Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Did we make the right decision in Nuristan?

  1. #1
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    RC-S, Afghanistan
    Posts
    302

    Default Did we make the right decision in Nuristan?

    Apologies if this has been posted already.

    From the Long War Journal:

    Nuristan drawdown gives new life in Pakistani Taliban

    Asia Times reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad said that the US pullback in Nuristan has breathed new life into the Taliban in the Pakistani tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand, and in the Swat Valley as well. The effective Taliban control of Nuristan due to the withdrawal of US forces has allowed Qari Ziaur Rahman to reorient forces across the border in Pakistan and open new fronts as the Army is focused on South Waziristan.
    While I think this overstates the case, it does make me wonder what it will be like if US/government forces try to return to eastern Nuristan (if ever).

    Nuristani militant commanders are known for killing Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda for crossing into their AO, so I wonder what the dynamic between local and Pakistani Taliban will be in the near future.

    Was MikeF right, that we could have used the COP/FOB Keating (correction made for author) incident as an opportunity to drop the hammer on eastern Nuristan, and has our withdrawal just made things harder for us in the long term?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-29-2009 at 11:16 PM. Reason: wrong name for COP/FOB and changed
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,343

    Default Hire 'em, not hammer 'em

    Inteltrooper,

    Nuristani militant commanders are known for killing Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda for crossing into their AO, so I wonder what the dynamic between local and Pakistani Taliban will be in the near future.
    Seems like a clear case for hiring the commanders for awhile if they retain their past habits.

    davidbfpo

  3. #3
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    RC-S, Afghanistan
    Posts
    302

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Inteltrooper,



    Seems like a clear case for hiring the commanders for awhile if they retain their past habits.

    davidbfpo
    We had an opportunity to do this, but the powers-that-be weren't comfortable with it so it returned to business-as-usual.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  4. #4
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    RC-S, Afghanistan
    Posts
    302

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    we could have used the COP Michigan incident
    I can't seem to get the edit function to work, but by this I meant COP/FOB Keating. I don't know why I wrote COP Michigan. (Correction made)
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-29-2009 at 11:17 PM. Reason: Updated
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  5. #5
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Posts
    1,127

    Default

    Bottom line, there isn't much of a change. The COPs were not achieving any of their stated goals due to lack of manpower. The Taliban had the same influence that they enjoy now.

    Reinforcements were needed in more populous, more influential areas. I can make a salient argument that doing poor COIN (due to lack of forces, not lack of effort by troops) is worse than doing no COIN, because it essentially undercuts any credibility you have with the population because you can't a) protect yourself, or b) protect them. All we did was demonstrate our impotence.

    I don't think the risk/return of "doubling down" in Nuristan would provide effects outside of, well, Nuristan. Therefore, it's a poor use of forces.

    Niel
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

  6. #6
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4,021

    Default The Nuristan Merry-Go-Round

    or perhaps, the Nuristan Wilderness of Mirrors.

    Starting with the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) Taliban Report, which David linked here and I quoted here (and now re-quote in part):

    p.10

    Organisationally, the insurgency is segmented and consists of seven armed structures: the Islamic Movement of the Taleban, the networks of the Haqqani and Mansur families in the South-East, the Tora Bora Jehad Front (De Tora Bora Jehadi Mahaz) led by Anwar-ul-Haq Mujahed in Nangrahar (Eastern region), HIG, small Salafi groups in Kunar and Nuristan provinces (Eastern region) [28] and, as a new phenomenon, a number of not inter-related local exmujahedin groups that (or whose historical leaders) had been pushed out of power, are taking up arms and starting to adopt Taleban-like language and behaviour.

    [28] Official name (Society for the Invitation to Quran and Sunna). This group already established an Islamic mini-state in Nuristan in the 1980s. Its current leader Haji Rohullah joined the post-2001 process but was later arrested and detained in Guantanamo. It is registered as a political party in Kabul.
    Now, Mr. Haji Rohullah has some 90 pages of documents scanned into his NY Times dossier; and the obligatory Wiki for former Gitmo detainees. So, a Karzai government figure in the morning, a Nuristani freedom fighter in the afternoon and an AQ-supported guerrilla fighter in the evening.

    The World goes round; payback is a mother; and with friends like that, who needs enemies.

    Best to all

    Mike

  7. #7
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    223

    Default Agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Reinforcements were needed in more populous, more influential areas. I can make a salient argument that doing poor COIN (due to lack of forces, not lack of effort by troops) is worse than doing no COIN, because it essentially undercuts any credibility you have with the population because you can't a) protect yourself, or b) protect them. All we did was demonstrate our impotence.
    I was in Afghanistan shortly before the CJTF sent troops into the area and argued against extending our reach into a region that was both unimportant and bound to be trouble. The US forces in RC-East were already overstretched and we ended up expending resources for little gain. You could probably go back a couple of years and review some of the debate in this site's archives. There were others who felt the same way but we went ahead and did it anyway. Some interesting (I hope) dynamics that led us into Nuristan:

    1. It was part of a campaign plan that had been designed prior to 10th Mountain's deployment to Afghanistan. The plans shop had almost completely turned over and many of the bright young majors had their doubts about the move, but the leadership was still in place and were determined to carry out their plan. Not to do so would have been at least a partial admission that the campaign plan was not bearing all the fruit that had been hoped for.
    2. RC-East was being absorbed by NATO, and the RC-East commander was not happy with the prospect of having his operations scaled back by ISAF. In some ways, this was a way to stake out his independence from NATO influence.
    3. There was some doublethink going on. Everybody, at some level, recognized we did not have the resources to move into the area, but nobody wanted to concede that we were constrained by our resources. To put it crudely (and a bit unfairly), it was thought better to do everything half-assed than to admit there were parts of the campaign plan that were just a bridge too far. In Fredrician terms, we were trying to defend everywhere.

    Finally, you have to recognize how hard it is when you are on the ground to rationally measure your own progress. Before I arrived in Afghanistan I thought it was a lost cause; while I was there, everyone was working so hard, so many sacrifices were being made, so many small-to-medium problems were being solved, that I came to believe this thing was doable; two years down the road, with a little distance, I can see again that it's a lost cause. This is yet another reason why combining the tactical and operational levels of war in a single headquarters is a bad idea.

  8. #8
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Norfolk VA
    Posts
    77

    Default Economy of Force

    I would have to agree with CavGuy about "a little COIN may be worse than no COIN at all." This is a worthwhile consideration when we discuss the larger picture in Afghanistan--of ceding whole areas and conducting something called CT in those areas.

    However, taking this line of thinking beyond just Afghanistan, and beyond just COIN, I'd make the assertion that we (the US) have never done "economy of force" missions very well, unless they were stand-off (air and fires based) and that the current "information environment" makes it even harder.

    The bottom line of economy of force operations is that we apply the minimum resources necessary and our usual goal in that specific area is, at best, to maintain the status quo, so we can apply decisive force elsewhere. In real terms, this means sending people to die for no immediate or apparent gain—or at least we have to describe it as such. Witness the whole Italian campaign in WWII. Arguably, that sucked up more resources than it did hold Germans in place—primarily because we had to maintain the offensive and show progress in order to validate the losses we were suffering.

    Once we place significant troops in an area (and we can argue what number equates to significant), there is an expectation on the part of our society, if not political leaders, that they will be supported and not placed under undo risk. The requirement to have fires, logistics and reinforcements readily available ends up pulling in such strength and effort that it undercuts any notion of “economy of force.”

  9. #9
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,343

    Default You are not alone

    Eden,

    Thank you for the posting and this little part:
    I was in Afghanistan shortly before the CJTF sent troops into the area and argued against extending our reach into a region that was both unimportant and bound to be trouble.
    The USA is not the only nation that has deployed its troops in parts of Afghanistan apparently for reasons that defy "armchair" or military understanding. I cite the initial platoon basing in Helmand Province by the UK, at the behest of the government in Kabul.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-31-2009 at 12:33 PM.

  10. #10
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,343

    Default Stabbed on the frontier

    From:http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...ing-games.html A wider commentary on Pakistan has this:

    Not a few eyebrows have been raised in the Asian press, therefore, with some distinctly critical comments over the US decision to withdraw its forces from its four key bases in Nuristan, on the border with Pakistan, leaving the northeastern province as a safe haven for the Taliban.

    Nuristan is strategically located in the Hindu Kush, and is now said to be under the effective control of the network belonging to Qari Ziaur Rahman, a Taliban commander with strong ties to Bin Laden. This makes Nuristan the first Afghan province to be controlled by a network inspired by al-Qaeda. It also opens the US to exactly the same criticism levelled at Clinton – that the US doesn't really want to get al-Qaeda either.
    davidbfpo

  11. #11
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    From:http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...ing-games.html A wider commentary on Pakistan has this:
    davidbfpo
    The last three paragraphs were striking:

    Kashmir occupies a pivotal role in the stabilisation of the region. Yet, while the pressure is on Pakistan to put its house in order, India is getting a free ride, despite being a major player and a vital part of any overall settlement.

    One does not, therefore have to take sides in the dispute to observe that it is not only Pakistan which is playing games. If there is a sense of grievance at the way it is being treated by the West, this is not altogether unwarranted. A commitment by Pakistan is one thing, but a similar level of commitment is needed from the other parties – and there is no evidence that this is forthcoming.

    If, instead, the West chooses to play games, we should not be surprised if Pakistan does the same.
    There are three rational conflicting arguments from different parties:

    1. Cavguy- "doing poor COIN (due to lack of forces, not lack of effort by troops) is worse than doing no COIN." He's right, and Eden and COL R's comments add strength to his position.

    2. Pakistani Army- We're dropping the hammer in Waziristan. Where's the US anvil in Nuristan? One part of that paper suggested that this shows "we really don't want to get Bin Ladin."

    3. Kashmir, India, and the geopolitical perception. We're using Pakistan as pawns in a game while we bolster India.

    The main question remains:

    Is Nuristan key territory? Currently, the US thinks no, and others think yes. I think it is. Niel is right in the sense that we should not have isolated patrol bases there just conducting a task of defend the patrol base. That's ridiculous.

    I stated it yesterday, and I'll repeat it today. The current situation reminds me of Iraq in 2005. As we consolidated in the major cities, the borders were left open and training camps were established in the rural areas. I was costly to retake those areas in 2007.

    v/r

    Mike

  12. #12
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default Cross-border insurgents flood Afghanistan

    Interesting article in the AF Times with MG Mike Flynn.

    The expansion of Islamic extremist groups across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is “the worst I’ve seen it,” with Afghan insurgents receiving help from Iranian operatives and “very possibly” freelancing Pakistani intelligence agents, as well as a small but growing number of “deadly” foreign fighters, said Maj. Gen. Mike Flynn, director of intelligence for Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s headquarters here.

    “I wouldn’t say it’s out of control right now, but this is a California wildfire and we’re having to bring in firemen from New York,” said Flynn, who has been tracking Islamic extremism for at least eight years in postings as director of intelligence for Joint Task Force 180 (in Afghanistan), Joint Special Operations Command, Central Command and the Joint Staff.

    The U.S. intelligence community estimates that 19,000 to 27,000 insurgents are operating in Afghanistan, a roughly tenfold increase from 2004’s estimate of 1,700 to 3,200, said Flynn, who was brought in by McChrystal to head up intelligence operations for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and is considered one of the four-star general’s closest confidantes here.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •