COIN is an arguably suicidal, counter-productive policy that has led to years of war in Afghanistan with no victory in sight
Travesty: David Petraeus apologizes for Sex, should apologize for COIN and Benghazi
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Former famed CIA director David Petraeus apologized last week for his blackmail-able extramarital affair with sycophant author Paula Broadwell that “caused such pain for [his] family, friends and supporters,” during an event honoring the military at the University of Southern California.
While it must have been devastating for his wife Holly of 37 years to have to go to the family doctor to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases thanks to her husband’s infidelity and lies—something all spouses and partners need to do under such circumstances, that is between them.
The truth is Petraeus is getting off easy. Sex has provided him with cover that conceals his real record worthy of apology, explanation, and contrition; a record no number of shiny medals can camouflage that has hurt America’s national security while destroying and continuing to destroy military families.
It’s time to look at General Petraeus’s legacy of COIN, a so-called counter-insurgency program to win “hearts and minds” of the local population by ordering troops to leave their armored vehicles to patrol hostile streets and fields on foot. COIN is an arguably suicidal, counter-productive policy that has led to years of war in Afghanistan with no victory in sight. COIN is the apology Petraeus should be making along with members of the Bush and Obama administrations who implemented and continue it. How could anyone send troops to war ordered to fight under suicidal, unwinnable polices? Don’t take my word for it; instead learn about Petraeus’s COIN record from two military men who were ordered to follow it.
First, meet Army Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton. SSG Sitton was killed when he was 26 years old with another U.S. soldier on August 2, 2012 while on a foot patrol “winning hearts and minds” in an IED-riddled field in Afghanistan. He left behind a wife, son and a prophetic letter to U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young asking for help because of COIN. Previously Sgt. Sitton had sought help from his commanders in Afghanistan and was told to shut up and quit whining about his orders to lead patrols twice daily without objective, “or purpose” on foot through basically “a mine field.”
As SSG Sitton wrote, “I am only writing this email because I feel myself and my soldiers are being put into unnecessary positions where harm and danger are imminent. I know the threat of casualties in war and am totally on board with sacrifice for my country, but what I don’t agree with is the chain of command making us walk through, for lack of a better term, basically a mine field on a daily basis.
“As a Brigade, we are averaging at a minimum an amputee a day from our soldiers because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives. Not to mention that the operation tempo that every solider is on leaves little to no time for rest and refit. The moral and alertness levels on our patrol are low and it is causing casualties left and right.
“I’m concerned about the well being of my soldiers and have tried to voice my opinion through the proper channels of my own chain of command only to be turned away and told that I need to stop complaining,” SSG Sitton continued. “It is my responsibility to take care of my soldiers.”
Next, meet Colonel Harry D. Tunnell, a Tactical Commander who served as Commander of 5/2 ID (SBCT) and Task Force Stryker in southern Afghanistan. Following is an excerpt of an eight-page memo he wrote on August 20, 2010, two years before SSG Sitton’s death, to the Secretary of Army John McHugh voicing his serious COIN concerns. It is worth your time to read it all here.
“2. The main problem that we are having in the war today is not one of enemy capability; it is a lack of professional competence. We have developed a cadre of senior leaders so informed by the historically inaccurate idea that a population can be a center of gravity that we are unwilling to conduct operations that reflect sound military art and science. Consequently, American troops are needlessly exposed to increased enemy attack, suffer unnecessary casualties, cannot secure or control the indigenous population, and are not allowed to deny freedom or movement or maneuver to the Taliban. While we remain a hard-working dedicated military force with substantial potential history will show that we have been poorly led in the field…
4. COIN has become such a restrictive dogma that it cannot be questioned; any professional discussion about its strengths and weaknesses is discouraged. It has reached such a crisis that those who employ other Army doctrinal concepts do so at their own professional peril because they will be subject to censure for not adhering to COIN. This has created a dysfunctional and toxic leadership environment throughout our Army which has resulted in poor organization, unrealistic training, and indecisive battlefield performance.
16. We are a chronic failure as a military force due to COIN dogma. The population-centric emphasis consistently results in poor intelligence because the enemy and relevant cultural history is frequently ignored…”
A year later Colonel Tunnell, was criticized in a report for defying the Army’s established counter insurgency role in favor of a more “search and destroy” type strategy.
As the Daily Mail (UK) reported: “In the [Army] report, generals who Tunnell had served under while in Afghanistan said he was constantly arguing with his superiors over the doctrine of counterinsurgency or COIN employed in Afghanistan.”
In addition to the failure of COIN, it is also critical to acknowledge how Petraeus was a part of America’s leadership, who sat back silently, year after year, while sending troops (and continuing to send troops) on multiple deployments under unwinnable strategies like COIN loaded up with prescription drugs—something that supposedly was stopped after the Vietnam war. Is it any wonder that troop causalities and suicides (22 deaths a day or one every 65 minutes) are mounting? Is there no conscience or commonsense among America’s leadership?
By their fruits, you shall know them.
Furthermore, team player Petraeus also misled the public on the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi with President Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the Obama administration by erroneously blaming an anti-Muslim YouTube video that killed four American’s including Ambassador Christopher Stevens and now he’s only apologizing for sex and keeping tight-lipped while Americans on the front lines continue to die?
We have been warned about leaders like Petraeus: “Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.” Isaiah 56:11 (KJV)
After Petraeus’s sex apology speech at Southern California’s annual ROTC dinner on Tuesday, unbelievably he received applause and a standing ovation. America, you need to wake up now.
Related: In case you missed these reports over the Easter weekend, now that you know how the military is treated, see what America’s leaders could have in store for you.