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Thread: When Afghans trust us

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default When Afghans trust us

    On a variety of threads we have touched upon the impact of coalition operations in Afghanistan and sometimes in the Intelligence arena on recruiting informants etc. I cannot recall many comments on local Afghan civilians providing information.

    I occassionally visit Michael Yon's website, so the hat tip today is to Kings of War and in his latest report he reports on a patrol in Helmand, with the British Ghurkhas: http://www.michaelyon-online.com/com...n-thoughts.htm

    Within is this section:

    The intelligence section here at FOB Jackson says that since this 2 Rifles tour began in April 2009, tips from locals have been steady with no remarkable increase or decrease in information flow. Information flow from civilians is a crucial indicator and was my first big tip-off during the dangerous summer of the 2007 that the Surge in Iraq was working....

    Here in Sangin, there are conflicting lines of information that would indicate we are gaining or losing ground. Cooperation from locals—a crucial indicator—would indicate we are treading water.

    Some attacks are thwarted by tip-offs, which often, or typically, result from immediate self-interests, such as the case where bombs are planted among a farmer’s crops....There were many factors that led to the avalanche-like turnaround in Iraq, and one of the key factors was troop strength and constant presence in the neighborhoods. Many Iraqis and Afghans were/are betting on what they perceive to be the winning side—no matter if they like that side or not.

    Local cooperation seems based on immediate self-interests, not long-term ideological visions, though, clearly, long-term ideological visions are hallmark for the fundamentalists. We will know that we are winning—definitely winning—when we see a remarkable increase in population-generated information and cooperation.
    I suspect on a second reading SWC may have discussed this in the Iraqi context and the 'Surge'.

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    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    On a variety of threads we have touched upon the impact of coalition operations in Afghanistan and sometimes in the Intelligence arena on recruiting informants etc. I cannot recall many comments on local Afghan civilians providing information.
    I'd like to be able to draw some conclusion from what he reported on, but I really can't. For example, what does a "tip" entail? Is it coming from someone who reports information on a regular basis, or from random people on patrols, etc.? There's a very big difference between the two.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Bottom-up

    Seth Jones article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...390524212.html contains some lines that apply here, drawing upon history:

    ..Law and order were established by locals, not the central government. When rebellions occurred, as they sometimes did, the government could temporarily move into rural areas and crush them....The Soviet-backed regimes never learned the Musahiban secret, and tried to establish order from the top down. The United States and much of the international community made a similar mistake beginning in 2001, conceiving of success as emanating from a powerful central government..Stability in Afghanistan has only come when local communities provide the bulk of these numbers, not the central government or outside armies.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default You only "rent" Afghan loyalty

    An incredible story and the headline says it all
    :http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...o-Taliban.html

    Then add in:
    Mr Karzai is now rumoured to be considering restoring Mr Akhundzada, who is now an Afghan senator, to his old job in a forthcoming reshuffle. Experts believe he is one of a number of former warlords promised a post in return for supporting him in the August election.
    Marvellous!
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Welcome to South Asia...

    No one should be surprised by any of this...

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    Default When Afghans trust us

    Moderator's Note: moved to this relevant thread - simply as it is a classic 'How not to'

    Entry Excerpt:

    The Next Surge: Counterbureaucracy - Jonathan J. Vaccaro, New York Times opinion.

    The Taliban commander was back in the village. Our base roared to life as we prepared to capture him. Two Chinook helicopters spun their blades in anticipation in the dark. Fifty Afghan commandos brooded outside, pacing in the gravel. I was nearby, yelling into a phone: “Who else do we need approvals from? Another colonel? Why?” A villager had come in that afternoon to tell us that a Taliban commander known for his deployment of suicide bombers was threatening the elders. The villager had come to my unit, a detachment of the United States Army stationed in eastern Afghanistan, for help. Mindful of orders to protect the civilian population, we developed a plan with the Afghan commandos to arrest the Taliban commander that evening before he moved back into Pakistan. While the troops prepared, I spent hours on the phone trying to convince the 11 separate Afghan, American and international forces authorities who needed to sign off to agree on a plan. Some couldn’t be found. Some liked the idea, others suggested revisions. The plan evolved. Hours passed.
    The cellphone in the corner rang. “Where are you?” the villager asked urgently. The Taliban commander was drinking tea, he said. At 5 a.m. the Afghan commandos gave up on us and went home. The helicopters powered down. The sun rose. I was still on the phone trying to arrange approvals. Intelligence arrived indicating that the Taliban commander had moved on. The villagers were incredulous. This incident is typical of what I saw during my six-month tour in Afghanistan this year. We were paralyzed by red tape, beaten by our own team. Our answer to Afghans seeking help was: “I can’t come today or tomorrow, but maybe next week. I have several bosses that I need to ask for permission.” ...
    More at The New York Times.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-08-2009 at 11:38 PM. Reason: Moved here and Mod note added

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    The villagers were incredulous. This incident is typical of what I saw during my six-month tour in Afghanistan this year. We were paralyzed by red tape, beaten by our own team. Our answer to Afghans seeking help was: “I can’t come today or tomorrow, but maybe next week. I have several bosses that I need to ask for permission.” ...
    Wow.. doing stupid stuff turns out to be ... well... stupid. Never saw that coming.
    Pardon my sarcasm, but I'll bet money that this article leads to no remedial action whatsoever. - shamefully this isn't even new. It's a recurring theme in our lessening degree of skill to conduct warfare.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    An incredible story and the headline says it all
    :http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...o-Taliban.html

    Then add in:

    Marvellous!
    President Karzai can promise what he likes, but he is under no illusions whatsoever that the reinstatement of Akhundzada is not acceptable. As much as he would like to reinstate him, that is a massive red line which would be crossed and Karzai knows it. The current governor, Gulab Mangal, is urbane, technocratic, savvy and very popular with the British PRT. He has been received remarkably warmly in areas of the Province like Garmsir and Gereshk, places which to all intents and purposes had not seen central government for about 30 years. I'd go as far to say that he is southern Afghanistan's most notable success story since 2001. Akhundzada is a thug from a long line of thugs, quite plainly. Reinstatement would be profoundly retrograde.

    The article overstates the promises Karzai might have made Akhundzada in return for electoral support. They have been comrades for donkeys years and spent a lot of time together in Pakistan during the Taliban reign. Once it fell, Akhundzada* was easily able to control Helmand and effectively run it as a fiefdom, becoming extraordinarily rich in the process. I have heard one tale that he and Karzai have million dollar houses next door to one another in Dubai. Whether that is true or not I don't know, but the idea that this is a marriage of convenience developed for electoral reasons is patently untrue. There are myriad other stories, but the sum of them is that Sher Mohammed Akhundzada is a dreadful, dreadful man. He is also mentioned in this terrific New York Times piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/ma...9Karzai-t.html

    * Nasim Akhundzada, Sher Mohammed's father, was victor in a series of brutal internecine conflicts which took place largely in the Gereshk and Kajaki areas of Helmand during the Mujahideen era. It is often cited anecdotally that Soviet troops were welcomed as peacekeepers in Gereshk in 1987, such was the violence of the quarrel. The Harakat/Hezb-i-Islami split was basically entirely manifested by this fight in Helmand, with the Akhundzadas belonging to the Harakat sect and the joint forces of Rais Baghrani (Helmand's highest profile reconciler) and Abdul Rahman Khan, who hotfooted it to France, then Norway, where he now resides, when Akhundzada was installed as Governor in 2001, to Islami. Just to complicate things further, all three factions represented different subtribes of the Alizai, northern Helmand's dominant tribal grouping.

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