SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Conflicts -- Current & Future > Other U.S. GWOT > OEF - Afghanistan

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-05-2014   #1021
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default Afghanistan was our version of the Vietnam War

A simple eloquent article, under the title:
Quote:
Christina Schmid: ' I question the wisdom of what we did in Afghanistan'

Christina Schmid, who gave defiant public support to the Armed Forces after the death of her husband, reveals her reservations about the human cost of the campaign
One wonders, even after the Syria vote, if our politicians will follow her advice:
Quote:
This country is still on its knees. We cannot intervene. Morally, spiritually, physically, economically, we are broken from the last decade of conflict. We have to be realistic, to tread carefully, to ask what can be achieved.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2014   #1022
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default A doomed mission - Rory Stewart writes

Quote:
It is time that the British government, the military and Parliament draw the correct lessons from this failure, and change the way we operate. The decision to “surge” troop numbers was doomed to fail because we had the wrong people, and the wrong objectives for our Afghan strategy. And we lacked the structures, oversight, and culture to put this right, over more than a decade. This was true across all parts of government.....It took us 10 years to begin to acknowledge failure. and extract ourselves, rather than “digging deeper”. Much of this mind set was reminiscent of the attitudes that led to the banking crash of 2008.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...s-failure.html
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2014   #1023
JMA
Banned
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Durban, South Africa
Posts: 3,902
Default

David, are Brit soldiers happy this woman deems to speak on their behalf?


Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
A simple eloquent article, under the title:

One wonders, even after the Syria vote, if our politicians will follow her advice:

Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html
JMA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2014   #1024
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMA View Post
David, are Brit soldiers happy this woman deems to speak on their behalf?
No idea. I would expect a measure of respect for her husband's service, her composure on his return and best wishes on having a new partner. Mrs Schmidt speaks for herself, not others.

I have encountered a resistance - even when in private - within the British Army to examine the Afghan campaign, identify and follow through the 'lessons'. One soldier stated an official study of 'lessons learned' 1998/99 to 2009 found no lessons had been learned - which is hardly encouraging.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2014   #1025
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default Ministerial Decision-Making in the Run-Up to the Helmand Deployment

Having an insider write about recent political decision-making is quite rare, so I have created this thread for Matt Cavanagh's May 2012 RUSI Journal article 'Ministerial Decision-Making in the Run-Up to the Helmand Deployment', which today was made freely available (8 pgs):http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/1...47.2012.675798

He is not sparring in his criticism of politicians, the military and civil servants. The wider context is set, in which going to Helmand Province appears almost a "side issue"; until 2006 the UK's contribution was a PRT in the north west, troops in Kabul and sharing ISAF command - excluding SOF. Going to Helmand was an opportunity to display the UK's power, to 'crack on', principally to the USA and NATO.

How much intelligence existed on the conditions "on the ground" he says was minimal. A point some insiders dispute, partly citing UK SOF's scouting presence. As Carter Malkasian wrote it takes a long time to understand the Afghan 'human terrain'; something it took the UK a long time to grasp IMHO.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-09-2014   #1026
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default Write a book please Captain. Wot critical, stop it you!

Almost laughable MoD performance:
Quote:
A captain in the Territorial Army has resigned after a dispute with the Ministry of Defence over a book he has written that is critical of the conduct of the campaign in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

The MoD commissioned the book by Dr Mike Martin, but took exception to parts of the account. The dispute has gone on for more than a year.
Officialdom said the MoD:
Quote:
has a strong record of learning from previous campaigns and encourages its officers to challenge existing norms and conventional wisdom. However, the publication of books and articles by serving military personnel is governed by well-established policy and regulations. When these are breached, the MoD will withhold approval.
The book, An Intimate War – An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, 1978-2012., is due to be published next week.

Link:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...ok-afghanistan

The author has Kings Ph.D. and is speaking there tomorrow. From the Kings website:
Quote:
This book—based on both military and research experience in Helmand and 150 interviews in Pushtu—offers a very different view of Helmand from those in the mainstream. It demonstrates how outsiders have most often misunderstood the ongoing struggle in Helmand and how, in doing so, they have exacerbated the conflict, perpetuated it and made it more violent—precisely the opposite of what was intended when their interventions were launched.

Dr. Mike Martin is a Pushtu speaker who spent almost two years in Helmand as a British army officer (covering Operation HERRICKs 9-16). During that time, he pioneered and developed the British military’s Human Terrain and Cultural Capability—a means to understanding the Helmandi population and influencing it. He also worked as an advisor to several British commanders of Task Force Helmand. His previous publications include A Brief History of Helmand, required reading for British commanders and intelligence staff deploying to the province. He holds a doctorate in War Studies from King’s College London.
Ex-CDS General Sir David Richards review (yes the CDS and ex-ISAF CO):
Quote:
An Intimate War is, quite simply, the book on Helmand. I sincerely wish it had been available to me when I was ISAF Commander in Afghanistan. Military, diplomatic and development professionals involved in Afghanistan, and elsewhere for that matter, read this and take note.
Link:http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/department...ds/martin.aspx

Amazon UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/An-Intimate-.../dp/1849043361

Will this be a British equivalent to Carter Malkasian's book? Time will tell and I might ask for this as a present.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2014   #1027
JMA
Banned
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Durban, South Africa
Posts: 3,902
Default

David,

Mike Martin was on SkyNews last night.

I found this book here a while ago and was monitoring the publishing date of May 2014.

Given the slow process of Chilcot I suggest that the Afghanistan enquiry will also be delayed as it will also be a bitter pill for the British military and the British people and coming on the heels of the fiasco in Iraq might just be too hard to take for the nation.



Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Almost laughable MoD performance:

Officialdom said the MoD:

The book, An Intimate War – An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, 1978-2012., is due to be published next week.

Link:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...ok-afghanistan

The author has Kings Ph.D. and is speaking there tomorrow. From the Kings website:

Ex-CDS General Sir David Richards review (yes the CDS and ex-ISAF CO):

Link:http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/department...ds/martin.aspx

Amazon UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/An-Intimate-.../dp/1849043361

Will this be a British equivalent to Carter Malkasian's book? Time will tell and I might ask for this as a present.
JMA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2014   #1028
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default Britain didn't understand the enemy in Helmand

Former Captain Mike Martin and author of a new book has a lengthy comment in The Daily Telegraph:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...n-Helmand.html

Quote:
But we have yet to leave Afghanistan and I believe that it is worth studying our experience there, and in Iraq, while it is fresh in our minds. I would argue that our performance – in terms of achieving our objectives – has been very poor. In the case of Afghanistan, and specifically Helmand Province, where the majority of our forces have been based, we have failed to understand the Helmandis. We have also failed to understand their culture, their history and their motivations.

Most importantly, we have singularly failed to understand the Helmandi conflict. And to paraphrase Clausewitz, the most important thing to do in war is understand what type of war you are fighting. Many non-Helmandis view the violence through the narrative adopted by the international community. According to the “insurgency narrative” widely espoused by Western governments, a legitimate Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), which is recognised and supported by the international community, is violently opposed by a movement of insurgents, called the Taliban, who have sanctuary in Quetta, Pakistan.

Thus, the Taliban are religiously inspired insurgents who are opposed to the democratic and women’s rights that the GIRoA embodies and promotes. But this “insurgency narrative” does not fit with my experiences as an officer. I went to Helmand several times (in and out of uniform), with appropriate gaps between visits for study and reflection, and this analysis seemed further and further from the events that I was observing and participating in. In my view, the Taliban are not the main drivers of conflict; and earlier periods, including the Soviet, the civil war and the Taliban eras, have been similarly misconstrued.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2014   #1029
JMA
Banned
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Durban, South Africa
Posts: 3,902
Default

David,

While the Brits have their problems coming to terms with the message Mike Martin is conveying in his book the top level of the US military has already accepted it:

Quote:
“We’ve learned some hard lessons over the last 12 years. We went to war without understanding the human domain. We don’t want to make that mistake again.”- General Raymond Odierno

General Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff, at an Oct. 23 forum on Strategic Land Power at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Washington Convention Center. as quoted in Journal article: Conceptualizing Human Domain Management
Someone needs to take the fall for the best-equipped militaries in history being defeated by a group of illiterates wearing flip-flops carrying an AK and a few magazines.

The fault does not lie with the junior ranks and no one should expect a mea culpa from any senior officer, administrator or politician - this is the greatest tragedy of the Afghanistan fiasco.
JMA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2014   #1030
JMA
Banned
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Durban, South Africa
Posts: 3,902
Default Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

Afghans 'Thought UK Troops Worked With Taliban'

Quote:
Former Captain Mike Martin said the clear conflict between British commitment to reconstruction and their actions - the use of firepower - meant the British, in the view of locals, must have been working with their stated enemies.

That British tactics were manifestly inconsistent with their stated aims was proof of a conspiracy was derived from the notion that "the Helmandis could not believe that the British were that stupid".
Little wonder the MoD wants the publication of the book stopped.
JMA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2014   #1031
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default

Whatever the rational for the MoD's opposition to publication the resulting publicity is reported to have boosted sales (No.45 on Amazon UK).

A comment by Alexander Alderson who was the author's boss:
Quote:
I read every word of every draft of each chapter....I was very conscious of the Official Secrets Act, I’m satisfied, as someone who holds the very highest security clearance, that there’s absolutely nothing in what he’s saying that transgresses the Official Secrets Act. I don’t think embarrassment and institutional failure is covered by it,
Link:http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/n...n-book-helmand
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2014   #1032
JMA
Banned
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Durban, South Africa
Posts: 3,902
Default

Major Richard Streatfeild - Former British Army Officer on BBC News Channel : HARDtalk

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b040w6jq

Quote:
The British military pull out from Afghanistan will soon be completed. Digesting the painful lessons from a 12 year deployment will take a whole lot longer. HARDtalk speaks to Richard Streatfeild, a former infantry officer in Helmand during some of the toughest fighting with the Taliban. Back then he kept an upbeat audio diary of life on the frontline; now he takes a more jaundiced view of Britain's Afghan commitment. Is it time to acknowledge failure?
Streatfeild is the author of the book:

Honourable Warriors: Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan - A Front-line Account of the British Army's Battle for Helmand

Interesting comment from Streatfeild was that when the British arrived in Helmand they thought they were taking part in an Afghan 'nation building' exercise while the Afghans were sure that the British had returned to revenge the defeat at the Battle of Maiwand of 1880.

Last edited by JMA; 04-14-2014 at 11:23 AM.
JMA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2014   #1033
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default

A Kings of War article with David Betz's short opening comment and then is by Mike Martin:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2014/04/an-...demic-freedom/

David Betz:
Quote:
....tells the story of the last thirty-five years of conflict in Helmand Province....this period is often defined through different lenses—the Soviet intervention, the civil war, the Taliban, and the post-2001 nation-building era. Yet, as experienced by local inhabitants, the Helmand conflict is a perennial one, involving the same individuals, families and groups, and driven by the same arguments over land, water and power....It demonstrates how outsiders have most often misunderstood the ongoing struggle in Helmand and how, in doing so, they have exacerbated the conflict, perpetuated it and made it more violent—precisely the opposite of what was intended when their interventions were launched.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2014   #1034
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default Engage fully in learning lessons

A WoTR review of An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, 1978-2012by a former British Army officer, who servied in Helmand twice alongside the author, Mike Martin:http://warontherocks.com/2014/05/an-...in-in-helmand/

Here are two passages:
Quote:
I find that his picture of Helmand and Helmandis resonates with my own experiences exactly. I found myself nodding along enthusiastically during his discussion on the unsatisfactory labels of ‘Taliban’ and ‘Government’ and his conclusion that “whilst they may have simplified the narrative, they ended up robbing us of an intelligent war.”

The reading then becomes even more uncomfortable for the MOD as Martin asks: “if you side with the Government because you assume they are the good guys, what happens when your assumption is wrong and the Government is acting worse towards its people – then when do you stand? And how useful is counterinsurgency as a doctrine?” Uncomfortable or not, these are sorts of difficult questions that the MOD now needs to reflect on in the aftermath of the Afghanistan campaign
The last paragraph is aimed at the UK MoD:
Quote:
When former CDS, General Sir David Richards lent his praise to An Intimate War (saying, “I wish it had been available to me when I was ISAF Commander in Afghanistan”) he was presumably talking about the quantity and quality of the research contained within its 398 pages, rather than its stinging criticisms. The irony is that the unless the MOD changes its attitude towards criticism from within and actually engages with learning lessons, the next ISAF Commander won’t get this type of knowledge either.
The book has arrived here today, so one day I will add my armchair review.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1035
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 8,030
Default David Cameron: the UK paid a very high price

The British PM has spoken in Kabul today and his speech referred to the thirteen years of intervention and the loss of 453 British service personnel:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...president.html

Then there was this admission, in full and his words:
Quote:
When you think about it in very bald, British terms, what is it we have been trying to achieve? That is to deny a safe haven to al-Qaeda....This was the place where the 9/11 attacks were plotted from. This was the place where countless attacks were planned. Al-Qaeda and the training camps have been driven out of Afghanistan. When I became Prime Minister I think something like nine out ten plots we faced on the streets of Britain came from the Afghanistan-Pakistan area. That is now well down - somewhere below half, from the latest figures I saw.
Earlier this week the UK Defence Secretary acknowledged the fragility of the Afghan state after 13 years of Western involvement:
Quote:
There can be no guarantees but we can be proud of having helped to give Afghanistan the best possible chance of a stable future...
SWC has a long running thread on the UK in Afghanistan, from 2006, with 1,027 posts and 127k views. Yes, into which this thread will merge one day.

'We shall remember them'.

Just what the political impact back home will be is very unclear. The armed services have shrunk and appear to want to avoid reviewing what happened. The national politicians, from the three main parties, would prefer we forgot thirteen years - already our role in Iraq is largely forgotten. Yes there is a high degree of public support for the armed services, for them, not their mission.
__________________
davidbfpo

Last edited by davidbfpo; 4 Weeks Ago at 03:01 PM. Reason: Update
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
afghanistan, ana, anp, british army, counter insurgency, counter-insurgency, drugs, helmand, isaf, nato, pakistan, taliban, united kingdom, usa, usmc

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:30 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8. ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation