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Thread: The War

  1. #46
    Contributor RoccoR's Avatar
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    S-2, et al,

    First, let me say to all, that "S-2" is correct, this is well worth the read. But I would add this caution: the CNAS is similar to the Democratic Administration as the PNAC was to the Republican Administration; with a couple added twists.

    I point this out, not to politicize it, but to express the promo-agenda and context in which the suggestions are framed.

    Also, keep in mind the timeline. The US was engaged in regional anti-occupation support well before the official War in Afghanistan began on 7 October, 2001, with the initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

    Quote Originally Posted by EXCERPT > S-2 View Post
    Andrew Exum is a former serving officer, civilian advisor to Gen. Petraeus' Afghanistan transition team in 2009 and a senior fellow at the Center For New American Security (CNAS). He offers his recipe for winning the Afghan war here- ... ... ...

    This is a short read and well-worth consideration as a broad framework for implementation within Afghanistan both now and later.
    (COMMENT)

    The outline is worth considering; but I have some concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1. Cut Funding for the War
    But right now, the massive amount of money flowing into Kabul is fueling the conflict. ... These funds are distorting incentives and presenting ample opportunities for kickbacks, bribes, and other forms of corruption.

    This is (practically) a universal observation supported by nearly every outside observer. However, no one has taken the necessary steps to bring it under control and manage it properly.

    It is such an effective means of causing chaos, that even the Iranians are helping further corruption and confusion by making contributions of their own.

    This is a mute point. Ambassador Eikenberry and GEN Petraeus could stop it overnight. But for whatever reason, they haven't. Any CGFM (Certified Government Financial Manager) could do it with the staff they have. The problem is that within the funding streams, each of the high rollers has convinced the party givers (Ambassador Eikenberry and GEN Petraeus) that their program is absolutely essential, and the war is not winable without it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2. Compromise on Combat Enablers
    • The president should commit more CH-47 helicopters to Afghanistan immediately, even if he has to "trade" David Petraeus an infantry battalion in order to keep the overall number of troops more or less the same.
    • The military also needs more intelligence platforms, including drones and observation blimps.
    • Finally, the development of local security programs like the Afghan Local Police could be sped up if more Special Forces A-Teams were committed to the effort
    .

    This is (IMO) proposing absurd restriction. You don't make trade-offs with forces structures. If you need a particular force infrastructure, you build it and deploy it, or stay at home.

    • If you need more helicopters, then we should send them. We don't send the transport and pull the troops out. That is absurd. On the other hand, you don't keep troops on the ground simply as bargaining material. If a Ground Commander needs the boots, he keeps them. If he needs transport, he gets it.
    • We always need more intelligence for our commanders. That is a given. In my 40+ years in the business, I've never heard a commander say he has enough intelligence.
    • Finally, the idea of a local security apparatus is a move right out of the Vietnam Playbook. We know how to do this. We've done this before. It dovetails into Suggestion #5 BELOW.


    Quote Originally Posted by 3. Reinvent, Don't Replace, the Special Envoy
    I'm sure Gen. Petraeus would appreciate an attempt to lure former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker out of semi-retirement and back to the region.

    This is something that we should consider very closely. One has to look at anD evaluate what the outcome of the Team Ryan Crocker & David Petraeus has been in the past, and the expectation of what it would be in the future. Has the outcomes in Iraq met expectations? Do we want a set of similar outcomes in Afghanistan? Are we saying that this team is the best we can do?

    If it is the best possible team, then we might be in more trouble than we think.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4. Find and Pressure Dual Citizens
    “To my knowledge, no effort has been made to compile a list of these individuals and use the laws of the United States and other Western countries to prosecute corrupt officials outside Afghanistan.
    Western passport is their escape plan from Afghanistan should the country descend into a chaotic civil war.

    Yes, now this is the "exit plan" for most of the Afghan players. At least they have an "Exit Plan." The question is why? Is it because they expect the US intervention to fail; and based on that probability they need an "exit plan."

    Quote Originally Posted by 5. Go Long
    “we should be prepared to leave behind 25,000 to 35,000 special operations forces and trainers beyond 2014. “

    This is the meat. Yes - the wheel has turned 180 degrees. Now we are beginning to consider coming back to a "Low Intensity" - "Asymmetric" - "Third & Fourth Generation" warfare strategy. But, in this suggestion, we include resetting the clock to zero. That in effect, US Involvement would extend for another decade.

    It also brings into the discussion the actual relationship between the US Force commander and the (now US Legitimized) Afghan Government; as well as the Durand Line Governments (AFPAK) and the sovereignty issues. Currently, there is a huge discussion on the necessity to engage the PAK Government and what relationship the Pakistan Government will have in the conduct of military affairs/operations in targeting safe havens inside their jurisdiction.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

  2. #47

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    RoccoR Reply

    "The US was engaged in regional anti-occupation support well before the official War in Afghanistan began on 7 October, 2001, with the initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)..."

    This needs fleshing out for those of us less inculcated about America's regional policy machinations prior to 9/11. Without such, context is missing.

    "I point this out, not to politicize it, but to express the promo-agenda and context in which the suggestions are framed."

    I was sent scurrying back to the CNAS board searching for clear indications among its staff and board of directors of an insidious democratic influence. I saw at least five former serving officers-Nagl, Fick, Exum, Kilcullen, and Barnos and a number of scholars with whom I'm less familiar.

    You imply politicization. Your implication needs elaboration. There was a point to your comment. What that point was, exactly, I'm uncertain.

    "This is a mute [sic] point. Ambassador Eikenberry and GEN Petraeus could stop it overnight. But for whatever reason, they haven't."

    I'm uncertain to the ease suggested by you. I'd submit the machine's size has generated a momentum which is considerable. With that mass comes force. First, though, is the rationale for doing so then the necessary mechanisms to enact such.

    "We don't send the transport and pull the troops out."

    Let's not become hysterical while making a point. Here's what Exum said-

    "More than anything else, our field commanders need more heavy-lift rotary-wing assets in Afghanistan. With a limited supply of helicopters, it is incredible difficult to operate in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. The president should commit more CH-47 helicopters to Afghanistan immediately, even if he has to "trade" David Petraeus an infantry battalion in order to keep the overall number of troops more or less the same."

    Key is "trade" and "more or less the same". What is the greater force multiplier to this particular battle environment? With a limited contingent of combat forces available to cover a vast swath of territory, does it not make sense to enable those forces with the requisite mobility? Without such, what use are they beyond the range of their boots and wheels and what time is required using those boots and wheels to extend that range?

    I've long advocated the deployment of the entire 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) en toto to Afghanistan. The sum assets within that division are best-configured among our ground forces for the unique requirements of Afghanistan. The log trail, however, is considerable and the fascination with mix n' match force packages has our strategic deployment managers mesmerized. What's been lost in scattering divisional elements across the globe is cohesion.

    Still, among the units identified for deployment in the "Afghan surge", this unit would have held prominence on the list and likely been worth its weight (literally) in gold.

    "This is something that we should consider very closely. One has to look at anD evaluate what the outcome of the Team Ryan Crocker & David Petraeus has been in the past, and the expectation of what it would be in the future. Has the outcomes in Iraq met expectations? Do we want a set of similar outcomes in Afghanistan? Are we saying that this team is the best we can do?

    If it is the best possible team, then we might be in more trouble than we think."


    One has to, first, consider the context in which Team Crocker/Petraeus assumed their responsibilities in Iraq before passing judgement. Even then, one has to allow for further mitigation by their absence now and all that's subsequently unfolded since their departure.

    Finally, there's the old military maxim most here have heard at one time or another from their commanders-

    "Lieutenant, don't bring me problems. Bring me solutions."

    Your solution RoccoR?

    "Yes, now this is the 'exit plan' for most of the Afghan players. At least they have an "Exit Plan." The question is why? Is it because they expect the US intervention to fail; and based on that probability they need an 'exit plan.'"

    Show me a "player" in Afghanistan that hasn't had an exit plan engrained into their psyche and executed in their own past histories already? SOP to engage in contingency planning to the limit of available resources. Some have more options than others. Review, though, the histories of Fahim, Rabbani, Dostum, Karzai, Omar and more and you'll see exit plans.

    Omar's plan was on the seat of a motorcycle with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar pointing the handle-bars south to Quetta.

    The question isn't "why". Exum has properly framed the question and provided a possible signpost to its resolution-
    "However, many of these officials possess citizenship in countries other than Afghanistan or have children residing in other countries. To my knowledge, no effort has been made to compile a list of these individuals and use the laws of the United States and other Western countries to prosecute corrupt officials outside Afghanistan."

    "This is the meat. Yes - the wheel has turned 180 degrees. Now we are beginning to consider coming back to a "Low Intensity" - "Asymmetric" - "Third & Fourth Generation" warfare strategy."

    It differs from my proprosal in two respects- 1.) training and (more differently), 2.) size AND location of the counter-terror SOF contingent.

    Exum doesn't specify the size of each element but we can presume that with a total recommendation of 25-30,000 troops the SOF contingent would be large and locally-based. I'd prefer those troops to be off-shore but the training contingent must then possess the ability for self-protection. That degrades their mission by pulling training assets into security forces.

    WRT training, I think it's a reasonable assumption that the ANA and related security forces have a long evolution time-line before them to be an institution that can fully assert control over all of Afghanistan and, simultaneously, withstand the external assault awaiting it from FATAville. Without that training assistance, they'll surely collapse IMV. With that training assistance, they may STILL collapse.

    Further, I'm unsure whether I don't wish to see such. Separate issue though.

    "But, in this suggestion, we include resetting the clock to zero. That in effect, US Involvement would extend for another decade."

    You quibble. Restart or extend matters little. We would continue to have a presence.

    "It also brings into the discussion the actual relationship between the US Force commander and the (now US Legitimized) Afghan Government; as well as the Durand Line Governments (AFPAK) and the sovereignty issues. Currently, there is a huge discussion on the necessity to engage the PAK Government and what relationship the Pakistan Government will have in the conduct of military affairs/operations in targeting safe havens inside their jurisdiction."

    Exum says here-

    "Such a residual force will both protect U.S. interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia after the departure of the bulk of U.S. and NATO troops, and will also signal to Pakistan that their strategy of employing hard-to-control violent extremist groups poses a larger long-term threat to Pakistan's stability than it does to the government in Kabul."

    Pakistan continues believing that the afghan taliban can, 1.) be controlled and, 2.) have no significant bearing upon their own taliban insurgency. Both are wrong but underscore the premise behind making available sanctuary. Exum's observation here is both accurate and salient.

    We are in a race against Pakistan. Can we raise forth a successful Afghan government/army sufficiently soon to assuage western impatience? Can Pakistan continue to tolerate their insurgency without addressing the core issue-the infection of the TTP from their co-habitation and co-mingling with the Afghan taliban?

    To presume these two elements aren't fellow-travellers is convenient thinking for the typical Pakistani citizen. Their ISI and miltary know otherwise but the Afghan taliban are perceived to hold a great and still largely latent value. That value will be fully realized by the PA should they be able to use this tool to overcome the presently nascent Afghan government.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by S2; 20 Dec 10, at 04:23.
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  3. #48
    Contributor RoccoR's Avatar
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    S-2, et al,

    Quote Originally Posted by S-2 View Post
    I was sent scurrying back to the CNAS board searching for clear indications among its staff and board of directors of an insidious democratic influence. I saw at least five former serving officers-Nagl, Fick, Exum, Kilcullen, and Barnos and a number of scholars with whom I'm less familiar.

    You imply politicization. Your implication needs elaboration. There was a point to your comment. What that point was, exactly, I'm uncertain.
    (COMMENT)

    My implication is not political; and if that was what you gathered, then I need to communicate better.

    Almost every Administration outsources much of its higher order thoughts to "Think Tanks." It is the purpose of a "Think Tank?" They appear to be independent advisory groups that provides consulting services to the U.S. government on matters of defense , diplomacy, science and technology. They appear and disappear over time, only to re-emerge with the same people, under another name.

    Both the PNAC and the CNAS are "Think Tanks" with specific relationships with particular parties; but formed much the same way. They gain favor within the Government by having been like minded and associated with Authorities in positions of power and influence. One of the main expertise they show is the ability to massage the facts such that they are present the ideas and agendas of the personalities they are advising. They have a tendency to look for and perceive evidence consistent with the hypotheses of the principal they advise, and mitigate, deny, dismiss or distort evidence or opposing views that do not support them.

    This is slightly different than what the JASONs do as consultants to the Defense Advisory Panel.

    Collateral Information:


    Quote Originally Posted by S-2 View Post
    I'm uncertain to the ease suggested by you. I'd submit the machine's size has generated a momentum which is considerable. With that mass comes force. First, though, is the rationale for doing so then the necessary mechanisms to enact such.
    (COMMENT)

    If the "machine's size has generated a momentum" that is beyond the ability of both the Ambassador and General to effectively manage, then clearly, we need to de-authorize operational funding. But that is not the case. Such huge operations are sectionalized and individually put into stasis while they are individually re-authorized and their mission is re-affirmed or put in demobilization mode.

    Quote Originally Posted by S-2 View Post
    Let's not become hysterical while making a point. Here's what Exum said-

    "More than anything else, our field commanders need more heavy-lift rotary-wing assets in Afghanistan. With a limited supply of helicopters, it is incredible difficult to operate in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. The president should commit more CH-47 helicopters to Afghanistan immediately, even if he has to "trade" David Petraeus an infantry battalion in order to keep the overall number of troops more or less the same."

    Key is "trade" and "more or less the same". What is the greater force multiplier to this particular battle environment? With a limited contingent of combat forces available to cover a vast swath of territory, does it not make sense to enable those forces with the requisite mobility? Without such, what use are they beyond the range of their boots and wheels and what time is required using those boots and wheels to extend that range?
    (COMMENT)

    (Said with a smile!) I am far from getting "hysterical."

    While the transport does give a certain force multiplication factor, it doesn't work the same way when applying it to an asymmetric environment. CH-47s can't protect a village, ground troop can. And while a CH-47 can rapidly deploy forces in conventional operations, it is hard to maintain surveillance and on-site protection. The CH-47 is not used in that role and thus, CNAS (Exum) plans (envisions the role) on using this airlift in a conventional role and not an asymmetric role.

    You don't trade ground forces for air support, unless you didn't need those ground forces to begin with.

    On the other hand, you might not deploy heavy-lift CH-47s if the footprint is going to change and a new "Exist Strategy" is entangled by the rapid disposition of forward deployed aircraft. Unless, it is the (unspoken) intention to leave them behind as uneconomically recoverable for the Afghan Government. (It is not like we haven't seen that done before.)

    Quote Originally Posted by S-2 View Post
    I've long advocated the deployment of the entire 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) en toto to Afghanistan.
    (COMMENT)

    This would be a 20th Century conventional approach, using a divisional size unit in a rapid detection and engagement mode, with the ability to envelop an opposing force. It is a very effective strategy if you can get ahead of a hostile element and prevent them from running across the border.

    Quote Originally Posted by S-2 View Post
    You quibble. Restart or extend matters little. We would continue to have a presence.
    (COMMENT)

    Well, no, not exactly. But you are right, it will appear that the Leadership mislead the public yet again and the US Role will be extended. And that could be fatal to the Administration (which ever) is in power.

    The question is --- if it stays supported domestically. Remember, it won't be long until there is no funding left; let alone funding for another decade.
    • A "reset/restart" would be a complete change in strategy (example: conventional to asymmetrical).
    • An extension would be a continuation of the existing strategy, with changes in magnitude; but no change in direction.


    I'm not sure what the Pakistan Government actually thinks. It has multiple personalities, and maintains a schizophrenic-policy on the stance it has relative to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other regional/tribal dissidents.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

  4. #49

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    RoccoR Reply

    "One of the main expertise they show is the ability to massage the facts such that they are present the ideas and agendas of the personalities they are advising. They have a tendency to look for and perceive evidence consistent with the hypotheses of the principal they advise, and mitigate, deny, dismiss or distort evidence or opposing views that do not support them"

    And you refer me to the Right Web and its hierarchical superior, the Institute Of Policy Studies possessing this interesting self-description, to learn more about CNAS?

    "As Washington’s first progressive multi-issue think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) has served as a policy and research resource for visionary social justice movements for over four decades — from the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s to the peace and global justice movements of the last decade."

    Both Right Web and the Institute For Policy Studies carry their own interesting lineages. Smacks of an ad hominem assault by one think-tank against others. Exum's message here, btw, reaches beyond Washington's inner sanctum to lil' ol' me out in Oregon's wilderness. As I've no affiliation with a think-tank, I'm able to read his thoughts without any cognitive dissonance.

    You?

    "If the "machine's size has generated a momentum" that is beyond the ability of both the Ambassador and General to effectively manage, then clearly, we need to de-authorize operational funding."

    Let's be clear that you didn't write of management-

    "This is a mute [sic] point. Ambassador Eikenberry and GEN Petraeus could stop it overnight..."

    What you suggested above is, instead, a command-decision which doesn't rest with either of those gentlemen as far as I know. There was nothing you mentioned about mitigation through management.

    Instead, you insinuated that program managers have the ear of Eikenberry and Petraeus to the detriment of the American taxpayer. That's a separate and very serious charge which you should attempt to substantiate. Given that the funding streams reach back to authority from Washington, the U.N. and other nat'l governments and not those two men, I see this allegation as fatuous.

    "I am far from getting 'hysterical'."

    I'm unsure.

    "We don't send the transport and pull the troops out."

    Exum's proposal regarding aviation was hardly as zero-sum as you suggested in the above comment. That's gross exaggeration, if not hysteria, to drive home a point.

    "While the transport does give a certain force multiplication factor, it doesn't work the same way when applying it to an asymmetric environment. CH-47s can't protect a village, ground troop can."

    CH-47s are critical logistical enablers allowing those ground forces to do exactly that. There will never be enough ground troops, in any case, to protect all the villages of Afghanistan if that's your bent. Given that reality, optimizing the mobility and subsequent support of those available forces is valued.

    "And while a CH-47 can rapidly deploy forces in conventional operations, it is hard to maintain surveillance and on-site protection."

    No kidding. Maybe you missed this from Exum-

    "The military also needs more intelligence platforms, including drones and observation blimps."

    I hardly think Exum envisioned CH-47s on reconnaissance missions. That lift capacity is a tad too valuable.

    "The CH-47 is not used in that role and thus, CNAS (Exum) plans (envisions the role) on using this airlift in a conventional role and not an asymmetric role."

    "...conventional role..."? You mean as in the CH-47s standard mission profile to transport troops and supplies? Yes.

    "You don't trade ground forces for air support, unless you didn't need those ground forces to begin with."

    Wrong. You trade SOME ground forces for SOME lift aviation support if it'll optimize your force mix consistent with your mission requirements. If maximizing coverage of ground by available forces is important where the boot/sq. mile ratio is still woeful, you'd best have the most rapid means of being able to do so.

    "On the other hand, you might not deploy heavy-lift CH-47s if the footprint is going to change and a new "Exist Strategy" is entangled by the rapid disposition of forward deployed aircraft. Unless, it is the (unspoken) intention to leave them behind as uneconomically recoverable for the Afghan Government. (It is not like we haven't seen that done before.)"

    Two issues arise here-1.) whether an exit strategy is, in fact, actually "entangled" by the presence of helicopters and other heavy equipment and, 2.) the cost/benefit of recovering those assets to America.

    Further, while you're correct that it's not like we haven't left equipment for host nations to use upon our departure, it's also not like we haven't brought a lot of that very heavy, cumbersome equipment home. Over 1400 M-1 Abrams tanks and a veritable host of other heavy items were deployed to the KSA as part of Desert Shield/Storm. The vast majority was recovered.

    Now, circumstances are considerably different in Afghanistan. Much, much different-proximity to ports foremost. So too, however, the relative scale involved. However, the overarching considerations are the present utility of those assets in Afghanistan, the current opportunity costs for alternative effective use elsewhere and the availability.

    "This would be a 20th Century conventional approach, using a divisional size unit in a rapid detection and engagement mode, with the ability to envelop an opposing force. It is a very effective strategy if you can get ahead of a hostile element and prevent them from running across the border."

    Wrong again. Snide insinuation about 20th century, btw. It is, in fact, an integrated force consisting of aviation, artillery and infantry in one very tidy package. The possible uses of such a division and its operational reach far exceed what you imply. What the 101st uniquely brings to the party is a significant organic aviation element capable of performing a variety of missions while sustaining itself across vast distances.

    "The question is --- if it stays supported domestically."

    On this we can likely agree although for, probably, different reasons. I hope this mission loses its domestic support altogether. I won't work towards that end beyond here at WAB however. In the interim, were our battlefield commanders to request additional lift capability, I'd fully support such. It saves the lives of our troops. That's paramount to me. Adequate aviation, by itself, won't be any "war winner"-not without a host of other meaningful actions taken by our government-but it would save many U.S. and allied lives.
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  5. #50

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    RoccoR Reply

    "The US was engaged in regional anti-occupation support well before the official War in Afghanistan began on 7 October, 2001, with the initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)..."

    I'm disappointed that you left this comment without further amplification. I hope you'll do so.
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  6. #51

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    It's tough enough being a soldier in this war. Very, very tough. Being a company-level commander, though, might just be as hard as it gets. Here's a very revealing six-page article by James Dao of the NYT about just such a company commander. Adrian Bonenberger, a Yale grad, is the company C.O. of A Co. 1-87 Inf deployed in Kunduz province up north.

    Life And Death Decisions Weigh On Junior Officers-James Dao NYT Dec. 20, 2010
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    Greater Coordination Seen Between Insurgent Factions

    While the net result of this coordination and merging of insurgent forces is felt in Afghanistan, it is an issue reaching back to sanctuaries inside Pakistan-

    Insurgents Set Aside Rivalries On Afghan Border-Dec. 29, 2010 NYT

    "...One official said it was 'a wake-up call' to find evidence, after the attack on the forward operating base, that the fighters were partisans from three factions with long histories of feuding: the Quetta Shura Taliban of Mullah Muhammad Omar; the network commanded by the Haqqani family; and fighters loyal to the Hekmatyar clan..."

    There's been increasing suggestion that the "surge" of U.S. forces into Afghanistan is achieving some tangible gains in key areas. Anecdotal evidence provided by ISAF commanders have indicated an attrition of key battlefield leaders and troops among the various anti-government elements (AGE). Such coordination then, heretofore difficult to achieve despite a common Afghan government enemy, might suggest that expediency is taking precedent over pride among the insurgent leaders.
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  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by S-2 View Post
    While the net result of this coordination and merging of insurgent forces is felt in Afghanistan, it is an issue reaching back to sanctuaries inside Pakistan-

    Insurgents Set Aside Rivalries On Afghan Border-Dec. 29, 2010 NYT

    "...One official said it was 'a wake-up call' to find evidence, after the attack on the forward operating base, that the fighters were partisans from three factions with long histories of feuding: the Quetta Shura Taliban of Mullah Muhammad Omar; the network commanded by the Haqqani family; and fighters loyal to the Hekmatyar clan..."

    There's been increasing suggestion that the "surge" of U.S. forces into Afghanistan is achieving some tangible gains in key areas. Anecdotal evidence provided by ISAF commanders have indicated an attrition of key battlefield leaders and troops among the various anti-government elements (AGE). Such coordination then, heretofore difficult to achieve despite a common Afghan government enemy, might suggest that expediency is taking precedent over pride among the insurgent leaders.
    Prompted no doubt by their desperation in the face of the more pro-active counter-terrorism measures that have been employed over the past several months by US and NATO forces. Hopefully, this is a sign that the Afghan Taliban and Hezb-e Islami are standing on their last legs. However, curiously absent from the article is any mention of the situation in the north of Afghanistan in regards to the apparent revival of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) making its presence felt there and how they might fit into all of this. Altho perhaps that is another story being kept for another time. Thanks for the article.

  9. #54

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    I'd suspect a mixture of both motivations. Within Pakistan there have been hints of LeT/TTP cooperation for some time. It's not unreasonable to presume these various elements have knowledge of, and some affiliation with one another.

    Other connections WRT afghan groupings are, if I understand correctly, more tenuous. Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Gulbuddin was displaced by Omar's taliban as ISI favorites around 1994/5. There's some rivalry there as also with Haqqani. There's no particular reason to believe that the afghan taliban are interested in including either Hekmatyar or Haqqani in any post-war power-sharing arrangements but may be exploring temporary expedients.

    I think their difficulties on the afghan battlefield are real enough. I also believe relationships are sufficiently amorphous and volatile to merge or break at a variety of levels and times.
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    The Pakistani correspondent for Asia Times Online has long been reporting on the relocation of Pakistani Jihadi groups to FATA. His line has been that such groups have since affiliated themselves to Al-Qaeda, and to a lesser extent, the TTP. It has been said that it was with the aid of these groups that the TTP had been able to strike frequently into ‘mainland’ Pakistan while Baitullah Mehsud was alive and in command. The subsequent Pakistani military operation in South Waziristan last year scattered them tho, along with the TTP, into other parts of FATA, or back to whatever part of Pakistan they came from. It wouldnt therefore be surprising if many of them sought refuge with the Haqqanis in North Waziristan.

    So i think its likely that “Punjabi groups” can (and probably already do) add something to the Afghan insurgency too. However, as far as i understand things, Afghans (including those Pashtun tribes of FATA) hold an historic and especial contempt for Punjabis. I suspect that should such Pakistanis try and add man-power to the fight in Afghanistan that both ANA/ANP and Afghan civilians alike, whether pro or anti-Karzai, would generally take great exception to this and repulse them sharply. Punjabis and other Pakistani-Indian peoples have zero chance of being able to blend into Afghanistan. Their presence there could end-up being more of a liability to the insurgency in the long-run, altho time will tell.

    I seem to recall reading some reports from the very early stages of the invasion that Northern Alliance fighters and other Afghan factions went out of their way to inflict more harm and punishment on ‘Punjabis’ caught fighting with the Taliban than with their Afghan or Arab counterparts. So who knows how many Pakistanis were rounded-up and executed arbitrarily back in 2001 / 2002 for being a “Punjabi”. I think that the same fate would await them in Afghanistan again.

  11. #56

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    I doubt you'd see much LeT participation into Afghanistan. The articlesuggests indications of LeT/TTP affiliations. To often we've seen that there are tactical, temporary advantages to "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". I know, however, that relationships between the TTP and groups fighting in Afghanistan is a very real proposition. There were numerous indications of the TTP seeking refuge with Hafez Gul Bahadur during Rah-i-Nijat. Too, Mullah Faizullah was rumored to be operating with Qari Zia Rehman in Bajaur and Konar. Finally, the efforts by Mullah Omar to fashion a peace accord between Baitullah Mehsud, Maulvi Nazir and Hafez Gul Bahadur to align their focus exclusively on Afghanistan mustn't be forgotten. Even if unsuccessful, it shows that communication channels exist between these groupings.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

  12. #57
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    et al,

    I sort of sat back and smiled when I heard this.

    Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina says that having a few U.S. air bases in Afghanistan would be a benefit to the region and would give Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban.

    Senator proposes permanent US bases in Afghanistan - Yahoo! News
    (COMMENT)

    If you leave it up to these guys, we will really be in big trouble. We'll be lucky if we don't have to fight our way out.

    Most Respectfully,
    R

  13. #58

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    GUARDIAN Editorial

    It's a rare day when Britain's leftist voice, The GUARDIAN, and S-2 merge as one. Still, I offer this editorial as indicative that for differing objectives, the near-term rationales are shared-

    Afghanistan: Our Mandate For Action Is Finally Exhausted-GUARDIAN Jan. 2, 2011

    Again, the differences between national interests and vital national interests are salient.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

  14. #59
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    Interesting article on how turning over some of the responsibility for Afghanistan to NATO was a blunder by the Bush admin, for NATO and for the US mission there.

    How Afghanistan Became a War for NATO - IPS: Jan 3, 2011

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    1980s Reply

    Here's the text-

    How Afghanistan Became a War for NATO
    Monday 03 January 2011

    by: Gareth Porter | Inter Press Service | Report

    Washington - The official line of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO command in Afghanistan, is that the war against Afghan insurgents is vital to the security of all the countries providing troops there. In fact, however, NATO was given a central role in Afghanistan because of the influence of U.S. officials concerned with the alliance, according to a U.S. military officer who was in a position to observe the decision-making process.

    "NATO's role in Afghanistan is more about NATO than it is about Afghanistan," the officer, who insisted on anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the subject, told IPS in an interview.

    The alliance would never have been given such a prominent role in Afghanistan but for the fact that the George W. Bush administration wanted no significant U.S. military role there that could interfere with their plans to take control of Iraq.

    That reality gave U.S. officials working on NATO an opening. Gen. James Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) from 2003 to 2005, pushed aggressively for giving NATO the primary security role in Afghanistan, according to the officer.

    "Jones sold [Defence Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld on turning Afghanistan over to NATO," said the officer, adding that he did so with the full support of Pentagon officials with responsibilities for NATO. "You have to understand that the NATO lobbyists are very prominent in the Pentagon – both in the Office of the Secretary of Defence and on the Joint Staff," said the officer.

    Jones admitted in an October 2005 interview with American Forces Press Service that NATO had struggled to avoid becoming irrelevant after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. "NATO was in limbo for a bit," he said. But the 9/11 attacks had offered a new opportunity for NATO to demonstrate its relevance. The NATO allies were opposed to the U.S. war in Iraq, but they wanted to demonstrate their support for stabilising and reconstructing Afghanistan. Jones prodded NATO member countries to provide troops for Afghanistan and to extend NATO operations from the north into the west and eventually to the east and south, where U.S. troops were concentrated.

    That position coincided with the interests of NATO's military and civilian bureaucrats and those of the military establishments in the member countries. But there was one major problem: public opinion in NATO member countries was running heavily against military involvement in Afghanistan. To get NATO allies to increase their troop presence in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, Jones assured member states that they would only be mopping up after the U.S. military had defeated the Taliban.

    On a visit to Afghanistan in August 2004, Jones said, "[W]e should not ever even think that there is going to be an insurrection of the type that we see in Iraq here. It's just not going to happen."

    Reassured by Washington and by Jones, in September 2005, NATO defence ministers agreed formally that NATO would assume command of southern Afghanistan in 2006. But conflicts immediately arose between the U.S. and NATO member countries over the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Britain, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands had all sold the NATO mission to their publics as "peacekeeping" or "reconstruction" as distinct from counterinsurgency war.

    When the Bush administration sought to merge the U.S. and NATO commands in Afghanistan, key allies pushed back, arguing the two commands had different missions. The French, meanwhile, were convinced the Bush administration was using NATO troops to fill the gap left by shifting U.S. troops from Afghanistan to Iraq - a war they strongly opposed. The result was that one NATO member state after another adopted "caveats" that ruled out or severely limited their troops from actually carrying out combat in Afghanistan.

    Even as the Bush administration was assuring its NATO allies that they would not have to face a major Taliban uprising, U.S. intelligence was reporting that the insurgency was growing and would intensify in spring 2006. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, who had just arrived as commander of all U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2005, and newly appointed U.S. Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann were warning Washington that the well-publicised domestic debates in NATO member states over troop commitments were "generating a perception of NATO political weakness", as Neumann recalls in his memoirs on Afghanistan published in 2009.

    Neumann wrote that both he and Eikenberry believed "the insurgents would see ISAF's expansion and the U.S. contraction as the moment to rekindle the war."

    But Eikenberry assured the news media that the insurgency was under control. In a Dec. 8, 2005 press briefing at the Pentagon, Eikenberry asserted that the more aggressive Taliban tactics were "very much a sign of weakness".

    Asked if he wasn't concerned that the situation in Afghanistan was "sliding towards an Iraqi scenario", Eikenberry replied, "[W]e see no indications that such is the case..."

    A few weeks later the Taliban launched the biggest offensive since its regime was ousted in 2001, seizing control of much of Helmand, Kandahar and several other southern provinces. Eikenberry, clearly under orders from Rumsfeld, continued to carry out the policy of turning the south over to NATO in mid-2006. He was rewarded in early 2007 by being sent to Brussels as deputy chairman of NATO's Military Committee.

    Eikenberry acknowledged in testimony before Congress in February 2007 that the policy of turning Afghanistan over to NATO was really about the future of NATO rather than about Afghanistan. He noted the argument that failure in Afghanistan could "break" NATO, while hailing the new NATO role in Afghanistan as one that could "make" the alliance.

    "The long view of the Afghanistan campaign," said Eikenberry, "is that it is a means to continue the transformation of the alliance."

    The Afghanistan mission, Eikenberry said, "could mark the beginning of sustained NATO efforts to overhaul alliance operational practices in every domain." Specifically, he suggested that NATO could use Afghan deployments to press some member nations to carry out "military modernisation".

    But Canadian General Rick Hillier, who commanded NATO forces in Afghanistan from February to August 2004 and was later chief of staff of Canadian armed forces from 2005 to 2008, wrote in his memoir "A Soldier First", published in 2009, that NATO was an unmitigated disaster in Afghanistan. He recalled that when it formally accepted responsibility for Afghanistan in 2003, NATO had "no strategy, no clear articulation of what it wanted to achieve" and that its performance was "abysmal".

    Hillier said the situation "remains unchanged" after several years of NATO responsibility for Afghanistan. NATO had "started down a road that destroyed much of its credibility and in the end eroded support for the mission in every nation in the alliance," Hillier wrote.

    "Afghanistan has revealed," wrote Hiller, "that NATO has reached the stage where it is a corpse decomposing..."


    *Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.

    EDITED FOR PARAGRAPHS COURTESY OF S-2. No changes to content.
    Last edited by S2; 04 Jan 11, at 16:31.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

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