the ruthless methods that you suggest. The Nazis tried these methods against resistance groups in occupied territories. Do you want to be like the Nazis?

      June 1, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  36. ForASong

    Plan *B*? I thought we were somewhere around plan N by now...

    June 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      No, I think we at plan Z now.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Augustus

    A quick war would be ideal - walking away would be convenient - but you are all leaving something out of the equation. NUKES in Pakistan. NUKES in Pakistan. NUKES in Pakistan. Let's all imagine what the collective mentality of the Taliban would be once they got their mitts on a nuclear weapon.

    June 1, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • M_K

      you are missing the point, the moment USA walks out, these taliban and afghans will just get back to fighting each other, so it will be business as usual for the next few decades. Pakistan never was and perhaps would not be a threat. The only problem in US strategy was that we have injected ourselves into middle of civil war by siding with Northern alliance. We have no business supporting the corrupt and illegal government of karzai that is full of warlords from previous eras

      June 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  38. DaHound

    Seems like usual the American public has a short memory. We are in Afganistan because of 9-11. We're not nation building. And once again, like Viet Nam, the congress is going to wonder why we can't get this job done quickly while tieing one arm behind the backs of the military. If the U.N. wasn't such a nutless organization, 500,000 troops would be in there and had the mess cleaned up in 3 years. We didn't start this thing. The Taliban gave sanctuary to the people that killed almost 3,000 of your fellow Americans along with quite a few other nationalities. And as far as our nation being a model for others to follow, you better wake up and do some research about what a mess our national debt is and the unfunded liabilities that total over 100 trillion dollars that we will never be able to cover. How's that Social Security check and medical care looking when the government can't pay for it?

    June 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Mark

    Can't "round up" Taliban unless you can identify them. Insurgents work hard to look exactly like the people they hide behind.

    Can't, as the media are so fond of saying, drive the bad guys out either. They can't go home; they *are* home. Beating them means either winning them over or taking them out of the equation altogether.

    Taken together, these ought to begin to explain why it takes so long and costs so much. And why there's not a Plan B, short of giving up and letting the bad guys have our friends.

    June 1, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      who in Afghanistan do you think is our friend. Karzi's brother is the big wheel in Kandahar. We are being played but like VietNam noone up top is going to admit it.

      June 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Marc

    @randy but let's just leave like we did in Vietnam.. after the Gov't had JFK assassinated and put the next president (war monger) in office we went right to war to stop "communism" and we still bailed out of Vietnam anyway.. these wars cost too much money.. Jeez it took Britian until like 2006 to pay back America for all the resources we gave them in WW2 from the Lend-Lease Act of 1941

    June 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Randy

    Let's face it..... There is no definite, easy solution to troop withdrawl from Afghanistan or Iraq. We have been mired in a situation which, if we just completely withdrawl now, will inevitably create a huge power vacuum and potentially lead to more deaths in each country. Unfortunately for America we have been entered into a hell of a "catch-22."

    June 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Eugene

    We can't afford this war, and we can't win. We've made unexpected progress in Iraq, and getting rid of Saddam was a good thing, but we are swimming in quicksand in Afganistan. What I don't get, however, is how all these stop the war bumper stickers have seemed to dissapear – we had a more clear mission in Iraq and there was no end to the protests. Now we're pouring lives into a war that no one can easily explain, but it's OK??? Just because someone else is in the White House??

    June 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      All you people do is cry for peace and love. You dont understand that the group were fighting against could careless if youre a combatant or civilian (EX 9/11, Madrid, etc). That were fighting an enemey that yes maybe long costly in the long run but the routing of radical islamic idealogy and its jihad soldiers is a safer world. That the taliban just like Hezbollah and hamas get their support from Iran. You guys look at a body bag as a statistic and use it for your argument. I look at it as a hero who chose to instead of blogging and spin facts to fight for the very nation that says he/she failed. Do we not as soldiers have the chance to defend our country that we love and for who we care about Eugene. Go ahead write us off. You want to quit? Then tell me why 3,000 americans died on 9/11...We're here to win for them and you even if you hate it. Patriotism!

      June 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
      • dixiejon

        I thought we went to Afghanistan to get bin laden, I could care less about what happens to poppygrowing religious fanatics. If the people dont like it letthem stand up for themselves.

        June 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Outlier

    @Marc – The way you ensure your future security is to make those that have moved against you regret having done so. You want war to be ugly. Short wars kill fewer people than long wars. Make war palatable, and something seen as "constructive" and you'll be fighting them again, and again, and again.

    June 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • RHSaar

      This is really a general comment directed to all.

      We need to have the resolve as a people to back up what we say, if necessary. Speak softly but carry a big stick is the only thing the world seems to understand. I'm speaking of philosphical radicals and the general uneducated populace in third world nations. Both Hand to mouth survivial or soul to heaven promises are strong motivations when you know of nothing else. Persistence, dilligence and time are the only methods besides exstinction that win heart & mind wars.

      June 1, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • max

      Americans seem to be slow learners. Stuffed up Vietnam, tinpot regimes in south america, Iraq and eventually Afganistan but still they want more. How many good soldiers and money do you want to waste.
      If it was my kid comming home with no legs or worse in a body bag I would be very digusted with my government. What did we realy gain from the thousands dead in Iraq nad billions spent. Sweet F.A. A dictator gone but just 1 of number in the world & arguably far from the worst. North Korea anyone?

      June 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Marc

    @Outlier I agree, "nation building" is something I don't like anymore and this is what spreading democracy is all about.... LET IT GO.. People survived millions of years without American influenced democracy. Let's mind our own business and lead by example.. If people can see how successful our country can operate independently than they'll make their own adjustments

    June 1, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  45. Marc

    @D2 I understand where you are coming from but you are missing my point. I'm not discussing operational means but the fact that we are considering letting the Afghan people run their own country means the resources used already were a waste (excluding our heroes fighting the battles) BECAUSE if there is still talk that this country cannot police itself than were have we gotten to here??? and what benefits will be received from what resources we already provided??? Is this war what the American people paying taxes want? I think not, no benefits here for Americans and that's why I gave that example above about occupying Mexico because it would do more for the American Dollar.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  46. Outlier

    We need to embrace a policy of accelerated attrition. Round up the Taliban and shoot them. No hearts and minds, no hospitals, no schools….If you’re Taliban, you’re dead. You support Taliban, you’re dead. Screw nation building, screw these cave monkeys. Torch the place, then leave.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Yeah, that strategy worked *so well* in Vietnam. How exactly are you planning on telling Taliban apart from civilians? Oh wait, you're not – genocide gives teabaggers like you a better hard-on than Viagra.

      June 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • Outlier

        I guess you're right. Lets just keep this thing boiling for years to come. Spend billions, and still end up killing and maiming millions. Grow up. People like you think war is just another arm of foriegn policy. You tamberine tapping, dancing in the daisey pinko!

        June 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another Matt

      Didn't the Russians try that?

      June 1, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  47. D^2

    This isn't WWII. Operations in Kandahar aren't Normandy. Our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan more or less requires we announce our intentions ahead of time and give them the opportunity to get (and I wince as I type this) 'buy-in' from the local populace likely to be affected. Fewer civilian deaths are the goal. Does this mean greater risk for Troops? Absolutely. Combat is not a risk free undertaking. In counter-insurgencies, selective risk taking is required.

    I don't really understand what the talk about Plan B is all about. This isn't a BP lead operation with discrete phases we can attempt and move on to the next thing two days later. Clear, hold, build, and transition. It's how COIN is more or less understood to be done. And it doesn't happen overnight, it doesn't happen in that order irreversibly. But that's how it happens. Plan B is maybe to withdraw, cross our fingers, and pray.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  48. Marc

    I think talk about spreading our troops thin is concerning given the fact that we haven't had any casualties that are similar to WWII or any other World War. I know Afghan country is huge but the Iraq War shouldn't have sapped all the resources. All these high paid politicians are analyzing this but this is stuff that already should have been calculated and that's the problem with jumping into action too soon and getting our noses into stuff that will cost us financially. WE NEED TO PUT EVERY AMERICAN TAX DOLLAR TO BETTER USE – EX. Occupy Mexico instead and put an army base there. This will help dramatically with illegals crossing the border and the spys that enter the USA and also help stop the drug trafficking and the drug wars that the Mexican Police have no control over. By doing that it would have numerous benefits purely from the cause and effect of occupying this neighboring country. People got to stop selling American jobs and resources to other countries, it just forces us to get involved elsewhere when we could work internally and keep American jobs thus causing less impact to international events that happen in the world.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I think you have it backwards. They are already occupying us.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Bill

    How do you beat an insurgency? Only two main ingrediants, everything else is secondary. You need time and you need money. Time is won by winning or maintaining public support. If you can't get public support then you distract them. Money is something else all together. Banks, tax payers, foreign government financial and material support. If we are able to maintain the public status quo at least as it is today, the money will continue to come from some where simply because every stable government in the world knows that there is no other choice but to fight there. That and the simple fact that the people leading the insurgency cannot be lived with by anyone, not even their own children. We have been fighting in Afghanistan for 9 years now, we need another 11 years to be certain that we have beaten these people. It takes about one generation.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Listen to yourself. You need public support, or to distract them? Yes, let the military do what it wants...that sounds like a great plan. The Middle East is not a threat to us, and we need to get out NOW. It is completely bankrupting our country and getting our soldiers killed unnecessarily. We do NOT need to be in Iraq or Afghanistan. We should NOT be the policemen of the world, no matter how much you want us to be. We need to get out now and work on our own country's problems, unless you've forgotten how much of a mess we're in today.

      June 3, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  50. Pvt. Ryan, US Army

    uh huh

    June 1, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  51. Chris

    They say history repeats itself. If this is true I hope that the people leading this war are smart enough to see how Russia lost in Afghanistan. Also what impact (and how do we handle) Pakistan? This is not D-Day, the american public is showing very little support. They are to busy tweeting and facebooking to realize the magnitude of this war.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Yup. couldn't have said it better my self.

      June 1, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      We need to get out of this quagmire...now. The only thing the populace understands is body bags as sad as this may be.

      June 1, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • KB

      We helped the Afghan people fight off the Russians but you wouldnt know that becasue you are too busy with your selective memory.

      June 1, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
      • WorstNightmare

        Correct, we sent in John Rambo with his glow stick arrows.

        June 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chris

        No I was busy in boot camp at the time.

        June 2, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • M_K

      Very well said. There are many problems here. We are too busy swatting flies when there are a lot of things happening. While we have wasted a decade of our military might and money in Afghanistan with no visible results, the world has not stopped waiting. We have lost considerable international standing and military might. Some of the possbile examples of what we lost while we were busy here are
      1. North Korea totally going out of control
      2. Russia reasserting itself, e.g in Georgia and reclaiming russian sphere of influence
      3. Our inability to do anything about iran
      4. Even our so called allies such as Israel increasingly finding us irrelevant in their security strategy
      and the list goes on
      so it is about time, that jsut as in corporate world sometimes you have to downsize to focus on your core busienss so that you could come out stronger, similarly in military terms we have to refocus and rebrand our military strategy, from chasing and bribing small term criminals and warlords to bigger things that matter more in the world, or else we may end up succeeding in afghanistan in a couple of decades and yet find out that the very security that we wanted to get from the war is still elusive.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • Stephen

        To M_K: Afghanistan was a key component of US counter-terrorism strategy in the last decade. Whether or not a lengthy record of no attacks on American is potentially an invisible result (the correlation to Afghanistan actions may not be determined until much later, if ever), and a significant one.

        I fail to see how action in Afghanistan prevented an appropriate response towards N.K., Russia, or Iran (direct military action would have been difficult).

        Finally, following your corporate analogy, Afghanistan has been, from a strictly utilitarian standpoint, a remarkable opportunity for R&D. The experience gained helped reshape American tactics to meet modern challenges, without which it might have slipped into obsolescence. The "bigger' things cannot be practiced other than as a deterrent except in times of climatic strife (world wars).

        June 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  52. mejazzbo

    For WWII the utmost secrecy was applied to the D Day invasion. The news media respected "loose lips sink ships". These days, it is broadcast to the world, including the enemy, prior to the action. Higher coalition troop casualty numbers will result from this practice.

    June 1, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      chances are there is more going on in afghanistan than we know. only the soldiers and commanders know what is really going on. i agree that the news says every freaking thing that they're told not thinking of any other actions taking place after they have said something. like when clinton said how many nukes we have, i honestly doubt we have that few. its just how the world, well the USA anyways, works now...its unfortunate but true....

      June 4, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  53. Sean

    It would be interesting to see how this relates to the perceived pullout day... I agree with both of you, It just doesn't seem prudent to move on when there is still so much to be done in these other areas (helmand and Marjah I gather?)

    June 1, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  54. Steve

    It would probably be a better idea to secure Marjah first before we jump into another area. Marjah is nowhere near secure and there are fire-fights EVERYDAY. It seems like top command has lost focus on the early gains in Marjah, and now our troops are unfortunately paying the price. It would be very wise to give the troops everything they need (drones, special forces, more dogs for detecting IED's) to defeat the Taliban in Helmand.

    June 1, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • ImNoExpert

      Agreed, I would think consolidating your holdings rather than stretching your forces thin would be the type of tactic preferable to a military commander. But then again, maybe the time table laid out by the Obama administration is influencing his decision. I don't know anything about the time table beyond what Obama said when he first announced it. Any developments on that?

      June 1, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
      • Steve

        It is my personal opinion that Obama made a mistake by giving a timeline. I believe that a timeline only emboldens insurgents because they can see a "light at the end of the tunnel" when we set a date that we start leaving. I understand WHY he set a timeline (to appease an American public that is increasingly becoming against the war), but I still think it proves counter-productive on the battlefield.

        I, too, think that is a big reason why McCrystal is moving quickly against Kandahar. Regardless of the reasoning, I still think it's a mistake that will cost the lives of many of our soldiers and Marines. Secure your gains (that initiative may have already been lost in Marjah) instead of jumping into something else.

        June 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • James Gundun

        I think Obama's problem isn't that he announced a time-line, so much that the time-line he gave is unrealistic. A four year deadline would have at least made more sense than 18 months, but he had to tie his surge into the 2012 campaign. Though he would have lost US support in the short-term, that support could be regained if the campaign went relatively well and didn't tie his hands so soon. But America's entire strategy is flawed and I would have never made that commitment to begin with. Personally I expect no US troops to withdrawal by July 2011 and for Obama to run as a wartime president, although I have no idea how he will explain this. He did a poor job articulating his surge during the Afghan review or at West Point, and even now remains helplessly silent during Marjah and Kandahar.

        The Afghan review, like that entire war, will go down as one of Obama's greatest failures in strategic decision-making.

        June 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • ED4

        I think a timeline is the best way to go. This may not be a winable war and we could end up there indefinately. The expression, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink", is appropriate here. You give the Afgans an opportunity to take back their country, if they take it great, if not, they deserve to be ruled by the Taliban.

        June 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • "ANNIE"

        To: James Gundum- This is not Obama's failure , It's Bush-Cheney's Failure and Shame !! If they don't feel extreme guilt about these wars , then they are not human and have no heart !!

        June 14, 2010 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      i cant believe it . the president had no plan to end this ugly war ...... boys we go to war......anddddd and we win and there is no more taliban and the little girls go to school...... i am canadian and my son went to afganistan i work fo the army as civilian . we will have to stay there a century and itis not sure we will succed. Canada wil retire his troops at the end of 2011. i wonder how the usa will get out of this mess

      June 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • John

        if we read th bible those poeple were allready fighting

        June 2, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fraidoon

      I think these all operations are waste of time, energy and at the end will have no major result, the main think for US gov is to enforce Pakistan to stop Tailiban support behind the curtain.

      it is like this that in your home yard there is colony of bees which comes and bites your kids and you trying to kill every individual bees instead of destroying the home and you let the new bee live in colony, to be trained by master bee inside the hives and then coming out and bite again your kids and again you kill the bees not destroying the colony, beucause beside this you will take some honey from them also,

      so my point is why US gov do not directly attack pakistan terror and Taliban like what US gov did in Iraq and assulted infantry.

      if not there is somthing in the wind then!!!

      June 13, 2010 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |