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Meanwhile In Afghanistan


Panzermann
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USA authorities appear to have just turned into Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf , Iraqui information minister.

 

""Because, you have, the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped, as well-equipped as any army in the world, and an Air Force, against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable." Biden.

 

"Taliban fighters could isolate Afghanistan's capital in 30 days and possibly take it over within 90, a U.S. defence official cited U.S. intelligence as saying"

 

The Taliban controls approximately half of all district centers in Afghanistan, but the Afghan military is consolidating its forces to protect population centers, and the “endgame” is not yet written, the U.S. military’s top general said July 21.Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, during a briefing at the Pentagon, said the Taliban takeover is not a “foregone conclusion,” noting Afghan forces are still well trained and equipped.

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, DKTanker said:

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.

How was this support cut and who by?

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8 hours 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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember from the British Iraq inquiry, policing was a problem we had in Iraq too. We tried to train up their police, but without much evident success. One guy (think he was army, or just maybe foreign office) said it was a pity the UK didnt have a Carabinieri like Italy or a Gendarmerie like France to bridge the gap between military and police. Not surprisingly, its one more lesson that nobody seems to have taken any notice of. I think the hearings ended in 2011, the final report in 2016. Plenty of time to incorporate the lessons learned.

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7 hours ago, DKTanker said:

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."

Im led to believe he British Empire actually cut the Pashtun areas between Afghanistan and what later became Pakistan. The idea was that it would keep Afghanistan weak and hence unable to cause much trouble. Which at the time it did work, we never recognised what would happen if those Pashtuns on one side of the border found it easy to migrate across to the other, particularly with the host nations help.

 

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52 minutes ago, WRW said:

How was this support cut and who by?

Further above I commented about the Hind/MD530F fiasco, and how they never allowed the Afghans to maintain their own helicopters. Once account says that aircraft had to be taken out of the country to the gulf for a complete teardown. When the US pulled out, the contractors pulled out, ergo, no airpower worth a damn.

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6 hours ago, Angrybk said:

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...

 

 

In the digital media ages its all but impossible for us to do things like that, and get away with it. Even the Russian Wagner group cant do stuff like that, without Bellingcat being all over it. Of course as far as the Russian Government is concerned, zero fucks given.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/11/russia-wagner-group-methods-bouta-killing-report/

 

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 I make one post, you whine about walls of texts. I split it up into 6 posts to make it easier for people to read, you complain about spamming.

Afghanistan has fallen into chaos, NATO and America are disgraced, China manages to increment itself to the gulf, Pakistans security is threatened, Al Qaeda are on the brink of resurgence,  and you can find nothing better to do than sit there and whine about spamming. Contribute meaningfully to the debate, which you have neglected to do hitherto, or kindly piss off back to the FFZ so I can ignore you again.

Thank you for your cooperation, you fecking pedant.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

This might have been the reason for that ACARS message from Qatari ATC to one C-17 about not giving landing clearance. I guess they don't want too many Afghan refugees dumped on the tarmac at Al Udeid.

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Just now, Der Zeitgeist said:

This might have been the reason for that ACARS message from Qatari ATC to one C-17 about not giving landing clearance. I guess they don't want too many Afghan refugees dumped on the tarmac at Al Udeid.

Yeah, good point. Supposedly the customs at Al Udeid just isnt up to it, so it might not be complete selfishness on their part, it would probably shut the airport.

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23 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Afghanistan has fallen into chaos, NATO and America are disgraced, China manages to increment itself to the gulf, Pakistans security is threatened, Al Qaeda are on the brink of resurgence,

Al Qaeda and it's offshoots are almost certainly not on the brink of anything - they are almost all holed up in Idlib, and could be seriously degraded if the west let Syria retake the terrorist nest.

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Well there are certainly reports of Al Qaeda members being in Afghanistan again. And some of the people the Taliban let out of prison the other day were reported as ISIS members, I dont know how true that is. This was from Russia, but there are certainly sources from elsewhere supporting it.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/russia-isis-afghanistan-syria-libya-b1892079.html

Meanwhile Biden says the terror threat has not increased, apparently.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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9 hours ago, DKTanker said:

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."

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.

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