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Danny Sjursen: America's Wars and the "More" Strategy
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Here’s a footnote to America’s present wars that’s worth pondering for a few moments. The U.S. Air Force is running out of ordinary bombs, smart bombs, and in some cases missiles. No kidding. The air war over Syria and Iraq that began in August 2014 and is now two-and-a-half years old has eaten through America’s supply of bombs. The usual crew of weapons makers evidently can’t produce such munitions fast enough to keep up, so the U.S. military is, for instance, cutting into its stockpiles of smart bombs in Asia to send some to the Middle East and Africa simply to keep pace with demand — and, according to recent reports, it may nonetheless be failing to do so. Consider this a longer term problem since, in the era of Donald Trump, the generals are increasingly running their own wars, which, if the daily drumbeat of news about them is accurate, are only ramping up further.

Everywhere you look, from Yemen to Iraq, Syria to Somalia, the American military is growing more assertive as civilian casualties rise and constraints of any sort, whether on special operations raids, drone strikes, or the use of the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal, fall away. Only last week, for instance, came news that Trump’s generals plan to put recommendations on his desk soon to turn the tide in America’s longest war, the largely forgotten one in Afghanistan, which the U.S. military now refers to as a “stalemate.” (Who cares that, on the ground, the Taliban has in recent months seemed increasingly ascendant and the U.S.-trained, U.S.-supplied, and U.S.-backed Afghan military increasingly battered?) Those recommendations — so claims acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Theresa Whalen — will help the U.S “move beyond the stalemate.” This will evidently be done by sending 3,000 to 5,000 more U.S. troops there to train the Afghan military. Yes, you read that right. Almost 16 years after the invasion and “liberation” of Afghanistan in 2001, the solution to the never-ending war there is to send in a few thousand more U.S. military personnel to work with a force filled with “ghost soldiers,” into which this country has already reportedly poured $71 billion and which has suffered both staggering casualties and startling desertion rates in recent years. Just off the top of your head, tell me how you think that’s likely to go. And oh yes, once those troops are there, one thing that will certainly be needed: more bombs and missiles to support their activities.


All of this is part of what TomDispatch regular Army Major Danny Sjursen, author of Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge, refers to today as the U.S. military’s “more” strategy. With the generals ascendant in the Trumpian universe and all those stars twinkling in Washington’s firmament, “more” is distinctly in the saddle. Whether in Afghanistan or in Syria and Iraq, where that massive air campaign against the Islamic State is now well into its third year, it has lent a significant hand to the rubblization of major cities across both of those countries. (In Syria, the Russian and Syrian air forces have offered a similarly helping hand in the process, as has ISIS with its suicide vehicles and booby-trapped buildings.) As a result, while the Islamic State is not yet defeated, the region is now in genuine chaos, overrun by millions of uprooted refugees from countries increasingly in ruins and in disarray. In other words, what started as a “war” against al-Qaeda, a modest-sized group of fanatics largely located in Afghanistan (with scattered cells of followers elsewhere), has now become a catastrophe stretching from Afghanistan to the former state of Libya in North Africa and beyond. As ever, the American solution to this crisis, as Sjursen points out, is: more!

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military 
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  1. If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Sjursen believes the largely disproven story that the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve gas incident in Idlib province on 6 April. This undermines his credibility as a reasonable source of information.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  2. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    If you recall it was Special Forces A teams (12 men to a team) that had magnificent results in 2001-2002 fighting against the Taliban. Men like Captain Jason Amerine worked with warlords who knew the mindset. There were multiple A teams in different areas- north in Mazar-I-Sherif and south in Kandahar and other places.
    The lessons of these Special Forces teams were tossed aside and the war then became big so that many in the military could get into the act.
    Major Jim Gant (“One Tribe At A Time”) served 22 months in Afghanistan 2010-2012 and lived with an Afghan tribe. He got terrific results, won the support of the warlords, and kept the Taliban from regaining power. He was made part of family in the tribe he served with.. He knew HOW TO FIGHT THIS WAR in Afghanistan, but of course careerists (with a lot of jealousy) eventually betrayed Gant and got him thrown out of Afghanistan. Gant was demoted and allowed to retire. Gant was betrayed on the spot in Afghanistan by a Special Forces officer who was more interested in looking good and kissing ass than about helping his “friend” Jim Gant. So Jim Gant learned what a lot of enthusiastic, devoted people learn-that the system is more interested in itself than serving the greater moral cause of helping Afghanis.
    Gant had some 52 months of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was deceived and learned a scary lesson that bureaucrats care more about career and power than about devotion to some cause for a foreign people.
    For many years I have wondered if we could ever run out of bombs- I also wonder how we can drain so much oil from the earth.

  3. I’ve heard it called the “mo” strategy. American Generals always insist victory is possible with mo money, mo manpower, and mo time.

  4. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Exiled off mainstreet

    I have read so much how even the CIA told Obama and Kerry not to bomb Syria as it was NOT proven that Assad authorized use of chemical gas.
    Even Seymour Hersch had repeatedly published articles indicating Assad was not involved but that Turkey was playing a role (along with other countries- I would figure USA, Saudi, Israel).

    Tactically, it makes no sense for Assad to have done that especially at the point reached in the fighting several years ago.
    The mainstream media of course pointed the finger at Assad.

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