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Thread: Where Less Is More

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Where Less Is More

    23 July NY Times commentary - Where Less Is More by Rory Stewart.

    ... Much has been made lately of setbacks and the resilience of the Taliban. But given its history, Afghanistan is doing relatively well. International terrorist training camps have been eliminated (or at least pushed across the border to Pakistan); national wealth has nearly doubled in the last five years; Kabulís population has expanded from less than a million in 2001 to almost four million today.

    It seems ground is broken on another huge blue-glass commercial building every week. The wage for an unskilled laborer in Kabul is now $4 a day, four times that in neighboring Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Millions of Afghan refugees have returned home at a time when Iraqis are fleeing Iraq. The central regions of Afghanistan are safe enough for foreigners to travel alone unharmed.

    There are, however, serious problems in the south and east of the country. Taliban forces raid villages and military posts before retreating to safety across the Pakistan border. In Helmand Province, the government is associated with kidnapping, murder and theft. Thirty-five highway policemen were arrested this month, accused of robbing vehicles. This province alone produces 50 percent of Europeís heroin. Afghans in such areas are justifiably angry...

    Most important, none of the factors that led to success in historyís classic counterinsurgency campaigns are present in the fight against the Taliban. In British Malaya in the 1950s, for example, success depended on direct imperial control of the government, a powerful and cooperative local administration, large numbers of troops, active support from much of the population, a detailed understanding of local culture and politics, control of the borders and strong political support at home.

    In Afghanistan, by contrast, the American-led coalition is not the government and has to operate in tandem with an Afghan civil service, military and police force that are at best ineffective and at worst actively undermine coalition operations...

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    Military Review, Sep-Oct 07: Fighting the "Other War": COIN Strategy in Afghanistan, 2003-2005
    ....the U.S.-led military coalition was not well postured to counter the rising threat. Coordination between the military and interagency partners was hampered by a U.S. Embassy and military headquarters separated by over forty kilometers. Unity of effort suffered; the military command and control situation was in flux; our tactical approach was enemy-focused and risked alienating the Afghan people; and the substantial draw of operations in Iraq had put severe limits on the availability of key military capabilities for Afghanistan. To make matters more difficult, the American military leadership was rotating, and the first U.S. ambassador since 1979 had departed with no replacement. Clearly, without a significant change in course, Afghanistan was at risk.

    This article outlines the changes subsequently made to U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. It depicts the approach, begun in October 2003, to create a successful counterinsurgency (COININ) campaign in “the other war” that resulted in over two years of relative stability and progress. It also provides a brief assessment of the situation in Afghanistan now, as we move toward the end of 2007.....

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    Barno was the CG right before I arrived in theater, and was replaced by Eikenberry, who was a very difficult man to work for and with.

    One major problem that I recognized from the start was the CFC-A was a 3 Star, Combined/Joint HQ that was formed ad hoc out of Individual Augmentees. It amazes me to this day that we were able to accomplish what we did with the four services acting on different deployment timelines. The USAF was doing 4 month tours, then expanded to 6. The Navy was doing 6 month tours, the USMC 7 month tours, and the Army 12 month tours.

    I think placing a standing Corps HQ in Afghanistan would have and still would be much more successful, if for no other reason that unit cohesion.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Default Difficult road for Afghan army

    Difficult road for Afghan army ISN Security Watch


    The Afghan National Army (ANA) has a long way to go before it can stamp its authority on Afghanistan's southern provinces, where the Taliban insurgency is strong. Although the ANA's morale appears to be high, it lacks everything from weapons to basic literacy skills. RFE/RL correspondent Ahto Lobjakas files this report from the southern provinces of Afghanistan.
    Training is another problem. There are currently 26 ISAF "Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams" (OMLTs, or "omelettes" as they are known in ISAF jargon) training ANA units across the country.

    However, the number barely meets the needs of the 30,000-35,000 current ANA soldiers. The ANA is projected to grow to 70,000 men by the end of 2008, requiring 100 of the 20- to 30-person OMLTs, not an easy task for Western governments struggling to find troops for Afghanistan.

    But there are some problems that are even more elementary. ISAF Brigadier General Ryszard Wisniewski, in charge of coordinating some Western training efforts, said in a video interview from Kabul on 17 September that a flagship project to attach 65 ANA officers to ISAF central and regional headquarters is in danger of foundering because many of these hand-picked officers cannot read or write.

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