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Thread: Green on Blue: causes and responses (merged thread)

  1. #201
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Not sure who thought up the idea about joint patrols in the first place. Its a really dumb idea other than for - low risk of contact - presence patrols as the last thing you want is to get into a contact with the enemy with these ANA clowns - with different training and approach to warfare - as a wild card in your midst.
    As your post reflects, not everybody is cut out for being outside the wire/away from the big px for statistically significant portions of their lives.

    Big FOB's, small minded TCN policies, lack of language & culture skills, fortress embassies, all lead to a certain constrained viewpoint which leads to where our self-selected/self-imposed azimuth has taken us.

    No easy cookie-cutter fixes are available to us that I am aware of, just lots of hard work ahead over the next few decades.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    They are all capable, and that is statistical fact. Being a decent, restrained person is not the sole domain of the SNCO or officer.
    I know a lot of officers and SNCOs who would not have been suited to mentoring and cross-cultural military training. Then lower down the scale I would suggest that the limitation would be in finding junior soldiers who are course qualified for such training and from tat group those who have the disposition to cooperate across cultural/religious/ethnic/racial lines in the stress of combat while operating effectively.

    Across the hundreds and thousands of patrols conducted, the number of troops killed is significant relative to the beholder. I do not think we have reached any unacceptable level, but it would seem some handlers somewhere believe so, and that is risk-averse IMO.
    As an officer you would need to decide on - and live with the consequences of - what IYO constitutes an acceptable and what an unacceptable risk to your troops. This may involve a career affecting act of moral courage to just say no. I also suggest that it is fair for senior commanders to assist those operating at the coal face in terms of making such decisions and not leave them hanging out there on their own.

    Shrinking away from the issue is not the answer, not in 2005 or 2012. It merely seems so due to the decent interval we have chosen to pursue.
    Maybe this matter has been allowed to slip and as such it needs a major correction right now.

    .

  3. #203
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Not really surprising. We in the West keep thinking these people are "Afghans" in the same way that we consider ourselves to be "Americans" or whatever nationality. We assume their national loyalty is roughly the same as ours. In Afghanistan, national identity is usually a second or third tier concern. To expect them to gel into a cohesive force and put aside their other identities and loyalties in favor of a national identity is foolish whether we are talking about building an army or limiting corruption.
    I understand what you are saying but I think you might be overstating it. Everything I've read seems to indicate that the Afghans do think of themselves as Afghans. Taliban & Co are always careful to portray themselves as an Afghan movement, not a Pathan group. No group in the country talks about partition to my knowledge. They have been a definable country for a lot of years. National loyalty may not be the same as ours but it is there. The Indian Army is able to accommodate radically differing identities within an organization that is loyal to the center. Maybe they have something to teach, something along the lines of the Pathan Rifles and Hazara Light Infantry.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I understand what you are saying but I think you might be overstating it. Everything I've read seems to indicate that the Afghans do think of themselves as Afghans. Taliban & Co are always careful to portray themselves as an Afghan movement, not a Pathan group. No group in the country talks about partition to my knowledge. They have been a definable country for a lot of years. National loyalty may not be the same as ours but it is there. The Indian Army is able to accommodate radically differing identities within an organization that is loyal to the center. Maybe they have something to teach, something along the lines of the Pathan Rifles and Hazara Light Infantry.
    Most Syrians think of themselves as Syrian, yet they are in civil war. Same with Lebanon. Same with Iraq. How does one square the idea of an Iraq national identity when the Kurds have a semi-autonomous enclave and when, just a few years ago, there were active campaigns of sectarian cleansing?

    So, I'm not saying national identity doesn't exist, I'm saying that on many matters other identities trump national identity. For Afghanistan, the various groups talk about one Afghanistan, but their ideas about how that one Afghanistan should be organized and who should control the levels of power vary widely. If you look, for instance, at voting patterns in Afghanistan they highly correlate to ethnic and/or sectarian identity.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  5. #205
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Entropy:

    I can't make a real strong argument about the Afghans having a stronger sense of national identity than the Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese. But I think that possibility exists. Afghanistan was a country for a long time before all those places were. They have only been what they are now since just after WWII. Before that they were briefly run by the British and the French and for a long time before that they were part of the Ottoman Empire. Afghanistan has been more or less Afghanistan (more or less everybody, more or less) since the late 1700s I believe.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  6. #206
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default Ambassodor Crocker goes off the reservation

    Ryan Crocker does not mince any words when discussing the current situation in Afghanistan in this story.

    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2...-reckoned.html

    This is what he had to say about Sec Panetta's statement about the the green on blue killings being signs of Taliban & Co's last gasp.

    "I will believe it's their last gasp when I've got my boot on the throat of the last one of them," Crocker told Bloomberg News after his remarks at the Carnegie Endowment.
    He said these things about Taliban infiltrators into the ANSF.

    "I think we underestimate at our peril" the number of Taliban "sleepers" in the ranks of the Afghan National Security Forces that the allies have been pressing to take the lead security role, Crocker said in remarks Monday to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
    We have been wondering here why the sudden increase in the rate of green on blue killings in the recent past. Sarah Chayes says in the same story that it just took some time for Taliban & Co to get the program up to speed.

    "So do I. There was an explicit announcement by the Taliban that they were planning to infiltrate," said Sarah Chayes, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment and a former advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    "When insider attacks increased sharply some months after that announcement (by the Taliban earlier this year), there is no reason to dismiss the idea that they executed their strategy," Chayes said.
    Lastly and most interesting to me Amb Crocker said it is possible that another 9-11 could be launched from a Taliban II controlled Afghanistan and he said this about promises.

    Crocker also warned of a possible bloodbath if the U.S. pulls out before ANSF is ready to take over. "Who gets it in the neck? It's all those people we made all those promises to, starting with the women" of Afghanistan who have struggled for civil rights and education in the male-dominated society, Crocker said.
    This was a very interesting story.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-25-2012 at 09:48 AM. Reason: partly copied to the Sanctuary thread, leaving Afg specific points here
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  7. #207
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Here is a link to the video of Amb Crocker's remarks to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/09...ghanistan/drea

    I haven't watched it yet. I only read the story quoted in the post above.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default Listened to a bit of Amb. Crocker's talk, too

    on CSPAN.

    Good set of links on infiltration, carl. I've been a bit leery of official explanations, to be frank - even of the widely discussed study on these incidents showing them to be mostly about personal grievances. Not fair, I know, but after years of hearing certain statements over and over again, and then comparing the statements to reality, I've learned to be a bit wary....

    (He did mention what I like to call the "Pressler Canard". Drives me batty. Why this continued restating of a narrative history that isn't "quite so" by diplomats and SA experts? I will never understand it. I honestly believe it's hurt our efforts.)
    Last edited by Madhu; 09-22-2012 at 02:57 PM.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default "Taliban get back-Stand by for Al Quida."

    That is what Amb Crocker said in the presentation I linked to. He said the links between the two are still strong and if a 9-11 were to occur here again, it would most likely originate from a Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

    You all MUST listen to this presentation. He does not mince words. It is the best thing I've heard on this in a long long time.

    He said too that he considers part of our national security to consist of human and moral values, this in connection to our obligation to stand by people we have made promises to.

    He said this in the context of being able to speak freely.

    "God it's great not to be an official anymore."

    Finally, regarding our maybe attacking Iran he said that the only thing worse than an Iran with nuclear weapons is an Iran with nuclear weapons that somebody had tried to keep them from getting with military force.

    This video is GREAT!
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-25-2012 at 09:48 AM. Reason: partly copied to the Sanctuary thread, leaving Afg specific points here
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  10. #210
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    I wondered what the basis was for these comments:

    “There’s a new spirit out there” among ordinary Afghans, said Crocker. While intangible, the high hopes and lofty aspirations of today’s Afghans—especially among youth and women—may be the most auspicious sign of Afghanistan’s future potential.
    Maybe Afghanistan is different, but in my experience US ambassadors don't typically have much contact with ordinary citizens of the countries in which they are posted.

    I also wonder about the positive comments made about the ANA... there seem to be widely varying opinions in circulation, some saying the ANA and ANP are rapidly building into capable forces, some saying the exact opposite. Based on admittedly non-scientific observation, the higher on the administrative food chain the person making the comments stands, the more positive the comments seem to be. That would seem a point of worry, if you're cynical.

    I also have to wonder about the basis for the opinion that another major terrorist attack would likely be planned in the Af'/Pak region, rather than in, say, Yemen or Somalia or Egypt or Western Europe. It may indeed be so, but it would be interesting to know the reasoning or evidence behind that opinion.

    I do think that an American withdrawal from Afghanistan would increase the likelihood of major terrorist action, mainly because AQ desperately needs to have the US out there attacking and ideally occupying Muslim nations. If we deprive them of that they will try to provoke us again. I don't see that as a reason to stay in Afghanistan, just as a reason to expect what's coming, try to prevent it and prepare responses that do not involve feeding AQ with the means they require to thrive.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-25-2012 at 09:49 AM. Reason: partly copied to the Sanctuary thread, leaving Afg specific points here
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    There are a couple dozen ANA battalions, and even a year ago there was a list about how many of them were how capable.

    The differences between battalions exist, there are regional differences concerning the environment and employment of battalions and overall it's entirely predictable that people who've had contact with one or few battalions each don't have a homogeneous opinion about the ANA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Beyond those who do the killing - who should be the target of multiple precision (or as near as damn-it) air strikes - for those who should have foreseen the problem and built in contingencies and/or acted timeously there should be consequences.
    Not sure who you mean by this... who should be accountable, those who failed to anticipate these events in any given incident or those responsible for the overall policy of trying to build an army?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    One assumes that the ISAF forces doing the mentoring and the training are acting in good faith on the basis that the trainees are loyal to the Karzai government.
    Why would one assume that trainees are loyal to the Karzai Government?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Now if you want to understand more about the risks and the permutations go read Alistair Horne's book about Algeria 1954-1962:

    A Savage War of Peace

    Go for an el-cheapo 2nd hand copy, you won't regret it. You will get a perspective of what can and probably will happen as melt-down approaches.

    Better still try to find something covering the time of the Soviet withdrawal as that may be more accurate in respect of the Afghan specifics. (Anyone recommend something on this?)
    Having been through a full meltdown and a partial meltdown I have some idea of the risks and permutations, though of course those are different in every individual meltdown. The question to me is less what the particular risks and permutations of this impending meltdown are that why we should be involved in it at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Not sure who thought up the idea about joint patrols in the first place. Its a really dumb idea other than for - low risk of contact - presence patrols as the last thing you want is to get into a contact with the enemy with these ANA clowns - with different training and approach to warfare - as a wild card in your midst.
    In terms of achieving the goals of any given patrol I'm sure you're right, the joint patrol is a liability. If the overall policy goal is to build a functioning army, though, I don't know how you get around those situations... of course it will be easier and the short-term goal is more likely to be achieved if you do it yourself, but that doesn't move you toward the "build an army" goal. I don't approve of that policy (obviously), but once the policy is laid down from above I don't know how much latitude the commanders in the field have in executing it. I'm sure they're well aware of the risks and liabilities intrinsic to the policies of trying to build nations, armies, and governments, but they don't have the option of changing the policy. How do you "build an army" in that kind of environment without sending trainers out into positions where they're at risk of being killed by those they train, or without accompanying trainees on missions where they are likely to be a liability?
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 09-23-2012 at 01:34 AM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    best part of the Crocker interview was the information on the early iranian involvement. I have read a decent amount on afghanistan (a pittance compared to many here) but I had never head anything about that what so ever. Very interesting.

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    Posted by Carl

    That is what Amb Crocker said in the presentation I linked to. He said the links between the two are still strong and if a 9-11 were to occur here again, it would most likely originate from a Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

    You all MUST listen to this presentation. He does not mince words. It is the best thing I've heard on this in a long long time.
    I think the comment about another 9/11 coming out of a Taliban controlled Afghanistan is the only comment he made that I didn't concur with. Maybe or maybe not, but they don't need this type of safehaven to facilitate that type of attack. I suspect the Americans for the most part are prepared to stay the course by providing funding to sustain the Afghan security forces after we withdraw most of our combat power. It is cheap insurance.

    I thought the most important historical tidbit he pointed out was that the USSR installed government and security forces didn't fail until the Afghan government couldn't/wouldn't pay their soldiers, which was the beginning of the end. I suspect that was due to the USSR pulling the rug out from under their feet. A mistake we don't want to make.

    Excellent presentation.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-25-2012 at 09:49 AM. Reason: partly copied to the Sanctuary thread, leaving Afg specific points here

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I think the comment about another 9/11 coming out of a Taliban controlled Afghanistan is the only comment he made that I didn't concur with. Maybe or maybe not, but they don't need this type of safehaven to facilitate that type of attack. I suspect the Americans for the most part are prepared to stay the course by providing funding to sustain the Afghan security forces after we withdraw most of our combat power. It is cheap insurance.

    I thought the most important historical tidbit he pointed out was that the USSR installed government and security forces didn't fail until the Afghan government couldn't/wouldn't pay their soldiers, which was the beginning of the end. I suspect that was due to the USSR pulling the rug out from under their feet. A mistake we don't want to make.

    Excellent presentation.
    Bill, with respect. Think Vietnam.

    Is it only Americans who think that this will be anything other than a rerun of that debacle?

    The (US) money won't filter down into the pay packets of the troops and the US Congress will pull the funding... and the whole of the Karzai regime will move to Dubai to live happily ever after on the billions of US cash already stashed there... and Afghanistan will return to its old ways.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-25-2012 at 09:49 AM. Reason: partly copied to the Sanctuary thread, leaving Afg specific points here

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    I couldn't locate the video of Amb. Crocker, so settled for the transcript and found a few good passages:
    ...we, Americans, are not overly brilliant at. We’re all about today and tomorrow....So we tend to lose track of how important history is elsewhere in the world and how it shapes the present and informs the future.
    Ken W. in particular reminds us of this American habit.

    Iran-US cooperation:
    During those pre-attack discussions—and you’ll remember the air war began in early October—the Iranian thrust was, you know, what do you need to know to knock their blocks off? You want their order of battle? Here’s the map. You want to know where we think their weak points are? Here, here, and here. You want to know how we think they’re going to react to an air campaign? Do you want to know how we think the Northern Alliance will behave? Ask us. We’ve got the answers; we’ve been working with those guys for years. This was an unprecedented period since the revolution of, again, a U.S.- Iranian dialogue on a particular issue where we very much had common interest and common cause.
    Incidentally there is no mention of the Indians, who had an advisory group with the Northern Alliance - the only foreign "boots on the ground". Nor the discussions and agreements with Iran before Gulf War Two, especially over overflight, SAR etc.

    Back to Iran & Afghanistan:
    The Iranians have always pulled their punches in Afghanistan. They could have been a lot worse than they have been. The only explosively formed projectile—EFP that killed so many Americans in Afghanistan we’ve ever found evidence of—in Iraq, sorry—the only one we’ve ever found evidence of in Afghanistan was an inert one that we believe was left for us to find as a reminder—say, you know, we’re only using one hand, and only three fingers on that hand.
    On the ANA/ANSF I too wondered, especially when reading they still today have a 15% absentee or desertion problem.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-23-2012 at 04:12 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Iran-US cooperation:
    That's from the short period when the Iranian government proposed political peace and cooperation to the U.S..
    A 'historical' chance that the Neocons threw away because they preferred their model of what the world is like over facts.

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    Posted by JMA

    Bill, with respect. Think Vietnam.

    Is it only Americans who think that this will be anything other than a rerun of that debacle?

    The (US) money won't filter down into the pay packets of the troops and the US Congress will pull the funding... and the whole of the Karzai regime will move to Dubai to live happily ever after on the billions of US cash already stashed there... and Afghanistan will return to its old ways
    .

    Ultimately those who doubt our commitment to remain committed may sadly prove to be correct. We have some wise advisors in our Department of State and Department of Defense who like AMB Crocker admit they can't predict the future the 30th and 40th order effects of any decision, they can still provide the President and Congress sound recommendations based on history and convergence of trends that are shaping the future. Yet as I suspect most know those decisions are ultimately made by politicians who are more concerned about short term influence over the electorate than long term strategic influence in the world.

    Based on this reality any doctrine we develop that relies on enduring efforts is often doomed from the start because we fail to understand our own context, even if we have (bold statement I know) have a good understanding of the historic context in the foreign countries we're trying to influence.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I suspect that was due to the USSR pulling the rug out from under their feet. A mistake we don't want to make.
    Maybe it would be a mistake, that would depend on circumstances. If we're pouring money in, the money is pouring out into offshore accounts, and the troops aren't being paid, do we pour more money in? All the US can do is help, we can't make a government function or stand. If we're helping and the government in question isn't doing it's share, we have to pull the plug, come what may. Nobody anywhere should have a blank check on US support.

    Of course if the plug gets pulled there will be a chorus of howls about debacles and betrayals and abandonment, that's a given. Still gotta do what you gotta do.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    People often say that attacks on the scale of 9-11 can be done from somewhere else, Yemen, Somalia, Western Europe etc. I have never bought that. Amb Crocker explained why it can't be done from Yemen. Western Europe is crawling with proficient police forces and intel services who are paying attention and whose individual officers and agents dream of being able to nab an AQ guy. If AQ wanted to use the area that used to be Somalia, they would have to get the Somaliland gov to go for it, which it probably won't, or the Puntland gov to go for it which probably won't and if they went to Mog the Ugandans would kill them and if they went south the Kenyans would kill them (both with copious help from us) and that would leave them with only thorny scrubland presided over by who knows who with access to nowhere.

    They are in the best and probably only place for them in the world now, Pakistan mostly, because the Pak Army/ISI doesn't mind them too much. If Taliban took back Afghanistan there would be an even better place for them. This isn't before 9-11 anymore. Everybody is paying attention. They haven't gone anywhere else because they can't. The advantage of having a place where the authorities not only won't come after you but actually support you can't be done without.

    Amb Crocker said some things about Kabul but I wish he had said more. The size of that place is a major change from 2001 as he mentioned. It has to have a very great effect upon how far a Pak Army/ISI supported Taliban & Co will be able to go after 2014.

    Maybe H. Karzai has no intention of bugging out if the time comes. Amb Crocker very strongly said that Mr. Karzai's life depends upon what happens. That doesn't sound like a guy who is planning on running. And he has done some very brave things in the past.

    Who knows how good the ANSF is, but it only has to be better than Taliban & Co. Another thread talked about some Taliban acknowledging that they cannot take Kabul. So it may not be such a sure thing how far Taliaban & Co. can go after 2014.

    David mentioned the Indians. I wish Amb Crocker had had the time too also. They are the gorilla that sits quietly in the corner. If we decide to stop paying for the insurance policy that a post 2014 ANSF would be, I suspect the Indians, the Iranians, the Turks, the Russkis and the U-Pick-Astanis will make their own arrangements.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-25-2012 at 09:50 AM. Reason: partly copied to the Sanctuary thread, leaving Afg specific points here
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