The following is an excerpt from STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL | October 25, 2018 | Time.com |
In the first weeks of 2010, Coalition Forces under my overall command launched an operation to retake the Taliban-controlled district of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. We possessed the firepower to utterly destroy any Taliban resistance. But in the days preceding, I had met with a group of Marjah’s tribal elders, who approved of our effort only on the understandable conditions that the assault not destroy their homes or harm the population. So for that, and other reasons, an operation was conducted that minimized the use of artillery and air strikes, even though it dramatically increased the danger to our soldiers.
I knew that asking coalition soldiers far from home to accept greater risk by displaying what they termed “courageous restraint” was a tall order. Many were understandably reluctant while in pursuit of murky political gains. And, from afar, other observers opined that such a tepid approach to battle appeared weak and risked defeat, with little chance for decisive victory. They had a point. We might have appeared to win convincingly by pulling Taliban bodies from the smoking rubble of ruined farms, shops and homes. But victory must be measured by its sustainability over time. Overcoming a foe, joined by enraged civilians — whose survivors would only regroup with hardening resolve to carry on the war — doesn’t constitute a true victory. Winning, it can be argued, isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be. Despite our preoccupation with victory, winning is often a double-edged sword.
For more visit: Time.com