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"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.” -Will Rogers (1879-1935)

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"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Afghanistan Troop Strengths – Stay, Reduce, or Go

I’ve been looking at the 2019 data for military deaths in Afghanistan and listening to the troop drawdown arguments from both sides. I don’t in any way, intend to take sides in this argument. The safety of our nation can be accomplished by various means. I would like to take this opportunity to point out a few glaring points having impact on the argument.

First, let me quote a statement made by the U.S. Envoy:

“The US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, told Afghanistan's TOLOnews this past Monday that the US and the Taliban have reached an agreement "in principle," pending final approval by President Donald Trump.”

Khalilzad went on to say: “based on the draft agreement, the US will pull troops from five bases across Afghanistan within 135 days so long as the Taliban meet conditions set in the agreement.”

Second, here’s some data that I suggest we consider:

The 16 U.S. deaths in 2019 in the Afghanistan Theater of Operations are as follows (in reverse order):

05 Sep, Sgt. 1st Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz, Company H, 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina

21 Aug, Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, of Chicopee, Mass., 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

21 Aug, Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, Calif. 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

July 29: Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer, 20, of Stryker, Ohio, 82nd Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg,

July 29: Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, 24, of Chicago, 82nd Airborne Division.

July 13: Special Forces Sgt. Maj. James “Ryan” Sartor, 40, of Teague, Texas,

June 30: Sgt. 1st Class Elliott J. Robbins Ogden, Utah, 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, Colorado.

June 25: Special Forces Master Sgt. Micheal Riley, 32, of Heilbronn, Germany, 10th Special Forces Group

June 25: Explosives ordnance disposal specialist Sgt. James Johnston, 24, of Trumansburg, N.Y.,

April 8: U.S. Marine Cpl. Robert Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, N.Y.,

April 8: U.S. Marine Sgt. Benjamin Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania,

April 8: U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, 43, an FDNY firefighter from Newark, Delaware

March 22: Explosives ordnance disposal specialist Spc. Joseph Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio,

March 22: Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colorado, 10th Special Forces Group

January 22: Green Beret Staff Sgt. Joshua Beale, 32, of Carrollton, Virginia, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)

January 17: Army Ranger Sgt. Cameron Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Breakdown by Enlisted Rank
Senior Enlisted – Total 12 – 75%
Junior Enlisted – Total 4   - 25%
Total All - 16

Every life is precious, but the inordinate amount of deaths of those longer serving and well experienced soldiers is something that should not be taken lightly. Every time a senior enlisted member succumbs to battle, the level of experience within an organization takes a hit far more than just the body count. There senior enlisted are most likely being hit by a re-deployment impact much more than the junior enlisted members also as their turnover (excluding retirement losses) is much lower.

Think of the enlisted ranks as a triangle. There are far fewer higher ranking individuals, the higher you move from the triangle’s base to the triangle’s apex. A ratio like 40:1 might sound correct; I’m not exactly sure, but that’s a decent number.

Because of the current mission of our forces stationed in Afghanistan—training and advisement far more than combat operations—their percentage of the total force structure is very likely more heightened and therefore exposing more senior enlisted numbers to harm’s way than routinely.

The less troops stationed in Afghanistan, the more senior enlisted personnel there are. Exposure Tables tell us, they are therefore more likely to be targets of bad deeds. The numbers cannot be read any other way.

Reducing the troop strength from approximately 14,000 to the proposed 8,600 also tells us that the experience quotient as a result of bad deeds will suffer force wide.

For the protection of the experience quotient to remain intact, the troop strength has to be increased.

So! The decision should be black or white: increase in troop strength or lower it to zero. There seems to be no argument here.