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Military control of civilian options

This seems a lot worse than anything McChrystal said in front of a Rolling Stone reporter:

In Woodward's account, even after Obama decided to send 30,000 more troops, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving 40,000. Even after he decided not to pursue an all-out counterinsurgency campaign, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving just that.

Obama also kept asking his generals for more options to consider. They were playing the old trick of giving the president three pseudo-options — two that were clearly unacceptable (in this case, 80,000 more troops for full counterinsurgency and 10,000 troops just to train Afghan soldiers) and the one in the middle that they wanted (40,000 more troops). They never gave him another option. When Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, drew up a compromise plan involving 20,000 troops (believing the president had a right to see a wide span of options, even if the military didn't agree with them), Mullen forbade him from taking it outside the Pentagon. Obama never saw it.

In the end, Woodward reveals, Obama devised his own alternative strategy and personally wrote out its terms in a six-page, single-spaced memo that he made his top civilian and military advisers read and sign on to. (Woodward reprints the memo in the back of the book.)

That's from Fred Kaplan, who also sees signs that the Obama administration is beginning an endgame for the war in Afghanistan. And if you want more from Woodward, The Post has been printing excerpts from his book this week.

By Ezra Klein  | September 29, 2010; 4:54 PM ET
 
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Comments

So the military's position was there is no point to any plan involving 30,000 troops---30,000 troops could not provide an outcome desired by the President. Yet the President insisted on a plan with 30,000, apparently altering his desired goal to be that his desired goal was that only 30,000 troops be used.

What a terrible President. Lets get out of Afghanistan. This President is only there because David Axelrod has convinced Obama he needs to stay there to maintain foreign policy creds with mainstream Americans.

That is no way for an American Presidency to behave. I would think all sides of the aisle should agree on this!

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | September 29, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

We are suffering the greatest number of casulties in Afghanistan because this SOB can't do it right....if he is not going to fight this war than don't pretend to fight it!!!

Lets get out right away!


...and what does this have to do with economic policy?

Ezra's blog is simply a Pro-Obama campaign page and the cost should be considered a financial contribution to the DNC by Washinton Post Incorporated!

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | September 29, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, in this case, the civilian is a complete buffoon. What do you expect?

Posted by: krazen1211 | September 29, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

the more soldiers there, the more dead soldiers.

Posted by: newagent99 | September 29, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

"We are suffering the greatest number of casulties in Afghanistan because this SOB can't do it right....if he is not going to fight this war than don't pretend to fight it!!!"

the military wanted 250K soliders for the invasion of Iraq.. bush said no, it wouldn't be "popular"

so instead we got a 20 year war because bush let the insurgents escape,fully armed..
are you calling bush an SOB?

Posted by: newagent99 | September 29, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Get out now!

Force the jihadis to choose between the Somalis, the Chechens, the Pashtuns...whatever.

Osama said they like dying as much as we like living. Hope so.

Just get the American expeditionary forces out of other peoples' countries. What does America think, this is the 19th century?

Posted by: shrink2 | September 29, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I think Woodward ought to retire.

Obama had no options, and the JCS knew it. The JCS had no options and Obama knew it.

Thirty Thousand troops was all the troops that the DOD could actually come up with without very large increases in the size of the Army, and probably the Air Force as well. That means finding lots of money in a no money situation. The Thirty k troops were all that the Army could scrape up and expect to maintain for a year. Everybody in the room knew it. Obama got stuck with the result of Rumsfields DOD, just one more gift from his predecessor he would rather not have gotten.

Until the U.S. can afford an Army of about 1 million active, 1 million reserve, and 1 million National Guard, we will be stuck with lots of no option responses to problems where having some flexibility would be so much better.

But that three million man Army could only exist with a draft, and would obviously be a real drag on any budget we could have in the next couple decades.

But Woodward's interpretation is just baloney, or perhaps an indication that he is getting old and his mind doesn't work so well any more.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 29, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

"But that three million man Army could only exist with a draft, and would obviously be a real drag on any budget we could have in the next couple decades."

Why could it only exist with a draft?

Posted by: justin84 | September 29, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Our military won a quick deciive victory in Iraq over Saddam Hussein.

The only casulties came when Bin Laden sent his protoge Abu Musab Zarqawi who waged a horrific campaign of bombing and beheading to try and provoke a civil war between the Sunnis and Shias.....nothing to do with Saddam's loyalists.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | September 29, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

"In Woodward's account, even after Obama decided to send 30,000 more troops, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving 40,000. Even after he decided not to pursue an all-out counterinsurgency campaign, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving just that."

Maybe the Pentagon was laboring under the misapprehension that Obama wanted to, you know, win. Or accomplish some sort of military objective. Maybe they didn't realize that he was just talkin' smack when he called it the good war, the war that we absolutely had to win, and that all he's really looking for is the most graceful exit American lives and treasure can buy for him.

Posted by: bgmma50 | September 29, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

The military always asks for more troop than they know they're going to get for several reasons:

1. Negotiating 101; there is better chance of getting the very most they could realistically expect in the first place.

2. Builds in an instant excuse if the military campaign fails so civilian leadership gets the blame for not giving them everything they asked for.

3. Thus the military leaders never have to take responsibility for their failed strategy and blunders.

4. Military continues American myth that only warriors should make such decisions in the first place.

Posted by: harmil2 | September 30, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

For years, the left went after Bush for not listening to his generals and not giving them the resources they said they needed. Now, Obama's a hero for doing the same thing.

Posted by: tomtildrum | October 1, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

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