As public support for remaining in Afghanistan remains split (with 48 percent favoring more troops versus 45 percent favoring less according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll) and the President weighs McChrystal's request for more troops, Bob Krause, US veteran and challenger of Sen. Grassley's seat in Iowa, has offered a plan for training Afghan troops as well as removing/reducing the number of troops. He suggests training Afghan troops on US soil.
I think this is an option that needs some public dialogue as pundits and politicians FAIL TO DISCUSS the over-extension of our military resources that will be exacerbated by more deployments (of troops and equipment) to Afghanistan. Having watched my own marriage deteriorate after two deployments, it behooves me to remind people that our service members have been on deployment schedules ranging from 9 to 18 months in length (depending on the service) with no guaranteed dwell time in between those deployments.
Krause's idea has the additional merit of addressing concerns about the lack of discipline among Afghan trainees. Perhaps having the trainees in a more controlled environment, and something to lose by not taking the training more seriously (e.g., failure to finish training, loss of family stipend), will reduce trainee violence against American troops as well as improve trainee comitment to the training.
See AP article on lack of discipline and internal violence: http://www.google.com/...
Consequently, I found this press release (and Krause's idea) interesting:
Bob Krause, Democratic Candidate for the U.S. Senate in Iowa against Senator Charles Grassley, today called for measures to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan by shifting the training program for the Afghan Army to the United States in a crash war program. Krause is believed to be the first public official or candidate to propose such a solution to the growing challenges in Afghanistan.
"Training of the Afghan Army to support a clean coalition government has been pointed to by all sides as the key to stabilizing Afghanistan. But, losses of American and NATO lives in Afghanistan are mounting daily. It is questionable if we can sustain both a combat force and an effective training force in Afghanistan in an environment where war support is eroding, and civilian resentment of the American and NATO presence is increasing within Afghanistan," said Krause. "In the mean time, the single U.S. training brigade on the ground is currently understaffed and thus is underperforming. There are plans for an additional brigade and more training units will be needed beyond that," Krause predicted.
"As a retired military officer, my view is that we need to reduce exposure of American soldiers who are now in harmâ€™s way. At the same time, if we are to stabilize the rapidly deteriorating situation, we need to reduce the U.S. impact of the Afghan culture, and still provide safe and needed training to expand the Afghan Army," said Krause.
"Unfortunately, besides the risks to Americans that participate in training of the Afghan Army, there are a tremendous number of training barriers and distracters in Afghanistan that make the job of building an Afghan Army there nearly impossible," Krause pointed out. "A few of the problems faced are ninety percent illiteracy among new recruits, language barriers within the country, security for the trainees and U.S. trainers themselves, and incredible terrain issues that affect placement and support for new additions to the Afghan Army. Regardless of whether the U.S. gets out of Afghanistan or stays in, an expanded professional Afghan Army will be needed to stabilize the country" stated Krause.
"Therefore, I propose that the best place to train the Afghan Army during this war is here in the United States. It is cheaper and safer for both U.S. troops and Afghan recruits to do it at various old military facilities here in the U.S. Plus, there are a number of Reserve and Guard units that are established especially for basic training, advanced individual training, and related purposes. These could be mobilized state-side with much less heartburn politically, and will be able to do their job in a more resource-rich environment," Krause suggested.
"For the sake of our own soldiers and their safety, we need to implement a policy of shipping Afghan Army volunteers to the United States by air, put them through intensive training and indoctrination here, then send them home. Afghan recruits would receive a nice stipend for their families through U. S. delivery facilities while they are gone from home. A U.S. based solution eliminates problems with Afghan desertion, Taliban infiltration and attacks, outrageous contractor abuse and relative lack of overseas resources," said Krause.
"To reverse the language issue, Afghan recruits could be subject to intensive English language orientation at the beginning of their U.S. visit in order to expedite the rudimentary English language training sufficient for military needs. Not only would this smooth the training issue for the Afghan Army, it would also provide jobs in the United States," stated Krause.
According to Krause, relatively isolated facilities would be used for the training so that Afghan trainees would be generally invisible to the general public.
"We have had 869 U.S. fatalities and 3,896 U.S. wounded in Afghanistan. This does not count PTSD injuries and emotional trauma. Unfortunately, there is a great likelihood that the casualty toll will continue to increase," said Krause. "We must remember that the initiative was wasted in this war during the Bush Administration, and that President Obama is working with a very bad hand that was dealt him. I believe this is the best solution for a part of that very bad hand that has been dealt," concluded Krause.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Contact: Keith Dinsmore
What do you guys think?
You can learn more about Bob Krause at www.krauseforiowa.com