President Obama announced a few days ago that he was sending 30,000 more America troops to Afghanistan. They will be supplemented with around 10,000 NATO troops. That meets the leaked request from the military. But the President gave the Generals some goals to meet. That is very appropriate.
A bunch of blowhard senators (John McCain and Lindsay Graham, to name a few) are in a big toot about the President setting a date to begin removing the troops from Afghanistan. The President said his intention of setting the date is to let the Afghan government know that they have to step up to the plate. What he did not say is that he is also holding the U. S. Military leaders accountable.
When news leaked a month ago that the head General in Afghanistan requested 40,000 more troops the GOP right-wing went on a feeding frenzy that would put a school of piranhas to shame. “Obama should listen to his Commanders on the ground,” was all the rage. Dick Cheney went out of his way to accuse the President of ‘dithering’ because the President held a series of meetings with top Defense and Foreign policy officials before making a decision.
The argument from the right-wing is simple enough – if we tell the enemy when we are leaving then they will just crawl into their cave and wait for us to leave. But the consequence of that thinking is that they give the military a blank check. There are no expectations, no goals, no way of measuring success.
This is not WWII. My father joined the Army for ‘the duration.’ “The Duration” meant that the soldiers would not come home until they were either killed or Hitler surrendered. Germany was crushed between the Soviet Army and the American Army – my father came home.
The struggle with counter terrorism is that there will never be an admitted surrender – a fine point of the end-game. So what is “the duration” in the context of Afghanistan. President Obama has asked his advisers to tell him what he can expect if he grants their request for more troops – is there something wrong with that question? It seems that the U. S. Military leaders have told the President that they can reasonably have the Afghan Security trained in eighteen months if they have the resources to accomplish that goal. The President has granted their request – and he is holding their feet to the fire. This is an example of good project management.
Good Project Management identifies goals, involves all stakeholders, identifies individual tasks, assigns responsibility for those tasks, executes the plan, and measures results. In this case the stakeholders included the Civilian Leadership and the Military Leadership. This plan has been sanctioned by the President – but not without input and ownership by all stakeholders – that includes the Military leadership.
The reason the Afghanistan war is beginning the ninth year is because Bush and Cheney did not give the Military any goals or timetables. No expectations were defined. Go over there and make someone pay for attacking us was the general rule. The military could never be successful because there was never any definition of success.
Thefiresidepost.com supports our military as much or more than any other American. We believe the President is absolutely correct in defining goals, including stakeholders, formulating a plan, assigning tasks, and holding the stakeholders responsible.
Listen closely to President Obama: