Major Fail in the ‘Hearts and Minds’ PR ‘Processes’

"We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat" –ISAF/NATO Gen. McChrystal

Yesterday, McChrystal attempted to spin this frank statement he uttered to NPR the previous day; Top General: It’s A Draw In Afghanistan, on Faux Spew, in which; McChrystal Sees Progress, but ‘Nobody Is Winning’ Afghan War Yet…

…In a blunt assessment of the war in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal declared in a TV interview Thursday that "nobody is winning," though he also pointed to progress in stopping the momentum of insurgents.

The assessment by McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, comes a day after President Obama, while hosting Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House, predicted the war will get worse before it gets better.

McChrystal was responding to a question posed in an interview that aired on PBS’ "News Hour."

"I think I would be prepared to say nobody is winning, at this point," McChrystal said. "Where the insurgents, I think, felt that they had momentum a year ago, felt that they were making clear progress, I think that’s stopped."

Now it is the U.S. and Afghan forces that have "made a lot of progress," he said.

WTF…? Why would you be offering ‘Courageous Restraint’ medals, for pete’s sakes if you actually thought your COIN tactics were working…? If a Platoon Leader decided not to man a checkpoint, does he merit an AAM…? Checkpoints, of course, currently constituting the largest spike in civilian casualties in Afghanistan…

…Shootings of Afghan civilians by American and NATO convoys and at military checkpoints have spiked sharply this year, becoming the leading cause of combined civilian deaths and injuries at the hands of Western forces, American officials say.

The steep rise in these convoy and checkpoint attacks — which the military calls “escalation of force incidents” — has prompted military commanders to issue new troop guidelines in recent weeks that include soliciting local Afghan village and tribal elders and other leaders for help preventing convoy and checkpoint shootings.

Now, today, Spencer and Jim posted two poignant posts…

From Spencer’s Windy post…

…On Thursday, however, Karzai, McChrystal and Clinton sounded harmonious notes about what McChrystal described as not an operation but a “rising tide of security” into the city. All three expressly forswore the use of the word “operation” — the word conjured up inappropriate images of “tanks, troops moving” through the city, Karzai said — and instead said Kandahar would be a “process” featuring more out-governing the Taliban than out-fighting it. Karzai suggested he became more comfortable with the “process” in Kandahar in the last week.

“This is the consequence of consultations that we have had” with the Americans, Karzai said. “The effort in Kandahar and the surrounding area has to be explained better, the modality of it has to be explained better, so we’re not calling it at all an operation.” Instead, the “process” would feature “bringing conditions to the Kandahar region and around where there is better governance, better resources and more active, vigorous vibrant intelligence activity and then, if and when and where needed, an operation militarily, in consultation with the community and backed by the community.”

McChrystal told reporters at the Pentagon not to expect a “D-Day and an H-hour and an attack” on the city, calling it “a process, not an event.” Instead, he will surge forces — NATO and Afghan — into Kandahar and its surrounding areas “without lapsing into major fighting” that he said “the insurgents would love to see.”

While McChrystal did not specify his battle plan at his briefing, informed sources indicated to TWI that McChrystal would seek to raise the current force mix in Kandahar from 6900 NATO troops and 5300 Afghan troops currently to 11,850 NATO forces and 8500 Afghans by September, with an emphasis on more than doubling the Afghan police presence there. That “rising tide” will coincide with planned rapid assemblies of local jirgas to “reconnect” Kandaharis to national, provincial and local government representatives — something to which Karzai said today he is committed. By November, McChrystal’s command expects to see subtle and favorable changes in Afghan perceptions of the capabilities of the government to provide a better life and for Afghan security forces to keep the peace.

McChrystal said in his press briefing that one of the lessons of months’ worth of difficult fighting in Helmand province is that change is measured in Afghan perceptions of which side offers a better future — and can’t be easily observed. “If you go every day, each day, it’s not a dramatic change,” McChrystal said. “If you go months’ difference, then it is.” That raised the prospect of months of ambiguous progress, at best, occurring alongside what McChrystal forecast would be violent and bloody contests with the Taliban.

Yep, Success can’t be judged until November, at the earliest…

US: Success of Afghan Anti-Taliban Surge Won’t Be Known Until End of Year

…The commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan says it will likely be the end of the year before it is clear whether the effort to assert Afghan government control in the key southern city of Kandahar is succeeding.

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal says the Afghan and coalition effort in Kandahar has been going on for several months and will continue for several more, with a combination of military and civilian operations to expand the areas controlled by the Afghan government and to deliver security and services to the people.

And the general says just as the effort is gradual, without a formal starting date or a major military offensive, evidence of its effectiveness will also come slowly.

"I think it is going to be the end of this calendar year before you will know," he said. "I may know and feel before that. But I think that it will matter when the Afghan people know, and when the Afghan people have made that judgment. That will be the key point."

At a news conference near the end of the Washington visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, General McChrystal stressed the difficulties that lie ahead as the surge of U.S. and international forces continues and their operations, along with Afghan forces, intensify.

"This is a process that takes time," he said. "It will demand courage and resilience. We should expect increased violence as our combined security forces expand into Taliban-controlled areas."

*heh* It always gets lost amongst the noise of the MSM’s reporting that Kandahar is the Spiritual home of their much touted Taliban…! But, I digress…

Jim noticed a seismic shift in the Fawning Corporate Media’s reporting bias…

As Afghanistan Night Raid Protests Turn Deadly, NATO and US Forces Lose Press Credibility

One can only hope it’s a Cronkite-level paradigm shift…

I would like to add to the general discourse, that, there are two operations ‘Processes’ in motion aimed at Kandahar…

As I’d noted shortly after ‘success’ was declared in Marja… Operation Omid was launched with some fanfare…

Then, I’d noticed another name mentioned in the Operation Process on Kandahar, announced later on…


Karzai’s visit comes as U.S. defense officials say they are expanding the Afghan and international effort to assert Afghan government control beyond Helmand province to Kandahar.

Army General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the MSNBC television channel May 6 that “we have already long since commenced the operations in Kandahar” to expand security and establish local governance “that can be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the people.”

“This is not going to be an operation like Fallujah [in Iraq], where you start at one side of the city and fight your way to the other and clear it of insurgents. Rather, it’s going to be an expanding tide, if you will, a rising tide of security,” Petraeus said.

In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee May 5, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Paxton Jr., who is director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the effort in Kandahar is named Hamkari, which means “cooperation” in Dari, and was “planned and will be conducted with our Afghan partners in the lead.”

As with Operation Moshtarak, which has been conducted in Helmand province, the coalition is integrating military efforts to improve security with civilian projects that are focused on improving local governance, development and agriculture.

“The focus of Hamkari is on providing Kandahar with credible and effective governance that gives the population hope for the future. More effective government will deliver security, basic services, development and employment. If these ends are achieved, the people of Kandahar will reject the insurgency and support the government,” Paxton said.

“A more capable, representative and responsive government will be able to bring the economic development and rule of law that the area so badly needs,” he said.

So, fer shits and giggles, that would be why they have to get in bed with the louse-infested, Half Brother, Wali Karzai, the King of Kandahar…!

As a recent Timesonline article stated…

…The success or failure of Hamkari, the coalition’s make-or-break gambit in Kandahar, will define the future of the Afghan war, so some may puzzle over why so much is being given away so early. Won’t revealing information about the forces and the political plan for Kandahar endanger coalition lives and allow the insurgents to develop an informed counter-strategy?

In non-conventional warfare, the information campaign is everything and the psychological effect will be far greater than that of bombs and bullets. There are plenty of precedents for civilians and enemy forces being informed of an army’s intent — not least in Helmand during Operation Moshtarak.

In most cases the objectives are simple: to encourage civilians to leave and prevent innocent casualties. In Kandahar the priorities are more complex but can be decoded easily enough.

Emphasis has been placed by diplomats and commanders on the narrow window of opportunity — between the peak of troop numbers in August and the US midterm elections in November.

I would posit that both ‘Processes’ are still underway in Kandahar, Hope and Co-operation…! (Ironic, no…?)

GlobalPost’s Jean MacKenzie, further mentioned Hope (Omid) today…

Karzai’s US visit yields cold comfort

…The ostensible goal of the visit was to brush up Karzai’s image in the United States, where recent polls show that Americans are feeling more and more reluctant to continue supporting the war in Afghanistan. The United States needed to demonstrate that earlier criticism of the Afghan president had been put aside.

The Afghan president was also intent on securing Washington’s commitment to negotiations with the Taliban, a topic that will be the subject of a Peace Jirga in Kabul later this month.

Despite brave attempts to put the best possible face on the proceedings, the Obama-Karzai “summit” yielded little in the way of real progress, and failed to fully rehabilitate the problematic Afghan president, either at home or abroad. […]

Eikenberry, a retired general who had a close relationship to the Afghan president in his former capacity as commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, would not say outright that he had laid his earlier fears to rest. The closest he would come, before Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stepped in to save him, was to acknowledge that “President Karzai is the — he’s the elected president of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a close friend and ally, and of course I highly respect President Karzai in that capacity,”

Talk about damning with faint praise. […]
“Now, obviously, there are going to be tensions in such a complicated, difficult environment,” said Obama during the pair’s joint press briefing on Wednesday.

The topic of reconciliation with the Taliban also did not move off ground zero.

The U.S. position has always been that any Taliban who renounce violence, break with their ideological mentors and accept the Afghan constitution are welcome to a seat at the negotiating table.

This has always been a non-starter with the armed opposition, who want any negotiations to address some of their conditions — such as the withdrawal of foreign troops.

As Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister, put it in an earlier interview with GlobalPost: “Once we have put down their arms and accepted the constitution, what is there to talk about? That is not negotiation, that is surrender.”

Karzai was hoping for something a bit more substantive in advance of his Peace Jirga in Kabul in late May, during which he will try to forge a broad consensus among the Afghan people on the way to a negotiated settlement with the insurgency.

Instead, he got warmed-over assurances that the United States firmly supported peace — on its previously stated terms, of course. […]
Probably the most worrying aspect of the visit, in the Afghan president’s eyes, were frequent references to the proposed U.S. drawdown of forces, set to begin in July 2011. Many observers have traced Karzai’s new eagerness to reach an agreement with the Taliban to his angst over being left to deal with them on his own once his American backers go home.

The stated plan has been to hand over security to Afghanistan’s own security forces — to “make Afghanistan masters in their own house” according to a NATO summit in Tallinn last month.

But police training has stalled badly, and even the army is not up to snuff, despite Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s remarks during a press briefing that the growth of the Afghan national army and police was “largely on track.”

In the end, the visit was an extended exercise in public relations, designed to reassure audiences in Washington and Kabul that the war is being won, the end is in sight, victory is in the air.

But judging by the reaction in Kabul, the message fell flat.

Hmmm… I wonder why…?

Comments are closed.