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Thread: ANSF performance 2015 onwards

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default ANSF performance 2015 onwards

    This is one of the five new threads on Afghanistan for 2015 onwards, its focus is ANSF performance.

    There are a small number of OEF threads now closed on the:

    1) ANA: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=5384
    2) ANP: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=1584
    3) ALP also appear in: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=10562

    I do appreciate that there can be cross-over between the new threads, notably how the NATO mission interacts with the ANSF and Afghan politics.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default WHAM: ANA style?

    Whatever happened in Helmand Province in this incident it is not encouraging:
    Afghan police are investigating an apparent army rocket strike on a wedding party that killed at least 28 people, many of them women and children. Police in southern Helmand province were looking into how soldiers came to fire a rocket at a house where a wedding was being celebrated late on Wednesday, the deputy provincial police chief, Bacha Gull, said.
    The rocket appeared to have been fired from an army checkpoint near the house in Sangin district as guests waited for the bride to arrive, he said.
    Police were “keeping an eye” on two army checkpoints to determine whether the soldiers manning them were engaged in a firefight with Taliban insurgents at the time or whether they fired the rockets arbitrarily. The strike wounded 51 people.
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-wedding-party


    Somehow I doubt we will learn the truth. Nor will it be simple.


    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Now the real fight begins: a mixed picture

    One of the first comprehensive assessments of the ANSF, alongside the wider, mainly political context, by Professor Theo Farrell, of Kings War Studies, following a Q&A format:http://postwarwatch.com/2015/01/25/p...mixed-picture/

    This theme did strike me as odd, about the ANA:
    Afghan army officers identify their primary mission as protecting the Afghan state in a very conventional sense. Their main concern is Pakistan, and the defense of Afghanistan against conventional Pakistani forces.....Yet this is not really what ANA commanders want to be doing.
    davidbfpo

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    This is just a vague thought, but here goes:
    Afghan army officers identify their primary mission as protecting the Afghan state in a very conventional sense. Their main concern is Pakistan, and the defense of Afghanistan against conventional Pakistani forces....

    This sounds odd at one level (conventional attack from Pakistan being unlikely, insurgency being very real, etc) but at another level it seems like a possible source of asabiya and future stability. States and their armies are based on some notion of common identity and common mission. Counter-insurgency on behalf of the corrupt ruling elite may be their mission, but is a shaky basis for common purpose and asabiya. What works in other states will also work in Afghanistan (and vice versa, what does not work well elsewhere will not work well there either, in this context). This sense of mission may be a positive..
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-26-2015 at 04:28 PM. Reason: fix quote

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default What Campbell’s trying to hide is a disappearing army

    I'd seen a headline on General Campbell restricting access to data previously published and missed its importance until this hitherto unkown blog comment appeared via Twitter:http://sunnyinkabul.com/2015/01/30/w...e-afghan-army/

    What General Campbell doesn’t want us to know is that the army that’s supposed to be taking over for the US to fight all the terrorist things? It’s disappearing. Even faster than usual.

    So why is the Afghan Army quitting in droves? According to the Americans, it’s because…
    …high operational tempo, sustained risk, soldier care and quality of life, and leave issues. Afghan casualties increased since the ANSF took the lead for security in June 2013. Although combat losses comprise a relatively small percentage of total ANSF attrition numbers, reducing ANSF casualties remains both a top morale and operational priority for ISAF and ANSF leaders.
    But what’s underlying that is the uncertainty the Afghan forces feel after only a few years of existence. They haven’t been around long enough to know what it means to fight on their own. For most of those years they had their hands held by the most powerful military in the world. And by holding hands I mean we brought death from above in the form of all the A-10s and the B-1s and the F-16s and all the exploding things in the air over Afghanistan.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Hardest (and Most Important) Job in Afghanistan

    Sub-titled:
    A week on the frontlines with the Afghan National Police.
    Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/ma...hanistan.html?

    A good read, if depressing.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Mission creep for US forces?

    A NYT report:
    Months after President Obama formally declared that the United States’ long war against the Taliban was over in Afghanistan, the American military is regularly conducting airstrikes against low-level insurgent forces and sending Special Operations troops directly into harm’s way under the guise of “training and advising.”In justifying the continued presence of the American forces in Afghanistan, administration officials have insisted that the troops’ role is relegated to counterterrorism, defined as tracking down the remnants of Al Qaeda and other global terrorist groups, and training and advising the Afghan security forces who have assumed the bulk of the fight.
    Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/30/wo...ghanistan.html
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    A power that creates and protects a government in some foreign place, cannot create a security force to effectively secure that de facto illegitimate government against some challenger who's forces perceive their cause as legitimate.

    The US tried and failed in the Philippines in the early 1900s; in Vietnam in the mid 1900s, and in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Each with the building of partner military capacity as the corner stone to the strategy, each a complete failure.

    This is not, by the way, in the much touted "Decade of War" lessons learned. We have not learned this lesson.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "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)

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    "A power that creates and protects a government in some foreign place, cannot create a security force to effectively secure that de facto illegitimate government against some challenger who's forces perceive their cause as legitimate."

    This is too broad a generalization. It depends on the power, the force they create and the enemy they face.
    In this case, failure was not guaranteed. But of course, it COULD fail.
    The tragedy is that it could have worked.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Broad indeed. But not too broad.

    Please give me an example of where this has worked?
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "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)

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    Council Member Morgan's Avatar
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    I was under the impression that US efforts in the Philippines did work....? Messy to be sure but successful, yes? Wasn't it essentially a fairly peaceful US "colony" until 1942?
    Morgan Smiley

    "If you can dodge a car, you can dodge a ball". Patches O'Houlihan

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    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    "A power that creates and protects a government in some foreign place, cannot create a security force to effectively secure that de facto illegitimate government against some challenger who's forces perceive their cause as legitimate."

    This is too broad a generalization. It depends on the power, the force they create and the enemy they face.
    In this case, failure was not guaranteed. But of course, it COULD fail.
    The tragedy is that it could have worked.
    I'm with you on this and it takes us back to the wise saying that, "all models are wrong, but still useful." If someone becomes overly enamored with their model, it no longer serves its heuristic role. Clearly the USSR created a number of governments where its security forces held the line for decades. One could argue we did the same in Germany and Japan. In Vietnam, the government did hold against the insurgency, they couldn't hold against the superior conventional power of North Vietnam, and no this wasn't Phase 3 of Mao's insurgency model. You can also argue that the UK and France created a number of states and trained their security forces that have held the line.

    If you're going to argue that they failed 50 to 100 years later, that is getting a bit petty and unrealistic. New issues emerge, history doesn't freeze in place.

    If you look at the Arab Spring, any state that kept control of their security forces defeated the uprising, with the exception of Syria. Assad's government in Syria, to the surprise of many who embrace liberal social models, still exists.

    Clearly these issues are much more complex than any simplistic model can explain. We need to use multiple modes as lens to try to understand, but also free ourselves from models to take a fresh look at the issue as it really is, without the bias of a model or ideology.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan View Post
    I was under the impression that US efforts in the Philippines did work....? Messy to be sure but successful, yes? Wasn't it essentially a fairly peaceful US "colony" until 1942?
    It was relatively peaceful, and we were relatively effective, but the Philippines in my view has never been peacefully united. It has always been a violent country with its various militias, insurgent groups, and criminal groups (both state and non-state). There have been rays of hope with the likes of Magsaysay and the current Aquino, but overall it is a still a basket case in many places due to high levels of corruption (and no it isn't culturally appropriate) and power struggles among different groups. It is just another example of state where simplistic models do not provide understanding or answers.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Easy prey for the Taliban?

    Not a shock, but one wonders how long can the ANSF sustain itself:
    Afghan security forces are suffering record casualties in their first battles against the Taliban since the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan ended in December after more than 13 years. The number of killed and wounded so far this year is about 70 percent higher than during the same period last year, said Colonel Brian Tribus, director of public affairs for NATO’s Afghanistan mission.
    Link:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articl...s-with-taliban

    Interesting to note the ALP get a mention:
    Ulumi said that local police have borne the brunt of the fresh Taliban offensive, which has targeted the northern provinces of Kunduz and Badakhshan.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill,

    Of course it was phase three of the insurgency that consolidated Vietnam. North and South "states" were a Western fiction created in the midst of an ongoing movement to liberate the whole of Vietnam from Western control.

    I think it is you who are too infatuated with the official US perspective on our history, and that my model that exposes deep flaws in the thinking behind that perspective makes you uncomfortable. We need to get uncomfortable if we hope to get better. Thinking is like PT - if it doesn't make you uncomfortable, you are probably wasting your time.

    The armies we have created to protect the governments we have created have all, without exception, folded like lawn chairs when pressed by a more legitimate force. Period. We can't even admit those challengers were more legitimate, yet alone that our political and security strategy failed.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "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)

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default The "model" in Vietnam was Dau Tranh not Mao (though can be argued a variation on Mao

    • Dau Tranh--Vietnamese Model
    • 2 Elements--political and armed
    • Opponent loses unless he wins both
    • Organization is goal of Vietnamese variant
    • Victory to side with strongest and most resilient organization
    • New definition of Absolute War
    • No such thing as a non-combatant
    • People are an instrument of war
    • Time is a critical element to ensure victory
    • Importance of International support for Revolution

    Douglas Pike, in his seminal work on the Vietnam War details the Vietnamese strategy of Dau Tranh (the “Struggle”) emphasizing that the strategy was beyond a purely military strategy but one which mobilized the entire population – a political struggle with the three now famous action programs (or “vans”): action among the enemy; action among the people, and action among the military. This was a comprehensive political-military strategy that had as a key element the psychological influence of its own people, its military, and that of the enemy. But the focus was not just on the enemy’s military force; it struck right at the heart of the enemy: the will of the enemy government leadership and its population.
    Douglas Pike, PAVN: People’s Army of Vietnam, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1991), p. 216.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max161 View Post
    • Dau Tranh--Vietnamese Model
    • 2 Elements--political and armed
    • Opponent loses unless he wins both
    • Organization is goal of Vietnamese variant
    • Victory to side with strongest and most resilient organization
    • New definition of Absolute War
    • No such thing as a non-combatant
    • People are an instrument of war
    • Time is a critical element to ensure victory
    • Importance of International support for Revolution

    Douglas Pike, in his seminal work on the Vietnam War details the Vietnamese strategy of Dau Tranh (the “Struggle”) emphasizing that the strategy was beyond a purely military strategy but one which mobilized the entire population – a political struggle with the three now famous action programs (or “vans”): action among the enemy; action among the people, and action among the military. This was a comprehensive political-military strategy that had as a key element the psychological influence of its own people, its military, and that of the enemy. But the focus was not just on the enemy’s military force; it struck right at the heart of the enemy: the will of the enemy government leadership and its population.
    Douglas Pike, PAVN: People’s Army of Vietnam, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1991), p. 216.

    Excellent post with great insights! To some extent these same principles were used in the Civil Rights movement. Communist were and are very adaptable depending on the local situation, while always keeping the larger goal in mind.

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default Dau Tranh Strategy: Integrated political and Military Struggle

    In case you cannot download the attachment here is the text.

    Political Struggle:

    Dan Van - Action among your people - total mobilization of propaganda, motivational & organizational measures to manipulate internal masses and fighting units

    Binh Van - Action among enemy military - subversion, proselytizing, propaganda to encourage desertion, defection and lowered morale among enemy troops.

    Dich Van - Action among enemy's people - total propaganda effort to sow discontent, defeatism, dissent, and disloyalty among enemy's population.

    Military Struggle:

    Phase 1: Organizations and Preparation - building cells, recruiting members, infiltrating organizations, creating front groups, spreading propaganda, stockpiling weapons.

    Phase 2: Terrorism - Guerrilla Warfare - kidnappings, terrorist attacks, sabotage, guerrilla raids, ambushes, setting of parallel governments in insurgent areas.

    Phase 3: Conventional Warfare - regular formations and maneuver to capture key geographical and political objectives.


    Obviously this is nothing new and pretty basic and has been (and continues to be) executed in various forms by various groups around the world.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Peoples Revolutionary Warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by max161 View Post
    In case you cannot download the attachment here is the text.

    Political Struggle:

    Dan Van - Action among your people - total mobilization of propaganda, motivational & organizational measures to manipulate internal masses and fighting units

    Binh Van - Action among enemy military - subversion, proselytizing, propaganda to encourage desertion, defection and lowered morale among enemy troops.

    Dich Van - Action among enemy's people - total propaganda effort to sow discontent, defeatism, dissent, and disloyalty among enemy's population.

    Military Struggle:

    Phase 1: Organizations and Preparation - building cells, recruiting members, infiltrating organizations, creating front groups, spreading propaganda, stockpiling weapons.

    Phase 2: Terrorism - Guerrilla Warfare - kidnappings, terrorist attacks, sabotage, guerrilla raids, ambushes, setting of parallel governments in insurgent areas.

    Phase 3: Conventional Warfare - regular formations and maneuver to capture key geographical and political objectives.


    Obviously this is nothing new and pretty basic and has been (and continues to be) executed in various forms by various groups around the world.
    max161 thanks for posting this. Brings up points I have beeen saying for awhile about how the old school stuff still has a lot merit and all this new stuff ain't that new. Instead of struggling what to call this type of warfare call it what it used to be called. PEOPLES REVOLUTIONARY WARFARE.

    It is behind the Marine Corps Gazette subscription paywall but there is an excellent article with good graphics you may like. The title is A Marine For All Seasons Maneuver Warfare vs. low-Intensity Conflict by LTC. H.T.Hayden September 1989 edition.

    Thanks again!

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Internal revolution, illegal politics, to coerce change upon or to force out some existing domestic system of governance, is indeed timeless. The specific approaches developed by Mao in China, and refined and applied in Vietnam by Giap, Ho, and friends, are but two of countless variations on how leaders have cleverly leveraged the energy that resides within a population perceiving itself as oppressed and with no legal ways available to address the intolerable problems in the relationship between those who govern, and those who are governed. It is a product of their times, situations, culture, geography and vision as leaders.

    While often non-violent and low-key; these types of conflict can also bring the very worse forms of violence. Very much like domestic disputes within a family, which is a variation of this same type of internal conflict. War theory, as developed so well by theorists such as Clausewitz does not apply directly, but does lend a helpful context. The "American way of war" is very Clausewtzian in nature, and as we classify revolution as war (wrongly, IMO) it leads us to seeking victory over some threat, rather than resolution of the core problems. Our focus on seeking what we believe best for us also blinds our perspective.

    Revolution manifests differently in every case, but does have common characteristics rooted in the commonalities of human nature that bind us as a species. In culture one finds the keys to tactical understanding; but it is in nature that one finds the keys to strategic understanding. Both are required for the design and application of effective COIN. The US approach in foreign lands tends to be overly lacking in both - as we are so blinded by our belief that what we bring is good, and that we are helping the people affected by our actions get to a better place, that we cannot see that we are denying them the self-determination that is the essential first step to a legitimate solution.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 05-07-2015 at 12:23 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "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)

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