William Lind: getting out of Afghanistan while we can

Summary: My first posts in 2003 debunked the victory in Afghanistan narrative told to us by the government and uncritically reported by journalists. The comments were brutal to it and my hundreds of other posts in the following 15 years. Now our long war has entered its last stage. As in Vietnam, we prepare to leave – with nothing to show for our investment of money and blood.

Afghanistan war

Get Out While We Can

By William S. Lind at Traditional Right • 25 November 2018.
Posted with his generous permission.

The American position in Afghanistan is not just deteriorating, it is deteriorating at an accelerating rate.  Historically, that is the last stage before a military collapse.

The November 3 New York Times reported in detail how a Taliban infiltrator penetrated a top-level meeting in Kandahar, killed one of Afghanistan’s top generals and almost got the American general commanding our forces there, General Austin S. Miller. Our reaction made the bad situation worse. The New York Times wrote about “How a Taliban Assassin Got Close Enough to Kill a General.

The scramble to get the Americans out of the governor’s compound after General Raziq was killed led to a brief firefight between Americans and Afghan security forces, with the Americans crashing through a gate and shooting at least one Afghan officer dead as they left, American officials said. Now, in the days that have followed, the Americans are being accused of General Raziq’s death, rattling the relationship between the allies.”

Editor’s note – This echoes another NY Times story that said “In the scramble to get the Americans out of Vietnam, the newspapers and television kept sending the message to Moscow, Peking and Hanoi that all Washington wanted was time for compromise …” (30 April 1975).

Perhaps not surprisingly, the November 4 NYT Times reported another “green on blue” shooting, with one American soldier dead: “Brent Taylor, Utah Mayor Killed in Afghanistan, Was on 4th Deployment.

Afghanistan has a long history of being a place easy to get into but hard to get out of. Successful retreats are perhaps the most difficult of all military operations no matter where they are conducted. Conducting a successful retreat from Afghanistan is near the top of the list of daunting military tasks.

Everyone knows we have lost and will be leaving soon. We are trying to obtain a peace deal from the Taliban which will permit us at least an orderly withdrawal. That is wise on our part, and the Taliban are showing some interest.

If that does not happen, what we may face is a widespread realignment within Afghanistan in which everyone tries to get on the good side of the victor, i.e., the Taliban, with American forces still there. Afghan government soldiers and police will have a tempting opportunity to do that by turning their weapons on any nearby Americans. In that part of the world, “piling on” the loser is a time-honored way of changing sides to preserve your own neck.

The apparently widespread rumor that the Americans were responsible for General Raziq’s death illustrates the high level of distrust and dislike already present between U.S. and Afghan government forces. This is one of the strategic factors that are almost always present when an outside power intervenes in someone else’s civil war. We are foreigners, we have a different religion, our soldiers get far better pay, food, living conditions, and medical care than do Afghan soldiers and police, and we think we know what we are doing in a place we do not understand. Add to that volatile mix the growing realization that the Taliban are winning and we will soon be leaving, and the incentive for Afghans to change sides grows.

It does not help matters that of our two exit routes, one goes through Pakistan and the other eventually goes through Russia. Thanks to the usual idiocies from the Washington foreign policy establishment, we have bad relations with both countries. Pakistan probably won’t slam the door in our face because they want the Taliban to win. Why? Because we stupidly allow the current Afghan government to align with India.  Does anyone in Washington know how to think strategically? Apparently not.

What is needed most now is detailed planning by the Pentagon for a fighting withdrawal. I am not saying we want to get out that way. It is contingency planning in case we have to. I fear that planning will not be done because it will be politically incorrect, since the military leadership still pretends we are winning.  Subordinates will be afraid to initiate planning that contradicts their superiors’ public statements. But if we have to put a fighting withdrawal together on the fly, a difficult situation will become a great deal more hazardous. I hope some majors and lieutenant colonels are developing the necessary plan now, even if they can’t tell their bosses what they are doing.

—————————-

Editor’s afterword

Our departure from Afghanistan would end one chapter in their history and ours. What comes next in Afghanistan? How will Americans react to the final revelation that our expeditions to both Iraq and Afghanistan ended in expensive and bloody failures?

Update – The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is almost complete. In Spring 2011 the US had aprox 100,000 troops in Af. By Dec 2016 there were 8,000 troops. See Wikipedia for details. See the graph. Per NATO, these are the number of NATO troops in Af as of May 2018 (plus roughly two dozen smaller contingents).

  • US: 8,475
  • Germany: 1,300
  • Italy: 895
  • Georgia: 872
  • Romania: 679
  • Turkey: 588
  • UK: 500

About the author

William S. Lind’s director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation. He has a Master’s Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 to 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 to 1986. See his bio at Wikipedia.

William Lind

Mr. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook (1985), co-author with Gary Hart of America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (1986), and co-author with William H. Marshner of Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (1987).

He’s perhaps best known for his articles about the long war, now published as On War: The Collected Columns of William S. Lind 2003-2009. See his other articles about a broad range of subjects…

  1. His posts at TraditionalRight.
  2. His articles about geopolitics at The American Conservative.
  3. His articles about transportation at The American Conservative.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See my posts about our war in Afghanistan, about William Lind’s work, and especially these…

  1. Why we lose wars so often. How we can win in the future.
  2. A powerful new article shows why we lose so many wars: FAILure to learn.
  3. Two generals chat about Afghanistan (a funny, sad, horrifying look at our war).
  4. Why Trump’s plan for Afghanistan will fail.
  5. Stratfor pans Trump’s new Afghanistan War plan.
  6. A reminder that we pay for our wars in money and blood.
  7. How We Learned Not To Care About Our Wars.
  8. On the 16th anniversary of Afghanistan, see why we lost.
  9. Dark secrets about our war in Afghanistan.

We can learn from our war in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way by Tim Bird and Alex Marshall (2011).

The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan by Jack Fairweather (2014).

Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way
Available at Amazon.
The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan
Available at Amazon.

43 thoughts on “William Lind: getting out of Afghanistan while we can

  1. We should study Russia’s exit: it was a model of how to leave a country with a functioning government –which remained functioning for years, until Yeltsin stopped sending government aid.

    1. Godfree,

      “Russia’s exit: it was a model of how to leave a country with a functioning government”

      “Functioning” is an exaggeration. Afghanistan was in the midst of a civil war, with the government controlling a few cities – the rebels controlling some area – and the rest a disputed war zone. External powers were for their own reasons funding a civil war which made Afghanistan bleed.

      It’s not a model for anything, except how to withdraw troops from a civil war (that aspect was skillfully done).

  2. It is a withdrawal to make room for another leap into another boiling situation. The saying is out of the frying-pan into the fire sounds appropriate. We all know that the next situation is brewing.
    The big trouble is this. America has trillions of dollars to spend and endless numbers of silly testosterone filled young men: where do you spend trillions and butcher youth if not by being on the battle field.
    Hell man, these generals are trained for nothing else other than war. They have toys, boys and they will play.
    Keep them on endless battlefields rather than let them come home and invade Rome.
    Syria awaits.

    1. 7zander,

      “The big trouble is this. America has trillions of dollars to spend and endless numbers of silly testosterone filled young men”

      How many men in the armed services do you know? I suggest reading less Leftist propaganda, getting out of the bubble, and meeting more real people. You’ll free yourself from silly stereotypes.

    2. I ask, who would sign up to go to Afghanistan or Iraq if he had half a brain in his head? It is not like this is a new war, it is not as if anybody is pretending that the war is about to be won. It is not a secret that even if they did win the war that it would have any meaning. So what is the stereotype you want me to have popped?
      Are you suggesting that you as a father or a grandfather would suggest to your boys that there is something worth fighting for, some grand plan that the rest of us don’t see?
      What is the reason that these boys are going to have their legs blown off. Don’t tell me about stereotypes and give facts. Tell me please I want to be convinced.

    3. 7zander,

      “silly testosterone filled young men”

      Please use “silly estrogen filled young women” three times in public places. Best of all would be going to your local university and talking to students and faculty. Tell us your experience, if you survive your outrageous sexism.

    4. @7zander: The answer, speaking as a leftist, is “someone who has a choice between the US armed forces, in all of their flaws, or perpetual poverty.” This is not all of our troops, perhaps not even most, but come on, man, are you really going to blame them for a war that is so obviously rooted in policy from the top? Hold them accountable if they should commit crimes, definitely, but some guy working the PX in an Afghanistan military base isn’t “the Enemy.”

    5. I don’t blame them at all. A man does what he has to survive. They are. Whatever the reasons they go and fight in America’s armed forces… They are.
      Generals who are trained for nothing else than war use what they have. Probably the most valuable asset they have and don.t value is the grunt.
      War is not the 18 year old’s fault and I don’t lay any blame on him. He is just a means to an end of the self fulfilling prophesy of putting men who are trained for war, have no vested interest in peace, in charge of vast amounts that have to be spent on war toys.
      If you had a business that depended on your spending vast amounts of money consistently (otherwise it is lost) and the spending guaranteed more the next year you would damn well spend and make sure there were constant wars.
      As an aside, they will probably leave all the equipment behind for the Taliban national army replace it in the states and fly the men out.

    6. 7zander,

      I suggest you blame the people responsible for the State’s actions in a Republic: the people. All elected presidents are war presidents these days. They’re not shy about it on the campaign trail. Ditto the men and women sitting in the House and Senate.

      But that would be an assumption of responsibility. And that, above all things, seems to be hated by Americans. I look in the 57 thousands comments on the FM website. A large fraction are in effect cries of “it’s not our fault.” This is the core of our problem, that we’ve become pleasant peasants.

  3. GodFree – you should check out Adam Curtis’s Bitter Lake – it’s all about the parallels between the Soviet and American invasions.

    7zander – agree with the shoveling trillions of dollars on endless wars but we don’t really have endless numbers of silly young men jumping over each other to get their legs blown off in Kandahar Province. Just look at the casualties for Afghanistan vs. Vietnam. Imagine the political upheaval if anything approaching Vietnam casualty numbers occurred today – it be massive political unrest and protest.

    And if free college ever happens, military recruitment would be decimated. Never understood why anti-war activists weren’t more in favor of it since it seems like the easiest way to weaken America’s ability to conduct war endlessly.

    1. Holla,

      All important points!

      “And if free college ever happens, military recruitment would be decimated”

      That’s a key observation. Military service is one of the few paths to upward mobility for much of America’s youth. It’s not cheap or easy, however.

  4. Larry,

    I think we’re going to hand it off to Erik Prince if Trump isn’t impeached. I doubt Trump will allow a Vietnam-style collapse to happen when there are other options in theater.

    7sander,

    I ask, who would sign up to go to Afghanistan or Iraq if he had half a brain in his head? It is not like this is a new war, it is not as if anybody is pretending that the war is about to be won. It is not a secret that even if they did win the war that it would have any meaning.

    Most young men are testosterone-fueled and like to fight. We have a large military that suffers few casualties and there are many career opportunities in the military even if you are in combat arms. Many young men from red states are idealistic about the US and its influence in the world and they trust their leaders.

    Perhaps you’d benefit from reading “Breakfast with the Dirt Cult.” It gives a good enlisted man’s perspective of the whole thing. But just ask some enlisted guys why they enlisted. People join the military for a lot of different reasons. I did ‘cuz kollege.

    1. PRCD,

      (1) Belief is delusional that Prince knows how to do anything other than line his pockets with our money. More broadly, as has been explained here and elsewhere thousands of times – these 4GWs between local insurgents and foreigners have been fought scores of times since Mao brought 4GW to maturity after WWII. With a few small exceptions, the locals always win.

      (2) “if Trump isn’t impeached. I doubt Trump will allow a Vietnam-style collapse to happen when there are other options in theater.”

      It is beyond astonishing that people believe in magic solutions after 70 years of these wars. The most obvious symptom of our broken OODA loop is our inability to learn from our own experience. We like mentally disabled children that keeps burning their fingers on hot stoves.

  5. “And if free college ever happens, military recruitment would be decimated”

    Free college would not be much help for the poor. For a good student from a low income background, financial aid can make make college very nearly free. Free college would mainly help middle class kids whose families don’t want to make the sacrifices or compromises (such as a state school) required to pay for higher education. For poor kids the main barrier is not being prepared for college, both because of issues related to their upbringing and by only having access to crummy schools.

    “That’s a key observation. Military service is one of the few paths to upward mobility for much of America’s youth. It’s not cheap or easy, however.”

    True, except that I don’t get the “cheap” bit. It is certainly not easy. But free college won’t change that.

    1. Free college would be devastating. Wages are set in part by supply and demand. If you double the amount of qualified labor waged will stagnate.

      Real wages have not gone up in 30 years because women have flooded the labor market and college degrees have too.

      For example, the used car salesman from last year had a BS degree. He displaced a HS who should have that job.

    2. Sven,

      I believe you are conflating “free college” with “open admissions and easy graduation” While that is possible, there are other ways to do it. The standards for admission or graduation could be high so that college would be a meritocratic filter for society instead of a plutocratic one.

    3. Mike,

      (1) “Free college would not be much help for the poor.”

      True. It is neither a magic bullet nor a panacea. Because there are no such things. But what’s your point? Who says that?

      (2) “Free college would mainly help middle class kids whose families don’t want to make the sacrifices or compromises (such as a state school) required to pay for higher education.”

      First, that’s false. Tuition at state schools in most states has been steeply rising for decades. Going to many state schools is beyond the reach of many “middle class” households. Second, due to the class system in American colleges, there is a massive difference in which college issues the diploma.

      (3) “True, except that I don’t get the “cheap” bit.”

      Talk to any vet. Military service is costly in terms of the most important things: years of life spent, pain inflicted (loneliness, separation from family, injuries & death even in peacetime, injuries and death in war). Chat with someone just out of basic and tell him about all the “free benefits” he or she has earned.

      (4) “But free college won’t change that.”

      Talk to people in the services and to vets. The college benefits are one of the major reasons people enlist.

  6. “(1) Belief is delusional that Prince knows how to do anything other than line his pockets with our money. ”

    Read Manual Of The Mercenary Soldier by Paul Balor. He advises aspiring mercs to treat every stage of the war as a business opportunity. You sell your services to whoever is paying you now, and when the war is lost you sell your services to the former members of the government you were supposedly fighting for when they need to get out, and you can bodyguard and do security for them while they’re in exile. Balor is quite up front about how that game is played. Prince will make out just fine, whether we hire him or not. (And I wouldn’t)

    I tried to have a discussion with a fellow I know about the logistics and tactical issues of a pullout, and was basically told that if we took the gloves off and won the war, we wouldn’t have to worry about the nuts and bolts of a pullout. Lind is, in my view right about this, but honest discussions of this aren’t easy to have. My fear is that the discussions going on in Washington are some version of “Will our position implode today?” And as long as the implosion doesn’t come in the next news cycle/election cycle, they’ll kick the can down the road.

    1. The Man,

      “if we took the gloves off and won the war …”

      Hearing that is a reliable indicator that you’re talking to someone who knows little about modern warfare strategy and operations (they might be Rambo on the tactical level). That’s been often tried in the 4GW era, and consistently fails. As Martin van Creveld describes in Chapter 6.2 of The Changing Face of War (2006):

      “What is known, though, is that attempts by post-1945 armed forces to suppress guerrillas and terrorists have constituted a long, almost unbroken record of failure … {W}hat changed was the fact that, whereas previously it had been the main Western powers that failed, now the list included other countries as well. Portugal’s expulsion from Africa in 1975 was followed by the failure of the South Africans in Namibia, the Ethiopians in Ertrea, the Indians in Sri Lanka, the Americans in Somalia, and the Israelis in Lebanon. … Even in Denmark {during WWII}, “the model protectorate”, resistance increased as time went on.

      “Many of these nations used force up to the level of genocide in their failed attempts to defeat local insurgencies. Despite that, foreign forces have an almost uniform record of defeat. Such as the French-Algerian War, which the French waged until their government collapsed.”

  7. “Summary: My first posts in 2003 debunked the victory in Afghanistan narrative told to us by the government and uncritically reported by journalists. The comments were brutal to it and my hundreds of other posts in the following 15 years.”

    Just a few months ago, I came across your website. Thanks for your fifteen years of criticism of our “efforts” in the Afghan region. From my perspective as a Vietnam veteran, the situation there in 2003 seemed ripe for another repeat of our debacle in Southeast Asia, but the narrative from the Mass Media was not about to allow much dissenting opinion to reach the eyes and ears of our fellow Americans.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Chad,

      “From my perspective as a Vietnam veteran, the situation there in 2003 seemed ripe for another repeat of our debacle in Southeast Asia”

      That’s an essential insight! One of our core problems is an inability to learn from our own experiences. Our WOT illustrates this is a quite mad extent. I ran many posts with quotes from people and documents of the Vietnam era – changing the names and dates to our time. They read like today’s news.

      I don’t believe we can reform America until this changes. Sometimes I worry that we might not be able to survive if this doesn’t change.

  8. Bush Junior was the author of this catastrophe. Why anyone thought that Bush is/was conservative is laughable. Unless invading countries that are no threat to us is a “conservative” value. If history is written truthfully, Bush will go down as one of the worst Presidents ever. In many ways worse than Obama.

  9. Belief is delusional that Prince knows how to do anything other than line his pockets with our money. More broadly, as has been explained here and elsewhere thousands of times – these 4GWs between local insurgents and foreigners have been fought scores of times since Mao brought 4GW to maturity after WWII. With a few small exceptions, the locals always win.

    He’s been through BUD/S, deployed operationally, and runs a successful business. I’ve been impressed by his public statements and writings. I am not expecting him to defeat a 4GW insurgency. I’m expecting him to provide us with a face-saving exit and an orderly withdrawal in contrast to the end of the Vietnam war where we were pulling people off of the roof of our own embassy as NVA advanced.

    I think we can use Prince to provide force security while we pack everything and everyone up and ship it home.

    1. PRCD,

      “I’m expecting him to provide us with a face-saving exit”

      The US military did that quite well in Iraq. There is zero need to stuff mercs pockets with taxpayer’s money for it.

      “He’s been through BUD/S, deployed operationally,”

      The US military has thousands of equally or more qualified people. Also, those are tactical skills – irrelevant to a strategic withdrawal, or even the large scale logical operations required to pull out our people and equipment.

      “runs a successful business.”

      Got to love Americans’ worship of “business”, no matter how irrelevant to the issue. People from other nations come over here, listen to us sing businesses glories — look around at our shabby cities and corrupt industries (esp defense and drugs – which others find quite mad) – and marvel.

  10. The US military did that quite well in Iraq. There is zero need to stuff mercs pockets with taxpayer’s money for it.

    People who haven’t been in the military seem to have a huge problem with mercenaries aka security contractors. Prior to Xe/Blackwater, there was Executive Outcomes which was quite successful at stopping the genocide in Angola until the Clintons intervened. The era before the nation-state was full of these groups. As we exit the nation-state era, these groups are returning. It’s just reality.

    As a taxpayer, I’d prefer to hand the problem off to whoever can solve it cheaply. Our military is not cheap. Nor has it been successful in Afghanistan. If we got out of Iraq on our own, why are we having so much trouble exiting Afghanistan? Why did Lind have to write this article warning O-4s to come up with contingency and emergency plans for when their leaders fail?

    The US military has thousands of equally or more qualified people. Also, those are tactical skills – irrelevant to a strategic withdrawal, or even the large scale logical operations required to pull out our people and equipment.

    Fewer than 10,000 people have been SEALs. They are special. The US military is not full of such people. The US in general does not have a lot of extraordinary people. His company IS a logistic operation.

    Got to love Americans’ worship of “business”, no matter how irrelevant to the issue. People from other nations come over here, listen to us sing businesses glories — look around at our shabby cities and corrupt industries (esp defense and drugs – which others find quite mad) – and marvel.

    I’m afraid you’re arguing with a straw man here. I don’t worship business. I’m no fan of the defense industry nor our continued wars in the middle east or anywhere else. However, I can recognize the incompetence and inability of our leadership to extract us from Afghanistan. We’ve been there since 2001 – almost 2 decades! If they were going to figure out how to get us out of there, they would’ve done so by now. Why not try something else since the status quo has failed?

    Actually, I don’t care whether Erik Prince’s organization or any other gets us out of there. We need to leave though. Maybe some better-qualified readers can comment on this problem.

    1. PRCD,

      Very little of what you wrote is correct.

      “why are we having so much trouble exiting Afghanistan?”

      We are having NO trouble exiting Afghanistan. In Spring 2011 the US had aprox 100,000 troops in Af. By Dec 2016 there were 8,000 troops. See Wikipedia for details. See the graph. Per NATO, these are the number of NATO troops in Af as of May 2018 (plus two doz smaller contingents).

      • US: 8,475
      • Germany: 1,300
      • Italy: 895
      • Georgia: 872
      • Romania: 679
      • Turkey: 588
      • UK: 500

      “”Fewer than 10,000 people have been SEALs. They are special.”

      Hero worship is nice for children. They are highly trained competent at tactics. That gives them no “special” skill or experience at the operational or strategic level. That’s esp so for logistic and diplomatic operations, such as a withdrawal.

      “I’m afraid you’re arguing with a straw man here”

      I quoted what you said and replied to it.

  11. We are having NO trouble exiting Afghanistan. In Spring 2011 the US had aprox 100,000 troops in Af. By Dec 2016 there were 8,000 troops. See Wikipedia for details. See the graph. Per NATO, these are the number of NATO troops in Af as of May 2018 (plus two doz smaller contingents).

    Great. Why did Lind write an article called “Get Out While We Can” if we’re having “no trouble exiting Afghanistan?” Based on the article, it sounds like we at least need an emergency plan for rearguard action while we evacuate. From what I’ve heard from service members, what Lind has said is true: the situation is deteriorating rapidly. I heard it’s not even safe to drive the road from the Kabul Airport to our base thus everyone is flown from the airport to/from the base by helicopter.

    Hero worship is nice for children. They are highly trained competent at tactics. That gives them no “special” skill or experience at the operational or strategic level. That’s esp so for logistic and diplomatic operations, such as a withdrawal.

    What a foolish comment. SEAL officers plan operations depending on their rank. Diplomacy is required depending on rank, the AO, and the command structure. Prince’s company is a worldwide security and LOGISTIC OPERATION. Businesses require operational planning. I’m just looking at the guy’s experience here, not worshiping a hero. But, yes, SEALs are special as almost everyone acknowledges. “SEAL” is definitely a good thing to have on a resume for any position.

    1. PRCD,

      “Why did Lind write an article called “Get Out While We Can”

      Because we are accomplishing nothing while expending money and taking casualties, and might get stuck having to fight our way out — taking still more casualties. We can leave now easily and gracefully.

      “SEAL officers plan operations depending on their rank”

      You appear not to understand the structure of tactics, operations, and strategy. There are eight SEAL groups, each with a Commander (O-6, a field-grade officer) and three 40-man troops (equivalent to Marine platoons). They do tactics.

      Withdrawal of over ten thousand people (military and support) and equipment from a large area like Af would be several operations, governed by an exit strategy (i.e., military and diplomatic). It would be commanded by several general officers. It would be largely a logistic exercise, using the kind of skills outside the range of SEAL units.

      “Prince’s company is a worldwide security and LOGISTIC OPERATION”

      It’s not a logistic company, in the sense of conducting this kind of massive operation. They do small scale movement of supplies and people.

      “Businesses require operational planning.”

      Nothing remotely like this. You’re just making stuff up.

      “SEALs are special as almost everyone acknowledges. “SEAL” is definitely a good thing to have on a resume for any position”

      I’m moderating future comments. This is ridiculous.

    2. PRCD,

      “I’m moderating future comments. This is ridiculous.”

      No, I’m not. But that was nonsense.

    3. Larry thank you for your blog. I find the comments section as entertaining as the actual blogs.
      What has dawned on me over a long time of reading your blog (I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer) is this: whether it be Afghanistan, Trump, Clinton, feminism, climate change… there is a common thread. We have entered the realm of religion. We might just as well be talking about the virgin birth. Nobody is listening to each other or facts.

    4. 7zander,

      “Nobody is listening to each other or facts.”

      That results from a combination of Americans detached from citizenship – seeking infotainment, since few have interest in acting on what they learn – and our elites using the Roman’s dīvide et imperā. Not a happy combo.

  12. PRCD’s comments are a masterclass in how gullible rubes justify the obscene, blood-drenched wealth of people like Erik Prince to themselves.

    1. Chummin,

      Sad but true. Hucksters rely on myths to get the sheep to line up for shearing.

      “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”
      — Calvera, bandit leader in the movie “The Magnificent Seven” (1960).

      That’s false, of course. Being sheep is a choice. God has nothing to do with it.

    2. Trollin,

      What an idiotic statement! Our own government has spent most of the “blood-drenched” wealth in Afghanistan – trillions in operational costs by some estimates. I mildly suggest we try something else that might be cheaper in light of the deteriorating situation, and now I’m a proponent of mercenaries laying on piles of gold and drinking wine out of Afghan baby skulls. What a kook you are!

      Sorry you can’t read.

    3. PRCD,

      That’s a bizarrely inaccurate characterization of the rebuttals to your statements. By now we have long experience with privatization in war. It leads to inferior performance at higher costs.

      Despite your worship of Seals, there is zero basis for your believe that mercs could conduct a strategic withdrawal better than DoD. Your supporting comments have been either irrelevant or factually false.

  13. By now we have long experience with privatization in war. It leads to inferior performance at higher costs.

    Great. This is the kind of discussion I’m looking for. Are there articles on your website about this?

    Despite your worship of Seals,

    False.

    there is zero basis for your believe that mercs could conduct a strategic withdrawal better than DoD

    My basis was Lind’s article about the deteriorating situation, managed by DoD. You’re right: I have no a priori evidence that Academi will do a better job. That would be a tough thing to evaluate beforehand. But we do have evidence that DoD needs to do it better. Are they likely to start doing a better job or keep doing things the same way? DoD has been there 18 years. What are its accomplishments?

    1. PRCD,

      “Are there articles on your website about this?”

      No. But there is a wealth of articles in the news media about private providers of support and logistics (eg., Lockheed) making incredible profits by providing substandard services in our wars. It has been a privatization extravaganza, funded by the US taxpayer. There are also some about the use of mercs. My fav, US elite troops leave and are hired by private contractors to provide the same services – but costing us several times as much.

      It’s another front in the grifter economy. Supported by the quibble believers that the private sector is magic.

      “I have no a priori evidence that Academi will do a better job.”

      My point is that there is much evidence contrarywise.

      “That would be a tough thing to evaluate beforehand.”

      False. It is quite easy to evaluate beforehand. Have they done anything like this before? No. Do their people have the relevant skills? No. Have private services done this more efficiently in the WOT? No. Etc, etc.

      “But we do have evidence that DoD needs to do it better.”

      False. You have ignored what Lind and I have said. First, the much more massive withdrawal from Iraq and Af were done efficiently, without problems. Second, Lind’s point was that we should withdraw our few remaining troops soon since a/ the are doing nothing useful, b/ taking casualties, and c/ conditions might become far worse (making an w/d more difficult).

      “DoD has been there 18 years. What are its accomplishments?”

      Again you are missing the point. No foreign war against insurgents has been successfully conducted since Mao brought 4GW to maturity after WWII (with a few special exceptions). There is zero reason to believe mercs could do better. Don’t believe what salesmen tell you.

    2. The answer is not to accept that private contractors will do it better. Put it out to tender and then monitor it closely. If govt is in charge of anything be it running a rail system in the UK or building a bridge in California there is no incentive to do it cheaply. They are spending public money and they don’t have to make a profit.
      The govt plays fast and loose with money and always have. I ask you who builds a house, has the plans drawn up and then overshoots the cost 100 times. The govt does this regularly with every thing they build. Take a look at the escalating costs of the A35 as an example.
      If you want something done right, be it building an hotel or even sending a rocket to the moon what works? First know what you want… draw up a detailed plan, description. Put it out to tender and take the cheapest and then hold them to the letter of the deal. It is called private enterprise. It works everywhere else, why not in war?
      Personally I think that they are unable to describe the clauses of the tender because nobody has the political will or a plan to start with. If you don’t know where you want to go then someone is going to take you where you don’t want to be. There are no consequences for pissing money against an Afghanistan wall for 20 years and achieving nothing.

    3. 7zander,

      (1) Have you ever written a Request for Proposal? Evaluated them and chosen a vendor? My guess: no. It’s an exercise in fiction unless you select from vendors who have relevant experience. No mercs have experience moving thousands of people or fighting wars.

      Evaluating them by their bluster, boasts, and fawning media coverage will end in tears. I’ve explained this in my previous comments on this thread. All the bizarre free market cheerleaders, as usual, blow fantasies and ignore the facts. It’s a nice demo of why our public policy is increasingly dysfunctional.

      (2) “Take a look at the escalating costs of the A35 as an example.”

      First, I assume you mean the “F-35.” That’s an example disproving your theory. It is not being built by the government, but by private contractors following the procedure you describe. Like most such, from privatized road work to building high-tech weapons, it is subject to corruption unless carefully regulated. Resulting in massively excess costs.

      That’s been the history in our WOT from privatized military services, support and logistic. Instead of “better and cheaper” than the military providing those services, they have often been “worse and more expensive.” Yet we hear people singing the same old song.

      Got to love how Americans don’t just dream, but want us to move into their dream cities and live there. No amount of experience changes their beliefs. As I have documented in hundreds of posts on many subjects, this is a core problem of modern America.

    4. Sorry for the A35 -F35 slip. Who drew up the plan for the F35? Who gave it out to tender? Who was in charge of monitoring the cost? Bottom line this is not an isolated case of massive, massive overruns. They have no incentive to come in on target; there is a bottomless pit of tax payer money and politicians are jumping over one another to give them more.
      No I personally have not done a contract for purchasing anything. But surely it is like anything else… building a Space X rocket or a major road system. You don’t have an open ended budget, you don’t just hand out money and if the contractor does shoddy work, overshoots the time or doesn’t produce what you want you have penalty clauses and recourse to the courts. Your argument does not hold water saying that just and only the army can plan logistics for extricating troops. If that was the case they would be running UPS and the US postal service would be the only carrier of parcels in the country. Using that logic there would be one US police force and one prison service with no private contractors.
      Private enterprise works this way. If you don’t have experts, hire them. But I hear you say… only the army can do this. So hire from the army… where do all the Blackwater staff come from?
      I would recommend (from one that has no experience in the field) Pull the troops out in stages, replacing them with private contractors and then let the private contractors pull themselves out. The problem is not one of lack of experience or a lack of skill in private enterprise but a lack of political will and an inability to admit defeat.

    5. 7zander,

      Thank for another demo of why discussions in comments are a total waste of time.

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