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  • Petraeus Sees Military Progress in Afghanistan

    Petraeus testifies in Congress next week. The question of whether we are on target to start pulling troops out this coming August will loom large at the hearing. Gates today affirmed that we are on schedule. Will that make it harder to solidify the gains Patraeus speaks of? Are we indeed doing as well as Patraeus says? What is missing here, if anything?




    Petraeus Sees Military Progress in Afghanistan
    By CARLOTTA GALL
    Published: March 8, 2011


    The general made his case for an improving overall picture in Afghanistan in an interview, offering a preview of what is likely to be his argument next week when he testifies before Congress for the first time since he took over command of coalition forces in Afghanistan eight months ago.

    It will also be his first testimony since the influx of additional American and Afghan troops began to change the balance of the fighting in southern Afghanistan in late 2010.

    Under General Petraeus, the tempo of operations has been stepped up enormously. American Special Operations forces and coalition commandos have mounted more than 1,600 missions in the 90 days before March 4 — an average of 18 a night — and the troops have captured and killed close to 3,000 insurgents, according to information provided by the general.

    “The momentum of the Taliban has been halted in much of the country and reversed in some important areas,” he said.

    “The Taliban have never been under the pressure that they were put under over the course of the last 8 to 10 months,” he added.

    Other aspects of the war remain difficult, and progress is patchy and slow, General Petraeus conceded. There has been only modest momentum on efforts to persuade Taliban fighters to give up the fight and join a reintegration program, and a plan to train and install thousands of local police officers in rural communities to mobilize resistance to the Taliban has proved to be a painstaking business constrained by concerns that it will create militias loyal to warlords.

    But security in and around Kabul has significantly improved, he said, thanks in part to specialized commando units of the Afghan Army, the police and the intelligence service, which operate in the greater Kabul area.

    In 2009, Kabul was encircled by Taliban forces and there was talk of the capital’s falling to the insurgents, but now much of the greater Kabul area has been secured, he said.

    President Hamid Karzai is to announce on the Afghan New Year, March 21, the beginning of the transition to Afghan control of some districts around the country, part of the plan to pass responsibility for security to the Afghan government by 2014.

    The Taliban are expected to try to retake lost territory in coming months, and in particular to single out those districts in transition, the general said. But he said coalition forces would mount their own spring offensive to pre-empt Taliban efforts to retake lost territory.

    “You cannot eliminate all the sensationalist attacks,” he said. “That is one of the objectives for our spring offensive — to solidify those gains and push them back further.”

    Over the past four months, coalition forces have seen a fourfold increase in the number of weapons and explosives caches found and cleared, in large measure because the Taliban were forced out of territory they had held for up to five years, he said.

    “The Taliban had to leave hastily, and the fighters and leaders were killed, captured or run off, and if they were run off they could not cart off all the I.E.D. and weapons and explosives that they had established over five years in some cases,” the general said, referring to improvised explosive devices.

    Troops were finding more than 120 explosives and weapons caches a month recently compared with 40 a month a year ago, according to information from the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan provided by the general.

    Destroying the infrastructure the Taliban had built up over the years, including field hospitals, weapons stores, bomb-making factories, safe houses and even detention facilities, would make it harder for them to regain the territory, he said. “Not having those will make their job more difficult this spring,” he said.

    Many of the Taliban leaders and fighters had escaped to sanctuaries in Pakistan, he said, and coalition forces would focus in coming months on a strategy called “defense and depth,” blocking their return through strategic border regions that the insurgents traditionally used, namely in southern Helmand, eastern Kandahar and eastern Nangarhar Provinces, where Afghanistan borders Pakistan, and preventing them from regaining control of their old havens in Afghanistan.

    As Afghanistan braces for an increase in fighting that traditionally occurs in the spring, however, tensions over civilian casualties have flared again, after an episode in eastern Afghanistan last week when American helicopter gunners killed nine boys collecting firewood.

    A time lag between the sighting of a group of insurgents by ground forces and the relay of the information to a helicopter attack team led to the deaths, the general said, citing a preliminary inquiry. The attack team believed that the group of boys was the group of insurgents, he said.

    “They thought they saw the same group but did not, and there was a gap in time before the final positive identification from the ground force until the handoff to the weapons team,” he said. “Beyond a human tragedy, it was a terrible and tragic mistake.”

    That episode on March 1 came soon after a more controversial attack in the same region that the Afghan government said killed 65 civilians on Feb. 17. Mr. Karzai rejected General Petraeus’s earlier explanation that the victims were Taliban fighters, and he refused to accept his apology on Sunday for the deaths of the nine boys.

    President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have also apologized to Mr. Karzai and the Afghan people for the deaths.

    “This kind of event does clearly undermine the trust between the Afghan government and ISAF, and more important, between the Afghan people and ISAF,” General Petraeus conceded. The full investigation was nearly complete, he said, and a review had been ordered of the tactical directive given to troops. He declined comment on the Feb. 17 episode.

    Despite the flare-up, relations with President Karzai were good, the general insisted. The two meet several times a week, including for one-on-one meetings. “We have open and forthright conversations with one another,” he said.

    Over all, he noted, civilian casualties caused by Afghan and coalition forces had declined in 2010 by about 20 percent from the previous year, which he said was “impressive” given the deployment of 100,000 more Afghan and coalition troops and the increase in operations in 2010.

    A United Nations report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan to be released Wednesday would show the majority — 75 percent — of civilian casualties in 2010 were caused by Taliban and insurgent attacks, he said.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/wo...s.html?_r=1&hp
    To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

  • #2
    A good read JAD.......

    Under General Petraeus, the tempo of operations has been stepped up enormously. American Special Operations forces and coalition commandos have mounted more than 1,600 missions in the 90 days before March 4 — an average of 18 a night — and the troops have captured and killed close to 3,000 insurgents, according to information provided by the general.
    Highly impressive numbers, and this is the area where there is absolutely no way the AFGHAN forces will be even able to do this never mind match it, will we keep SOF indefinately in A'Stan? .........

    Think you may find this interesting also JAD?

    Employing ISR: SOF best practices | Joint Force Quarterly | Find Articles at BNET
    sigpicFEAR NAUGHT

    Should raw analytical data ever be passed to policy makers?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by T_igger_cs_30 View Post
      Highly impressive numbers, and this is the area where there is absolutely no way the AFGHAN forces will be even able to do this never mind match it, will we keep SOF indefinately in A'Stan? .........

      Think you may find this interesting also JAD?

      Employing ISR: SOF best practices | Joint Force Quarterly | Find Articles at BNET
      Excellent article, Tigger...It answers the question I've long had about how insurgents hiding among civilians are found. I note the article is 2-3 years old and is in the public domain. I wonder if an insurgency leader can adapt his operations to counter the techniques discussed in it.

      Back to the Petraeus article. One could surmise that the US is rushing to stabalize the situation in A-stan so after the hand over to the Afghan military whatever goes wrong is the Afghan's affair.
      To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

      Comment


      • #4
        Jad - response

        Excellent article, Tigger...It answers the question I've long had about how insurgents hiding among civilians are found. I note the article is 2-3 years old and is in the public domain. I wonder if an insurgency leader can adapt his operations to counter the techniques discussed in it.
        Yes, public now, but the info was gathered over a preiod of about 5 or 6 years stating back in 2003 I believe, nothing in it now that the bad guys would not have gotten to know about already anyway......

        Back to the Petraeus article. One could surmise that the US is rushing to stabalize the situation in A-stan so after the hand over to the Afghan military whatever goes wrong is the Afghan's affair
        I concur, everyone seems to be doing the same thing, and sadly ..............as history as shown us many times (especially us Brits) how long before we are back to square one 2001?
        sigpicFEAR NAUGHT

        Should raw analytical data ever be passed to policy makers?

        Comment


        • #5
          A mess,but what a sight the victory parade will soon be.
          So far the population control is zilch.The local forces are presumed to be loyal to the local warlords(wow,quelle surprise) and their creation is made difficult by this.The sanctuaries are fine and they do their job as always.
          About the infrastructure,the Vietminh(a random example) had an official policy not to defend any such base if under attack.The taliban will miss them,but they're probably getting under anyway, to let the storm pass.They survived from 2001 to 2004 under worse strategic circumstances.

          Brilliant tactical performance,superb operational vision,zero strategy for winning the war(as opposed to simply ending it).Nothing new to see here,I'm moving on.
          Those who know don't speak
          He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

          Comment


          • #6
            Mihais Reply

            "Nothing new to see here,I'm moving on."

            Concur. Fully so.

            Tactics? Solid given the constraints. Operations? The vision is there. Is the implementation? Strategy? Wallowing and meandering towards the exit with multiple yokes attached around our neck.

            But exit we will...with the interminable gait of a tortoise while burning countless billions to no useful strategic purpose.

            "Mr. Karzai rejected General Petraeus’s earlier explanation that the victims were Taliban fighters, and he refused to accept his apology on Sunday for the deaths of the nine boys...

            ...Despite the flare-up, relations with President Karzai were good, the general insisted. The two meet several times a week, including for one-on-one meetings. 'We have open and forthright conversations with one another,' he said."


            Completely disingenuous on the general's part, IMV. The latter demands vast elaboration given the former. You can't utter both without a substantive explanation to bring together the obvious dis-connect here.
            "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
            "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by S2 View Post
              "Nothing new to see here,I'm moving on."

              Concur. Fully so.
              The article offers only a glimpse of what Patraeus may report in his upcoming testimony before Congress.


              "Mr. Karzai rejected General Petraeus’s earlier explanation that the victims were Taliban fighters, and he refused to accept his apology on Sunday for the deaths of the nine boys...

              ...Despite the flare-up, relations with President Karzai were good, the general insisted. The two meet several times a week, including for one-on-one meetings. 'We have open and forthright conversations with one another,' he said."


              Completely disingenuous on the general's part, IMV. The latter demands vast elaboration given the former. You can't utter both without a substantive explanation to bring together the obvious dis-connect here.

              The reporter got the reaction he wanted. Notice where the quotes marks are. The reporter took the first sentence you cited and stuck it in the article to create a contrast the next sentence in which Patraeus says his relations with Karzai are good. It's not at all clear whether Patraeus was replying to the apology-rejection thing or just responding to a question about how he gets along with Karzai. Reporters do this all the time.
              To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

              Comment


              • #8
                JAD_333 Reply

                "The reporter got the reaction he wanted..."

                I didn't particularly need the reporter's play on context to evoke my reaction. There's nothing especially new about Karzai's tempestuous relations with American senior staff.

                This simply is just one more indication.

                "The article offers only a glimpse of what Patraeus may report in his upcoming testimony before Congress."

                My position is clear and has been since 2007. My post count on the war is waaaay down. Doesn't mean I haven't continued to follow closely. Daily read at SWJ's news wrap-up keeps me abreast. Mihais is correct on every count. The tactical performance of our troops remains generally stellar. Our operational vision is reasonable but unimplementable under the burdens long faced, acknowledged and ignored.

                Our strategic intent utterly befuddling.

                I'm sure the reporter had some cheap ploy at hand. So what? It wasn't necessary. We've been rather cheaply played as a public far longer by those far more important. We'll hear/read/see yet another presentation that'll spell gloom n' doom but offer another light at the end of the tunnel. Things improving. Metrics up. Things looking good. Caches seized and commanders captured. Enemy demoralized and disrupted.

                WE CAN DO THIS.

                As such, color me utterly cynical and thoroughly disillusioned. We've been immersed in spin of varying degrees for too long and, collectively, have been numbed to the quick.
                "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by S2 View Post
                  "The reporter got the reaction he wanted..."

                  I didn't particularly need the reporter's play on context to evoke my reaction. There's nothing especially new about Karzai's tempestuous relations with American senior staff.

                  This simply is just one more indication.

                  "The article offers only a glimpse of what Patraeus may report in his upcoming testimony before Congress."

                  My position is clear and has been since 2007. My post count on the war is waaaay down. Doesn't mean I haven't continued to follow closely. Daily read at SWJ's news wrap-up keeps me abreast. Mihais is correct on every count. The tactical performance of our troops remains generally stellar. Our operational vision is reasonable but unimplementable under the burdens long faced, acknowledged and ignored.

                  Our strategic intent utterly befuddling.

                  I'm sure the reporter had some cheap ploy at hand. So what? It wasn't necessary. We've been rather cheaply played as a public far longer by those far more important. We'll hear/read/see yet another presentation that'll spell gloom n' doom but offer another light at the end of the tunnel. Things improving. Metrics up. Things looking good. Caches seized and commanders captured. Enemy demoralized and disrupted.

                  WE CAN DO THIS.

                  As such, color me utterly cynical and thoroughly disillusioned. We've been immersed in spin of varying degrees for too long and, collectively, have been numbed to the quick.
                  Steve, I wasn't trying to provoke nor did I expect a belligerent reply from you.

                  My comment in response to "nothing here...move on" was to suggest there may be more in his testimony next week.

                  My comment about reporters methods were in response to your comment that you found Patraeus' response "disingenuous". I merely speculated that the reporter probably slipped in the bit about apology-refused to make Patraeus' appear disingenuous.
                  To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    JAD_333 Reply

                    "Steve, I wasn't trying to provoke nor did I expect a belligerent reply from you."

                    John, my sincere apology should you take my response as belligerent. I certainly didn't sense provocation from your post nor did I intend a belligerent reply.

                    No doubt my disdain for our strategic ineptitude has seeped into my response. I regret you may have taken offense to such.
                    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      John,

                      Don't mind Steve.

                      The Dude was just channelling his inner Walter for a minute there!
                      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                      Mark Twain

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by S2 View Post
                        "Steve, I wasn't trying to provoke nor did I expect a belligerent reply from you."

                        John, my sincere apology should you take my response as belligerent. I certainly didn't sense provocation from your post nor did I intend a belligerent reply.

                        No doubt my disdain for our strategic ineptitude has seeped into my response. I regret you may have taken offense to such.
                        Steve, no apology necessary, but appreciated. Written communication is tricky and, if truth be told, I should have just moved on without commenting. Therefore, please accept my apology for not perceiving that you were just reiterating your thoughts on the overall situation.

                        BTW, is the ineptitude you speak of refer to the past or the present?
                        To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                          John,

                          Don't mind Steve.

                          The Dude was just channelling his inner Walter for a minute there!
                          lol...it's Walter over the dam...
                          To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Might As Well Laugh Lest You Cry

                            We can do everything it takes to win this war except annex Afghanistan as our 51st state. Therein lies our ultimate failure despite anything else.

                            We're not the government. We not the cops, schoolteachers nor citizens. We're all graduates of Civics 101. We know how these institutions work and we do our part to help them work toward our benefit.

                            Our LONG TERM benefit.

                            Not the afghans. Doesn't work that way. It's all about today and, maybe, tomorrow. Whether they know we're leaving or not, they'll take what we can provide...today. Especially if they know we're leaving they'll take what we can provide today...but they won't embrace it because somebody's going to come along and whack their head off for getting too far ahead of themselves after we've left.

                            Taliban, warlord, druglord, corrupt cop or soldier, the net result looks the same lying by the side of the road. We can clear and build all day long but we won't be holding and neither will they.
                            "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                            "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Afghanistan 'suicide bombing' kills 36 at army centre

                              At least 36 people have been killed in an apparent suicide attack on an army recruitment centre in northern Afghanistan, local officials have said.
                              BBC News - Afghanistan 'suicide bombing' kills 36 at army centre

                              Same old same old.......... one step forward two steps back..... how can we even begin to think we are ready to hand over?
                              sigpicFEAR NAUGHT

                              Should raw analytical data ever be passed to policy makers?

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