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Thread: Why are we still leading missions, instead of supporting Afghans conduct them?

  1. #21
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Mixed news

    This SWJ article helps to explain and at the end there is some positive nes on the ANA:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/jou...p/776-doan.pdf

    Elsewhere, probably in several threads, we have debated the length of a tour (6-15 months), the lessons learnt in the Imperial era in NWFP (political agents, locally recruited units with long service British officers etc) and the cultural divide.

    I still maintain, yes from my "armchair", that only when Afghans serve alongside all allied soldiers / marines will progress be made - at an individual and unit level. 'Advise & Assist' may work and I know claims were made that in recent operations in Helmand Province the ANA took the lead. I simply don't think either side at the lowest levels, assuming it is a simple 'black & white' situation, have accepted joint working 24/7. Murders of ISAF clearly do not help and cast doubt on "jointness".
    davidbfpo

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    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...man_insurgency

    I think this article nicely sums up the complexity of the situation when it comes to ANSF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    This SWJ article helps to explain and at the end there is some positive nes on the ANA:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/jou...p/776-doan.pdf

    Elsewhere, probably in several threads, we have debated the length of a tour (6-15 months), the lessons learnt in the Imperial era in NWFP (political agents, locally recruited units with long service British officers etc) and the cultural divide.

    I still maintain, yes from my "armchair", that only when Afghans serve alongside all allied soldiers / marines will progress be made - at an individual and unit level. 'Advise & Assist' may work and I know claims were made that in recent operations in Helmand Province the ANA took the lead. I simply don't think either side at the lowest levels, assuming it is a simple 'black & white' situation, have accepted joint working 24/7. Murders of ISAF clearly do not help and cast doubt on "jointness".
    David, sadly it is a case of... "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

    The Brits have enough experience from across their empire to draw on so they really don't have any excuses.

    Certainly in this neck of the colonies the model of the Kings African Rifles was good and worked... with I suppose the best example being the refined model of the Rhodesian African Rifles which was superb in so many ways.

    I suggest that Ray with his sub-continent experience will have important and valuable input into how given the Indian experience of forming colonial units from scratch what the most efficient way to have created/formed/built the ANA would have been.

    To me the start point that everyone gets paid and seems to go to the highest bidder is a game changer. Even the insurgents (Taliban) get paid. Interesting.

    Then we see out of Somalia troops trained and armed by the EU (including most bizarrely a Finnish contingent) defect to Al-Qaida and/or Al-Shabaab on becoming operational. One wonders how they were selected?

    Clearly not enough experience is there nor enough thought given to forming/establishing/building indigenous forces in Afghanistan. The prognosis is poor.

    We did discuss this matter somewhere here before. And I say again that both the Brits and the yanks got there act together in terms of tour lengths and training the Afghans right from 2006 it would be a different story now. Too late she cried.

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    I would go along with davidbfpo when he states -
    I still maintain, yes from my "armchair", that only when Afghans serve alongside all allied soldiers / marines will progress be made - at an individual and unit level.
    It is all a question of each race's psychology.

    I can give an example of the Indian Army.

    We have a mix of all types of Regiments with different classes (tribes/ races, if you like). Handling each is a totally new experience.

    We all have the same doctrine and training and yet handling each is a totally different experience.

    The Sikhs are noisy and gung ho (even without reason or rhyme!). They can never stop jabbering or shifting unnecessarily even when they are close to the enemy lines. Very fidgety chaps.

    The Gorkha is silent and inscrutable. You will never know what they are up to. In fact the story goes that a Gorkha broke the line on a route march, went into a village, did his whatever with a woman, paid well, return to the line of march and none knew! They are also very obstinate. And if you give a Gorkha an order, you must check back he has understood.

    My chaps, the Mahars, are laid back and can go without food for days without complaints. As officers, one had to go an extra mile.

    And so on.

    The Afghan, I presume, is not much of a fighter in structured battles. But will be dangerous as special forces. They have an independent streak and tend to be individualistic. (My uncle commanded Pathans and so this is what he told me). He also said they are great ones and brutal so long as they are winning. If they smell defeat, it is another story!

    Therefore, I would be surprised if the Afghans would synchronise with the American concept of warfare application! I presume, it will take time.........a very long time!

    Therefore, Afghans will have to operate with the Americans if they are to adapt to the American minor tactics format and also get a hang of the American psychology that makes a success of the American tactics.

    The Vietnamese experiment of 'Advisers' with Afghan troops may not work.

    And the biggest handicap is that the American, appear to us, as very impatient and want instant results.

    Another oddity we find is that a US officer after giving instructions say 'It is an order'. In the subcontinent, if your superior officer says something, then it is automatically taken for granted it is an order. This can lead to loss of authority that is automatically built in in a superior officer since, out here, if you say 'it is an order', it appears that the superior officer is not confident and he has a doubt if the chap will obey it or not.

    In our part of the world, that just does not happen.

    Just my thought.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-03-2011 at 08:43 PM. Reason: Cited post in quotes

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    Another oddity we find is that a US officer after giving instructions say 'It is an order'.
    In my own personal experience, I've never heard a Marine officer say this. I've never been in a long-term operational context with other U.S. branches' officers, but this sounds odd to me as an American.

    Ray - is the concept of 'martial races' still in vogue in subcontinental army circles?

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    Default Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    In my own personal experience, I've never heard a Marine officer say this. I've never been in a long-term operational context with other U.S. branches' officers, but this sounds odd to me as an American.
    I certainly won't say it never happened but in over 40 years, Marine and Army -- and working with the Navy and AF, I never heard anything even near it said by an Officer.

    I did hear an NCO say something along that line once; asked a young Troop if he understood that the Jump Command "Go" was in fact a lawful order. That was just before, not awaiting a reply, he hung on the Anchor Line cable with both hands and and booted the the Troopie out the door with two feet on the backpack...

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    In my own personal experience, I've never heard a Marine officer say this. I've never been in a long-term operational context with other U.S. branches' officers, but this sounds odd to me as an American.

    Ray - is the concept of 'martial races' still in vogue in subcontinental army circles?
    OK. Maybe I am mistaken about the 'It is an order'. I am glad I raised it. The long held misconception of mine has been clarified. Maybe, I had that idea because of Hollywood movies?

    The concept of martial races officially is not there.

    However, the older Regiments are still on the Class composition. The new Regiments are being organised on an all India basis.

    Because of modernity coming into villages, the breakdown of joint family system and the cohesive bond of being from 'A' or 'B' community diminishing, the old 'fire' seems to have gone! Being from a military family, I have experienced this fading as I went along in life from a child in a military environment to when I retired. To be a soldier is no longer 'a calling'. It has become a career; and even though not well paying, at least respectable to some extent.

    I was commissioned in a one class unit, but I commanded an all India mix (though of the same Regiment). It took time for me to get used to the new 'class' of people when I took over command. It took me a year to get used to their ways, but I presume things worked out faster for me since we were in active (live) operations for about 9 months.

    One thing I must state is, notwithstanding the 'fire' of the community bond and the 'honour-of-the-community-must-be-upheld-at-all-cost' psyche not being what it was, there is no consuming concern about 'bodybags'. Death is taken as a part of the risks that a career in the Forces demands.

    The respect for the soldier here in India is only during wars. It fades out very fast after the war. I believe in the UK there is still respect for soldiers and war veterans if what Lt Gen MM Lakhera of the Indian Army wrote about the VE day Celebrations is correct. He wrote that Mr Haseltine, the Deputy Prime Minister, on seeing an Indian VC (Victoria Cross) veteran waiting to cross the road, stopped the traffic, shook hands with the VC, and ensured that the General and the VC could cross the road!! When asked by the General, why he had stopped, Mr Haseltine is said to have said, "Sir, it would have been a great disservice if on seeing a VC, I did not get down and thank him for his service to my country". A very fine gesture indeed! No wonder they ruled us for so long with so few!

    One of the best book I have read on the Indian Army's history and its evolution through the ages (British times) is Philip Mason's 'A Matter of Honour'. It includes how the caste and class system of Regiments came about. Interestingly, he mentions that this class and caste divisions were basically used for North Indian Regiments, and not to that extent, for the Regiments coming from the South!

    It is a very balanced book that looks at the British times, not with a colonialist bias, but with an eye on actualities.

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    I second Ray's endorsement, A Matter of Honour is a great book.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I second Ray's endorsement, A Matter of Honour is a great book.
    Carl, maybe both you and Ray should contribute with reviews on amazon. Maybe you on .com and Ray on .co.uk? IMHO it is important good books are promoted and as a result get read.

    David, here is a plan. I buy the book and get it delivered to you. You read it for the price of mailing it to me out here in the colonies when you are finished? Sound good? PM

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    David, sadly it is a case of... "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

    The Brits have enough experience from across their empire to draw on so they really don't have any excuses.

    Certainly in this neck of the colonies the model of the Kings African Rifles was good and worked... with I suppose the best example being the refined model of the Rhodesian African Rifles which was superb in so many ways.

    I suggest that Ray with his sub-continent experience will have important and valuable input into how given the Indian experience of forming colonial units from scratch what the most efficient way to have created/formed/built the ANA would have been.

    To me the start point that everyone gets paid and seems to go to the highest bidder is a game changer. Even the insurgents (Taliban) get paid. Interesting.

    Then we see out of Somalia troops trained and armed by the EU (including most bizarrely a Finnish contingent) defect to Al-Qaida and/or Al-Shabaab on becoming operational. One wonders how they were selected?

    Clearly not enough experience is there nor enough thought given to forming/establishing/building indigenous forces in Afghanistan. The prognosis is poor.

    We did discuss this matter somewhere here before. And I say again that both the Brits and the yanks got there act together in terms of tour lengths and training the Afghans right from 2006 it would be a different story now. Too late she cried.
    The British colonial method does have a lot to say for itself, if you look at any former British colony you see that the style policing and of organising a military have been retained. In Pakistan the military is probably the only institution that works, albeit in unnerving way. The problem in Afghanistan is that after decades of unrest and warfare they have reverted to old forms of social organisations. If you looked at Afghanistan before the soviet invasion, or before the communist coup, you saw a country that was becoming increasingly westernised. After war and in an absence of government people defer to old forms of governing. In Afghanistan this was centred around tribal structures, strongmen emerged and tribal rivalries were reinvigorated. After the invasion the country was in an even sorrier state and the Americans chose crazy Karzai to lead, because he happened to Pashtun, didn't like the Taliban, so the people would love him. Trouble was that there wasn't an Afghan nation, it was more split than the archetypal strawberry flavoured lollipop, the different ethnicities didn't trust each other and the different tribes didn't either, then the various sub tribe groups had beef as well to make things worse! What I’m trying to get at is that creating an Afghan NATIONAL Army is a tough thing to do, there has never really been an Afghan national, just borders created by a British cartographer. Tajiks operation in the south are met with contempt. Then the Pashtun in minority in the north side with the Taliban. The ethnic schism is a huge issue. That is why I call what is going in Afghanistan state building not national building because there will never be an Afghan nation. It will take at least another generation of educated Afghans to sort this mess out, with or without the Taliban because the problems in Afghanistan won't end then. We'll see an Afghan version of the Good Friday Agreement by 2014 with the "moderate" Taliban co-opted into te government which will make lovely headlines in all the red tops. though chances are there'll be a more interesting story about Cheryl bloody Cole. I digress. We are relying on the ANSF when they receive little training, limited pay and little motivation. I've read several articles saying that when it comes to the ANP families often have one son in the ANP and one in the Taliban, just to hedge their bets. Says it all.

    So end the wall of text.

  11. #31
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    Default Sepoy Kamal Ram, VC

    Maybe a digression, but we are swerving (again) to the lessons of the Imperial era and the British-Indian Army (not to ignore the navy & air force).

    A friend who researches and writes on the contribution of the Indian Army in both World Wars, originally from what is now Pakistan (more in another thread), came across the story of Kamal Ram, a nineteen year old Sepoy:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamal_Ram

    What is even more amazing and reflects Philip Mason's writings on honour (my emphasis) is this YouTube clip when the King presented his medal, with the King and assorted generals saluting the Sepoy:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLdZI8i6iVE
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Maybe a digression, but we are swerving (again) to the lessons of the Imperial era and the British-Indian Army (not to ignore the navy & air force).

    A friend who researches and writes on the contribution of the Indian Army in both World Wars, originally from what is now Pakistan (more in another thread), came across the story of Kamal Ram, a nineteen year old Sepoy:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamal_Ram

    What is even more amazing and reflects Philip Mason's writings on honour (my emphasis) is this YouTube clip when the King presented his medal, with the King and assorted generals saluting the Sepoy:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLdZI8i6iVE
    I love reading citations for medals like the VC, I'm always amazing by what people can do. I understand what you're getting at, an Indian soldier fighting in Italy in a white-European war. If trained well people will do things without question and with vigor. The average six weeks training an ANA soldier gets is not adequate.
    Last edited by TDB; 06-04-2011 at 10:00 AM.

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    There are important metrics in this:

    Where are ANSF recruited from?

    Why do people join or leave (legally or otherwise) the ANSF?

    Why is it that ANA still cannot conduct independent operations at ANY level (people would not believe the political s%$t-storm when MG Carter proposed shifting Coalition forces from the rural regions of Zabul province, leaving several remote posts in Afghan hands. Bottom line they will not and cannot go, operate, or sustain anywhere they do not have Coalition logistics, intel and fire support).

    Do the Taliban require such support? (no)

    Do the Taliban require constant mentoring? (no).

    People fight for what they believe in. When our guys came in initially to work with the Northern Alliance the biggest challenge was holding them back, not driving them forward. They believed in that fight. I believe that without the coalition presence the situation in Afghanistan would have resolved to some informal degree of reasonable stability and distribution of power. Afghan interests and Pakistan interests, same for those of the major regional and ethnic groups, would have been resolved. What drives this conflict onward are US interests (as we have defined them, and frankly I find them to be grossly overstated). Even Americans are losing their zeal to continue to fight to promotes those interests in this place. European allies lost that a few years ago, Northern Alliance shortly after they initially prevailed.

    The reason we can't get the answer we want to the question we ask is that we have asked the wrong questions and have identified the wrong problems. We need to reassess the problem and ask different questions. We need to stop making this all about US.
    Robert C. Jones
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    The reason we can't get the answer we want to the question we ask is that we have asked the wrong questions and have identified the wrong problems. We need to reassess the problem and ask different questions. We need to stop making this all about US.
    If we did successfully reorient as you recommend sir, I think we'd find that we should have left some five to six years ago.

    We don't want warlords in the fight, but that's precisely who were up against the Taliban in the vein of the Northern Alliance. ANSF is not, as you well know, the Northern Alliance reincarnate, despite the injection of the various soldiers from the tribes that dominated the Northern Alliance.

    Looking at the wiki about the NA, I found these quotes from Massoud interesting to note:

    Ahmad Shah Massoud remained the only leader of the United Front in Afghanistan. The Taliban repeatedly offered Massoud a position of power to make him stop his resistance. Massoud declined. He explained in one interview:

    "The Taliban say: “Come and accept the post of prime minister and be with us”, and they would keep the highest office in the country, the presidentship. But for what price?! The difference between us concerns mainly our way of thinking about the very principles of the society and the state. We can not accept their conditions of compromise, or else we would have to give up the principles of modern democracy. We are fundamentally against the system called “the Emirate of Afghanistan”."[20]

    "There should be an Afghanistan where every Afghan finds himself or herself happy. And I think that can only be assured by democracy based on consensus."[21]

    Massoud wanted to convince the Taliban to join a political process leading towards democratic elections in a foreseeable future.[20][22] He also stated:
    "The Taliban are not a force to be considered invincible. They are distanced from the people now. They are weaker than in the past. There is only the assistance given by Pakistan, Osama bin Laden and other extremist groups that keep the Taliban on their feet. With a halt to that assistance, it is extremely difficult to survive."[21]

    In early 2001 the United Front employed a new strategy of local military pressure and global political appeals.[23] Resentment was increasingly gathering against Taliban rule from the bottom of Afghan society including the Pashtun areas.[23] In total, estimates range up to one million people fleeing the Taliban.[24] Many civilians fled to the area of Ahmad Shah Massoud.[12][25] National Geographic concluded in its documentary "Inside the Taliban": "The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres is Ahmad Shah Massoud."[12] In the areas under his control Massoud set up democratic institutions and signed the Women's Rights Declaration.[8] At the same time he was very wary not to revive the failed Kabul government of the early 1990s.[23] Already in 1999 the United Front leadership ordered the training of police forces specifically to keep order and protect the civilian population in case the United Front would be successful.[8] In early 2001 Ahmad Shah Massoud addressed the European Parliament in Brussels asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan.[24] He stated that the Taliban and Al Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam" and that without the support of Pakistan and Bin Laden the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year.[24] On this visit to Europe he also warned that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale attack on U.S. soil being imminent.[26]
    I've always played the alternate ending mental game and wondered what would be going on in Afghanistan if he hadn't been assassinated.

  15. #35
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    This thinking is WHY Massoud was assassinated. Such men scare the holy crap out of self-serving despots, as they cannot be bought, and will not submit. They either prevail or die trying.

    "Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils." (toast written by General John Stark on July 31, 1809)

    Perhaps Karzai could be a "lite" version of such a man if not corrupted by the power of our protection. We should indeed leave and find out.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    I would go along with davidbfpo when he states -

    It is all a question of each race's psychology.

    I can give an example of the Indian Army.

    We have a mix of all types of Regiments with different classes (tribes/ races, if you like). Handling each is a totally new experience.

    We all have the same doctrine and training and yet handling each is a totally different experience.

    The Sikhs are noisy and gung ho (even without reason or rhyme!). They can never stop jabbering or shifting unnecessarily even when they are close to the enemy lines. Very fidgety chaps.

    The Gorkha is silent and inscrutable. You will never know what they are up to. In fact the story goes that a Gorkha broke the line on a route march, went into a village, did his whatever with a woman, paid well, return to the line of march and none knew! They are also very obstinate. And if you give a Gorkha an order, you must check back he has understood.

    My chaps, the Mahars, are laid back and can go without food for days without complaints. As officers, one had to go an extra mile.

    And so on.

    The Afghan, I presume, is not much of a fighter in structured battles. But will be dangerous as special forces. They have an independent streak and tend to be individualistic. (My uncle commanded Pathans and so this is what he told me). He also said they are great ones and brutal so long as they are winning. If they smell defeat, it is another story!

    Therefore, I would be surprised if the Afghans would synchronise with the American concept of warfare application! I presume, it will take time.........a very long time!

    Therefore, Afghans will have to operate with the Americans if they are to adapt to the American minor tactics format and also get a hang of the American psychology that makes a success of the American tactics.

    The Vietnamese experiment of 'Advisers' with Afghan troops may not work.

    And the biggest handicap is that the American, appear to us, as very impatient and want instant results.

    Another oddity we find is that a US officer after giving instructions say 'It is an order'. In the subcontinent, if your superior officer says something, then it is automatically taken for granted it is an order. This can lead to loss of authority that is automatically built in in a superior officer since, out here, if you say 'it is an order', it appears that the superior officer is not confident and he has a doubt if the chap will obey it or not.

    In our part of the world, that just does not happen.

    Just my thought.
    Well the Indian experience together with that of the Brits of old would allow for the best formula for the training of an Afghan army.

    Scratch units formed quickly seldom work other than for a short period where they by chance have the correct leadership in place. Take that leadership away and it all falls apart.

    Yes patience is not an American characteristic. But that will not stop them attempting to cobble together units and an army in a few years. Obviously such efforts are destined to fail, that is a certainty.

    The other ludicrous approach is to ignore a 1,000 years of history and try to put multi-ethnic units together. This later made worse by deploying troops from another ethnicity to police another's area. Never going to work.

    So one really needs to structure any Afghan army around what they need to deal with regional threats (and internal threats) and not on some NATO organizational structure where the logistic challenges will prove insurmountable. The Taliban structure when the government would be useful as would Masood's structure which allowed him to defend the Panjshir Valley against both the Soviets and later the Taliban.

    The problem I see is recruiting the right people who are committed to the cause and not there to receive the US$ at the month end. Personally I believe they are on a hiding to nothing by supporting the Karzai government but as an academic exercise it would be interesting to discuss how best to facilitate the establishment and development of a national army (if that is what is required).

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    Default Example from the Congo...

    Training of indigenous troops in another culturally remote country is a skill few countries have while even fewer are willing to commit to the long term input required.

    A three part series from Stars and Stripes:

    Part 1: Trainees try to be a force that can overcome child-abducting rebels – and their own horrific past

    Part 2: Congolese battalion trained with purpose, but armed mostly with promises

    Part 3: Congo’s challenge: Feeding troops consistently

    A classic quote from Part 2:

    Lt. Col. John Pierre Molengo, the commander of the Kisangani camp, downplayed the significance of the food and salary problems, instead blaming U.S. troops who introduced a standard that is difficult to match.

    “We were spoiled by eating like Americans,” he said. “The soldiers’ normal way of eating changed.”
    So where does the problem lie?

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    JMA, I couldn't agree more with your last post. In SF we used to eat the local foods, or for larger events we may have deployed our own cooks for our troops, but not for the local troops we were training. This is just one of many examples where we attempt to introduce unaffordable standards of living, equipment, training, C2 procedures, etc., and we wonder why our training efforts have no long term effect? I noticed this shift in the 90s when former SECDEF Chenney started pushing Brown and Root support to the forces resulting in a decrease of our own internal capacity to sustain ourselves. B&R provided great support, and while many may disagree I think they provided too much support that over time had a negative effect on the way we fight, how we interact with others when deployed, etc. Want to make developing nation people hate you, all you have to do is invite them to dine at one of our outstanding dining facilities in a combat zone so they can see how we're living compared to the average citizen in that country. This creates the false perception of what the standard should be, and perhaps contributes to our naive belief that the locals are not good enough. I suspect if we were working with the Taliban, we would claim they weren't ready to fight on their own yet either. We could save millions of dollars and be more effective at the same time if kept striving to make war a four star hotel, and focused on what needed to be done.

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    I think JMA's and Bill's point is worth serious consideration.

    Training locals and getting their administration to high US standards and standard of living appears fair but it makes them 'soft' (in terms of how they would have fought had they been fighting on their own, supposing they were doing so before the ISAF came).

    While one concedes that one cannot fight modern battle solely on 'old' ways, yet the modernisation must be compatible to the local combat and social parameters.

    For instance, over dependence on motor transport or helicopter lifts for people who are used to movement on foot for long distance without tiring, slowly downgrades their psychological, mental and physical endurance (while it does not do the same to the Taliban who do not have such 'modern' facilities) and their natural fighting capabilities that would be best for use against the Taliban.

    An Indian example - For instance, the MRE or what we call composite rations and survival rations that the IA used were the same as what was issued during WW II. Much of it was wasted since the troops did not eat most of the stuff as it was not to 'Indian' tastes/ food habits. Nowadays, it is on an Indian menu and has been, as per reports, well received. Thereby, loss to the exchequer is less and tonnage hauled has been put to productive use.
    Last edited by Ray; 06-06-2011 at 05:22 AM.

  20. #40
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bill Moore: At the risk of being blown out of the water, I think you missed the point of the references to feeding the Congolese troops. The 3 meals a day were provided so they would have enough energy and attention to be trained at all, not because of extravagant American habits. The Congolese way of 1 meal a day is not because the troops can function on that, the record of the FARDC proves that. The food money gets stolen before it gets to the troops. That Congolese colonel is just covering his thieving from his soldiers. The object of that mission is to get some troops trained. If they weren't fed properly they wouldn't have paid attention, couldn't have paid attention and wouldn't have listened because they would have been to busy figuring how to acquire or steal their next meal.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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