Two sides… same COIN

There’s a great deal of talk on the campaign trail today about what to do in Afghanistan.

I don’t think that anyone will argue that, while the situation in Iraq had improved dramatically, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated equally. Of course, it could be argued that the situation in Afghanistan is not worse, it just looks worse because there’s more contact due to having more troops in the area (thank you 24 MEU, stay safe!).

Either way you look at it, clearly something has to be done. What is striking is how the MSM is trying to play McCain and Obama against each other on how they will deal with Afghanistan.

From Sen. McCain:

McCain’s Afghanistan proposal includes the addition of brigades, the launch of an integrated nationwide security plan for the civilian population, greater military engagement of Taliban forces and unity of command, a doubling of the size of the Afghan army, a boost in civilian-military engagement, and the appointment of an “Afghanistan czar” — a White House-based national security official, reporting to the president, whose task would be to bring the war to an end.

From Sen. Obama:

Pointing to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s recent call for a timetable, Obama said “now is the time for a responsible redeployment of our combat troops that pushes Iraq’s leaders toward a political solution, rebuilds our military, and refocuses on Afghanistan and our broader security interests.” Obama said he planned to remove combat brigades from Iraq by the summer of 2010. He also said he would send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan.

I may be slightly off here, but they’re both saying the same thing… Send more troops to Afghanistan. Am I the only one who sees this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!

The only real difference in the argument between the two senators is that Sen. McCain realizes that we need to stay in Iraq until the job is done, and says so openly, while Sen. Obama realizes that we need to stay in Iraq until the job is done, but says so behind phrases like, “phased withdrawal.”

I think Sen. McCain hit the nail a little on the head when he stated:

“Sen. Obama will tell you we can’t win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq. In fact, he has it exactly backwards. It is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan,” he said. “It is by applying the tried and true principles of counter-insurgency used in the surge — which Sen. Obama opposed — that we will win in Afghanistan. With the right strategy and the right forces, we can succeed in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Really what he’s saying is that the Obama Campaign is utilizing the fact that the Iraq war may be all but over by the time Obama is in office, so he can call it a mistake and whatnot now, in the hopes that he won’t have to deal with it if he gets in office. Conversely, Sen. McCain also recognizes the situation in Iraq, but sees it as a path to success in Afghanistan as well.

I feel a slight bit of trepidation when Sen. McCain says things like we need to apply the lessons learned from Iraq in Afghanistan because there’s a ton of distinctly different circumstances going on in each country that would make it a huge mistake to simply cut and paste from the COIN Manual page 300 “Surge Tactics.” Hopefully, whoever gets in office listens to their advisors and does the right thing.

Of course, then there’s that nagging question. Where ARE those extra brigade combat teams going to come from??

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