Retired General Jack Keane recently returned from a trip in Afghanistan. He conducted an assessment of military operations and revealed his findings on Fox and Friends. Needless to say, this American patriot failed to reveal some stark reality pertaining to current operations in Afghanistan.
Make no mistake; General Keane is a true patriot who served his country honorably, reaching the rank of Four Star General. In no way is this intended to be condescending towards the General or the military service members sacrificing everything during this God forsaken war. Simply put, this is intended to reveal some missing pieces to General Keane’s recent commentary.
First and foremost, it is highly likely that General Keane rode on the traditional military “dog and pony show” while in Afghanistan. This means he was taken around as a prestigious retired military elite and shown how “great” everything is in Afghanistan. He likely spoke with the troops and many of them felt honored having the privilege to meet him.
What is highly unlikely is someone serving in Afghanistan opening up and revealing ground truth assessments related to the horrors witnessed daily in the Islamic Republic. That reality comes in numbers. As such, according to icasualties.com, it is known that the years 2010 and 2011 witnessed more U.S. casualties than any previous year in Afghanistan, totaling 917. In fact, 2010 witnessed 499 casualties while 2011 witnessed 418. However, from 2001 through 2009, the U.S. witnessed a total of 947 casualties–a mere 50 more than the past two years. Obviously, we are going backwards in our current war effort in Afghanistan.
That aside, General Keane stated that the ISAF coalition “solidified the gains made in Southern Afghanistan…the Taliban did not get any of that back.” He continued by saying “we are about to make the same progress in the East as we made in the South.” Even if these statements are true, and some type of progress was made, operational space does not depict success. Again, look at the number of U.S. casualties from 2010 and 2011. A completely different story unfolds.
The Afghan opposition has moved. It always moves. We strengthen the south–they move east. We strengthen the east–they move south. Most recently, the opposition has set a foothold in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. We have observed numerous attacks inside Kabul during 2010 and 2011 unlike anything ever observed in previous years.
On top of this complete debacle, as Diana West revealed, approximately 43 U.S. service members have been killed inside the wire by opposition forces just in the past two years. Many opposition force members disguise themselves as members of the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, etc. They eat, sleep, and live among our troops only later to reveal themselves as cold blooded killers.
Everyone loves a pat on the back sometimes. Our troops have done an exceptional job in Afghanistan under the circumstances. Tactically, hundreds of success stories can be found in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, contrary to General Keane’s beliefs, not one success can be founded in Afghanistan strategically.
Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT and owner of IranWarMonitor.com. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security and interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children’s book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook.