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Thread: Winning the War in Afghanistan

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Originally Posted by JMA:

    Which Red Rat replied to:

    JMA is right the Oman campaign (1970-1976), mainly in the border province, Dhofar, with then South Yemen, involved a lot of "outsiders" and it was a coalition effort ( RR is wrong). I am not familiar with how the Omani government, the Sultan, asserted national control or oversight, but present on the ground were: UK SAS, a large brigade-sized Imperial Iranian force, a Jordanian contingent, mercenary Baluchis from Pakistan made up a good part of the Omani Army and in the air were the RAF, Iranian AF and an Omani AF with a good number of Brits and Rhodesians on contracts.

    From 1958-1978 a UK officer was the Omani Armed Forces No.2, a Brigadier Colin Maxwell and a UK loan officer was the Dhofar Brigadier, John Akehurst (who wrote a book 'We Won the War:The campaign in Oman 1965-1975). 'SAS Operation Oman' by Tony Jeapes is another book.
    From a strategic view I recall that what was decisive in the "hearts and minds" part of the Dhofar rebellion was that they used "turned" insurgents (Firqat units) in the main to work among the locals as they were kith and kin.

    Surely that must be a lesson for Afghanistan?

    Don't use Uzbeks to police Pashtun areas. Understand and exploit the tribal/ethnic diversity to best advantage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Don't use Uzbeks to police Pashtun areas. Understand and exploit the tribal/ethnic diversity to best advantage.
    I remember this assertion (which I concur with) when reading a report discussing suggestions for the ANP. Scenarios like the one quoted are really happening. To be specific, there has been a significant amount of cases where Tajiks are deployed to police in Pashtun areas. This results with some ethnic friction.

    Some ask "How is the ANP/ISAF so stupid in this scenario?" Are they thinking clearly? Answer: Yes, their actions can be supported by a legitimate argument.

    Everyone can agree with the fact that the ANP are quite corrupt and don't always carry out the law. The thinking behind this deployment was that if people from the outside, who aren't familiar with the area, then they're going to be less prone to corruption. But, as we have noticed, ethnic friction can occur.

    So, what do you guys think? Should "outsiders" (not ISAF soldiers) be sent to these villages, or should we try to rely on local forces?

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    Have to do this one in a couple of bites.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Hmm, I look on Oman as a campaign where things were got right. We supported the in-place government, when that looked to be ineffective in meeting our interests we supported the coup against the government. And we did Loan Service. But I do not see Oman as a COIN campaign waged by UK plc, it was a COIN campaign conducted by the Omani government supported by the UK government. It was also (significantly) not a Coalition effort.
    This has been covered in another post.

    But I would say that it is seldom a matter of how many soldiers and where they came from but rather what they did on the ground.

    I quite agree with you, there is a fundamental confusion over this. War is war, the character changes but not much else. I am off to brief this heresy to the Infantry Battle School next month
    I would be interested in how you approach this issue.

    Yes, but if corporals are doing all the right stuff for the wrong reasons (strategy) it still is not going to turn out well.
    Fortunately at section level the corporal does not much more than take part in the shooting war (hopefully). So if he and his men are shooting men with guns there's not much wrong with that. If he shoots people on the their way to lay IEDs, in the process of laying IEDs or on the way back from laying IEDs then there is not much wrong with that either.

    It is the Generals who need to have the mind change and stop looking at the war as moving brigades around and sweeping large areas with large forces and let the minor tactics decide the shooting war.

    That is what doctrine is supposed to do.
    For any doctrine to work you first need to have that doctrine and people who understand it enough to train the masses to march in lock-step in this regard.
    Last edited by JMA; 08-04-2010 at 07:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerguy7 View Post
    I remember this assertion (which I concur with) when reading a report discussing suggestions for the ANP. Scenarios like the one quoted are really happening. To be specific, there has been a significant amount of cases where Tajiks are deployed to police in Pashtun areas. This results with some ethnic friction.

    Some ask "How is the ANP/ISAF so stupid in this scenario?" Are they thinking clearly? Answer: Yes, their actions can be supported by a legitimate argument.

    Everyone can agree with the fact that the ANP are quite corrupt and don't always carry out the law. The thinking behind this deployment was that if people from the outside, who aren't familiar with the area, then they're going to be less prone to corruption. But, as we have noticed, ethnic friction can occur.

    So, what do you guys think? Should "outsiders" (not ISAF soldiers) be sent to these villages, or should we try to rely on local forces?
    To follow on with my line of thinking...

    There has been and continues to be a lot of denial about the role of tribalism in Africa. Yet at the heart of nearly every conflict in Africa there has been the tribal or to a much lesser extent the Muslim/Christian issue.

    If you want resentment put a traditional enemy in charge or in a position of authority over another. As long as the colonial master was there to force the situation through things held together but the moment that control was removed things fell apart.

    There is a historical record of tribal/ethnic rivalries in Afghanistan.

    To bring an Uzbek in to prevent corruption among the Pashtuns is just throwing more salt into old wounds. Then that the US bring in their old enemies the Uzbeks to control them turns the Pashtuns even more against the US. The friend of my enemy is also my enemy.

    I suggest that you see outsiders in Pashtun areas as other Pashtuns who don't have a specific "family" connection in that specific area that can be used to subvert their integrity. Under no circumstances bring in outsiders as in Uzbek or Tajik.

    Surely you can dig up examples from your own US history in dealing with the various indigenous tribal nations? Playing one off against the other, exploiting differences and old tribal animosities? If you understand the phenomenon you can play it in other areas... or avoid the pitfalls.

    Added later: I believe the decisions made in this regard should not be on the basis of what "makes sense" or "sounds logical" to someone out of London or New York City but rather based on an understanding of the Afghan tribal dynamics as they stand. Nobody is going to change these dynamics. Ignore them at your peril.
    Last edited by JMA; 08-04-2010 at 08:00 AM.

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    There are a variety of reasons that have combined to both the ANA and ANP being largely recruited and trained in the north, which is more Tajik th an Pashtun.

    First this is where the training was set up, so this was the available recruiting base.

    Second, the northern populace has in general been more willing to recognize and accept the legitimacy of the Karzai government, so more willing to work for it.

    Third, Pashtuns make terrible "defensive" security forces, but are equally terrific "offensive" security forces. They have no interest in manning checkpoints, guarding things, etc; they want to get out and move to contact. Tajiks in general are more accepting of police work.

    Fourth is this perspective on rather local or imported police are less corrupt. I suppose the best answer is "it depends." Local ties can actually make the police more accountable to the populace and reduce corruption. Local control by a police chief who owes his position to a local power broker can be bad. "Corruption" is not a one dimensional issue, and the local vs "foreign" (someone from the next valley is often considered foreign) police is just one aspect. I've seen both work well, and both work poorly in just my short experience there.

    Personally I would shift the focus from the birthplace of the policemen themselves, and instead focus on the leadership. The ANP has a culture of corruption, and the leaders are beholding to others, and these are seen as money making positions for that very culture, and payments are expected up the chain. I'd recommend looking at how to disrupt that chain that runs all the way back to Kabul that keeps pressure on the police to shake down the populace. Better the shakedown only brings money to the local officials and stays in the region, than be funneled up to Kabul and then out to the UAE.

    The Village Stability Operations that so many pundits are trying to portray as SF building private militias are no more than local police, recruited by the local council and leaders, trained locally, and employed locally. They receive less training, and therefore less pay, and have a more narrow mission (no offensive operations, no arrest authority) than other ANSF, but are on a tashkil and are part of the ANP. These forces then snap in with full ANP and ANA (and coalition forces) working in their AORs. This helps fuse local legitimacy up to the official ANSF sent down from Kabul, and provides a check on corruption, a source of more effective humint, and also "humanizes" the local populace more in the eyes of the imported ANP from up north.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    With respect the brush is too broad here.

    What happened in the Oman? A lot of "outsiders" used there. Does the same theory apply?
    Britain had a Policy in Oman. The Sultan wanted us there.

    Let the soldiers get on with fighting the war (20%) and let the politicians handle the rest (80%) and for heavens sake put a civilian in charge of the whole bang shooting match (not a general).
    This "COIN is 80% political" is rubbish. All war is political. Soldiers set forth policy, using violence. Politicians create policy. No politics = no wars.

    The loss of the war in Afghanistan will be chalked down to:
    * The illegitimate and corrupt nature of the government.
    * A lack of unity of purpose between government and outside forces.
    * The inability of the government supporting forces to adapt to the tactics used by the Taliban.
    Broken policy = broken strategy - which is why the UK only "risk/resources" 10,000 men at a time.

    So lets answer these easy questions:
    * Is there any chance of defeating an insurgency when the government is illegitimate and corrupt?
    Yes, but what is the "Policy?"
    * Is it possible to plan a winning counterinsurgency strategy when there is no unity of purpose between the government and the foreign military?
    No war can be won under that condition.
    * How does one expect to win the shooting war when government forces don't have the locally required tactical skills to defeat the Taliban in the field?
    No war can be won under that condition.
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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    This is a good thread. It shows that there are no glib answers for how to resolve the situation in Afghanistan, even though we've known that for quite some time now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Two separate points here. The first I agree with. It is difficult to get everyone of the same mind if the government whom you are supporting in its counter-insurgency efforts may not see its best interests as necessarily coinciding with yours. Hence IMHO some of the issues we are having in Afghanistan.
    I would have thought that the last election would have been the deal breaker with the Karzai regime. From here on its all downhill like after the ouster of Diem in South Vietnam.

    The second is understanding the people. It is the degree to which you understand the people. Even in a 2 year tour, or four year tour or a 10 year tour there will still be soldiers who do not understand the language or people. Hell - I know soldiers who have spent 16 years in Germany, married a German lass and still do not speak a word of German! Most soldiers will spend 4-6 years in Germany and come away only knowing how to ask for 'fumf bier bitte!' Now 6 months is plenty time to learn the local geography, most boys in a ground holding company will know their patch inside out in about a month - the AOs are not physically that large. Knowing the human terrain takes much much longer - but you need an aptitude for it as well as the time to learn it. Gaining tactical proficiency probably takes about a month as well.
    This is why, I submit, you need specialised units and not just the run of the mill soldiers who signed up because the "good" jobs in civvie street were scarce at the time. The problem is that by the time these guys get to know a little about the place they are on their bicycle back to the UK. It is just a tour afterall. There is no mental commitment which drives them to want to learn more about the place and the people. Now if it takes a month to get the troops up to tactical proficiency then surely the answer is to drop the "jolly" to Kenya and extend the tour by the month and do a battle camp in a quiet area/province so by the time they get to Helmand they hit the ground running.

    Of course I have issues with rotating battalions in toto as the whole battalion needs to settle down and a good enemy will take advantage of that. Permanent units rotating platoons on a R&R basis while maintaining a permanent presence down to company level provides the best operational continuity. Now I'm sure you will come up with some reasons why this will not work either.

    Personally I think we should extend tours but given the current intensity of combat I suspect that 9 months would be enough, after that it would not make sense due to the overall impact on military effectiveness.
    Are you saying that military effectiveness begins to deteriorate beyond 9 months? Not sure I agree with that. What sort of R&R system would you propose for a 9 month tour? What do the US say, as they have both 9 months and a year tours?
    Last edited by JMA; 08-04-2010 at 02:05 PM.

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    Default It's the war of choice versus a war of survival issue. Again...

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    This is why, I submit, you need specialised units and not just the run of the mill soldiers who signed up because the "good" jobs in civvie street were scarce at the time.
    I'm not sure anyone here disagrees with the logic of that. The issue is UK and US political viability of so doing. That's what precludes it other than for a few small highly specialized units.
    Of course I have issues with rotating battalions in toto ... Now I'm sure you will come up with some reasons why this will not work either.
    Don't know about Red Rat but I will agree that it would work and would be an operational improvement, thus I cannot give you a reason it will not work -- I can give you a reason it will not happen: Service and domestic politics plus potential employments in or deployments to other theaters. Unlikely at this time but no Leader in either nation is willing to risk that it absolutely will not be required.
    Are you saying that military effectiveness begins to deteriorate beyond 9 months? Not sure I agree with that. What sort of R&R system would you propose for a 9 month tour? What do the US say, as they have both 9 months and a year tours?
    In reverse order, the US Army has had one year tours (briefly 15 months), going to nine months (hopefully). The Marines and some SOF use seven month tours. The Marines and SOF do not get out of country R&R, the Army grants one two week leave, mid tour to anywhere the individual wishes to go.

    The move to the nine month tour is desired to cut combat exposure time, move to a 9 month out / 18 month home regimen in the belief that for most troops (not all), such a regimen will aid in reducing combat stress, PTSD, family stress at home (a BIG item politically. A really big item...) and in aiding overall force retention plus readiness for other contingencies. Recall that for the UK and US world wide commitments are possible and must be catered for. Both nations have other things going on and Afghanistan is not the reason for existence of their armed forces. In fact, it is viewed as a major inconvenience rather than a pressing need. That has to do with the 'strategy' and the apparent strategic necessity -- or desirability...

    As to a deterioration of military effectiveness at nine months, LINK, LINK. Aside from those links, conversations with people currently involved provide strong anecdotal agreement or corroboration. It's not a question of 'cannot do it' -- it's a question of best balance for the troops (and their families -- most are married nowadays; the divorce rate is worrisome to many politicians), for the nations in toto, potential other commitments, costs (all sorts) and, lastly, effectiveness. Noting for that last, rightly or wrongly, that acceptable as opposed to optimum is sought...

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    If I am an Uzbek or Tajik who suffered at the hands of Pashtuns when they were in charge, I would be stoking contacts and resources for a time when Pashtuns may come to power again with Pak backing.

    These folks aren't stupid, and they aren't counting on us to save them.

    Stand by.

    All the US training, tactics and deployment schedules will not put the genie in the box.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    All the US training, tactics and deployment schedules will not put the genie in the box.
    As Red Rat stated in a previous post, what seems to have lacked is the determination to win at the highest political level. I doubt that Bush or Obama-- or for that matter Blair, Brown, or Cameron--ever told the generals to win within x number of years. If I recall correctly Rumsfeld originally wanted to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq before insurgencies there ever took root. When we decided to stay to see the jobs through the full implications of those decisions probably weren't fully understood at the time or even given much discussion. Hence this multiple personality disorder national policy of conducting COIN ops from now until forever, one tour at a time, but with artificial "deadlines" for bailing out as a concession to the left-of-center part of the electorate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I would have thought that the last election would have been the deal breaker with the Karzai regime. From here on its all downhill like after the ouster of Diem in South Vietnam.
    And that is why we study history!

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    This is why, I submit, you need specialised units and not just the run of the mill soldiers who signed up because the "good" jobs in civvie street were scarce at the time. The problem is that by the time these guys get to know a little about the place they are on their bicycle back to the UK. It is just a tour afterall. There is no mental commitment which drives them to want to learn more about the place and the people. Now if it takes a month to get the troops up to tactical proficiency then surely the answer is to drop the "jolly" to Kenya and extend the tour by the month and do a battle camp in a quiet area/province so by the time they get to Helmand they hit the ground running.

    Of course I have issues with rotating battalions in toto as the whole battalion needs to settle down and a good enemy will take advantage of that. Permanent units rotating platoons on a R&R basis while maintaining a permanent presence down to company level provides the best operational continuity. Now I'm sure you will come up with some reasons why this will not work either.
    But our 'good guys' and not the 'run of the mill blokes' are doing this to a certain degree already. In terms of operational effectiveness putting units on 2 year tours (as per N. Ireland) or forming units to work permanently in Theatre is a good practical step. There are reasons why it would be difficult to do (but not impossible!).

    1. The UK government has only just (2009) signed up to Afghanistan being a rolling 3 year commitment. Prior to that it was a rolling 6 month commitment. Now we can plan 3 years out (but no more) in terms of structures and finances.

    2. Intensity of fighting (linked to the point about combat effectiveness). 205 Corps, the in place Afghan formation is becoming increasingly battle fatigued. Any individual posted to a unit in Helmand is likely able to do only so much before the same happens, so a tour length of 2 years linked to a rotation in and out of the line?

    3. To have an impact the unit or formation is going to have to be large enough to have an impact - so probably brigade sized to replace the brigade that is out there (I do not see what a unit can do which is not already being down by the units and individuals on extended tours in theatre already). Not all the c10,000 troops in AFG will need to be on permanent tours, probably just the ground holding units and HQ elements, so circa 2500-4000. This is where it gets messy. If AFG was a Big War and not a Small War then we would no doubt flip ourselves inside out to meet the requirement, as we have done before. But AFG is a small war and we have been told to meet the (changing) national objectives at minimal cost so, with that in mind in order to find the men for AFG how much do we change the Army's:
    • Training system (individual, unit and formation)
    • Promotion system
    • Pay system (we pay personnel on extended tours in AFG considerably more)
    • Postings system


    All these are affected, not so much by the people who go out there (volunteers who get better prospects across the board) but those left behind.

    Of course finding a quiet place or province for people to train up in, if it was outside the current British AO might then necessitate a Coalition wide agreement, exposing all the countries to renegotiating their slice of the cake and that might be a political risk that NATO may not want to take with so many waverers at the moment. Coalitions of the now reluctant are always messy.

    Lastly most soldiers going to AFG have a huge mental commitment to learn more about the people and the culture, partly professional (it is needed to get the job done) and partly personal (it is a matter of survival). But the Army is not all Tier 1 (SF) or Tier 2 (Para/Commando). There are some who are esceptional, some who are good and most who are average. Whether you encourage or force the exceptionals and very goods to go to AFG for extended tours the end result is that you are going to penalise the remainder in terms of operational effectiveness.

    Putting units and formations into AFG for extended periods is a good idea from the point of view of operational effectiveness on the ground. But it might not be a good idea for the army as a whole or (more likely) it would be prohibitively costly. Units permanently or semi-permanently in theatre, rotating sub-units through if done right will work. The issues are in the details.

    To sum - in many ways a good idea. Would be messy to implement but not impossible. The deciding factor in whether to do it or not is the perceived cost and whether it is regarded as acceptable or not. Note that this is the UK perspective. The US when faced with some of the same issues adopted various policies ('stop loss', extended tours etc) which had very much the same impact as some of the stuff I speak about above, for Iraq. But that was a political decision to run the armed forces very very hard because it was perceived as worthwhile. UK plc has not made the same call.

    Should we do what JMA suggests now? I think the moment has passed. We have units and individuals in Theatre for extended periods and the ANA and ANP are more capable. What is more interesting is why wasn't this model looked at in 2006? I suspect because there was no desire to look forward more then 6 months at the time, certainly at senior civil servant level and politician level there was a willing suspension of belief that they needed to plan long term. how much the senior military hierarchy bucked this or not, and the reasons why they did or did not I do not know.
    RR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    And that is why we study history!
    Sadly a lot of the people making the massive strategic decisions only read history. I am light in the area of reading widely myself. But the key IMO is the ability to extract the lessons that can be learned from the past and not merely reading about it.

    But our 'good guys' and not the 'run of the mill blokes' are doing this to a certain degree already. In terms of operational effectiveness putting units on 2 year tours (as per N. Ireland) or forming units to work permanently in Theatre is a good practical step. There are reasons why it would be difficult to do (but not impossible!).

    1. The UK government has only just (2009) signed up to Afghanistan being a rolling 3 year commitment. Prior to that it was a rolling 6 month commitment. Now we can plan 3 years out (but no more) in terms of structures and finances.
    Yes, it is never too late and now that the parameters are finite it makes things a lot easier.

    2. Intensity of fighting (linked to the point about combat effectiveness). 205 Corps, the in place Afghan formation is becoming increasingly battle fatigued. Any individual posted to a unit in Helmand is likely able to do only so much before the same happens, so a tour length of 2 years linked to a rotation in and out of the line?
    I had suggested that the org be so structured that a battalion will always have four rifle companies in the field which in turn will always have three full strength platoons. Now as far as ensuring that you always have three platoon in the field on ops you will need a fourth platoon to facilitate R&R rotations.

    So the potential out of the front line is in fact 25%... not bad. The trick would be to get them out of theatre for the full time of their R&R - get a belly full of beer, get into a few fights and get their leg over etc etc - and then straight back into the fray. Taking a small retraining bite out of their 25% from time will do no harm.

    3. To have an impact the unit or formation is going to have to be large enough to have an impact - so probably brigade sized to replace the brigade that is out there (I do not see what a unit can do which is not already being down by the units and individuals on extended tours in theatre already). Not all the c10,000 troops in AFG will need to be on permanent tours, probably just the ground holding units and HQ elements, so circa 2500-4000. This is where it gets messy. If AFG was a Big War and not a Small War then we would no doubt flip ourselves inside out to meet the requirement, as we have done before. But AFG is a small war and we have been told to meet the (changing) national objectives at minimal cost so, with that in mind in order to find the men for AFG how much do we change the Army's:
    • Training system (individual, unit and formation)
    • Promotion system
    • Pay system (we pay personnel on extended tours in AFG considerably more)
    • Postings system


    All these are affected, not so much by the people who go out there (volunteers who get better prospects across the board) but those left behind.
    The key to the training is the initial predeployment stuff. Thereafter you train at platoon level in the size of the call-signs you fight in (4 man, 8 man, 12 man? Platoon?)

    Pay - you pay them their normal salaries plus (what do you call it) their combat allowance? No more.

    Promotions must be in line with their normal career paths. If during the next say three years the odd NCO needs to go off and do a tactics or other career necessary course then he goes.

    Postings Well you may as well take them for the period until its all over in AFG. I would think you may well have them fighting over the opportunity to serve in a shooting war for three years at full combat pay. Of course you may well have a number of RTUs of people who fold-up or aren't up to it. Another incentive to serve would be to ensure that where the want to they will be given preference to sign on for additional service in the army after the three years.

    Of course finding a quiet place or province for people to train up in, if it was outside the current British AO might then necessitate a Coalition wide agreement, exposing all the countries to renegotiating their slice of the cake and that might be a political risk that NATO may not want to take with so many waverers at the moment. Coalitions of the now reluctant are always messy.
    Much less applicable if you have them permanently posted to AFG than for the guys swinging through for 6 months every two years. No real negotiation would be necessary as you would get the yanks to break the news to the "1,000 odd Outer Batislavians" in some peaceful backwater that some Brits will be conducting some training in their patch from time to time

    Lastly most soldiers going to AFG have a huge mental commitment to learn more about the people and the culture, partly professional (it is needed to get the job done) and partly personal (it is a matter of survival). But the Army is not all Tier 1 (SF) or Tier 2 (Para/Commando). There are some who are esceptional, some who are good and most who are average. Whether you encourage or force the exceptionals and very goods to go to AFG for extended tours the end result is that you are going to penalise the remainder in terms of operational effectiveness.
    Well this "commitment" to learn is going to get less and less as the "end" approaches for those doing 6 month tours.

    Exceptional soldiers at Brecon or on Salisbury Plain may turn out to perform around the average level when they find themselves way out of their geographical comfort zone and among strange and exotic people (otherwise found only in small numbers in London). I suggest then that soldiers improve the more experienced they become in theatre. Good will become very good, average will become better - that is if the basic soldiering skills are up to standard from the get go.

    Putting units and formations into AFG for extended periods is a good idea from the point of view of operational effectiveness on the ground. But it might not be a good idea for the army as a whole or (more likely) it would be prohibitively costly. Units permanently or semi-permanently in theatre, rotating sub-units through if done right will work. The issues are in the details.
    I can't see how it could be more costly than it is now.

    Having formed permanent/semi-permanent units in AFG would release others like armour for example to start to prepare for the next mechanised war requirement. It will also negate the objection that the whole army will end up being specialised for AFG to the exclusion of all else and of course it will simplify the equipment uses.

    To sum - in many ways a good idea. Would be messy to implement but not impossible. The deciding factor in whether to do it or not is the perceived cost and whether it is regarded as acceptable or not. Note that this is the UK perspective. The US when faced with some of the same issues adopted various policies ('stop loss', extended tours etc) which had very much the same impact as some of the stuff I speak about above, for Iraq. But that was a political decision to run the armed forces very very hard because it was perceived as worthwhile. UK plc has not made the same call.
    Once the commitment has been made it will all fall into place quite simply. (I promise ) This is not rocket science... all it needs is an executive decision and the compliance of the rank and file.

    Should we do what JMA suggests now? I think the moment has passed. We have units and individuals in Theatre for extended periods and the ANA and ANP are more capable. What is more interesting is why wasn't this model looked at in 2006? I suspect because there was no desire to look forward more then 6 months at the time, certainly at senior civil servant level and politician level there was a willing suspension of belief that they needed to plan long term. how much the senior military hierarchy bucked this or not, and the reasons why they did or did not I do not know.
    Had this been considered in 2006 then it would have been a cake walk by now.

    Now is the time to do it so that it can take care of the last three years and allow other specialised armour, para, marine units to get back to their core business.

    Of course subject to how things pan out you can, say, after two years or so start to integrate Afghans into the units with the view to handing over the unit and its duties to Afghans by the end and maybe retaining a training or mentoring function thereafter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    If I am an Uzbek or Tajik who suffered at the hands of Pashtuns when they were in charge, I would be stoking contacts and resources for a time when Pashtuns may come to power again with Pak backing.

    These folks aren't stupid, and they aren't counting on us to save them.

    Stand by.

    All the US training, tactics and deployment schedules will not put the genie in the box.
    If I were an Uzbek or a Tajik I would be looking for a federal system to protect minority rights or they will be facing a crisis like the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey.

    Sucking up to the Pashtuns would be incredibly stupid. Can you trust the word of a Pashtun? Ask the Brits.

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    JMA:

    Exactly. Absent an effective federal system, they are at risk. A federal system is not in the offing, and sucking up to the wayward brothers is hazardous.

    So, what do you really do?

    Prepare for the storm to come, with a substantial possibility for a fault line between the Pashtun control areas and the rest. I'm not sure that civil war is the right term so much as internal partitioning grounded in security imperatives.

    Steve

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    Everyone can agree with the fact that the ANP are quite corrupt and don't always carry out the law. The thinking behind this deployment was that if people from the outside, who aren't familiar with the area, then they're going to be less prone to corruption. But, as we have noticed, ethnic friction can occur.

    So, what do you guys think? Should "outsiders" (not ISAF soldiers) be sent to these villages, or should we try to rely on local forces?
    Ethnic friction aside, I've never quite understood this assertion, who came up with it first, and how it has grown in belief and conviction among policy-makers, that local forces are more prone to corruption.

    My two sense is that it is totally poor planning to use forces from regions outside the AO.

    - It means that when they are allowed leave, they are going to spend more time away just traveling home from one district to the next (or even province to province) than if they were headed to a village just down the road.

    - One could more directly see the impact of their pay being infused back into the community that they came from if it were close, and not hundreds of kms away.

    - I cannot fathom how someone from outside the community is going to be expected to be less corrupt, except in the realm of being less inclined to perhaps take a bribe to release a captured knucklehead who flashed some money or had an intermediary do so. In fact, every I know about this place (and it is a tiny snapshot) tells me that security forces from other areas are going to be more inclined to "tax" people that they don't know, and if they too commute to work, they have zero connection to the local population and are more inclined to think that they can get away with nefarious actions such as fleecing the people at checkpoints or during village seraches. That is the most common security forces action that I am worried about. It is up to partnered forces to have a handle on both framework operations and detention operations, but I am convinced we are more likely to be able to positively influence detention operations and the rule of law, as compared to what happens out at the VCPs and on patrol. So...let's accept the risk at the level of detentions and RoL (which happen significantly less than framework ops and interactions with local), and employ home-grown forces for local AOs.

    - Locally-raised forces are also more keen on their surroundings, and know the physical as well as the human terrain, better than a soldier or patrolman posted from 100 kms away. No one can convince me otherwise, no matter how loud they yell, on that subject.

    If you want to reduce or even eliminate corruption, implement a wage that is sufficient to keep the need for graft and fleecing down to a manageable level.

    I'm forming the conclusion that even raising security forces from agricultural areas are problematic for a number of reasons besides the points raised above:

    - Having an able-bodied son is an investment to these families. He can work the land, have children who can work the land, and will care for the parents when they are too old to do for themselves. Filial piety is so powerful here that it's not even funny. Why should they risk that investment and place him in jeopardy of being killed off someplace else, when they can suffer through a little intimidation and Taliban taxation from year to year yet maintain their investment. It's basic game theory outcomes down here when it comes to risk .
    - Sons are needed to work the land throughout the majority of the year, especially on tenant farms. Now, if the son's pay was such that the father could hire capable workers through it, we might have a starting point, but we'd still have to navigate the worry of whether that son is going to make it home during his next leave rotation.

    present on the ground were: UK SAS, a large brigade-sized Imperial Iranian force, a Jordanian contingent, mercenary Baluchis from Pakistan made up a good part of the Omani Army and in the air were the RAF, Iranian AF and an Omani AF with a good number of Brits and Rhodesians on contracts.

    From 1958-1978 a UK officer was the Omani Armed Forces No.2, a Brigadier Colin Maxwell and a UK loan officer was the Dhofar Brigadier, John Akehurst (who wrote a book 'We Won the War:The campaign in Oman 1965-1975). 'SAS Operation Oman' by Tony Jeapes is another book.
    Are these the best books on the subject of the Oman campaign? The only one I recall reading that mentioned Oman was one of Andy McNab's follow-ups, IIRC. I'd really like to sink teeth into something with depth, especially now that I have seen that Iranian and Baluchi Paks were involved. How that coalition was formed is of definite interest to me.
    Last edited by jcustis; 08-06-2010 at 05:25 AM.

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    Default Oman campaign: coalition reading

    davidbfpo's original
    present on the ground were: UK SAS, a large brigade-sized Imperial Iranian force, a Jordanian contingent, mercenary Baluchis from Pakistan made up a good part of the Omani Army and in the air were the RAF, Iranian AF and an Omani AF with a good number of Brits and Rhodesians on contracts.

    From 1958-1978 a UK officer was the Omani Armed Forces No.2, a Brigadier Colin Maxwell and a UK loan officer was the Dhofar Brigadier, John Akehurst (who wrote a book 'We Won the War:The campaign in Oman 1965-1975). 'SAS Operation Oman' by Tony Jeapes is another book.
    Which led to Jon's comment and question:
    Are these the best books on the subject of the Oman campaign? The only one I recall reading that mentioned Oman was one of Andy McNab's follow-ups, IIRC. I'd really like to sink teeth into something with depth, especially now that I have seen that Iranian and Baluchi Paks were involved. How that coalition was formed is of definite interest to me.
    Jon,

    It is twenty-five years since I read the two books and IIRC the coalition aspect was not well covered, as the focus was on the Omani effort and the UK role. I think the RUSI Journal had shorter articles. Later I will have a look around and perhaps our UK Army contributors can comment too.

    Moderator's Note: a RFI thread has been started on the Oman campaign, so responses there please and this post has been copied over. later if I find other Oman posts those will be copied over too.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-08-2010 at 01:09 PM. Reason: Updated with Mods note
    davidbfpo

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    Thanks David.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    My two sense is that it is totally poor planning to use forces from regions outside the AO.
    Is it not perhaps that there are not local Pashtun volunteers available? You must use what you got. If you ain't got them you can't use them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    JMA:

    Exactly. Absent an effective federal system, they are at risk. A federal system is not in the offing, and sucking up to the wayward brothers is hazardous.

    So, what do you really do?

    Prepare for the storm to come, with a substantial possibility for a fault line between the Pashtun control areas and the rest. I'm not sure that civil war is the right term so much as internal partitioning grounded in security imperatives.

    Steve
    Well we (the West) should know by now how these longstanding ethnic/religious rivalries bubble to the surface periodically.

    I would have thought that the West would have learned by now what with Bosnia, Rwanda, Nigeria and Kenya being recent obvious examples. But then again they seem to use "smart" guys who apply "logic" and "intelligence" to these situations yet have less common sense than any given individual you would find in any Afghan village.

    So in Afghanistan it will be one more time then. Desperate situation.

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