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5 NatSec Things - 07 Feb 2018

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Today's things: Deploy or leave; believers in A'stan; Trump wants (Afghan) coal; US declares victory,
 
February 7 · Issue #29 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Deploy or leave; believers in A'stan; Trump wants (Afghan) coal; US declares victory, leaves Iraq; advising after the war.
New logo. Like/hate/indifferent? 
Also a note on article excerpts - I’m starting to pull those directly from the sources themes, instead of trying to rewrite them. So if something reads as a little…well…press release-y: probably not me. 


Mattis to donut fans: if you can't deploy, we don't need you
That number sounds alarming, but military personnel can be non-deployable for all kinds of reasons, ranging from injury up through missing a dentist’s appointment. Because part of deployability means you can chew good. 
No joke, you have to have a current dental exam.
But the DoD’s not worried about missed dental appointments. Rather it’s wanting to get rid of anyone who’s been non-deployable for a year or more. Because if you can’t deploy, it makes it hard to send you to war. 
The current SecDef knows a few things about warfighters (I do no like that word) and lethality, having spent a minute in positions of authority in the military. He wants to be sure that US soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines are all ready to go to war if they have to. 
And he’d rather not wait for someone to get their teeth cleaned.
It’s all part of making the existing force as lean and mean as possible. And that, since we appear to be ready to go to war with everybody, is a worthy ambition. Where it gets less reasonable is in expecting everyone, even your intel guru who’s going to spend their deployment staring at the same screen they do at home station, meet the same standards. 
Still, it’s a starting point, and a necessary one in an age where the force has to be ready for the next fight. Not just this one.
There's a lot of...saber rattling...going on in Afghanistan right now There's a lot of...saber rattling...going on in Afghanistan right now
Expect some words on this soon over at Sunny In Kabul soon, but this article is one long circle jerk of fanboy war porn. Because everyone interviewed for the story is super ready to do whatever it takes to get this war done. And by God we are going to get it done right. 
Because this time…THIS time they have all the troops and planes and guns they need to just…Do. It. Right. THIS time there will be a decisive victory. Because this time there’s another white Republican dude in charge of shit. 
Oo-fucking-rah.
The best part of this latest wave of the journalistic jizzbombing that’s passing for war reporting lately is the myopia of everyone covering the war that will not end. Because as they define it, we already won this thing. Like it 2003. 
We’ve had our boot on the neck of the Taliban before. We ran them out of town on a high explosive rail. We did everything we’re trying to do again.
And then we turned it over to Kabul. Which didn’t have the capacity to keep the country out of insurgent hands. So they came back. Again. 
So we’re going to bomb our way to…a stalemate. 
Again.
Let's make (Afghan) coal great again
There was a time when the Afghan war was covered by journalists. Most of those that covered the war and did it right have since gone on to bigger and better things. Which tells me this: they did not suck.
I say that because this VOA bit on how Trump’s going to make coal great again hearkens back to an earlier time. A time when skepticism and some measure of objectivity marked dispatches from the Emerald City. And it, like many of those that passed through there before, is a smart read.
Oh…and Trump’s going to make AFGHAN coal great again. Maybe that’s what the first “A” in MAGA really stands for? Or if not Trump, some American coal companies are trying to put together some deals to get in on the Afghan mining business.
The goal isn’t coal (I’m sorry), but the larger mineral wealth that’s reportedly just below the surface all over the Hindu Kush. That’s what American companies hope to get concessions to dig out. Which success is going to be hampered by Afghanistan itself. 
Doing business in Afghanistan is a hot mess of bureaucracy, corruption, and massive mismanagement. And that’s if no one’s trying to kidnap you for fun and profit. Worthwhile read on the state of extractives in the graveyard of foreign investment. 
Mission accomplished(ish), US troops leave Iraq. Again.
2003: Bush throws up a “Mission Accomplished” banner on an aircraft carrier. 2018: we learn about a victory in Iraq through some contractors. The ones putting US troops on planes to GTFO. 
The “victory” is just the beginning, as the Islamic State is still a “thing” in terrorism circles. But it’s true that they’ve lost the ground they gained in Iraq. It’s time, if that’s true, to start flying American troops home. 
Given how stable Iraq is not, though, hopefully they all got return tickets.
What if we always ended wars with an advisory team?
This is one of those end-of-letter stories that I’m not sure what it means, if anything, but I do know it means something. If nothing else that the US plans to have an enduring presence in places like Iraq. Just not a presence that involves shooting people in the face.
The challenge of these interventions has ever been thus: what to do once the shooting stops? How do you manage to keep the people you just freed from tyranny from not fucking it all up? You stick around.
That’s not because they can’t do what needs to be done, it’s because the stupidly short timelines that the West expects people to meet. Sure, the slide deck says they’re ready. Maybe this time we stick around to make sure. 
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