The Warrior Philosopher Show. Ep 2. What does being at war really mean?

Show notes below.

https://player.pippa.io/5bc0d80d8aa66f39379aa61d/episodes/what-does-being-at-war-mean?theme=default&cover=1&latest=1

In this episode, I talk about an ROTC cadet who has no idea what he is talking about, a lot.

We look at the Afghanistan War, and what everyone says about it. The short story is that we are still at war.


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Wed Oct 31, 2018

The Warrior Philosopher Show. Episode 2.

According to the opinion piece written by Marquis Holmes in “The Sentinel,” the student newspaper for Kennesaw State University and future 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army, We are no longer “at war,” in Afghanistan.

It is easy to get caught up in the stereotypical belief that our nation’s defense is still participating in gruesome warfare in Afghanistan, the region of the world in which the 17-year Global War on Terror started. However, intense combat missions in that region have long since subsided. In fact, we are spending more time training foreign forces than fighting them.

I wonder exactly where the whole “easy,” thing is. Are we talking about Hollywood movies? Because it is not in the media. Congress? Nope, I have an article on that later.

Because the Global War on Terror is still ongoing, it is expected for civilians to think we are engaging forces in Afghanistan, especially since the reign of the Islamic State in 2014.

Here is a part where he is saying the war is not happening by referencing the war.

The Battle of Mosul last year confirmed that combat operations are still necessary for the Global War on Terror. However, this battle that reclaimed the largest ISIS territory also confirmed the downfall of the caliphate, as the Islamic State is still consistently losing ground, logistics and morale to this day.

Now we are referencing Iraq to talk about Afghanistan, this is a pretty common theme. Geographically, Iraq and Afghanistan are separated by about 840 miles, also known as the country of Iran. Those in the know, know that the distance is vastly greater because a country is not a box like on the map. A lot of dynamics at play. For example, In Mosul, I learned to speak and sign Arabic decently well, no interpreter, but when we moved 40 miles to the West, my language skill was useless because another one was spoken. Same country, still even what America would consider a suburb. Cultures are different, people are different.

Also, the fight against ISIS was kind of created by us, and the never-ending power vacuum that not being at war, as it is being said, is creating.

With these key factors in mind, most Americans know that we have a presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan but are not educated on the missions that are being executed, which says quite the opposite.

I question the idea of most Americans knowing. Back in 2011, as I was walking out the door to Afghanistan, my wifes mother called arguing about how I cannot be deploying because the news said the war was over. That was 7 years ago. Bankruptcy is cleared and you are safe from that mirror your broke, but war still moves along in this timeline.

As far as Afghanistan is concerned, the earlier years of the Global War on Terrorism, when soldiers spent days kicking down doors and nights in lengthy firefights, ended when Operation Enduring Freedom concluded in 2014.

This future Lieutenant has his minds eye of combat wrapped up as a videogame, no action means no war. Of course, if he was actually paying attention a little he might think otherwise.

To be more specific, we are still in Afghanistan under the most recent Operation Resolute Support. According to ORS’ website, Resolute Support is a NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. This mission is also more politically correct compared to the efforts of the war after 2001.

What does more politically correct mean?

In layman’s terms, our troops are simply advisors that instill knowledge to the Afghan military so they can retake and defend their own land against forces such as the still-at-large Al-Queda and other militant groups. Other than that, there is not an abundance of media content to invest in the Afghan region and the current situation in Afghanistan probably doesn’t move past the average military enthusiast.

We have returned to the concept of getting the wrong impression, but he says the media does not cover it, so I am confused again as to where these wrong impressions are coming from? Must be Hollywood and video games.

We are still losing soldiers in these operations. In fact, there have been eight personnel killed in action this year alone compared to over 2,000 killed in Afghanistan to date, according to iCasualties. These casualty statistics can lead to other conclusions. Combat leaders are no longer taking risks in Afghanistan. Afghan troops are actually holding their land accountable.

False, combat leaders are not “no longer taking risks.” Being in a warzone is a risk.

Overall, our military has far surpassed the height of the war in 2001. Although we are still advising and assisting in Afghanistan, we are no longer in flat-out warfare.

This is the phrase that kills me the most here. That is right, we are not at war in Afghanistan.

Finances

Let’s take a look at finances:

In 2000, Defense spending was $358billion.

By 2005, it was $601billion

In 2010, $847billion

We are now sitting shy of $900billion.

So over 18 years, we have tripled, just looking at simple numbers and not at more specific incidents such as military spending products, our defense spending. Who knows how much spending is not accounted for.

OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL REPORT TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS

JANUARY 1, 2018‒MARCH 31, 2018

During the first 3 months of 2018, U.S. and Afghan forces battled with the Taliban for control of territory. U.S. military commanders highlighted progress of Afghan forces but the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan (ISIS-K) also launched a series of deadly attacks in Kabul and across the country. General John Nicholson, Jr., Commander of Resolute Support and Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) said this quarter that U.S. and Afghan forces were gaining momentum through the new South Asia strategy, and that the Taliban was shifting to “guerilla tactics and suicide attacks” because it was no longer able to carry out large attacks to seize cities or districts.

However, suicide attacks and bombings in Kabul and across Afghanistan resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and raised concerns among Afghans about whether the government can secure the country. Kabul experienced at least ten separate attacks carried out by either the Taliban or ISIS-K during this quarter. For example, a Taliban attack on the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel resulted in at least 40 fatalities, including 4 Americans. In another attack, Taliban militants In response to this quarter’s attacks in Kabul, General Nicholson stated that securing the capital has become his “main effort” and the number one priority for Resolute Support and the Afghan government. “The Taliban is in the city,” he stated, adding that there are facilitation networks in Kabul that must be eliminated. The Afghan government and Resolute Support began implementing new security measures in Kabul after the devastating truck bombing on May 31, 2017, and Resolute Support is working with the Afghan government to expand those measures and to conduct raids on suspected safe houses in the city.

So I will bounce through this report and cherrypick the statements that make my point.

However, the progress of the train, advise and assist mission is incremental and difficult to quantify. The advisors that work with Afghan security officials reported capacity growth of the ANDSF in several areas, including logistics, communications, and medical services. Yet, the ANDSF still lacked sufficient capacity in critical areas of operational sustainment, such as aircraft maintenance and supply chain management.

Listed as KEY CHALLENGES

STEMMING THE ATTACKS IN KABUL

While Kabul has long been under the control of the Afghan government, militants have regularly carried out suicide and complex attacks in the city. Despite efforts to bolster security, militants carried out at least 10 attacks in Kabul during the quarter. U.S., Coalition, and Afghan forces face a variety of challenges as they work to secure the capital.

  • The size and sprawl of the city and its porous periphery pose significant challenges to efforts to eliminate terrorist cells in the city and prevent militants from entering the capital.
  • Raids against terrorist and militant safe houses risk harming civilians.
  • Increased security measures come with the cost of reducing freedom of movement in the city for Afghans and international personnel.

MANAGING INCREASED VIOLENCE IN AFGHANISTAN

U.S. intelligence officials predicted in February 2018 that there would be “modest deterioration” of security and stability in Afghanistan this year, and that was in part based on the expectation of increased fighting as the ANDSF seek to retake territory held by the Taliban. As the ANDSF go on the offensive, there will likely be negative side effects.

  • Fighting in areas that are currently “stable” and held by the Taliban will likely result in increased civilian casualties and displacement, which will require additional resources and efforts to support vulnerable populations.
  • The ANDSF are likely to face increased casualties. As more U.S. advisory personnel deploy to lower-level ANDSF units and assist them during combat missions, there is a greater risk of U.S. casualties as well.
  • The ANDSF have faced a persistent challenge in holding territory seized from the Taliban, and questions remain as to how the ANDSF will hold any territory seized in offensive operations this year.

PURSUING PEACE

This quarter the Taliban wrote an open letter to the American people that called for changing U.S. policy toward Afghanistan to pursue peace talks. President Ghani made a public offer to the Taliban of peace talks without preconditions. The international community participated in two conferences that also supported reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government, but significant obstacles to reconciliation remain.

  • The Taliban says that its primary demand is the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and that it will negotiate only with the United States as it considers the Afghan government illegitimate.
  • The United States continues to call for an Afghan-led process and refuses to take the lead in negotiations with the Taliban.
  • There has been no agreement on a framework for a reconciliation process, nor have there been discussions with the Taliban about such a framework.

Meanwhile, the Taliban carried out attacks across the country and killed dozens of security forces while taking heavy losses themselves. According to the United Nations, 2,258 civilians were killed or wounded during the first 3 months of 2018, which was just shy of the record level of 2,268 civilian casualties in the same period in 2016.

Munitions – More now than before

Militarytimes.com April 26

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have dropped more munitions in the first three months of this year than during the same time period in 2011 — a time widely considered the height of the war there.

The spike in bombing comes after years of drawing down U.S. troops across the country’s remote villages — and looks like it relies increasingly on an intelligence network grounded in technical capabilities rather than human interactions.

Numbers released by U.S. Air Forces Central Command document 1,186 munitions expended by aircraft in January, February, and March this year. In 2011, during those same months, the military documented 1,083 weapons released. Those weapons releases include both manned and unmanned aircraft.

During 2011, the number of U.S. troops in-country hovered just below 100,000. As of September 2017, that number was reportedly around 15,000.

With more than six times the number of troops at the height of the war, airstrikes conducted were frequently close-air support missions, called in by U.S. forces as they wandered into nests of enemy fighters.

Today, though, the targets of airstrikes look largely pre-planned.

“The increased airpower supports a deliberate air campaign design

WEAKNESS FROM INSIDER ATTACKS

USFOR-A reported that in 2017, there were 6 insider attacks against U.S. personnel,
which resulted in 3 U.S. military personnel killed and 11 wounded. This quarter, through
mid-February 2018, no insider attacks against U.S. personnel had occurred.

The ANDSFsuffered many more insider attacks: there were 68 insider attacks in 2017 that targeted ANDSF personnel, resulting in 127 dead and 112 wounded.

This quarter, through midFebruary 2018, there were 8 insider attacks against ANDSF personnel that resulted in 19
dead and 7 wounded.

Despite the news article from the 22nd about an EOD Soldier,

Series of Lapses Led to Army Soldier’s Death in Afghanistan

New York Times, October 22, 2018

On Oct. 4, a platoon from Alpha Company, First Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment drove roughly seven miles southeast of Camp Dwyer, an American forward operating base built in 2007 by the British military during its own frustrating campaign in Helmand Province. The patrol was stopped when one of its armored vehicles struck a roadside bomb. The explosion, just before 10 a.m., destroyed the truck’s tires and an axle, immobilizing it. No one was injured in that attack, military officials said.

After other American patrols there, the Taliban dotted the ridge with possible antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices. The trap appeared to have been recently laid; in late September, another unit from the battalion stopped there and found no buried explosives, though the soldiers reported that they were being watched.

23 year old Sergeant Slape was an EOD technician with the, the 430th had repeatedly requested better equipment and predeployment training but was denied both because of a lack of funding, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

According to two officials familiar with the unit’s deployment, the 430th borrowed some equipment like telescopic rifle sights and radios from other National Guard units before leaving the United States and received more items upon its arrival in Afghanistan, but still lacked the most advanced mine detectors that could locate bomb components that the Taliban use. That detector has been issued by many active-duty bomb disposal units, including some not deployed to conflict zones.

Lt. Col. Matthew R. DeVivo, a spokesman for the North Carolina National Guard, said that Specialist Slape’s unit had received all required training and equipment before deploying. He said he was unaware of any requests for more advanced equipment or better training.

Specialist Slape had just finished checking around the rear of the MaxxPro, allowing the soldiers inside to get out, before starting to sweep around the front. Shortly before 1:30 p.m., he stepped on the bomb that would kill him. He was medically evacuated to the base hospital at Camp Dwyer, where he was pronounced dead.

Despite the Pentagon’s claims that American troops are mostly relegated to advising and assisting their Afghan counterparts, they still undertake some of the same types of missions common at the height of the conflict, when more than 100,000 Western troops were deployed there. After the explosion that killed Specialist Slape, Taliban militants recovered part of his left leg and paraded it through a bazaar in the Garmsir District, according to the officials.

 

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