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The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says the coalition in the war-torn country is going to have to do things “dramatically differently, even uncomfortably differently” in order to succeed.
“We must operate and think in a fundamentally new way,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think thank. He stressed the importance of connecting with the Afghan people, who he said are “frustrated” that more has not been accomplished in the nearly 8-year-old war.
McChrystal said he discounts immediately those who simplify the problem or offer a solution “because they absolutely have no clue about the complexity of what we are dealing with…”
Afghanistan, McChrystal said, is a “complex, difficult terrain — both the land and the people.”
“When I’m asked the question what approach should we take in Afghanistan, I say humility,” he said.
The average life expectancy there is 44 years, McChrystal noted. And given that the country has been at war for 30 years, there are few people who remember pre-conflict life in Afghanistan, he said…
U.S. Marines and an Afghan policeman
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“Afghans are frustrated after eight years of the most recent war because in 2001 their expectations skyrocketed. Along with the arrival of coalition forces, they expected a positive change,” he said. Some of those expectations were unrealistic, McChrystal acknowledged, but regardless, there’s been a “mismatch between what they hoped for and what they have experienced…”
Asked what the consequences will be if he requests more troops and is denied, McChrystal said any decision to go forward will be based not just on resources, but on the goals of the mission, which are being redefined and clarified.
“I don’t think that if we align our goals and our resources that we will have a significant problem,” he said. “What our problem would be is if we didn’t.”
As noted in earlier posts, McChrystal understands and learns from history. He works at developing solutions that suit the people of the land we invaded, after all. He hopes to turn around eight years of incompetent political guidance for a war that never had a purpose longer and deeper than revenge. Courtesy of Bush, Cheney and Congress.
The speech (.pdf) is interesting – and reflective of the man.