Last week, on Thursday, we reported the buzz that U.S. troops had shot down a drone over Iraq -- a drone that they said was Iranian. The U.S. military just today confirmed that the drone-shootdown did in fact happen. So that means Iran is flying unmanned remote-controlled planes over our troops' positions in Iraq, the country that is their friendly little neighbor to the west. And we're shooting down those planes. What could possibly go wrong!
The U.S. military also confirms that an American soldier was killed in combat operations in Baghdad today. That's in addition to four U.S. troops killed in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, by a roadside bomb. Also in Afghanistan, the mayor of Kandahar was very nearly assassinated yesterday morning and two suicide bombs today in Kandahar and just south of Kabul killed another 13 people.
This week is the six year anniversary of when we invaded Iraq. We're already well into year eight in Afghanistan. And this week we're awaiting word from the new president who didn't start these wars about what his plan is for Afghanistan. That said, unnamed Pentagon officials keep telling the press that Obama is about to announce his Afghanistan plan and it hasn't happened yet, so don't get too excited.
Still, though, the stars seem to be aligning, with frequent reports now that President Obama is on board with the counterinsurgents. "The counterinsurgents" is not only the best unused band name in America, it's also something worth understanding if you want to know if we're going to still be in the wars George W. Bush started when President Obama leaves office.
The modern doctrine of counterinsurgency is attractive to the Obama folks for a lot of obvious reasons -- it's elegant, it's hard-headed, it's tough -- it's been developed and articulated by these scholar-warriors, these highly-educated, experienced military minds from General Petraeus on down, who have become kind-of intellectual rock gods in the security world.
And it's probably helpful to grasp that had the counterinsurgents been in charge -- we probably wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq at all and if we had gone to war in Afghanistan with the counterinsurgents in charge, it would have been done way differently. That's true of the counterinsurgents and that's true of Obama himself. So you can see the attraction here, right?
But President Obama now has the job of figuring out how Afghanistan fits into our overall national interest -- what resources we should be devoting there. The counterinsurgents don't have that same job. Their job is to figure out how to win this war.
And to win? Unlike Les Gelb, who we had on the show on Friday, Who says we ought to get our troops out within three years, the counterinsurgents say, settle in -- this is going to be a long war yet. And it's going to take huge numbers of forces. According to the counterinsurgency field manual for the U.S. Army, you need 20 to 25 counterinsurgent forces for every thousand people in the local population. Afghanistan has 30 million people so that's 600,000 to 750,000 "counterinsurgent" forces??
That means take the size of the Afghan army now and the western troops there now and start putting new zeroes on the end of those numbers.
If the brightest military minds in our country have figured out that after eight years in Afghanistan the only way to win the war there is to double, triple, QUADRUPLE-down - to spend years more, and tens of billions more, and tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands more troops there at some point do we say, OK we recognize that's what it would take to call this a win but it's been eight years already, and we can't afford that kind of a win?
I need a talking down here.