Monday, April 26, 2010

Our shifting Afghan mission

Air Force spy planes flying above Afghanistan have shifted their focus from solely tracking insurgents to monitoring developments in daily life for Afghan citizens, commanders say.

That's a reflection, they say, of top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal's emphasis on improving the lives of Afghans and limiting civilian casualties.

"What he's looking at is, how well is this school being built?" said Col. Dan Johnson, the top commander for intelligence-gathering operations here. "What's the status of that? We're going into this next area, can we move our construction teams into this area? Is it safe? Those are the different things that he wanted to shift to and the thought process. That goes against the kind of traditional security that we provide our troops out there."

McChrystal has changed many elements of military policy since his arrival in Afghanistan last year. In January, his top intelligence aide, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, issued a paper that criticized the military for gathering information almost exclusively on enemy activity. That focus, he wrote, failed to provide information that can help commanders understand Afghan culture and the everyday concerns of its people.

The new focus is to "understand Afghan culture and the everyday concerns of its people"?

That's the job of social workers, not soldiers.

With all our problems at home, that's nothing for which our children should fight and die abroad.

Again, what are we doing there?

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