Critic: "Absurd" for Panetta to call Taliban attacks a "last gasp"
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff brief reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday.
September 27th, 2012
08:09 PM ET

Critic: "Absurd" for Panetta to call Taliban attacks a "last gasp"

By Larry Shaughnessy

One of Washington's foremost analysts of military issues has some harsh words about Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's take on the insider attack problem in Afghanistan, calling it "absurd."

During a recent trip to Japan, Panetta was asked about U.S. and other International Security Assistance Force troops being killed by members of the Afghan security forces, or insurgents dressed like them.

He said, "And we think, frankly, it is kind of a last gasp effort to be able to not only target our forces, but to try to create chaos, because they've been unable to regain any of the territory that they have lost." On Thursday, Panetta reiterated his point during a briefing with reporters, saying, "It's near the end of their effort to really fully fight back."

"Quite frankly i think that most intelligent people and military people would privately think that Secretary Panetta's comments are absurd, perhaps harmful. Because they just can't be taken seriously," said Anthony Cordesman a senior analyst at CSIS, a major Washington think tank, and a recipient of Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his work at the Pentagon before joining CSIS. "They are not at the last gasp, all they really have to do is at this point outwait us, constantly put pressure on areas that give them political visibility. They don't have to defeat ISAF, it's leaving."

While Cordesman does not agree with Panetta's remarks, he says that doesn't mean the Taliban is on the road to victory.

"The fact that statement clearly is untrue doesn't mean that necessarily the Taliban can win," Cordesman said. "Whether this will give them control of the country or not is something nobody can determine. It's a long way from talking about last gasp."

Even Panetta conceded Thursday that insider attacks may not be the Taliban's final arrow in their insurgent quiver. "Whether or not, you know, it's the end of their bag of tactics to come at us I think is still an open question."

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Matt

    People forget I was hard slog but both McChrystal and Petraeus pushed ahead with the LDI's the same Karzai resisted the plan, is same as why we went ahead. Between JSOC and the CIA that is a lot of people, they are like spores the US does not want chaos so they are not propagated. But if forced to the US can funnel money and weapons and propagate these militias into much larger force structure. The US is still there knocking people until 2024, the Biden plan but surround by a large indigenous force structure so the Talib have defeat that, then if they do the spores are propagated, after 2024. The Talib are going to be fighting until 2035, then if they were to win in 2036, OP Anaconda again. It is true that a larger enough buffer for the ANSF was not create in that 5 years and the insurgency has a lot more oxygen they we would have liked. So it does not mean the Taliban are going to win, it will bring in a phase earlier perhaps or it means that the US will probably have to propagate the spores after 2024.

    October 5, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
  2. Jack

    Does every body recognize that look on Gen. Martin Dempsey face?
    Its that look of "I dont know where the hell you're going with this lie but,
    I need to pay attention to keep up".

    And Penatta, That guy can never look up. talk about a bad lier.
    He's so afraid he just stares down or only directly to the reporter he's talking to.

    October 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  3. George Patton

    It seems awfully funny that after 11 years of fighting with both vast superiority in manpower and weaponry, the Taliban remain undefeated. Moreover, We Americans have enjoyed the advantage of international support especially from our rubber-stamp NATO "allies" whereas the Taliban never had any outside support whatsoever. Like I said before, we need to get some kind of settlement going and then get out of Afghanistan altogether!!!

    September 28, 2012 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • Jack

      George it's not about that. We're growing and distributing heroin there for and throughout the world. Without it our economy collapses. Gen. Colin Powell went there and paid the farmers to once again grow the drugs, when the religious right (Taliban) burned all the crops and executed people for growing drugs and spreading it to the world.

      There is also Lithium and other precious metals and it leads to a pathway to the remaining oil fields in the 'Stans'

      Iran has oil. and when our troops are in Iraq & Afghan we have a checkmate on Iran. Waiting for a provication.

      October 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  4. mitchlabuda

    The previous administration told us, with banners and news releases, the Taliban was defeated, and yet, here we are 10 years on fighting the Taliban and with the support of allies in the region the Taliban fights on and we leave to take up arms in the next war with no winners.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:37 am | Reply
  5. Jack

    Of course SECDEF Panetta is making absurd statements. He's an Obama appointee and it's campaign season. If they can just hoodwink 51%, Obama will be entrenched another four years during which he can further assist radical Islam expansion with a few new nuclear capable nations here, a few burned embassies and dead ambassadors there, dismiss it as "bumps in the road" while handing out free cellphones and food stamps...

    September 28, 2012 at 4:41 am | Reply
    • Made In USA

      Jack, your right on target. Sad part is that many fools will follow this clown in charge right over the edge.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  6. James

    But then he has always know nothing about anything to do with any government position he has ever had.

    September 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Reply
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