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Old 01-04-2009   #41
Ken White
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Default Myth.

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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
Ken: I imagine that pulling that duty was involved in one of your early deployments.
Actually, my early deployments long pre-date Castles. By the time they came along, I was a senior NCO and got the Lawyer Clerks to do that sort of stuff, they excelled at it, BTW. Had an affinity for it, some said.
Quote:
Can you tell us what precautions you took
As I said, beneath my pay grade but I do recall the Lawyer Clerks loved to wear sharkskin suits...
Quote:
- or were you too busy looking for unicorns. As you well know, they existed in those bygone days.
Of course they did exist -- but I never hunted 'em, they smelled like dead fish and were to be avoided IMO. there were strange, backward clans and septs who liked to hunt them for some odd reason (and allegedly still do...). Probably they put up with the smell to kill them for their horns which were sold to the Lawyer Clerks as eating the horn, ground to fine particles and sprinkled on the quiche was supposed to endow the one who ate it with honesty, benevolence, intelligence and compassion. Another of those myths...
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Old 01-04-2009   #42
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Default Mills or Unicorns?

Greg Mills observations did appear on an earlier thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ght=greg+mills

His book on Afghanistan is: 'From Africa to Afghanistan: With Richards and NATO to Kabul', by Greg Mills, publisher Wits University Press in 2007. Excellent pre-deployment read, accepting it is dated; the author is a South African analyst and writes very well.

The USA may regard NATO's agreement to take on a direct role in Afghanistan as a diplomatic success I am not convinced West European publics see Afghanistan as necessary for national security. I will stop as my viewpoint has appeared before.

I wonder how the direct personal observation of Afghanistan, in particular the ANA and ANP, by Europeans or others who have served there, e.g. Italian conscripts in Herat, has worked - for the good or bad? In the UK our troops who have served, mainly professional, but a good number of reservists, rarely comment in the media on such issues.

I had thought policy aside one reason why the ANA option was pursued was the re-deployment to Iraq of the mainly US SOF; so the militia option simply could not be used as the "boots on the ground" were elsewhere.

Comments from a faraway armchair.

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(Title chosen after the recent exchanges, a lighter moment).
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Old 01-04-2009   #43
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Default Great example!

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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post

Turning to step 3 (quoting it again, but adding the words for the principle to be valued):



Now, so happens that Xistan (absolutely essential to the national strategic interests of the US) is firmly committed to chattel slavery; and happens to have a foreign minister who is a direct descendent of J.C. Calhoun and inherited all of his legal and political skills - his gg-grandfather having left S. Carolina after the War of Division.

He says, "COL Jones, I understand exactly what you are telling me about the principle that "All men are created equal". As you can see here, that principle is inscribed in our constitution. Now I also realize we value that principle a bit differently than you USians. But your ROEs here state you will withhold judgment about valuation and, furthermore, that we can expect continued engagement so long as we accept that principle. We, of course, as you can plainly see right here, accept that principle. Now, we need an ODC, 3 ODBs, 12 ODAs and your super aviation group for insertion and extraction. When can we expect them ?"

What does COL Jones tell President Obama ?

Yup, it's a variation of the "Can we kill the shepherd boy" hypothetical.

I'd say "Mr. President, we have a tremendous opportunity here, both to advance the rights of people everywhere as individuals, but collectively as sovereign nations by taking this deal that is important to our own security as well.

He'd probably say "Yes, but I'll pummel them with visits by my Sec State who will talk of democracy, womens rights, and freedom of slavery as they currently exist in the US and call them evil if they reject our values "(wait, that was his predecessor who kept doing that). No he'd say: "Ok Bob, I know where you are coming from, but explain this to me and make it good, because the one audiance tougher than the one you're talking to right now, is the one I'm going to have to address when I announce this deal."

So I'd walk him through my three points; How America leads best by example, not fiat backed by force of arms or cash; remind him of our own growth as a nation in regards for civil rights and how these things are too important to rush too quickly, but we won't be able to help this populace evolve if we aren't there engaging with them, and if we piss them off with our judgments so that they stop listening.

You have to try.

JMM, I feel as strongly about this as anybody. While my particular branch of the Jones Clan broke from its Quaker roots upon migrating to Oregon in 1852, the previous generations, from arrival in Philly in 1711, to pioneering down the east coast helping to settle colonies in North Carolina and Georgia (then over growning concerns about the institutions of Slavery and the growing liklihood of war), in the late 1820s moving up to Ohio and S. Michigan were pure Quaker. We were key players in the underground railroad as it flowed up through Cincinnati and Cass County Michigan. (A google search of William "Nigger Bill" Jones brings up a great story of an unarmed Quaker Farmer alone and on foot, confronting a squad of armed and mounted Kentucky Slave owners on a lonely Michigan country road that had a group of recaptured slaves in chains behind them. Short version, he held them up until help could arrive, disarmed the leader, put the whites in chains and the slaves on the horses and led a grand parade into town where the whites were tossed in to the jail. Soon released (and pissed), the made a federal case of the whole situation, which combined with another case went to the Federal District Court in Detroit resulting in what we all know of it as "The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850."

These type of changes are hard business, and require men and women of character and courage within the populace to lead the efforts for change. We can't order it from DC.
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Old 01-04-2009   #44
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Default Kings of War

An excellent article on the strategy in Afghanistan, touches upon ANA and ANP and cites a podcast by Stephen Biddle, which I'd not heard of: http://kingsofwar.wordpress.com/2009...gies/#comments.

The Biddle link is to a Time article, pre-Xmas: http://www.time.com/time/world/artic...866326,00.html

The comments are especially telling - between a US Army officer and the author (a UK academic). the US Army officer, known as 'Old Blue' comments on: http://billandbobsadventure.blogspot.com/

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Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-04-2009 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 01-04-2009   #45
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Default BW: Good brief to POTUS

Seems we are beginning not to be separated by a common language. The idea of principle (theory) and valuation (actual practice of same) is beginning to grow on me.

Theorists can argue until the cows (or unicorns) come home on the "meaning" of a principle. Valuation (actual practice) is a reality, which can be accepted or rejected, but at least there is something tangible to bite on.

My wish is for a POTUS who would be willing to be laid on the line (privately); and lay it on the line to the public - straight. Kind of the concept of ODA sessions (pre- & post-), maybe.

The rest of the thoughts that come to mind (unicorn horns, lawyer clerks, Quakers and English castles) are best handled by PM - owed to you, Ken and David. Have to see if cc:s are possible on PMs - killing 3 unicorns with one stroke - so to speak.

Just took a break from 1-1/2 inches of briefs (good briefs) for a Case Evaluation Hearing that I'll have to decide tomorrow and how many $ (if any) to award. No result in mind, which will have to await the attoneys' answers to my questions. At the end of which, I may want a unicorn's horn - but for insertion purposes.

Cheers.
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Old 01-11-2009   #46
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MR, Jan-Feb 09: Sentinels of Afghan Democracy: The Afghan National Army
Quote:
....The numerous articles and reports written on the Afghan Army tend to focus on specific aspects of the organization and paint partial, skewed, sometimes negative or sometimes overly optimistic pictures of it. Even though former NATO Supreme Commander General James L. Jones testified that "the Afghan National Army is the most successful pillar of our reconstruction efforts to date," it is clear that a tremendous amount of work remains to be done. This article offers a holistic picture of the army's progress since its formation in November 2002. It looks at the history of national armies of the Afghan state and the Afghan army's parameters (beginning and desired end state), provides a snapshot of the current Afghan "military balance," and offers insight into the Afghan army's training and operational performance.....
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Old 05-12-2009   #47
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Default Six minute You Tube item on ANA

This undated You Tube item on the ANA by two US soldiers, with very direct comments has appeared on the Uk blogsite and comes from The (UK) Guardian newspaper, which I only rarely check: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...alities-5.html

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Old 05-13-2009   #48
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Anyway, that is a VERY rough and loose telling of what happened, but I hope it's clear enough. With 20/20 hindsight we might have been better served by putting resources into, and strengthening, the tribal networks and local leadership which had suffered under both the Taliban and AQ, instead of attempting to convert the warlord armies into a national army/police force. I say "might" because that would have been a huge challenge given our complete lack of knowledge about local power structures. We did, finally, begin doing some of that work a few years ago in some areas but it was (and still is) under-resourced and too little, too late. We also made mistakes through complete ignorance of the local tribal power structures and ended up caught in the middle of age-old local conflicts which created enemies we didn't need to create.

So the "helping the tribes" alternative might have been better than what we actually did, but in the end, even with 20/20 hindsight, I don't see any easy solutions to the problems we faced after the invasion.
I'm just coming to this thread, but as a guy who's looking at the road ahead in terms of his own boots on the ground, I am curious about this snippet.

entroy, what does the effort of strengthening tribal networks and local leadership mean to you? Can you point to any examples? For that matter, what are tribal networks anyway?

I have heard that term used often, but in many different contexts and I'm not sure it isn't more than just a buzz-word to me at this point, but I need to understand before I get deeper into shaping some personal PME.

And on Bob's World's point...it would seem to me from the armchair that although we pushed the Taliban back kinetically, with militia-based allies, the civil fabric was not targeted effectively, on top of the warlordism issue. So do you think that we should be investing in building smaller, militia capacity. If so, is that a means towards the larger end of central government stability? I'm not sure I can see where those two efforts could ever run at parallel purposes and in synch.

Last edited by jcustis; 05-13-2009 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 05-15-2009   #49
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Default Americans and Latvians Betrayed by ANA?

From Fox News:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,520182,00.html
Quote:
U.S. Probes Whether Afghan Forces Colluded With Taliban in Deadly Attack

Kunar River Valley, Afghanistan — A pre-dawn attack by the Taliban that killed three American soldiers and six other coalition troops earlier this month is raising new questions about many of the Afghan soldiers who were supposed to be fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
I knew SSG Vile, and I'm not sure which Latvians were involved but I worked closely with two of the OMLTs. I'm feeling a little ill.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-04-2009 at 09:08 PM. Reason: Moved from a stand alone thread into this
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Old 05-28-2009   #50
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RAND, 28 May 09: The Long March: Building the Afghan National Army
Quote:
Background and Purpose

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is seen as a sine qua non for security in Afghanistan. The recent resurgence of the Taliban, operating out of bases in Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan, underscores the threat to the Afghan government and the importance of the army in stemming this insurgency and providing for Afghanistan’s future security. Efforts to rebuild the ANA have been going on for about six years, and judgments about its progress have been mixed.

This monograph offers an assessment of the progress of the ANA to date. It draws on a variety of sources, including in-country interviews with U.S., NATO, and Afghan officials; data provided by the U.S. Army; open-source literature; and a series of public opinion surveys conducted in Afghanistan over the past three years.

Assessment of the Afghan National Army

Our assessments pertain to following areas:
  • manpower, infrastructure and equipment
  • training
  • operational proficiency
  • public perceptions of the army.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-29-2009 at 04:08 AM.
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Old 05-28-2009   #51
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Excellent study. Thank you for posting this!
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Old 05-29-2009   #52
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Quote:
US, TIC=No problem; US, non-TIC=Req. Clearance. IA TIC=Maybe. IA, non-TIC=Grab a Snickers.
In '08 it was more like US TIC=No problem; US non-TIC= req. clearance. IA TIC, no Americans present= No chance in hell. IA, non-TIC=Get the hell off of our net.

To support our IA in a TIC situation where we were not present, we had to go there, report US TIC, then request support. We were more than happy to do so, but still.
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Old 05-29-2009   #53
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Tony Cordesman has a rather extensive study over at CSIS, also.

Now one of you smart guys can link it.
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Old 05-29-2009   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
Tony Cordesman has a rather extensive study over at CSIS, also.

Now one of you smart guys can link it.
Post #8 near the beginning of this thread linked to a 7 Jan 09 version of that product. Of course, Cordesman is always updating his reports, and there is now a 27 May 09 version.
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Old 08-29-2009   #55
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Default ANA desert a joint ANA-UK post

SWJ daily News has an item headlined 'Sight of Dead Girl at the Gates Sparked a Bloody Mutiny', which upon closer reading refers to a UK detachment embedded (OMLT) with an ANA platoon in a FOB and after a local child is killed the ANA, all bar one, desert: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle6814206.ece

Quote:
The Royal Irish turn up in what seems like a few seconds (to main FOB). They are shattered and have the haunted, lost look of betrayal. Only one Afghan soldier has remained loyal. Jones (FOB OiC) is amazed by how quickly the Taleban have been able to exploit the killing of the 12-year-old girl.
Note the story is undated and is taken from a newly published book on the UK Airborne Brigade's time in Helmand in 2007-2008 IIRC.

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Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-29-2009 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 08-29-2009   #56
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Default Suspicious

And the odds are the Taliban killed the 12 year old girl and then lied to create the mutiny and desertion.
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Old 09-01-2009   #57
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Default Two points we can miss?

(hat tip to Schmedlap) Taken from: http://www.esquire.com/print-this/af...r-stories-0809

Quote:
One reason the war has not gone as the United States has wished is that many tasks are exceptionally difficult and complex. Take security development. The United States is creating Afghan government forces essentially from scratch. This requires thousands of American trainers and mentors and demands a huge collection of functioning and compatible arms and military materiel, enough for what could in time become nearly four hundred thousand armed men in the uniform of the nation being built around them. This is an extraordinary chore.

An even harder task is finding those hundreds of thousands of young Afghan men, fit and honest and willing to serve, and enlisting and training them to perform.

And if these soldiers are to become something more than the foundation for future armed gangs, then they will need committed and uncorrupted senior officers to lead them in a reasonably efficient and reliable way. Creating such a force would be hard to do in, say, Ukraine.

In Afghanistan, aside from the fact that there are multiple ethnicities and an ongoing war, there is another catch: All of these men, the clay of professional units, are to be drawn from a society in which a small fraction of the men can read.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-23-2009 at 02:24 PM. Reason: Add link, italics and spacing in quote.
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Old 09-23-2009   #58
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Default Do AFG Soldiers HAVE TO BE Literate?

Interesting question posed at the US Army/USMC COIN Centre Blog here:
Quote:
On the surface you would say “of course it does,” but what if your countrymen are 75% illiterate and what if your fellow soldiers are 90% illiterate? Then what do you do? Can a force possessing this level of reading skill or the gross lack thereof be trained in anything but basic infantry skills?

If we are going to equip, train, and fight alongside the Afghanistan National Army, -- then how can they operate for the long term as an Army if they cannot read? The enemy has shown that they can operate without this “critical” skill. How? Their tactics are in small groups, usually attacking on very familiar ground, with weapons that are man-portable and simple to operate.

The Afghan Army must instead operate complex weapons, weapons-systems and equipment that in most regards becomes somewhat difficult or impossible to operate without the skill of reading. They must take the fight to the enemy, the Taliban, wherever they may be throughout Afghanistan. How do you get there with your 500 man unit, how do you plan, how do you coordinate, and which road do you take if most of your force cannot read? Do you disagree? ....
(More on link)

My view:
1) More literacy = better army.
2) It's going to be a long, uphill battle teaching literacy skills as well as military ones.
3) Literate in which language?
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Old 09-23-2009   #59
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Cross posting from another thread: Seriously committing to training, arming and supporting the ANA is the way to go, but it doesnt look like there is any clarity about this in the US command (in fact, it increasingly looks like the US is flailing about without a strategy). Fixing Karzai's regime is the other priority. Even using less than perfect means to do so. But first you have to know what you want. I am having some doubts about this part and if those doubts are correct, that means everything else will fail. I hope to be proved wrong...
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Old 09-23-2009   #60
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Originally Posted by milnews.ca View Post
My view:
1) More literacy = better army.
2) It's going to be a long, uphill battle teaching literacy skills as well as military ones.
3) Literate in which language?
Probably literacy in Dari, since that is the official language of the government (another source of consternation when the Kabulites get sent into Pashtun areas to "straighten things out").
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