From a paragraph deep in this New York Times piece based on talks with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan:
Aides said General McChrystal was seeking to bring to his new position the same high-speed tempo and precise synchronization that were hallmarks of his terrorist-hunting days as head of the military’s Joint Special Operations Command.
No one can argue with “high-speed tempo,” as readers of Ann Scott Tyson’s new blog for The Washington Post about the Marines fight in Afghanistan’s Helmand River Valley can attest. But “precise synchronization?” The operation has been launched, as McChrystal recognizes, without a sufficient amount of Afghan security forces and Afghan civilian government officials to hold what the Marines clear, a problem that extends far beyond Helmand. And the United States’ civilian personnel in Helmand — primarily devoted to the development side of things — pale in comparison to the 4,000 Marines in the fight. Then on top of that is the somewhat fractious and cumberson NATO command structure that places different partner nations in charge of different areas of the country.
McChrystal’s working on harmonizing that last part, at least. But what part of this operation has been “precisely synchronized?” It seems like the Marines are in an excellent position to clear the valley now that the Taliban is fighting back and in a terrible position to pass off holding responsibility to Afghans.