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    Default Kandahar Province: catch all thread

    The Senlis Council, 29 Aug 07: The Canadian International Development Agency in Kandahar: Unanswered Questions
    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    This report is the result of research conducted by The Senlis Council in response to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). As a reaction to our reports demonstrating that the work of CIDA was not visible in Kandahar, we were invited to verify their work for ourselves. The suffering of the Afghan people in Kandahar not only neglects our humanitarian obligations to our allies in Kandahar, it creates a climate that fuels the insurgency and undermines the already dangerous work of Canada’s military in this hostile war zone....

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Cida

    We've talked a lot about US problems integrating civil-military operations but, I have to admit, Canada has done a lot worse by relying on CIDA. In the 1990's, CIDA got rid of must of their field project people and became, pretty much, a contract oversight office (I did some project work with them in 2003).
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default I was just about to say...

    That CIDA's reputation in Sub-Sahara was actually quite good in the late 80s and early 90s. Their work mirrored USAID's supporting agricultural development and economic growth.

    They were also at times entertaining...gotta love that Canadian French



    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    We've talked a lot about US problems integrating civil-military operations but, I have to admit, Canada has done a lot worse by relying on CIDA. In the 1990's, CIDA got rid of must of their field project people and became, pretty much, a contract oversight office (I did some project work with them in 2003).

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    Council Member Armchairguy's Avatar
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    Default According to my brother

    I sent the link to the report to my brother and this is his response below

    "Thanks, but the Senlis Council has no credibility in my eyes. They
    have a European left-wing agenda and try to undermine any policy or
    plan related to security operations in Afghanistan. Like the NDP,
    they only want to see reconstruction. How they see that being done
    in a country that is not stable is a mystery to me - and probably to
    them. They'd prefer to see the Taliban take back the country with
    force of arms than see us defend it - go figure.

    As far as their allegations about the Kandahar hospital - it may be
    true - but so what? We are in a sovereign country and if the
    Government decides to use aid in a way we think they shouldn't - too
    bad."

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    As far as their allegations about the Kandahar hospital - it may be
    true - but so what? We are in a sovereign country and if the
    Government decides to use aid in a way we think they shouldn't - too
    bad."
    CIDA claimed it gave aid to the hospital itself and was monitoring the hospital. Senlis visited and saw no CIDA aid in the hospital. Where does the sovereign Afghan government come into the picture here? They were not the ones CIDA supposedly gave the money to.

    Aid is worse than useless if it doesn't reach the ground. If policymakers are told x dollars are being sent, the policymaker may make the false assumption that this money is doing good and no more is required. If x dollars are instead being stolen or never makes it to the ground level, the policymakers and taxpayers need to know this.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree with your last paragraph

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    CIDA claimed it gave aid to the hospital itself and was monitoring the hospital. Senlis visited and saw no CIDA aid in the hospital. Where does the sovereign Afghan government come into the picture here? They were not the ones CIDA supposedly gave the money to.

    Aid is worse than useless if it doesn't reach the ground. If policymakers are told x dollars are being sent, the policymaker may make the false assumption that this money is doing good and no more is required. If x dollars are instead being stolen or never makes it to the ground level, the policymakers and taxpayers need to know this.
    but I suspect you and I draw different lessons from that.

    There is no way in most nations in the ME or many other parts of the world to insure more than incidentally that the aid money will in fact not be misappropriated. As that statement I just made has been true since 1947 and has been amply demonstrated again and again, I'm not sure that the taxpayers knowing this makes much difference and I am very sure that the policy makers knowing it has made absolutely no difference. We still keep trying to funnel money into such nations. Beyond an exercise in futility.

    There is in every western nation a group of both governmental and non-governmental agencies who focus on obtaining and dispensing money in aid of something. Too often, they are merely self perpetuating bureaucracies who have done some good and a lot of harm. One merely has to spend time in a 'third world' country and watch these fools (not all but entirely too many) and their first world life style to come to the realization that too many (again, not all) are more focused on themselves than they are on the people they're supposed to be helping.

    I've met a number of folks, gov and non-gov, who really cared and worked at it smartly. They did some good, sometimes under amazing handicaps. I've met more who did not do those things. They generally did more harm than good.

    Most of the good programs aimed at getting the locals to help themselves and work their way out of the situation; most of the harmful efforts were grants and donations with few or no strings,

    Idealism is responsible form much progress in the world. It is also responsible for much that is wrong and donated aid internally to the US or overseas has done as much harm as good. Altruism and generosity are great (seriously) but a level of simple logic is required in determining what is productive expenditure of funds and what is wasteful.

    We are, as a nation, altruistic. However, we don't perform that simple logical exercise of determining whether an idealistic grant will just end up in a Swiss Bank account. Perhaps we should do that and better focus our efforts.

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    Default Insurgent Operations in Kandahar Province

    A Violent Impediment:the evolution of insurgent operations in Kandahar province 2003-07

    Abstract
    Theorizing about Taliban operations in Afghanistan has its limits and it is possible that Kabul-centric strategies do not adequately address the unique circumstances of each region in the country. How exactly has the Taliban gone about attaining its objectives in Kandahar province and how have those approaches evolved since 2002? And how have the Taliban adapted to coalition forces' attempts to compete with the insurgency and stamp it out? The answers to these questions are critical in the formulation of any counterinsurgency approach to Afghanistan.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Kandahar jail break

    A Taliban 'who dares wins' attack and hundreds of prisoners at liberty: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

    The last few paragraphs, from a Canadian need to be read:

    Yesterday Canadians reacted with dismay at seeing their prison project in ruins.

    "The message this attack sends is that the insurgents can act with relative impunity even into downtown Kandahar," said Colin Kenny, the head of the Canadian senate's committee on security and national defence, and a campaigner for more Nato troops to join the Afghan mission. The other message it sends is to the insurgent rank and file: if you get captured, we'll get you out."
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 06-15-2008 at 12:54 PM.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Night time ambush near Kandahar

    An embedded UK reporter, with US NG unit; who fall victim to an IED on a road near Kandahar en route to Helmand: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...an-ambush.html

    Accompanying video indicates how confusing post-explosion the attack was.

    For an armchair observer a nunber of questions arise, notably why move at night? Nore, a moment of silence for the one KIA, 37yr NYState NG.

    davidbfpo

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    Default

    When I read your question, I thought it was naive. Then I read the article and now I'm wondering the same thing. Here's why...
    They had no night-vision goggles or flares, and some were standing in the beams from their vehicle headlights. Heavy machine-guns and grenade-launchers were hammering furiously in what the Americans call suppressive fire, to keep the enemy's heads down.
    I remember the first and last time that I was the patrol leader of a mission and neglected to have my men bring night vision goggles. It was 8 years ago, in the Florida phase of Ranger School, and it was a well-earned reason for them to recycle me. I'd be curious to know 1) is this report accurate, regarding the lack of NVG's? and 2) if so, why didn't these guys have NVG's? I'm not sure if it matters whether their unit simply didn't have any or whether their patrol leaders didn't think they needed them - neither reason is good - but this strikes me as either bizarre or as sloppy reporting. How would a unit, 7 years into the Afghan conflict, not bring NVG's on a patrol whether it is day or night? On the other hand, if they were relying on their headlights, then I guess it is probable that they didn't have NVGs. I can think of no other sane reason to flip on white lights immediately after being ambushed.

    I regularly check the Honor the Fallen webpage to see if any of my friends show up on the list. I just saw PFC Dimond's information posted yesterday. RIP.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    For an armchair observer a number of questions arise, notably why move at night?
    I can't speak for Afghanistan or this unit but for our part we did our best not to let the enemy dictate things on the battlefield. It would not take the enemy long to figure out that they could move safely at night if we never did. Besides which, we are taught from basic on that the American Army owns the night and for the most part that is true.

    As for the lack of NVGs, I can't say for sure but my bet is that they had them but they never got them out once the fighting started. NVGs can actually be a huge pain in the butt to use effectively in a fire fight and you still won't see as well as you can with white light. Add to that the fact that this unit did not appear to be all that well trained, what with standing in their own headlights and firing a lot of rounds, apparently at nothing, and you get a pretty good idea of why the reporter never saw any NVGs come out.

    SFC W

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default What they said...

    You have to move at night -- if you don't, the bad guys will and one should strive at all costs to not let the other side control the tempo or be the initiator of action. Thus there is every reason to move at night and a strong incentive to avoid stasis.

    There is, based on that article, little question in my mind that the unit involved was not well trained and did not perform well. American units in general are in fact trigger happy and we do fire far too promiscuously and easily -- penalty of having an overabundance of ammunition and the myth of 'suppressive fire' * .

    Yes, NVG are a pain but they have great value, however, one can operate at night without NVGs, many forces have done that for thousands of years and those that did / do it well train to do so (even if you have NVG; what happens if you're out long enough to run out of batteries...), it's not difficult and one can see at night.

    * As a MOH and two Navy Cross holder once said "...suppressive fire only suppresses if it is accurate fire..."

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    Default night convoys

    My platoon provided convoy security in northern Iraq, and we usually travelled at night in an attempt to give the Iraqis better use of the roads during the day. Our convoys travelled with white lights, since it was pretty clear to the enemy which of the 20-25 veh convoy were US guntrucks, and which were TCN cargo trucks. It also let us spot IEDs. We always had NVG's in our vehicles though, but only used them during security halts when we cut our lights.

    I find it hard to believe that any US unit in CENTCOM AO would not have NVG's. If they don't, their commander and S4 need to get to work. If they chose not to bring them, the leadership accepted too much risk. Its always better to have something and not use it. I even kept the NBC pro-suit in my bag in the trunk, knowing the .0001% chance I would need it, it was there.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Some questions on the story

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    An embedded UK reporter, with US NG unit; who fall victim to an IED on a road near Kandahar en route to Helmand: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...an-ambush.html
    davidbfpo
    raised by several at this LINK. As usual, the first blush report is perhaps a bit overdone and as the dust settles, a bit more usually comes out. Without being there at the time, hard to say what's right...

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    Ken,

    I read that piece over at Blackfive yesterday too. Even given their tendency to put a certain slant on things, I think they've raised a lot of legitimate questions about the article.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Talking You get the Understatement Award for the week...

    "Even given their tendency to put a certain slant on things."
    Masterful!!!

    Still, as you say, there are questions. Truth's probably somewhere in between -- it usually is...

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    I read that piece over at Blackfive yesterday too. Even given their tendency to put a certain slant on things, I think they've raised a lot of legitimate questions about the article.
    The problem is while most of us can read the two versions, and get the drift of what actually happened, UK media is just about incapable of accurately reporting from the front line or even the rear. The need to "entertain" and sensationalise, is mind boggling. The levels of inaccuracy and invention are now at a serious level, and that leaves the general public, very poorly served.
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    Default Wheels coming off the bus in Kandahar?

    Anyone else catch this? Thoughts?

    About a year ago I advocated in this thread (post 13) that we should worry about Kabul and Kandahar far more than villages like Wanat - that the enemy was politically mobilizing under our noses outside the FOB gate while we were distracted chasing Taliban in the hills. Now it will be harder if the Taliban effectively control one of Afghanistan's major cities.

    From Abu M today:

    http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam...r-falling.html

    Is Kandahar Falling?
    by Abu Muqawama

    My friend Erica Gaston -- the pride of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana -- is a lawyer and human rights researcher based in Kabul who has done some excellent work on civilian casualties. Here, in the Huffington Post, she gives me a nice shout-out before asking the kind of question that keeps me up at night:

    Has Kandahar already fallen?

    • Taliban intimidation has virtually curtailed any sense of normal life in Kandahar. Open support for the government, much less international forces, is an invitation for a night letter or worse. Government officials, teachers, and aid workers (those left) are regularly killed, assaulted, or otherwise harassed. Many of the pro-government clergy in Kandahar have already been assassinated or forced to go into hiding because of threats in the last few years. Girls cannot go to school without fear of attacks, the most notable being an acid attack on 15 girls going to school.

    • After years of extreme security threats, frequent incidents of air strikes and nighttime raids, high government corruption and graft, and a dearth of government protection or services, the majority of the population, if not ideologically pro-Taliban, are against the international military presence and the Afghan government (at least in its current iteration).

    • The Afghan government and the international community have virtually ceased to operate in any meaningful capacity in Kandahar due to extreme security threats. Afghan government officials do not move at all, except under tight security and in a limited security corridor. Attacks on Afghan National Police are routine - a friend who had just returned from Kandahar recently showed me a picture of an ANP officer with an ax to the back of the head.

    • Most humanitarian workers and journalists have simply pulled out of Kandahar because they cannot operate under the intense security restrictions. Those who remain are prisoners to their compounds. The incidents that have happened when they do leave their compounds are chilling. A brave researcher, Paula Loyd, was doused in cooking oil and set on fire when she ventured out of her compound last year.
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  19. #19
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default The Canadians have been acknowledging that for a couple

    of years. It's been covered pretty well in the Canadian papers and on web sites there. Since it was in Canada's AO and as the US media had poor to no coverage in Afghanistan, it just fell of the radar here unless you ranged out a bit. I check most English language papers around the world instead of paying much attention to our frivolous excuses for news so the fact that Kandahar is still a problem is no surprise.

    There's also the fact that Kandahar -- the province as opposed to Kandahar city -- is the Al Anbar of Afghanistan and the city is the Fallujah and Ar Ranadi combined. It's always been the problem child. As it was the initial Taliban stronghold obviously they're pretty well embedded in the region. I suspect Canada was asked to take over there not because it was a hotbed but to try a different approach. The TF they relieved from the 82d kept a lid on it but cleanup was not directed so did not occur. The Canadians did a great job but you can only do so much in an area only slightly smaller than West Virginia with one lonely little under resourced Battalion Combat Team -- even those as good as the Canadians are and with the other elements (all fairly small and mostly specialized or base security) working the area.

    I suspect that your desire to cover the cities will be what we do. I also suspect that Jahangir and the boys will just go to the Hills for a bit. They will lose an urban battle; in the hills -- maybe, maybe not...

    I suspect they know that.

  20. #20
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Fairly good wrapup

    at the LINK.

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