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  1. #1
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    Default OSINT Assessment of the Afghan War

    So, I'm an MA student at King's College London taking a class on British intelligence. Our final assignment for the class was to produce an OSINT intelligence assessment--my group (3 of us, including myself) decided on Afghanistan. Several months and 7,000 words later, we're finally done, and we thought the Council might get a kick out of it. Please let me know what you think!

    You can grab the paper from this link - note link broken see later post No. 7 please:

    http://sites.google.com/site/djonrob...attredirects=0

    ...it is in .doc format. Be advised it is on the lengthy side.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-25-2009 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Add text broken link and new link guide

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Quick review

    A good, quick review and sent to others observers - so thanks.

    I fear we avoid asking where are the Afghans who fight alongside ISAF? In a UK documentary following a patrol in Helmand, there was a UK platoon and at most twelve ANA soldiers.

    davidbfpo

  3. #3
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    Default

    You're right, that is something we do not directly address. But the implications of what I think is going on--which we highlight in the conclusions--are relevant to those Afghans as well. Ultimately it is all a question of co-opting, or getting buy-in. Because we see the insurgency as fundamentally a local thing, the Coalition's level of popular support is going to fluctuate from one village to the next. And if that level is the center of gravity--which I certainly think it is--then an Afghan who decides to throw in with the Coalition, in whatever capacity, is going to be very exposed. The militants in his village will know him and his family, and where to find them. You have to make the benefit of cooperation greater than the penalty of that Afghan potentially losing his family. Not an easy thing to do, but not impossible either. And so you want a strategy that is flexible enough to allow our COIN measures to look differently in different parts of the country. That is the main thrust of our argument.

  4. #4
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default

    I scanned, only, your 7,000 plus words paper. Good effort, even if I do have a younger cousin who did a PhD at Oxford.

    Our now in their mid-20s three children all did two degrees each, and a Masters is a very practical job finding tool in the current US labor market...our unemployment is heavily in the industrial/blue collar markets, coupled with creeping white collar unemployment in the related consumer labor market. Anyone is pure sales is really hurting here right now, but consume spending has picked up as Spring commences and Easter historically is a good spending season here for clothing, food, and especially "candy." Understand the UK job market is tough now, too.

    On Afghanistan, safety, etc. The Taliban terrorists initially retreated in 2001 into Pakistan and the border region mountains for a few years. Then the Taliban started a campaign of coming back into villages and taking up residence/farming/growing poppies (opium), etc. then the Taliban set about murdering their peaceful neighbors just because they had remained in Afghanistan's villages after the fall of the Taliban.

    Then the Afghan police, army, and NATO forces came to the rescue and tried with limited forces to reoccupy areas and provinces previously cleared of Taliban, which permanent local security effort now requires even more native Afghan police, army, and NATO forces to do, coupled with much more infrastructure development and finding farmers willing to switch to non-poppy crops, the loss in cash crop revenue to the farmers to be what we in the US refer to as crop payment subsidy so that there is no loss in real income to a farmer willing to plant other than poppy crops.

    You simply pay them the cash flow difference they gave up from growing/selling poppies. This is a very small price to pay to cut the ground out from under the Taliban whose major revenue comes now from opium crop sales. *Problem being thus far too many Afghan farmers are greedy and will both take the substitute crop subsidy payments and still grow some poppies, too! Ouch!!!

    And for the record, back to the recorded history era of Marco Polo whose trade routes were through Afghanistan opium/poppy crops from there have for hundreds of years been a basic trade and barter item, so it is nothing new or radical, despite what yellow journalists try to alledge and write to the contrary.

    Afghanistan is a highly unorganized, decentralized mess and even though I was last there in 1965, a long time ago, it hasn't made much progress, if any, since then. The King ruled better than the Taliban, in my view.

    What would your team think of a return to a monarchy for Afghanistan in a couple of years? A few on this SWJ site and I feel that might be the most sustainable long term style of governance, as you cannot successfully "drop" a so called Islamic Republic down into thin air and wide open spaces where life is about as primitive as it gets anywhere in the world.

    Again, good job from a fast overview of your paper. Limited to 7,000 words it is reasonable to say your team of 3 chose to focus on what you felt was addressable effectively with a mere 7,000 words.

    Many members of this site both learn from university inputs and Q&A as well as wish for you guys and gals to do their "homework" in "tome" form for them, so don't be put off by [wishful] questions for other and more analysis, you are not the CIA nor UK intelligence, nor expected to be such. Unless that becomes your chosen civil service career field or miliary career field if you want a UK miliary commission.

    Have a good week. Spring in the US is upon us and here in the South flowers are in bloom, trees are budding, with warm days but still coolish nights.
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 03-23-2009 at 01:44 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default How many villages and hamlets ?

    from JR
    Because we see the insurgency as fundamentally a local thing, the Coalition's level of popular support is going to fluctuate from one village to the next. And if that level is the center of gravity--which I certainly think it is--then an Afghan who decides to throw in with the Coalition, in whatever capacity, is going to be very exposed. The militants in his village will know him and his family, and where to find them. You have to make the benefit of cooperation greater than the penalty of that Afghan potentially losing his family. Not an easy thing to do, but not impossible either.
    This problem has been met before - clear, hold the village and secure the villagers. One solution in Vietnam was the Marine CAP program. That amounted to some 15 Marines + some 20-30 PFs (Popular Force militia) in each hamlet - roughly 4-6 hamlets per village in SVN. That program covered some 100 hamlets at its peak (ca. 2000 Marines involved). There were some 12,000-18,000 hamlets in Nam[*] - so, it was at most a pilot program.

    Taking just the Pashtun half of Astan, my question is how many hamlets and villages are there ? The answer would give at least a ballpark estimate of the required force structure and personnel requirements.

    Anyone ?

    ----------------------
    [*] 12,000 hamlets comes from Kerepinevich's figures; MACV stated 18,000. Roughly, the program employed about 75 Marines and 125 PFs per village (ave. of 5 hamlets per ville).

  6. #6
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    Default Can't download paper....

    ...as of this posting (10:43am 25 Mar 09) - looking forward to seeing your work.

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