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On the way

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  1. Afghanistan was a monarchy until 1973, so there was definitely some semblance of a unified country. After the King was overthrown and replaced by a President, that system continued for another 5 years until the commies got involved.
  2. What a clusterfcuk and a shiite show. I didn't expect the Afghans to fold like a deck chair this fast. Came across this interesting read from The Atlantic. What We Got Wrong in Afghanistan Military officers like me thought we were building a capable Afghan security force. What did we get wrong? Plenty. By Mike Jason About the author: Mike Jason retired in 2019 as a U.S. Army colonel, after 24 years on active duty. He commanded combat units in Germany, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Watching the rapid deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan—the Taliban have captured a third of the country’s provincial capitals in the weeks since the U.S. military pulled its troops out—has evoked a feeling of déjà vu for me. In 2005, I was an adviser to an Iraqi infantry battalion conducting counterinsurgency operations in and around Baghdad, one of the most violent parts of Iraq during one of the most violent periods in that conflict. It was difficult to have any hope at the time. I returned to Iraq in 2009, this time in Mosul, where my unit advised and supported two Iraqi-army divisions, one Iraqi-federal-police division, and thousands of local police officers. This time, I sensed more progress: Leaving Iraq in 2010, I felt we had done a great job, turning a corner and building a capable and competent security force. A year later, I found myself in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, recruiting and training Afghan police units and commandos. After nine months there, I again rotated home thinking we had done some good. I would be proved wrong on both counts. In 2014, by then stationed at the Pentagon, I watched in dismay as the Iraqi divisions I’d helped train collapsed in a matter of days when faced with the Islamic State. Today, as the Taliban seizes terrain across Afghanistan, including in what was my area of operations, I cannot help but stop and reflect on my role. What did my colleagues and I get wrong? Plenty. From the very beginning, nearly two decades ago, the American military’s effort to advise and mentor Iraqi and Afghan forces was treated like a pickup game—informal, ad hoc, and absent of strategy. We patched together small teams of soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, taught them some basic survival skills, and gave them an hour-long lesson in the local language before placing them with foreign units. We described them variously as MiTTs, BiTTs, SPTTs, AfPak Hands, OMLT, PRTs, VSO, AAB, SFAB, IAG, MNSTC-I, SFAATs—each new term a chapter in a book without a plot. In most cases, these men and women courageously made it up as they went along. We borrowed untrained personnel from mostly administrative assignments and largely had them focus on tactical tasks, reporting progress in colorful bubble charts. Social media and public-affairs documents were replete with images of rifle ranges, obstacle courses, room clearing, and lots and lots of meetings (many of which were themselves about meetings) over chai. But from my tours in Iraq through to my time in Afghanistan, larger systemic problems were never truly addressed. We did not successfully build the Iraqi and Afghan forces as institutions. We failed to establish the necessary infrastructure that dealt effectively with military education, training, pay systems, career progression, personnel, accountability—all the things that make a professional security force. Rotating teams through tours of six months to a year, we could not resolve the vexing problems facing Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s armies and police: endemic corruption, plummeting morale, rampant drug use, abysmal maintenance, and inept logistics. We got really good at preparing platoons and companies to conduct raids and operate checkpoints, but little worked behind them. It is telling that today, the best forces in Afghanistan are the special-forces commandos, small teams that perform courageously and magnificently—but despite a supporting institution, not because of one. If those were things we did poorly or insufficiently, there were other things we should not have done at all—namely, train police. We generally accepted that our ultimate goal of combatting insurgents or terrorists was to turn the fight over to domestic law enforcement. In other words, get to the point where the police could handle threats without fielding the army. (I remember, in Iraq, 2006 was supposed to be the “Year of the Police.” It would be hilarious if not for the incredible cost in blood and treasure—that year was a terrible and deadly one for police across Iraq.) But the United States does not have a national police force, so police training became a task that largely fell to the Army. In Iraq, I oversaw thousands of police, and in Afghanistan, I led a task force that vetted, selected, and fielded nearly 3,000 local police while supporting the Afghan National Police with warrant-based targeting of insurgents. I should make clear that I have zero law-enforcement experience, nor does most of the U.S. military, aside from some National Guard or Reserve troops. (We do have Military Police units, but they serve a unique operational role unlike any of the security forces we tried to build up.) We attempted to bridge this gap by hiring a handful of brave retired police officers and having them serve as technical advisers and trainers alongside U.S. Army troops, but even they could only focus on tactical tasks; they lacked the professional and personal experience to build national institutions and systems. We never had a chance to make policing work. The U.S. military could not overcome our national and institutional lack of experience. Looking back, we also failed to properly institutionalize advising large-scale conventional forces until far too late. No one was encouraged to take on these duties, either: To keep moving up, officers such as myself had to rotate through “normal” command assignments as well. The Army tried to change the wording of promotion and selection boards, but the bureaucracy resisted; when we finally formally created Security Force Assistance Brigades in 2018, it was telling that none of the new outfit’s first key leaders had ever cut their teeth on these adviser teams. Over these past 20 years, there have been many failings. We checked the box when it came to saying that we had trained our partners, spun a rosy narrative of progress, and perhaps prioritized the safety and well-being of our troops over the mission of buttressing partner capacity. (When our Afghan partners shot at us, killing our comrades in the now infamous “green on blue”incidents, we tightened up our security procedures but didn’t address the hard questions of why they were shooting at us in the first place.) We didn’t send the right people, prepare them well, or reward them afterward. We rotated strangers on tours of up to a year and expected them to build relationships, then replaced them. We were overly optimistic and largely made things up as we went along. We didn’t like oversight or tough questions from Washington, and no one really bothered to hold us accountable anyway. We had no capacity or experience with some of our tasks, and we stumbled. Yet these failings—egregious as they were—make it easy to focus on the armed forces as a scapegoat. In fact, the military, our allies, and our Iraqi and Afghan partners were responding to a lack of coherent policy and strategy. We invaded Afghanistan with righteous anger after 9/11, but then what? Why was the United States in Afghanistan for years afterward? What about our fraught relationship with Pakistan and its influence in Afghanistan? A coherent strategy to address these questions would have made my job easier on the ground. First and foremost, a clearly articulated end goal would have assured our Afghan partners and our allies from other nations (as well as our foes) of our determination. Instead of leaving the entire effort to the Department of Defense, a coordinated strategy with commensurate resources across government could have produced better results in multiple Afghan institutions. Further, 20 years ago, a commitment to law enforcement might have been very attractive to our allies, many of whom have their own national police force and a track record of success in performing such missions. Perhaps most crucial, a clear and forceful foreign policy regarding Pakistan, coupled with a commitment to supporting and employing a new Afghan army, would have provided much clarity and focus for our military. We didn’t fight a 20-year war in Afghanistan; we fought 20 incoherent wars, one year at a time, without a sense of direction. The U.S. military can and should be blamed for the collapse of security forces in Afghanistan—I hold us responsible. The current collapse keeps me up at night. In the military, the main effort gets the best resources and the best talent available. For more than 20 years, no matter what was reported, what we read in the headlines, efforts to build and train large-scale conventional security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq have mostly been an aimless, ham-fisted acronym soup of trial and error that never became the true main effort, and we are to blame for that. But we are not the only ones responsible. Someday we will ask young men and women to do this again—to fight a war overseas, to partner with local forces, to train them and build them up. Before we do, we owe it to those young people to ask the tough questions of how, and why, we all failed.
  3. There were 177 men in the Bataillon de Fusiliers that landed on D day, hardly a contribution at all compared to the tens of thousands of other allied troops. The French should be shameful of their contribution to liberating their own country on D Day
  4. I am not talking about moving seven french divisions from Africa to the GB to prepare for the D Day Invasion. Just one or 2, and I would think that every Frenchman wants to land on Normandy and fight for his homeland. The thought that tens of thousands of Canadians have to travel across the Atlantic to attack French beaches when there were French forces within the theater of operations is ludicrous. I think all the FFF would be in favour of taking over a beach, say Utah from the Americans. I don't think they care who leads them, whether its De Gaulle or someone else. And De Gaulle or any other French general who says no to that would be committing political suicide.
  5. I don't get it. The FFA was quite large by then, almost half a million strong, especially after the liberation of Northern Africa. And also well equipped with US weapons, and set up along the US Army lines. Given that this was their own homeland that was being liberated on D-Day, you would imagine De Gaulle begging and pressuring Ike for a beach to assault. Or did De Gaulle just keep quiet and let the Brits, Canadians and Americans die in the assault wave? I am sure there were FFA embarked in the invasion fleet, but that is not the same as actually getting your own beach and landing on it. For sure, taking one beach away from the Americans and assigning it to the French would have resulted in lesser American casualties. But why did this not happened? Vexed in Vancouver
  6. Singapore has illegally dealt arms to many countries under some form of embargo or other. That includes the Myanmar regime, Balkan war combatants, african banana republics, Fijian coup govts. etc. The US turns a blind eye knowing the importance of a strategic alliance with Singapore. I don't think selling weapons to Venezuela would be a problem for singapore, the problem is whether they can pay or not.
  7. The AMX-13 chassis is amazingly adaptable. In Singapore, we developed a AVLB version. And there is a APC version, the VCI. As well as anti aircraft DCA, SS-11 missile carriers, etc.
  8. 75mm ammo is not a problem. ST Kinetics make it, and the Singapore army has a large stockpile when they demobilised the AMX-13 from their inventory. They can buy all they want from Singapore. Even APFSDS rounds.
  9. For IFVs like BMP, I think side armour is 19mm on the turret and hull. With a depleted uranium round instead of a tungsten carbide round, the penetration values should be better then 45mm at 100m. And even 45mm penetration would defeat a Bradley?
  10. Yes, absolutely, the conflict will be over long before anything can be made flyable again. If the US were to get into an air war of attrition with someone, they will be calling on allies around the world to make up the losses. Countries like Singapore already have F-16 and F-15 training detachments based in the US, you can bet the USAF will be requisitioning those aircraft. As well, countries like the Dutch also have a F-35 detachment for training and weapons trials, and those planes are probably going straight into the USAF inventory. If the war drags on, I can see countries like Singapore, Japan, Israel, etc flying their US made jets into American bases to be flown by american pilots. Like in 1973, when the IDF received USAF planes directly.
  11. With the advent of depleted uranium, is it possible to bring back a rifle with some decent anti armour capability? Could, for example, a sabot DU round (a SLAP DU) be developed for say a 50 cal Barrett rifle? It would not be able to penetrate modern MBT armour, but should take out any APC, IFV, and light armour vehicles. It could be used in close quarter urban warfare firing from the roof tops into the top of a AFV. Less signature then a TOW or ATGW. or RPG. And not crew served either. And more portable then most rocket or missile anti tank systems. Took this off the internet, not sure how accurate it is. Is it possible for a SLAP DU round to double these values? "The Traditional .50 BMG Ball round can penetrate roughly 13mm of RHA at 1000 meters. However, more advanced versions of the .50 BMG round, such as the Saboted Light Armor Piercing (SLAP) rounds can penetrate up to 27mm of RHA at ~1000 meters."
  12. But I like JB. Singaporeans love it. We will be careful not to damage the petrol stations and the seafood restaurants
  13. Oh really? I thought the Evo upgrades were carried out in Singapore by Singapore Technologies, who was the general contractor. Kits came from RM. But not the complete Evo kits, sans ROSY.
  14. The Malaysian peninsula is also urban. Many large cities in there, including the capital KL.
  15. OIC my mistake. Must have been the relationship they have with IBD Diesenroth.
  16. I think so too, and yes 15-25m is substantial. The problem is the Singapore Armed Forces uses I believe Trophy on its Leo 2s And there is absolutely no safety regs for accompanying armour infantry or anything in the tank infantry co-operation for a safety distance. And Singapore is a completely urban area, with millions of civilians around.
  17. Yes that is true, no infantry stands around a tank on the streets. They are hugging the buildings for cover or behind walls or what not. But the APS detonates at a range away from the tank. I don't really know what this range is or the blast radius, which is the purpose of this thread. I suppose it varies with different manufacturers. To my knowledge, no manufacturer has specified a safety distance either for accompanying infantry or surrounding civilians. The issue of APS disrupting the warhead away from the tank and not allowing it to explode brings up the issue of those APS designed to detonate the warhead before it gets to the tank. If that is the case, I would suppose the blast radius from the warhead and APS detonation would be substantial, I imagine. Like an 81mm mortar round going off?
  18. That should not be an issue for the APS manufacturer to figure out, right? How hard is it for them to park an AFV with APS in an mock urban training village, place dummies or mannequins all around it and fire off a RPG round at the vehicle. Then count the holes from the mannequins after that. No manufacturer is claiming their APS is infantry or civilian friendly, so that should be a worrying sign. LOL
  19. You would like to see some tank infantry co-operation in an urban setting. I mean no tank platoon is going to go solo into a town or city without some dismounted or mounted infantry accompanying it. But what is the safety distance for accompanying infantry if the tank's APS (like Trophy) is activated? Or are they completely safe from it?
  20. That's no light tank, and I should know. AT 30-35 tons, that's kissing up to T-72 weight. I would say its at the lower weight scale of a MBT.
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