While I am told (and know) that our litany of special operations forces can rout all comers, least of which are a bunch of turban-sporting Islamic fundamentalists, I think the current plan making its way around Washington, wherein groups like Delta Force, Army Rangers and Navy Seals would engage and ideally destroy pockets of terrorists, is fatally flawed and built on numerous assumptions that probably donít carry over to combat in rugged Central Asia.
But before I elaborate as to my reasons for thinking this way, I want to issue a disclaimer: THE REMARKS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT THOSE OF A SEASONED MILITARY EXPERT OR ANYTHING OF THE SORT. Actually, Iím just a concerned citizen whoís had a lot of time to think on potential retaliatory operations and have concluded that there are better ways of doing this, more efficient ways to hunt down these terrorists than by employing solo special ops and a few well-placed smart bombs. Indeed, to ultimately win this war the United States will be forced to invade selected countries unwilling to cough up their terrorists in a massive show of force that suffocates the offenders to the point they show themselves on the battlefield, in which case weíll crush them when they surface.
To ask our best commandos to wade into rugged Afghanistan in pursuit of former Mujahidin warriors is asking a lot. Not only are these terrorists battle hardened from fighting the Soviets in the 1980ís and more recently their involvement in the nationís ongoing civil war, but also they are warring on their home turf. And theirs would be some of the most God-forsaken regions on earth. A rugged landscape, rocky, hilly and dotted with caves and crevices able to conceal hordes of men and supplies, enabled Afghanistan to frustrate the Soviet conquerors and still complicates the designs of the Taliban clerics today.
The Hindu Kush Mountains slice through the heart of the country, forming a formidable challenge to invading armies, much less special operation commandos. Perhaps the Soviets might have had more success had they not intended to take over the entire country, but thatís another story. The point is that a smaller team of SEALS or Delta Force types would have a difficult time snuffing out seasoned terrorists from their mountain hideouts. In fact, the probability of getting bogged down in those mountains in some sort of game of chicken would see Americans die at the hands of guerilla backwoodsmen -- something I donít want to see.
If we get into a tit for tat in the mountains of Afghanistan, wherein we win a few battles but at a great cost in lives, the president will quickly lose the favor of Democrats and liberals. The comparisons to Vietnam will sprout up, as they always do when military campaigns capture the national debate. Unfortunately, in this instance, the detractors would probably be proven right. In Vietnam the nationís politicians failed to wage all-out war in a concerted effort to give our men the best chance to succeed in the jungles of Indochina; the situation in Afghanistan could deteriorate in much the same way unless we integrate other aspects of American military might with special ops. The North Vietnamese knew their own topography just as well as these Mujahidin know theirs, and no matter how prepared our men are and how committed the militaryís strategy is, special ops donít tend to work well against a knowledgeable enemy that expects you to act. With the globeís amalgamation of media outlets broadcasting every troop movement and the whereabouts of every SEAL detachment, Usama bin Laden would be ready for anything. Stealth missions work best when the offensive side has with it the element of surprise. Ask Generalissimo Manuel Noriega how successful these furtive missions can be carried out against an unsuspecting enemy.
To expound on this a bit more, if we were to get bogged down in an Islamic state, I can guarantee that these supposed coalition Moslem peoples would grow quickly tired of an American presence. It wouldnít be too long before angry villagers would assist in the ambush of infidel troops. I canít even comprehend how horrible the news reports would read, of our best men being betrayed by villagers and then drug through the streets like our Marines through the dust of Mogadishu.
Itís safe to say that these Muslim nations would rather harbor rogue murderers such as bin Laden then facilitate the deployment of Western troops. Pakistan has a history of funding bin Laden according to recent news reports, and to honestly conceive that the Pakistanis would abandon their affection for this terrorist on our account is wishful thinking. From all indications, we already have caveats galore in our agreements with Pakistan, including a clause that prohibits any Israelis from stepping foot on Pakistani soil as part of a multinational strike force. Expect these promises to be couched in additional conditions before itís all said and done.
Everyone assumes that a week of carpet-bombing will soften the resolve of these people to the extent that theyíll give themselves up or else enable our boys to make quick work of them thereafter. But as these Arab rogues have shown over and over again, they can withstand even our best payload. Saddam Hussein has demonstrated this repeatedly, and our intelligence suggests bin Laden has an underground shelter to escape American projectiles, as well. And more than that, when the first bomb goes astray and kills a few hundred civilians, how long does anyone think it will take before the fragile coalition comes apart and the entire Moslem world turns against us? I dare say quickly. When push comes to shove, these civilians will support a fellow Arab, no matter his blood soaked resume.
Additionally, these terrorists are keen on their own self-preservation and not the lives of the expendable masses. Theyíll wait us out in their bunkers till we deplete our supplies of bombs and missiles if thatís what it takes, not caring if their fellow innocent Moslems die at the surface. As bin Laden has shown, the engines that make this terrorist machine go are not in to leading by example -- they send others to complete suicide missions and his essentially misanthropic outlook probably applies to Afghani citizenry as well.
With all this said, I have another way to go about this. Assuming that the Taliban doesnít turn over bin Laden before this goes to print ( in which case I donít know which terrorist weíll then focus on) the best course of action would be an invasion force pushing over the Pakistani boarder and summarily squeezing bin Laden into submission, at which point weíll kill him and his henchmen.
While the task will be difficult, I like the chances of a larger invasion force to be able to find bin Laden rather than selected teams of Special Forces. Of course, the United States should serve up a large dose of B52ís mixed with Tomahawk cruise missiles to kick things off, but after three weeks of bombardment, our troops, escorted by tanks, fighters and missiles should march into Kabul demanding Usama bin Laden and leveling the city until our demands are metÖthat means eliminating supporters of bin Laden, too.
Wherever he is, we hunt him down with a show of overwhelming force, so fearsome in fact that potential peasant insurgents would be deterred from acting in cahoots with our enemy. And once we corner the barbarians in some hideaway, we goad the fanatics from their holes and show them just how serious we are in accommodating their desire to reach heaven.
If Pakistan to the southeast or any of the former Soviet Republics that border Afghanistan to the north refuses to accommodate our invasion, the tanks will roll. On second thought, weíll bribe them with several hundred million dollars (Islamic supremacists have their price) to allow us to launch our injection into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Entry into the World Trade Organization or some other status oriented UN committee ensures compliance. Afghanistan currently enjoys official recognition by exactly three foreign states! Itís somewhat rational to believe the ruling clerics are willing to rid themselves of that very odious reputation and oblige the American military in whatever course the U.S. pursues.
The perceived anti-American predilection seems to be only skin-deep among some quarters of the populace, particularly the suicidal elements. After all, these people that purported to abhor the American way of life, were busy slipping twenties into g-strings at topless bars and perfecting the arts of chain smoking and binge drinking till the wee hours in Florida in preparation for their September 11th self-destruction. Perhaps these Taliban rulers are just as hypocritical in their secret affinity for some of the Westís most greedy values.
If America is to do this right, we must act quickly, overwhelmingly and decisively before the patriotic fervor wears off of congressional liberals and before American haters abroad think twice about supporting the most envied nation on earth. The "experts" say itís crazy to invade Afghanistan, that weíll become an occupying force, driven by jingoist goals to install a pro-American regime in Kabul. Thatís nonsensical garbage spouted by misguided people that see the military as an inherently civilizing force that canít help itself from embracing interventionism.
However, contrary to previous editions under Billy Clinton, our armed forces under the direction of President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld appear committed to the basics of military know how. That is, they fight to crush the enemy and win wars, not to build nations based on some internationalist utopian dream. That sort of thing is best left to an autonomous citizenry. Any invasion would be purposed to seek and destroy the scum that killed Americans on American soil. With that objective achieved, we disengage, come home and let the locals sort out their own problems.
Hopefully, weíll leave such an indelible mark on the natives that theyíll think twice before supporting terrorists again. And if they decide to fund and harbor and sanction another direct attack on either the United States or one of our diplomatic outposts around the globe, I trust this great nation of mine will rise up and destroy the offending party. For too long weíve placated these rogues with empty threats and morally equivalent platitudes, and our refusal to retaliate for the 1998 African embassy attacks or the USS Cole bombing or the even the 1993 World Trade Center explosions only emboldens these people. Itís time we defend our people and head off future terrorist incursions, as our Constitution demands.
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