Everything About the War in Afghanistan In a Single Sentence

by Joshua Foust on 7/26/2011 · 8 comments

From CNN:

Army Master Sgt. Benjamin A. Stevenson, 36, was on his tenth tour of duty in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq when he was killed Thursday in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan.

Really, what else can you say, aside from how on earth can our leaders continue to insist that they’re winning in Afghanistan when their troops still get into vicious 2-day firefights in a province they’ve had soldiers in for nine years?

Or maybe it’s the insistence that special operations forces are killing Chechens in Paktika in groups of 80. There’s nothing else TO say, after reading that.

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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 Registan.net. 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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M Shannon July 26, 2011 at 11:42 pm

80 dead, but where are the wounded? I don’t know why if you had prisoners you wouldn’t tell the journalist that ” and we captured 100 and half are in hospital”. Either the 80 is a lie, a guess, a hope or the SF don’t take prisoners.

anan July 27, 2011 at 12:30 am

Joshua, most of the reports of foreign fighters come from Afghans. How many Afghans have you ever seen exxagerate? How many ANSF ever say anything less than the unvarnished objective truth?

More seriously, it is deeply misleading to imply that President Bush made a major attempt to fight the Taliban. The ANSF didn’t get significant combat enablers until after November, 2009. And even now the ANSF aren’t getting that many international combat enablers.

doylecjd July 27, 2011 at 12:36 am

Christ, tenth tour?

Johnny Matrix July 27, 2011 at 12:56 am

Tenth tour = 48+/- months with socom = 4-5 conventional tours…but yeah, pretty diesel

DD July 27, 2011 at 4:27 am

Ah, Chechens. The Bigfoot of Afghanistan.

This is a tragedy. It’s a war, of some kind, at the end of the day. IEDs don’t care if it’s your 10th tour or day 3 of your 1st.

Having soldiers in a province doesn’t mean we’ve had soldiers saturate that province and secure it. Nuristan, Ghazni, Kapisa, Kunar. (just for starters) all have entire districts within them that we have either never touched, or haven’t touched in 5+ years.

GSo July 29, 2011 at 6:09 am

“it’s a war, of some kind, …”

It is of the kind called occupation, and as far as I see it a very legitimate one. The problem being that this word is a no-no politically and in the language of the COIN enthusiasts.

You cannot, by definition, “win” an occupation. But you can fail to do it. It is an operation like “Hold the bridge/fort/city”. You do it for as long as it is more beneficial than not doing it. When the benefits fall below the cost, you stop doing it.

For the time being it is the only place from where US and its allies may influence the outcome of the political battle in Pakistan with military means. Having influence over who controls 100+ nukes seems to be of some importance to me, but it may very well change into a double edged sword. It may become a liability having negative impact on the future of Pak, and then the problem is to untangle ourselves from the situation without causing to much damage.

Adam July 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Chechens? In Afghanistan?

TheTruth July 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

He was not in SOCOM, or in Special Forces. He was from JSOC which is in charge of the US Army’s Delta Force (1st SFOD-D). He wears the Special Forces blue tab because he graduated from SF school and was awarded a green beret – all of this occurring BEFORE he was invited into JSOC/SFOD-D. You can tell the difference because he wears a RED arrowhead with a black sword on his left sleeve… only JSOC wears that. SF has a BLUE arrowhead with a gold sword and lightning strikes going though it. It is very rare that they are even reporting this. There have been other Delta operators killed in combat in Afghanistan and Pakistan both, but more often than not, they aren’t reported and are stated as: “Soldiers die in training accident.” They are very tight-lipped about JSOC. It is a totally different animal than SOCOM or conventional Special Forces groups.

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