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Military efforts in Afghanistan in vain
Col. Jason Dempsey has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and says more than 15 years of U.S. military efforts there have been largely fruitless.

While virtually every American supports our soldiers, sailors and airmen, we fail them when we don’t hold our politicians accountable for their hardships and sacrifices.
That was the argument of West Point graduate Col. Jason Dempsey, PhD, addressing The Rotary Club of McMinnville last week. We are “disrespectful of the treasure and blood of Americans” when we don’t demand honesty and responsibility from our elected leaders when they send our fighting forces into danger.
Dempsey led U.S. troops during two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. After 15 years of fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, he said, we have little to show for our efforts, including some 2,400 killed in combat, another 20,000 wounded and disabled and $700 billion in direct warfare costs.
“We’re steadily progressing to a 0-2 record, but nobody seems to care,” said Dempsey.
One of the systemic challenges for the U.S. military, he said, is the rapid turnover of American officers and soldiers, with nine-month deployments and only three months for overlap in transferring essential information between existing forces and their replacements. During the 15 years since the invasion of the Central Asian country in 2001, the U.S. has had 17 different military commanders and seven different ambassadors. 
Military supply and equipment procurement and construction are also plagued by inefficiency, lack of accountability and endemic corruption among Afghan politicians, police and army officers. 
“We’ve set up a system that’s not going anywhere, and no one is being held accountable,” Dempsey declared.
He cited the U.S.-funded construction of “magnificent” kitchens for feeding the local and allied troops. The kitchens were equipped with modern propane-burning ovens and stoves, despite the fact there was no infrastructure for transporting bottled gas to the sites. As a result, the indigenous forces returned to their centuries-old practice of cooking food over open wooded fires.
Our nation suffers from a credibility deficit with Afghans when we thoughtlessly brand all Muslims as anti-American and likely terrorists, Dempsey said. “It’s hard to categorize 1.6 billion people” as being of one mind in their politics and ideology, he told the Rotarians.
Dempsey, an adjunct senior fellow for military, veterans and society at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, discusses national and global security issues in an extended “Focus” interview this week on public radio WCPI 91.3. The program airs Wednesday at 5:05 a.m., Thursday at 1 p.m., and Friday at 1:05 a.m.