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Thread: Kandahar Province: catch all thread

  1. #21
    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...

  2. #22
    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    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.
    I don't read the UK media all that frequently now, but when I do, I get the same impression you describe here. When I actually lived in the UK about ten years ago I remember it as you describe. Sadly, it seems nothing has changed.

  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Not all UK reporting is bad

    Reporting from Afghanistan can be poor, often clearly dependent on press releases and guided tours. There have been several superb examples of reporting, such as the BBC TV hour long documentary on a Guards company with ANA troops (there was a post here) and the reports by Sean Langan (who was kidnapped earlier this year).

    Even more remarkable, although made with massive help, was the multi-part documentary on a group of Royal Marines in training and then on active service.

    I'd also mention the superb US reporting on isolated units in Eastern Afghanistan; grimly realistic and a couple of threads here.

    davidbfpo

  5. #25
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    There have been several superb examples of reporting, such as the BBC TV hour long documentary on a Guards company with ANA troops (there was a post here) and the reports by Sean Langan (who was kidnapped earlier this year).

    Even more remarkable, although made with massive help, was the multi-part documentary on a group of Royal Marines in training and then on active service.
    I know some is good. However the overall standard is low basically because the media have no idea what they are looking at.

    The RM doco was interesting but some of what was shown, was out of sync to the commentary added afterwards, and what went un-said was often of more interest, and failure to address these issues, could arguably mislead the public.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  6. #26
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    I was the commander of the PMT that QRFed for CPL Diamonds team. I got there soon after the IED strike. Every one of them that I saw had NODs on. It was his first time driving outside the wire in a Cougar since it was a brand new vehicle in theater and they had spent the last week at KAF training on the vehicle. There was a couple headlights on, but one was so the medic could treat the men in the CCP and a civillian vehicle that had been abandoned next to the road. I haven't seen his video, but I imagine initially they were traveling with white light and didn't shut off their lights immeidately. They were in shock a bit since hundreds of pounds of explosives had just gone off around them and one of their men had been killed but their reactions were nonetheless completely proffessional. The reporter is a tremendous douche who tried to sensationalize the story. He also flat out lied in the article, as my medic made him a Priority C not an A, and a KIA would never be an A anyway.

  7. #27
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Robust criticism

    Ott,

    Thank you. first-hand professional knowledge puts the reporter to shame.

    davidbfpo

  8. #28
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    In hindsight I am withdrawing my earlier criticism. I was not there and one agenda driven article with a short video should not be the basis on which I make judgements. That is actually one of my rules and I broke it anyway. Bad SFC!

    SFC W

  9. #29
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Wheels coming off the bus in Kandahar?

    Came across this concise explanation of the Canadian-Afghan role around Kandahar, with open source mapping overlay: http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/a...11.html#006414

    Note the article revolves around leaving a strongpoint - due to resupply problems, nothing by road and no helicopters.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-12-2009 at 11:59 AM. Reason: MOved 12/8/09 from another thread to help context

  10. #30
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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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.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  11. #31
    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.

  12. #32
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Fairly good wrapup

    at the LINK.

  13. #33
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    Default Is Kandahar Falling/Has Kandahar Fallen?

    Now that's a disquieting question...

    Kandahar is getting a lot of attention in the press and blogosphere at the moment. In light of everything I've read in the last several days about the situation in the south, the situation seems fragile but not lost. I'm wondering if the sky has really started falling or if the reporting is just catching up with the situation there? I suspect that latter is the case. Either way, the challenge facing ISAF is monumental.

    PS.- the Afghan Strategy Dialogue posts and comments on AM the last several days are fascinating reading for the diversity of opinions and personal experiences. (Added link to help: http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama )
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-12-2009 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Add link

  14. #34
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    I would integrate SFs types into the humanitarian/social service outreach components, the proverbial armed peace corps. Professionals in civilian attire, essentially turf guards, high risk, but the Taliban would be forced to escalate their opposition once services were flowing and ground was being gained - they couldnt bully and intimidate very easily when a wolf answers the door at the sheep's house - escalation on their part brings in rapid response teams capable of inflicting causalties and major disruption - a few may choose the hills over the easy duty of intimidating social workers - opinion only

  15. #35
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    I read that piece on Abu M's place and it had me scratching my head. I don't remember Kandahar being much different when I was there in 2005 and, IIRC, in 2007 the Taliban made a concerted effort to try to "take" the city through a variety of means. It's never wholly been under Taliban control nor has it ever been wholly secure - security has ebbed and flowed and changed with the times. This is to be expected since much of the Taliban's senior leadership come from the Kandahar area.

    It appears to me many people now looking at Afghanistan were focused on Iraq 2004-2008 and so some events in A-stan seem "new" when, in reality, it's not new at all - Abu M among them. Things are certainly worse in Afghanistan, but it's more a matter of degree IMO.

    Personally, I'm skeptical of a "secure the cities" strategy, which is something David Killcullen advocated a few months ago. We've basically held the cities for eight years and that hasn't worked out too well. If, as it appears, we going to fully "operationalize" a COIN strategy, then our focus, IMO, needs to be on the provincial and district centers along with villages on key terrain, and expand out from there.

  16. #36
    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Old news

    The reporting is just catching up with the situation. This is not new, nor is it news. Kandahar is troublesome. The answer is not to redeploy troops to Kandahar from the villages. The answer is another RCT in the Kandahar AO.

    Securring the cities is what the Russians did. The roads were controlled by Taliban, logistics was a problem, and the Taliban were left unmolested in the countryside to recruit, train, and raise largesse for their effort. The cities became a prison for the Russians.

    The Russians failed, and so will we if we attempt to secure the cities to the detriment of the villages and countryside.

    And, um ... we need more troops. Or have I already said this a thousand times?

  17. #37
    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default And one more thing ...

    Where do we get these troops, you might ask? Easy.

    We stop the stupid and wasteful MEUs, which are nothing but a chance for a Battalion of Marine infantry to get drunk in yet another port city every week, and we send that Battalion to Kandahar along with some support, maybe a Marine Air-Ground Task force and support along with some Army intel. Presto! A RCT (or almost so)! And for probably less money that it would have taken to send them on a MEU.

    I make absolutely NO apologies for insulting the practice of MEUs or the highly wasteful practice of sitting a Battalion of Marine infantry aboard an Amphibious Assault Dock for nine months. If we ever actually have a national policy where we intend to use "ready reserve" or "forces in readiness," then we can revisit this. For the time being, it's just a waste.

    This practice must stop in order to properly man the campaigns.

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    Not that you'd know it because apparently the entire US media is focused on USMC operations in Helmand, but the Army's 5/2 Stryker BCT has arrived and is already conducting operations in Kandahar. But you have to google it and/or check the Canadian newspapers to read about it.

  19. #39
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Two SWJ links made

    Linked here from SWJ Blog as they are both valuable to this topic:

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/200...for-k/#c006057 and earlier http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=9154
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-15-2009 at 09:05 AM.
    davidbfpo

  20. #40
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    Forgive the historical analogy, but the Rulers of Qandahar alwys seemed to control the main fild of things down to Quetta and across to the Helmand.

    I keep looking at a decentralized Afghan structure as nothing new, but the traditional Mayor (read Ruler) of Kabul, Mayor of Herat, Mayor of Qandahar thing.

    Now,what does it mean to "control Kandahar? Take and control the city itself 24/7? A control line around the city, or a wall like Samarra?

    My understanding was that there are many well-established neighborhoods, each with their own power structures. Do you engage enough of them, or, like the Brits in Baghdad in the old days, just hold enough neighborhoods to protect government and the polo club?

    Does the city matter in an absolute sense, or is it just controlling the region, or precluding/limiting bad guys?

    What's it worth? (Everything? Nothing?)

    Steve

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