A tale of two armies
Published Jan 17, 2010 8:32 PM
Despite the Pentagon’s unmatched high-tech weapons and firepower, the
U.S. military is bogged down by glaring weaknesses rooted in the capitalist
system it operates to defend. The resistance fighters, with far less firepower,
have shown the ability to innovate and adapt their tactics to the needs of
their war to liberate Afghanistan.
The Pentagon’s difficulties in creating a special program to carry out
colonial interventions in Afghanistan and Pakistan have exposed its
Before Gen. Stanley McChrystal took charge of the Afghanistan occupation last
year, he had chaired a special group of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that came up
with the “Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands Program.” In November the
Pentagon announced the program, saying it would create three units of 304
people each, 912 in total, to form the new corps.
The program’s main innovation is that instead of the customary one-year
rotation in the region, officers who volunteer or are assigned to it would
expect to spend three to five years on duty there. They would start with
16-week training courses in Urdu, Pashtu or Dari, the three major languages in
the region, and would become expert in the history and culture of the peoples
The order was that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps appoint a
proportional number of their “best people” to this program. These
personnel would be involved as trainers, military planners and advisers to
Afghan ministries. In other words, they would be the backbone of a colonial
takeover of the countries and peoples.
In theory, such a corps might become a weapon against any resistance or
liberation movement. But so far, the Armed Forces have only come up with 172
officers ready to take on the assignment. In addition, according to a Jan. 6
New York Times article, Joint Chiefs chair Adm. Mike Mullen chewed out the
heads of the four armed services in mid-December for failing to pick the most
suitable people among the too few they sent.
When a military force is serving the cause of building an empire, and the basic
goal of the empire is to increase the profits of the banks and corporations,
the military too adapts to these pressures. What is the major goal of the
officers? It’s advancing their careers.
Since advancement has always come through a succession of one-year assignments,
the officers preferred to avoid the Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands Program.
In turn, the top brass in each service were also reluctant to send their
“best people” to this special unit. That meant giving up their most
capable subordinates, the ones who would help the careers of the top officers.
This too became an obstacle.
In an attempt to redress this failure, Mullen criticized the top brass on the
one hand and on the other hand promised that the careers of those in the
special unit would advance. Whether this combination of stick-and-carrot will
create the desired colonial corps is yet to be determined.
The resistance army
The resistance army can tell a completely different story. Resistance fighters
already know the local languages and customs: They are part of the people. Even
by the Pentagon’s reports they are growing in strength and influence, and
the population sees them as the local fighters while it sees the U.S.-NATO
forces as the invaders.
The resistance has also been flexible in adapting its tactics. Perhaps nothing
showed that more than the bombing strike on the CIA’s Forward Operating
Base Chapman on Dec. 30, which killed seven CIA operatives, including some top
officers, and a Jordanian officer along with the resistance agent. According to
the latest version of the events, the resistance forces operating in Khost
province decided it was necessary to strike back after unpiloted airplanes
— drones — killed some of their leaders along with a lot of other
They took the decision to sacrifice a skilled double agent, himself a
Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, who was serving the resistance out of
idealism and hatred of imperialism. He didn’t hesitate. His choice was
the complete opposite of worrying about a career move.
There is no doubt the Pentagon can bring much destruction to the
Afghanistan-Pakistan region and its people. There is plenty of reason to doubt
it can vanquish the resistance.
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