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Meanwhile In Afghanistan


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1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Yep.

Reminds me of how the Soviets took the place,advisors sent all the Afghan tanks to the workshop, or disconnected vital working parts.

Any sources on this

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14 minutes ago, WRW said:

Any sources on this

I've read so many books on the period recently I struggle to remember. But I've a feeling it was in Storm 333, the Osprey book on the Amin assassination. Or maybe it was also as in the Galeotti book Afghanistan the Soviet union last war. Possibly in Afghantsy also. More than one anyway. They did the same to Afghan Jets and helos iirc.

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46 minutes ago, JWB said:

Except all the polls show the majority of the population wants out.

I sort of agree, we never should have been "in."

40 minutes ago, Der Zeitgeist said:

You don't understand.  When E5M says "killing terrorists", he really means exterminating Afghans with nukes and chemical weapons.

The method isn't important.  You don't fight wars against nebulous bullshit like ideas or concepts, you fight wars against people.  Unless you're just running a con?  S/F...Ken M

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4 hours ago, JWB said:

US generals tried to tell US politicians privately that Afghan could not fight. US politicians refused to listen.

It's amazing how these anonymous generals never seem to run to the media before the shit hits the fan and certainly won't go on the record and risk their job or reputation.  Can someone explain why they all new this was coming for a decade and I'm supposed to take them seriously or even believe them now?

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3 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

It's not the training that was the problem. Afghan Commandos seem to have done a good job. The problem was the corruption and the morale. Those are to a large extent political problems.

The model of the army was wrong.

The Afghan army had a few small and light units capable of offensive operations, with heavy air support, and a vast number of troops that are perhaps able to garrison towns.

Once the coordination of the (US) air arm and the commando units was broken the whole thing fell apart. But even under good conditions the army was geared for putting out spot fires, not fighting a general offensive.

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27 minutes ago, nitflegal said:

It's amazing how these anonymous generals never seem to run to the media before the shit hits the fan and certainly won't go on the record and risk their job or reputation.  Can someone explain why they all new this was coming for a decade and I'm supposed to take them seriously or even believe them now?

Because group think and not rocking the boat is how you advance your career. 

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50 minutes ago, EchoFiveMike said:

I sort of agree, we never should have been "in."

The method isn't important.  You don't fight wars against nebulous bullshit like ideas or concepts, you fight wars against people.  Unless you're just running a con?  S/F...Ken M

I generally agree with you, but I have a strong degree of concern for those that do align with us out on the fringes of civilization. If we spend time or money on anyone its protecting our friends. 

 

I see the mission to afghanistan like the Roman mile forts in northern England/Scotland, designed to keep the barbarians at bay. We are up and abandoning those forts to no useful effect. 

al Quaida will be active in afghanistan and all the advantages and strategic gains we’ve made over the past 20 years will have to be made up again. simply dropping cruise missiles on afghanistan from the other side of the same hemisphere won’t accomplish much. 

Edited by rmgill
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15 minutes ago, KV7 said:

The model of the army was wrong.

The Afghan army had a few small and light units capable of offensive operations, with heavy air support, and a vast number of troops that are perhaps able to garrison towns.

Once the coordination of the (US) air arm and the commando units was broken the whole thing fell apart. But even under good conditions the army was geared for putting out spot fires, not fighting a general offensive.

A former Irish SF i had a long chat with in Kabul was highly complimentary of the local SF. He put it down to practice and motivation

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17 minutes ago, KV7 said:

The model of the army was wrong.

The Afghan army had a few small and light units capable of offensive operations, with heavy air support, and a vast number of troops that are perhaps able to garrison towns.

Once the coordination of the (US) air arm and the commando units was broken the whole thing fell apart. But even under good conditions the army was geared for putting out spot fires, not fighting a general offensive.

Yeah, I would agree with that. But the training was not deficient. It seems the supply of outlying garrisons certainly was.

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10 hours ago, TrustMe said:

I read an interesting article on my phone about this topic from a retired US general.

Basically the Afghan army based on a US model which the ground forces was designed for rapid support from fixed wing, drones and rotary wing gunships. It had become so dependent on this support that when air support ended under Trump's withdrawl from Afghanistan the local Army Airforce couldn't sustain the air support effort which led to the collapse of the Afghan ground forces. If they had built an army designed more for ground based support by tanks and APC's the central government could of lasted longer.

Is that news? This, plus keeping the maintenance to the manufacturer's agents, who will not go where shots fired (the only lasting lesson of the Turkish wars is that your ideologically aligned mercenaries are only good for peacetime activities, plus easy, quite probably successful military actions. They will not die for your country, and if the only way to ensure that, they open the door for an enemy who promise free pass under the Sun just before twilight... )

Could the US run a low-cost army anymore?

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17 minutes ago, WRW said:

A former Irish SF i had a long chat with in Kabul was highly complimentary of the local SF. He put it down to practice and motivation

I don't doubt that at all.

The AVRN BDQ rangers were good too. But in both cases it wasn't a winning strategy - you also need mass formations of ideologically motivated troops.

Edited by KV7
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Yeah, I would agree with that. But the training was not deficient. It seems the supply of outlying garrisons certainly was.

Composition of the ANA is irrelevant, for the most part they didn't fight. It was basically a masterwork of diplomacy on the Taliban's part -- they were much more competent than our policymakers. 

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/08/16/afghanistan-history-taliban-collapse-504977

Quote

The central feature of the past several weeks in Afghanistan has not been fighting. It has been negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan forces, sometimes brokered by local elders. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported “a breathtaking series of negotiated surrenders by government forces” that resulted from more than a year of deal-making between the Taliban and rural leaders.

Quote

Thus, as in medieval Europe, Afghanistan has a tradition to which the Taliban have adhered closely — and which helps explain the speed of their success. The Taliban will summon an enemy garrison to surrender, either at once or after the first assaults. If it does so, the men can either join the besiegers or return home with their personal weapons. To kill them would be seen as shameful. On the other hand, a garrison that fought it out could expect no quarter, a very strong incentive to surrender in good time.

Quote

 

Afghan society has been described to me as a “permanent conversation.” Alliances shift, and people, families and tribes make rational calculations based on the risk they face. This is not to suggest that Afghans who made such decisions are to blame for doing what they felt to be in their self-interest. The point is that America’s commanders and officials either completely failed to understand these aspects of Afghan reality or failed to report them honestly to U.S. administrations, Congress and the general public.

We can draw a clear line between this lack of understanding and the horrible degree of surprise at the events of the past several days. America didn’t predict this sudden collapse, but it could have and should have — an unfortunately fitting coda to a war effort that has been undermined from the start by a failure to study Afghan realities.

 

 

Edited by Angrybk
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2 hours ago, EchoFiveMike said:

I sort of agree, we never should have been "in."

The method isn't important.  You don't fight wars against nebulous bullshit like ideas or concepts, you fight wars against people.  Unless you're just running a con?  S/F...Ken M

Completely wrong. The Cold War was fought against Communism. Without idea and concepts you are incapable of fighting. There is no glue except the family or the tribe. But that is very weak in resources due to it dimension.

The Taliban won because they have precisely  idea concepts, The others don't.

Idea and concept= ideology is one of ways to unit people and make them risk their live. It is a build of trust for a start.

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1 hour ago, KV7 said:

The AVRN BDQ rangers were good too. But in both cases it wasn't a winning strategy - you also need mass formations of ideologically motivated troops.

In 1975 ARVN had been counting on promised US air support.  Air support that the US congress cut off.  In 2021 Afghani forces were counting on US contractor support to keep their air force flying and US Air Support to punish Taliban incursions.  Support that the US executive cut off.

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43 minutes ago, On the way said:

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.

Starting with the premise that Afghanis see their nation the same way the RoW sees it.  Namely, as a nation.  Except it isn't a nation.  Afghanistan is a geographical area whose boundaries were established by outside third parties populated by tribal factions with little to no identity with or loyalty to "Afghanistan."

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1 hour ago, On the way said:

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. 

That's almost word for word a quote I've read about Vietnam.

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There's an essay from a well-known history prof in like 2006 I've been trying and failing to track down... his argument was that happy-friendly great-power counterinsurgency theory is largely bullshit ands only really works if it's corner-cases like FARC in Colombia. You need the sweet spot where the local government just needs some help against a minor insurgency; once you get to the point where the government is facing a major insurgency, that means the local government doesn't have legitimacy anymore so it's pointless (otherwise the major insurgency wouldn't exist).

The prof's conclusion was that the only way for a great power to defeat a major insurgency in a client state was to go full- Roman/Nazi action. The prof was trying to make the point that going Roman/Nazi was morally bad and also unacceptable for a modern Western country and therefore we shouldn't get involved in client-state insurgencies, but of course it was picked up by the "Go Roman(tm)" crowd as evidence that that's what we should do. Wish I could find a link to it...

 

 

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