Ideas for a second phase of the military
 campaign in Afghanistan
[ Main ] [ Home ] [ Work ] [ Code ] [ Rants ] [ Readings ] [ Links ]

My friend Tim asked me what I think the USA should do in the second phase of the military campaing in Afghanistan. Here is my reply.

Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 21:38:40 -0500 (CDT)
From: Jesus Ortega
To: Tim Kramer
Subject: Second phase of the campaing in Afghanistan

So, I may have some time now to answer the question you asked me last week.
What do I think the US should do now that the first phase of the military
campaign in Afghanistan appears to be coming to an end?  What should the
main ojectives of the second phase be?  Well, here we go.

The overall idea is to avoid a direct and massive involvement of American
troops on the ground and, even worse, a large deployment of troops that
will be in charge of upholding a transitional Government.  The very
presence of a large amount of American troops on the ground in order to
consolidate a future new Government would do nothing but to unleash even
a major hatred of the USA in the area and weaken the newly established
Government itself.  Whatever the final shape this Government takes, it
has to be led by locals, although the conditions should also be clear:
no authoritarian regime, no repressive policies, no support of terrorism.

First, we should make sure there is an absolute or near absolute control of
the air.  This certainly looks like it is happening already but then we do
not have all the information either.  Without this prerrequisite, some other
things I am suggesting here could be too risky.  I do not only mean that
the USAF should control the air, but also that it should do so with a
guarantee that in very limited cases their planes will be shot down.

Second, the special forces should be used to launch attacks against very
specific objectives such as training camps, important administrative
buldings of the taliban, strategic locations, etc.  Of course, they should
also strike against those places where the key leaders are suspected to be
hiding and the entrance to the caves where hundreds of taliban soldiers
tend to hide.

Third, the humanitarian campaign should continue.  Not only should the
USA now drop food, but it should also start coordinating strategies with
those countries that are receiving huge amounts of Afghans who are trying
to escape the country.  This includes both Iran and Pakistan mainly.  It
is quite important to emphasize that this is not a war against the Afghan
people but rather against the taliban forces who supported the terrorists.
As a matter of fact, we will need these refugees if we ever hope to be
able to rebuild the country and establish a semi-stable democratic
Government over there.

Fourth, the USAF forces should also be used in coordination with the troops
from the Northern Alliance to launch attacks against the taliban.  We
provide military assistance, but they do the hard work of fighting on the

Fifth, the political front should also be reinvigorated.  The Bush
Administration should inmediately promote serious conversations between
the King, exiled forces, the ex-Communists who ruled the country back in
the 1980s, the Northern Alliance, and even moderate taliban supporters in
order to build the future Government of Afghanistan that will rebuild the
country.  There is a good chance that the King could be the figure that
may help them unite around this objective, although the Monarchy should
not be restored.  We should also explain them very clearly that _any_
sort of semi-authoritarian regime will not be tolerated once the taliban
are defeated, and in any case either the UN or an "ad hoc" alliance put
together by the USA will be in charge of the country itself during a
transitional period.

Let me know what you think.

Jesus Ortega