Friday, February 25, 2011

Forget the criminal this is lethal

This Rolling stone article by Michael Hastings shows the abuse of power and misappropriation of resources by a Lt Gen William Caldwell, a high ranking US military officer. This article should cause outrage not at Hastings as Abu Muqawama has deemed appropriate nor the lightening of significance of Lt Gen Caldwells actions as Ricks has done. It should send shivers, sweats, outrage, through the military community operating in Afghanistan. It also should lead to investigation and/or immediate removal of the Gen from a command position.

Where I'm from the military is supposed to fight and win wars. The military does not like that it is loosing this war to what was once viewed to be a far inferior enemy, and in many way such as access to technology and size of force is unquestionably inferior to this day. That however does not give it the rig
 ht to its own facts nor permission to conduct illegal activities. H
 ow they view the difference between “its working give me more" and "we need more to make it work" as profound enough to conduct illegal activity to hammer this point home causes me confusion. That said what I do know is when a commander decides that it is appropriate to use psy-ops (regardless of what they want to call them today) to manipulate and skew the facts to leaders of the coalition it destroys those leaders ability to make informed decisions. Whether it was done for personal gain or because the commander believes he can achieve his mission with more
  resources is of very little relevance The actions taken were illegal either way. Neither his motives nor the illegality of his actions in regards to intelligence gathering should be the most important issue at hand for people responsible for foreign troops in Afghanistan. The fact that his actions were an illegal and carried with them potentially lethal repercussions for these troops is what is relevant.

When McCrystal had to go I was only frustrated by the unintentional harming of himself, the mission, and forcing his superior into an intolerable undesirable situation. Lt Gen Caldwell crossed a different line altogether. He broke the law to skew opinions or advance his career. My main concern is not caused by his reason or even the criminality of the actions. My main concern is the misappropriation of resources itself. Every asset on the ground is a combat asset and it is an officers
  job to ensure they are utilized to their utmost potential to fight, win, and protect the coalition troops in country. It would be inappropriate to leave men without air support to put on an air show over Kabul. Just as much as it is inappropriate to waste psy-op forces in Kandahar for public relations.

A crime I do concern myself with, more than most others, is dereliction of duty. An argument could be made that the Gen should he have reasonably known he was incapacitating himself along with his staff. When anything other than fighting the war "take(s) priority over all other duties." there is a serious a problem. Infantrymen blindly rely on these men to do exactly the opposite of what they are being ordered to do. When military men like Ricks and Abu make light of this fact they have either been removed from the men who rely on intel and phy-ops to help keep them alive or have lost fair perspective in defense of a comrade (I prefer to assume the latter). When PFC Numbnuts walks into a village today and gets shot by some Afghan kid who may have been moved toward a different path by the resources wasted by the Gen. they need to look in the mirror and ask if their mad, at who, and does an “I’m sorry” cut it.

There is a need to lobby for resources and we expect officers to try to advance their careers. These things need to be done without undue risk to warriors. If there is a need for a public relations outfit in Afghanistan send one. Furthermore when you headquarter this outfit, that breaks the law to find out McCains favorite color, base it in Quantico not Afghanistan. Young men die there.