A question begging for a satisfactory answer

I asked this question about the war in Afghanistan for a while and never got a satisfactory answer. Maybe a reader knows one?

Why did the West never apply a "Hydra" strategy in PsyOps and policy?

We could have pledged publicly (and told all Afghans about it) that we would send ten new soldiers for every KIA and two new ones for every WIA.
Add in a thorough information on the size of Western military establishments and the claim that we've proved superiority over Russians historically.
After every KIA and WIA, let new troops arrive - as pledged - and spread the word, including some increased activity.
Yet we would also pledge to withdraw a certain number of troops every year.
The more violence against us, the larger and longer the presence. Resistance would be futile - even counter-productive.



edit 2015: I added the part about withdrawal. I was sue I had mentioned it from the start, but apparently I did not. It sure was part of my original idea.



  1. Steve,

    I think the Hydra policy is an excellent one from a foreign policy perspective, but ends there.

    Liberal democracies have trouble with war--even the United States. The thought of a geometric expansion of the human/dollar commitment to Afghanistan is daunting at best.

    Knowing that, the Taliban would have a strong incentive to kill as many Americans as possible quickly, in order to cause the commitment to quickly explode.

    The US is already short on volunteer troops. It cannot threaten a conscription to keep up the Hydra strategy.

    This might work better for an occupying force like China or Russia, I suspect.

  2. Keep in mind the used ratio;
    we deployed much more troops to Afghanistan than such a rule would have forced us to deploy.

    This automatism can hardly be a deal-breaker in that way, neither domestically nor militarily.

    "(...)the Taliban would have a strong incentive to kill as many Americans as possible quickly, in order to cause the commitment to quickly explode."
    seems to be just as true without the strategy.

  3. But then the domestic commentators will scream that you sent in an undermanned force on purpose.

  4. Politics.
    Certainly in the UK at least.

    We entered Afghanistan on the understanding that it was a reconstruction effort and the british army would never fire a shot.

    Although you are correct, the forces commited would be much smaller than they have been, an open ended commitment would not be acceptable politicaly.

    Further to that, do the Taliban care how many soldiers we have deployed?
    Do we control more of Afghanistan than we did 4 years ago?

    To properly occupy Afghanistan, we'd need over a million men.
    They know we cant deploy that many, we know we cant deploy that many.

  5. DominicJ; those general problems don't disqualify aspecific strategy because the historical strategy was affected as well.

    The Afghanistan project is stupid, that's for sure. We shoudln't have expanded it in 2002.
    Yet, we did it - and it's kinda disappointing that we didn't se any brilliant operations or strategies in eight years!

  6. 1) It is impossible to sell such a strategy politically. Just look at the current debate, it is all about a firm troop commitment. There is no room for a nontangible force pledge to Afghanistan.

    2) It won't work. At some point, there will be enough KIA and WIA to be unable to maintain the pledge.

    3) The Taliban won't care. Frankily, the insurgents believe that their fight is holy and will not desist until defeated or the West leaves their country. Furthermore, the majority always believed they will win, especially harcore elements of Quetta council, HIG, and Haqqani.

    4) Its stupid. It is restrictive, and your locking yourself into commitment. The way to win wars is to have enough room to make flexible choices. Such a pledge reeks of dodged hardheadedness, incompetence, and weakness. If you are making threats, then you know you are not doing well.

  7. It wouldn't work unless we bribed local leadership and gave up all pretense of a strong central government. Of course that can't happen because any form of decentralization would be considered heresy by the leadership of Western democracies.