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Old 09-05-2009   #1
James Bean
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Default Failure in Afghanistan is Nothing New

The recent NATO ordered air strikes made me think about an interesting blog on dumb-as-rocks aid/development in Afghanistan, which is no different than is the case in many fragile conflict contexts.



http://blogs.nyu.edu/fas/dri/aidwatc...s_are_beg.html

It is stating the numbingly obvious when I say that the changing/deteriorating security climate in Afghanistan is a significant impediment to aid and development.

The whole chicken-egg riddle of you can't have development without security (and vice versa) is nonsense too. It's a conversation that sucks in oxygen for no good reason at all.

In a fragile security environment you can have stability interventions. Usually such interventions are highly contextualised. Many donors fail to grasp the fluidity, felxibility, and responsiveness/autonomy such programming requires.

Ready-made development interventions that conveyed well in other contexts (i.e. The ubiquitous success story) often don't work in complex conflict-riven contexts.

This is why armed organizations are better placed to perform such work (PRTs, supported by USAID military affairs, etc.).

Many European donors are simply far too process-oriented (great for development, not stabilization) to be able to realistically hold out that they can make a meaningful aid intervention in such a pixelated and rapidly shifting context. They would probably do better to listen to NATO and CENTCOM and procure the choppers and other support that have been repeatedly requested for so long!!


(RFI: I can't remember if it was a Sarah Chayes or Ahmad Rashid article that reported that NATO troops from Europe are 1.9 times more likely to order in close air support than US/British/Australian/Canadian troops. Does anyone have a link to this statistical finding?)


Links again:

http://blogs.nyu.edu/fas/dri/aidwatc...s_are_beg.html
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Old 09-05-2009   #2
Ken White
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Default Had not seen that:

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Originally Posted by James Bean View Post
(RFI: I can't remember if it was a Sarah Chayes or Ahmad Rashid article that reported that NATO troops from Europe are 1.9 times more likely to order in close air support than US/British/Australian/Canadian troops. Does anyone have a link to this statistical finding?)
but my first thought was is that figure, if true, one of more likely to request or is it more likely to actually employ / receive what was requested? Second thought was that relatively more combat experience among US elements might lead to a lessened number of requests. Interesting factoid.

I can see the mostly but not all US folks in the CAOC refusing some US requests while being very reluctant to do so for requests from Allies...

Either way, it's interesting. Hopefully someone recalls seeing the article or knows the answer.
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Old 09-06-2009   #3
M-A Lagrange
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Default Military are better to deliver aid

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Originally Posted by James Bean View Post

The recent NATO ordered air strikes made me think about an interesting blog on dumb-as-rocks aid/development in Afghanistan, which is no different than is the case in many fragile conflict contexts.

This is why armed organizations are better placed to perform such work (PRTs, supported by USAID military affairs, etc.).

Many European donors are simply far too process-oriented (great for development, not stabilization) to be able to realistically hold out that they can make a meaningful aid intervention in such a pixelated and rapidly shifting context. They would probably do better to listen to NATO and CENTCOM and procure the choppers and other support that have been repeatedly requested for so long!!

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Military are better to deliver aid.

The statement could be right as in Afghanistan logistic/transport is the nodal point for any build success. When MSF entered clandestinely into URSS occupied Afghanistan, the military jump on them to learn how they did success were they failed. MSF training, at that time, was not a 15 days spent in quick learning of two/three words of local language and basic cultural behaviors…
Some spent months learning how to speak, work, respect and appreciate afghan culture. The road was done by foot and the drugs were delivered straight to the point. The bargain was simple, we cure you and you protect us. It was a win/win unwritten contract. As the logistic capacity of the organization grew, also grew the respect of all for the French doctors and ended up in a Nobel price.
A price that was collected by and dedicated by the organization to the "indigenous", their local/national staff without whom they would never have been able to operate.
The logistic back bone of the "rebels with a cause" is in a sense a civilian military structured organization. But this could be just missing the point.

Special ops circulating in Iraq or other war ground in white 4x4 cars similar to the NGO ones have been proven to increase the threat on civilians acting in the area. To the point Oxfam choose to have purple or yellow cars. The death toll of NGO workers in war zone has been increasing tremendously as the one for the military, in a reverse manner, has been decreasing. The zero death war is utopian but melting military and civilian is probably the worst choice ever made. This is alienating not only local civilian population but also international relief organization in a simple but rational conclusion: you are endangering us. If Afghan culture is an "800 pounds gorilla", relief societies are a 1000 tones furious wild elephant.
In reverse the hippie relief workers' dream of war conducted by a legion of moral keepers NGO intellectuals ordering battalions of stupid Rambos is even worst. Each has to recognize the know-how and value of the other side.
But this is probably also forgetting one, even not THE ONE, actor of this deadly game: civilian population. Cooperation between military and civilian aid should be increase but neither one nor the other should intend to overcome and instrumentalise the other.

In a practical approach, it is clear that a build successful operation needs a strong focus by international donors on logistic. If winter is the season of peace because it isolates villages, it is the season also the season of relief action. Afghanistan has to be seen as two face land. During winter it is a sea rather than a grounded land and helicopters its boats. Organizations as specialized in air transport should be encourage to turn to helicopters and then be able to cover all and any points any day of the year. Sky also has to become trusted and not feared. If all what comes from the air is just violence… Then the 10-2 = 20 or more will never end. After having conquered ground, air is the last humanitarian logistic frontier.
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