As a Marine Corps combat adviser, I served in Afghanistan from 2014 to 2015. On Jan. 1, 2015, we awoke to the new world of Resolute Support and “the end of combat operations.” In terms of threats we faced, nothing had changed, but the context within which we faced them changed drastically. When submitting operations for approval, we now had to state that Afghans were in the lead, with U.S. troops providing support. This rhetorical absurdity did not reflect the situation. Afghan troops remained woefully inept, under-resourced and corrupt, and they certainly were not capable of taking the lead. Yet, because of an arbitrarily imposed deadline, we began to lie to ourselves, hoping in some convoluted way that these lies would change reality.
I sincerely hope this reporting serves as a wake-up call. Rather than lying to ourselves, we would be better served by having an open debate about the true objectives of our use of force. Lacking this discussion, we will continue to fight for the sake of fighting, with no overarching purpose.
Maurice L. Naylon IV, Richmond
The writer is a Marine combat veteran of Afghanistan and author of “The New Ministry of Truth: Combat Advisors in Afghanistan and America’s Great Betrayal.”
The reporting on the misguided morass of any U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan over more than 18 years now brings to mind an earlier conflict and the nature of its leadership. The Dec. 11 front-page article “Stranded without a strategy” noted “an Army civil-affairs officer said: ‘In order to clear, you need to know your enemy.’ ”
Gen. George S. Patton Jr. read the whole of the Koran on the ocean crossing leading to his Operation Torch in Morocco in 1942, the first allied amphibious campaign against Nazi Germany. The North Africans were not his enemy, but he still felt a personal requirement to know who were the people he was likely to encounter and what made them tick.
Fast-forward to today. How many individuals of any rank, from commander in chief down, have even considered reading the Koran?
That would seem to be the first order of business for knowing the enemy. The current caliber of our leadership, political and military, is a pale shade of what it has been in our storied past. We can only hope to rise there one day again.
Rocky Semmes, Alexandria