Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, speaking at the Carnegie Endowment this afternoon.

Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, speaking at the Carnegie Endowment this afternoon.

As America winds up its 13-year war in Afghanistan, where do things stand? “I leave this Saturday night [for Helmand province] to meet the governor and the provincial police chief,” Gen. James Amos said this afternoon. “My sense is, it’s about” — and here he paused — “it’s about as good as it’s going to get.”

“I never say ‘winning’ or ‘losing,’” continued the Marine Corps Commandant, speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “What I do say is, I am confident that, by December of this year, we will have set the conditions for the greatest opportunity for the people of Helmand and Nimroz province to be able to succeed.”

Those two Afghan provinces make up “Regional Command Southwest,” where the US Marines and the British have been in the lead. While Amos is not the commander on the ground, those commanders are mostly Marines and he visits frequently.

“Right now it’s pretty good,” Amos said. “That doesn’t mean it’s not frisky… That’s a dangerous part of the world.”

Having worked for years with the Afghan army, the national police, and the civil government, “I think we’ll have done everything we can by this December, so I feel good about it,” Amos said. “I want to see Afghanistan succeed — maybe not to my standards, but the standards that work for them.”

A NATO ministers’ meeting later this month will be “critical” to shoring up support for Afghanistan’s future stability, Amos added. And while the general was naturally reluctant to give public advice to his political superiors, he did offer one major warning:

“‘We need to be very circumspect and take a lesson from Iraq, [where] we spent our nation’s treasure and then we pulled out,” Amos said, pointing to the escalating violence in Iraq. “I don’t want that to happen in Afghanistan,” he said. “We can ill afford to simply pull out and go home.”

That said, Amos noted, it’s not entirely up to us. The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration is now trying to wait out the intractable president Hamid Karzai and sign a Bilateral Security Agreement for a post-2014 presence with whoever turns out to be Karzai’s successor. “I don’t know if that’s true or not,” Amos said. “I just read the same paper you did.”

If the US waits too long for a deal and then it falls through, he added, there may not be enough time to ship all the Marine Corps’ equipment out of the country before the end of 2014, although 75 percent of it is already gone.

Whatever happens in Afghanistan, Amos said, the future of the Marine Corps includes more such messy conflicts. “It’s not all going to be insurgency, but it will all be among the people,” he said, referring to Mao’s description of guerrilla fighting as “war amongst the people.”

“My sense is there will be no peace dividend” post-2014, the commandant warned. “While we as a nation may be done with the thorny and nasty entanglements of this ‘new normal,’ they are likely not done with us.”

Comments

  • Gary Church

    “I never say ‘winning’ or ‘losing,’”

    “I think we’ll have done everything we can by this December, so I feel
    good about it,” Amos said. “I want to see Afghanistan succeed — maybe
    not to my standards, but the standards that work for them.”

    “We can ill afford to simply pull out and go home.”

    God, just let this farce end.

    • Don Bacon

      The farce is ending. Amos will leave office this coming Fall.

      • Gary Church

        I was not talking about Amos, I was talking about Afghanistan. Do not reply to my comments and I will not reply to yours Don.

        • Joe Laterna

          Sorry. Doesn’t work that way, Gary.

          • paulrevere01

            now fellas…

          • Gary Church

            Only God forgives- I am all out of nice. Once someone treats me like an idiot I give it right back. And I never forget. Sarcasm and taunting is all good fun but there is no mistaking a genuine insult. But once I like someone it is pretty hard to get on my bad side paul. I like the way you think.

          • paulrevere01

            tks…as do I also jibe with much of your pov, and btw, Don’s too for the most part.

            This forum provides a very good insight for my long left the service self. With how extreme the MIC has become in today’s world, essentially running point for American corpses and subsequent hegemony, I’m hard pressed to not rant with every post.

            Seems that our fellow citizens and brothers in arms have rendered themselves myopic when it comes to just why they are putting their lives on the line.

            To have issues like 6-7 TRILLION DOD/taxpayer dollars just plain lost in space over the past twenty years, and it being done by legit corpses, ahem, supposedly legit, and not a peep coming from oversight administrators, the DOJ or Congress just frosts my derriere and evokes not a realistic response here.

            I know the thrust here is military tactics and logistics etc, and were the above not a reality, I would not feel like a target in doing critique work…but, hey, as extreme as it all is, on all fronts, I proudly bite the patriotic bullet and blab on.

          • Gary Church

            Yeh….when I read about a couple billion here, a couple billion there that just disappears; I wonder where our country is headed. Just brand it defense and it’s not robbery anymore- it’s a patriotic donation. Most Americans do not understand how much a trillion dollars is. They just watch their favorite TV show and go to work and look forward to the the next football game or holiday. We may be doomed.

          • Don Bacon

            It was a joke for god’s sakes. Amos is a failure and his departure is being looked forward to.

  • paulrevere01

    It always amazes me as to what a weird position military officers find themselves in. Here is an obvious accomplished man stuck ‘following orders’ which are insane orders aka change this several thousand year old culture into one that western powers can interface with and essentially control.

    The hubris of those calling the shots with the untenable position the ‘trigger men’ are stuck with is no more than bullheadedly attempting to combine oil and water, over and over and over, actually expecting them to homogenize…sheesh!

    • Gary Church

      I agree, it astonishes me we gloss over the parts of their culture that are essentially incompatible with ours- such as boy rape and viewing women as domesticated animals- but we expect them to accept democracy and civil liberties. That they regularly turn on their allies and murder them is unacceptable; after a certain number of those incidents it was time to pack up and leave.

      • Don Bacon

        Boy rape is incompatible with our culture? Haven’t you heard of the Catholic Church priests? And viewing women as domesticated animals — have you heard of the need for women’s lib?

        The U.S. turned upon Libya’s Gaddafi, a US ally, and abetted his murder — have you not heard about that?

        This attitude of false cultural superiority is what angers foreigners about the US. It recalls The Ugly American.

  • jmill

    This has to be a really hard thing for any senior officer to admit, especially in the face of a military culture that absolutely deals in wins and losses. This is also the first time I have heard a senior officer not try to spin a loss or stalemate into a win.

    I think we, as a society, are all well past complaining about why we went there, or if we should have gone. Time to reconsolidate and reorganize, and get eyes on the next target.

    • Gary Church

      I think about it like that Santayana thing; those who do learn…….

      I think we have too many officers. I think our infantry guys have become really good- and the M-1 needs a diesel engine, and we need a heavy tracked troop transport like the IDF Namer. And we we need to get rid of Apaches and stick to all purpose helos. Those are my best armchair general assessments. Seems to tick alot of people off but I have never heard any good arguments to change my mind.

      And what is our next target j?

      • jmill

        Completely based on objective analysis of open source info, my money is on Africa, and has been since we established AFRICOM.

        And we cannot discount N Korea, which I believe will involve a surge of land forces (though Navy and AF would certainly be the premium forces for first couple of phases). 2ID’s foothold over there has diminished, and contingent forces would be allocated if the balloon went up. If you want to own a piece of ground, you must get boots on the ground. I love the AF, but they cannot secure a target (doctrinally speaking).

        I understand you comments on platforms, and FCS was really supposed to streamline everything. Sadly, the politicians didn’t get the vision, and slowly eroded funding until the program made no sense. With any platform, it needs to answer an endstate; FCS was neat because the doctrine evolved with the platforms as a whole-of-Army approach. Now it seems you get pressure to make the next tank, next AH platform, next Brad, etc. Those capabilities were all originally designed to meet a need, not replace an older version.

        • Gary Church

          After the whole IED experience it amazes me. Really. I just don’t get it. What is wrong? I read somewhere years ago words to the effect that the IDF protects their infantry under heavy armor because Israeli mothers have such a short distance to travel to stand out in the street in front of state buildings and wail in protest. It scares the politicians.

          Put a diesel in the Abrams. Take the turret off. Put a blockhouse on top of the chassis. Makes my blood boil thinking about it.

  • sfcmac

    The mission is not finished. The job is not done. They have not been eradicated. They will be back and the next attack on this country will make 9/11 look like a picnic.

    • Don Bacon

      Actually the death and destruction rained by the US on Iraq and Afghanistan in response to 9/11 made 9/11 look like a picnic. That sort of senseless activity has made more people hate the U.S. and decreased the security of the country, which was really its objective because it means more contracts and more money for the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about.

      • sfcmac

        The ‘destruction’ we gave back pales in comparison to what I’d have done to every Islamofascist country in the ME. If you think the war is over, you have a crap factory for a brain. They have patience and determination, a quality that modern America lacks.

        WE ARE AT WAR with a culture that wants to turn the world into a Caliphate and that combines terrorism with its religious doctrine. Some
        people can’t connect the dots between the slaughter of 3000 people in our country and atrocities across the world in the name of “Allah”. They declared war on Western civilization hundreds of years ago. The first volley in the current war was fired in Tehran with the 1979 hostage crisis.
        Muzzie terrorists are trained, funded, indoctrinated, supported, and bred all across the Middle East. It’s the epicenter of Islamofascism. This could have been finished years ago if we had actually fought a war instead of piecemeal battles. This war—any war— can be brought to a relatively quick finish by dedicating every military resource—tactical, strategic, and intelligence—to kill the enemy. Every single one of them.
        It isn’t hard. Pick your targets and commence fire.
        The ‘military-industrial’ crap is hackneyed. We didn’t pick this fight, and we have yet to finish it.