Dan Bolger and commanders such as him are “why we lost” in Afghanistan. I witnessed the results of Dan Bolger as Commanding General in Afghanistan. He may have been personally courageous and that’s fine. His decision to ground everyone on FOBs and bases and to make us all targets by mandating all travel in MRAPs, MATVs and giant uparmored SUVs (aka Taliban Targets) has negatively affected the mission and, in my opinion, has directly contributed to the deaths of military and civilians.
I worked with MPRI in Afghanistan. The whole of the time that I was with MPRI, one MPRI civilian was killed. He was traveling in a military convoy. Since Bolger’s change, the losses have kept on coming. Why? Because he turned us into targets when, before, we had always been anonymous. A decade into a war, Bolger felt that we had lost and his decision reflected that attitude. Bolger wasn’t trying to win. He was trying to survive without hurting his career. I wasn’t impressed and I’m still not impressed.
His decision to Fobbitize the whole of the country has caused this war to be lost. His attitude bled down to the troops. “Oh…it’s dangerous out there. We can’t do that.” It’s a war zone. Of course, it’s dangerous. You drive on and accomplish the mission. Prior to Bolger, a great part of the force was camouflaged…concealed and could move about the country relatively unnoticed. We blended in. After Bolger, we all had great big huge bulls eyes on our backs. Bolger’s defeatism led directly to his preconception that it was a losing effort becoming a reality. He carried defeatism into the battle and left his mark. He is one of the architects of defeat.
I’ve walked the streets of Kabul alone. And? Personal bravery. Awesome. Personal bravery doesn’t always translate to wise or courageous leadership. George Armstrong Custer was a brave individual. He was a suicidal commander. Gen. John Hood was a courageous man. Yet, his recklessness led to massive defeat. Gen. McClellan was a courageous man. Yet, his unwillingness to commit, lack of resolve and over-caution led to his defeat and ultimate relief of command. Grant abhorred the carnage of war. Sherman lost control of his sanity temporarily over his belief of what his war would become. Yet, both men committed and led their commands to victory by using the resources at hand and taking the fight to the enemy.