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  1. #16
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    US to speed up Afghan weapons supplies: minister
    Updated at 1830 PST
    KABUL: The United States will speed up the supply of 50,000 assault rifles to the Afghan army, boosting its ability to take on the Taliban, Afghanistan's defence minister said Saturday,

    Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters that he convinced US officials during a recent visit to accelerate supplies after delays caused by demand for guns in Iraq.

    The new weapons will phase out old Russian and Chinese-made arms.

    "This issue was very sensitive to us. There are lots of complaints about weapons in the army. The weapons in hand are very old, some 30 years," Wardak added.

    The first batch -- some 5,000 assault rifles -- is scheduled to arrive in January and a further 10,000 each month until the target of 50,000 is met.

    "I think when the snows have melted and the fighting season arrives, a vast majority of the Afghan army will be armed with M-16s instead of AK-47s," he said.

    Wardak said US authorities had also pledged thousands of armoured vehicles. Meanwhile, more than two dozen military aircraft, most of them Russian-made helicopters donated by the United Arab Emirates, were due to start arriving in batches of around three from next month, he said.

    Building up the air force is the "only factor which has prevented us from independent operations," Wardak said.

    Development of Afghanistan's security forces is part of an international commitment to the war-torn country made after a US-led invasion drove out the 1996-2001 Taliban regime, which had sheltered Al-Qaeda.

    The army numbers about 50,000 soldiers and is scheduled to reach 64,000, with an additional 4,000-strong air force, by the end of next year. However, Wardak has said the forces would need to be significantly larger to secure Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency is gaining pace.

    Afghanistan's international allies, which have about 55,000 soldiers in the country, are also keen for the Afghan forces to become established since this would allow them to withdraw from intense and costly battles.
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    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  2. #17
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    Afghan security forces recapture district
    (AFP)

    24 November 2007


    HERAT, Afghanistan - Afghan forces and foreign troops recaptured a district Saturday that had been taken by Taleban militants twice in the past month, officials said, accusing police of abandoning the area in fear.

    Afghan police and army teamed up with soldiers from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to take back remote Gulistan district in the western province of Farah around noon, provincial governor Mohaiyudin Baluch told AFP.

    ‘There was no fighting. The Taleban did not resist and left the area,’ he said.

    The rebels first took Gulistan on October 29, killing seven civilians and a policeman. Afghan and ISAF forces drove them out 10 days later.

    The insurgents however moved back in Friday with no resistance.

    A defence ministry official said that authorities had left 250 police in the district after reclaiming it earlier this month.

    However the official, speaking under cover of anonymity, said that ‘as soon as the ISAF contingent and ANA (Afghan National Army) forces left the area, the police force also left the district in fear.

    ‘The Taleban came and claimed control.’

    The extremist Taleban movement were in government between 1996 and 2001 and are trying to take back power.

    They claim to ‘capture’ remote districts from time to time but are easily ejected by Afghan forces backed by the superior ISAF, which has about 40,000 soldiers in this country.

    Musa Qala, a district in Helmand province that neighbours Farah, has however been in rebel hands for months.

    A report released Wednesday by a European think-thank, The Senlis Council, claimed that insurgents controlled vast areas of Afghanistan.

    This was dismissed as baseless by the chief ISAF spokesman, Brigadier General Carlos Branco.

    ‘They control not more than a handful of districts, even less,’ he told AFP Friday, adding these were ‘very small pockets without territorial continuity.’

    The police are regarded as the weakest of the security forces in Afghanistan but are in some of the most vulnerable areas. They are also the most often attacked, with about 700 killed this year.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  3. #18
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    British soldiers coach Afghan police on the frontline

    2 days ago

    LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (AFP) — British soldiers prod tiny packets of white powder lying in the dirt of an outbuilding at a small police station on the barren outskirts of Afghanistan's southern town of Lashkar Gah.

    Outside they find discarded syringes, vials, packets of pills and a small tin containing green-brown powder.

    The visitors have reason to be suspicious: this is Helmand, which as a province produces the most opium in the world, second only to the entire nation of Afghanistan.

    It is an unpromising start to the surprise British visit.

    Summoned, the commander of the mudbrick police post says the white powder is something he and his men drink to settle their stomachs. The initially suspicious brown powder turns out to be snuff.

    The other items are medicines, including aid for bullet wounds from a Taliban attack a few days back, says commander Agha Wali, whose arm is in a sling.

    Lashkar Gah is the capital of the province that has seen some of the worst fighting between the Taliban and the international coalition opposing them.

    The Britons -- from a police mentoring task team -- don't make too much of the powders and bottles but slip them into plastic bags for later inspection.

    They also quiz the commander about a messy pile of new uniforms on the dirt floor of the same outhouse.

    "If we had a room, we would hang them up," Wali -- who is not in uniform, although his men are -- nonchalantly offers as an excuse, music blaring from the tape deck of his solitary police vehicle near his rough and ready bunch.

    The British team, one of two operating in Helmand, needs to find out what the police have, what they need, how capable they are -- and then assess how to help.

    "This is only the second time I have seen evidence of drugs," says Major Erik Bengtsson, who has visited two dozen police stations. "They tried to tell us it that it was medicine but I don't believe it for one minute."

    The British aim here is to coach the Afghans in survival and basic law enforcement tactics.

    "We teach them to stay alive," Bengtsson says at a base of the 37-nation International Security Assistance Force.

    "The police are dying at a much higher rate than ANA (Afghan National Army) and ISAF. Sometimes it is because suicide bombers are walking right up to them," he says.

    "We teach them how to search people and vehicles, how to spot an IED (improvised explosive device)."

    The mentoring also covers more mundane tasks such as how to write a patrol report, preserve evidence and run a police station.

    In Afghanistan the police are more fighting soldiers than British bobbies. Around 700 have been killed this year in attacks, the highest toll among the various security forces.

    There is new emphasis on building up the police and army which were in a shambles at the end of the Taliban regime in late 2001 and are still understrength and underequipped.

    Afghanistan's allies have stepped up sporadic efforts to help: Britain will install more mentoring teams in Helmand; elsewhere police training is being carried out by the European Union and US security group DynCorp.

    The Afghan National Police is seen as the least professional of the security forces, accused of setting up checkpoints to extract "baksheesh" or bribes, transporting opium and tipping off the Taliban, among other offences.

    "The corruption needs to be stamped out, the drug abuse needs to be stamped out, all the nefarious activities. But there are some good eggs out there," Bengtsson says.

    "There is no reason they cannot be dragged up by the bootstraps."

    Meanwhile, about 50 kilometres (35 miles) south, in the town of Garmser, five neatly uniformed policemen are at the first session of training by British soldiers, separate from the work of the mentoring team.

    A young captain, who has just returned to a heavily barricaded post after an encounter the Taliban, gets the men to strip their rifles and practise their shooting stances.

    He needs to assess their professionalism as -- with no Afghan army in town -- the police will have to take part in operations side-by-side with foreign soldiers.

    The training will be a "safety net for us so we know their skills and drills are at a level where we would have confidence in them when we go out on patrol with them," says Major Rupert Lewis, another trainer.

    Policeman Mohammad Zaman, whose post is inside the fort, recalls when Taliban -- several hundred of them, he says -- overran Garmser town 18 months ago.

    "They came from about four or five directions. We resisted them for one and a half days and then we withdrew," he says.

    "We had no ammunition, no reinforcement," he says, adding that 16 of his colleagues were killed.

    ISAF forces -- then not based in the town -- arrived about four days later and pushed out the attackers from the northern part of Garmser. But his family plot is in the southern part, which is still in Taliban hands.

    "I am looking every day for a chance to go back to my farm. I am here to smash the enemy," he says, when asked why he is a policeman.
    AFP: British soldiers coach Afghan police on the frontline
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  4. #19
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    NATO and Afghan forces kill 65 Taliban - ministry
    Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:10am EST
    KHOST, Afghanistan, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Afghan and NATO-led forces killed 65 Taliban rebels when they called in air strikes as the insurgents smuggling weapons across the border from Pakistan, the Afghan Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

    Afghanistan has seen a steady escalation of violence this year with up to 30 percent more clashes with hardline Islamist Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the pro-Western Afghan government and eject 50,000 foreign troops from the country.

    Afghan and Western military officials say the Taliban arm and train in Pakistan's restive border region, largely outside the control of the Pakistani government.

    The Paktia provincial governor's office said 72 insurgents were killed in Saturday's air strike near the Pakistani border, but a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that number was "way too high".

    It is not ISAF's policy to release Taliban casualty figures.

    The group was smuggling weapons on horses and in two saloon cars when Afghan and foreign forces engaged them and called in air support, the Interior Ministry said.

    Elsewhere in Paktia province, Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces killed four insurgents and detained seven others, the Afghan Defence Ministry said in a statement.

    And near the provincial capital Gardez, ISAF troops called in an air strike to kill three insurgents after they were spotted planting a roadside bomb, ISAF and the Interior Ministry said.

    While Afghan and foreign forces have killed large numbers of insurgents in clashes this year, there has been no let up in Taliban attacks and the rebels have extended their attacks to parts of the country previously considered safe.

    NATO commanders admit the conflict cannot be won simply by killing insurgents.

    Instead, they say, more Afghan soldiers and police need to be trained to bring security in order for development to be speeded up and undercut Taliban support. (Reporting by Elyas Wahdat; Writing by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Jerry Norton)
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  5. #20
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    Gen.: Training is key to war in Afghanistan
    Alliance’s top commander asks NATO nations to deploy more teams
    By Charlie Coon, Stars and Stripes
    Mideast edition, Monday, November 26, 2007

    KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO’s leaders have for years asked member nations to ante up more troops, aircraft and other military assets for its war in Afghanistan.

    But six years into the war against the Taliban and other insurgents, what are most needed now are trainers, according to the alliance’s top military commander.

    There is no shortage of Afghans asking to become soldiers and police officers, said Gen. Bantz J. Craddock. But there is a lack of training teams to embed with raw Afghan recruits and help turn them into stand-alone forces.

    “We (NATO force) are short maneuver battalions, we’re short intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, we’re short enablers, helicopters, lift,” Craddock said.

    “But the best investment we can make right now is to train the Afghan national security forces to get a face out and to take over their own security requirements.”

    Craddock and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Sheffer and their entourages visited Afghanistan Wednesday through Friday.

    There are about 47,000 foreign forces deployed to Afghanistan, including approximately 22,000 U.S. troops.

    The Afghan National Army currently numbers about 41,000 troops, with a goal of 78,000, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bartelle, the senior noncommissioned officer for NATO’s Command Allied Operations.

    Those forces, he said, vary in ability from raw to ready.

    Training of the Afghan police forces, which would handle local law enforcement, is going more slowly, Bartelle said. Training both the army and police, he said, takes a special talent.

    “It’s an acquired skill,” Bartelle said. “And not necessarily based on an individual’s proficiency in their (military specialty).

    “It takes an ability to relay information clearly and concisely, so that the individual receiving it translates it into action.”

    A training team can consist of 10 to 20 people, sometimes more, and its makeup is the same as a military unit: one commander, several junior officers, and a variety of senior and junior sergeants and other enlisted troops.

    The trainers pair off with their Afghan counterparts and train them in tasks ranging from commanding a military unit to firing a rifle straight.

    Good training teams are not readily available, Craddock said, even from the U.S. military, and especially not from units based in Europe. Trainer-candidates would typically be removed from their units and assembled into a team, then deployed to Afghanistan.

    “Those type of leaders by and large are not available in U.S. forces in Europe, because U.S. forces in Europe are either deployed, preparing to deploy, or are returning from deployment and in their dwell (non-deployable) time,” Craddock said.

    Craddock proposed a simple-sounding solution to lessen the shortage of trainers.

    “We need 26 more teams between now and this time next year, and there are 26 (NATO) nations,” Craddock said. “If each nation would give one more … then we would have filled up the need and we would, I think, be able to generate greater Afghan (security) participation.”
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  6. #21
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    Commandos Start Operation Commando Fury with Air Raid
    By Jane Patrick
    As reported by the Combined Joint Task Force, an air raid was run by Afghan 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak on an area where it was known that a Taliban organizer lived. The raid began at dawn and was the first mission of an operation named Commando Fury. The raid was located in Tag Ab Valley in Kapisa Province.

    The Commandos were given information that mentioned that the Taliban leader was located at a certain compound and moved to attack the location with the help of five Coalition helicopters. The helicopters landed at the compound and the Taliban ran in all directions to avoid the coming fight. They were not prepared.

    Over 30 Commandos jumped out of the helicopters and were within the structures within moments.

    "The valley has long been plagued with insurgent activity, people living in fear of violence at the hands of Taliban extremists," said Army Major Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Forces-82 spokesman. "The Afghan Commandos sent a message that there will be no refuge for extremists in Kapisa."

    Trying to get away, the Taliban ran, but were blocked off by more Commandos that arrived by vehicle to aide in the mission. Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police worked together to help the Commandos in breaking up the enemy in the Tag Ab Valley. More targets in the area were hit during the first missions of the operation and it seems to been a good start.

    There were no celebrations after each mission, but a constant getting ready for what was next.

    In other areas of Afghanistan, Coalition forces sought out weapons smugglers in areas around Zabul Province, and as a result, captured five individual thought to be working with the Taliban.

    Multiple areas were searched by Coalition forces in the belief that Taliban weapons organizers were in the buildings running to smuggling operations. Five people were held for questioning during the mission, two were armed. It was thought that the detainees were connected to the smuggling of weapons.

    The weapons that were found at the sites were destroyed to keep the Taliban from using it in the future, and there was no major damage done to any structures at the sites that were searched.

    "Coalition forces are continuing to disrupt the Taliban's supply of weapons in Afghanistan," said Major Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman. "We are eroding the Taliban's resources and their ability to bring harm on the Afghan people."

    ========


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 24, 2007

    RELEASE # 100



    Elite Afghan force continues to neutralize Taliban insurgents



    BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The Afghan 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, conducted an air-assault raid at dawn on the compound of a high-level Taliban facilitator, kicking off a four-day offensive operation named Commando Fury in the Tag Ab Valley, Kapisa Province, Nov. 10-14.

    Upon receiving credible intelligence, the Commandos quickly mobilized and launched on a flight of five Coalition helicopters. As the sun broke over the Sur Ghar Mountains, the Taliban knew the unit was upon them. Within moments, dust swirled as the helicopters set down within feet of their target building. Taliban fled in every direction as the Commandos leapt from the aircraft. Through the tumult, emerged 30 plus Commandos. Seconds later, the assaulters breached the entrance and cleared the first of many enemy compounds.

    “The valley has long been plagued with insurgent activity, people living in fear of violence at the hands of Taliban extremists,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Forces-82 spokesman. “The Afghan Commandos sent a message that there will be no refuge for extremists in Kapisa.”

    The Taliban scurried to escape the pursuit, but a convoy of more than 30 Afghan Commando vehicles sped toward the objective to block the enemy retreat. A joint effort by the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army assisted the Commando battalion in disrupting the Taliban hold on the Tag Ab Valley as Commandos hit target after target. Taliban were met at every turn by the combined Afghan force.

    “The 3rd Company reinforced the sterling reputation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s most elite fighting force. The fact is there will be no safe haven for Taliban or place where these elite warriors will not pursue the enemies of freedom and stability,” Belcher said. “The company took no time for celebration. They refitted and rearmed. They are always vigilant, always ready to respond, at a moments notice, to the call of freedom.”

    -30-

    CUTLINES:

    071113-A-XXXXX-002 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak stormed the compound of a well-know Taliban leader in the Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 14. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)



    071113-A-XXXXX-003 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Battalion, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s elite fighting force, dismount a Coalition forces aircraft, as the sun broke over the Sur Ghar mountains, during the operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)



    071113-A-XXXXX-004 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s elite fighting force unit, rapidly reposition and appear without warning during Operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)



    071113-A-XXXXX-018 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's elite fighting force unit, conduct a cordon and search of a compound during operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)



    071010-A-XXXXC-015 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's elite fighting force unit, rehearse insertion during pre-mission training near the capital city of Kabul, Oct. 10. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)



    071010-A-8378C-041 – A Commando from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's elite fighting force unit, fires from a rooftop position during pre-mission training near the capital city of Kabul, Oct. 10. U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

    # # #

    Contact Information – CJTF-82 Public Affairs Office Tel – 0093-799-063-013

    DSN: 318-431-7852

    bagrammoc@afghan.swa.army.mil
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  7. #22
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    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  8. #23
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    Canadian military donates old C7 rifles to Afghan National Army
    Published: Sunday, December 23, 2007 | 12:14 PM ET
    Canadian Press: THE CANADIAN PRESS

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Canadian military has agreed to donate 2,500 surplus C7 rifles to the Afghan National Army along with ammunition and training.

    The decision, made quietly last week, is expected to bring the fledgling Afghan force in line with other NATO countries.

    Building capacity among the ANA is the key to Canada's exit strategy from Afghanistan.

    Last month a senior Afghan commander told The Canadian Press that better weaponry was crucial to the buildup of the ANA.

    Lt.-Col. Shirin Shah Kowbandi said the army's old Soviet-era AK-47s frequently misfire.

    At the time he said Canadians had promised to provide the ANA with "good weapons" but that they had not yet delivered.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  9. #24
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    Wednesday, 26 December 2007, 22:57 GMT
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    Can tribes take on the Taleban?
    By Tom Coghlan
    In Ahmadaba district, Paktia province


    Guards keep watch for the Taleban (Photos: Jason Howe)

    Enlarge Image

    Drums hang in the remote villages of Paktia, deep in the tribal belt of eastern Afghanistan.

    At times of danger, beating the drum brings hundreds of armed local men running from their homes - an instant army to protect the area.

    It is the basis for a traditional system of village militias, known as the "arbakai", that operates in only a few provinces of the east.

    With Afghanistan's fledgling national police deeply unpopular and insufficient in number to impose control in many areas of the country, Western diplomats and commanders have been exploring what they term "Afghan solutions" to counter rising Taleban violence.

    Britain, in particular, is exploring the use of village defence forces in Helmand province.

    The idea owes much to the controversial arming of Sunni tribal militias in al-Anbar province of Iraq by American forces, which has dramatically reduced the influence of al-Qaeda in that region.


    If we find someone sheltering the Taleban, the tribe will burn his house
    Haider Jan,
    Village militiaman

    Speaking to the British parliament on 12 December, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that Britain advocated a shift in strategy that would favour "hard-headed realism" and work "with the grain of Afghan tradition".

    "One way forward is to increase our support for community defence initiatives, where local volunteers are recruited to defend homes and families modelled on traditional Afghan 'arbakai'," he said.

    Ancient code

    Harnessing informal militias is not a new idea in counter-insurgency. But it has a mixed history of success, not least in Afghanistan.

    Map

    Alongside some successful examples - such as the British use of the Firqa irregulars in Oman in the 1970s or the US forces' use of Hmong tribal militias in Vietnam - are less encouraging precedents.

    After the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, President Najibullah surprised the world by holding out for three years against the mujahideen guerrillas.

    His use of local militias initially proved successful. However, though they were sometimes tough fighters, the brutality and indiscipline of such units helped to alienate public support for his regime and they could be unreliable, self-interested and prone to switching sides.

    At sunset in a village in Ahmadaba district of Paktia, in the shadow of snow-capped mountains, a group of local men stand with Kalashnikovs and a wary eye for their surroundings.

    They are the local arbakai from the Ahmadzai tribe, just 10 strong but with the power to raise a force of 250 in less than 20 minutes.


    In three decades of war there is not any example of a militia having done anything for the benefit of Afghanistan
    Mohammad Hussein Andiwal,
    Helmand province police chief

    "We just listen to our tribe, to our tribal elders," said Haider Jan, a wild-haired young man wearing scraps of Afghan police uniform who showed off an old Taleban bullet wound in his leg.

    "We keep the Taleban out of this area. If we find someone sheltering the Taleban, the tribe will burn his house."

    The system only operates in an area of eastern Afghanistan which is famous for the weakness of government influence and the strength of its tribal structures.

    Officially, the arbakai of the area were incorporated into the Afghan National Auxiliary Police, a central government reserve police force formed last year. However, they regard themselves still as simply the "Ahmadzai arbakai".

    In Paktia the tribes rule themselves, imposing their own legal system.

    The arbakai are the police, tribal elders are the local rulers; the system as a whole is part of the ancient Afghan code of behaviour known as "Pashtunwali".

    "Each sub-tribe takes its turn to be arbakai and they serve 10 days at a time," said Shaista Khan Mangal, a tribal elder in the provincial capital, Gardez.

    "The arbakai only works in the area of its own tribe. The tribe will discipline them if they do anything wrong to the people.

    "They recognise the local people. That is why they are better than the national police or the army."

    'Back the police'

    Western officials working in the region acknowledge that the arbakai system is often a substitute for central government control, and frequently preferable to corrupt centrally-appointed police.

    Village militiaman (Photo: Jason Howe)
    Tribes in Paktia have their own legal system

    "There are strong tribal structures in Paktia and these usually stand in opposition to the Taleban," said one Western official.

    The official emphasised that the arbakai worked only where tribal structures were strong and where tribes were not mixed together.

    The potential dangers that come with arming unofficial militias are clear.

    Tens of millions of pounds have so far been expended on trying to disarm illegal militias across Afghanistan under two separate UN-backed programmes and to impose central government control.

    And in southern Helmand province, where a number of militias tied to local warlords already operate as adjuncts to the local security forces, they have been linked to drug crime, frequent looting and murder.

    But so, too, have the official police.

    "I am speaking for myself, not my government here - but as far as Afghanistan is concerned in three decades of war there is not any example of a militia having done anything for the benefit of Afghanistan," said Helmand Police Chief, Gen Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

    "If you use the name of militia or of arbakai, people will be shocked. They had a very bad reputation and just look after the interests of their own tribe.

    "The British have not contacted me on this issue, but I will always tell them to focus on the national police, not militias.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  10. #25
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    February 21, 2010
    MILITARY ANALYSIS
    Marines Do Heavy Lifting as Afghan Army Lags in Battle

    By C. J. CHIVERS
    MARJA, Afghanistan — As American Marines and Afghan soldiers have fought their way into this Taliban stronghold, the performance of the Afghan troops has tested a core premise of the American military effort here: in the not-too-distant future, the security of this country can be turned over to indigenous forces created at the cost of American money and blood.

    Scenes from this corner of the battlefield, observed over eight days by two New York Times journalists, suggest that the day when the Afghan Army will be well led and able to perform complex operations independently, rather than merely assist American missions, remains far off.

    The effort to train the Afghan Army has long been troubled, with soldiers and officers repeatedly falling short. And yet after nearly a decade of American and European mentorship and many billions of dollars of American taxpayer investment, American and Afghan officials have portrayed the Afghan Army as the force out front in this important offensive against the Taliban.

    Statements from Kabul have said the Afghan military is planning the missions and leading both the fight and the effort to engage with Afghan civilians caught between the Taliban and the newly arrived troops.

    But that assertion conflicts with what is visible in the field. In every engagement between the Taliban and one front-line American Marine unit, the operation has been led in almost every significant sense by American officers and troops. They organized the forces for battle, transported them in American vehicles and helicopters from Western-run bases into Taliban-held ground, and have been the primary fighting force each day.

    The Afghan National Army, or A.N.A., has participated. At the squad level it has been a source of effective, if modestly skilled, manpower. Its soldiers have shown courage and a willingness to fight.

    Afghan soldiers have also proved, as they have for years, to be more proficient than Americans at searching Afghan homes and identifying potential Taliban members — two tasks difficult for outsiders to perform.

    By all other important measures, though — from transporting troops, directing them in battle and coordinating fire support to arranging modern communications, logistics, aviation and medical support — the mission in Marja has been a Marine operation conducted in the presence of fledgling Afghan Army units, whose officers and soldiers follow behind the Americans and do what they are told.

    That fact raises questions about President Obama’s declared goal of beginning to withdraw American forces in July 2011 and turning over security to the Afghan military and the even more troubled police forces.

    There have been ample examples in the offensive of weak Afghan leadership and poor discipline to boot.

    In northern Marja, a platoon of Afghan soldiers landed with a reinforced Marine rifle company, Company K, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, which was inserted by American helicopters.

    The Marine officers and noncommissioned officers here quickly developed a mixed impression of the Afghan platoon, whose soldiers were distributed through their ranks.

    After several days, no Marine officer had seen an Afghan use a map or plan a complicated patrol. In another indicator of marginal military readiness, the Afghan platoon had no weapons heavier than a machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade.

    Afghan officers organized no indirect fire support whatsoever in the week of fighting. All supporting fire for K Company — airstrikes, rockets, artillery and mortars — were coordinated by Marines. The Afghans also relied entirely on the American military for battlefield resupply.

    Moreover, in multiple firefights in which Times journalists were present, many Afghan soldiers did not aim — they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high.

    Shouts from the Marines were common. “What you shooting at, Hoss?” one yelled during a long battle on the second day, as an Afghan pulled the trigger repeatedly and nonchalantly at nothing that was visible to anyone else.

    Not all of their performance was this poor.

    Sgt. Joseph G. Harms, a squad leader in the company’s Third Platoon, spent a week on the eastern limit of the company’s area, his unit alone with what he described as a competent Afghan contingent. In the immediacy of fighting side by side with Afghans, and often tested by Taliban fighters, he found his Afghan colleagues committed and brave.

    “They are a lot better than the Iraqis,” said the sergeant, who served a combat tour in Iraq. “They understand all of our formations, they understand how to move. They know how to flank and they can recognize the bad guys a lot better than we can.”

    Capt. Joshua P. Biggers, the Company K commander, said that the Afghan soldiers “could be a force multiplier.”

    But both Marines suggested that the Afghan deficiencies were in the leadership ranks. “They haven’t had a chance yet to step out on their own,” Sergeant Harms said. “So they’re still following us.”

    Shortfalls in the Afghan junior officer corps were starkly visible at times.

    On the third day of fighting, when Company K was short of water and food, the company command group walked to the eastern limit of its operations area to supervise two Marine platoons as they seized a bridge, and to arrange fire support. The group was ambushed twice en route, coming under small-arms fire from Taliban fighters hiding on the far side of a canal.

    After the bridge was seized, Captain Biggers prepared his group for the walk back. Helicopters had dropped food and water near the bridge. He ordered his Marines and the Afghans to fill their packs with it and carry it to another platoon to the west that was nearly out of supplies.

    The Marines loaded up. They would walk across the danger area again, this time laden with all the water and food they could carry. The Afghans watched silently. Captain Biggers asked the Afghan platoon commander, Capt. Amanullah, to have his men pack their share.

    Captain Amanullah refused, though his own soldiers to the west were out of food, too.

    Captain Biggers told the interpreter to put his position in more clear terms. “Tell him that if he doesn’t carry water and chow, he and his soldiers can’t have any of ours,” he said, his voice rising.

    Captain Amanullah at last directed one or two of his soldiers to carry a sleeve of bottled water or a carton of rations — a small concession. The next day, the Afghan soldiers to the west complained that they had no more food and were hungry.

    It was not the first time that Captain Amanullah’s sense of entitlement, and indifference toward his troops’ well-being, had manifested itself.

    The day before the helicopter assault, back at Camp Leatherneck, the largest Marine base in Helmand Province, a young Marine offered a can of Red Bull energy drink to an Afghan soldier in exchange for one of the patches on the soldier’s uniform.

    Captain Amanullah, reclining on his cot, saw the deal struck. After the Afghan soldier had taken possession of his Red Bull, the captain ordered the young man to hand him the can.

    The captain opened it and took a long drink, then gave what was left to his lieutenant and sergeants, who each had a sip. The last sergeant handed the empty can back to the soldier, and ordered him to throw it away.

    The Marines watched with mixed amusement and disgust. In their culture, the officers and senior enlisted Marines eat last. “So much for troop welfare,” one of them said.

    Lackluster leadership took other forms. On Friday night, a week into the operation, Captain Biggers told the Afghan soldiers that they would accompany him the next day to a large meeting with local elders. In the morning, the Afghans were not ready.

    The Marines stood impatiently, waiting while the forces that were said by the officials in Kabul to be leading the operation slowly mustered. Captain Biggers, by now used to the delays, muttered an acronym that might sum up a war now deep into its ninth year.

    “W.O.A.,” he said. “Waiting on the A.N.A.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/wo...gewanted=print
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  11. #26
    Defense Professional ArtyEngineer's Avatar
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    The ANA are just not stepping up to teh plate. Thats the cold hard fact. Thre are a few proficient units, specifically their "Commando" guys who have been mentored by US and other nations SF components. I have yet to see ANY footage of ANA putting down "Aimed, Controlled Fire" Doesnt matter if they are equipped with an AK, an M16, an RPK or even a PKM. Its spray and pray all the damn time. I have no faith in the ANA whatsoever to hold and secure never mind take contest territory.

    I dont know how Gen McChrystal keeps a straight face when he stands up and talks about the even partnership between ANA and NATO/ISAF with regards to planning and leading operations

    Regards

    Arty
    "Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations".- Motto of the Gun Crew who have just done something incredibly stupid!!!!

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtyEngineer View Post
    The ANA are just not stepping up to teh plate. Thats the cold hard fact. ... I have no faith in the ANA whatsoever to hold and secure never mind take contest territory.
    In almost every report we read there are comparisons between the Afghans and the Iraqis, generally favorable to the Afghans, by soldiers who have served in both places. It should give some hope, but sometimes it is also disconcerting as it makes me wonder if there are more things going on which the common Afghan troopers know...

  13. #28
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    Cactus

    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus View Post
    In almost every report we read there are comparisons between the Afghans and the Iraqis, generally favorable to the Afghans, by soldiers who have served in both places.
    I hear the same thing from folks how have been on MiT (Military Transition) Teams in Iraq and the Embedded Training Teams from Afghanistan.

    It would appear that the raw material in Afghanistan is marginally better than Iraq to try and build a professional military from(Warrior Culture and all that I guess). However lack of discipline ESPECIALLY in the leadership is a major hurdle in both countries. Map reading, planning, use of Comms equipment, ability to use initiative, to adapt improvise etc pretty hard to teach these things when the folks you are teaching are practically illiterate.

    Dont even get me started on the stories I hear regarding drug use within the ANA.

    I am not hopefull, I really hope I am wrong and would love for someone to illustrate an ANA success story for me.

    Regards

    Arty
    "Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations".- Motto of the Gun Crew who have just done something incredibly stupid!!!!

  14. #29
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    The ANA would be hard pressed to come up to our standards but then they don't need to. They just have to be better than their enemies. The last ANA more than did ok for themselves when the Soviets left. It was when Moscow cut off fuel, money, and ammo that things turned sour for them.

  15. #30

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    ANA/ANP/Border Police

    We're attempting to create an army from nothing and, equally, instill leadership principles that differ markedly from any past Soviet or Arab/Muslim experiences. The human material is largely illiterate, many drug-addled, facing constant AWOL/desertion-related attrition and totally lacking a formalized martial tradition.

    There's no professional N.C.O. and officer corps and had we hit the ground running in early 2002, the most experienced, bright, able, and dedicated officers and N.C.O.s would have a maximum of eight years experience. That's a mid-range captain in our army. That core, even assuming it had existed, would then be diluted into the rapidly expanding effort where political expediency exceeds military logic.

    This army has already been expanded too rapidly for its means. It's intended to expand faster still. Frankly, there's the bad side as highlighted by Chivers. The good side is, despite McChrystal's public pronouncements of politcally-correct encouragement, there's no way we'll be able to withdraw at a pace desired by our political leaders without having Afghanistan immediately fall back into its former ways and again present a clear and present danger to all.

    My final note of concern is more ominous, IMV. What you see here is entirely likely to manifest itself again not only among other Afghan troops elsewhere but, worse, among their government-in-a-box civilian officials without close supervision and a willingness by their western mentors to call bullsh!t as the marine company commander did.
    Last edited by S2; 21 Feb 10, at 03:57.
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