By Steven Pressfield | Published: July 17, 2009
Thank you for your Weekend Mashup suggestions.
A few of the blogs I’ve been introduced to this week include Global Guerrillas, Ink Spots, Sosh-P and Building Peace. When I saw T.X. Hammes mentioned in Building Peace’s July 13 post, I was sold. All four are great blogs. Suggest you visit if they are new to you.
“Winning entries and select others will be published in future special volumes of Small Wars Journal. For each of the two topics, a $3,000 Grand Prize and two $500 Honorable Mentions will be awarded. Hence $8,000 total purse.”
Check out the web site to learn more about the competition and the topics.
The SWJ editors note:
“We greatly respect the works and insights of the usual suspects from the many DoD-centric writing competitions and anticipate some great and hard-to-beat entries from them. We would really like to see some stiff competition from fresh new voices and experience sets not often heard. Please spread the good word about this competition to the far reaches of the empire of important participants in the vastly broad and complex field of small wars. This is a level playing field, and let’s get all the players on it.”
Another article from David Wood this week, titled “Happy Talk About War Doesn’t Fly With Troops on the Ground.” In it, he asks:
“Should presidents and their administrations be relentless cheerleaders after they send young Americans into combat? Or should they risk losing public support by passing on the bad news from their commanders?”
Later in the article, David quotes Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson:
“‘What we’ve said is . . . where we go, we stay; and where we stay, we hold; and where we hold, we build . . .’ Nicholson told reporters this week in a video teleconference from Afghanistan.
“‘I mean, I’m not going to sugarcoat it,’ the Marine commander added. ‘The fact of the matter is, we don’t have enough Afghan forces and I’d like more. Right now I’ve got 4,000 Marines in Helmand with about 600 . . . 650 Afghan forces. Imagine if I had 4,000 Marines with 4,000 Afghan forces!’”
I prefer the uncoated truth. You?
“He has been promised more troops, but they will not start rolling in until next year. In the interim, he has asked his superiors for permission to arm young men and train them to serve as a local protection force. It is similar to the Sons of Iraq initiative the Marines created in Anbar that resulted in locals turning against foreign fighters in the group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
“But senior commanders have shown no sign of approving the request. They feel Helmand has too many overlapping tribal rivalries. Arming groups of young men could exacerbate tensions and lead some factions to turn to the Taliban for protection.”
Back to the tribes. How do we work with them and encourage them to work together?
On the blog Ghosts of Alexander, the question was asked:
“During the Soviet-Afghan War, some prominent Afghan families strategically placed one son in the mujahideen and one son in the communist government (and perhaps sent off one son to get a spiffy professional education). Basically, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ applied to your children. It says a lot about self-interest versus ideology.
“Who wrote about this? It was a rather small mention in a long article or book. I’m in the US without my books or notes and I’m trying to go off of memory. And it’s not working.
“Can anybody help on this one? I’m leaning towards someone who’s been writing for a while like Rubin, Dorronsoro or Roy…”
If you know the answer, post to his blog—or post here. I’d like to know the answer, too.
On a lighter note, Books for Soldiers is another site I was introduced to, and I was reminded of the great series at the Pritzker Military Library. Watch some of their webcasts—or visit the library the next time you are in Chicago. Thank you for the reminder @CFOXTROT. Was also reminded of Thomas P.M. Barnett’s blog.
Over at Twitter . . . Was introduced to a number of fantastic photographers. There are two in particular that I’d like to point out. Please visit their sites and check out their work:
On Matt Brandon’s (@mattsahib) site The Digital Trekker, you can see his photography from around the world. Check out the picture of the young girl in “The Gujjars” section of the site. It reminds me of Steve Curry’s picture of the young girl from Afghanistan, which ran on the cover of National Geographic—but with less fear in the girl’s eyes this time.
That’s it for this week.
Please continue sending your comments for next weeks Mashup.
Hat tips to “Wisner,” Gordon Daugherty, Andrew Lubin, “da kine,” “Kestrelrising,” Dom Santoleri, Morgan Atwood. I will continue checking out all of your suggestions.