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Casualties Mount in Afghanistan

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  • Casualties Mount in Afghanistan

    US casualties are running at about twice the level they did this time last year, due largely to the increased tempo of operations. Here’s a link to the AP report with some analysis.

    The report made me think about Union General George B. McClellan, sometime commander of the Army of the Potomac. The take on McClellan is that his reluctance to suffer casualties kept him from gaining a decisive victory early in the American Civil War – and the prolongation of the fighting over the following years escalated casualties far beyond those an early victory – even a costly one – would have produced. It’s a lesson military thinkers have taken to heart: sometimes you need to bleed today to save lives tomorrow.

    The tricky part is knowing when the casualties today will save lives tomorrow, and when they are just wasted young lives. It’s never a sure thing. Anyone who claims it is does not have, in my opinion, the humility necessary to make those sorts of enormously important decisions. But leaders do need to make those decisions, and usually we don’t know if it was the right call for a long time.

    Some times it takes a really long time. Historians are still arguing about McClellan.


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