Lawrence Nicholson

Shorter Gen. Nicholson: “Yeah, We Lied Earlier About Afghan Troop Capabilities, But You Can Believe Us This Time”

It would appear that even the Washington Post is beginning to see through the way that the Defense Department continues to make outrageous claims regarding the capabilities of Afghan National Security Forces. An article published last night to the Post’s website carries the headline “Panetta, other U.S. officials in Kabul paint rosy picture of Afghan situation”. The article opens in conventional news-as-transcription-of-government-narrative fashion:

With Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in Kabul to take stock as the Obama administration weighs how quickly to draw down troops over the next two years, a senior U.S. military commander on Wednesday hailed the progress Afghan security forces have made.

Marine Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the head of operations for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said NATO troops have begun a radical shift in mission: doing the bare minimum to support Afghan troops, who, he said, are starting to operate unilaterally. “We’re now un-partnering from” Afghan forces, Nicholson told reporters Wednesday evening. “We’re at that stage of the fight.”

The article then plants a hint, stating that if Afghan forces are seen as achieving capability to function on their own, the US withdrawal can be accelerated from the current plan of taking another two years.

Remarkably, the Post then moves on to provide some perspective for Nicholson’s claim:

The assessment Nicholson offered, however, is far rosier than the one that U.S. officials have provided recently. They have been citing the resilience of the Taliban and the shortcomings of the Afghan government and military.

Just one of 23 Afghan army brigades is able to operate on its own without air or other military support from the United States or NATO, according to a Pentagon report to Congress that was released Monday.

But Nicholson wants us to believe that even though the Defense Department has been lying for years about Afghan troop capabilities, they really, really mean it this time and we should believe them:

Nicholson said that although U.S. commanders have made “disingenuous” claims in the past about the extent to which Afghans were acting as equal partners in joint missions, officials now see the Afghan army as ready to operate largely on its own, albeit with key logistical and financial support from NATO. The new strategy as the United States tries to transfer greater responsibility to the Afghan government and military is one of “tough love,” Nicholson said.

Sadly, Nicholson’s claims appear to have no more credibility than previous DoD claims on ANSF capabilities. Consider this exchange from the briefing held Monday at the Defense Department, featuring as speakers Senior Defense Official “[Briefer name deleted]” and Senior State Department Official “[briefer name deleted]” where we see that the Post isn’t the only media operation that sees through the duplicity. This exchange starts with a question from Lita Baldor of AP [emphasis added]: Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @stevenzzhou What do you mean by that?
4hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @LilianaSegura: "Mindful of the bad name that night raids have, the American military has renamed them 'night operations.'” http://t.co/
6hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @Pedinska Our dogs don't know the fun they have in store. Older daughter is bringing her dog for a few days at Thanksgiving.
7hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Jimmy McCulloch is a very underrated guitar player.
8hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz What a lousy day of football here in Cactusland. Bleech!
9hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz I KNOW he is on my side, so I cannot understand how @AllThingsHLS is letting the SeaSquawks kick Arizona's ass like this. #YouCanStopNow
9hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz On behalf of Cheeseheads everywhere, from the heart of Mr. Rodger's neighborhood, thank you sincerely to the New England Patriots.
9hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @nickmanes1 I jinxed him.
10hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @nickmanes1 A lot of great passes were dropped, even by people who normally catch them.
10hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Vince Wilfork got almost up to sumo weight in his injury year. He'd be damn good at sumo, I bet.
10hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @nickmanes1 Had said if Kitties kept penalties low and Stafford avoided picks they might have a chance. Forgot to say, "catch the ball."
10hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Stafford fucked up the slide.
10hreplyretweetfavorite
November 2014
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30