Battleland

Afghanistan: An Army Officer’s View from the Ground

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U.S. soldiers on patrol in Zabul province, Afghanistan / DoD photo by Brian Ferguson

Provocative piece written by a U.S. Army officer now serving in Afghanistan concludes:

…The fact that the U.S. has established the front line of its national security as the Hindu Kush Mountains of Central Asia is at its core imprudent. Is the future of Afghanistan really critical to the national security of the U.S.? There is an opportunity cost to the involvement in Afghanistan. What else could these resources accomplish? Are the thousands of lives and billions of dollars expended on the war in Afghanistan really the best use of national resources? Many have argued that the U.S. military is the only organization with the resources to take on the problems of Afghanistan, but why should the U.S. attempt such a task to begin with?

Well, given that the task was launched nearly a decade ago, Major William Taylor, it may be a little late for that question. But it’s fascinating that Taylor — an aviation officer who has taught history at West Point, and has a master’s in the subject from Stanford — feels free to share his views (“The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Army or Defense Department”) in the pages of Armed Forces Journal. The article has triggered debate on Tom Ricks’ Best Defense website:

Many of us have criticized the unwillingness of general officers to speak truth to power during the Vietnam War. Well, here at least is one Major willing to do so and he knows what it means for his career. Truth over careerism? We need more like him. Again, tell me where is is wrong in his argument?

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