How can we measure what is being achieved in AFG?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by angular, Aug 18, 2009.

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  1. We (rightly) hear the numbers of men killed in Afghanistan; it's beginning to remind me of what my US schoolteachers told me about growing up in the Vietnam era. Eventually, with nothing positive to set against this cost, public opinion will force us out of the war. The absence of a negative isn't a positive; no new bombs in London could be because MI5 etc. are doing their jobs and nothing to do with the efforts of the Army several thousand miles away. I don't believe that myself, but I could imagine that argument gaining traction in a couple of years.

    Most journo's appear to be too lazy to investigate a complex situation in detail; I've never been there so only have what I read to go on. Is there a specific, measurable and realistic way to measure short- to medium term success in Afghanistan?
  2. It's a very intriguing subject, I think it all comes down to perception, which is a sorry aspect of modern warfare, with a government more switched on to retaining votes than the national interest, they will commit themselves to jumping into bed with the public.

    The tet offensive in Vietnam was actually a gigantic military loss for the VC, something like 80% of the casualties were VC, while the remainder were mostly south vietmanese army and a tiny amount were US (off the top of my head). Any military eye on the ground would say this was overwhelmingly a victory for the US, killing many times more VC, and denying them any ground or tactical advantage gained. But because pictures of (dead) VC inside the US embassy at Saigon, public perception was that the US were losing.

    Same goes for Afghanistan to a certain extent. While militarily we walk all over the Taliban time and time again, 'never defeated in the field' and all that, because the taliban can hit us with IEDs, it creates the sense we are loosing because of the constant trickle of casualties, tragic though they are.
    The public is very short sighted and very fickle. Public support was rife for the invasion of aghanistan (not so much Iraq) because it was so soon after 9/11, but it seemed no one was willing to imagine that when you support a war and an occupation, you are also committing some of your armed forces to lethal situations.

    Add to this that success is hard to measure when you don't have any defined goal in Aghanistan (you can quote how many tonness of opium we have destroyed, but who says we are in aghanistan to stop the drugs trade), and you have alot of evidence to present that we are failing (casualties) and not alot that we are succeeeding.
  3. I think it's sad that less than a hundred years ago we were willing to sacrifice the entire safety of the country and many many troops despite the fact we weren't under attack (And many agree that Hitler never wanted to attack us) for the greater good of the world.

    Unfortunately, many people think the answer is to 'close borders' and 'bring our troops home to guard the coast' etc. None of these things are going to work.

    I think there are major politically issues with Afghanistan and I don't think the government actually realises it's a war, with shooting and bombings. However, I do think the war is required - we can't be having entire states happily looking after, training and recruiting terrorists.

    And, let's face it, by openly harbouring Bin Laden they were aasking for a kick in the face.
  4. How can we measure what is being achieved in AFG?

    By the number of square miles of glass?
  5. msr

    msr LE

    So best we invade Syria, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, most of North Africa, Saudi Arabia and quite a few British cities then?
  6. You normally measure success against targets set.

    Maybe the Government could publish its targets.

  7. You are confusing what we should do with what we can do. Afganistan was a direct response to a real action, Pakistan and and no British city as far as I know openly harbours terrorists in it's official local government, so it's not really a similar case.
  8. Well, I'm not sure about other countries, but for damn sure we could do more about the extremists on our own turf before going for the ones on other people's. And I'm not limiting it to religious types either- anyone publicly advocating a fatwa, crusade, cleansing or whatever they want to call it should be dealt with, properly.

    Those we can deport, we should. Those we can't, we should lock up. Bollocks to whatever religious, political or ethical excuses they may care to offer. We should have equal opportunities law enforcement!
  9. I appreciate what you say, but as previously pointed out, this was a direct response (Though, I've got to admit that argument falls slightly because many of the plans were in place prior to 9/11). Regardless, it can't be denied that it was one of (if not the) worst cases.

    But at the end of the day, we have limited resources. The Police dont' have the ability to lock up every criminal. Does that mean we should just give up?

    Only history will ever be able to measure this success, but I think it gives a clear indication to countries like the ones you've highlighted to start being a bit more careful. Just look at how Pakistan is nowadays - openly letting allied forces deploy weapons on their soil. Not to mention directly engaging the Taliban themselves.

    And there IS work going on in our country - but I don't think that's the army's remit. Well, while there aren't IEDs going off every two minutes.
  10. msr

    msr LE

    I expect success will be measured by the presence of elections in Afghanistan. That way we can say 'The Afghan people have spoken' and we can leave them to get on with whatever system of government they decide is best for them, whilst lubricating our exit strategy with dollops of training for the ANA and ANP, and some assistance for their government.

  11. Are the Afghans getting a say on their system of government? Genuine question I'm not trying to make a point.

    If they are being given a referendum on what system to go with, I expect it will be along the lines of the referenda we are used to in the UK and Europe. ie they keep asking the same question until they get the answer they want, see Lisbon treaty/ Devolution.
  12. msr

    msr LE

    Ultimately, you can put in place whatever metrics you like and then declare success against them.

    The people 'success' needs to be sold to are the NATO public who are paying for the operations in Afghanistan.