What’s been missing from much of the analysis of the the deaths of 30 of our troops Aug. 6 in Afghanistan, among them 22 Navy SEALs, is some thinking about why it happened.
Many people have looked at tragedy and thought to themselves, “Oh, the terrible price of war.”
Well, yes. But even more so, the terrible price of a specific policy.
President Obama in December 2009 decided not on a middle course in Afghanistan, but on a course that allotted the military fewer troops than it said would provide a medium chance of success. And about 50,000 less than the 80,000 the Afghan commander at the time, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said would guarantee success.
And so we adopted a half-a-loaf plan whereby we could secure some areas of the country but merely keep a tenuous footprint in others. In those perilous regions, we would conduct special forces raids to try to keep the enemy off balance.
It was in one of those areas under-populated with U.S. troops, the Tangi Valley, where the helicopter carrying our boys was shot down, during a limited force operation designed to take out some bad guys with a surgical strike.
Why leaders of the greatest fighting force in the history of the world insist of waging war with one hand tied to their rear ends is not clear to me – whether it was George W. Bush in Iraq until the surge or Obama around the globe today. I had thought after Vietnam our leaders would have learned to get us all in or get us all out.
Instead of upping the ante, Obama is now withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. This means even more missions where out best soldiers are sent diving into shark schools of Taliban to try to inflict some damage. And it will mean more casualties like these.
This would be acceptable, if just as horrifying, if we were in this battle to win. We’re not, and so we’re making our SEALs do the impossible, which they are capable of, but at a cost.
Mr. President, either get us all in, or get them all out.