The Afghan Illusion

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    This article written by Frederick Kagan and LTG (Ret) Jim Dubik lays out an excellent rebuttal to Sen Carl Levin's proposals about the future of the war in Afghanistan . Sen Levin's proposal demonstrated a shallow understanding of the realities on the ground in Afghanistan. While it is undeniable that eventually the burden for security in Afghanistan has to be an Afghan responsibility- doing so without providing basic immediate and broad security operations is impossible. In fact Sen Levin seems to fail to understand how difficult it is to double the size of an organization in a stable environment much less one starting at such a low level and surrounded by as much turmoil and instability as the ANA. After all- how long has it taken the US Army to recruit, train and integrate an expansion of the force by 65,000- 3years? And yet he proposes taking the ANA and even more unrealistically - the Afghan police- and immediately doubling them and expecting them to be effective?! This isn't a serious proposal for how to proceed- it is a proposal for how to lose it all.

    An excellent article worth digesting.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/11/AR2009091103625.html

    "While some are discussing whether the U.S. presence in Afghanistan should be maintained, the Obama administration does not appear to be seriously considering withdrawal. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and others have instead proposed expanding the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) first and raising U.S. force levels only if that approach is unsuccessful. This option holds out hope of success without the need to send more U.S. troops, but we believe it is illusory"...
     
  2. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0
    tpg: I read the article bruno mentioned. The first conclusion I reached is that Sen Levin has his head so far up, well buried in the sand. The read I got from his proposal was to send large amounts of cash and weapons to a weak government to disperse as it See's fit. One Pashtun warlord brags he has enough weapons and ammunition stockpiled to fight non stop for the next twenty years. I think Afghanistan has had enough weapons shipments. also there are appx: 500 unaccounted for stinger missiles floating around there somewhere.

    Reading the article did get my curiosity going:
    Afghanistan:
    Appx 71 political parties, active.
    34 Providences
    area 652,230 sq km slightly smaller than Texas
    ethnic groups Pashtuns 42% Tajiks 27% Uzbeks 9% Hazaras 9% most of these groups don't play well together
    toss into the mixture that 85% of the Afghans are Sunni Muslim the 15% remaining are shia Muslims,.The Shia Muslims are of the Hazaras ethnic group, the tali-ban attempted to cleanse Afghanistan of the Hazaras.
    each of these ethnic groups are split into clans with there own leader most of these clans have never sworn allegiance to any government and must be dealt with on an individual basis. IF the politicians stay out of the way and allow Gen McChrystal he could formulate a satisfactory long range plan. However I wouldn't trade places with him even for all Trumps money.
    TPG looks like I agree with you on all your points especially the last one. But with a few more whacks you could be an Air Force General.:shake:
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    My thoughts exactly. The function of leadership seems to me to lead the population to understand why something is necessary - even though it may not be popular. Leaders are supposed to do the right thing even when it may cost them personally . We don't have a direct democracy for a reason- the founding fathers knew that the population is mercurial. So our fearless politicians need to man up and think about what it means to be leaders, and then sell the population on what must be done- not just follow the polls in their quest to ensure perpetual re-election. (Oh man- a dumb old infantryman and a dumb old jarhead posting complementary thoughts- could be the start of something new- what's next? Dogs and Cats living together?)
     
  4. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0
    bruno and tpg:
    to fix the politicians one simple solution, term limits, 1 eight year term and out for all politicians. any thoughts
     
  5. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,868
    Likes Received:
    237
    From Alexander through the British (Retreat from Kabul 1842, 16,000 started out to Jalalabad and ONE made it) and the Russian fiasco, Afghanistan is a nightmare which no one through the centuries has been able to solve. These people live to fight and they do not accept defeat. Although currently geographicaly important as seen on the map it may require a new assessment of total ground involvement or containment with surgical response where needed.
     
  6. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,001
    Likes Received:
    301
    I believe that's a real misreading of history, and a misapplication of lots of disparate examples. Fundamentally, unlike the British or the Russians- we are not seen as the foreign occupier from what I can tell. As TPG points out we have a fair amount of goodwill acrued to us and the Taliban is not the majority of the population. It does however take a relatively small % of the population to destabilize a country, and a large amount of resources to contain and provide security in that population- which we have not put forward to date which has allowed the Taliban to establish bases and operate with relative impunity for several years.

    The whole premise of "containment with Surgical response" as you put it ought to be examined- and then discarded. If we want to search for historical lessons to learn, that would be the one we should absorb and we don't have to search very deeply into the past to find examples of that concepts inherent failure (for example: Afghanistan 6 months ago or Iraq a few years ago; or Bill Clinton's surgical responses which had the effect of lighting off fireworks at Al Qaeda; or the Israeli's periodic lashing out in Lebanon or Gaza- all of which accomplished pretty much nothing.) If you want to be successful in a counter insurgency- you have to provide security and basic government functions (neither of which we have done well despite the valiant efforts of PRTs on the ground and the 82d/10th/101st & 173rd beating the hills in Kunar, Paktia and Paktika for the last 6 years). Fleeing across the border and lobbing a missile every now and then gets you nothing. For example what is it getting us now with predator strikes in Pakistan? Does it seal the border? Does it kill the people we want and deter or even better convert the others? No- they basically make us look like cold blooded killers who won't risk our own lives and callously take out innocent villagers in acts of vengence. Since we don't own the ground we lose every single PR incident associated with those strikes- name one where we have gained respect and compliance from the people on the ground after we make those kind of strikes? But- that's the policy pundits like George Will want to implement when he opines about "withdraw, contain and respond with surgical strikes". That's a real recipe for failure - we will have lost without question in a world where reputation and respect are everything & memories go back a long way. Donald Rumsfeld and his military transformation idealogues believed in exactly that kind of "surgical" approach and what we got were two mishandled wars before we finally put the resources in place to move forward in Iraq. So if we are going to look at history as a template- let's absorb that lesson.

    Similarly, Carl Levin has no concept of the difficulty of training and building a disciplined army and police organization in a country that has very little tradition of central authority- so his call for turning the burden over to the Afghans in 2010 is bloviating. He would gain a hell or a lot more respect from me if he was willing to be honest and just argued that Afghanistan doesn't matter. He would be wrong but honest- now I believe he is just poll watching and covering his rear at the same time.
    Gen Petraeus and LTG McChrystal know how to fight a COIN operation- we need to support them in doing so -not bail out because some on the right don't like the idea of supporting what is now Obama's war, while much of the left can't ever see us fighting a just war, much less winning one and are looking for a way out as fast as they can find one - regardless of the consequences.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  7. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0
    tpg:
    What I intended to stress with my term limits statement was to limit the number of times a political official could run for office to one. This would prevent them from working on their re-election from the first day they are in office, in turn this could could assist them in thinking long term since they would be judged by history rather than the fickle day to day emotions of their constituents. so quit bustin my hump.:biggrin:

    Your numbers on the ANSF matched my numbers however of the 15,000 "others" you sited my info tells me 13,000 (primarily civil and border police) are listed as totally ineffectual and in some cases counter productive and will need to be purged from the force. My information is dated so they may have already been purged.
     
  8. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,868
    Likes Received:
    237
    From what I have read the ANA is performing well and in certain areas working independently without coalition support. Desertion rates have decreased dramatically from those seen a few years ago and reenlistment rates are rising. Surveys in Afghanistan show that the Afghan people view the ANA more positively than they do the national government and the majority view coalition forces positively. We are still the good guys. The current proposal to increase the ANA from their current strength of 80,000 to 230,000 is expected to cost $20 Billion over the next six years. I realize that you can't wave a magic wand and double or triple the ANA and expect an effective fighting force overnight. It will require a continued presence of coalition forces for the forseeable future. They will most definitely require extensive coalition air support. Their current Air Force consists of 32 rotary and 7 fixed wing aircraft.

    My historical references were meant to illustrate that an invading or occupying force has never been able to stabilize Afghanistan. The current coalition forces cannot be the guarantors of national security. Only the Afghans themselves can do that. Unlike the ARVN the ANA seems to want to fight their own battles and seem cabable of doing so with the proper training and support.
     
  9. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,868
    Likes Received:
    237
  10. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ambushed Marines "aid call" Rejected

    AF6872:
    You are the master of the understatement " that would be really bad." The headline from the story by Military.com "Ambushed Marines aid call rejected" If the new policy in Afghanistan is to not provide air or artillery support when requested by engaged units, if there is the possibility of civilian damage or death. I think it's time to pack up the gear and head home. The good will of the Afghan people is not worth wasting service members lives.
    Looks like the taliban has figured out it's winning strategy:thumbdown:
     
  11. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,868
    Likes Received:
    237
    Major Williams:

    "We are pinned down. We are running low on ammo. We have no air. We've lost today." They were given up by the locals and ambushed. If they were outside the range of a fire base that is inecusable. If their request for fire support was denied that is crimminal.

    Sounds like they used the rifles and engaged. After Action report will tell the story.
     
  12. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Americans were assisting Afghan forces in an operation that called for afghans searching the hamlet for weapons and then meeting village elders to plan police patrols.

    four Marines, eight Afghans, one interpreter KIA.
    don't think this bodes well for ANA recruitment efforts, might make increasing ANA by 142,000 a long shot.
     

Share This Page