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War on Taliban cannot be won, says army chief

#1
From The Sunday Times
October 5, 2008
War on Taliban cannot be won, says army chief

Christina Lamb Helmand, Afghanistan

Britain's most senior military commander in Afghanistan has warned that the war against the Taliban cannot be won. Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said the British public should not expect a “decisive military victory” but should be prepared for a possible deal with the Taliban.

His assessment followed the leaking of a memo from a French diplomat who claimed that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul, had told him the current strategy was “doomed to fail”.

Carleton-Smith, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, which has just completed its second tour of Afghanistan, said it was necessary to “lower our expectations”. He said: “We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army
More on the link
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/incomingFeeds/article4882597.ece
 
#3
msr said:
And in other news: Bear excrement found in the woods.
In other news, it was announced that a new edition of the gospel of st. Bliar had been released stating that the Pope was in fact a jehova's witness. st. Cyclops was heard to mumble, 'bollards, he's a mormon if ever I saw one!"
 
#4
Until the Politicos start to finance the wars they have started then I must agree The War cannot be won.
john
30 Years plus, says the UK Labour Party.
 
#5
Surely not the same Carleton-Smith who said this?

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=98060/highlight=mark+carletonsmith.html

4 months ago, the Taliban were 'on the brink of defeat' What has happened to so dramatically change the dynamic as far as Brigadier C-S is concerned?

And no, we can't win until at least 3 conditions are satisfied I believe

1. Pakistan conducts a root and branch clean out of it's security services

2. We are in reality, fighting forces and elements of the Afghan Government at regional and national level I believe. The Government in Kabul is read the riot act and sidelined and a less partisan , corrupt organ put in it's place. Possibly even devolve power to local trusted Governors , effectively excluding Kabul from Government., and building a trusted Government from there.

3. We change the mission to encompass and stabilise far smaller areas, centred on the poppy trade and supply routes. Stabilisation to include active NGO work under Military control , or even conducted by the Military intoto and a strong Military presence inside areas we can control. We then use the 'stabilisation effect' to 'infect' surrounding areas.

The key to winning , and we can win in Afghanistan, is changing the mission to control the supply and distribution of Poppy. Gain control of the poppy, and finance both Military effort and reconstruction, and deny the Taliban their funding.
 
#9
PTP -"And no, we can't win until at least 3 conditions are satisfied I believe"

Are we still of a mind that we must win? Win in Afghanistan that is. It has already as near as damn it is to swearing moved into Pakistan. The US incursions are likely to grow which will add to the spread. No Cambodia there then. We have to halt the current Islamic militancy. Just our being in Afghanistan is a serious irritant regardless of what we do other than walking about in a cloud of $1000 bills. Some sort of political result along the lines suggested would let us get out. I cannot see Taliban chasing us. AQ threat managed nearer home. We don't, in my opinion, have to win. Yes - we have lost a lot of guys and damaged a damn sight more but I do not see that a withdrawal would dishonour their sacrifices. If they were here to ask we could ask if they wanted more blokes to go the way they did. All for FA. I doubt there would be many Yes answers.
 
#10
PTP -"And no, we can't win until at least 3 conditions are satisfied I believe"

Are we still of a mind that we must win? Win in Afghanistan that is. It has already as near as damn it is to swearing moved into Pakistan. The US incursions are likely to grow which will add to the spread. No Cambodia there then. We have to halt the current Islamic militancy. Just our being in Afghanistan is a serious irritant regardless of what we do other than walking about in a cloud of $1000 bills. Some sort of political result along the lines suggested would let us get out. I cannot see Taliban chasing us. AQ threat managed nearer home. We don't, in my opinion, have to win. Yes - we have lost a lot of guys and damaged a damn sight more but I do not see that a withdrawal would dishonour their sacrifices. If they were here to ask we could ask if they wanted more blokes to go the way they did. All for FA. I doubt there would be many Yes answers.
 
#13
Iraq - indeed, all thoughts that Taleban can be 'defeated' are flawed by the fact that the Taleban is not a nation state.

If anything is achieved in Afghanistan it will be on the basis of NATO / ISAF holding the ring whilst the conditions for a stable state are established. The Taleban will then cease to be relevant (if not then, we're completely screwed) and can then be separated from the population, or assimilated into the political process.

That is a very tall order and will take decades. PTP raises the issue of poppy, that's one of many issues, albeit one of the most obvious, and it semes that we cannot even establish a clear international policy on that, so until we get some clear political direction (especially Afghan lead) then we have a long wait.
 
#14
Richard_Hannay said:
Iraq - indeed, all thoughts that Taleban can be 'defeated' are flawed by the fact that the Taleban is not a nation state.

If anything is achieved in Afghanistan it will be on the basis of NATO / ISAF holding the ring whilst the conditions for a stable state are established. The Taleban will then cease to be relevant (if not then, we're completely screwed) and can then be separated from the population, or assimilated into the political process.

That is a very tall order and will take decades. PTP raises the issue of poppy, that's one of many issues, albeit one of the most obvious, and it semes that we cannot even establish a clear international policy on that, so until we get some clear political direction (especially Afghan lead) then we have a long wait.
You talk of the Taliban as one coherent body. Try reading this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0141020806/?tag=armrumser-21

The Taliban are the population, with a number of foreign fighters thrown in.

msr
 
#15
MSR, agreed entirely and that adds to the argument that taleban is not a coherent state that can be defeated as a nation state. Also points to the likelihood that some currently fighting as 'taleban' may, in the future, be part of the political solution.
 
#16
PartTimePongo said:
Surely not the same Carleton-Smith who said this?

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=98060/highlight=mark+carletonsmith.html

4 months ago, the Taliban were 'on the brink of defeat' What has happened to so dramatically change the dynamic as far as Brigadier C-S is concerned?

(snip)
He didn't say they were on the 'brink of defeat'. I can't find a quote from Brig C-S that says that. He says things like 'The Taliban are much weaker' and 'I can therefore judge the Taliban insurgency a failure at the moment' which I wouldn't argue with - are the Taleban likely to retake control of Afghanistan?

The Telegraph took his words, decided for themselves what he meant, and made it a headline. Which is usual form for the press.
 
#18
The Australian article quoted by msr is an almost word for word copy of the Telegraph article (is this a 'pooled dispatch' or whatever they call it?)

Again, nowhere does Brig C-S actually say the Taleban are on the 'brink of defeat'. The phrase 'failure at the moment' has a subtle but important difference: NATO has not been forced out of Afghanistan and there is no prospect of the Taleban retaking control of the country. Therefore the insurgency is a failure at the moment.

It is not a contradiction to also say that there is no prospect of a 'decisive military victory'.
 
#19
Yet another piece of irresponsible reporting by the usual fcuking suspects. Technically, of course, the headline 'War on Taleban Cannot be Won' is correct but it really isn't a true reflection of what Brig Carleton-Smith was trying to say. He was simply pointing out that there will be no clear military victory in the traditional sense; something that will come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with current ops. This is obviously not the same as saying that we will be 'defeated' - in a similar way to Malaya, Northern Ireland etc our objectives will have been achieved when we reach an 'acceptable level of violence'. Anybody with half a brain could tell that we have known this all along.

The press do realise the above. Which makes it all the more tragic that they are willing to sensationalise such non-stories and in doing so, provide comfort to the enemy and chip away at the morale of the forces currently engaged on these ops.

The defeatist attitudes being expressed in some quarters are quite appalling really.
 
#20
LISpace said:
The Australian article quoted by msr is an almost word for word copy of the Telegraph article (is this a 'pooled dispatch' or whatever they call it?)

Again, nowhere does Brig C-S actually say the Taleban are on the 'brink of defeat'. The phrase 'failure at the moment' has a subtle but important difference: NATO has not been forced out of Afghanistan and there is no prospect of the Taleban retaking control of the country. Therefore the insurgency is a failure at the moment.

It is not a contradiction to also say that there is no prospect of a 'decisive military victory'.

Good point LISpace, to pararphrase, failure of insurgency does not equal decisive military victory; in other words a stalement pending some form of political solution. I'll buy it.
 

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