Saturday, March 25, 2017
Blog
Sep 23

Written by: Diana West
Friday, September 23, 2011 3:30 AM 

This week's syndicated column:

Only the U.S. military could build a defensive wall of words -- "dismounted complex blast injury" (DCBI) -- around the bare fact that single, double, triple, even quadruple amputations are up sharply among U.S. forces on foot patrol in Afghanistan. So are associated pelvic, abdominal and genital injuries, according to a newly released report.

But even the antiseptic language of the report is excruciating, as when it calls for "further refinement" of "aggressive pain management at the POI (point of injury)," or highlights the need to train more military urologists in "phallic reconstruction surgery."

It isn't management but prevention that is called for.

These grievous injuries have increased because more U.S. forces are on foot patrol in Afghanistan. More Americans are on foot patrol in Afghanistan because counterinsurgency strategy puts them there. Every story I've seen on the new amputation report makes this connection. The Associated Press account is typical: "The counterinsurgency tactic that is sending U.S. soldiers out on foot patrols among the Afghan people, rather than riding in armored vehicles, has contributed to a dramatic increase in arm and leg amputations, genital injuries and the loss of multiple limbs following blast injuries."

But what exactly this counterinsurgency (COIN) tactic is designed to accomplish remains off the radar. The fact is, Uncle Sam is asking young Americans to risk limbs, urinary function and testicles to win something not only intangible but also fantastical. They walk the bomb-packed byways of Afghanistan to win -- to "earn" -- "the trust of the Afghan people." This is the mythological, see-no-Islam quest that drives U.S. COIN strategy.

Once we finally admit that the unicorn hunters are wrong, once we stop trying to remake Afghanistan in something akin to our own image, once we start preventing Islam from remaking the West into a Shariah-compliant zone (with counterterrorism strikes, not foot patrols, as needed), these shattering body blasts to young Americans on the other side of the world will cease.

Meanwhile, "the trust of the Afghan people" is the holy grail of the Washington establishment, and, even after retiring from the military, Gen. David Petraeus, now director of the CIA, remains chief myth-maker. "Earn the people's trust," Petraeus wrote in a signal "Counterinsurgency Guidance" issued Aug. 1, 2010. From his list of how-tos -- which range from dispense payola ("COIN-contracting"), to "help them develop checks and balances to prevent abuses" (good luck with that), to "drink lots of tea" -- one order stands out, particularly in light of this week's report on amputations resulting from foot patrols.

Petraeus wrote: "Walk. Stop by, don't drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population."

One year later, the Army is reckoning with the carnage and after-care requirements that are consequences of this key tactic of COIN strategy. It is high time for the rest of us to reckon with them, too. Is COIN working? Is the burden of suffering that the nation is placing on the military worth the return? Frankly, when it comes to winning "the trust of the Afghan people," is there any return?

These questions didn't come up in the new report, naturally. Which isn't to say the report was devoid of political consciousness. By way of background, the report defines "dismounted complex blast injury" as a new pattern of injury. The definition is: "An injury caused by an explosion occurring to a Service Member while dismounted in a combat theater that results in amputation of at least one lower extremity at the knee or above, with either amputation or severe injury to the opposite lower limb, combined with pelvic, abdominal or urogenital injury. This definition is not meant to define a subset of injuries for policy-making decisions."

Oh, yeah?

Tags:
Archive
<March 2017>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2627281234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930311
2345678
Monthly
March, 2017
February, 2017
January, 2017
December, 2016
November, 2016
October, 2016
September, 2016
August, 2016
July, 2016
June, 2016
May, 2016
April, 2016
March, 2016
February, 2016
January, 2016
December, 2015
November, 2015
October, 2015
September, 2015
August, 2015
July, 2015
June, 2015
May, 2015
April, 2015
March, 2015
February, 2015
January, 2015
December, 2014
November, 2014
October, 2014
September, 2014
August, 2014
July, 2014
June, 2014
May, 2014
April, 2014
March, 2014
February, 2014
January, 2014
December, 2013
November, 2013
October, 2013
September, 2013
August, 2013
July, 2013
June, 2013
May, 2013
April, 2013
March, 2013
February, 2013
January, 2013
December, 2012
November, 2012
October, 2012
September, 2012
August, 2012
July, 2012
June, 2012
May, 2012
April, 2012
March, 2012
February, 2012
January, 2012
December, 2011
November, 2011
October, 2011
September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010
August, 2010
July, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010
April, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010
December, 2009
November, 2009
October, 2009
September, 2009
August, 2009
July, 2009
June, 2009
May, 2009
April, 2009
March, 2009
February, 2009
January, 2009
December, 2008
November, 2008
October, 2008
September, 2008
August, 2008
July, 2008
June, 2008
May, 2008
April, 2008
March, 2008
February, 2008
January, 2008
December, 2007
November, 2007
October, 2007
September, 2007
August, 2007
Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright 2012 by Diana West