Wednesday, July 14, 2010
On January 14, 2009, shortly after beginning this blog, I made the following Out of the Box proposal to solve the war in Afganistan:
"So here is the simple solution for Afghanistan: General David Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, responsible for the area of the Middle East and Central Asia, should move his headquarters to Kabul and assume full responsibility for working with the Karzai government to take full control of Afghanistan and to defeat the Taliban. Petraeus is already in charge of the region for the U.S., but the movement of his headquarters "to the front" would send a clear message that the United States considers this issue of utmost priority and move Petreuas himself in closer control of his forces in country. He should also be named as the Commander of all NATO forces in Aghanistan, although being dual hatted as both CENTCOM Commander and NATO forces commander would be unconventional, with all US and NATO forces unified. This would be totally consistent with the views expressed by President-elect and former candidate Obama.
"The importance of leadership cannot be stressed enough. General Petraeus is our most distinguished and accomplished military commander. His success in Iraq has made him clearly the most popular military leader the U.S. has to offer, a leader of heroic dimensions. And he is really smart. As a model, Gen. Petraeus should use Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who moved his headquarters first to the United Kingdom and then to France with the advance of Allied Forces in Europe. A major war requires hands on leadership and I for one would like it to be in the hands of Gen. Petraeus.
"Nothing in this proposal would pit Petreaus against Holbrooke. Rather there would be clear division of labor between the diplomatic efforts of coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the military and related Counter-Insurgency efforts within Afghanistan itself. Gen. Petraeus has already demonstrated how well he can work with State Department senior representatives in Iraq. He and Holbrooke would make up the key team, with US Ambassadors in both countries and senior military commanders in Afghanistan the second tier of leadership under their lead. Holbrooke should operate out of Washington, but have offices in our Embassies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"I am quite sure that this arrangement would lead to a very quick turnNow around in the situation in Afghanistan and help resolve related problems in Pakistan and in the Pak-India relationship"
Now General Petraeus has been named as the Senior Commander for the US and for the NATO led coalition called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Although, he is giving up the commmand of Central Command (CENTCOM), there can be no question that Petraeus is the man for the job and our premier military leader today. OK, it took a year and a half and a major media scandal that led to the "resignation" of Gen. Stanley McCrystal for someone to come up with my idea, but I believe I deserve some credit for having a prescient idea.
Interestingly, I tried this idea out at about the same time in early 2009 with a senior flag officer at a public forum of the World Affairs Council in Hampton Roads and was told that we should not think that because of Gen Petraeus's "celebrity" he was the only one for this job. He suggested there were many general officers who could replace the then outgoing General David D. McKiernan. He even challenged my assertion that Afghanistan is our most important war. Well.....?