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Thread: Afghan National Army (ANA) thread

  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    This link appeared elsewhere and only noted the content - USMC in Helmand on their erstwhile ANA comrades: http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/201...e_ana_062110w/

    There's also points in this UK paper: http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets..._Moshtarak.pdf
    If the successful withdrawal of ISAF forces is premised upon a handover to a competent AMA then quite honestly the whole exercise is on a hiding to nothing. Surely there must be a plan B in the offing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I must admit that I have heard noting vaguely positive about the ANA in terms of discipline and operational performance. If you have please tell.
    I was there in 2009 when they were just starting to stand up the ANA in RC South and have them do their own patrolling, taking the lead while ISAF acted as support for the first time. They're not as good as the generals would like you to believe; they're not as awful as you might have heard. One of the big things was getting them used to a logistics/fire support chain that worked. They could be out in the field and radio back for supplies and they would get them, and the same with support. Apparently those things don't come naturally to Afghans, so the ANA was reluctant to perform / had no experience with complicated or extended missions or patrols. But I understand quality varies greatly across the board.

    The soldiers and OMLT folks said they were making progress, but when you start at zero, there's a long way to go. The image of the ANA in my mind was one morning at CNS where Afghans were on the range being trained on brand-new AK-74s. It was the first time they had ever fired NOT on full auto and the first time they were expected to hit what they were aiming at, and the results were pretty dismal. They could have used those targets for another week, they weren't suffering a lot of wear and tear.

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    I actually have some photos from that range session. It was the Brits who were doing the training and as it continued, they got less supportive and more annoyed. The poor Afghans were terrified.
    Last edited by 40below; 07-08-2010 at 10:09 PM.

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    Default US unable to assess Afghan military capabilities

    Hat tip to the UK blogsite Circling the Lion's Den for catching this:
    If you want to read how the US is unable to assess the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces and how top-rated ANSF units don't have the capability to sustain independent operations, you might want to read the latest report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. You can find it
    Report link:http://www.sigar.mil/pdf/audits/SIGAR%20Audit-10-11.pdf

    (Unable to quote from report due to a fault loading it here).
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvan View Post

    Cut the ANA in half, and use those forces to create a viable ABP, which is critical and ignored both in the IGoA and in McCrystal's assessment.
    I agree. The ANA is large enough-134,000 soldiers. People say it needs to be 200-250 thousand to succeed, but I disagree. Look at how many troops there were in Vietnam for a population that was significantly smaller than Afghanistan's. Didn't work out, did it?

    In my opinion, once the troop number reaches a certain amount, numbers become less of an impact. Instead, all what matters is what the troops are doing.

    There are some nice brightspots in the ANA. Not only is it praised by Afghan's, but the ANA Commando Kandaks are quite effective.

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    Default Afghan ANA SF

    Huskerguy (in part said):
    There are some nice brightspots in the ANA. Not only is it praised by Afghan's, but the ANA Commando Kandaks are quite effective.
    Attested to by Free Range International blogsite:
    There is much more American military activity around Jalalabad including flying columns of the varsity Afghan SF with their American advisers who use Toyota trucks just like their Afghan colleges. These small, fast, powerful formations are by far the most effective joint US/Afghan effort of the war and the only example of real embedded (as opposed to co-located) training currently being done with the Afghans.

    (text accompanying photo)Afghan Commandos with embedded American SF pause for a radio check outside their base in Jalalabad. They are heading towards the Southern Triangle which contains Taliban units who operate day and night and have driven the Afghan Security Forces out for the time being. Local traffic always stops well short of the Afghan Commandos who enjoy an excellent reputation among the Afghan population but have pretty strict force protection standards.
    Link:http://freerangeinternational.com/blog/?p=3289
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Huskerguy (in part said):

    Attested to by Free Range International blogsite:

    Link:http://freerangeinternational.com/blog/?p=3289
    I just finished an article about the ANA Commandos and was truly surprised (it will be available next week) with what I encountered. Not only are they training in advanced conventional battlefield skills and maneuvers, but recently (as of May 2010), some Commandos have undergone some intense counterinsurgency oriented training that focuses on a population-centric approach.

    Link: http://www.ntm-a.com/news/categories...raduates?lang=

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerguy7 View Post
    I just finished an article about the ANA Commandos and was truly surprised (it will be available next week) with what I encountered. Not only are they training in advanced conventional battlefield skills and maneuvers, but recently (as of May 2010), some Commandos have undergone some intense counterinsurgency oriented training that focuses on a population-centric approach.

    Link: http://www.ntm-a.com/news/categories...raduates?lang=
    That article is now available here. It mainly describes the Commandos, their training, and their successes.

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    Default Some interesting articles talking about the Afghan National Army

    Recently, I've published some material on my blog that may be of interest to the SWJ community. I had the opportunity to research different parts of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and talk to people familiar with the subject. In the end, 7 different articles were produced. They are listed below.

    -The ANA: How Big Should it Be?
    -The ANA: The Importance of Air-Transportation Capabilities
    -Afghan Commandos: Elite Forces Ready for Action
    -The ANA: A Melting Pot of Different Backgrounds
    -The ANA: Struggling with an Ineffective Supply System
    -The ANA: The Importance of Mentors
    -The ANA: Dr. David Kilcullen's Thoughts

    Unlike many blogs, these "posts" are longer, offer more information, and a bit of analysis. Also, they are researched and sources are cited/hyperlinked.

    Anybody who is following the situation in Afghanistan would enjoy these posts.

    Enjoy

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Yup, Taber's Flea page 93 says exactly that: ""How would the police themselves be secure where even military patrols were not?"

    The context, which we both will agree is all-important, was the national police program in Vietnam in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The advisors to that program were the Michigan State group led by Wesley Fischel (later unjustly persecuted by Ramparts and others). Their model was the Michigan State Police - a very good domestic police unit then and now; but not a paramilitary, gendarmerie type unit trained and equipped to fight irregulars; and led by Os and NCOs competent in that field.

    Now, what you would do is tell me how to bring my cops up to RLI standards.

    Cheers

    Mike
    The key comment is "How would the police themselves be secure where even military patrols were not?"

    I assume that the thousands of ANA and ANP (police) are being fed into areas /provinces where things are somewhat more quiet and there is ethnic compatibility?

    We hear of figures of hundreds of thousands of Afghan troops and police and is anyone sure that they are holding their own anywhere?

    I know very little about police work and have less interest. I know enough to realise that for the police to operate anywhere near effectively there needs to be general peace and very little if any insurgent activity. The Taliban need to keep the activity level no more than where it is all but impossible for normal police work to be carried out. Then they tie the troops down and confine the police to their bases.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-02-2010 at 06:27 PM. Reason: Moved here from What are you reading thread as it sits better here and PM to author

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    Default Force for change: the women of the new Afghan army

    Yes, a "spin" article, but it has its moments. Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghan-army.html
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerguy7 View Post
    I just finished an article about the ANA Commandos and was truly surprised (it will be available next week) with what I encountered. Not only are they training in advanced conventional battlefield skills and maneuvers, but recently (as of May 2010), some Commandos have undergone some intense counterinsurgency oriented training that focuses on a population-centric approach.

    Link: http://www.ntm-a.com/news/categories...raduates?lang=
    Well that is all good and well but the true test comes when they are tested in battle... on their own.

    Not sure how these guys are selected? The trick is surely to select only those who have a proven combat record so as to not risk wasting all the time, energy and cost of training someone who may not rise to the challenge in combat?

    Then again all this said. This training they have undergone, is it proven tactics that work against the Taliban? Or is it the standard US/Brit type training which has not proved to be successful this far?

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    Default Don't think that's a very accurate statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    ...is it the standard US/Brit type training which has not proved to be successful this far?
    I doubt you're in a position to accurately make such an assessment. While I have no doubt that UK/US training is not as good as it should be -- I constantly rattle on about poor US training -- I also have little doubt that on an individual and small unit basis they are way ahead of most of their opponents.

    I suggest that the training and the prescribed employment are two quite different issues. Had you written "...the standard US/Brit employment which has not proved to be successful this far." I would agree.

    That's not a semantic quibble. By knocking the training -- on which you do not have detailed knowledge -- you're focusing attention on something that may need a tweak but is not terribly bad. The employment of those troops, however trained, is bad. It is the major issue and the item that needs attention.

    It is also an item that, rightly or wrongly, will get little attention -- as there is no perceived urgent need for it to be fixed.

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    Default "ANA Commando" - Google the phrase ....

    comes up with over 3000 hits. The Wiki, ANA Commando Brigade, seems a bit dated. BLUF is that Astan ANA "Special Forces" come from ANA Commando personal who come from ANA personnel. The ANA Commando personal get a 12-week "Ranger" training and then an 18-week OJT with US SF - per the Wiki.

    The Wiki has about 5200 of the ANA Commando types, which works out to about 8 Astan villages per each commando (based on 40K Astan villages from Kilcullen). The article, Afghanistan’s First Special Forces Team Graduates, does not give the number in the class - how many villlages can a US SF team (ODA) handle under ideal, mediocre and poor conditions ?

    A couple of "maybe" and "perhaps" quotes from this "PA" article:

    They are trained to handle any combat situation.
    If true, remarkable.

    In the Special Forces course, the Commandos’ primary focus moves away from the battlefield toward helping villages build and maintain stability. While most ANA missions are designed around a short-term goal, such as clearing insurgents from an area, the Special Forces Commandos mission is one of long-term support, acting as a go-between for village elders and district leadership. This strengthens the “population-centric” approach to the counterinsurgency.
    If true, not so remarkable - an implementation of 3-24.

    But, where does that “population-centric” approach fit into the article's prior eight paragraphs extolling the virtues of the ANA Commando Brigage in the "enemy-centric" and "leader-centric" approaches (with a listing of "direct action" operations).

    The thrust I suppose is that the ANA SF Commando personnel (all ___ of them) can walk and chew gum at the same time. Which, if true, would make COL McCuen happy as he strums his harp, since he recognized the need for congruent political and military efforts.

    A bit south of 12 months until 1 Aug 2011 to see what happiness is truly wrought.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 08-09-2010 at 07:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I doubt you're in a position to accurately make such an assessment. While I have no doubt that UK/US training is not as good as it should be -- I constantly rattle on about poor US training -- I also have little doubt that on an individual and small unit basis they are way ahead of most of their opponents.

    I suggest that the training and the prescribed employment are two quite different issues. Had you written "...the standard US/Brit employment which has not proved to be successful this far." I would agree.

    That's not a semantic quibble. By knocking the training -- on which you do not have detailed knowledge -- you're focusing attention on something that may need a tweak but is not terribly bad. The employment of those troops, however trained, is bad. It is the major issue and the item that needs attention.

    It is also an item that, rightly or wrongly, will get little attention -- as there is no perceived urgent need for it to be fixed.
    I will go with the recommended change in terminology you suggest, let it be "...the standard US/Brit employment which has not proved to be successful this far." then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Well that is all good and well but the true test comes when they are tested in battle... on their own.

    Not sure how these guys are selected? The trick is surely to select only those who have a proven combat record so as to not risk wasting all the time, energy and cost of training someone who may not rise to the challenge in combat?

    Then again all this said. This training they have undergone, is it proven tactics that work against the Taliban? Or is it the standard US/Brit type training which has not proved to be successful this far?
    First off, several Kandaks do operate on their own. In fact, some plan and conduct their own operations. They're way ahead of their counterparts in the ANA and ANP. Worrying about their reliability is only wasting energy in my opinion.

    Second, (as it says in my article), most are chosen after their basic training. The training staff watches for soldiers that demonstrate leadership, respect, teamwork, and success. In my opinion, I think this is the best way to obtain the soldiers. Why? If you continue to pull and relocate combat veterans from regular ANA kandaks, then how do you expect to produce an experienced army?

    Third, the training that they go through is meant to make them mirror (for the most part) US Army Rangers. This gives them the skills to fight efficiently in combat. It's just a matter of adapting these skills to combat the Taliban.

    So far, the ANA Commandos have mainly conducted HVT hunts along with a few assaults on small Taliban groups. However, they are slowly performing more COIN duties and operations.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post

    But, where does that “population-centric” approach fit into the article's prior eight paragraphs extolling the virtues of the ANA Commando Brigage in the "enemy-centric" and "leader-centric" approaches (with a listing of "direct action" operations).

    The thrust I suppose is that the ANA SF Commando personnel (all ___ of them) can walk and chew gum at the same time. Which, if true, would make COL McCuen happy as he strums his harp, since he recognized the need for congruent political and military efforts.
    I am also anxious to see how these SF soldiers who have been trained on COIN perform. Will they try to win the "hearts and minds" the ISAF way or Afghan way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerguy7 View Post
    So far, the ANA Commandos have mainly conducted HVT hunts along with a few assaults on small Taliban groups. However, they are slowly performing more COIN duties and operations.


    I second that. I see the use of Afghan Commandos primarily in HVI "hunts," area clearance, and search and rescue, but have yet to see any form of COIN operations by them. These are all in & out missions with ABP/ANA following in afterwards for control. I'm curious to see their version of COIN ops, if/when it happens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerguy7 View Post
    First off, several Kandaks do operate on their own. In fact, some plan and conduct their own operations. They're way ahead of their counterparts in the ANA and ANP. Worrying about their reliability is only wasting energy in my opinion.
    Their reliability or other wise is critical to the success of the hand over from ISAF to the Afghan forces. There is absolutely no point in going through the motions of a staged and deliberate transition if these units of the Afghan government collapse in a matter of weeks or months after the hand over.

    Second, (as it says in my article), most are chosen after their basic training. The training staff watches for soldiers that demonstrate leadership, respect, teamwork, and success. In my opinion, I think this is the best way to obtain the soldiers. Why? If you continue to pull and relocate combat veterans from regular ANA kandaks, then how do you expect to produce an experienced army?
    Selection is a critical aspect especially for such local forces. If they have acquitted themselves well under fire against the Taliban would probably mean they are not Taliban plants and that then have an even chance of actually fighting when in contact with the Taliban. There is a reason "gangs" use the commission of a crime as part of their initiation process as this gets recruits to cross a line and commit themselves irrevocably. This also prevents an influx of recruits attracted by the extra money who may disappear when the time comes for them to fix bayonets and do the business.

    This is also a real problem in western armies where people join up to get an education, flying hours or whatever and find it very inconvenient when they are sent off to war.

    So in such an environment prior combat experience is essential.

    Third, the training that they go through is meant to make them mirror (for the most part) US Army Rangers. This gives them the skills to fight efficiently in combat. It's just a matter of adapting these skills to combat the Taliban.
    Lets just be brutally honest for a moment. Training alone does not make the soldier. There are nations who have formidable records of brave military service (the Gurkhas) and others lower down the scale who have surrendered more often than won any battle (don't want to mention any names here).

    So you need to accept that, one, training is worthless if there is not a will to fight in the first place let alone the willingness to die if that is what it takes, and two, "adapting these skills" is easier said than done (ask the US military and the Brits). So the two pillars of your success thesis are in fact very weak indeed.

    So far, the ANA Commandos have mainly conducted HVT hunts along with a few assaults on small Taliban groups. However, they are slowly performing more COIN duties and operations.
    Now lets look at these independent actions against HVTs you talk about in the context of the overall military activity in Afghanistan. 0.001%? How on earth will they and the rest of the Afghan forces be ready to successfully take on the Taliban on their own in 20 years, let alone the 4 years spoken about? Slow is not fast enough.

    I am also anxious to see how these SF soldiers who have been trained on COIN perform. Will they try to win the "hearts and minds" the ISAF way or Afghan way?
    Don't use the SF title too lightly (I suggest). Real SF soldiers will take exception to being compared to this lot.
    Last edited by JMA; 08-11-2010 at 07:14 PM.

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    Default Two ANA Commando Training Threads ...


  20. #100
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    Default Whoops?

    Only seen this report on the BBC:
    An Afghan National Army operation - initially run independently of Nato - in the eastern province of Laghman went "disastrously wrong", officials say. They say that what should have been a routine "mopping up" operation turned into a "major confrontation" after the Taliban launched an ambush.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10963556
    davidbfpo

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