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A technical knockout in Afghanistan

Posted by The Agonist on April 25th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Nick Turse | Apr 25 | Asia Times

Recently, after insurgents unleashed sophisticated, synchronized attacks across Afghanistan involving dozens of fighters armed with suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, as well as car bombs, the Pentagon was quick to emphasize what hadn’t happened.

“I’m not minimizing the seriousness of this, but this was in no way akin to the Tet Offensive,” said George Little, the Pentagon’s top spokesman. “We are looking at suicide bombers, RPG [rocket propelled grenade], mortar fire, etcetera. This was not a large-scale offensive sweeping into Kabul or other parts of the country.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta weighed in similarly. “There were,” he insisted, “no tactical gains here. These are isolated attacks that are done for symbolic purposes, and they have not regained any territory.” Such sentiments were echoed by many in the media, who emphasized that the attacks “didn’t accomplish much” or were “unsuccessful”.

Even granting the need to spin the assaults as failures, the official American reaction to the coordinated attacks in Kabul, the Afghan capital, as well as at Jalalabad air base, and in Paktika and Logar provinces, reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of guerrilla warfare and, in particular, of the type being waged by the Haqqani network, a crime syndicate transformed by the conflict into a leading insurgent group.

Here’s the “lede” that should have run in every newspaper in America: More than 40 years after the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, even after reviving counter-insurgency doctrine (only to see it crash-and-burn in short order), the US military still doesn’t get it.

Think of this as a remarkably unblemished record of “failure to understand” stretching from the 1960s to 2012, and undoubtedly beyond.

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