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Thread: Afghan National Army (ANA) thread

  1. #21
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good post, Rob. Surely

    the ANA has or we are giving them some 60s. That was my first thought. They will ignore risk averse US Commanders desires.

    The second and more scary thought was that a distant TOC could or WOULD curtail locally planned and called for Illlum. That is totally scary. It's borderline criminal IMO.

    Delegate indeed. Trust your subordinates. Way to build loyalty and competence...

    The link Rex provided also highlights another issue that my son surfaced after his last trip to Afghanistan; treatment of the ANA by higher US Hq. The US troops that go out with the ANA on the ground work well and get along with them -- Bn and higher too often and obviously with some exceptions seem to ignore their existence and / or don't treat them very well. How to win friends and influence people...

    Sad on many counts.

  2. #22
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default Big Sky, Little Canister

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    the ANA has or we are giving them some 60s. That was my first thought. They will ignore risk averse US Commanders desires.
    Insha'llah

    The second and more scary thought was that a distant TOC could or WOULD curtail locally planned and called for Illlum. That is totally scary. It's borderline criminal IMO.
    Believe it. I had it happen to me in Iraq many times. It all depends on who it's for and why. In '06, my MiTT had two M119s (plus crews) attached on our little patrol base, a long, long way from any flagpoles. The IA we supported asked for fires often. This is what I found, trying to clear said fires:

    US, TIC=No problem; US, non-TIC=Req. Clearance. IA TIC=Maybe. IA, non-TIC=Grab a Snickers.

    Of course, this was a few years ago.

    BL, If illum CFF was for CF, usually was a go. If it was for IA...not so much.
    I won't even go into what it took to fire HE.

    I've heard the you-might-hit-a-house-with-a-canister line before, too. Very often, actually. I just lied and sent up a different grid, DF & QE to BDE. No one knew but me, and the extremely grateful Iraqi Army Soldiers that could now see who was emplacing the IED/who shot at them. I figured if I accidently destroyed a house with a canister (which is unlikely), the angry Iraqi would come see me anyway, since my MiTT were the only Americans within 100 miles of them. And if I accidently hurt/killed somebody with a cansiter, I would have dealt with the consequences. I took my chances...seriously, what are the odds?

    The link Rex provided also highlights another issue that my son surfaced after his last trip to Afghanistan; treatment of the ANA by higher US Hq. The US troops that go out with the ANA on the ground work well and get along with them -- Bn and higher too often and obviously with some exceptions seem to ignore their existence and / or don't treat them very well. How to win friends and influence people...

    Sad on many counts.
    Arrrggghhh.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  3. #23
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up You did the right thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by jkm_101_fso View Post
    ...I've heard the you-might-hit-a-house-with-a-canister line before, too. Very often, actually. I just lied and sent up a different grid, DF & QE to BDE. No one knew but me, and the extremely grateful Iraqi Army Soldiers that could now see who was emplacing the IED/who shot at them. I figured if I accidently destroyed a house with a canister (which is unlikely), the angry Iraqi would come see me anyway, since my MiTT were the only Americans within 100 miles of them. And if I accidently hurt/killed somebody with a cansiter, I would have dealt with the consequences. I took my chances...seriously, what are the odds?
    Good for you! That's precisely why you get paid more money than SFC Phukaboski does...

    Unfortunately, unless there's been a change in the Basic Courses since I was around, I suspect that a great deal of effort goes into discouraging that kind of judgmental call.

    We ought to be encouraging it. Then hopefully, when some folks get to LTC, they won't make overly cautious decisions about things they shouldn't even be involved with. In fairness, obviously, the LTCs wouldn't be behaving that way unless people above them were micromanaging...

    Stupidity flows down hill...

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    Default

    Afghanistan Shrugged is definitely one of my favorite blogs now.

    It's interesting and entirely predictable that ISR has become a micromanagement tool. It's too bad. How much longer until we have this:


  5. #25
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    GORMAN

    ####.(into mike)
    Apone, collect magazines from everybody. We can't have any firing in there.
    Whaddaya mean "we" paleface?

  6. #26
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    Default

    Off topic, but damn I love that movie.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Off topic, but damn I love that movie.
    Me too!

  8. #28
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Here is the question that makes me scratch my head about what we are doing in regards to the ANA:

    1. Given that the Afghan militia/populace has a long history of being able to defeat any conventional army that invades their territory;

    2. The current threat in the country, based on that same militia/populace, has been able to defeat or frustrate the two greatest conventional armies of recent times;

    3. Why are we trying to build a second string version of such a conventional capability to use against that threat when history proves such a force cannot prevail?


    It just seems to me, that if the militias of the Northern Alliance supported by a few SF and Combat Controllers and the USAF could handle the Taliban, that we would be better served by reinforcing that proven militia system, supplementing with advisors and air support as needed.

    I ask this as much talk of "surging" in Afghanistan fills the media. Seems to me the smarter tact would be a massive reduction of forces, and let the Afghans get back to being Afghans. (and letting our efforts to take down Bin Laden's gang go back into the shadows where they can continue their girm, and quiet business of avenging the attacks of 9/11 and shutting down his his ability to wage UW to incite the populaces of the middle east).

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    It's the age old blunder of mirror-imaging, Bob.

    We did with the South Vietnamese Army, and we are doing it again with the ANA. We think that if we can just build their Army to look like ours, and if they can train just like ours, then we will have succeeded.

    Of course, we will have failed, because as soon as we leave, all the fancy new equipment, spiffy new training, and the sweet new uniforms are going to be forgotten about. Except for the equipment, that will be used until it is no longer serviceable.
    "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

  10. #30
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    Default Mirror Imaging

    Posted by BW,
    Why are we trying to build a second string version of such a conventional capability to use against that threat when history proves such a force cannot prevail?
    You have a brother in arms on this topic. Long before 9/11 I was bemused at our efforts to force our doctrine and TTP upon the foreign security forces we were training. There are several factors that contribute to this:

    - Arrogance to the extreme

    - Inability or unwillingness to study, analyze, discuss host nation's security force culture and how it drives their organization, doctrine, and TTP. (Radical changes usually don't work, you have to find ways to gradually tweek their ways of doing business).

    - Even our Special Forces are too conventional as supported by LTG Boykin in his relatively new book, "Never Surrender", thus the reason they had to form new special operations units. SF has been conventionalized since the early 80s due to its leadership embracing everything army from standards, to tactics, to training management, whether it was applicable or not, we just couldn't quite break out of the big army one size fits all mold. There is much to be said about creating a new OSS like service, but like most things it is easy to talk about, very, very hard to do.

    - We tend to blindly assume our doctrine is the best (goes back to arrogance) for any type of threat. Yet it has been demonstrated again and again that our doctrine is not the end all, be all, to winning irregular fights. Sometimes I think we're pushing snake oil on our friends.

    Bemusement aside, how do we change our military culture to fix this problem? From an economic point of view if we did fix it we could potentially save billions of dollars and make a greater impact. Since SOCOM is working on the Security Force Assistance Doctrine maybe this issue should be addressed:

    - How to assess host nations Security Force needs.

    - How to collaboratively (with HN) develop a program of instruction that is culturally acceptable. (Some of their doctrine and TTP may be seriously flawed, but you don't address that by telling them to do it our way, they must come to that realization on their own, helped along by the constant mentoring of their advisors. What did you do? What did the enemy do? How can we do better? Sketch it out on paper or in the dirt (don't make a stinking power point slide), then when they are ready show how we might approach it).

    Advising takes patience, a lot of patience, and a lot of give and take. You should be learning as much, if not more, than the troops you are working with. We will not improve our capacity to effectively train, advise and assist by simply producing more (industrial era mindset) advisors.

  11. #31
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Great Post. Bill

    100% agree. I really think that ought to be a Blog entry.

    Ski and Bob's World are also correct..

    Sad.

  12. #32
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    Default Maybe

    Ken,

    Good point, but I need to flush it out. Bill

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    3. Why are we trying to build a second string version of such a conventional capability to use against that threat when history proves such a force cannot prevail?


    It just seems to me, that if the militias of the Northern Alliance supported by a few SF and Combat Controllers and the USAF could handle the Taliban, that we would be better served by reinforcing that proven militia system, supplementing with advisors and air support as needed.
    Those are good questions and speak to how much things have changed since 2001 and the original invasion. Here's a recap of some of the history for why we're where we are today:

    The Taliban in the 1990's grew in popularity and hence power and influence, in no small measure because of the chaos and perpetual warfare that was caused (in many Afghani eyes) by the warlordism following the collapse of the Soviet withdrawal. Even though most Afghans, even the Pashtuns, thought the Taliban were way too extreme, at least they enforced the peace, were relatively uncorrupt, and ended the Warlord's abuse and dominance of the populace.

    Fast forward to 2001 - we allied with many of these same warlords to defeat the Taliban, but we were quite cognizant of the Afghan concern about a return to the bad old warlord days. We worked hard to keep them on a short lease and one of the first priorities after the Taliban defeat was the demobilization of these private Armies. The DDR effort was viewed as a critical component to keeping the Taliban from returning since it was believed all those private armies would return to their old, internecine warfare which would provide the fertile ground for the Taliban's rebirth, just as it did in the 1990's. We were also very aware that these warlords held few loyalties to anyone and that AQ could use it's influence and money to buy favor with some, at least temporarily. Anyway, the DDR efforts is where most of the resources for Afghanistan went in those first couple of years and was quite successful (and necessary, in my view).

    So what then? We understood that DDR would create several problems. First is the thousands of MAM's who used to fight for a living and grew up depending on warlord patronage. What to do with them in a nation with no infrastructure, economy or work? The second problem was the very real need to develop some kind of security and police forces since literally none existed and bad things tend to happen with a power or security vacuum. To solve those two problems we took the most obvious choice (to us) which was to channel much of that manpower into a national Army and Police force. Needless to say, the first iteration didn't work very well. Meanwhile, the Taliban were planning their comeback in the central mountains north of Kandahar and over the border in Pakistan. Those early failures at creating security forces combined with insufficient coalition forces to provide adequate security, greatly aided the Taliban return because there was a power vacuum in many parts of the country (and again, part of the decision to maintain a limited footprint in Afghanistan wasn't unsound - planners were worried about appearing like another Soviet invasion and were cognizant of the general Afghan distrust of foreign powers). Once the Taliban got its legs back after the kick-in-the-face it got in 2001-2002, it expanded into those very rural ungoverned areas until about 2006 when it was able to make bigger moves.

    Anyway, that is a VERY rough and loose telling of what happened, but I hope it's clear enough. With 20/20 hindsight we might have been better served by putting resources into, and strengthening, the tribal networks and local leadership which had suffered under both the Taliban and AQ, instead of attempting to convert the warlord armies into a national army/police force. I say "might" because that would have been a huge challenge given our complete lack of knowledge about local power structures. We did, finally, begin doing some of that work a few years ago in some areas but it was (and still is) under-resourced and too little, too late. We also made mistakes through complete ignorance of the local tribal power structures and ended up caught in the middle of age-old local conflicts which created enemies we didn't need to create.

    So the "helping the tribes" alternative might have been better than what we actually did, but in the end, even with 20/20 hindsight, I don't see any easy solutions to the problems we faced after the invasion.

    Like you, I do not have a warm-and-fuzzy about the entire enterprise of building centralized political and military structures in Afghanistan - I can't think of anyplace where this strategy would be more difficult, except maybe parts of Africa (a continent I'm way too ignorant on). So I don't hold much hope our efforts will succeed in the way that we hope and intend. With US support, the Afghan government can muddle along, but once that is gone it will probably be back to same-as-it-ever-was Afghanistan.

    Hopefully, if we are smart, we will realize this likelihood (or at least the possibility) and take measures to hedge against this future to both soften the blow and to provide for continued US influence and protection of US interests. Foresight in South Asia hasn't exactly been an strong point for America, so I will remain as cynical as ever. But I'm just an intel weenie, so I should probably keep my mouth shut about policy.

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    Default BW: Thank you for this one ...

    ....and letting our efforts to take down Bin Laden's gang go back into the shadows where they can continue their girm, and quiet business of avenging the attacks of 9/11 and shutting down his his ability to wage UW to incite the populaces of the middle east
    although I expect many novenas to St. Jude will be necessary to see that plan become practice.

    PS: Bill Moore - did you mean "flesh out" (the post), rather than "flush out" ? No need to respond - I think I'm getting a bit punchy.

  15. #35
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 'Nother good post, Entropy. Thank you..

    While I agree with you and with Bob's World on the possibility of major failure of a future Afghan government and its institutions and with the description of the path that got us where we are today -- and decry the effort to build an Army like our own to the maximum possible extent that is in fact not only ego but ignorance driven (most of the US Army knows very little about how other Armies are organized or train; too many do not care...), I think we all should recall the diplomatic effort that brough NATO to Afghanistan -- a very good diplomatic coup for us.

    Good diplomatically but bad militarily for unity of command, overall flexibility and decision making reasons -- since NATO nations are helping with the training and equipping, I suspect that decision also significantly impacted the ANA design as a western Army clone. People like what they're comfortable with...

    I also seem to recall there was much upset by some NATO Foreign Ministers at the thought of paying and equipping Warlords...

  16. #36
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default

    A lot of good discussion on this. Not too late to change gears, but I suspect what we will see is just harder effort at the same program.

    When I look at a country like Afghanistan I can't help but see the comparisons on this topic to a young America that was EXTREMELY nervous about forming a national Army to fight the British, and essentially disbanded it as soon as that threat was resolved. We too are a militia nation, where every able bodied man was required by law to own his own weapon and be a member of the militia (thus the wording in the Constitution "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.")

    Yet we have suppressed the militias, forced a centralized army, and collected a lot of arms from the people...

    One more example of where we need to do a better job of understanding more completely the culture, capabilities, and requirements of the people we choose to support, and then helping them to be as good as possible at being that, with the opportunity to evolve; rather than trying to force a revoloution of thinking and action to be just like we are today.


    On a related topic I was thinking the other day about "principles" and "values" and what the difference is, and how we can be a nation of values without coming across as a bunch of "better than thou" a-holes when we engage other cultures. What I came around to is that a principle is a core standard or belief, and that when one applies a judgement to that principle, or "values" it, it becomes a value. So, "All men are created equal" is a principle; but how we vauled that principle in 1776 is very different than how we value it today.

    So, for engagement, I decided that we need to:
    1. Stand on Principles, (here are core beliefs that we think are important)
    2. Hold Values (here is how we in Amereica assess and apply this principle, and this is the standard we hold ourselves to)
    3. Withhold Judgement (we don't expect you to have the same values, but know that we will be persistent about about the principle for continued engagement).

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I can agree with that

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    A lot of good discussion on this. Not too late to change gears, but I suspect what we will see is just harder effort at the same program.
    but we don't do gear changes well...
    So, for engagement, I decided that we need to:
    1. Stand on Principles, (here are core beliefs that we think are important)
    2. Hold Values (here is how we in Amereica assess and apply this principle, and this is the standard we hold ourselves to)
    3. Withhold Judgement (we don't expect you to have the same values, but know that we will be persistent about about the principle for continued engagement).
    Can also agree with that -- but I suspect that many in the US are not willing to do number 1. A great many will also get slippery and go the "do as I say, not as I do" route with respect to number 2. Human frailty abounds...

    I think that being persistent about principle will be construed by those that wish to do so as us being judgmental even if we are not. People tend to look for reasons not to do things that they know should be done.

    IOW, you're right -- but I'm not sure how many of your fellow Americans including some august members of our esteemed government are prepared to do as you suggest. I also think, based on a lot of furrin travel since 1947 that we have been really unpopular with the rest of the world during that entire period with ups and downs along the way. We were more despised during Viet Nam than today and while it goes in cycles, it is pretty consistently distrustful of our motives.

    My point is that any strategy(ies) which we develop should consider that fact -- and I have no doubt it is a fact -- and be prepared to deal with the reaction. It should also consider the strong probability that no matter what we do overseas, not only will many abroad object just because it's us but also about 30% of US voters will object strenuously (almost invariably on party or ideological grounds). Neither of those things is, literally, a war stopper but both can have significant impact.

    Said strageties should also consider that we Americans have a collective short attention span and an impatient national psyche. Whatever one wishes to do would be better accomplished in less then three years; less than two would be even more better...

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    Default flesh or flush out?

    Bill Moore - did you mean "flesh out" (the post), rather than "flush out" ? No need to respond - I think I'm getting a bit punchy.
    flesh out: to make fuller or more nearly complete.

    flush out: to expose or chase from a place of concealment.

    Why can't either, or both in combination be correct? I want to flush out my paper more to better expose my ideas. I want to flesh out my paper more to to flush out the hidden ideas that are not noticable in its in current form?

    Of course you're right, but I couldn't resist responding

  19. #39
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    Default BW: The third step won't work ...

    BW
    So, "All men are created equal" is a principle; but how we valued that principle in 1776 is very different than how we value it today.

    So, for engagement, I decided that we need to:

    1. Stand on Principles, (here are core beliefs that we think are important)

    2. Hold Values (here is how we in Amereica assess and apply this principle, and this is the standard we hold ourselves to)

    3. Withhold Judgment (we don't expect you to have the same values, but know that we will be persistent about about the principle for continued engagement).
    No problems with 1 - I'd think of "All men are created equal" as a theory, until it is reduced to practice. But, whether a concept is called a principle or theory, that concept can become a belief even though never reduced to practice. An example is the end state of Communism in M-L theory, which was never reached because they never got beyond the Dictatorship of the Workers (which morphed to the Dictatorship for the Workers, and then to the Dictatorship for the Dictators).

    No problems with 2 - I'd call this step the reduction of the theory to practice, but we are saying the same thing (I think). Again applying the priniciple (BW) that "All men are created equal", your history is correct that "how we valued that principle in 1776 is very different than how we value it today." In fact, there was a difference of opinion as to what that principle meant in terms of how it was valued (BW) in 1776 and before.

    Now I digress briefly. On May 18, 1652, the governing body of Providence & Warwick (1/2 of Rhode Island) enacted a statute providing for abolition of slavery. The rest of the future state (whose economy relied more heavily on chattel slavery) was not about to adopt such a statute. That division presaged the greater national division of the next 3 centuries.

    Nonetheless, this action by these Rhode Island Reds (several ancestral to my wife - which partially explains her attitude ) began the abolitionist thread which extended, in fits and starts, to the present - where, if nothing else, the principle that "All men are created equal" was vindicated at the presidential level.

    Now, my digressive point is that the principle "All men are created equal" was not seriously in dispute. J.C. Calhoun adhered to that principle, but you can be assured that how he valued that principle (that is, how he reduced the theory to practice) was far different from how Barrack Obama or I value that principle.

    In school, I skimmed through the Slave Cases Reports (texts of all US cases involving slaves). There was a case from the early 1800's in one of the Deep South states where the defendant (white) argued that he could not be prosecuted for manslaughter because the victim (black) was not a human being. The court (in long opinions) divided, with the majority holding that yes, indeed, an African-American was a human being. No doubt, the defendant believed that "All men are created equal" - his definition of "man" was the limiting factor (which was his valuation of the principle).

    Turning to step 3 (quoting it again, but adding the words for the principle to be valued):

    3. Withhold Judgment (we don't expect you to have the same values, but know that we will be persistent about the principle "All men are created equal" for continued engagement).
    Now, so happens that Xistan (absolutely essential to the national strategic interests of the US) is firmly committed to chattel slavery; and happens to have a foreign minister who is a direct descendent of J.C. Calhoun and inherited all of his legal and political skills - his gg-grandfather having left S. Carolina after the War of Division.

    He says, "COL Jones, I understand exactly what you are telling me about the principle that "All men are created equal". As you can see here, that principle is inscribed in our constitution. Now I also realize we value that principle a bit differently than you USians. But your ROEs here state you will withhold judgment about valuation and, furthermore, that we can expect continued engagement so long as we accept that principle. We, of course, as you can plainly see right here, accept that principle. Now, we need an ODC, 3 ODBs, 12 ODAs and your super aviation group for insertion and extraction. When can we expect them ?"

    What does COL Jones tell President Obama ?

    Yup, it's a variation of the "Can we kill the shepherd boy" hypothetical.

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    Default Bill Moore, I ought to have known better ...

    than to engage in verbalistics with a Moore. Point conceded to you.

    The mind picture I got from "flush out" was one of the old castles where the privies were built into the walls with chutes to the outside - and where they did "flush out" stuff.

    I guess you had to take care if you pulled sentry duty and had to patrol the lower walls.

    Ken: I imagine that pulling that duty was involved in one of your early deployments. Can you tell us what precautions you took - or were you too busy looking for unicorns. As you well know, they existed in those bygone days.
    Last edited by jmm99; 01-04-2009 at 04:14 AM.

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