A while back I did a post titled “Elections Expert Seth Keshel Releases National Fraud Study Numbers.” Since then, due to his exposure on many conservative news platforms, he has been accepted as an expert on the subject. As a result of his notoriety, former service as a military officer, and access to people knowledgeable on the subject, he was recently asked about his opinion on the Situation In Afghanistan. This is what he had to say just the other day.
Seth Keshel On The Afghanistan Situation
Many have asked me for my thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan. Since it figures so critically in my background and analytical qualifications, I will give them here in this space.
I was assigned to the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Hood, TX, as a second lieutenant fresh out of my Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course in 2009. I took up my role as the Assistant S-2 (Intelligence Officer) in one of the brigade’s two Attack battalions (Apaches). The S-2 serves as an advisor to the commander (in this case, a battalion is commanded by a lieutenant colonel). The assistant S-2 is clearly the new guy learning under the more experienced primary S-2, typically a captain or senior first lieutenant.
The brigade was just returning home from a deployment to Iraq when I arrived, but thanks to the troop surge coming in Afghanistan, was quickly spun up for a new deployment under a new brigade commander (one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever known), Col. Dan Williams. Notice of the deployment came in Dec 2009 when the colonel told me “poppy fields in June” at a brigade dining event. I had just been promoted to 1st lieutenant at this time.
By April, our brigade was divided into multiple task forces (with the task forces now holding three types of helicopters – Apache, Chinook, Blackhawk, but not Kiowa). I was shifted to another battalion-sized task force that was going to be missing its S-2 for the first few months of the deployment due to personal reasons. He was a captain and had experience in the Iraq tour the unit completed in 2009. I was fortunate to have been trained by a brilliant officer, 1LT/CPT Wightman – a great guy with whom I’ve never agreed politically. He helped me immensely to develop critical S-2 skills.
I had the same analytical skill then as I do now – but without the combat experience and day-to-day know-how that comes with “soldiering.” That is why God made NCOs (non-commissioned officers). For several months, my intelligence section operated with three people, when we were allotted eight on paper. 1LT Keshel, SSG Head, and SGT Millhouse. SSG Head (now retired SFC) was an infantryman by trade who transitioned to MI (Military Intelligence) MOS. As the NCO in charge, his job was mainly to lead our analysts and perform essential administrative functions, but due to lacking manpower and the demand for 24-hour operations, he was pressed into a more analytical role than his position would typically entail. One of his duties was getting me straight. He laughs still when we talk about the first rocket that landed near us on Kandahar, the first full day in Afghanistan. He didn’t move from his bunk. I followed the entire drill, including hitting the deck and then going to a bunker. The next time a rocket hit, I didn’t move either. You never forget that level of embarrassment. Over the course of several months, SSG Head got me set up for success, right around the time our captain came into the country.
My dad died in September, three months in. I went home for his funeral, and when I got back the captain (CPT Kolano) was back. We are the same age – he graduated college a year ahead of me and therefore was ahead of me in career progression. We had both been 1LTs at the same time, and he made CPT a year before I did, going into this deployment. One drawback of battalion staff sections is that officers often hold the same rank, and become friends, and then have to report one to the other. Of course, there is basic professionalism, meaning that no one will undermine the one who outranks them – but it’s not always easy. CPT Kolano and I didn’t really get along personally during our deployment, but fortunately, we actually became real friends when we returned and were sent to the Captain’s Career Course together in Arizona. He is still in, a Major – one of the better intelligence minds I met in the Army – a strategist, workaholic, and fitness nut. We gelled pretty well about halfway through the tour.
He would run daily operations and briefings, and I would create and disseminate the intelligence summaries that influenced operations in all of RC-West. It was the most widely disseminated intel summary in all of the region, which is the size of Georgia. I would handle deliberate operations missions briefings in the middle of the night and brief pilots in the early morning hours before we traded posts. All in all, I spent about 4 of my 12 months as the primary S-2 in his absence, and 8 as the Assistant S-2, working a cross shift that included the night hours.
It was late in 2010 that I began reading “Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare” by Marston and Malkasian. After shooting out the intel summary and eating midnight chow, I would go to the back office, and when free, would read that book to the hum of our generators. The book assembles a series of historical vignettes outlining failed counterinsurgencies throughout recent history. The bottom line was clear – counterinsurgency doesn’t work – unless it is conducted on an island. Navies can be used to patrol islands and keep enemy fighters, weapons, and supplies out. The forces on the island can then be used to separate insurgent factions from peaceful factions. And once separated, the insurgents can be eradicated. It sank in like the stone on Goliath’s forehead. Immediately, given that I was paid to think strategically, I abandoned all hope that we would ever win the war in Afghanistan. Since I was already in an aviation brigade, I thought at the “30,000’” level just as I see the political landscape today. It was at this time, looking at upcoming deployments going as far out as eight years, that I started to see the hopelessness in making this my career. Now I’m very glad I began to feel that way.
Our unit got to the point to which Apaches were using $70,000 hellfire missiles to destroy $50 repeater towers on mountainsides made of duct tape and PVC pipe. One time, we had to shoot TWICE! Our pilot teams were hamstrung by our own lawyers – having to call for clearance to fire at enemy fighters who were clearly engaging our ground troops and causing needless casualties. A couple of our pilots were permanently grounded and lost their wings because they had to fire in defense of ground troops and accidentally fragged some with dangerous close engagements. Coalition “partners” in our region were giving away communications equipment to the Taliban in exchange for not being attacked. Guess who was getting attacked.
Counterinsurgency (COIN) exists in a textbook at Fort Huachuca. They preach it like it is gospel. If you point out that the only successful modern counterinsurgencies take place on islands, or in antiquity, when every living and breathing thing in a given nation is put to the sword, you get scoffed at. In the textbook, we have our successful decades-long COIN operation when the nation (in this case, Afghanistan) is able to provide its own security. The Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) were the two primary entities tasked with learning to stand up and take their own bullets so we didn’t have to.
Want to know what they were busy doing in my 2010-11 tour? They were going out on patrol and selling ammunition to the Taliban and other terror cells. Then they would return to their duty stations and claim that they expended however many rounds they sold off and get replenished – and the cycle continued. One time, I went for a run when I wasn’t on shift, just so I could stay in some sort of decent physical condition. I carried my rifle with me and ran with it like a private at Marine boot camp, primarily because you never want to be *that guy* that loses his weapon in a combat zone, but also because we shared our base with pit vipers, wild dogs, and most notably, Afghans. Keep in mind, these are the ANA/ANP that are supposedly on our side, but one of the biggest threats to coalition forces in the entire country, right behind IEDs, was getting shot in the back of the head at dinner by the ANA or ANP. Most senior officers who have died in Afgh in the past decade have been killed by friendlies, either in cold blood or in coordinated suicide attacks using people on our bases (contractors, ANA, ANP, etc).
On that run, I went out a few miles and found myself lost (lieutenant, okay) – a few turns around some jersey barriers and HESCO baskets later, I found myself on the ANA camp. I don’t hide very well, and I saw a bunch of pointing going on – I am guessing at the giant American officer surrounded by miniature Afghans – and I booked it out of there. These are our “allies.” These are the people responsible for guaranteeing the future safety and security of Afghanistan, at least according to the textbook. It was in these months in the transition from 2010 to 2011 that I realized counterinsurgency was hopeless. My mind began to think about life not in the military, giving my best years and risking myself for something so futile. I’ve told the story before in an article about my future assignment to Alaska when I read “Liberty Defined” by Ron Paul, which cemented in my mind the need to find a new career. I put in my papers to leave just three months after reading the chapter pertaining to endless war.
On the current issue itself – the mission in Afghanistan died of a Stage IV cancer that had first been discovered in 2001. As useless as he is, and with his means of occupying the White House being what they are, this is not the complete fault of Joe Biden. It is the summation of 20 years of useless war in a place called THE GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES. A “graveyard,” for goodness sakes, and we thought we would turn out different? Most veterans before the internet became the all-powerful self-education tool it is believed in the mission to get even after 9/11. That was my inner drumbeat when I was signing up. We didn’t think about the history – we thought about the imagery – all the G.W. Bush phony patriotism and feeling like we needed to have his back when the media did their thing. We didn’t realize the lies of the fake political system and the fake neo-con patriotism – the same patriotism that leads the military bases in Afghanistan to have three contractors for every one soldier standing in the chow line, and occupying the phone tent when you want to use that 15-minute window to call home. It is indeed a military-industrial complex.
What is old is new. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The British tried for many years to pacify Afghanistan, centuries ago. Abject failure. The Russians wasted a decade there and were sent running like scalded apes. We spent two decades there. You could potentially make the case for “justified warfare” for a year after 9/11, with valid intelligence on targets. But once the targets became hunted, the ones with strategic value left. Why do you think it is that we killed Bin Laden in Pakistan? The Pakistanis acted surprised that he was there. But they knew. Blood is thicker than water. That is why Karzai said a decade ago that he would side with the Pakistanis over America in a war. I remember commenting at that time that if I were President, I would have every single American soldier home by December, and let them figure it out.
Why all the issues? The nation is and has always been run by warlords. Vacuums continue to open and be occupied by the one with the most guns. These are savages. These are people who stone women for learning how to read – yet our idiot leftists and their media lapdogs have the audacity to liken traditional Americans to the Taliban. What a disgusting insult.
The warlords do not share Western beliefs and values. They, thanks to their fundamentalist belief systems, do not recognize the dignity of the individual. We have rights in this country because we were founded on the simple belief that man is made in the image of God, and therefore deserves dignity. With dignity comes rights. We enshrined them in our founding documents. The people of Afghanistan are viewed as serfs to be ruled.
The convenient excuse of extending rights and liberty to Afghanistan was a lie. It is the military-industrial complex speaking. We have domestic problems here that could have been addressed for the entirety of the Afghan war, without the loss of life, limbs, eyesight, blood, and treasure in a second Vietnam. This is why neo-con warlords like John McCain, Jeff Flake, Dan Crenshaw, Adam Kinzinger, G.W. Bush, and others, must be roundly ridiculed, mocked, despised, and rejected.
The military is a great place for a boy to become a man. I am glad that I served because I have the foundation of resiliency, determination, and realism that I otherwise would never have developed. Veterans are great employees because they can be in the right place, at the right time, and in the right uniform. Discipline, personal pride, and fitness (physical and ideally, mental) are hallmarks modern veterans have.
Those veterans will attest to what I’m saying. None of what I wrote is to detract from the bravery of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. One of my best friends was a Marine combat engineer (Captain) who has had his life ruined by that stupid war. He is brave, led his men with valor, at the cost of concussing himself permanently, and undergoing the emotional trauma that has caused great personal hardship. He reminds me of my Dad – who dealt with his issues from Vietnam in ways that often caused great pain to others, against his own desires.
In summary – though I have wandered – there was never a way to win a war in Afgh if we view “victory” as the locals being able to govern their own country. That was a lie used by the military-industrial complex to engage in a war that is two-decades-long. We were astonished that we were serving there ten years after 9/11. Now that number is twenty years. I was new in my career when I showed up there, with just 2 years of service. If I were still in today, I’d be a Major, a couple of years from Lieutenant Colonel, with 13 years of service. No results.
The only way to win it was to destroy everything that breathes and start over. I do not endorse that method because there are many innocents in Afghanistan, and there is no public will to do that, fortunately. That is how things were done in the days of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. But since Afghanistan is the size of Texas, bordering 6 nations, there are few strategic targets worth eliminating now. We are eliminating pawns, 19 year olds paid a hundred bucks and given an AK-47 and a couple of Chinese rockets to fight for their own country. The knights, rooks, and bishops are hiding out in Pakistan or Iran, funneling money, explosives, and other weaponry into the country to maim and kill coalition forces. Our leaders knew this all along but continued. Trump knew this but knew that if he pulled the plug immediately, he would be blamed for exactly what you see going on right now – the same scenes from “Blackhawk Down” with our equipment and unit regalia being paraded down dusty roads, to our humiliation as a nation. Trump did what he could to empower our Generals to make the kinetic decisions to get as much done as possible, and he dwindled troop levels down enough to pave the way for a withdrawal – but two decades of horrific decision making has its consequences.
I hope this sheds light on the true picture in Afghanistan. It was doomed to fail, and now you see it all coming to fruition.
I just got off the White House briefing for Congress concerning Afghanistan.
Joe Biden is a FOOL!
- The military equipment and arms were left on purpose for the Afghan military to supposedly defend themselves. But they have handed it all over with no resistance.
- 5,000 prisoners have been released from the base. Known terrorists.
- Our border is wide open and out of control. These terrorists can easily make their way to the US.
- The Taliban is in full control and ISIS is there as well.
- Trump defeated ISIS and Biden is to blame for their imminent rise.
- Turkey and Pakistan are going to soon move in to “stabilize” Afghanistan.
- Over $1 trillion in spending, over 2,000 Americans lives lost, and over 20,000 injured and maimed over the last 18 years for absolutely nothing.
My love and support go out to all of our military members and veterans of Afghanistan, and also especially to any family who lost a loved one.
God Bless our Gold Star families.