Former National Intel Officer for the Mid-East Wants a Phased Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Posted: September 29, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Paul Pillar, ex-CIA man and one-time national intel officer for the Middle East during the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, says we should start a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“If general McChrystal [the US commander in Afghanistan, Ed.] gets his way – I understand he wants 45,000 extra troops – then the US will reach the level of the Russians at the peak of their deployment in the eighties: more than 100,000. You don’t want to go there. I’m not saying we need to leave suddenly and in a hurry. I’m thinking of something similar to what we’re now doing in Iraq, where we’re pulling out all the troops by the end of 2011. A phased withdrawal.”

He also wrecks the idea that we should run around the world occupying countries to deny terrorists safe havens.

“Take 9/11. Al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan did not play a big role in that operation. The real work – the planning by Khalid Sheik Mohammed – was done away from the camps. The preparations were made in apartments in Germany, hotel rooms in Spain and flight schools in the US. And don’t forget: if a group really needs a sanctuary it doesn’t have to depend on Afghanistan. We already know they are able to operate in Pakistan, and there is Somalia and Yemen too.”

Invasion and occupation was never the right response to terrorism.

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Comments
  1. […] Former National Intel Officer for the Mid-East Wants a Phased Withdrawal from Afghanistan posted on September 29th, 2009 at Return Good for Evil […]

  2. sporkmaster says:

    One quick thought. Considering that Afghanistan started nine years ago a lot can change. So why is it that a former-CIA agent that did work during the 2001-2003 time period know more about what is right against those that are there in command now?

    This is a case of who has a better understanding of what is going on now and who does not. Because knowledge of this has a shelf life. Because all you will end up is with rumors being led by Arm Chair Generals.

    • dcrowe says:

      Hey sporkmaster:

      Sure, things can change a lot in 6 years. But, I’ll say this: generals do not make policy. They execute policy made by civilian leadership (or that’s how the Constitution says it’s supposed to work, anyway). So, this guy has *tons* more first-hand knowledge of the place than most, if not all, of the people being included in the strategic review. So, I think he’s at least credible as a knowledgeable expert, don’t you?

  3. sporkmaster says:

    This may be splinting hairs, but what do you see as policy. In my mind, policy is the general idea of a plan, so the wording of how Generals enact policy rased a eyebrow.

    The CIA is there to get intelligence on high value targets, persons and other duties. There job is not fight military conflicts. What in his training makes this CIA to take what he has gathered and determine how to conduct military operations? The General is Special Forces and has commanded such units. A place where this type of small unit tactics works well in.

    Also about the other places that can offer protection to the Taliban and friends. But we cannot be everywhere at once. (That is on of the reasons that going into Iraq before finishing Afghanistan caused use so much trouble.) Also just comparing straight numbers of forces alone is giving a false view of what will happen next. But that is another topic altogether.

    Also he said that he was against going to both places before hand. My thoughts what does this play into it like those that wanted to say that Iraq had current WMDs no matter what?

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/19396/biography_of_lieutenant_general_stanley_mcchrystal.html

    • dcrowe says:

      Well, the Commander-in-Chief is currently huddled with an advisory team considering what the mission is and how to best pursue it. As someone that’s in the military, I’d appreciate your input here. If your commander was deciding what to do, and had Option X on the table as a possibility, and you publicly trashed Option X while it was still possible that the commander would chose that option, wouldn’t that be considered out of line? What would the effect on discipline be if McChrystal has to order his troops to carry out the very mission he trashed after Obama makes his call? If Obama did choose the drone option, McChrystal’s undermining either his credibility or the President’s credibility with the troops under his command.

      I see your point about the differences between the CIA’s role and the military’s role, sure. But, I think the fact that he’s been a chief of station working to understand the networks we’re currently after makes him a good authority on the vulnerabilities of those networks, etc. I don’t have a problem with McChrystal giving the president his opinion. I have a problem with him giving a public statement on an issue that’s not his prerogative to decide and that constrains his civilian commander’s political space to make decisions.

      • sporkmaster says:

        Well I can and can’t because of the difference in rank and position. Most of the time we had meetings away from the soldiers so if there was any disagreements it would be seen there. Many times the reply was ” Lets talk about this after the meeting”. So there was never a case of our right refusal of any mission. But I do not know how they operate at that level to know if and where he was out of place. I just can tell you how problems where talked over at a Company level.

        The thing that often got me in hot water was that because I would work with the Platoons, I would talk to their senior leadership. Most soldiers would have to go through three levels just to talk to their Lt if done by the book. So I was a rare case because I was a head of a department. There was one example where I was getting so frustrated with a situation(long story) that I aired out everything in a Company meeting. The 1SGT pulled me aside and asked me if I had talked to the senior leadership of that platoon. Because now I aired a issue that could have been resolved on a lower level to a new one. Did not get in trouble just a “Try not to do that again” talk. There where a few other cases but that was the biggest one I could think of.

        Not saying his skills are not useful, but is his information current. But given how the drone option has been viewed in the past, why is this being viewed at it has never been used? I know your blog has opposed the unmanned air strikes these drones do.

      • sporkmaster says:

        Also wanted to post this in addition as it relates to the subject. I was thinking about if he had come out and said that the war cannot be won with conventional military would I feel the same way. Because I think this is a case where when one’s Party has the Presidency that they use the rule about disagreeing with the President. When they do not, they cite the First Amendment as a reason to do so.

        Former.President Clinton , Former President Bush and now President Obama.

        http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=14818

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