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News Why can't the World mobilize a million soldiers to sort out Afghanstan?

  1. Nov 1, 2009 #1
    With a million soldiers it is possible to have a presence in all the villages in Afghanistan simultaneously and then we can start to build up the infrastructure. We then won't need to fight at all, because the insurgents are not popular amoung the local population, they just exploit the security vacuum. In practice this means that if NATO soldiers are in village A, they'll go to village B where there are no soldiers for their their supplies.

    A million soldiers sounds like a lot, but then http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa" [Broken]. So, why can't the World send just one million soldiers to sort out Afghanistan, especially given that little fighting will be involved?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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  3. Nov 1, 2009 #2

    russ_watters

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    Intestinal fortitude.

    Ask the same question of Somalia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia and many others and the answer is the same.
     
  4. Nov 1, 2009 #3
    I guess if we did have enough soldiers to hold a gun to each Afghan's head then things could change, but why would anyone want to do that and who cares?
     
  5. Nov 1, 2009 #4
    Why would anyone is this world want to put its all soldiers in Afghanistan? Why should all nations invest in Afghanistan particularly those who have no business with terrorism?
     
  6. Nov 1, 2009 #5
    Rwanda and Yugoslavia would have been difficult to sort out, given the fact that the driving force beind the conflicts were the ethnic tensions. So, any force send there would have to remain there for a long time. In the end these confliucts were more or less settled according to the ethnic power balances.

    Tiny Kosovo needed a long NATO presence, and even in that case independence of Kosovo was in the end seen to be the only viable solution. Afghanistan, on the other hand, seems to be a much more straightforward problem. A bit similar to some Maffia members imposing their will on the population. All you need is a (large enough) police force.
     
  7. Nov 1, 2009 #6

    CRGreathouse

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    The current situation in Afghanistan is that (1) the US expends effort to (2) reduce terrorism. The proposal (3) sends many non-US soldiers to (4) further reduce terrorism and (5) reduce the need for US forces in Afghanistan.

    For most nations, (1) and (2) are good, and the combined price of (3) and (5) is too high for (4), especially since most nations are not especially targets for terrorism.

    I'm inclined to cite Wilkinson's slightly-related paper 'Unipolarity without Hegemony' (title?) here.
     
  8. Nov 1, 2009 #7

    mheslep

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    Ethnic tensions of a kind have also become present in Afghanistan: the urban population versus the rural and still tribal population. The corrupt government in Kabul contributes to that problem.

    A question that needs to be answered before sending part of a 'million' troops to Afghanistan: The main purpose of the initial US invasion was to destroy the threat represented by Al-qaeda, not nation build. Now supposedly there are only on the order of hundreds of AQ left in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, down from a high of thousands. Why send a million troops to destroy hundreds, especially when only hundreds of US special forces troops in conjunction w/ local forces were required to knock over the Taliban?

    The present response to this question seems to be that AQ must be denied safe havens from which to build another seriously lethal threat. Alright, but 100 martyrdom seekers can go set up in any of a dozen other failed states. Must we then send a million troops to nation build every time AQ steps off the boat?
     
  9. Nov 1, 2009 #8

    russ_watters

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    The commanders of the peacekeeping forces there at the time of the major part of the genocide estimated only a few tens of thousands of troops would have been necessary to save hundreds of thousands of civilians.

    Yugoslavia, on the other hand, was fixed largely by the support from an international force. I included that as an example because the force was NATO, not UN. NATO has less of an intestinal fortitude problem than the UN does.
    Most people consider international problem solving of the type being discussed here to be a moral imperative. Most people are willing to see their countries invest huge sums of money trying to fix problems, but that's where the commitment stops. And we already know (again, see: Somalia) that money alone doesn't fix such problems. Troops are required.

    Again, the difference between a token, clean financial commitment and a commitment of troops is guts. The world community doesn't have the guts to do what is necessary to fix these problems.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
  10. Nov 1, 2009 #9

    russ_watters

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    And I know that the "million soldiers" thing is hyperbole with a purpose, but the reality is that we have on the order of 60,000 troops there now. That's quite a bit less than are still in Iraq, but double what we had there a year ago! So if we end up with, say, 100,000 troops there in a year (about what is being asked for by the generals), that's 3x what we had a year ago and enough to make a huge difference in how things are going there. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/world/asia/16mullen.html

    Most other "problems" require similar numbers of troops or less. None of require a million troops. That kind of force has only been employed once in modern history, in 1991.
     
  11. Nov 2, 2009 #10
    Isn't this an election year?
     
  12. Nov 2, 2009 #11
    Not really. At the start of the conflict, the current solution would have been totally unacceptable. Even the Vance-Owen plan, in which the Bosnian Serbs would have gotten far less autonomy and territory than they currently have, was rejected out of hand by the US and other Western powers.

    After a few years of war, ethnic cleansing and genocide, NATO did intervene and the conflict was frozen as a result. In negotiations in Dayton the current state of Bosnia was agreed to.

    Had NATO intervened at the start of the conflict, they would have fought to maintain the State of Bosnia as it existed on paper at that time, and that would have been far more difficult.
     
  13. Nov 2, 2009 #12
    Mobilizing a million troops to do any one thing is an expense that the most well intentioned countries could not afford to pay for long. These are numbers you have to raise to repel invasion or fight world wars. It takes the combined effort of a nation to produce this kind of effort. This amount of willpower simply does not exist in regards to the occupation of Afghanistan.
     
  14. Nov 2, 2009 #13

    russ_watters

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    That's why I looked through the hyperbole and described more realistic numbers. 100,000 troops on the field of battle is something the US is supposed to, by military policy, be able to support indefinitely. At least it was 10 years ago when I learned it - I was taught at the Naval Academy that we were supposed to be capable of fighting two large regional conflicts simultaneously.
     
  15. Nov 2, 2009 #14
    Out of curiosity, what does the book define as the field of battle?
     
  16. Nov 2, 2009 #15

    russ_watters

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    The word was probably "theater", actually:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theater_(warfare [Broken])

    Admittedly, that covers a very wide size range of conflicts, but now we have several modern examples of what a large regional/theater conflict means. Still, the difference between the first Gulf War and Afghanistan is nearly an order of magnitude and in 1991 we certainly could not have fought two wars of that size at the same time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  17. Nov 2, 2009 #16
    It might be easier to burn the poppy fields and shoot the drug lords.
     
  18. Nov 2, 2009 #17

    russ_watters

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    Part of the problem here is that since large international threats are so sparse and the US military is so good, our western allies have drawn-down to historic lows (and even the US military has been drawn down dramatically in the past 20 years). So that makes it "feel" like the commitment is a lot bigger than it really is: troops have to spend more time deployed when there are less troops.
     
  19. Nov 2, 2009 #18
    Not to mention the fact that our last large scale wars required a draft to fill the ranks. Our current Armies are made up entirely of volunteer soldiers. Of course, I would not want to deploy again in an Army made up mostly of draftees either.
     
  20. Nov 3, 2009 #19
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