Exit strategy

Don Rosholt/courtesy; Karla Marshall/Wikipedia

Army veteran Don Rosholt reflects on the Afghanistan exit

Breaking news resounded out in all major news outlets and social media reports, regarding the exit strategy in Afghanistan and an exploding humanitarian crisis.  While other Americans found it a great success with extraordinary results and a final end to a long war, the results of this finale was found debatable, monopolizing the airwaves with an unanswered question: Could this have been done differently?

I decided to find a vet who could answer some questions and found it was not an easy task.  I consulted with several combat vets, reluctant to give me an answer to six questions.  Then I contacted a Presidential Honor Guard, my cousin Don Rosholt, assigned to President Kennedy’s grave, during the Vietnam War era, and was kind enough to answer my questions.

Who should determine the military exit strategy from Afghanistan?

It’s my opinion that the military leaders and their advisors should determine the exit strategy. Since Afghanistan included military forces from multiple nations all the nations involved in the military effort must be involved in the development and implementation of the exit strategy.  It can not be a unilateral decision by one of the nations, regardless of the size of each nation’s involvement.  224,000 people evacuated in a few days is an extraordinary accomplishment . Truly extraordinary.  A very good result.

What should the exit strategy include? 

It’s my opinion, since each nations’ involvement may differ from one another, each nation must develop their own exit strategy that is appropriate for their military and supporting personnel.  This would require close coordination between each nation.  For example, a nation that is providing financial support would have requirements very different from nations who have personnel on the ground. Those nations that are involved outside of the country would have different requirements than nations that have personnel inside the country.  And, any nation that has citizens in the country, for any non military reason including visiting or humanitarian assistance, would have different requirements.  All requirements must be addressed by each nation.  For example, a nation that has only non military operations may be able to assist other nations.  This has many contingencies.

Where should the exit strategy be planned?

It’s my opinion since this was a NATO sectioned effort involving other NATO Allies, I think it would serve all the parties involved to have NATO oversee and approve or support the overall exit strategy.  We can’t have any one nation pull the rug out from under the other NATO Allies.

When should the exit strategy be executed?

It is in my opinion the exit strategy should be executed once the goal of the operation has been achieved. In this case, the goal was to get Osama Bin Laden and his organization.  Once that was accomplished, the exit strategy should have begun.

Why have an exit strategy

 It’s my opinion that without an exit strategy, that has a clear defined objective and achievable goal, a nation could get bogged down in situations were they have lost their focus and purpose.

How should an exit strategy be measured?

It’s my opinion an exit strategy may have many different conclusions.  In WWII, we fought throughout Europe.  We ended up at the end of the war in a reconstruction effort. And, that has resulted in a long lasting peace and with Allies.  And, in Afghanistan we went in after terrorist segments, in their country, that attacked us.  We should have known from Vietnam that we can’t change the culture of an entire country.  Vietnam didn’t end well.  And, Afghanistan didn’t end well.  There are similarities and long wars had bad outcomes from previous Nations.  In Afghanistan it was the Russians who didn’t have a good outcome or ending.  Some things just aren’t fixable by military interventions.