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  • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
    On the other hand, I've noticed that non-American peacekeepers are usually pretty aghast at the lack of knowledge and sensitivity toward local customs displayed by American peacekeepers. The U.S. has to do better in this regard. Certainly with local U.S. commanders learn about the local customs and respect them, they get commensurately excellent results. But that can't just be limited to isolated units.
    The amount and contents of pre-deployment training (the "mandatory" standard part) isn't really any different in other NATO countries, and individual units do go beyond the standard preparing in the time before that.

    I'm not sure whether some elements conducted elsewhere are done equally in US units, for example in Germany for long-term rotating troops (Afghanistan, Kosovo etc) it's pretty much standard that the future rotating-in unit will send a troop to the current force for a visit during this preparation time to get some on-the-ground views on local "problems" and some exchange with soldiers already aware of cultural intricacies that once aware they can back home integrate into the unit's pre-deployment training.

    The above commonality is for the last ten years at least. Before a few years into Iraq intercultural pre-deployment training specifically for peacekeeping or other armed forward presence missions was virtually non-existant in the US though, and amounted to about the same as for say being long-term rotated into Germany or Korea.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
      Unless you isolate the battlefield there is no chance to win.
      That's like saying just because the Cartels have the run of the Mexican-Texas border, Austin is not in control of Texas. When the Canadians control the cities AND the LOCs, you control the province. The hills don't matter. For any control OUTSIDE the cities to be effective, you have to control the LOCs and I'm not talking about dirt roads that go nowhere. You have to control the roads where the money goes. The Taliban never managed that, not while NATO was there.
      Chimo

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
        That's like saying just because the Cartels have the run of the Mexican-Texas border, Austin is not in control of Texas. When the Canadians control the cities AND the LOCs, you control the province.
        How did you control the LOC's ? Unless you sealed the Af-pak border they would continue to retreat and return.

        Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
        The hills don't matter. For any control OUTSIDE the cities to be effective, you have to control the LOCs and I'm not talking about dirt roads that go nowhere.
        This is why you held the cities. Afg is quite urbanised. Over 80% of its population lives in cities.

        Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
        You have to control the roads where the money goes. The Taliban never managed that, not while NATO was there.
        How do you explain the TB checkpoints between cities then ?

        Illegal sure. But why were they there to begin with.

        Comment


        • Nobody gives these guys a chance. This has to change.

          https://twitter.com/AkbarMohmand2/st...66375493214209

          Click image for larger version

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          • Excerpts from some interviews Amrullah gave to the Indian media last week. They were quite short and he was a stickler for time. To date the one he gave to WION remains the longest at half hour.

            Republic TV Aug 26 2021

            Q. Are you safe ? How are you doing ? What is the status of your resistance going as of now ?

            A. We have a two-track strategy pursuing a negotiated settlement and if the other side, if the enemy doesn't accept we have to be prepared for the military eventuality.

            On the peaceful and negotiated settlement our demand is very simple and clear
            - We don't want to take part in the Taliban emirate
            - We don't recognize it
            - We don't see it as legitimate

            But if they promise a date for approaching the people, give a space to the people to have a say in determining the character of the state and also have a say how the head of their state is put in place then we will participate in that process.

            Until that process we are telling them if we can come to some type of ceasefire
            - We retain our autonomy
            - We will have our national flag hoisted
            - We will not accept their appointments
            - We will not agree to their terms

            If they don't agree to these conditions and if they take the military path we are prepared.


            Q. So are you suggesting this ceasefire and autonomy is limited to Panjshir or is it about Kabul ?

            A. We are absolutely not fighting just for Panjshir. Our struggle is not for one valley. Our struggle is not for one geographical location.

            We are the legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Afghan people and constitutionally the acting president. Ahmad Masood carries the legitimacy of the resistance, the legitimacy of massive popular resistance against the Taliban.

            Combination of both of us, we have a massive, big, reasonable and acceptable political narrative which is that power through the barrel of a gun, oppression, torture, exclusion is not acceptable and it will not last.

            If the Taliban agrees to sit and discuss political settlement, inclusivity and stay away from establishing a dictatorship we are ready to negotiate.

            We are not ready to negotiate surrender or negotiate expression of allegiance in the name of settlement.

            That will not happen



            Q. There are concerns that you are not adequately armed. Do you have enough ammunition, war machinery to sustain. Remember Taliban have captured all the arms and ammunition of the afghan national army >

            A. They have captured a lot of equipment and ammunition but they have not captured the afghan will enough and determination.

            Do you know what commander Massoud's formula for survival was ?

            Code:
            Motivation2 + Command & Control, Political organization + Resources
            In his formula resources was always the last not the first and we believe this is the formula

            I'm not going to discuss what we have or what we don't have



            Q. How do you see the response of the global community in general and Americans in particular to the capture of power by the Taliban in Kabul ? Was it part of the Doha deal. Did you get a sense when it was happening that the Americans cut a deal with the Taliban that would give the Taliban a walk over in Kabul ?

            A. well i think you have to separate the the mass feelings from the few politicians who have made this mistake.

            The mass feeling is they are disgusted with the wrong political decision, with the misjudgment. It was not the judgment of the experts, the military, the intelligence or the diplomats.

            It was misjudgment by a few and particularly one man at the top and they are paying the price. It is a sense of humiliation, it is a sense of collapse, it is a sense of disgrace. We have already started to pay the price.

            What we are telling them is it's not too late. Let's not bow to to Taliban, to terrorism. Let us say what has happened. Taliban are not alone in this.

            They are backed by Pakistan, they are backed by Pakistan military intelligence and diplomatic service.

            For as long as America is unwilling to publicly acknowledge the malign role of Pakistan and just say that they are dealing with the Taliban --this problem is not going to be fixed.

            And remember Kabul airport is the tiniest fraction of the disaster, fiasco, humiliation and tragedy which is unfolding right now. The whole country is against the Taliban they don't trust the Taliban. They see Taliban as barbaric, brutal and vengeful

            So there is still time for United States and the west to stay morally and politically on the side of the majority and not see Afghanistan as a lost cause.

            We are here, we are putting up a resistance. They have to acknowledge this resistance and recognize it.



            Q. President Biden has put the entire blame on the Afghan national army. He has said that it was the job of the Afghan armed forces to hold on Kabul. But General Sami Sadat has written an article in NYT and clearly suggested that the collapse owes everything to the manner in which Americans conducted themselves

            A. Absolutely, I echo the analysis of General Sami Sadat.

            The decision to withdraw was rash, it was illogical, it didn't take into consideration the advice from the ground. We were not asking them to stay. We were asking them to leave responsibly. Which means allow us to have negotiations with the contractors so we maintain our air force. They didn't do that.

            We said give us time so we concentrate and withdraw from difficult places so we are not cut into pieces and cherry picked by the Taliban. They didn't listen to that.

            We asked them to acknowledge publicly that it is Pakistan defeating you not the Taliban who don't know what they are fighting for. Pressure on Pakistan was not meaningful.

            The last we said you have signed a deal with the Taliban. It's a four pillar deal and you are implementing one part of it which is the withdrawal. The others are left unimplemented and they are violating it word by word. Isn't it a shame for a superpower not to hold a group accountable to its words ?

            We were bypassed, we were ignored and we were under pressure to offer concession after concession. Like the release of the 5,000 prisoners which was gifting a division of fighters to the Taliban. They said if you don't release these 5,000 prisoners we cut military and civilian aid. So we were blackmailed and we were forced to do it. We were unhappy with it and it was against our will.

            So these constraints were imposed on us, caveats were imposed on us, conditionalities were imposed on us while the other side was kept appeased and appeased. And they thought that diplomacy will work while we kept telling them clearly that the Taliban were being deceptive. They are deceiving you.

            The Doha talks is not for making political settlements happen. The Doha office is to keep the international community divided, hopeful, optimistic for an eventual political settlement and it is for legitimization of their terror campaign. So they don't want you to be vocal against them. They are into military conquest. They did not listen to us.

            They are beginning to pay the price.

            The Print Aug 26 2021

            Q. You are not ruling out a negotiated settlement but you know there are many countries now that are almost on the brink of recognizing Taliban. We have heard statements from China of course Pakistan has been involved in this entire process perhaps the United States also because there have been talks. There's been a so-called peace negotiation and settlement.

            So are you increasingly feeling isolated also or do you expect some kind of international support for the northern alliance and for the resistance force ?


            A. If the US makes another mistake i will not be surprised. We are currently seeing their colossal mistake unfolding in front of the eyes of the world because of the wrong political decisions. So I say those who will make this mistake of recognizing a factional, radical terrorist group as the government in Afghanistan will in a matter of time regret it because this is not going to last. It is not going to last




            Q. About the role of Pakistan. You know Pakistan made this commitment to the US that they will facilitate this entire process but we have seen US reports saying there are terror camps running in Pakistan.

            On the role of the Pakistan ISI, you've been a vocal critic of Pakistan as well.

            What do you expect will be the role of Pakistan now. Do you think a proxy government of Pakistan will be running, but they will be calling the shots ?


            A. Currently foreign minister Qureishi is more like a spokesperson of the Taliban, more like their foreign envoy than the foreign envoy of Pakistan. They have created this proxy, they have installed a proxy group in control of the capital Kabul and Afghanistan for now.

            Today the priorities for Pakistan should be

            - How to subsidize this regime and how to pay for the salaries of both the Taliban military and the civil servants.
            - How to feed Afghanistan
            - How to cater to the demands of a population who have lived under different circumstances for 20 years

            Will Pakistan have that economic stomach ? Will Pakistan be bigger than NATO ?

            It's a matter of time, Pakistanis have made a big miscalculation.

            Had the Taliban stopped at the gates of Kabul and offered political settlement most likely they would have got the heftiest ransom from the world community ever but they made this colossal mistake.

            The Pakistanis and the Taliban have broken it and now they own it.

            You cannot feed a population by prayers.
            You cannot feed the population by preaching
            You cannot feed the population by saying every day that we have defeated this or defeated that

            People need food, they need education, they need help, they need to travel around. This euphoria of capturing Kabul will end within days and reality will set in. And the reality is that the Pakistanis managed to provide every military assistance to their proxy to achieve what they have achieved.

            Can they govern through them ? No

            Mark my words, Pakistan will fail and it will fail in front of the global community.

            The only thing which will save Pakistan from failure, from revenge of the Afghan population is still to allow a political settlement to take place.

            Taliban are not representative of the diversity of Afghanistan, pluralism of Afghanistan, culture, of Afghanistan.

            Every single Afghan including the Taliban foot soldiers understand that the Taliban are puppets of Rawalpindi.

            Their leader is still in Rawalpindi. Bulk of their leaders who entered Afghanistan have entered through Peshawar, or Ghulam khan from Pakistan this is crystal clear.

            Does Pakistan have the stomach, strength and political will to alienate the whole world and bring down you know the dignity, reputation, standing and might, financial might of the whole world and subsidize Taliban ?

            If they have then congratulations.
            CNN-News 18 Aug 25 2021

            Q. Who do you blame for the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and why?
            What do you think will be the ramifications of Taliban's Kabul takeover both for Afghanistan and for the world at large ?
            Do you see Afghanistan and are you apprehensive that Afghanistan could become the breeding ground for terror ?


            A. 1) It's very clear the the Taliban were never under pressure in Pakistan, they used Pakistan as a support base. They were not having sanctuaries there, the whole of Pakistan was in the service of the Taliban.

            US tried to incentivize Pakistani cooperation, to buy it. The more they paid, more it emboldened the Pakistanis to provide services and aid to the Taliban. So the issue of a nuclear state sponsoring terrorism and insurgency against our western allies and the Afghan state was never at risk.

            2) The second reason is that Doha talks legitimised the Taliban. The Taliban did not remain loyal to their words. They did not honor their commitments and they fooled the whole international community. The purpose of the Doha office was to keep the international community divided, hopeful for a peace process which did not exist. They were investing in a military conquest and Pakistanis were backing them wholeheartedly and it was unwavering support.

            3) In the last two years the republic came under enormous pressure from our American allies. There was a time they blackmailed us. They said either you release the prisoners or we will cut your economic aid and decrease military assistance. We will entirely cut it. And we said are you sure these people do not end up back in the front line and their answer was no. Well they all ended up in the front line so it was not prisoner release, it was gifting the Taliban a division of highly radicalized fighters.

            4) There were people in our government who were not aware of the situation, who who were taking everything for granted and they were landed politicians.

            We cannot confine it to these four reasons there are numerous reasons which led to this tragedy.

            The bottom line is NATO is gone, US military is gone but the Afghan people are not gone and the Afghan people cannot be evacuated. Kabul airport is the tip of the iceberg. A country has sunk into a tragedy. Known terrorist groups have taken over Afghanistan today. For example a money launderer who was facilitating transactions between al Qaeda sympathizers and the Taliban has become governor of the Afghan central bank. Haqqanis are running Kabul and needless to explain who the Haqqanis are.

            This is a shame, this is a betrayal and I don't want to be part of that shame. I don't want to be part of that betrayal.

            We will fight, we will fight until the enemy believes and concludes that Afghanistan should remain Afghanistan and should not become Talibanistan.



            Q. There has to be a certain amount of blame that has to be shouldered by the erstwhile government too. You were first vice president in the Ashraf Ghani administration. Why couldn't you, your officials assess what was happening on the ground ?

            A. If a superpower decides to go this way or that way there there's so little or nothing we could do to change their attitude or change their direction.

            I do accept I have been a major player and I still continue to be a person of significance but

            - Did we have any say in the US decision ?
            - Did we have any say in the US way of negotiations with the Taliban ?

            No, because they did take note of what we were saying. We did not manage to influence their decisions.

            What is happening in Afghanistan, we have been warning them of these type of consequences for two years but we were ignored and they are paying the price, Afghans are paying the heaviest price and they are paying the price in terms of their reputation, their credibility, the value of their words and the value of their promises.

            You know this was a political decision, it was not a military decision, it was not an intelligence decision.

            We remain grateful to US, its people, government for all they did over the past 20 years but this one political misjudgment has brought about this fiasco.

            It wasn't the Taliban who won this war, it was the lack of political will in Washington which led this scramble to happen
            Last edited by Double Edge; 04 Sep 21,, 22:17.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
              How did you control the LOC's ? Unless you sealed the Af-pak border they would continue to retreat and return.
              As stated before, The TB had safe havens all over the place. With or without Pakistani territory, they had places to regroup and to recommit. Their recruitment were also from the Afghan population. Thus, unless we do a Mongol, we could not deny them their base. About the ONLY thing we can do is to offer the Afghans a choice between our version of Afghanistan (continuing civil war) or the TB's version (Islamic paradise)

              Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
              This is why you held the cities. Afg is quite urbanised. Over 80% of its population lives in cities.
              No, we control major hub intersections and choking points. You do note that NATO had company garrisons and platoon houses all over the place.

              Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
              How do you explain the TB checkpoints between cities then ?

              Illegal sure. But why were they there to begin with.
              Dog and pony shows meant to scare people, ready to run off to the hills the first hint of a military presence. No way to stop traffic that didn't want to be stopped. They did not control the roads. If they did, they would have choked off the cities and deny us maneuver. Never happenned.

              In all of history, you need two of three things to control a territory - money, people, or force. The TB never had the money not the force and the people were divided. We left because we don't want to spend anymore money and we never had the people.
              Last edited by Officer of Engineers; 04 Sep 21,, 22:01.
              Chimo

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                As stated before, The TB had safe havens all over the place. With or without Pakistani territory, they had places to regroup and to recommit. Their recruitment were also from the Afghan population.
                Rank and file might be Afghan. What about the commanders ?

                To continue an insurgency requires motivation. During the height of the Kashmir insurgency 90-00. The average age of militants drawn from the local population was 25-30.

                After the nineties were done, we noticed the locals turned into mules and the commanders were being imported.

                In the last ten years the avg age of militants in Kashmir dropped to either teens or early twenties. The commanders are predominantly Paks.

                Despite a fence and counter insurgency grids, a few sneak through. But there is no more will among the locals in the 25-30 age group to get into militancy.

                Why did this not happen in Afghanistan ?

                We're not out of the woods yet in J&K. Reverses are possible but for now we have a momentum going and the initiative.

                Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                Thus, unless we do a Mongol, we could not deny them their base.
                You've been using that Mongol term for over ten years. It was not an option for you neither was it for India.

                Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                About the ONLY thing we can do is to offer the Afghans a choice between our version of Afghanistan (continuing civil war) or the TB's version (Islamic paradise)
                An Islamic paradise that its people are fleeing from or accept at gunpoint. A vision that is pushed on them from a neighbouring country.

                The trouble with the TB is its based on ideological expansion. It's not a a political movement.

                Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                No, we control major hub intersections and choking points. You do note that NATO had company garrisons and platoon houses all over the place.
                The critique is you remained a garrison force and didn't push further.

                Originally posted by Lt. Gen AB Shivane
                You never fought. You were in garrisons carrying out indirect fires, drone attacks and all. And then allowing Taliban to control spaces.

                You have to move out, you have to reach out and put them on the back foot. It doesn't happen by garrison fighting or long-range technology fires. So you surrendered space to the Taliban.

                Second was the overestimation of the national defense force. You said that there is a 352,000 force. Actually a large portion was ghost soldiers. Then you came down to 298,000.

                They were poorly led because of corruption at higher levels. And they had little motivation so there was rampant corruption and desertions took place.

                The logistics you gave to the civilian corporations and your contractors. A lot of which went unaccounted.

                There was a whole lot of corruption going on. In the government, the military, the contractors.

                So it was bound to fail even at the military level. Be it logistics, be it leadership, be it tactics, be it strategy.

                And then you also spent money, call it good behavior money. Give it to the Taliban, Don't attack me. I'll pay you for it.

                Now if i'm honest, are you a professional army when you stay in a garrison and say please don't attack my garrison ?

                Be a good Taliban and we'll pay you for your goodness. You will lose their respect

                Even the unity of command of ISAF and the coalition force was suspect.
                Good behaviour money ? that's a new one for me.

                Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                Dog and pony shows meant to scare people, ready to run off to the hills the first hint of a military presence. No way to stop traffic that didn't want to be stopped. They did not control the roads. If they did, they would have choked off the cities and deny us maneuver. Never happenned.
                Yes if you had the force they could not stop you but what about the public ? They don't have the option of arguing with armed militants.

                Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                In all of history, you need two of three things to control a territory - money, people, or force. The TB never had the money not the force and the people were divided. We left because we don't want to spend anymore money and we never had the people.
                Your loss is mine as well. The people that wanted you to win the most are having a hard time accepting reality these days.
                Last edited by Double Edge; 05 Sep 21,, 01:01.

                Comment


                • Here's how Lt. Gen Shivane explained it

                  The US led Afghan experiment was bound to collapse sooner or later because it had a flawed entry strategy and no exit policy.


                  My second observation is wars are not won by nations and their arms, wars are won by people on your side.

                  A nation is defined by the people and they remain the center of gravity for lasting peace and prosperity of the nation.

                  You never looked at the people therefore you couldn't win the war.

                  You were there not to rebuild or reconstruct a war prone nation. You were there to kill.

                  You looked at myopic killing of a monster that you created and whom you fought and finally got him back on the throne.


                  My third observation is, wars are won and lost in the mind. Not only by fighting. That is the basic principle.

                  More in the mind, less in the physical. You might have technology.

                  I think the motivational level, the will to fight was receding and was being increasingly questioned.

                  And therefore a rag tag force with no major technology, no major kit actually won without fighting.



                  What are the reasons for failure ?

                  I would put them as strategic reasons, political reasons, military reasons, economic reasons and morale defeats.

                  Strategically the entry policy was flawed and there was no exit policy.

                  A military instrument in an anti-terrorist or a counter-insurgency operation at whatever level is meant to create conditions for lasting peace. So that a people's democratic or a people's organization and governance comes in which the country flourishes.

                  Now where did this 1.8 or 1 trillion go. All into military. I mean the infrastructure building, the education, the healthcare was minuscule.

                  It's all their facts and figures are there i wouldn't like to quote but 80 percent or 90 of it went towards fighting Taliban.

                  So strategically you were incorrect.



                  Militarily, you never fought. You were in garrisons carrying out indirect fires, drone attacks and all. And then allowing Taliban to control spaces. You have to move out, you have to reach out and put them on the back foot. It doesn't happen by garrison fighting or long-range technology fires.

                  So military went wrong as the spaces are always by taken by the Taliban.

                  Second was the overestimation of the national defense force. You said that there is a 352,000 force. Actually a large portion was ghost soldiers. Then you came down to 298,000. They were poorly led because of corruption at higher levels. And they had little motivation so they was rampant corruption and desertions which took place.

                  The logistics that you gave to the civilian corporations and your contractors. A lot of which went unaccounted.

                  There was a whole lot of corruption going on, the government, the military, the contractors.

                  So it was bound to fail even a the military level. Be it logistics, be it leadership, be it tactics, be it strategy.

                  And then you also spent money, call it good behavior money. Give it to the Taliban, Don't attack me. I'll pay you for it.

                  Now if i'm honest, are you a professional army when you stay in a garrison and say please don't attack my garrison ?

                  Be a good taliban and we'll pay you for your goodness. You will lose thier respect

                  Even the unity of command of ISAF and the coalition force was suspect.



                  Politically you went wrong. You didn't understand the politics of the region. You tried to enforce a democratic government by holding elections and doctoring it to a certain extent. Interfering would be a better word.

                  Writing the national constitution, shadow boxing in Doha.

                  But you always had a trust deficit with the nation as an organization. With its people and its government which was very obvious.

                  So politically you failed because you were off the mark.




                  Economically what did you do ? Economically again was a fail.

                  Pumped in so much of money. Narcotics trade went up many fold during your time

                  You never attempted in the logistics or nation building to create a self-reliant Afghanistan. Never looked at those issues.

                  So let us be fair, yes the positives are life expectancy increased, school enrollment increased, female literacy increased as per the world bank figures but finally you gave it back to the same terror organization that you were fighting.

                  For what ? Come back with body bags, wounded and rampant corruption that went on.




                  So where does the failure lie ? three things

                  Flawed US interventionist policies and leadership strategies at the macro level.

                  When they look at the globe and think that they've got a big hammer, they can do everything. That big hammer is also going to hurt their hand.

                  Second is the inability to address the ideology of the cause and look at Afghanistan in the myopic way. Not Af-Pak region or the other spread but the ideology needs to be curtailed.

                  And third is the shortcoming of the Afghanistan political leadership to to gain credence of their people for the cause towards peace and stability of the nation.

                  So that that's how i view the US and its policies.
                  Last edited by Double Edge; 05 Sep 21,, 01:18.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
                    Rank and file might be Afghan. What about the commanders ?
                    AFAIK, still Afghans.

                    Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
                    You've been using that Mongol term for over ten years. It was not an option for you neither was it for India.
                    I'm using it because it's the only historic option that worked and also in our histories as well. We burned Germany and Japan to the ground with their only hope against starvation was surrender. It's not an option because we chosed it but make no mistake, it's easy. Too damned easy. The Sepoys who marched to Kabul after the 1842 retreat left no man or boy or dog alive in Kabul.

                    Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
                    The critique is you remained a garrison force and didn't push further.
                    That is blatant bullshit right off the bat. To control the LOCs, you must travel the LOCs. The number if IED hits should tell you that no one was staying behind the walls. They travelled enough on the those roads for the TB to set up IED ambushes and also for us to watch and track them back to their staging points. No NATO force stayed behind the walls. Every single one went out on patrols. With the British, Americans, and Canadians actively hunting down TB strongholds. The man don't know what he's talking about.

                    Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
                    Yes if you had the force they could not stop you but what about the public ? They don't have the option of arguing with armed militants.

                    Your loss is mine as well. The people that wanted you to win the most are having a hard time accepting reality these days.
                    Again, you need control of two of the three of the money, the force, or the people. The TB could not control the flow of goods through the roads, ie no control of the money. Scaring the people makes people support probamatic and does nothing to gain you money nor military power.
                    Last edited by Officer of Engineers; 05 Sep 21,, 23:06.
                    Chimo

                    Comment


                    • Biden Flipped His Underpromise/Overdeliver Script On Afghanistan, With Disastrous Results

                      WASHINGTON — Having underpromised and overdelivered his way to a solid start to his presidency, President Joe Biden inexplicably flipped the script on his Afghanistan withdrawal — to disastrous effect.

                      The departure from Afghanistan would be done “deliberately,” he promised, not at all like the humiliating exit from Saigon a half-century earlier in Vietnam, and U.S. troops would stay until every American citizen who wanted out had been flown to safety.

                      In the end, none of those assurances was fulfilled. Even worse, the chaotic exit left 13 American service members and some 200 Afghans dead from a terrorist bombing — precisely the dire consequence Biden was determined to avoid by getting out of the country quickly.

                      “They raised expectations and then didn’t do the nuts-and-bolts planning. They were hoping for the best and didn’t prepare for these worst-case scenarios,” said Brian Katulis, an alumnus of former President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council and now a fellow at the Center for American Progress. “And they ended up with the worst case.”

                      From his COVID-19 vaccine drive to his stimulus plan to bipartisan progress on his infrastructure proposal, Biden had set modest goals and earned both strong job approval ratings and the air of competence. Much of that success has been undone, new polling shows, as Americans, while still supporting his objective of leaving Afghanistan, are unhappy with how he managed it.

                      And advocates for the tens of thousands of Afghans who helped the United States’ efforts there over the past two decades are beside themselves with anger and frustration. The majority of those Afghan allies and their families — a pool of some 88,000 earlier this year — remain in Afghanistan, with the new Taliban rulers searching them out and killing them.

                      “This is chaos of their own creation,” said Matt Zeller, an Afghanistan veteran and co-founder of the group No One Left Behind that works to extract Afghan interpreters and others who helped the U.S. war effort.
                      They were hoping for the best and didn’t prepare for these worst-case scenarios. And they ended up with the worst case. Brian Katulis, fellow, Center for American Progress

                      Exactly why Biden chose the Afghanistan withdrawal — a task over which outside actors like the former government of Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban and rival terror groups like ISIS-K had enormous influence — to make such sweeping promises is unclear. One major factor is that the administration truly believed it had considerably more time to stage an orderly exit than it did, based on what turned out to be a wildly optimistic assessment regarding the stability and strength of Ghani’s government.

                      Biden himself laid that out in his remarks on Tuesday when he explicitly blamed Ghani for much of the tumult. “The people of Afghanistan watched their own government collapse and the president flee amid the corruption and malfeasance, handing over the country to their enemy, the Taliban, and significantly increasing the risk to U.S. personnel and our allies,” he said.

                      To the Afghan advocates — most of whom generally support Biden, particularly compared to his predecessor Donald Trump and his anti-refugee policies — the idea that the U.S.-backed government could hang on after the U.S. departure when it had been steadily losing territory to the Taliban for years, and especially after Trump’s February 2020 peace agreement with the Taliban, was magical thinking.

                      “They should have challenged that assumption. They should have been asking: ‘What if, in the end, it all goes to hell?’” said Mark Jacobson, an Afghanistan war veteran who runs Syracuse University’s Maxwell School programs in Washington. “I think the collapse was quite possibly inevitable as soon as Trump signed his surrender.”


                      Inheriting Trump’s Taliban Deal
                      Biden and his White House have been keenly aware of the criticism surrounding the U.S. departure, particularly after Kabul fell to the Taliban. The evacuation suddenly took on life-and-death urgency, and the United States was forced to work with Taliban leaders who, not too long ago, it had been trying to kill.

                      Biden has pointed out several times that he was not the one who negotiated the agreement that essentially gave the Taliban control of Afghanistan upon the United States’ departure. It was Trump who agreed to lift sanctions and effect the release of 5,000 Taliban fighters from prison, all without the involvement of the U.S.-allied Afghan government.

                      “This is not a preferred relationship or a situation that we would have designed if we had started from scratch,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Aug. 27.

                      One administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that, while not optimal, American diplomats and armed forces still got 120,000 at-risk people out of the country in a matter of a few weeks — an accomplishment that would not have been possible without the groundwork that began soon after Biden took office.

                      “The Trump administration had not made any plans to evacuate Afghans at all,” the official said. “Obviously, hindsight is 20/20. It is apparent now that Afghan morale was very shaky. But the operating assumption was that the government of Kabul was not going to fall as quickly as it did.”

                      Biden pushed that assumption hard, both in his April 14 speech laying out his goal to leave by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as well as his July 8 speech providing a more detailed timeline to leave by the end of August.

                      “Together, with our NATO allies and partners, we have trained and equipped over 300,000 current serving members of the military — of the Afghan National Security Force,” he said in the later speech.

                      Indeed, it was following that July speech that Biden complicated matters for himself by promising that the departure from Afghanistan would look nothing like the exit from Saigon 46 years earlier. “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan,” he said.

                      And on Aug. 18, three days after the fall of Kabul, Biden promised in an ABC interview that, notwithstanding his Aug. 31 deadline, American troops would remain as long as there were American citizens who wanted to leave.

                      In the end, U.S. diplomats were evacuated from the embassy using helicopters after the Taliban seized Kabul, and as many as 200 American citizens were left behind when the last U.S. military flight left the city’s airport on Aug. 31.

                      Both were off-the-cuff comments by Biden personally, not part of workshopped remarks, and wound up creating problems for him and his staff.

                      One longtime former aide said such freelance excursions are simply one of Biden’s traits. “That is just the nature of working for Joe Biden,” he said on condition of anonymity.

                      He added, though, that Biden has opposed the Afghanistan War since 2009 when he was Barack Obama’s vice president, and even more so after the death of his son, Beau, following his diagnosis of brain cancer, which Biden believes was linked to the toxins he was exposed to during his deployment in Iraq.

                      More than anything else, Biden wanted to bring American troops back and never again have to comfort parents grieving the loss of a child there, the former aide said, which was apparent in the latter half of the speech Biden delivered on Tuesday.

                      “Which is clearly the speech he has wanted to give for a decade,” the former aide added.

                      Saving Too Few Afghans, Too Late
                      To supporters of the United States’ Afghan allies, the roots of today’s problems go back not just one decade, but two, from the moment the United States decided to remain in Afghanistan after removing the Taliban from power for providing a safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorists to plan and train for the Sept. 11 attacks.

                      Staying and standing up a new government and security force meant enlisting the help of locals as interpreters, translators, logistical staff for the military occupation, clerical and custodial staff at the embassy, and countless others. That should have led, way back then, to planning for the day U.S. forces left, when some or all of those local allies would need evacuating to protect them from reprisals, advocates said.

                      No such planning, however, happened then. It wasn’t until 2009 that Congress passed a law providing for “special immigrant visas” for such Afghans, and it wasn’t until a tweaking of the language in Obama’s second term that the State Department implemented a system that began to work passably well.

                      All that ground to a halt during Trump’s administration, as his anti-immigrant, anti-refugee views set the tone throughout his executive branch, including the State Department. Trump and his top immigration policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had no interest in bringing Afghan allies into the United States at all — a sentiment they continue to express today — even after Trump announced publicly he was negotiating with the Taliban to withdraw all American forces.

                      “That marks another time that plans not just should have been drawn up, but taken off the shelves and operationalized,” said Sunil Varghese, policy director with the International Refugee Assistance Project.

                      Which meant that when Biden took office in January with a goal of leaving Afghanistan, he needed to have come up with a plan to immediately ramp up SIV processing, create a new visa for those ineligible for the SIV but whose lives would still be at risk, and start moving those people out as soon as possible, Varghese and other Afghan advocates said.

                      Biden administration officials point out that they did increase staffing in the Kabul embassy to process visas not long after taking office, and that flights out of the country for SIV-holders and their families began at the end of July, with more than 2,000 flown out of the country by the time Kabul fell to the Taliban two weeks later.

                      To advocates, though, those numbers are laughably inadequate when the total number of Afghans who needed evacuation was well over 100,000.

                      No One Left Behind’s Zeller said that his group and others began pushing the Biden administration in early February to start moving vulnerable Afghans out of the provinces that winter, while the mountain passes into the Taliban winter camps in Pakistan were still snowbound.

                      “This could have been done quietly. Methodically. When we still controlled all these air bases with 2,500 troops. When the Taliban couldn’t have fielded an army. In the middle of winter, they’re all sitting at home freezing their asses off,” he said. “No one was listening. I can’t begin to explain why.”

                      What’s more, a detailed plan for the evacuation should have been drawn up and implemented right then, not created at the last minute with the Taliban bearing down on Kabul.

                      “We should not be trying to build the aircraft while we’re flying it over the Pacific,” he said.

                      A Much More Difficult Mission
                      Biden and his team have publicly moved on from Afghanistan. He has not spoken of it since his speech marking the end of the war last week, and on Friday, he resumed the official and personal travel he had put on hold during the Kabul airlift, with a trip to see hurricane damage in New Orleans followed by a holiday weekend at home in Delaware.

                      For those pushing the case of America’s Afghan allies, though, the work is far from over.

                      At most risk are those who worked directly with the United States or NATO, those eligible for SIVs — the majority of whom could not make it safely to the airport after Kabul fell, Varghese said.

                      “It was complete confusion as to if you go to the airport, how do you get inside. As far as I can tell, there was no organized plan, at least for Afghans,” he said.

                      Now, those people will need diplomatic help to get them out of the country.

                      “People are in hiding. The Taliban are going door to door looking for collaborators. Women who are out are being told to stay home,” he said. “The United States was able to evacuate thousands of people, and we’re grateful for that. ... As to the remaining people, I just have to trust that the administration has a plan.”

                      The Center for American Progress’ Katulis said he still cannot understand what happened and why. “We haven’t had a complete accounting of what went wrong here,” he said, adding that it seemed that the process was more reflective of a domestic policy debate than one centered around national security. “There didn’t seem to be an action plan there.”

                      Zeller said he will continue trying to get Afghan allies out, but understands full well that the United States is now limited to diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. “That will all have to be at the Taliban’s discretion,” he said. “They’re not a reformed group. They’re just as evil as they were in the ’90s. They’re just better armed this time.”

                      He said that he also doesn’t understand why the departure was not better-planned but assumes that coming congressional inquiries could help answer that question. “Congress is going to formally ask in a couple of weeks,” he said. “And I can’t wait to testify.”
                      ________

                      It's one thing to be handed a complete shit sandwich by an obvious skid mark like Donald Trump. It's another thing entirely to make things worse through your own failure to plan.
                      “He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.”

                      Comment


                      • Remnants of the Afghan Defence Forces, alongside the Panjshiri militia have put up a valiant fight against the Taliban. They are simply being outmanned and outgunned by the Taliban and the list of their dead has started mounting since last night. Next time Biden or his supporters say the Afghans did not put up a fight against the Taliban, remind them of Panjshir. They fought and died till the bitter end..
                        Cow is the only animal that not only inhales oxygen, but also exhales it.
                        -Rekha Arya, Former Minister of Animal Husbandry

                        Comment


                        • Panjshir never had a chance of holding out beyond a point. They are heavily outnumbered and surrounded with no link to the Tajikistan border and no way for them to be resupplied. And they have no Russian support this time around. The Russians seem to be toeing the Chinese line about supporting the Taliban now.

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                          • Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                            Pakistan is a strawman argument. At no time did Pakistani actions or inactions affected our combat tempo (Canada, UK, and US were the only ones conducting offensive combat actions). We were conducting combat operations deep into Khandahar and Helmand and this was at aTaliban best road logistics but mostly foot. This means there were safe depots throughout Afghanistan. While Pakistan teritories certainly helped, by no means were the Taliban was going to be hampered by it. Keep in mind that these were mostly company level actions, at best reduced battalion. Two thousand Canadians held Khandahar. That is laughable by WWII standards.

                            Pakistan is another example of placing blame on everything else except accepting responsibility. We gave the Afghans a Afghanistan they didn't want, one this at best, mired in Civil War while being robbed/denied monies by Kabul.
                            They did not affect you because they were holding back. The Taliban are vulnerable when they fight NATO inside Afghanistan and they know it. They also know they are completely safe from your troops as long as they hide inside Pakistan where they can also retrain and resupply (and recruit), so that's what they did and reemerged as you started drawing down your troops over the years. There are enough accounts by US troops of their frustration at their Taliban foes easily retreating over the border where they could not touch them. Anyway, it is pointless to argue about this now. We are looking at a Taliban ruled Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. 20 years of blood, sweat and money spent there by the US has been utterly pointless and the weary American public is in no mood to ask tough questions of those who presided over this fiasco.

                            There is a famous video of Hamid Gul the former ISI Director General (1987-89), wherein he brags that Pakistan defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan using American money. The interesting part is what he says after -- Pakistan will now defeat America in Afghanistan using American money. They were straight up telling you guys what they were going to do and your leaders sat back and watched it happen. Incompetence and stupidity are both very mild words to describe this. Even in that final phone call between Ghani and Biden which has now become famous, Ghani makes it a point to mention that they are facing a Pakistani supported invasion which Biden of course does not even acknowledge.
                            Last edited by Firestorm; 06 Sep 21,, 00:16.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Firestorm View Post
                              There are enough accounts by US troops of their frustration at their Taliban foes easily retreating over the border where they could not touch them.
                              You're missing the bigger pciture. If the TB could retreat back into Pakistan, that means that those TB were contained at the border. However, they have other ways to escape and evade inside Afghanistan. Hiding amongst the civilians discourages active combat pursuits since our ROEs do not allow intentionally live collateral damage.

                              Originally posted by Firestorm View Post
                              Anyway, it is pointless to argue about this now. We are looking at a Taliban ruled Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. 20 years of blood, sweat and money spent there by the US has been utterly pointless and the weary American public is in no mood to ask tough questions of those who presided over this fiasco.
                              This was lost the day Afghanistan was off the 6 o'clock news. Were there any parades for any NATO members when they left Afghanistan? I certainly don't remember Trudeau reviewing any returning troops. You're probably too youig to remember but the Vietnam War was lost the day Americans started saying no to Vietnam. Americans have been saying no to Afganistan a lot earlier than Biden becoming President.

                              Originally posted by Firestorm View Post
                              There is a famous video of Hamid Gul the former ISI Director General (1987-89), wherein he brags that Pakistan defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan using American money. The interesting part is what he says after -- Pakistan will now defeat America in Afghanistan using American money. They were straight up telling you guys what they were going to do and your leaders sat back and watched it happen. Incompetence and stupidity are both very mild words to describe this. Even in that final phone call between Ghani and Biden which has now become famous, Ghani makes it a point to mention that they are facing a Pakistani supported invasion which Biden of course does not even acknowledge.
                              There's only one blame. We couldn't stomache the mountain of skulls needed to make Afghanistan the Afghanistan we wanted.
                              Chimo

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                                Were there any parades for any NATO members when they left Afghanistan?
                                Germany was planning a larger ceremony for August 31st. We don't do parades anymore in the last 50 years, but it's basically at the same exposure level. The ceremony was planned to involve, in this order:
                                1. official service at the central memorial for fallen Bundeswehr soldiers
                                2. talks of the Federal President and Minister of Defense with soldiers, veterans and relatives of casualties
                                3. formal mustering at the Ministry of Defence to conclude the Afghanistan mission, with speech by Federal President
                                4. President of the Federal Parliament hosting and reviewing soldiers returning from the mission (also emphasizing role as parliamentary army)
                                5. Großer Zapfenstreich formal ceremony (highest-rank ceremony) in public at the Republic Square in front of the Reichstag building (i.e. federal parliament)
                                But yes, when the mission ended and soldiers returned they weren't received with any sorts of honours here either. The minister of defense herself was ouf of the country (in the US) at the time, members of the defense committee - who wanted to take part - were not informed when and where the last guys would come in. The soldiers' union and veteran groups raised a stink about that, and after lower-profile politicians in the government parties got lobbied hard the above plans (in particular points 4 and 5) were the result.

                                Due to the Kabul evacuation the ceremony was cancelled and postponed and will occur later this year. The MoD is now planning October, though they're "looking for a fitting date in that month".
                                Last edited by kato; 06 Sep 21,, 13:05.

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