Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Afghanistan is Like Vietnam

I hate it when Afghanistan gets compared to Vietnam because we have different lessons we can learn from the one to be applied to the other, but there are many differences that often get glossed over.   But, it is my blog, so I can break my rules.

I was reading Tom Ricks's blog, and he had a guest poster, Lewis Sorley, summarizing the reasons why General Westmoreland "lost Vietnam."  His number 1:
And the number one reason why Westmoreland lost the war in Vietnam: With his unavailing approach to conduct of the war he squandered four years of support by much of the American people, the Congress, and even the media.
Yep, while there are many reasons why the US and NATO may fail in Vietnam, wasting time--2002-2008/9--is a key part of the story.  I absolutely hate it (as frequent readers of this blog know all too well) when people say: we have been doing this (whatever this is) for ten years.  No, NATO/US have only been doing COIN seriously--for a couple of years.  And the conventional wisdom is that it takes ten or more years to do.  So, we wasted about half of the bare minimum time needed, and now the once patient publics are not patient anymore.  2014 is around the corner.  So, seeing this assessment of Vietnam reminds me that there are some general (pardon the pun) dynamics of fighting these kinds of wars, and wasting time seems to be one of them.

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