- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2009


Jeffery Kuhner is to be commended for his excellent commentary “Obama’s Vietnam” (Sunday). In meeting with our new president, the Joint Chiefs would be well advised to make clear the limitations on waging a larger campaign in Afghanistan. Besides the lack of a national unity there and the political turmoil, two critically important military factors militate against “surging” U.S. forces there.

First, Afghanistan is landlocked and resource poor. Eight out of every 10 pounds of materiel needed by our troops must be delivered by ships that are offloaded in the Indian Ocean ports of Pakistan and then trucked hundreds of miles north and then west, on roads that are already under sporadic attack by Islamic renegades in Pakistan. Once we commit more forces and make Afghanistan “too big to fail” those attacks will increase, severing the vital supply line on which our forces depend.

Second, the terrain in Afghanistan is particularly ill-suited to our modern forces and thus shifts the edge to the guerrilla tactics of the enemy. The roads are terrible and the jihadist-al Qaeda-Taliban-wannabe recruits employ the rugged mountains to great advantage. Caves and crags can be cleared - our valiant Marines did just that in Iwo Jima, but only at terrible cost in American lives.

Military professionals are can-do personalities and are often reluctant to tell our civilian leadership that there are some things that our splendid military cannot or should not do. But this is a critically important occasion when the Joint Chiefs owe the new president the unvarnished truth, even if it will make him unhappy.


Air Force (retired)


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