March 27, 2009

The Report of Reports

Posting will be light today, which will strike some of you as odd considering how today is the day when the White House Afghanistan-Pakistan Review is presented to the public. I, though, will be in the wilds of Virginia hanging out with Dave Dilegge and trying to understand the wild and wonderful thing that is the United States Marine Corps.

Two things, though, jumped out at me from these two early reports (1, 2):

1. The new regional focus. Not just Pakistan but all the neighbors.

2. The triumph of my boss, John Nagl. It appears as if they are turning an entire brigade of the 82d Airborne into advisers, which to me is both overdue and also a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to Army culture. The bad news about this is that John is never going to shut up about how this was his idea. For the gang at 1301 Pennsylvania, he's going to be pretty much insufferable for the next, oh, month or so. (And somewhere along the Hudson River, Gian Gentile is ripping his hair out.)

Okay, I have to go, but first, a favor from the readers: As you digest the report today, ask yourself a) what are the report's key assumptions and b) how will the strategy have to change if those assumptions prove to be false? Leave your impressions, comments, and questions in this thread.

Update: A number of readers noted, correctly, that John had been arguing for a separate corps of advisers. But one thing he told me, over a year ago in England, was that "if we really took advising seriously we would put the 3rd Ranger Battalion in charge of it," meaning that we would task our best and brightest soldiers and not whoever we managed to find. (Which is not to disrespect the awesome soldiers and officers who have volunteered for advisory duty.) I don't think this thing with the 4-82d is too far off from John's vision.

Update II: I have the greatest comments section in all the blogosphere. Chris:

Jesus god, I go away for a few hours and Elf tries to turn this place into littlegreenfootballs, SNLII starts playing grabass about donuts, and Umar gets contradicted by about six different people before I can even respond.