Major General Peter Fuller makes some very, very good points.
As previously stated on these pages, when it comes to what is needed, what is the "reality" on the battlefield and the ground-level point-of-view, I will always defer to the warriors before I believe anyone inside the Beltway will have the answers. This General is spot-on. General Fuller saved $1.6 Billion dollars by trimming his budget. The feckless POLS should listen to this warrior.
Having spent almost 2 years in Afghanistan, I would advise all to take General Fuller's advice. The POLS vying for the Presidency should do the same.
General: Afghan leaders out of touch
By: Tim Mak - Politico
November 3, 2011
A senior U.S. Army officer in Afghanistan called key elements of the government “isolated from reality,” said they don’t appreciate America’s sacrifice for their nation and offered up some choice words for President Hamid Karzai.
Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander of the American-led NATO effort to train and equip Afghan security forces, told POLITICO in an interview that top leaders in the Afghan government had not fully recognized the sacrifices in “treasure and blood” that the U.S. was making for their security and recalled that a senior Afghan official even demanded the transfer of tanks just so they could be used for parades.
The two-star general flashed irritation when he brought up Karzai’s recent remarks that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in a war against the U.S., blasting the president’s comments as “erratic,” and adding, “Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You’ve got to be kidding me … I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care’?”
“When they are going to have a presidential election, you hope they get a guy that’s more articulate in public,” Fuller said during a visit to Washington for a conference.
Karzai is term-limited and will not be running for another term. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Karzai’s remarks have been misunderstood.
Fuller recently involved Afghan generals in a strategic review of the U.S. mission and said that they didn’t understand the extent to which America is in economic distress.
“I said, ‘You guys are isolated from reality.’ The reality is, the world economy is having some significant hiccups. The U.S. is in this [too],” Fuller told POLITICO. “If you’re in a very poor country like Afghanistan, you think that America has roads paved in gold, everybody lives in Hollywood. They don’t understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security. And I think that’s part of my job to educate ’em.”
The problem, he says, is a mentality that the Soviets left behind in Afghanistan.
“We didn’t buy them a lot of things that they had seen bought previously by the Soviets, the tanks and the jets. So they asked for them,’” Fuller said. “They say, ‘Well, the Russians gave us this.’”
Fuller says he responds by saying, “’You’re telling us that you’re not appreciative of $11.2 billion from the U.S. this year? We have challenges going on in our own country, and this is our national treasure.’”
In fact, the Afghan government made requests for F-16 fighter jets and tanks, even without the budget to use or maintain them, said Fuller. “I actually had someone senior tell me, ‘All I want to do is put them [tanks] on a flat bed and drive them around in a parade,” he said.
Fuller described one of his key responsibilities in the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan rather folksily, as someone who often needs to beat back overzealous demands from certain elements of the Afghan government.
“You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish,” said Fuller. “We’re giving them fish while they’re learning, and they want more fish! [They say,] ‘I like swordfish, how come you’re giving me cod?’ Guess what? Cod’s on the menu today.”
However, Fuller said later, Afghan leadership is starting to come around to being able to appreciate American sacrifices.
“The senior leaders [in Afghanistan] are starting to understand that there is a finite amount of resources that the American public is going to provide. Do I wish that they had understood that from Day One? Absolutely. But we probably didn’t do a good job of messaging that very well,” said Fuller. “It’s our responsibility to educate them. And when sometimes you deal with sovereign nations, and they don’t hear it the first time, it’s our responsibility to repeat it.”
And Fuller has put his money where his mouth is. His command had been allotted $12.8 billion for the as-yet-unapproved FY2012 budget before he joined that NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, but he and his team managed to trim $1.6 billion from that figure in August of this year.
“We’re having financial difficulties. I acknowledge it. I’m trying to be the best steward of the resources that are given to us. I could have bought a lot more stuff with $1.6 billion,” Fuller said.