Like a Scene from Fallout 3

Post image for Like a Scene from Fallout 3

by Joshua Foust on 2/22/2011

CJ Chivers has another dispatch from Ghazni, this time talking about the waves of warfare that have swept the area. It’s fascinating if for no other reason than the photos that accompany it, of rusting Soviet metal hulks and crumbling Soviet buildings, juxtaposed against American HESCOs and Afghan jury rigs. But Chivers, as is his wont, finds some fascinating asides I hope he can expand on in the future:

In Kabul, the latest crop of generals and colonels insists that this time it’s different — at least they say that on the record. And many of those who support America’s latest version of counterinsurgency doctrine, or have helped write it, say they see progress. Young American officers — those who lead the troops and actually walk the patrols and interact with variously cautious, perplexed, exhausted and angry Afghans — tend toward ambivalent views…

The Taliban is entrenched here, even though this is not an area generally understood in the West as a Taliban stronghold. “Snapping and popping,” is how one soldier here described Afghan hospitality as he has experienced it on the worst days. He left two or three days after he said that. His year was up, and it’s someone else’s problem now, unless in a year or so the Army sends him back.

So there’s so much to think about in these two paragraphs: the first about a growing cognitive gap between the guys way out in the bush and their commanders back at the big FOBs and Kabul (something that has been growing for several years), and the second about how the deployment schedule is precluding units from thinking or behaving strategically—something I took quite a bit of flack for saying.

Note: the image above is not Ghazni, but Fallout 3.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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