US General Stan McChrystal's supposedly decisive summer campaign to rout the Taliban may not be proceeding as advertised but the Taliban may be the least of General Stan's problems.
McChrystal got the hook, pulled back to Washington over a gaggle of stupid remarks he and his aides made in a Rolling Stone interview. From McClatchey Newspapers:
In the article, in the forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, an aide ridicules Vice President Joe Biden — who had opposed the troop surge for Afghanistan — while another aide described U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ricahrd Holbrooke as a “wounded animal.” McChrystal is quoted saying that the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, who also opposed the extra troops, “covers his flank for the history books.” An aide calls national security adviser James Jones, a retired general, a “clown." Only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets good reviews from McChrystal’s staff.
“It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard,” McChrystal said in a statement.
McChrystal last night individually called all those disparaged in the article to apologize. "He spoke to everyone but the president," one military official said.
McChrystal’s strategy to stabilize Afghanistan is already shaky, with mixed results from his first major operation, in Helmand province, and questions being asked over the upcoming offensive in Kandahar.
Another McClatchey article details how private security contractors paid to defend US supply convoys are handing over millions of dollars in protection money each week to - why, the Taliban, of course.
The payments, which are reimbursed by the U.S. government, help fund the very enemy the U.S. is attempting to defeat and renew questions about the U.S. dependence on private contractors, who outnumber American troops in Afghanistan, 130,000 to 93,000.
The report's author called the findings of the six-month investigation "sobering and shocking."
"This arrangement has fueled a vast protection racket run by shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others," wrote Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., the chairman of the House subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs.
...Concerns over whether U.S. contracting is fueling Afghanistan's rampant corruption have existed for years, but only earlier this month did Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, and Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, established a task force in Afghanistan to investigate the effects.
...Nearly every company listed in the report is associated with senior Afghan officials, including President Hamid Karzai, the minister of defense, a provincial governor and a senior Afghan army official.
...The truckers pay as much as $1,500 a truck to "nearly every Afghan governor, police chief and local military unit whose territory the company passed," en route to a U.S. base, according to the 79-page report.
... The report alleges that neither the contactors nor the military know specifically how the trucks arrive safely at bases when many of the country's roads are regular targets of Taliban attacks."