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Thread: US plan to improve Afghan intelligence operations branded a $457m failure

  1. #301
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    11 Sep 10
    Just the thing the Paks don't need right now

    Angry Over Decades of Mistreatment, Pashtuns in Pakistan Rally in Search for Dignity | The Wire | Mar 12 2018

    For the first time in Pakistan’s 70-year history, the Pashtuns from the tribal regions, supported by others from the “settled areas”, converged on the federal capital Islamabad to protest and seek justice for Naqeeb. This came to be known as the Pashtun Long March (PLM) and drew upwards of five to six thousand people who chanted daily, for a week, in Islamabad: “Da Sanga Azadi Da … What kind of freedom is this, in which Pashtuns are being murdered, being ruined”.

    The current mobilisation is essentially a civil and human rights movement that seeks redressal of their grievances within the four corners of the Pakistani constitution. The ten-day-long sit-in in Islamabad had really straightforward demands:

    a) arrest, prosecute and punish the SSP Rao Anwar;

    b) clear landmines from FATA;

    c) stop insulting, humiliating and stereotyping Pashtuns, especially the women, at the FATA check-posts;

    d) produce or bring to book the missing Pashtuns.

    The first round of protests in Islamabad did not yield anything concrete. The leaders of the PLM met with the Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the directors of the military’s intelligence and public relation wings. There were reassurances from the state and its functionaries that the demands will be met and even a few dozen missing persons were surreptitiously released.

    No meaningful initiative, however, has been taken formally to put into practice the PTM’s demands, forcing the latter’s leadership to continue with their protests in the Pashtun territories. The incredibly warm welcome they have received in the Pashtun areas of Balochistan province and the provincial capital Quetta, where they were joined by the ethnic Baloch and Hazaras, has unnerved the army and its intelligence wing.

    Mainstream Pakistani media is accustomed to self-censorship and toes the army’s line in a docile manner and has a near-complete blackout over the PLM. The issue, however, is not going to go away by denying it social or conventional media coverage. There are genuine grievances that need to be addressed, and soon.

    It is unlikely that the Pakistani army will cave in to the Pashtun demands anytime soon. The Pakistan army’s Afghan jihadism project is one of the corner-stones of its regional policies and it is unlikely to abandon it. The organisers of the Pashtun protests have to conceive their response to a recalcitrant continuation of the disastrous policy and calibrate it to remain non-violent, organised and constitutional.

    Forty years of injustice cannot be undone within days or even months; what is heartening is that the young Pashtun leadership is stepping up to the plate.

    The 'Pakistan is too dangerous to fail' trope

    Pashtun crowd shouts down ISI Taliban stooge
    Last edited by Double Edge; 15 Mar 18, at 00:54.

  2. #302
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    11 Sep 10
    Worth a listen for AMB Ron Neumans's remarks, he's the main act here

    Afghan policy moved from time based to conditions based. What are those conditions ? inadequately defined

    What is the US objective, THE GOAL in Afghanistan ? inadequately defined again. So there is space for alternative misleading narratives. The Americans have left this question open for now. It means American people don't get a proper answer to this question as yet.

    What is the US doing in Afghanistan now ? training afghan forces to a higher level. This is certainly doable. The problem in the past was cramming too much in a limited time frame. He gives the example of taking a 10th grader, putting them in college, providing tutoring and then expecting them to graduate in two years. The problem was that damn time limit. When people can't get the job done then say the mission was a failure, the recruits were a failure. Just like the title of this discussion thread (!)

    I never see articles in the Indian press slamming Afghan recruits for not being capable. So there is a degree of covering one's ass after getting funding and not being able to deliver suitable candidates. After all can't blame the people who funded the programs with unrealistic time frames. If you said anything at the time about unrealistic time frames bla bla you'd lose the project to a competitor.

    So, the idea is to get the training right this time. Realistic time frame where battlefield benefits are realised ? 2019-2020 DOD estimates. Maybe. Now if these dates aren't communicated there will be people saying it was all a failure by the end of this year itself if they can't see tangible results. If you then say it was expected to take 3-4 yrs you get condemned for making excuses.

    1:00:14 it's interesting that he thinks the US can sustain this effort. Congress has learnt the mistakes from Iraq and IS and is less likely to push for a complete pullout from Afghanistan unlike in the past. This is good. When you don't have to also fight DC, chances of success improve. And as the general earlier stated, Iraq & Syria winding down means more resources in Afghanistan for CENTCOM

    Then have to keep up the pressure on the Afghan govt to deliver. Pressure on the Paks will continue. Question is how soon do the Americans blink. In the past they've tried pressure but only for short periods. So if the US wants to get compliance from the Paks they are going to have to apply pressure for longer. Relations will become much worse between the US & Pakistan, after it gets worse we have to see whether the Americans blink first. If the Americans don't blink then we get to see whether the Paks comply.

    Stay the course in other words. No re-evaluation and fiddling with policy every six months because that is sure to screw it up. Now is not the time to be questioning policy. Leave that for a couple more years. Until then give the policy that exists serious effort.

    I suspect there wasn't a complete pull out in 2015 because doing that would mean funds dry up. No people in theatre people tend to forget about the theatre.

    US cannot be a combatant and a mediator at the same time. So a third party mediator is required. WHO ? can't be the UN because they're a participant in the war too. Maybe Norway or similar.

    Afghans have to talk to Afghans but Taliban don't want to talk to the slave soldiers of the Kabul Govt. Taliban wants to talk to the US because US toppled them, played a role in setting up the national unity govt and is an active party in the war today. But the US can't cut a separate deal with the Taliban or it would undercut the Kabul govt.

    After an agreement is reached who will enforce it. Do they follow agreements in Afghanistan ? no evidence to suggest that in the last forty years. It's like medieval Europe where agreements are kept until one side or the other is strong enough to break them, What role does the US play here. Unless the goal is to get an agreement then get out and leave it at that.

    So leverage is required. Two levers that may or not work. Pressure on the Paks to change their policy. Pressure or not put on the Taliban in the battlefield. Are these two levers sufficient. Debatable. A third lever is the Afghan govt. If it performs better, if its troops perform better then people become more optimistic about that govt. All three levers are possible, not one of them is guaranteed and none are fast and certain. A fourth lever can be the international arena. Iran, Russia & China and the US working with them.

    45:50 Asst secretary Sedney doesn't trust SIGAR. Surprising. Bad predictions and analysis. He disagrees that this policy is a loose slowly policy. Calling it out before its had time to take effect.

    Afghanistan has a bright long term future if it can only survive its short term leaders.

    How to gauge progress in Afghanistan ? not possible in the short term, longer term is to see how well do the police & military work together. They do not currently and are horrible mismatch. Second, if smaller units are under threat how well can they be reinforced by the police or military. Right now this is handled poorly. Finally, cutting down on the number of politically motivated generals who are corrupt as well as inefficient. If these three look good in say a year or two then we can be confident about progress. otherwise if the politicising and power networks in Afghanistan continue to defeat cooperation between leaders of military & security units then progress is poor. The policy won't deliver if continued longer.

    If you are still confused hopefully you are now confused in a much more sophisticated way : D
    Last edited by Double Edge; 16 Mar 18, at 16:46.

  3. #303
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  4. #304
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    11 Sep 10
    Husain Haqqani gets slammed a lot by his own people. In a talk about a year ago at Hudson, one guy in the audience had to be ejected for calling him a RAW agent. Haqqani was part of the team that put together a tough policy recommendation for dealing with Pakistan that seems to have been accepted by the Trump administration. Having one person of the team that compiled the report working in the administration after certainly helped. Lisa Curtis.

    ‘Pakistan is isolated and has fewer friends in the international community’ | Asia Times | Mar 19 2018

    For some time now, Pakistan has been able to take one step forward to get relief from international pressure, followed by two steps back once the pressure is off and another step forward, when the pressure resumes. The fundamental change in attitude has not been forthcoming.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 19 Mar 18, at 16:54.

  5. #305
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    11 Sep 10
    RIP and god bless. Such bravery...

    Bahadur the brave: Afghan bomb disposal hero killed | AFP | Mar 09 2018

    Mamoon Durrani
    ,AFPēMarch 9, 2018

    Bahadur Agha, a bomb disposal technician wounded six times by the Taliban, joked the seventh would be his last. He was right: after dismantling hundreds of IEDs barehanded, this Afghan hero died defusing one final device.

    Crawling along the ground ahead of Afghan military convoys, the 31-year-old policeman saved countless lives in southern Helmand province, defusing landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) without a face shield, helmet, body armour or gloves.

    With nothing to protect his body, Bahadur knew that one wrong move could be his last. But he had apparently accepted the poor odds for survival.

    "Six times I've been injured, seventh time maybe I'll be finished," he told VICE News reporter Ben Anderson in October 2016, smiling at the camera.

    Last December the fateful moment came.

    Four decades of war have left Afghanistan as one of the most mined countries in the world.

    Figures from the United Nations show that IEDs killed more than 600 civilians across the country last year, including more than 100 in Helmand alone -- among them, Bahadur.

    His brother-in-law Ahmad Shah Zaland said the Taliban had begun laying two mines instead of one: when the first is deactivated, the second explodes. "The second mine... took Bahadur away from us," he told AFP.

    Given the security situation in Helmand, news of his death did not become widely known until last month.

    Relatives and colleagues described a patriotic, skilled man driven by grief and rage over the death of family members, including his mother, at the hands of the Taliban.

    In the VICE documentary, he told Anderson that "my family is finished, everything is finished".

    "Maybe I die, no problem," he said.

    Anderson, who shared news of Bahadur's death on Twitter, said he had watched the policeman ignore gunfire as he crawled on the ground to defuse IEDs hidden in the middle of the road, clearing a path for the soldiers sheltering in armoured vehicles behind him.

    "We were getting shot at but he didn't care. Everyone else took cover, he stood up and walked around," Anderson told AFP.

    "He said he didn't care if he lived or died, he just wanted to kill the Taliban. And it was obvious this was true, he was totally traumatised.

    "He should have been taken off the battlefield long ago... although he probably would have refused to leave."

    - Lonely funeral -

    Bahadur, who joined the police aged 15, had shown Anderson the physical scars left by bullet and shrapnel wounds he had received during mine-clearing operations.

    "One had entered his forehead but not touched his brain," Anderson said.

    Former colleagues in Helmand, the restive poppy-growing province still largely controlled by the Taliban more than 16 years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, said he lived up to his name -- Bahadur, which in Pashto means "the brave" or "the hero".

    "When it was complicated, it was always Bahadur who did it," one colleague, Haibatullah, told AFP, before adding bitterly: "The government does not care about our lives."

    Bahadur's commander Ghulam Dawood Tarakhail recalled a "brave and patriotic officer" who "defused hundreds of roadside bombs or landmines".

    "Bahadur was a skilled and professional deminer," Tarakhail told AFP, adding that just three weeks before he died Bahadur was awarded a medal for his service.

    Despite his sacrifice, Bahadur's untimely death has gone largely unnoticed in the war-torn country that has been numbed by the relentless and bloody violence.

    Thousands of troops and police have been killed or wounded in the grinding conflict, but official figures on the number of casualties among security forces are no longer made public.

    "Only 15 to 20 people" showed up at Bahadur's funeral the next day to pray in front of the coffin draped with an Afghan flag and a photo of the dead man stuck to one side, according to Mullah Yaar Gul, a tribal elder.

    He is survived by his wife and baby son, whose enormous, kohl-lined black eyes laugh at the camera in snapshots seen by AFP.

    Ahmad Shah Zaland said his brother-in-law's "greatest wish" was to see his months-old son walk.

    "His wish was taken to the grave."
    This is Bahadur back in 2016

    Last edited by Double Edge; Yesterday at 14:30.

  6. #306
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