The Instigator
Fogofwar
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
BennyW
Con (against)
Winning
4 Points

Can we employ a 'winning' strategy in Afghanistan?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/26/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 844 times Debate No: 17286
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

Fogofwar

Pro

The debate has raged on since our involvement: can we succeed in our mission in Afghanistan. In order to accurately assess this; we must outline the strategy in it's entirety:

1. To destroy any resistance to coalition forces and our will.
2. To hold captured ground and prevent reinsertion of insurgent forces into the community.
3. To win the trust of the public by rebuilding infrastructure; providing medical aid; and education, and in doing so; establish a civilized democracy capable of sustaining itself economically and financially.
4. To recruit and train local forces to defend their own land.
5. To remove our presence once local forces are strong enough to defend themselves from insurgency.
6. To continue political ties continuing to maintain a stable economy that will not collapse into itself as it did in the past.

Since I see the majority of people having a harder time defending the success of this strategy; I will take the pro. However; if someone feels they could argue this side better; I will take the con. Feel free to decide which side you would like to debate. There really is no right or wrong answer to this one; it is simply for the sake of debating.

First round will be for acceptance and establishing the rules and outlining the objectives.
BennyW

Con

I accept this debate. I would just like to briefly comment on the points brought up, a few of them we could possibly accomplish, some we could have at one point but it is too late now and some we could never. I will elaborate in the debate proper. I look forward to my opponent's arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
Fogofwar

Pro

Thank you for accepting. I hope this will be an intelligent and enlightened discussion. For this debate; because I will be relying on learned knowledge from years of collective research; as well as experience in the Canadian Forces; I will not be relying on online sources. If you have any concerns about my claims; feel free to ask in the comments to avoid a lost round.

For this round; I propose to examine the strategy as laid out in round one; and seek to discuss whether any of these points can be successful or not. As pro; I will have to confirm that success is plausible in ALL elements of the strategy; whereas con will merely have to disprove the success of even one element. I warn you; this may be more difficult than perceived, as it is not easy to prove a strategy that has not been accomplished yet; is impossible.
First; let us take a look at the strategy in it's numbers:

1. To destroy the resistance to coalition forces and our will:

This has been the objective since day one; and has been quite successful. The sheer size of our military force in comparison with the Taliban; as well as the capabilities; and arms which we possess resulted in the first few months of the war destroying well over 90% of the Taliban's might. From their MiG 21 fighter jets; to their helicopters; all were erased in the span of the first few months of fighting. For them to defeat us in conventional war is virtually impossible; therefore their only alternative is through insurgent methods, striking us from within civilian compounds and through the use of IEDs. The use of force again prevails for us; in our ability to rapidly deploy large scale task forces in urban ops settings to clear villages within minutes. Once the village has been cleared; this phase of strategy is complete. Small resistances here and there do not deter the success of our forces in this regard. We have accomplished an overwhelming success rate in this element.

2. To hold captured ground and prevent reinsertion of insurgent forces into the community:

Once taking control of a village; we can successfully hold it without threat of the Taliban retaking it. Our higher level of training; further range capabilities; and more powerful weapons mean the Taliban cannot stand ground in a firefight against our troops. Therefore; their only chance of successfully taking back a village is one of two options:

a.) IED strikes and suicide bombings. The goal is to inflict enough damage on ISAF forces as to force them to withdraw. However this will only paint them as an evil force that is killing locals; and lose support from the villagers. This means cannot sustain victory for the Taliban in the direct region in which it is doing these attacks.

b.) try and convince the public that ISAF is the ones bringing this violence to them; and that if their forces leave; and the Taliban comes back; said IED and suicide bombings will stop. This tactic however, leads us into the next phase of strategy:

3. To win the trust of the public by rebuilding infrastructure; providing medical aid; and education, and in doing so; establish a civilized democracy capable of sustaining itself economically and financially:

If we win the hearts and minds of the villagers; then the previous tactic will fail for the Taliban. There is no other alternative but to accomplish this. We must win over the public. Statistics confirm the support of our troops by Afghan citizens; so we can already see this strategy is a success. Although support today is lower than it was a few years back; this does not mean a failure in this strategy; but rather in the means to deploy it. We have opened over 10,000 schools in Afghanistan; and have helped to construct 3 universities and a technical institute. Medical aid has never been higher than under our presence; and the quality of life has increased insanely. There is no argument that this strategy is successful. There is however; I will admit; one major headache to this strategy: dealing with the continual opium problem without losing the hearts and minds of the farmer.

4. To recruit and train local forces to defend their own land:

The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police have; over the past couple years; taken on the majority of the role in dealing with insurgency. Again; experience has shown us this is successful. The level of skill among the Afghan soldiers is another issue; but part of our strategy to help compensate for this is a continual presence, on a minor level, even after we withdraw combat forces from the nation.

5. To remove our presence once local forces are strong enough to defend themselves from insurgency.

Perhaps the most difficult of phases of this strategy. To remove our forces without disrupting the peace of Afghanistan that we have created. Time will tell shortly; as we are currently in this phase as we speak; however this phase can still be a success if done right.
The biggest threat to the success of this phase is whether the ANA is prepared to take on the role in which we are currently filling when we leave. As mentioned in the previous phase; we have given the majority of the work to the ANA; but that has been in regions in which there has already been stability and anti-Taliban sentiment. In the regions of Kandahar and Helmand that are still conflict stricken, it has been ISAF that has beard the brunt of the force. The argument can easily be made as to whether the ANA is prepared to take over these regions; however I am prepared to defend our strategy as successful; IF EMPLOYED CORRECTLY.
Over the nearly 10 years of our presence in Afghanistan; the nation has come to rely on our forces. We were to downscale our forces years ago; yet we did the opposite because the Afghan government and the ANA intentionally demonstrated their lack of ability to deal with it on their own. Fraudulent elections; and lack of policing allowing insurgents to move back in forced us to revamp our plans; and send in more troops. This time however; I don't see that as being necessary. Afghans are already realizing that they will one day have to handle this on their own; and so despite the fact that they aren't ready yet; we do need to force them to be; kick start their independence if you will. By slowly phasing out the number of troops; while retaining senior NCOs and officers to train; we will be downscaling our presence; while at the same time keeping our highest level of experience and training there to aid them through this transition. A complete withdrawal would be suicide; but a slow transition through the ranks; keeping leadership present for them would provide them the opportunity to gradually learn the responsibility on their own. There is definitely a chance of success if done right.

6. To continue political ties continuing to maintain a stable economy that will not collapse into itself as it did in the past:

By continuing trade with the nation; we can contribute to their wealth. By trading other exports; we can also ease the transition from opium production to other crops that wield similar revenue; such as grapes and pomegranates. So is the means of continuing to maintain a stable economy. By remaining politically invested; we would be keeping permanent bases (Kandahar Air Field, or KAF, etc) to maintain a military presence in the region; so as to deter rival nations (such as Iran) from trying to make moves; as well as the ability to keep them in check; and still provide a continual supportive role to the Afghan National Army and their continual struggle against insurgent Taliban forces.

In conclusion: There is no way to completely destroy the Taliban force; you cannot kill an ideal or someone's spirit…but we do not need to. We simply need to maintain Afghanistan's stability until they possess the ability to keep this insurgent force in check and under their control. To accomplish this would be a successful strategy as laid out in rd 1; and by the ISAF force in Afghanistan.
BennyW

Con

Since my opponent will not be relying on online sources and rather personal experience, he can not complain if I lack sources. As pro; I will have to confirm that success is plausible in ALL elements of the strategy; whereas con will merely have to disprove the success of even one element”. I will hold my opponent o that. Now to address each of his points:

“1. To destroy the resistance to coalition forces and our will:”

This is one goal that cannot fully be accomplished short of nuclear holocaust. We cannot destroy all coalition forces, especially without endangering the lives of civilians. Now the claim that hey would not defeat us in conventional warfare is probably true, however that doesn’t mean that we have won. As you mention yourself they will just use guerrilla tactics.

“The use of force again prevails for us; in our ability to rapidly deploy large scale task forces in urban ops settings to clear villages within minutes. Once the village has been cleared; this phase of strategy is complete.” In the process killing civilians, this is not acceptable and if we want them to stop viewing us as the enemy this is not the way to do it. In fact it would encourage further retaliatory insurgence. [1] Therefore, whatever we have accomplished in this regard is negated by their retaliation.

“2. To hold captured ground and prevent reinsertion of insurgent forces into the community:”

This might have worked at one point but wouldn’t anymore and would have been a temporary solution anyway. Again, our troops would have to remain here indefinitely and the people wouldn’t like having their cities occupied by foreign troops. For example what if another country came into a major US city (since you’re Canadian you can think Canadian city) and occupied it under the guise of protecting us? Even if this particular city was prone to uprising, wouldn’t it be better for the local community to handle it?

“3. To win the trust of the public by rebuilding infrastructure; providing medical aid; and education, and in doing so; establish a civilized democracy capable of sustaining itself economically and financially:”

This is a goal we might be able to accomplish, however when do we know when it is time to leave and let them be self sufficient since this whole time they have been relying on us to teach them what to do? There is an old saying that goes, give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Sure this is where the education comes in but at some point we would have to let them be self sufficient.

“4. To recruit and train local forces to defend their own land:”

This is probably the best idea so far. However there is a problem even here, my opponent claimsa continual presence, on a minor level, even after we withdraw combat forces from the nation.” How do we expect them to be self dependant if we don’t let them take care of it on their own?

“5. To remove our presence once local forces are strong enough to defend themselves from insurgency.”

Yes we should remove our forces and not like you suggest leave some behind to maintain a presence. What it boils down to is what business have we telling them how to run their own country.

“6. To continue political ties continuing to maintain a stable economy that will not collapse into itself as it did in the past:”

I agree we should maintain trade relations but we shouldn’t artificially inflate their economy. By trading other exports; we can also ease the transition from opium production to other crops that wield similar revenue; such as grapes and pomegranates.” Do you realize that we have a need for opium so that we can have prescription drugs? I do realize addiction is a major issue, I am just pointing out the fact that it is a source of revenue. “we would be keeping permanent bases.” That tends to irritate people. If their forces had truly been trained then they could take care of their own and there would be no need for us to maintain a presence. It is far more important that we concentrate on our own domestic and why we need our military at home. By maintaining foreign bases we spread ourselves too thin and are vulnerable to attacks on our own soil.

So saying, as John McCain says, that we should say there until we accomplish our goals, guarantees that we will remain in a perpetual state of war. (That along with other reasons). I may have conceded some of my opponents points but as he mentioned himself, it is only necessary that I disprove one of them. Thanks to my opponent and I look forward to furthering his debate.

1 http://www.unknownnews.net...

Debate Round No. 2
Fogofwar

Pro

1. To destroy the resistance to coalition forces and our will:

First off; I do apologize; as this was intended to say "To destroy the resistance to coalition forces and ENFORCE our will. I apologize for the mistake; as it clearly led to confusion on my opponents part. We are the coalition forces; and so we are not seeking to destroy them. Here my opponent claims we cannot defeat the Taliban. Nowhere does it say in the strategy that we have to defeat them outright. As this is not a conventional operation; it does not require conventional tactics. Destroying the resistance means taking away our opponent's ability to fight; or resist. If they cannot defeat us in conventional warfare; although true it does not alone mean we have won; it makes it difficult for them to prevent our presence. If our presence is maintained; then we can continually suppress their hostilities; meaning we have destroyed the resistance.

My opponent brings up the risk of civilian deaths. Of course such a victory cannot be achieved without some collateral damage; one must accept this as a part of war; for no war in the history of modern times; and very, very few in the history of the entire human race; has there been NO civilian deaths. The goal is to minimize civilian casualties. Despite public opinion; and media coverage of the US action; ISAF and NATO as a whole have a very low rate of casualties. Afghanistan has had fewer casualties than any other modern conflict it's size. Many smaller conflicts have had vastly larger casualties.

Urban Operations training prevents us from targeting civilians. If civilians are caught in the crossfire; it is more-often-than-not by their own decision. Prior to moving into a heavily populated location; our forces provide ample warning of an attack; giving civilians a chance to clear out. If the region is too populated; or the insurgency level is low in comparison to civilian presence; then the task will fall under SOF (Special Operations Command). SOF teams are highly trained in clearing buildings with minimal to zero civilian casualties.

My opponent poses the idea "if we want them to stop viewing us as the enemy this is not the way to do it."
Statistics show that support for ISAF is very high. Overall; the public of Afghanistan is more than supportive of our presence; and of our operation. Last I checked; Taliban support was somewhere around 2% of the public.

"In fact it would encourage further retaliatory insurgence."

Despite overwhelming support from the majority of the nation; this is still very true. Often mistakes are made; and when they are; the consequences can be dire. By simply clearing insurgents from one village; and having the malik of the town killed; we can turn the sentiment of that village in the favour of the Taliban. This is why it is of the utmost importance to maintain careful procedure; and precise fighting techniques to avoid this at all costs; and when it does happen; mediate the situation quickly. Casualties will happen; this is a fact of war; and the Afghan people do understand this. What our actions are in dealing with these situations will determine whether this can still be effective or not.

2. To hold captured ground and prevent reinsertion of insurgent forces into the community:

This has worked; and continues to work to date. Our forces would not be required to remain present permanently. This role can easily be handled by a smaller Afghan force. This is why we are training the Afghan National Army; and the Afghan National Police. To date; only about 6% of Afghanistan is plagued with violence. At their peak; the Taliban controlled nearly 90% of the country. Clearly this has proven successful.

As my opponent states that he feels the Afghan's would not like their city to be occupied by foreign troops; I ask him first to examine the Afghan people. ISAF is supported by the vast majority of the country; and the Taliban is in fact, a foreign force. Taliban insurgents are from Pakistan; Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, and a growing number of former Soviet Red Army Muslim Chechens. The Taliban has been viewed since 1996 as a foreign and invading force. ISAF was welcomed in by the Afghan people. You can ask them for yourself.
My opponent asks if it would not be better to have the local community handle it. This is exactly why we are training Afghan National Police forces for each community. Our goal since day one was to contain the insurgency to a level the village could handle; and then give the village the means to handle it for themselves. It has proven successful more than not.

3. To win the trust of the public by rebuilding infrastructure, providing medical aid, and education, and in doing so, establish a civilized democracy capable of sustaining itself economically and financially:

As my opponent even admits this may be accomplished; he must then realize and accept that number 2 can also be accomplished; as in doing these acts, we are simultaneously winning over the trust of the people; so as to hold captured ground; and establish a favourable position in the eyes of the public.
To date; we have built over 10,000 schools; three universities; one technical institute; and countless policing academies. Our efforts have provided them the education required to become self sufficient. Coupled with the thousands of hospitals and medical centres opened; and you can see a growing stability in these regions; that has led to millions of shops opening up in market gardens; economic growth more vast than anything in their recent past; and a desire to work together; with the community; and with our forces; to provide a more peaceful and secure neighbourhood. Again; this strategy has already been proven successful.

4. To recruit and train local forces to defend their own land:

My opponent asks how we can expect them to be self dependant if we don't let them take care of it on their own. Simple; our continual presence there will be nothing more than a continual eye to help improve training; and provide wisdom from experience where need be. This is not something unique to Afghanistan; the United States of America has bases set up for Canadian Forces to train them as well. Germany does also. In fact; all members of NATO do. Being self sufficient does not exclude the ability to allow allied troops in your nation. In fact; rather the opposite. This provides closer ties between allies; and allows us to train together. Canadian and American forces often fight side by side in Afghanistan; and the key to our success is the fact that we operate very similar due to our work together. As a Canadian soldier; I need not be concerned; when breaching a door into a building; where the US troops will be; because I know where they will be. Our continued presence will be no different than for any other allied nation.

5. To remove our presence once local forces are strong enough to defend themselves from insurgency:

My opponent asks what business is it of ours to tell them how to run their country. None. It never has been. Our business is to show them the stepping stones to success; and provide them the protection required to achieve it. You may not be aware; but the "democratic" government in Afghanistan is called a Loya Jirga. The Loya Jirga system is unique entirely to Afghanistan; and it is what the nation was prior to the Taliban, and even the PDPA takeover in 1978.

6. To continue political ties continuing to maintain a stable economy that will not collapse into itself as it did in the past:

My opponent asks about the use of opium for prescription drugs. Another concern, however Afghanistan is not in the business of making morphine. They are in the business of illegally trading opium; and is the worlds largest supplier of illegal opium drugs. Marijuana is a legal medication here in Canada; yet it is illegal to grow it still. Control is the key. The opium is not controlled; and the levels required for medication are a fraction of what is being shipped out for illegal sales. Opium is the largest cause of chaos and violence in Afghanistan; and that means it needs to be controlled.

""we would be keeping permanent bases." That tends to irritate people. If their forces had truly been trained then they could take care of their own and there would be no need for us to maintain a presence."

May I ask you if it bothers you that Canada has permanent bases in the US? California; Texas, and Florida to be exact…as well as Naval ports in Hawaii.
The UK also has a base in Canada; Suffield, Alberta. I cannot for the life of me, find a single person that this irritates.

"It is far more important that we concentrate on our own domestic and why we need our military at home. By maintaining foreign bases we spread ourselves too thin and are vulnerable to attacks on our own soil."

If my opponent wishes to argue this; then I welcome him to use the next round to do so. I do warn, however; that civilian knowledge on the structure of the military is insignificant to that of members of the forces. The military is divided into armies; brigades; divisions; regiments; battalions; companies; platoons - for a reason. The United States military is designed to handle 2.4 total wars at the same time. Spreading ourselves too thin is a major concern; but permanent bases in other allied nations actually helps prevent that.
BennyW

Con

I will address the points my opponent brought up last round.

“We are the coalition forces; and so we are not seeking to destroy them
I realized this mistake after rereading what I had written, I meant insurgent forces.

“My opponent brings up the risk of civilian deaths. Of course such a victory cannot be achieved without some collateral damage; one must accept this as a part of war; for no war in the history of modern times; and very, very few in the history of the entire human race; has there been NO civilian deaths.
However, when the civilian casualties equal or are greater than the combatant casualties as the link I posted last round suggests, then we are doing something wrong. Also, certain operations have targeted high civilian populations just for the chance to get at certain insurgents that may be hiding in a highly populated city.

Many smaller conflicts have had vastly larger casualties.
That shouldn’t be used as a justification of this conflict but rather a condemnation of the others.

“By simply clearing insurgents from one village; and having the malik of the town killed; we can turn the sentiment of that village in the favour of the Taliban.
Shouldn’t that be a sign that maybe we are doing something wrong?

“The Taliban has been viewed since 1996 as a foreign and invading force.
This is true, so why are we ignoring the places they came from like Saudi Arabia?

I don’t have anything more to say on point 3 except that it’s issues lie in the issues of point #2.

“Being self sufficient does not exclude the ability to allow allied troops in your nation.
There is a difference between letting troops in and maintaining permanent bases.

“My opponent asks what business is it of ours to tell them how to run their country. None. It never has been. We set up governments which we often end up removing by force years later, Such is the case in Afghanistan, also, Saddam Hussein was put in by us as well. I predict we will soon turn on Karzai.

“May I ask you if it bothers you that Canada has permanent bases in the US?
The potential issue there is what happens if our two nations went to war with each other? Also, I don’t see a real problem with allies training together but again there is a difference between this and permanent bases.

They are in the business of illegally trading opium; and is the worlds largest supplier of illegal opium drugs.
While I am not a fan of opium I would ask why should we be the world’s drug police? Again shouldn’t such a thing be more of a domestic issue?

In regard to us being spread too thin, we cannot maintain the forces we currently have. The United States military is designed to handle 2.4 total wars at the same time.” Now that we are in at least three wars that shows what the problem is.

I thank my opponent and look forward to his arguments for the next round.

Debate Round No. 3
Fogofwar

Pro

Fogofwar forfeited this round.
BennyW

Con

I thank my opponent for the debate, though it is a pitty he had to forfeit this last round. Extend my arguments and vote for con.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Danielle 5 years ago
Danielle
I'd take this if it were SHOULD we employ a 'winning' strategy in Afghanistan, rather than Can.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
FogofwarBennyWTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.