Friday, March 05, 2010

Are we there yet? Turning corners with Petraeus.

Petraeus was in Ottawa yesterday, chatting to his military buddies. Don't blame me. I didn't invite him.

Really - these guys have got to get some new speechwriters.

Captions for this picture?

"David! Lovely to see you. Mwah!"

Afghan mission turning a corner, Petraeus says

“There's some minefields that you should go around rather than go through,” he quipped in response to a question on Ottawa's exit strategy.

I'm not much on military strategy here, but who in their right minds would choose to go through a minefield?

Later, speaking to reporters, he said: “Obviously, we always like to see everyone continue to pitch in.” But he added that military commanders will find ways to compensate for the loss of Canadian combat troops.

Pitch in? What is this, a barn raising or a pot-luck supper?

In the meantime, he said, the fight in southern Afghanistan will become yet tougher before the situation improves. Still, he argued that after nine years the war has turned a corner

Always darkest before the dawn, yadda, yadda. And exactly which corner would that be? The one you turned to avoid the minefield? What is this guy talking about?

“Having worked hard this past year to get the inputs right … now [the International Security Assistance Force] and its Afghan partners can start to see the progress that is possible,” he said.

Getting the inputs right is okay if you're setting up a sound system or working on a spreadsheet. I don't have the slighest idea what he's going on about here. What inputs? What makes them right? But the "we can start to see that progress is possible" is a total load of organic fertilizer.

Gen. Petraeus...[p]redicted that NATO will “regain the initiative from the insurgency” by following a counterinsurgency strategy similar to the one he followed as a commanding general in Iraq.

Yeah, that's going well.

The offensive in Helmand province to retake the town of Marjah will serve as a model for future operations in other Taliban strongholds, including Kandahar.

An aside. Once when I was traveling on a rather long plane trip from a northern location, I was sitting beside a cook from a lumber camp. Apart from a few tips on how to cook arctic char (landlocked salmon) he said that after cooking for hundreds at every meal, he was really bad at cooking for small groups. He said that recipes don't scale up or down very well, i.e. that cooking for one hundred people didn't just require multiplying a recipe for ten by ten. That's the kind of scale we're talking between Marjah and Kandahar.

Just saying.

“What we learned from Marjah was it's okay to announce that you're coming if you don't want to get into a slugfest right in the city you are trying to save,” Gen. Petraeus said. “That means some of the bad guys are going to get out the back door. That's okay, because we'll track them down. The objective is to secure the population.”

Slugfest, bad guys - sounds like comic book. Bam! Pow! Gotcha!

Ye gods.

“There's an Afghan clock, a Washington clock, an Ottawa clock and a lot of other clocks out there. … We know we've got to get on with it.”

Oh my gawd. He's added an Ottawa clock to all the other clocks.

Does anyone know what time it is?

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