It’s Veteran’s Day.
And as a longtime blogger, experience has taught me that I’m supposed to write something appreciative in nature, if not, downright tear jerking about the sacrifices our veterans past, present and future have made and will make for the sorry likes of us.
Don’t hold your breath.
I read this story this morning, Gorbachev Says Obama Should Start Afghan Withdrawal, and I damn near giggled myself sick-like.
Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sent tanks into Afghanistan to support a Marxist regime in 1979, betting superior firepower from the ground and air would keep the country within Moscow’s fold. Soviet aims were thwarted by an Islamist mujahedeen movement supported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
While there was support in the Moscow establishment, Gorbachev as the general secretary of the Communist Party concluded that Soviet objectives couldn’t be achieved.
“We thought that that would lead nowhere,” Gorbachev said. “So we started to disengage our troops from any kind of hostilities in Afghanistan.”
The pullout began in 1988 and ended in February of 1989, nine months before the Berlin Wall fell.
Here’s the scoop on that purposeful rewriting of history.
Yes, the Soviets suffered through their own version of Vietnam in Afghanistan, but not initially. Sure, they needed just as many body bags in Afghanistan as we needed to deploy to Vietnam, but there is a tactical difference that needs to be made mention of.
In Vietnam, we were passing out candy bars and trying to win hearts and minds while our determined opponent was wagering that a war of attrition would cause us to pull up stakes, lick our wounds and go home.
In Afghanistan, the Soviets were bombing the militants and the civilian population into oblivion from the onset of the war, that is, until the CIA introduced Stinger missiles into the theater. And with those Stingers being forward-deployed, the Soviet air superiority disappeared almost overnight.
And being that Soviet ground tactics were fatally outdated, being that they were stuck in the WWII mindset of establishing a front line and then extending it forward by way of ground troops and their overrated armor, they suffered mass casualties at an alarming rate, and they eventually pulled out of the country with what was left of their tattered tails dragging on the ground behind them.
The point is, without air superiority, thanks to those Stingers perched and waiting for them on mountain peaks the country over, the war of attrition worked to perfection. Without air support, ground troops are fodder to be chewed upon in such a unique, mountain-dominated landscape.
Now let us fast-forward to Afghanistan, 2009.
In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been losing ground troops at a greatly accelerated rate of late. And those increasing number of KIAs are what we’d call veterans. Deceased veterans, but veterans nonetheless.
And now the generals are calling for a surge, an influx of 60,000 additional ground troops, to stem the tide of gains the well-entrenched enemy has been making of late.
But you might be wondering, why have we suffered so many casualties in recent days. And what is the sitting president going to do about it? Is it as Gorbachev says it is, that we cannot win in Afghanistan? Should Obama deploy another 30,000 troops, perhaps 45,000 troops, or should we just cut our losses and get the hell out of there?
The way I see it, there is one unmistakable similarity between the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, and our recent spate of casualties, which has some wondering if the war can be won.
When the Soviets lost their air superiority a la the CIA-supplied Stingers, it was downhill and fast from there. The thing is, on a modern battlefield, ground troops deployed in insufficient numbers are dead ducks without close air support. Much like how surface warships are totally dependant upon air cover or Phalanx and Aegis air defenses for their continued deployment. Er, their continued survival. For instance, an aircraft carrier would survive for all of five minutes in a live shooting war without the aircraft it houses providing cover for it.
In Afghanistan, our troops have no front lines from which to retreat for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Rather, except for a couple of large staging areas, air bases and major cities (which are few), they are forward-deployed to forward fire bases that are easily overrun without close-in air support.
Our ground forces there are too few in number, too spread out, forward-deployed, but very quick on their feet and very rapidly deployed. But rapid deployment is not possible with large numbers of troops, and smaller, more mobile numbers of troops are vulnerable when outmatched, or simply put upon by the terrain. And that’s where the close air support comes in. That’s what guarantees that no matter what skirmish they find themselves enveloped in, they’ll likely live on to fight another day.
But, when all we seem to care about is not offending the natives, when all that we seem horrified by is the politically insensitive collateral damage that is sure to come about when your aircraft are busily seeing to it that the troops on the ground don’t get slaughtered right quick, then we should be able to follow why our casualty rate has been higher of late.
Gorbachev is a clueless poser and a bald-faced liar.
We have not lost air superiority in Afghanistan, and we have not lost the advantage or the initiative in Afghanistan, as did his forces way back when. We still have the upper hand in this conflict, but thanks to the stifling political correctness that is fast, fast choking the last useable brain cell out of this country, we are now reluctant to use it…air power. Air superiority.
Yes, rather than cause a regrettable collateral damage pogrom that might get serious play on CNN, we’ll continue to make with the kinder and gentler bombing runs. Meanwhile, the ground troops will continue to get tagged and bagged and sent home to mom.
We either have the stomach for it, or we do not. And if we do not have the stomach for it, then get those American boys and girls out of there, like, right now! Either bomb them, the enemy, back to the stone ages as the situation on the ground clearly dictates, or get them, our kids, the hell out of there.
It’s Veteran’s Day. And it makes no sense to have our leadership lollygagging along when what they should be doing is seeing to it that the newest of the veteran’s survive the current conflict.
We either play to our strengths, or we go home.
Obama…pick one. Grow a pair. Politics, political correctness or correct tactics.