As anyone who has been following the news recently can attest, there is very little positive that can be said about the war in Afghanistan. Recent leaks to the media have given the public a glimpse of the sort of hellish realities and demoralizing intelligence that I have to deal with day in and day out. The grim truth is that the Taliban is at its strongest point since the invasion, al-Qaeda is on the rise along the border, and the nation's American-backed government remains mired in corruption and failure. To put it frankly, the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan may be a lost cause.

That is, unless Central Command gets a pinball machine.

For the past several years, our Joint Intelligence Center has pored through the daily stream of raw intel coming in from our troops on the ground, searching for a way to turn the military tide in our favor. And while there are rarely any easy answers in war, we have discovered that in this case there is: pinball. Or rather, a full-size pinball machine that we could put right between the soda dispenser and the projection screen.

All we'd have to do is move the file cabinet over a foot or two. Pinball machines don't even cost that much, seriously, I checked. If you get one used they're like a couple thousand dollars, tops.

Believe me when I say that brave men and women in uniform are dying every day, and we owe it to them to do everything within our power to ensure victory. Which is why if we want to have any chance of rooting insurgents out of Kandahar and cutting off Taliban supply lines from Pakistan, then we'll need to bring in some serious firepower at Central Command. We're talking multi-ball, frequent jackpots, a third flipper midway up the game board, and a lot of those bumpers that make that loud ping noise when the ball collides with them. Multiple levels of skill-shots would also be fantastic, but not at the expense of gameplay, of course.

We need our nation's lawmakers to give us their full and undivided support. Watering down any defense appropriations bills by sending us a substandard machine would have dire consequences. An analog-motor board is not going to cut it; we need solid-state technology with a dot-matrix screen to display point bonuses and jackpots. Any of the Stern or Bally movie tie-in boards like Addams Family or T3: Rise Of The Machines would be terrific; that awesome-looking Sopranos one that plays actual lines recorded by the actors when you hit a combo shot would work, too. Consider that the fate of the war itself is at stake and proceed accordingly.

Also, check out PinballUniverse.com. They've got some killer boards, including a Royal Rumble machine that's near-mint. Scroll down and find the guy's e-mail to ask about price and availability.

While combat troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, the fighting in Afghanistan has only intensified. Indeed, the monthly counts of U.S. fatalities are now at their highest levels since the war began nine years ago. As an understandable consequence, morale among our troops has plummeted. But if there's one thing I learned back in Officer Candidate School, it's that nothing takes a young soldier's mind off his daily stresses quite like a thrilling, fast-paced game of pinball in which his reflexes snap at lightning speed while a buzzing crowd gathers around him as he racks up replay after replay.

My God, I miss that Bally's Fireball machine at the Quantico Bowl & Bar. That game ruled.

So before you resign yourself to an American defeat in Afghanistan, let me assure you that two possible futures remain before us. There is the course that we are currently on, in which a pinball machine does not show up two rooms down from my office and the United States flees Afghanistan in disgrace, allowing the country to fall back under Taliban control and placing our own homeland at greater risk of terrorist attack.

And there is another option that, thankfully, is still within our grasp. If we all set aside our differences and agree to put a pinball machine in Central Command today, then we still have a chance at a brighter tomorrow. A future in which a safe and free Afghan state flourishes. A future in which our soldiers return home triumphant. A future in which the high score flashes the initials "USA."