In Afghanistan III we covered some lessons learned about how not to do things, but I left out the most important one: Understand history and avoid hubris. We should had heeded the history of the area and taken steps inside the United Nations to divide the territory among the existing states based on tribal affiliation of the area. That’s what we should have done but we didn’t. Let’s talk about what we should be doing now.
First, assemble an overwhelming combat force in the Indian Ocean with strike aircraft, armed remotely piloted vehicles, Tomahawk equipped cruisers and have B-52’s on standby with anti personnel bombs.
Second, announce the U.S. intends to retrieve its equipment and any U.S. personnel who wish to travel out of Afghanistan. Inform China it would be in their best interest to intervene with the Taliban to allow this to happen.
Third, inform Pakistan it may be necessary to strike targets in Waziristan if fighting breaks out.
Fourth, identify where the leaders of the Taliban are and track them 24/7 with the intent of neutralizing them should the Taliban resist the U.S. evacuation effort.
Fifth, insert combat teams and air refuelable helicopters from carriers to remove people from remote areas outside Kabul transferring them to protected airfields where C-17’s can remove them from the country. Protect these efforts with constant fighter bomber air caps prepared to strike any hostile force.
Sixth, C-17’s remove equipment and personnel. In remote sites where equipment cannot be removed it should be disabled or destroyed. All ammunition sites should be bombed immediately.
Seventh, if there is armed resistance employ B-52 strikes to close the passes between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Use armed Remotely Piloted Vehicles to take out Taliban leadership with near precision strikes understanding there will be collateral damage and civilian casualties. Strike Taliban columns as they move in the open. Had this been done when they started coming out of Waziristan and other hide outs we would not have today’s situation, but the U.S. denied air support to the Afghan army and voila, the Taliban was allowed to move unmolested.
Eighth, if the Taliban uses IEDs of other devices against troops then strike known Taliban support sites. Do not be proportional in response. Strike hard with the intent to do as much damage as possible.
Ninth, It is likely the Taliban and/or ISIS will attempt to insert people into the refugee stream and all people getting onto the helicopters and transports should be searched beforehand so that any weapons or explosive devices will be discovered. No luggage should be allowed.
Tenth, Do this quickly and with resolve. Having capabilities is never enough. Demonstrating the will to use those capabilities is the determining factor in international politics. If the U.S. does not demonstrate strength in resisting the Taliban expect Taiwan and Ukraine to be the targets of China and Russia during this administration, just as Russia moved on the Crimea after a previous administration failed to act on Syrian use of chemical weapons after making a big show of the Red Line in the Sand.
Eleventh, Casualties will be unavoidable and those casualties must be laid at the feet of current leadership, who should resign their positions for creating this fiasco. While many of us remain steadfast against the use of ground forces in Afghanistan, our leadership has caused a crisis wherein the balance of international power is at risk. We cannot allow that to happen.