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

  1. #41
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    Carl,

    thanks for the clarification. I'm not launching any torpedos, but will leave my rant in place, because it still addresses part of the whole on why we don't do capacity building well.

  2. #42
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    Default CSPAN program on this issue

    Lt Gen Caldwell gave a presentation today at Brookings (shown on CSPAN) regarding the training of Afghan forces. He stated that they should be able to take charge in Dec 2014. Currently, only 1 of 84 infantry battalions is ready to operate independently (no advisers, etc). He added that there's another larger group (presumably several battalions) right behind them in the pipeline.
    Link

  3. #43
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    I thought I'd post this in here as it seems to be one of the more active threads within this catergory.
    Dispatches: America's Secret Killers
    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/d...es/4od#3197175

    Pretty damning thought nothing new. The negative effect such operations are having on COIN seems blatant yet it continues. Is this a case of Patraeus learning from his experiences in Iraq while dealing with AQI or him having little or no control over JSOC which operates outside of NATO command. I think that his appointment as the new head of the CIA is ever more interesting in light of such operations in Afghanistan.

    Perhaps more on topic, it seems that there is a massive clash of cultures between the ANA and US shown in this documentary, I can only assume that the operations are in Pashtun areas and this idea of honour and respect is held pretty high up. "Bad Intel" can have a far reaching impact much more that egg on the faces of those who supplied it.

  4. #44
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Let me throw a general observation/opinion into the ring in regard to allowing indigenous forces to take over:


    Loyalty and other motivational problems can often be overcome by setting the right environment.

    To declare training complete and sit back is obviously not the way to go.
    I personally wouldn't mind the tactical and technical proficiency much either. Forget inspections, TO&E and milestones.

    The time for the switch should rather be when the indigenous force has developed some kind of pride and determination.
    A bit of battalion esprit de corps, for example.
    A wrestling match tournament against civilians (civilians lose), horseman games probably, a battalion-typical accessory to the uniform, a few charismatic company leaders, some quick success in super-easy yet still impressive-looking early missions, timely pay, an evening education program that turns them all into literates and gives them a professional qualification goal to achieve in 2 years (instead of just a few weeks, such as deserting after 1st pay) ... once you got them motivated you can add whatever proficiency wasn't acquired so far.

    The loyalty has to override whatever loyalty they had previously (except to parents and siblings) or else they'll stay a paper tiger.

  5. #45
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I sat in on a briefing given by the captain in charge of our police mentor tesm once, and immediately keyed in on the lone Afghan who was scribbling notes into a tiny notebook. I thought to myself, praise Allah, we've got a smart one. I don't know how long he had been posted to the DC with the rest of the police, but I don't think any of our guys had keyed on his ability until I sat behind the collective group of blue-uniformed guys and watched the brief.

    It's not necessarily a hard prerequisite, and you have to work with what you've got, but getting the troops to some semblance of literacy is a good goal. I think that the learning model (adult vs. child) needs to be looked at, because we cannot assume that they will learn in the fashion an adult should, just because they are an adult.

    When we think of rag-tag armies and whipping them into shape, does anyone else drift to thoughts of Von Steuben, or is it just me? Worked for them eh?
    Last edited by jcustis; 06-07-2011 at 01:08 PM.

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    Default Some bullet points from the Caldwell video on literacy

    90% illiteracy rate for new recruits… most can’t even count.
    2600 Afghan teachers are being employed by ISAF to teach literacy.
    32,000 trainees getting 2hrs of literacy training every day.
    90,000 trainees have reached basic literacy at a cost of $30/trainee. Upon completion of the program, they are awarded a pin to wear on their uniform. Some ME country has pledged $10million to fund future training.
    100% of uniforms including boots are produced by Afghans (They took our production jobs! ).

  7. #47
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    It's not necessary to have a more educated or more trained force than your enemy, though - especially when you have obvious numerical superiority.

    You need to motivate them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's not necessary to have a more educated or more trained force than your enemy, though - especially when you have obvious numerical superiority.

    You need to motivate them.
    This is the key.

    It appears that the whole Afghan situation is built around guns for hire out of which it seems the Taliban have the edge in some at least being prepared to fight and die while none (except a few foreign zealots) are prepared to fight for nothing. If the motivation to join the ANA is the pay and not the cause (who would want to fight and die for a corrupt regime) the prognosis is not good.

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    Default Also material to this thread ?

    From David's post, Spring up north (in another thread), we find in the linked FP article, The Lost Villages - Saying goodbye to a once-friendly land, now taken without a fight by the Taliban:

    Mazar-e-Sharif itself has the feel of a city besieged. Since a suicide bomber last Saturday killed the venerated police commander of nine northern provinces, Gen. Daoud Daoud, an eerie hush has descended upon the city's low sprawl.
    With the demise of Gen. Daoud Daoud, the Talibs can cross one off of their HVT list.

    Regards

  10. #50
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    I recently met a person from Afghanistan.

    He also echoes what JMA has stated -

    It appears that the whole Afghan situation is built around guns for hire
    and add easy money - poppy and foreign Aid.

  11. #51
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Few things fit together when it comes to characterising the Taliban or the conflict in Afghanistan.

    # Reports about captured/arrested Taliban claim that up to a third of them were Taliban "leaders" - the definition of leader seems to be stretched below fire team leader in AFG

    # Taliban in AFG are decentralised groups of platoon to company strength in terms of active fighters, but still able to focus "offensives" on certain regions?

    # Drug business is supposedly a major if not THE income source of TB, but maps show that TB activity/influence, AFG population as a whole and poppy harvesting areas don't really match - not even two at once.

    # Lots of "Taliban in army clothes" opened fire on or bombed foreign forces. Turned out that these "Taliban in army clothes" were apparently usually army soldiers indeed, not just disguised as implied in ISAF reports.

    # How can it be explained that on the one hand the TB are elusive, part of the people - but then they are supposedly flushed out of regions by army sweeps?

    # How exactly can TB monitor foreign forces movement using shadowing unarmed motorcycle drivers with mobile phones or radios when said foreign forces should easily be able to jam any such communication and should be able to let loose accompanying ANP to simply catch and arrest those scouts?

    # Why is it that even reports about major and supposedly elaborate ambushes report a marginal lethality of the same and about positioning of ambush forces below the level of basic infantry manual quality ambush tactics?

    # How comes that the TB supposedly pay more $$$ per month to their mercenaries than the ANA and ANP pay to soldiers, and what does this tell about the motivation and nature of the insurgency? Doesn't this all sound much more like a mafia than like a political-religious-cultural civil war?

    # Why exactly are - after 10 years- still almost no indigenous state forces fully combat ready without foreign assistance, while their opponents seem to build up their forces in a few weeks or months every spring?

    # Why exactly are TB supposedly conquering undefended terrain if the area is supposed to be composed of warlike tribal communities?

    # Why does the old domino principle (TB arrive in force, pressure local representatives, community joins them and agrees to observer their laws, respect their courts, pay taxes and donate volunteer troops) that pushed the TB to power in the late 90's still work? Wasn't it supposed to help only those who are obviously winning and superior (which worked against the TB and for the Northern Alliance in late 2001)?

    # Why are foreigners focusing so much on the indigenous state forces ANA and ANP. Isn't a loyal and competent bureaucracy the real arm of a government, with armed services being merely the brass knuckles?
    What are army and police worth without an effective bureaucracy?

  12. #52
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    # Drug business is supposedly a major if not THE income source of TB, but maps show that TB activity/influence, AFG population as a whole and poppy harvesting areas don't really match - not even two at once.
    If we were in the business of eradicating the crops wholesale, their presence would certainly spike, although perhaps not so much directly in attacks aimed at the forces conducting the eradication. It would spike along lines of communication, soft targets (why attack strength), and fixed locations.

    # How exactly can TB monitor foreign forces movement using shadowing unarmed motorcycle drivers with mobile phones or radios when said foreign forces should easily be able to jam any such communication and should be able to let loose accompanying ANP to simply catch and arrest those scouts?
    It's absolutely easy, but then again doing so would be like employing the proverbial hammer to kill a fly. The remainder of the reasons "why" fall into the realm of OPSEC, however, and there are any of them.

    # Why are foreigners focusing so much on the indigenous state forces ANA and ANP. Isn't a loyal and competent bureaucracy the real arm of a government, with armed services being merely the brass knuckles?
    What are army and police worth without an effective bureaucracy?
    You are absolutely spot on. The answers are wrapped up in the perils and evils of a bureaucracy, however.

    # How can it be explained that on the one hand the TB are elusive, part of the people - but then they are supposedly flushed out of regions by army sweeps?
    Uh...ever hear of public relations and marketing?

    # Why exactly are - after 10 years- still almost no indigenous state forces fully combat ready without foreign assistance, while their opponents seem to build up their forces in a few weeks or months every spring?
    "Build up" is an erroneous expression. They tend to go dormant, like a bear in hibernation, to some extent. The proverbial school of fish that they swim amongst starts to swim slower in the winter as well, so everyone is idling a little. They lie a little low during portions of the summer as well.

    # Why exactly are TB supposedly conquering undefended terrain if the area is supposed to be composed of warlike tribal communities?
    An Army lieutenant told an interesting story once at a COIN academy class, where residents of a particular neighbor in Kabul were getting the blues because development of the neighborhood was progressing at a crawl. What would you know, but instability all of a sudden set in with reports of Taliban afoot, stirring up trouble and intimidating the neighbors. What do you think the coalition response to the threat of Taliban encroachment was? Is your first guess a development project? Ding...ding.

    Undefended terrain always fosters reports that inflate the true situation at hand.

    # Why does the old domino principle (TB arrive in force, pressure local representatives, community joins them and agrees to observer their laws, respect their courts, pay taxes and donate volunteer troops) that pushed the TB to power in the late 90's still work? Wasn't it supposed to help only those who are obviously winning and superior (which worked against the TB and for the Northern Alliance in late 2001)?
    That's a matter of context, degrees, and location, relative to the central government. The shadow governor in the district I was deployed to wasn't forced to go underground until early 2009.

    "The pessimism is strong in this one."
    Last edited by jcustis; 06-09-2011 at 04:06 AM.

  13. #53
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default The Result of a military-led operation

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    # Why are foreigners focusing so much on the indigenous state forces ANA and ANP. Isn't a loyal and competent bureaucracy the real arm of a government, with armed services being merely the brass knuckles?
    What are army and police worth without an effective bureaucracy?
    When we define insurgency as "war" we punt the problem to the military.

    When the military is given a "war" they set out to "win" it.

    To win a war one must "defeat" the threat.

    To defeat an insurgency threat is "complex" so we determine that we need a range of tools, from development to CT, to defeat it, and a host nation security force is a critical tool.

    US military do not see politics as their business, so while they may well recognize the political component of a comprehensive COIN campaign, they leave that to "the politicians." Our politicians have already left the whole thing to "the military." So the only politicians worrying about the political aspects that are at the heart of the insurgency are the leadership of the Karzai/Northern Alliance GiROA and multi-headed Taliban leadership in Pakistan. For some reason, those two groups can't seem to agree on their own.

    The Northern Alliance, protected and ignored by ISAF, is hard-set that they will not compromise and surrender any of their exclusive monopoly on political and economic power. The Taliban is equally hard-set that they will not tolerate being legally excluded from economic and political opportunity in their own homeland. So they wage a revolution against GiROA.

    Back to the US military: As the "Threat" from this revolutionary insurgency based in Pakistan grows and becomes more violent, clearly more effort is needed to defeat it and win. So we slowly at first, and then more rapidly with a surge, bring in more and more and more foreign presence and push to make the GiROA security forces (made up also of the Northern Alliance) larger and larger to go out and suppress the resistance insurgency that grows in response to our own growth to suppress them.

    It is a vicious circle. This is why Galula pointed out that COIN should be led by civilians. Insurgency is an illegal, often violent, political problem. The critical aspects of the solution lie in government. No US general is going to make fixing the government of Afghanistan his main effort, even if he privately recognizes that it is the main problem. So we do what militaries do in these situations and we apply a mix of hugs and punches to the populace in an effort to make them stop complaining about the political situation that we refuse to address. In Vietnam we said "We had to destroy the village to save the village" as Diem and his equally illegitimate successors sat protected by us in Saigon. In Afghanistan we say "We have to Clear the District in order to Build the District." Same-same. This never works for long, if at all.

    Withdrawing foreign troops will increase stability as it will decrease the reason why the resistance resists. GiROA will still likely fall though, as the Revolution, having been unaddressed will sweep in and take them down. Now, if GiROA would get serious about reconciliation and then sit down to craft a new constitution that can build trust and teamwork between ALL Afghans, they could survive in relative stability for years.

    This is not hard, but we make it very "complex" and difficult.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 06-09-2011 at 10:30 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    "Build up" is an erroneous expression. They tend to go dormant, like a bear in hibernation, to some extent. The proverbial school of fish that they swim amongst starts to swim slower in the winter as well, so everyone is idling a little. They lie a little low during portions of the summer as well.
    They come back every year at greater force 8at least greater quantity of incidents and casualties) after sustaining casualties in the previous year.
    This increase does likely not happen in the "dormant" phase, so I conclude that they increase (build up) their strength mostly in spring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    They come back every year at greater force 8at least greater quantity of incidents and casualties) after sustaining casualties in the previous year.
    This increase does likely not happen in the "dormant" phase, so I conclude that they increase (build up) their strength mostly in spring.
    I don't know what to say then. Sound like you've already drawn your conclusions and have your answer.

  16. #56
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Well, all my conclusions are preliminary. It takes some new argument to push them of course, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    They come back every year at greater force 8at least greater quantity of incidents and casualties) after sustaining casualties in the previous year.
    This increase does likely not happen in the "dormant" phase, so I conclude that they increase (build up) their strength mostly in spring.
    Why don't you think that the Taliban leadership isn't recruiting during the "dormant" winter months? Just because the weather is not conducive to fighting doesn't mean that the mullahs aren't preaching sermons and that jihadis aren't circulating among the villages.

  18. #58
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    It wouldn't change the basic statement much; the TB appear to recruit and ready up many fighters in a matter of months, not years.

    I've read only a few days ago about how some General asserted that we would need another six years to finish training the ANA. That would be 16 years to build an army. That's certainly a record.

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    I think the distinction is that the insurgents are recruiting fighters while the coalition is building a professional army. One can just shove an AK into the hands of a teenager and turn him into a fighter fairly quickly. But building a professional army which respects the law and civilian authority as well as handle it's own logistics, etc is something different.

    Also every Taliban is not some super bad ass warrior. The fighters featured in the "Frontline: Inside the Taliban" documentary were more like keystone cops.
    ...Just my two cents

  20. #60
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    The ANA troops are no super fighters either, they do not need to handle more logistics than the Taliban (unless luxury requirements are added), they're not particularly lawful or loyal and rather less than more professional in the original meaning of the word.

    Still, their recruitment and training appears to be much, much slower.

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