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Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan (Read 157380 times)
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1300 on:
May 16, 2012, 07:37:47 PM »
Its only money
, so the lossses that Pak suffered by stopping transit for 6 months needs to be compensated for....sort of like the IRS, penalty fees apply.
Pakistan seeks $5,000 transit fee for each NATO container
By Richard Leiby and Karen DeYoung, Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 7:19 PM
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani negotiators have proposed a fee of about $5,000 for each NATO shipping container and tanker that transits its territory by land into and out of Afghanistan.
The amount is a key sticking point in discussions about the terms of a deal that would allow the traffic to resume, about six months after Pakistan closed its border crossings, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
The two countries are allies but their relationship has been plagued by mistrust over the last 50 years.
Officials said Tuesday that a deal was imminent, after they reached agreement in principal on reopening the transit corridors. But the details are being negotiated.
“The framework is ready, but we are now looking at rates,” a Pakistani official said.
A U.S. official emphasized that the United States has not agreed to any figure.
According to officials from both countries, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the closed-door negotiations here, Pakistan proposed the figure after calculating its total outlays for damaged infrastructure — primarily wear and tear on its roads from the heavy vehicles — as well as security costs and a newly imposed tariff.
Pakistani officials said they had also taken into account their belief that NATO, by using alternative, far longer transport routes through Central Asia, is paying at least double the amount they have requested.
Nonetheless, payment for what are known as the Pakistani GLOCs, for Ground Lines of Communication, has been difficult for the Pentagon to swallow, because access previously was considered free. But other U.S. officials have pointed out that the United States has given Pakistan billions over the past decade as compensation for its counterterrorism efforts. That money is expected to be discontinued as the new arrangements are put in place.
Pakistan says it is still owed more than $3 billion for past operations; the United States puts the figure at about $1.3 billion.
The transport agreement is being considered as a matter separate from other aspects of the bilateral security relationship, including Pakistan’s rejection of U.S. drone attacks on militants inside its borders. Discussions on that issue are continuing between senior intelligence officials.
Pakistan closed its borders to the shipments after a U.S. air raid in November along the Afghan border left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead. A U.S. military investigation concluded that both sides were at fault, and the United States expressed regret. But Pakistan called it an unprovoked attack and demanded an apology.
Before the closures, more than 70 percent of NATO’s supplies in Afghanistan — largely paid for and utilized by the United States — traveled over land from the Pakistani port of Karachi. The route has become even more important to U.S. and coalition forces as they begin the combat troop withdrawal scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.
The pullout will be discussed at a NATO summit in Chicago this weekend. The alliance invited Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to the summit this week once it became clear that a transit agreement was near.
Some analysts here speculated that Zardari might wait to announce in Chicago any new deal with NATO. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s unwieldy cabinet — 53 ministers in all — took up the matter but ended the day with no decision except to reinforce the Parliament’s recommendation that shipments contain no weaponry or lethal supplies.
U.S. officials noted that the parliamentary recommendations being debated referred only to nonlethal supplies traveling into Afghanistan but proposed no such restriction on outgoing goods.
Although Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters after the Wednesday meeting that “no decision on NATO supplies will be made under any pressure,” the government here is eager to resolve the issue, which has left thousands of containers sitting in lots near two border crossings and countless Pakistani transport and other workers idle.
DeYoung reported from Washington.
Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 07:39:45 PM by ya
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1301 on:
May 20, 2012, 02:31:10 PM »
Looks like the paki govt has upped the tolls, from 250$/car toll to 5000$/car.
'Hafta' discord: US, Pak squabble over transit fee
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN | May 20, 2012, 09.30PM IST
WASHINGTON: The United States is all too familiar with Nafta - the North Atlantic Free trade Agreement - but it is now learning the meaning of 'hafta', the subcontinental expression for protection money collected by gangsters.
On the eve of the Nato summit in President Barack Obama's hometown Chicago to discuss the future of Afghanistan, Washington is locked in a bitter wrangle with Islamabad over the so-called ''transit fees'' for US/Nato containers carrying supplies through Pakistan to landlocked Afghanistan.
Pakistan is demanding $5000 per container;
the US says it is too much and expressions such as price-gouging and blackmail are being bandied around.
The scrap is getting ugly. Over the weekend, even as Pakistan's survivalist President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Chicago as a late invitee, US defense secretary Leon Panetta stepped into the dispute raging in the lower level bureaucracy of both sides, ruling out the $ 5000 per container that Pakistan is demanding.
"Considering the financial challenges that we're facing, that's not likely," Panetta told Los Angeles Times of the Pakistani demand.
The US was paying Pakistan $250 per container
till late last year before a rash of crises starting with the Raymond Davis episode and culminating with the Salala incident, with the Abbottabad raid to kill Osama bin Laden in between, brought the tormented ties between the two sides to a bitter pass. Pakistan has upped the ante and the price of cooperation since then, enhancing its reputation as a rentier state that uses self-generated crises to extract money. Islamabad's argument purportedly is that $5000 per container is still less than what the US is having to spend on the alternative Northern Distribution Network.
In Washington, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman told CNN that Pakistan is looking at a 'positive' conversation about reopening of Nato supply routes but it will be pre-mature to say when the trucks will resume supply. She also maintained that Pakistan is still demanding an apology from Washington for the death of Pakistani soldiers in a U.S attack on the Salala checkpoint.
But the US has hardened its stance on the issue after much debate within the administration about an apology. According to one account, the Obama administration was on the verge of issuing an apology on several occasions but backed off each time in the face of Pakistani depredations, including one episode involving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when it was aborted midflight. The prevailing sentiment in Washington is now veering around to: When will Pakistan apologize to the world for harboring terrorists who have attacked targets across the world?
The US is now reconciled to the issue not being resolved before or during the summit, and in yet another snub to Pakistan, it has declined to announce any bilateral meeting between President Obama and Zardari. "We're not anticipating necessarily closing out those negotiations this weekend," Obama aide Ben Rhodes said on Saturday, adding, "A lot of it is happening, frankly, at the working level between our governments." The working level, as it turns outs, isn't working very well.
The spat between the two sides is bound to get uglier. Last week, the US Congress approved an amendment to a bill under which Washington could block up to $650 million in proposed payments to Pakistan unless Islamabad lets coalition forces resume shipments. The vote was an overwhelming 412-1 in favor of the amendment, indicative of the mood in Congress. The US also has various other levers to bring Pakistan to heel, including squeezing bilateral and multilateral aid, which it has so far been reluctant to use.
POTH: BO's journey to reshape Afpakia war
Reply #1302 on:
May 21, 2012, 12:14:01 PM »
By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: May 19, 2012
It was just one brief exchange about Afghanistan with an aide late in 2009, but it suggests how President Obama’s thinking about what he once called “a war of necessity” began to radically change less than a year after he took up residency in the White House.
Not long before, after a highly contentious debate within a war cabinet that was riddled with leaks, Mr. Obama had reluctantly decided to order a surge of more than 30,000 troops. The aide told Mr. Obama that he believed military leaders had agreed to the tight schedule to begin withdrawing those troops just 18 months later only because they thought they could persuade an inexperienced president to grant more time if they demanded it.
“Well,” Mr. Obama responded that day, “I’m not going to give them more time.”
A year later, when the president and a half-dozen White House aides began to plan for the withdrawal, the generals were cut out entirely. There was no debate, and there were no leaks. And when Mr. Obama joins the leaders of other NATO nations in Chicago on Sunday and Monday, the full extent of how his thinking on Afghanistan has changed will be apparent. He will announce what he has already told the leaders in private: All combat operations led by American forces will cease in summer 2013, when the United States and other NATO forces move to a “support role” whether the Afghan military can secure the country or not.
Mr. Obama concluded in his first year that the Bush-era dream of remaking Afghanistan was a fantasy, and that the far greater threat to the United States was an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan. So he narrowed the goals in Afghanistan, and narrowed them again, until he could make the case that America had achieved limited objectives in a war that was, in any traditional sense, unwinnable.
“Just think how big a reversal of approach this was in just two years,” one official involved in the administration debates on Afghanistan said. “We started with what everyone thought was a pragmatic vision but, at its core, was a plan for changing the way Afghanistan is wired. We ended up thinking about how to do as little wiring as possible.”
The lessons Mr. Obama has learned in Afghanistan have been crucial to shaping his presidency. Fatigue and frustration with the war have defined the strategies his administration has adopted to guide how America intervenes in the world’s messiest conflicts. Out of the experience emerged Mr. Obama’s “light footprint” strategy, in which the United States strikes from a distance but does not engage in years-long, enervating occupations. That doctrine shaped the president’s thinking about how to deal with the challenges that followed — Libya, Syria and a nuclear Iran.
In interviews over the past 18 months, Mr. Obama’s top national security aides described the evolution of the president’s views on Afghanistan as a result of three rude discoveries.
Mr. Obama began to question why Americans were dying to prop up a leader, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, who was volatile, unreliable and willing to manipulate the ballot box. Faced with an economic crisis at home and a fiscal crisis that Mr. Obama knew would eventually require deep limits on Pentagon spending, he was also shocked, they said, by what the war’s cost would be if the generals’ counterinsurgency plan were left on autopilot — $1 trillion over 10 years. And the more he delved into what it would take to truly change Afghan society, the more he concluded that the task was so overwhelming that it would make little difference whether a large American and NATO force remained for 2 more years, 5 more years or 10 more years.
The remaking of American strategy in Afghanistan began, though no one knew it at the time, in a cramped conference room in Mr. Obama’s transition headquarters in late 2008. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, who had spent the last two years of the Bush administration trying to manage the many trade-offs necessary as the Iraq war consumed troop and intelligence resources needed in Afghanistan, arrived with a PowerPoint presentation.
The first slide that General Lute threw onto the screen caught the eye of Thomas E. Donilon, later President Obama’s national security adviser. “It said we do not have a strategy in Afghanistan that you can articulate or achieve,” Mr. Donilon recalled three years later. “We had been at war for eight years, and no one could explain the strategy.”
So in the first days of his presidency, Mr. Obama asked Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer with deep knowledge of the region, to lead a rapid review. At the time, the president was still speaking in campaign mode. He talked about remaking “an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs” in Afghanistan and a “civilian surge” to match the military effort. But he said little about the Riedel team’s central insight: that Pakistan posed a far greater threat.
Page 2 of 2)
“If we were honest with ourselves, we would call this problem ‘Pak/Af,’ not ‘Af/Pak,’ ” Mr. Riedel said shortly after turning in his report. But the White House would not dare admit that publicly — even that rhetorical reversal would further alienate the Pakistanis.
Mr. Obama agreed with Mr. Riedel, but thought the review did not point clearly enough toward a new strategy. To get it right, the president ordered up a far more thorough process that would involve everyone — military commanders and experts on civilian reconstruction, diplomats who could explore a negotiation with the Taliban, and intelligence officials who could assess which side of the war the Pakistanis were fighting on.
But he also began to reassess whether emerging victorious in Afghanistan was as necessary as he had once proclaimed. Ultimately, Mr. Obama agreed to double the size of the American force while training the Afghan armed forces, but famously insisted that, whether America was winning or losing, the drawdown would begin in just 18 months.
“I think he hated the idea from the beginning,” one of his advisers said of the surge. “He understood why we needed to try, to knock back the Taliban. But the military was ‘all in,’ as they say, and Obama wasn’t.”
The president’s doubts were cemented as the early efforts to take towns like Marja in Helmand Province took months longer than expected. To Mr. Obama and his aides, Marja proved that progress was possible — but not on the kind of timeline that Mr. Obama thought economically or politically affordable.
“Marja looks a lot better than two years ago,” one senior official said at the end of last year. “But how many Marjas do we need to do, and over what time frame?”
The tight group of presidential aides charged with answering questions like that — of redefining the mission — began meeting on weekends at the end of 2010. The group’s informal name said it all: “Afghan Good Enough.”
“We spent the time asking questions like: How much corruption can we live with?” one participant recalled. “Is there another way — a way the Pentagon might not be telling us about — to speed the withdrawal? What’s the least we can spend on training Afghan troops and still get a credible result?”
By early 2011, Mr. Obama had seen enough. He told his staff to arrange a speedy, orderly exit from Afghanistan. This time there would be no announced national security meetings, no debates with the generals. Even Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were left out until the final six weeks.
The key decisions had essentially been made already when Gen. David H. Petraeus, in his last months as commander in Afghanistan, arrived in Washington with a set of options for the president that called for a slow withdrawal of surge troops. He wanted to keep as many troops as possible in Afghanistan through the next fighting season, with a steep drop to follow. Mr. Obama concluded that the Pentagon had not internalized that the goal was not to defeat the Taliban. He said he “believed that we had a more limited set of objectives that could be accomplished by bringing the military out at a faster clip,” an aide reported.
After a short internal debate, Mr. Gates and Mrs. Clinton came up with a different option: end the surge by September 2012 — after the summer fighting season, but before the election. Mr. Obama concurred. But he was placing an enormous bet: his goals now focus largely on finishing off Al Qaeda and keeping Pakistan’s nuclear weapons from going astray. Left unclear is how America will respond if a Taliban resurgence takes over wide swathes of the country America invaded in 2001 and plans to largely depart 13 years later.
Several questions occur to me. One of them is this: If Pakistan is the greater problem, why did Obama just sign an agreement with Karzai agreeing to support him for many more years AND that we would not launch drone strikes etc on Pak from Afg?
Reply #1303 on:
May 21, 2012, 04:07:33 PM »
Second post of the day
Here's what Stratfor was saying three years ago-- how does it measure up?
There is no doubt that the Taliban currently have the initiative in Afghanistan, but the movement has a long way to go before it can effect a decisive victory. While the Taliban need not evolve from insurgent group to conventional army to achieve that goal, they must move beyond guerrilla tactics, consolidate their disparate parts and find ways to function as a more coordinated fighting force.
The United States is losing in Afghanistan because it is not winning. The Taliban are winning in Afghanistan because they are not losing. This is the reality of insurgent warfare. A local insurgent is more invested in the struggle and is working on a much longer time line than an occupying foreign soldier. Every year that U.S. and NATO commanders do not show progress in Afghanistan, the investment of lives and resources becomes harder to justify at home. Public support erodes. Even without more pressing concerns elsewhere, democracies tend to have short attention spans.
At the present time, defense budgets across the developed world -- like national coffers in general -- are feeling the pinch of the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, the resurgence of Russia's power and influence along its periphery continues apace. The state of the current U.S.-NATO Afghanistan campaign is not simply a matter of eroding public opinion, but also of immense opportunity costs due to mounting economic and geopolitical challenges elsewhere.
This reality plays into the hands of the insurgents. In any guerrilla struggle, the local populace is vulnerable to the violence and very sensitive to subtle shifts in power at the local level. As long as the foreign occupier’s resolve continues to erode (as it almost inevitably does) or is made to appear to erode (by the insurgents), the insurgents maintain the upper hand. If the occupying power is perceived as a temporary reality for the local populace and the insurgents are an enduring reality, then the incentive for the locals -- at the very least -- is to not oppose the insurgents directly enough to incur their wrath when the occupying power leaves. For those who seek to benefit from the largesse and status that cooperation with the occupying power can provide, the enduring fear is the departure of that power before a decisive victory can be made against the insurgents -- or before adequate security can be provided by an indigenous government army.
Let us apply this dynamic to the current situation in Afghanistan. In much of the extremely rugged, rural and sparsely populated country, a sustained presence by the U.S.-NATO and the Taliban alike is not possible. No one is in clear control in most parts of the country. The strength of the tribal power structure was systematically undermined by the communists long before the actual Soviet invasion at the end of 1979. The power structure that remains is nowhere near as strong or as uniform as, say, that of the Sunni tribes in Anbar province in Iraq (one important reason why replicating the Iraq counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is not possible). Indeed, it is difficult to overstate the unique complexity of the ethnic, linguistic and tribal disparities in Afghanistan.
The challenge for each side in the current Afghan war is to become more of a sustained presence than the other. "Holding" territory is not possible in the traditional sense, with so few troops and hard-line insurgent fighters involved, so a village can be "pro-NATO" one day and "pro-Taliban" the next, depending on who happens to be moving through the area. But even village and tribal leaders who do work with the West are extremely hesitant to burn any bridges with the Taliban, lest U.S.-NATO forces withdraw before defeating the insurgents and before developing a sufficient replacement force of Afghan nationals.
Today, the two primary sources of power in Afghanistan are the gun and the Koran -- brute force and religious credibility. The Taliban purport to base their power on both, while the United States and NATO are often derided for wielding only the former -- and clumsily at that. Many Afghans believe that too many innocent civilians have been killed in too many indiscriminate airstrikes.
So it comes as little surprise that popular support for the Taliban is on the rise in more and more parts of Afghanistan, and that this support is becoming increasingly entrenched. For years, U.S. attention has been distracted and military power absorbed in Iraq. Meanwhile, a limited U.S.-NATO presence and a lack of opposition in Afghanistan have allowed various elements of the Taliban to make significant inroads. This resurgence is also due to clandestine support from Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, as well as proximity to the mountainous and lawless Pakistani border area, which serves as a Taliban sanctuary.
But the Taliban still have not coalesced to the point where they can eject U.S. or NATO forces from Afghanistan. Far from a monolithic movement, the term "Taliban" encompasses everything from the old hard-liners of the pre-9/11 Afghan regime to small groups that adopt the name as a "flag of convenience," be they Islamists devoted to a local cause or criminals wanting to obscure their true objectives. Some Taliban elements in Pakistan are waging their own insurrection against Islamabad. (The multifaceted and often confusing character of the Taliban "movement" actually creates a layer of protection around it. The United States has admitted that it does not have the nuanced understanding of the Taliban’s composition needed to identify potential moderates who can be split off from the hard-liners.)
Any "revolutionary" or insurgent force usually has two enemies: the foreign occupying or indigenous government power it is trying to defeat, and other revolutionary entities with which it is competing. While making inroads against the former, the Taliban have not yet resolved the issue of the latter. It is not so much that various insurgent groups with distinctly different ideologies are in direct competition with each other; the problem for the Taliban, reflecting the rough reality that the country’s mountainous and rugged terrain imposes on its people, is the disparate nature of the movement itself.
In order to precipitate a U.S.-NATO withdrawal in the years ahead, the Taliban must do better in consolidating their power. No doubt they currently have the upper hand, but their strategic and tactical advantages will only go so far. They may be enough to prevent the United States and NATO from winning, but they will not accelerate the time line for a Taliban victory. To do this, the Taliban must move beyond current guerrilla tactics and find ways to function as a more coherent and coordinated fighting force.
The bottom line is that neither side in the struggle in Afghanistan is currently operating at its full potential.
To Grow an Insurgency
The main benefits of waging an insurgency usually boil down to the following: insurgents operate in squad- to platoon-sized elements, have light or nonexistent logistical tails, are largely able to live off the land or the local populace, can support themselves by seizing weapons and ammunition from weak local police and isolated outposts and can disperse and blend into the environment whenever they confront larger and more powerful conventional forces. In Afghanistan, the chief insurgent challenge is that reasonably well-defended U.S.-NATO positions have no problem fending off units of that size. In the evolution of an insurgency, we call this stage-one warfare, and Taliban operations by and large continue to be characterized as such.
In stage-two warfare, insurgents operate in larger formations -- first independent companies of roughly 100 or so fighters, and later battalions of several hundred or more. Although still relatively small and flexible, these units require more in terms of logistics, especially as they begin to employ heavier, more supply-intensive weaponry like crew-served machine guns and mortars, and they are too large to simply disperse the moment contact with the enemy is made. The challenges include not only logistics but also battlefield communications (everything from bugles and whistles to cell phones and secure tactical radios) as the unit becomes too large for a single leader to manage or visually keep track of from one position.
In stage-three warfare, the insurgent force has become, for all practical purposes, a conventional army operating in regiments and divisions (units, say, consisting of 1,000 or more troops). These units are large enough to bring artillery to bear but must be able to provide a steady flow of ammunition. Forces of this size are an immense logistical challenge and, once massed, cannot quickly be dispersed, which makes them vulnerable to superior firepower.
The culmination of this evolution is exemplified by the battle of Dien Bien Phu in a highland valley in northwestern Vietnam in 1954. The Viet Minh, which began as a nationalist guerrilla group fighting the Japanese during World War II, massed multiple divisions and brought artillery to bear against a French military position considered impregnable. The battle lasted two months and saw the French position overrun. More than 2,000 French soldiers were killed, more than twice that many wounded and more than 10,000 captured. The devastating defeat was quickly followed by the French withdrawal from Indochina after an eight-year counterinsurgency.
The Taliban Today
In describing this progression from stage one to stage three, we are not necessarily suggesting that the Taliban will develop into a conventional force, or that a stage-three capability is necessary to win in Afghanistan. Not every insurgency that achieves victory does so by evolving into the kind of national-level conventional resistance made legendary by the Viet Minh.
Indeed, artillery was not necessary to expel the Soviet Red Army from Afghanistan in the 1980s; that force faced and failed to overcome many of the same challenges that have repelled invaders for centuries and confront the United States and NATO today. But in monitoring the progress of the Taliban as a fighting force, it is important to look beyond estimates of "controlled" territory to the way the Taliban fight, command, consolidate and organize disparate groups into a more coherent resistance.
The Taliban first rose to power in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and before 9/11. They were not the ones to kick out the Red Army, however. That was the mujahideen, with the support of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The Taliban emerged from the anarchy that followed the fall of Afghanistan’s communist government, also at the hands of the mujahideen, in 1992. In the intra-Islamist civil war that ensued, the Taliban were able to establish security in the southern part of the country, winning over a local Pashtun populace and assorted minorities that had grown weary of war.
This impressed Pakistan, which switched its support from the splintered mujahideen to the Taliban, which appeared to be on a roll. By 1996, the Taliban, also supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were in power in Kabul. Then came 9/11. While the Taliban did, for a time, achieve a kind of stage-two status as a fighting force, they have never had the kind of superpower support the Viet Minh and North Vietnamese received from the Soviet Union during the French and American wars in Vietnam, or that the mujahideen received from the United States during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
But elements of the Taliban continue to enjoy patronage from within the Pakistani army and intelligence apparatus, as well as continued funding from wealthy patrons in the Persian Gulf states. The Pakistani support underscores the most important of resources for an effective insurgency (or counterinsurgency): intelligence. With it, the Taliban can obtain accurate and actionable information on competing insurgent groups in order to build a wider and more concerted campaign. They can also identify targets, adjust tactics and exploit the weaknesses of opposing conventional forces. The Taliban openly tout their ties and support from within the Afghan security forces. (Indeed, a significant portion of the Taliban's weapons and ammunition can be traced back to shipments that were made to the Afghan government and distributed to its police agencies and military units.)
Moreover, while external support of the Taliban may not be as impressive as the support the mujahideen enjoyed in the 1980s, the Karzai government in Afghanistan is far weaker than the communist regime in Kabul that the mujahideen took down. In addition, as a seven-party alliance with significant internal tensions, the mujahideen were even more disjointed than the Taliban. Indeed, the core Taliban today are much more homogeneous than the mujahideen were in the 1980s. The Taliban are the pre-eminent Pashtun power, and the Pashtuns are the single largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. In addition, the leadership of Taliban chief Mullah Omar is unchallenged -- he has no equal who could hope to rise and meaningfully compete for control of the movement.
While the Taliban continue to exist squarely in stage-one combat, the movement is increasingly becoming the established, lasting reality for much of the country’s rural population. For ambitious warlords, joining the Taliban movement offers legitimacy and a local fiefdom with wider recognition. For the remainder of the population, the Taliban are increasingly perceived as the inescapable power that will govern when the United States and NATO begin to draw down.
On the other hand, the Taliban's ability to earn the loyalty of disparate groups, coordinate their actions and command them effectively remains to be seen. Monitoring changes in the way the Taliban communicate -- across the country and across the battlefield -- will say much about their ability to bring power to bear in a coherent, coordinated and conclusive way.
Read more: Afghanistan: The Nature of the Insurgency | Stratfor
The Taliban speaks
Reply #1304 on:
May 22, 2012, 08:25:32 AM »
as posted on Michael Yon's website:
Statement From Taliban
The Taliban sent this statement. There is a great deal of false information here but good to know what they are saying:
Statement of Islamic Emirate regarding the NATO summit in Chicago
According to news reports, NATO is going to hold a diplomatic summit in the city of Chicago from May 20-21 where Afghanistan will be the most important agenda on the table. Therefore the Islamic Emirate, in order to fulfill its historical obligation, wants to declare the below points to the participants of this conference:
1. The invasion of Afghanistan by America and its allies under the banner of ‘war of terror’ was an unjustified and tyrannical action which was only carried out for political and economical gains. Terrorism and ground realities had nothing in common. No Afghan had a hand in military operations in other countries and neither are there any proofs hence the occupation of Afghanistan by America is neither sound legally or logically.
2. As a result of this occupation, the invasive America imposed upon the Afghan Muslim nation a few war criminals that were cast offs, whose hands were red with the blood of innocent humans and who were involved in transgressing against the life, wealth and honor of the ordinary people. The Afghans have been facing torment from their brutality and crimes for the past decade while the invaders have just turn a blind eye to them.
3. The American intelligence networks including the CIA state that members of Al-Qaida have all left Afghanistan and that there are not more than fifty left therefore the military presence of America is not for its own security but a long term strategy for turning our country and the region into its colony. The declaration of the new president of France, Francois Hollande, that all its troops will be removed from Afghanistan at the end of this year is a decision based on realities and a reflection of the opinion of its nation. We call upon all the other NATO member countries to avoid working for the political interests of American officials and answer the call of your own people by immediately removing all your troops from Afghanistan.
4. The invading soldiers in Afghanistan martyr the defenseless children, women, elderly and other people of Afghanistan in their night raids and blind bombardments without having to worry about the consequences. The perpetrators of these violations are all criminals. The claimants of Human Rights must not condone them. Similarly, the occupying forces have created local militias under the title of ‘Arbakis’ who transgress against the life, wealth and honor of ordinary people and martyr innocent Afghans even though they cannot confront the Mujahideen physically. If the invaders want to fund and equip such groups and continue their blind bombardments then the responsibility of civilian losses caused in Afghanistan will rest squarely upon the shoulders of these forces.
5. We want to declare to the whole world the stooge Kabul administration tortures innocent prisoners, extracts false confessions and hands out long term prison sentences. The security apparatus of Kabul regime discriminates and treats them with prejudice. Ending this oppression is the obligation of every human being.
6. The invading forces have destroyed whole villages along with their inhabitants (Tarako Kalacha as example) in Afghanistan with twenty five ton bombs. They have razed entire bazaars with hundreds of shops in Helmand and Uruzgan. They have also uprooted the greenery and orchards in Panjwai and Zhari districts of Kandahar and similarly in Band-e-Sarda of Ghazni province. All this savagery is committed under the slogans of war on terror. Today’s international community which touts tolerance, justice and human rights, how can it justify this savagery in Afghanistan at the hands of these self proclaimed civilized men?
7. In order to brainwash the public and to vilify the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate, various networks in Afghanistan headed by the invading forces commit some acts such as the destruction and burning of bridges and schools, carrying out explosions amongst civilians, targeting of specific people for vile purposes and others, the Islamic Emirate declares its complete disavowal from them.
8. The occupying American forces have created secret prisons inside all of their airbases in Afghanistan where they keep innocent Afghans and carry out various forms of torture on them which has resulted in the martyrdom of many. Besides this, thousands of innocent Afghans are being held prisoners in Kandahar and Bagram airbases without any charges. These are all people who have no knowledge of the New York incident but are been held captives under its pretext for years and are languishing in unbearable conditions.
9. A survey conducted in April by CBS news and New York Times showed that 69 percent of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan and want their troops out of Afghanistan. Similarly, the people of nations allied with America have also shown their opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan. So the NATO member countries who claim to be the elected representatives of its people and consider their government the peoples government, by the people, for the people; how will they answer the call of their people in this summit?
10. The Islamic Emirate once again declares that it holds no agenda of harming anyone nor will it let anyone harm other countries from the soil of Afghanistan hence there is no reason for the occupying countries including America to continue the occupation of Afghanistan under the pretext of safeguarding its own security.
11. The occupation of Afghanistan by America through the use of force is a clear violation of a sovereign state which is not justified under any international law. Those Afghans that are fighting against this violation are independence seeking Mujahideen who demand their due rights and putting up resistance to this occupation is their legal right. This armed struggle will only come to an end when the Afghans acquire their independence and a government of their choice. Imposed agreements and international conferences are not the solution to the Afghan quandary. The solution lies in giving the Muslim Afghan nation their complete legitimate and natural right.
12. The Islamic Emirate has left all military and political doors open. It wants to obtain the rights of the Muslim Afghan nation through all possible ways and as a responsible force, is prepared to accept all it announces however the invaders are utilizing a one step forward, two steps backwards tactic. They are conjuring artificial excuses to prolong the occupation of Afghanistan, are wavering in their stance and do not seem to have a clear strategy for a political solution. The Islamic Emirate considers the claims of the invaders of finding a political solution as meaningless until they come out of their fluctuating unstable state.
13. The occupation of Afghanistan by America and its allies is the fundamental problem. If this matter is solved, the Afghans understand each others language and share a common culture therefore they can reach a resolution regarding the country. The foreigners should forgo prolonging and complicating the Afghan issue for their colonialist objectives.
To end, we must reiterate that the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate will keep proceeding with their ongoing Jihad until it attains its goal. The terrorism and savagery of the invaders and their stooges will not be able to stop it. We call upon the leaders of the NATO member countries to realize the ground realities of Afghanistan and acknowledge the natural rights of the Afghans which are an independent nation and establishment of a government of its own choice. Similarly, they should stop the gross human right violations ongoing in Afghanistan and the desecration of the sanctities of Afghans committed by their troops. But if they still refuse to pay attention to the consequences of their criminal actions, then they will also be erased along with their oppression and terror on this blessed soil just like the previous imperialists and only their stories shall remain.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
WSJ: Our abandoned man in Pakistan
Reply #1305 on:
May 25, 2012, 08:52:50 AM »
Since Osama bin Laden met his demise in the garrison town of Abbottabad last May, Pakistani officials say they haven't found anyone who helped him hide out for most of a decade in their backyard. But our supposed allies have spared no effort to hunt down the people who helped the U.S. find the al Qaeda mastermind.
Soon after the successful American raid, the Pakistani army picked up locals suspected of supplying fuel to SEAL Team Six's helicopters and firing flares to guide them to the bin Laden compound. Their biggest catch was Shakil Afridi, who on Wednesday was convicted of treason in Pakistan and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
His case, as Senators John McCain and Carl Levin noted, is "shocking and outrageous." Dr. Afridi helped the U.S. track down bin Laden by running a hepatitis B vaccination program in the area around Abbottabad. He collected DNA that the CIA hoped to use to verify bin Laden's presence in the city. Dr. Afridi never got samples from any of bin Laden's family members, but he did gain access to the terrorist's compound. U.S. officials say Dr. Afridi didn't know who the U.S. was looking for.
Part of the mess-up here is that the U.S. failed to get Dr. Afridi out of Pakistan before or soon after the raid. During the Cold War, the CIA tried to get any endangered operative behind the Iron Curtain out of the country. Dr. Afridi's identity was leaked to the press and he ended up in a military prison.
The Obama Administration says the leak came from the Pakistanis, but this is still woeful spycraft by the U.S. and a deterrent to those who might want to help America in the future. Congress should ask how it happened.
The Pakistanis are supposed to be America's partners in the war against al Qaeda, pocketing $1 billion a year in aid. But Pakistan also provides safe haven to the Taliban and other Islamist terrorist groups. The Senate on Thursday symbolically cut $33 million from Pakistan's aid budget next year—$1 million for each year of Dr. Afridi's sentence. More cuts are coming if something doesn't change in Pakistan.
America's larger strategic goals in South Asia have justified engagement with a difficult partner in Islamabad, but Pakistan would be foolish to take America's support and patience for granted. The U.S. has other options in the region. With very few friends, Pakistan does not.
A version of this article appeared May 25, 2012, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Our Man in Pakistan.
WSJ: Pak's dangerous anti-American game
Reply #1306 on:
May 31, 2012, 09:52:41 PM »
Pakistan's Dangerous Anti-American Game: It's unwise to needle a superpower that you need for resources and global credibility.
By SADANAND DHUME
Last week a Pakistani court sentenced Shakil Afridi—the doctor who helped the CIA track Osama bin Laden last year—to 33 years in prison after he was accused of treason or possible ties with militants. In response, the U.S. Congress docked a symbolic $33 million from Pakistan's annual aid budget, or $1 million for every year of the doctor's sentence.
U.S. anger is understandable. In the year since bin Laden was discovered in the garrison town of Abbottabad, Pakistan has done little to dispel the widespread belief that the world's most wanted terrorist was sheltered by elements in the country's army and its spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence. Nobody has been punished for aiding bin Laden. Neither has the rogue nuclear-weapons scientist A.Q. Khan or Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
As U.S.-Pakistani relations continue to nosedive, the risks for Islamabad run deeper than a mere PR disaster. For the first time since the country came into being in 1947, Pakistan is in danger of being seen as implacably hostile to the West. Should the U.S. switch from a policy of engagement to active containment, Pakistan's economic and diplomatic problems, already acute, may become unmanageable.
Dr. Afridi's punishment is only the most recent example of Pakistan's slide away from its founding pro-Western moorings. Earlier this month, Islamabad annoyed NATO countries at a summit on Afghanistan in Chicago by refusing to reopen overland supply routes that it shut after the U.S. mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a border clash last November. Pakistan's negotiators are reportedly demanding upward of $5,000 per supply truck.
And last week Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended Farahnaz Ispahani, a close aide to President Asif Ali Zardari and an outspoken defender of human rights, from the lower house of the legislature. Her alleged crime: having acquired a U.S. passport in addition to the Pakistani one she was born with.
Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center survey released last month shows that only 55% of Pakistani Muslims disapprove of al Qaeda. In Lebanon and Jordan that figure is 98% and 77%, respectively.
Many Pakistani elites think their compatriots' loathing of America is somehow Washington's problem, not theirs. They see Pakistan, with its nuclear arsenal and proxy terrorist groups, as too big to fail. In the final analysis, their view holds, the U.S. will always be there to prop up Pakistan's ailing economy with aid and support from multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund.
A superficial reading of U.S.-Pakistani history supports this view. For the most part, Washington has not allowed episodic disagreements to get in the way of the larger relationship. Even Islamabad's clandestine acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1980s, and proliferation to Iran and North Korea in the 1990s, did not lead to a complete rupture in ties.
Even now, only a handful of hotheads in Washington are calling for all assistance to Islamabad to be scrapped. Most responsible Pakistan-watchers, both inside and outside the U.S. government, would rather fix the relationship than scrap it.
Nonetheless, Pakistanis who expect the future to faithfully echo the past forget that their nation has never confronted the West in the fashion it is today.
The country's founders were drawn largely from the ranks of Indian Muslims who embraced Western learning and acknowledged Western power. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, instinctively understood that he could better advance his interests by coming to terms with the West than by opposing it.
Successive generations of Pakistani leaders, from Ayub Khan to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to Gen. Zia ul-Haq to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, stayed true to this belief. Even when they pursued policies at odds with U.S. interests—Gen. Zia's nuclear bomb or Gen. Musharraf's double-dealing in Afghanistan—they were careful to avoid sustained public confrontation. They knew it was counterproductive to needle a superpower that they depended on for both resources and global credibility.
Pakistan's current rulers, especially the powerful army that calls the shots on national security policy, forget this lesson at their peril. The U.S. cannot be expected to be endlessly patient.
Pakistan's dismal favorability rating in America means there's no real political cost to bringing Islamabad to heel by stepping up drone strikes, giving it a diplomatic cold shoulder and withholding financial support—all at the same time. Washington may even choose to add targeted sanctions against top ISI officials directly implicated in supporting terrorism.
Pakistan is playing a game of chicken without fully grasping the consequences of losing. The shrewd and practical Jinnah would have recognized the folly of this course. His successors have already betrayed his message of religious tolerance at home, and now they're on track to subvert his legacy abroad.
Mr. Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a columnist for WSJ.com.
State Should Enhance Its Performance Measures for Assessing Efforts in Pakistan
Reply #1307 on:
June 07, 2012, 12:02:36 PM »
Highlights below, but the full 27 page report is downloadble from the site provided above.
What GAO Found
Multiple U.S. agencies and international partners are engaged in efforts to assist Pakistan in countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs) but face a variety of ongoing challenges. The agencies providing counter-IED assistance to Pakistan are primarily the Departments of State (State), Defense (DOD), Homeland Security (DHS), and Justice (DOJ). The following table identifies the types of assistance these U.S. agencies have provided and the corresponding objectives of Pakistan’s National Counter-IED Strategy. According to U.S. officials, U.S. agencies have encountered ongoing challenges to their efforts to assist Pakistan, such as delays in obtaining visas and in the delivery of equipment. U.S. officials have also identified broader challenges to Pakistan’s ability to counter IEDs, including the extreme difficulty of interdicting smugglers along its porous border with Afghanistan. In addition, though Pakistan developed a National Counter-IED Strategy in June 2011, it has yet to finalize an implementation plan for carrying out the strategy.
The U.S. fiscal year 2013 Mission Strategic and Resource Plan (MSRP) for Pakistan includes a new performance indicator to track some of Pakistan’s efforts to counter IEDs, but the indicator and targets used to measure progress do not cover the full range of U.S. assisted efforts. The performance indicator focuses on cross-border activities, specifically on Pakistan’s efforts to prevent illicit commerce in sensitive materials, including chemical precursors used to manufacture IEDs in Afghanistan. As such, progress of U.S. counter-IED assistance efforts not specifically linked to cross-border smuggling are not covered, such as counter-IED training and/or equipment, a counter-IED public awareness campaign, and legal assistance for laws and regulations to counter-IEDs and IED precursors. Consequently, effects of key U.S. assisted counter-IED efforts are not tracked under the existing performance indicator and related targets. The absence of comprehensive performance measures that reflect the broad range of U.S. assisted counter-IED efforts limits State’s ability to track overall progress in Pakistan to counter IEDs and to determine the extent to which these counter-IED efforts are helping to achieve the U.S. goals.
Why GAO Did This Study
Improvised explosive devices have been a significant cause of fatalities among U.S. troops in Afghanistan. About 80 percent of the IEDs contain homemade explosives, primarily calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) fertilizer smuggled from Pakistan. U.S. officials recognize the threat posed by the smuggling of CAN and other IED precursors from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and State and other agencies are assisting Pakistan’s government to counter this threat. This report (1) describes the status of U.S. efforts to assist Pakistan in countering IEDs and (2) reviews State’s tracking of U.S. assisted efforts in Pakistan to counter IEDs. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed agency strategy and programmatic documents, including State’s fiscal year 2013 MSRP for Pakistan. GAO also met with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia, and Tampa, Florida; and met with U.S. and Pakistani officials in Islamabad, Pakistan.
What GAO Recommends
To improve State’s ability to track progress of efforts in Pakistan to counter IEDs, GAO recommends that the Secretary of State direct the U.S. Mission in Pakistan to enhance its counter-IED performance measures to cover the full range of U.S. assisted efforts. State concurred and committed to look for ways to broaden the scope of existing metrics in order to better reflect and evaluate interagency participation in counter-IED efforts.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1308 on:
June 08, 2012, 11:22:19 AM »
I'm on pain medication at the moment, so perhaps my analytical skills at the moment are off-center, but my reaction to this is that sure we can measure more accurately, but we already know the bottom line. The question presented is what to do about it-- and spending more time measuring the various manifestations of Pak perfidy is but a procrastination.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1309 on:
June 16, 2012, 05:15:14 PM »
Your analytical skills are on the ball....the question is what are we going to do about pak perfidy. The one guy in Pak who did something, Shakil Afriidi (OBL fame), has been hauled in for treason. Apparently helping get OBL is treason. Allah help Shittistan.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1310 on:
June 16, 2012, 07:58:41 PM »
YA: Would love to get your analysis of the US-India quasi-alliance on the now nearby India thread.
POTH: US declares Afg. a "major ally"
Reply #1311 on:
July 08, 2012, 12:46:55 PM »
KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States declared Afghanistan a major, non-NATO ally on Saturday, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton personally delivering the news of Afghanistan’s entry into a club that includes Israel, Japan, Pakistan and other close Asian and Middle Eastern allies.
The move, announced as Mrs. Clinton stood with President Hamid Karzai amid the rose beds and towering trees on the grounds of the presidential palace here, was part of a broad strategic partnership deal signed by the United States and Afghanistan in May, she said. The pact went into effect last week.
“Please know that the United States will be your friend,” she told Mr. Karzai. “We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite. We are building a partnership with Afghanistan that will endure far into the future.”
The designation by the United States grants a country special privileges, like access to American military training and excess military supplies, Mrs. Clinton said.
In a separate statement, the State Department said Afghanistan would also be able to obtain loans of equipment from the United States and financing for leasing equipment. The agreement does not, however, “entail any security commitment” by the United States to Afghanistan, the State Department said.
Iraq was never given the status of a major ally, and American troops withdrew last year.
Afghanistan’s designation as a formal ally was the latest in a series of recent American moves that have eased — though not erased — Afghan fears of being abandoned at the end of NATO’s combat mission in 2014.
The moves also appear to have already yielded one dividend for the United States: Mr. Karzai has not recently lashed out at his backers, as he has in the past, at one point calling Americans “demons.”
On Saturday, he welcomed Mrs. Clinton, calling her “my old American friend” in his remarks. “We appreciate your concern and good will toward Afghanistan,” he said.
Later, as Mrs. Clinton said she was sorry to have to leave so soon, Mr. Karzai offered what he said was an old saying in Persian: “When a friend is alive, they will meet again.”
American and Afghan officials say they now must turn to working out a deal that would keep a residual American force here to continue training Afghan soldiers and tracking down insurgents after 2014. Talks on the arrangement have not yet begun, American officials say. Estimates of the number of troops that could stay vary from as little as 10,000 to as many as 25,000 or 30,000.
But Mrs. Clinton reiterated on Saturday that Washington did envision keeping American troops in Afghanistan, where they would provide the kind of air power and surveillance capabilities needed to give Afghan forces an edge over the Taliban.
“This is the kind of relationship that we think will be especially beneficial as we do the transition and as we plan for the post-2014 presence,” she said. “It will open the door to Afghanistan’s military to have a greater capability and a broader kind of relationship with the United States and especially the United States military.”
Mrs. Clinton made a short stop in Kabul en route to Tokyo, where an international conference will be held to raise money to support the Afghan government after 2014. At the American Embassy, she praised the work done by civilians in the war. State Department officials said that her remarks were intended to rebut what many in the State Department consider unfair criticism of their work in Afghanistan, where they have often been portrayed as not carrying their weight compared with the military.
But American soldiers and civilians alike have faced one common struggle: assuaging Afghan fears of abandonment. Many here fear that the country is headed toward a repeat of the early 1990s, when the fall of the Soviet-backed government, coupled with an American pullback from the region, left Afghanistan mired in a brutal civil war.
The Taliban grew out of the chaos, and they quickly took over much of the country.
Along with reassuring Afghans, Mrs. Clinton made clear that she was also sending a message to the Taliban.
The alliance and other American commitments to Afghanistan “should make clear to the Taliban that they cannot wait us out,” she said, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “They can renounce international terrorism and commit to an Afghan peace process, or they will face the increasingly capable Afghan national security forces, backed by the United States.”
At the same time, Washington remains committed to the stalled Afghan peace process, she said. The insurgents suspended talks in March — halting negotiations before they really began — over delays in a proposed prisoner swap that would have the United States release five Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier known to be held by the insurgents.
Designating Afghanistan an ally, however, has the potential to raise awkward issues for the United States. There is Afghanistan’s hot-and-cold relationship with Pakistan, also an ally, and the possibility the two neighbors could have a falling-out, especially if Afghan officials believe in the years after 2014 that their Pakistani counterparts continue to aid the Taliban.
Afghanistan, one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, is also the least developed of America’s major, non-NATO allies by a wide margin. Other allies — like South Korea, Argentina, Australia and Thailand — are far more capable of defending themselves and policing their own territory; Afghanistan is capable of doing that now and for the foreseeable future only with ample American help.
WSJ: SEALs battle for hearts
Reply #1312 on:
August 30, 2012, 11:07:29 AM »
By MARIA ABI-HABIB
DAHANE SANGHA, Afghanistan—Abdul Samad, a Taliban fighter turned pro-government security chief, has a problem: The Afghan state isn't paying his men, raising the risk they will rejoin the insurgency.
This, in turn, complicates matters for the U.S. special-operations forces troops who recently spent four nights on Abdul Samad's floor, living and fighting alongside his men in a valley filled with Taliban fighters.
Abdul Samad is a 43-year-old commander of the Afghan Local Police, a fighting force tasked with guarding far-flung villages such as Dahane Sangha. He says he has met with Afghan government officials only four times since he quit the Taliban in February to lead an unruly band of former insurgents.
Abdul Samad, a former Taliban fighter turned local police commander.
Afghan President Fires Intelligence Chief
."I don't know who my boss is," roared Abdul Samad as he received visitors at his home this month. Around him, nine of his fighters balanced AK-47s on their knees. "But I know I'm in contact with him for everything," he said, motioning toward a 28-year-old U.S. special-forces captain with a sunburned face.
Afghan Local Police commanders such as Abdul Samad—a small but increasing number of whom are former Taliban—work closely with U.S. special-operations officers and the regular Afghan national police. With scant support from the Afghan government, Abdul Samad said, he has little choice but to rely on the special-forces captain for guidance and logistical support.
The challenge that poses to the U.S. was on display recently when a team of U.S. special forces, led by U.S. Navy SEALs, paid a visit to Abdul Samad's village in Uruzgan province's Khas Uruzgan district, one of Afghanistan's most dangerous and Taliban dominated areas.
As the U.S. prepares to wind down its troop presence in Afghanistan, forces here are moving on two tracks. Special operations teams, hoping to win local populations away from the insurgency, are trying to build reliable local police forces in part by paying insurgents to switch sides. But with the clock ticking on the pullout of tens of thousands of conventional troops by 2014, the special forces must also shift local police leaders' dependence away from them and toward nascent local governing bodies.
Red tape slows the reintegration program for former insurgents, reducing many Taliban fighters' willingness to sign up. Also, the governments to which local police report are often weak and split by ethnic conflict. Many Afghan government branches don't function outside Kabul without U.S. protection: Police, army and government officials often rely on U.S. helicopters to get around.
Afghanistan's regular police, who are charged with overseeing the Afghan Local Police, or ALP, say it can be hard to track local forces in remote and dangerous areas whose job is to provide security but aren't empowered to enforce Afghan law. "We don't have access to those areas, and we need the coalition to come with me to put those areas under control," says Uruzgan province police chief Matiullah Khan. "Until foreign forces leave, we'll keep asking them for help. When they leave, we'll have to find our way."
Mr. Khan blamed the paycheck delay on the slow process of registering new ALP members.
Critics of the local police program—which include human-rights advocates and several Afghan officials—say the U.S. is funding militias over which it has little control, energies that could be focused on building the national police and army. They see a danger that men like Abdul Samad could become Afghanistan's next warlords once U.S. forces leave, much as some of the U.S.-armed Mujahedeen of the 1980s became some of the country's biggest power brokers and human-rights violators, with many remaining in government today.
Close.Special-operations forces who are mentoring Abdul Samad's men say the ALP has the potential to grow into an effective force because they understand their local communities.
The close relationship between special-operations forces and their Afghan counterparts has come under additional scrutiny in recent months, as a growing number of international troops have been killed by their Afghan police and army counterparts. The latest came Wednesday, when the coalition said a man in an Afghan army uniform killed three coalition members in southern Afghanistan. At least five of the 10 U.S. troops killed this month by Afghan police or soldiers were special-operations forces, an unusually high count among this group.
In Khas Uruzgan—some 190 miles southwest of Kabul, the capital—elite U.S. troops are battling to make Abdul Samad's ALP unit independent so they can set up others elsewhere.
On a recent day, a Chinook helicopter flew government officials from Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province's capital, to Abdul Samad's home in a valley surrounded by orchards and mountains. They were there to pay long-awaited salaries. Minutes after the meeting, Abdul Samad emerged to say money had been offered for only 12 of his 32 men. He "threw the cash back" at the officials and demanded payment in full, he recounted.
"I had three groups of Taliban call me and ask how [reintegration] is going, he told the officials and SEALs in attendence. "I replied that my men are not getting paid and they said, 'Why should we join the government and get nothing?' At least the Taliban pay on time."
The government's long reintegration process for onetime insurgents is behind the delay, one SEAL explained. To join the ALP, such fighters must have their fingerprints taken and retinas scanned. On the recent day, one of the rare Afghan biometrics professionals was unable to make the trip to Abdul Samad's village, the latest in a month of failed attempts.
Abdul Samad says he receives $180 per month now, compared with $300 when he fought with the Taliban. Many of Abdul Samad's men say that if they don't get paid—and some haven't since May—they will leave to seek laborer jobs in Pakistan or Iran, or to rejoin the insurgency.
"What's driving them to fight for the Taliban? Economics. Steady paychecks," said Cmdr. Mike Hayes, the commander of Special Operations Task Force South East, which covers the Uruzgan, Daikundi and Zabul provinces. "The ALP program is taking military-aged fighters away from the insurgency."
Cmdr. Hayes's team arrived in Uruzgan in January, kick-starting a reintegration program that for two years had failed to attract any Taliban fighters in the province.
Promising paying ALP jobs to fighters, Cmdr. Hayes approached then-Taliban fighter Abdul Samad through an interlocutor in January. Now, he says, the team has attracted 84 former insurgents, offering them three-month stipends and hoping to lure more villages into the program by offering development projects such as well-digging and school building. Twelve of the former fighters are in the ALP. Another 20 are waiting to be registered.
"Nations are really good at starting wars and really bad at ending them. There will always be a political settlement needed," Cmdr. Hayes said of the reintegration process. "My hope is if we get this right, it's a kernel, and it spreads."
The reintegration program is part of a broader U.S.-supported push for reconciliation with the Taliban that could see the insurgency rolled into government as part of a peace deal. At the same time, U.S. and allied troops continue to fight the Taliban to pressure them to the negotiating table.
As the majority of conventional coalition troops begin to withdraw, the U.S. special-operations forces are taking on a more prominent role. The elite forces are considered to be the best-equipped to fight an insurgency that thrives in remote areas in Afghanistan, and they are training more Afghan commandos and ALP to take on the Taliban.
That involves missions like the one recently conducted by the 28-year-old special forces captain, who spent four nights sleeping, eating and fighting alongside Abdul Samad's men.
The captain, who by military rules couldn't be identified, said he and his team came to reinforce the ALP unit during the summer fighting season. Insurgents would frequently climb the mountains surrounding Abdul Samad's home or sneak through the thick orchards to fire on the men, the captain said. When engaged, the Taliban usually fled, the captain said.
As in much of Afghanistan, ethnic tensions in Uruzgan run deep, fueling suspicions among many locals of the men that the SEALs and the Afghan government have enlisted to protect them.
The ALP's recruits in Uruzgan are largely drawn from the minority Hazara community. Pashtuns, who make up around half the Afghan population and form the bulk of Taliban fighters, have largely spurned the force.
Last month, the leader of Khas Uruzgan's largest ALP unit, who goes by the single name Shujayee, faced accusations that his men killed civilians in retaliation for a Taliban attack that left two of his men beheaded. Shujayee, who commands 120 ALP fighters, allegedly took his men to a Pashtun village and killed nine people, including civilians, in retaliation.
The majority of Khas Uruzgan's district government officials are Pashtun. In interviews before an investigation was launched, these officials spoke of Shujayee's guilt without offering evidence.
Abdul Samad, one of the few Pashtuns among the area's ALP recruits, used to fight against Shujayee's men. But after a falling out with Taliban commanders in the area, he says he has become an ally.
"I know the Taliban tactics. They wrongfully blamed Shujayee for civilian deaths to scare people," Abdul Samad said. "If we lose the Hazara ALP, it will be a huge problem. The Pashtuns aren't stepping up…I'm done if Shujayee is. The road to my village will be open for the Taliban."
Write to Maria Abi-Habib at
Obama's Big Afghanistan Lie
Reply #1313 on:
September 05, 2012, 09:55:45 AM »
Moving Obj.'s post to this thread:
Obama’s Big Afghanistan Lie
Posted By Daniel Greenfield On September 5, 2012 -
David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager and current senior advisor, claimed this week that the Romney campaign is built “on a foundation of absolute lies.” Speaking of absolute lies, there is the lie being put out that the War in Afghanistan has been won by the Obama administration.
Under the category of “TAKING THE FIGHT TO AL-QAEDA,” the Obama campaign website boasts that Obama refocused efforts on defeating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. This would have proven surprisingly easy as Al Qaeda in Afghanistan had already been defeated by the Bush Administration.
As documented in my Freedom Center pamphlet, “The Great Betrayal”, Obama’s campaign promise in the last election to go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was false because Al Qaeda had already shifted its operations away from there.
In 2009, General Petraeus, while serving as head of U.S. Central Command under Obama, said that Al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan. Intelligence estimates before that and afterward put the possible number of Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan at around 100. Obama’s surge of 100,000 troops was clearly not needed to fight 100 Al Qaeda terrorists at a ratio of 1,000 soldiers to each Al Qaeda terrorist.
The National Security page of the Obama campaign repeatedly talks about Al Qaeda, but it makes no mention of the Taliban at all. This is a strange omission as American soldiers have spent the past few years taking severe casualties fighting the Taliban, not Al Qaeda. Still it is natural for Obama not to want to talk about the Taliban because his goal of pushing them back with the Afghanistan Surge failed.
Obama is running on Bush’s successes in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda, while completely ignoring his own failures against the Taliban. It is as if Dewey had won the 1944 Presidential election and then taken office in 1945, after the liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge, and insisted on taking credit for the defeat of Germany while ignoring the existence of the Japanese front.
Obama had always presented his Afghanistan Surge in the most dishonest of ways. In his West Point address in 2010, he had claimed that the Surge was necessary to stop Al Qaeda from seizing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
“Since 9/11, al Qaeda’s safe-havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.”
Al Qaeda was no longer capable of launching global attacks out of Afghanistan and the odds of it getting its hands on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, without the cooperation of Pakistani authorities, were slim to none. But the same media crowd that worked itself up into a frenzy over Iraqi WMDs never mentions Obama’s claim that the Afghanistan Surge was necessary to keep Al Qaeda from getting its hands on Pakistani nuclear weapons.
Two years later in his address at Bagram Air Base, Obama insisted that the entire mission was there to deny Al Qaeda the opportunity to use Afghanistan as a base for further attacks. “The goal that I set to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild,” he said, “is now within our reach.”
Al Qaeda had of course rebuilt and was operating around the world. It was massacring dozens on a monthly basis in an Iraq abandoned by Obama. It had gotten its hooks into Africa and its Boko Haram allies had murdered over a thousand people in Nigeria. Al Qaeda’s lone wolf operatives guided out of Yemen had tried to carry out several attacks in America. But Al Qaeda was not a serious threat in Afghanistan.
The soldiers that Obama was addressing knew it and knew what a worthless lie his boast of defeating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was.
A few days ago, Obama appeared at Fort Bliss in Texas, and claimed, “We pushed the Taliban back. We’re training Afghan forces. The transition to Afghan lead is underway.” In the real world, the Taliban have been pushing forward and the training of Afghan forces has been aborted because of multiple shooting incidents.
Shortly after Obama flew out of Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out a major attack in Kabul and shortly after his speech at Fort Bliss, the Taliban carried out more attacks near a US base only forty miles from the Afghan capital. This is not anyone’s definition of having “Pushed the Taliban back.” The soldiers on the ground know it. The voters still don’t.
Upping the ante, Obama bizarrely decided to attack Romney for not mentioning Afghanistan. “I put forward a specific plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. We are in the process of doing that right now. And when I say I’m going to bring them home, you know they’re going to come home. “
But we don’t actually know any such thing. Obama had promised to bring the troops home out of Iraq, but when the deadline came, he renamed the mission and declared that the remaining 50,000 soldiers were only there in an advisory capacity. As even Politico pointed out, Obama’s Afghanistan plan is not specific and does not bring all the soldiers home.
Obama and his people have been saying that the War in Afghanistan is over. It’s not over in the sense that it has been won or that anything has been accomplished. Just like in Iraq, it’s over because Obama has decided that it’s politically convenient to pull out now or at least to claim to be pulling out now.
Two American soldiers have already died in Afghanistan in September. Thirty-eight died in August. Two hundred forty-five have died so far this year. Taliban attacks have taken place close to NATO bases. By the end of this year twice as many soldiers will have died during the drawdown phase this year alone than were killed in Afghanistan in the last year of the Bush administration.
There have been 34 “friendly fire” attacks by Afghans this year. Twelve such attacks in August alone. Karzai continues to treat international forces as the enemy and denounces the United States at every turn.
Obama’s attempts to make peace with the Taliban failed. The Strategic Partnership Agreement being touted by his campaign is completely meaningless and is nothing but a placeholder for a Bilateral Security Agreement that does not yet exist. What it really does is continue funneling money to the untrustworthy Afghan National Security Forces while barring the United States from using Afghan territory to launch attacks into Pakistan—a concession that his campaign is naturally not touting.
The War in Afghanistan has been lost. Obama’s Surge was a horrifying disaster that cost nearly 1500 lives and isn’t through yet. American soldiers were dispatched without proper support for a task that could not be accomplished without decisive air and artillery support. Now after bleeding them for years and while bombs are going off in Kabul, Obama is retreating and claiming victory.
The dead and their families deserve better than Obama’s Afghanistan lie. So do the living.
Whyu Afghan army is killing our soldiers
Reply #1314 on:
September 06, 2012, 02:41:52 PM »
POTH: Potential Mining Boom
Reply #1315 on:
September 09, 2012, 05:40:44 AM »
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1316 on:
September 17, 2012, 09:27:46 AM »
Coordinated Taliban Raid Penetrates Base .
By NATHAN HODGE
Afghans gathered around trucks carrying bodies of civilians killed in a coalition strike in Laghman province.
KABUL—The Taliban's weekend assault on a major coalition base was one of the most determined and effective in the Afghan war, according to details released Sunday, resulting in the biggest single-day loss of U.S. combat aircraft since the Vietnam War.
In addition to the Taliban raid, which killed two U.S. Marines after it began Friday night, two separate insider attacks by Afghan service members elsewhere claimed the lives of six coalition troops. A lethal coalition airstrike that caused a number of civilian casualties, meanwhile, raised tensions between Washington and Kabul.
The Taliban said their audacious raid on Camp Bastion/Camp Leatherneck, a massive complex in southern Helmand province that serves as the main base for U.S. Marines and British forces, was in retaliation against a U.S.-produced video insulting Islam. It wasn't clear whether the separate insider attacks by Afghan service members were also linked to the controversial video, which has sparked days of deadly protests across the Muslim world.
The coordinated Taliban attack destroyed six Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jump-jets and "significantly" damaged two others, as well as some hangars, the coalition said. The Taliban also destroyed three refueling stations. Harrier jets cost an inflation-adjusted $30 million to $40 million apiece when they were acquired in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Military operations continued through Saturday morning to flush out the insurgents, who were armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests. The full extent of the damage at Camp Bastion became evident only later in the weekend. "The insurgents, organized into three teams, penetrated at one point of the perimeter fence," said a coalition statement released Sunday. "The insurgents appeared to be well-equipped, trained and rehearsed."
According to the coalition, 14 insurgents were killed. The lone surviving insurgent, wounded in the assault, was taken into custody.
A person familiar with the base's operations said the attack would have required advance scouting and perhaps inside assistance.
Comparing the attack to a less successful suicide assault on Kandahar Air Field in 2010, the person said: "When they tried to come up there [in 2010], they were completely shut down before crossing the gate. Obviously, this was a much more successful attempt. They're learning how to defeat the base defenses."
The Taliban were quick to seize on the propaganda value of the raid, releasing photos and video that showed billowing smoke from Camp Bastion's flight line.
The militants focused their attack on the runway area of Camp Bastion, the British-run side of the base, where the U.K.'s Prince Harry recently arrived to begin a tour as an Apache attack-helicopter pilot. While coalition officials said the attack didn't affect coalition military operations, the destruction of the aircraft represents a major loss of combat power, around half a Harrier squadron.
Harriers, which are no longer in production, are unique aircraft that operate from short runways and can hover to land. The jets belonged to the Marine Attack Squadron VMA 211, nicknamed "the Avengers," which is based in Yuma, Ariz. The squadron is part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, said coalition spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Stewart Upton.
Early Sunday, four coalition service members were killed by an Afghan police officer in southern Zabul province. Zabul Police Chief Ghulam Jilani Farahi said the attack occurred in Zabul's Meezana district and involved an Afghan opening fire on U.S. troops.
On Saturday, two British soldiers were shot and killed in Helmand by a man wearing the uniform of the Afghan Local Police, a village self-defense force that is being mentored by coalition special-operations troops. The U.K. Ministry of Defense identified them as soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment.
Such "green-on-blue" killings spiked earlier this year, following riots caused by the inadvertent burning of Qurans by U.S. troops at the Bagram Air Field north of Kabul.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a coalition airstrike in eastern Laghman province drew sharp criticism from the Afghan government after several civilians were killed in the attack. Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a strong condemnation of the strike, which the Afghan government said claimed the lives of eight women who were gathering firewood.
Sarhadi Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor's office, said the airstrike in the mountainous Alingar district killed both Taliban and civilians, although details were still emerging. The Afghan government has ordered an official investigation of the incident, which drew an apology Sunday from the U.S.-led coalition.
"A number of Afghan civilians were unintentionally killed or injured during this mission which was undertaken solely with the intent of countering known insurgents," said a statement from the International Security Assistance Force. "ISAF takes full responsibility for this tragedy," it said.
The incident is likely to exacerbate relations between the U.S. and Afghan governments, already under strain over the U.S. maintaining custody of some 600 Afghan nationals after the formal handover of the main U.S. military prison at Bagram to Afghan control last week.
Following a meeting Sunday with U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman, Mr. Karzai issued a statement condemning the delayed handover as "a serious violation" of an agreement concluded between the two countries six months ago.
That agreement, along with a deal restricting night raids by coalition forces, helped pave the way for the signing of a Strategic Partnership Agreement between the countries in May. That agreement came into question in an Afghan parliamentary session Saturday, amid the furor over the video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad.
Addressing parliamentarians, Latif Pedram, a lawmaker from northern Badakhshan province, said Afghanistan should cancel the deal because of the video. There were also protests Sunday over the video in Kabul and the western Afghan city of Herat. They ended peacefully.
—Habib Khan Totakhil and Ziaulhaq Sultani contributed to this article.
Write to Nathan Hodge at
WSJ: Taliban targeted by local uprisings
Reply #1317 on:
September 21, 2012, 06:57:32 AM »
Taliban Targeted by Local Uprisings .
By HABIB KHAN TOTAKHIL
ANDAR, Afghanistan—The paved road to this district is controlled by government troops. The alternate route, a dirt track, is under Taliban sway. Both ways are perilous for the local villagers who have taken up arms in the first of several anti-Taliban uprisings spreading in Afghanistan.
Two of these Andar rebels, escorting a reporter to their stronghold on a recent day, were stopped by jumpy Afghan soldiers, who cocked their American-furnished M-16s and briefly seized the villagers' weapons. The fighters were allowed to proceed only after long negotiations.
The Afghan soldiers' fears are easy to understand: Andar's band of fighters, who wear traditional dress and carry Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, are hard to distinguish from the Taliban. Until a few months ago, many were Taliban.
But now, they may be America's best hope for a decisive blow to the Taliban, especially as relations with President Hamid Karzai's administration deteriorate and a spate of insider killings led to an end, this week, to most joint operations between U.S. and Afghan forces.
U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top coalition commander, has publicly compared the Andar revolt—which to a great degree pits local Pashtuns against the largely Pashtun Taliban—to the so-called Anbar Awakening, a rebellion of Iraq's Sunni tribes against al Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgents that became a turning point in the Iraq war.
Whether Andar will go the way of Anbar is far from certain. Outgunned by the Taliban, Andar's local fighters urgently need weapons and ammunition—something the U.S.-backed Afghan government would be eager to provide. Yet the Afghan rebels also know that any open backing by Mr. Karzai's unpopular administration is likely to backfire, denting their movement's credibility.
"We want support for the uprising. But we want the people to maintain ownership of this uprising," said Faizanullah Faizan, the leader of the Andar rebels, sitting among fighters in a house in Payendai village, where the first fighting between the rebels and Taliban took place. Neighboring lands are still controlled by the Taliban.
For the villagers here, the stakes are even higher. "If this uprising fails, the people's only hope dies," said Sarwar Khan, a resident of Andar, one of the most dangerous districts in the volatile province of Ghazni, in Afghanistan's southeast. "If the Taliban return, we think they will even execute our women and children."
As in Iraq's Sunni belt, there is little love here for either the central government or the Americans. Village men—mostly former local Taliban, or members of the Hezb-i-Islami group of warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar—say they rose up against harsh new edicts by Taliban commanders who moved here this year from Pakistani madrassas, banning government education and imposing a more austere brand of Islam that defied local customs.
"Schools, clinics and the bazaar were closed. People were deprived of their basic rights. The Taliban would blindfold and execute anybody they wanted," said Ubaidullah Patsoon, one of the Andar uprising's leaders and a former Taliban fighter himself. "We asked the Taliban to let the people live their lives, let the schools, clinics and bazaar reopen but they responded with more killings."
The Andar uprising began shortly after the Taliban closed down government schools in March. The Taliban made the move to retaliate against a government order banning the use of unregistered motorcycles, the insurgents' favorite mode of transportation. A group of about a half-dozen villagers demanded that the schools be reopened.
In response, insurgents kidnapped the brother of one of the movement's leaders. He remains in their custody, confirmed Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
"We tried to negotiate with the Taliban," said Mr. Patsoon, one of the movement's founders. "But they sent a message saying surrender, abandon Andar and join the infidels—or get ready to fight."
In May, Taliban fighters surrounded the movement's members as they met in a house in Payendai village. One of the rebels, Abdul Samad, the son of a tribal elder, went outside holding a Quran as a symbol of peace and asking the insurgents to negotiate. He was shot dead instead, villagers say, fueling local anger with the Taliban.
In the fighting that ensued, Andar's rebels prevailed. The Taliban fled, empowering other villagers to join the movement, its followers say. The anti-Taliban rebels say their 250 fighters control some 50 of Andar's 400 or so villages and are in active pursuit of 50 more. Similar uprisings have taken place in eastern Kunar, Laghman and Nangarhar provinces, as well in southeastern Paktia and central Logar provinces, say local and provincial officials.
The Andar rebels benefit from their inside knowledge of the enemy. One of them, Abdullah Andar, said he used to be a Taliban explosives expert. "I defused a bomb the day before here," Mr. Andar said, pointing to an unpaved road. "Their tactics are not working on us. We know how they fight—once I was one of them."
Mr. Andar, who hails from the area, said he defected from the insurgency after he witnessed what he said was the Taliban's collusion with Pakistani forces. He said he initially took refuge in Iran, then returned home after the uprising began.
The Taliban are trying to crush this challenge, ramping up executions of the movement's supporters and planting more homemade bombs on roads and in bazaars, Mr. Faizan said, the movement's leader. Mr. Faizan was recently wounded in an assassination attempt, according to the rebels.
In villages the Taliban still control, they have banned groups of more than three men from gathering and barred travel to neighboring villages, villagers say. A series of battles with the Taliban in the district claimed scores of lives on both sides and among local civilians.
Mr. Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, confirmed the Taliban had restricted villagers' movements in Andar. He also dismissed the rebels, characterizing them as a U.S.-backed militia. "They are directly under Americans' supervision," said Mr. Mujahid. "We have been telling them since the beginning to put an end to the turbulence. The schools are reopened… The bazaar was banned because people would use it for spying."
Top U.S. military officials in Kabul say they aren't providing any support to the Andar movement but are watching whether they can help without damaging its organic development.
Mr. Faizan, the Andar uprising's leader, flatly denies having received any official Afghan government or coalition military help. His men carry old weapons, he says—rusty Kalashnikovs of the kind found in most Afghan homes—as well as some guns captured from the Taliban.
However, Asadullah Khalid, the former governor of Ghazni who became chief of the country's National Directorate of Security intelligence agency this month, said in an interview that he is supporting the rebels with what he said are his own personal funds.
When Mr. Faizan, the uprising's commander, gave a wad of some 50,000 afghanis—about $1,000—to the father of the slain Mr. Samad on a recent day, he said the money had been provided by Mr. Khalid. Such aid notwithstanding, Mr. Khalid said: "This isn't a government-planned uprising, but a popular uprising initiated by the oppressed people of Ghazni against the Taliban."
The local wish for self-determination could make the Andar movement a longer-term challenge for the central government's authority. Afghan and coalition officials have yet to determine what role such unregulated local militias would play in the future.
Juma Gul, the tribal elder whose son was killed in the uprising's first day, says his three other sons and two grandsons have now taken up arms against the Taliban—to fight not for Mr. Karzai, but for the right to live without outside interference.
"The Taliban don't let us live our lives and we fight to regain that right," Mr. Gul said. "We're fighting for freedom."
—Nathan Hodge and Maria Abi-Habib contributed to this article.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1318 on:
October 01, 2012, 09:49:50 AM »
MARIA ABI-HABIB And HABIB KHAN TOTAKHIL
KABUL—U.S. and Afghan troops turned their guns on each other over the weekend, leaving two Americans and three Afghan soldiers dead in an incident that highlighted the breakdown of trust following a recent spate of insider attacks.
Afghan officials said Sunday that a Taliban rocket landed near U.S. troops on patrol Saturday afternoon in eastern Wardak province. In response, they said, American forces—thinking they had come under attack from Afghan troops—fired on a nearby Afghan army post. The Afghan army returned fire, resulting in a fierce gunbattle that lasted about 10 minutes, officials said.
The U.S.-led coalition in Kabul acknowledged that insurgent fire was involved in the attack but didn't confirm or deny whether U.S. forces opened up on the Afghan army first. "After a short conversation took place between [Afghan army] and [coalition] personnel, firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of a [coalition] soldier and the death of his civilian colleague. In an ensuing exchange of fire, three [Afghan army] personnel are reported to have died," a coalition statement read.
Saturday's incident came days after the U.S.-led coalition said it was easing its suspension of full-scale cooperation with Afghan forces. The coalition said in mid-September it was curbing joint operations with Afghan forces on levels below battalion command after a U.S. video insulting Islam enraged Muslims across the world and led to attacks on U.S. missions in the Middle East.
So far this year more than 50 coalition troops—most American—have been gunned down by Afghan police or soldiers, or nearly one out of every seven coalition fatalities.
The weekend incident pushed U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war to 2,000, according to a tally by the Associated Press. At least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries have also died, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organization that tracks the deaths, the AP said.
Afghan Bomber Kills 14 10/1/2012
Following the latest incident, Western military officials said there is no trust deficit between Afghan forces and their international allies. "If you visit the people in the field who are working together closely with thousands of interactions every day you see strong, trusting relationships resulting in cooperative operations delivering success," the coalition's deputy commander, British Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, said at a news conference Sunday.
The Taliban didn't take responsibility for Saturday's attack. They reported the incident on their website, saying that the Wardak gunbattle was for "reasons which are still not determined."
The U.S.-led coalition is building up the Afghan army and police so it can pull out most foreign forces by the end of 2014.
But some analysts say insider attacks against international forces perpetrated by Afghan soldiers and police have already deeply damaged the military mission.
"It's obviously concerning that the trust deficit has emerged and that even the smallest of incidents can set off a firestorm," said Candace Rondeaux, a senior analyst based in Kabul for the International Crisis Group think-tank. "At this stage, with morale being so low within the Afghan security forces, each of these insider attacks opens the pathway for copycat attacks."
Write to Maria Abi-Habib at
WSJ: On patrol with Bravo Company
Reply #1319 on:
October 01, 2012, 11:21:01 AM »
On Patrol With Bravo Company in Afghanistan
A 4-foot cobra slithered across the patrol's path. The Marines shrugged—a snake couldn't blow off their legs..
By BING WEST
Last Thursday the Pentagon announced that joint patrols between U.S. and Afghan troops had resumed after a 10-day hiatus. During that time, our commanders are said to have completed security reviews and beefed up measures to prevent more deadly "green-on-blue" attacks by Afghan forces on U.S. personnel. Yet over the weekend another green-on-blue incident killed another American, pushing the U.S. military death toll in the 11-year war to 2,000.
These joint patrols are crucial if we are to leave behind a secure Afghanistan in 2014, as the president intends. But we must make certain that their resumption isn't merely a face-saving measure for a policy decided in Washington that fails to address the reality on the ground in Afghanistan. Joint patrols cannot substitute for Afghan troops who must believe in their own cause. Nothing is gained by "jointness" if the Afghan forces are getting ready to cut local deals and pull back as we leave.
A few weeks ago, I visited Sangin District in Helmand province, the most violent district in Afghanistan, and got a taste of the challenges facing those who actually carry out these joint patrols.
The first patrol I accompanied was typical of thousands. In 95-degree heat, 10 Marines of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment slogged through the stifling cornfields, careful to stay in the footsteps of the point man sweeping for IEDs with his mine detector. At one point, a 4-foot cobra slithered across the patrol's path. The Marines shrugged—a snake couldn't blow off their legs.
The patrol emerged from the cornfield in front of a small madrassa, or Islamist school. A black-turbaned mullah quickly herded the schoolboys inside the courtyard, while outside a dozen farmers glared at the Marines. In five years, the coalition hadn't made a favorable impression in the hamlet.
The patrol continued on to a tiny outpost named PBR, or Pabst Blue Ribbon, on the edge of a Taliban-controlled hamlet. A roving gang of about 40 Taliban had engaged the Marines in a firefight a few days earlier, and the Marines were searching for their hideout.
"We're at war out here," Lt. Col. David Bradney, the 1-7 Battalion commander said. "That means patrolling aggressively from the first to the last day of our deployment. The Taliban will cut us no slack, and we return the sentiment."
The soldiers in the Afghan army in the district didn't take part in the search. They were staying inside their bases until the corn stalks had withered and the Taliban couldn't spring close-in ambushes. There were 46 such Afghan bases across the district; to the Marines, these static defenses guaranteed isolation and defeat.
"When we leave, they'll pull back," Sgt. Eric Johnson, who was stationed at PBR, said. "They won't stay out here alone."
Combat in Sangin has claimed the lives of more than 100 British and American troops since 2005. Battalion 1-7 controlled the district with half the number of Marines it had taken to seize it. Like similar progress across Helmand province, the achievement was due to an American offensive mind-set.
The Marines returned the next day, picked up four locals armed with AKs, and probed deeper into the Taliban-controlled area. When they reached a section of a narrow path that had been swept clean of footprints, they called up their explosives experts. In six months, Bravo Company had uncovered 60 IEDs in their 30-kilometer zone.
Scratching the dirt with his fingers, Staff Sgt. Edward Marini uncovered first one and then another wooden pressure plate attached to yellow plastic jugs filled with ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer produced in Pakistan. He blew both up in an explosion more powerful than an artillery shell.
"Those IEDs would cut a Marine in half," he said.
The leader of the local police then insisted that a nearby compound be blown up because enemy snipers used it. The Bravo Company platoon commander, Lt. Kurt Hoenig, explained that only the Afghan district chief could make that decision. In that case, the local leader retorted, his men would not patrol anymore.
There was a perverse logic to his threat. Over the past decade, an attitude of entitlement has taken hold among Afghans, many of whom believe the Americans need them more than they need the Americans. This explains how an obscure hamlet leader could demand that the Marines do his bidding.
Lt. Hoenig handled the situation perfectly. He agreed that the local police didn't have to patrol with the Marines. They could stay behind in Taliban territory, without Marine protection, instead. The police rejoined the patrol.
"The Afghans knew where the IEDs were," Lt. Hoenig said. "If we weren't here, they'd dig them up and dump them in a canal. Sometimes I think we're shoveling in a snowstorm. You see progress for a minute, then the hole is filled with snow again."
Day after day, thousands of American patrols leave the wire. The average grunt in Bravo Company strapped on 95 pounds of armor and ammo and made 100 patrols over a seven-month deployment. Last year in this sector of Sangin, Marines cinched tourniquets around their legs before going on patrol. Expecting to step on a pressure plate, they were ready to tie off their own bloody stumps. A year later, most carry tourniquets in their pockets and say they have it easier than those who preceded them.
That's true. Throughout Helmand, the progress has been remarkable. Roads are open, markets are bustling, schools are full. The reason has been the gritty persistence of our Marines, deployment after deployment. One hundred patrols per man—one million footsteps, with tourniquets at the ready. The infantryman has done his job. It's time for the Afghans to shovel the snow from their own doorsteps.
Mr. West, a former assistant secretary of defense and Marine, is the co-author with Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer of "Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War," out this month from Random House.
POTH: Taliban guns down freedom loving girl
Reply #1320 on:
October 10, 2012, 10:07:46 AM »
Re: POTH: Taliban guns down freedom loving girl
Reply #1321 on:
October 10, 2012, 09:02:13 PM »
NOT ALL Muslims shot her in the head! Massive protests of this by the vast majority of peaceful muslims in 3...2...never
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on October 10, 2012, 10:07:46 AM
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1322 on:
October 11, 2012, 10:26:21 AM »
Ummm , , , you might need to back up a bit GM
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1323 on:
October 11, 2012, 04:07:35 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on October 11, 2012, 10:26:21 AM
Ummm , , , you might need to back up a bit GM
"Across Swat, private schools were closed to protest the Taliban’s actions. The attack drew condemnation from virtually every corner of Pakistani society, from politicians and the media to civil society organizations."
You were impressed by this?
What does this mean, the Talibs only get half the usual hugs and kisses from the ISI when the weekly supply run gets sent in? Wake me when we see something similar in the muslim world as the violent protests and killing that accompany a koran getting thrown away or touched by an infidel impolitely.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1324 on:
October 11, 2012, 08:51:39 PM »
I get all that AND we need to acknowledge that this happened TOO. We need to allow ourselves to see that such people exist. We need to appreciate that taking such a stand in such a culture and environment requires a certain level of courage given the pervasive presence of Islamo-fascist killers.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1325 on:
October 11, 2012, 09:10:56 PM »
The majority of muslims ruin it for the few who wish to leave the 7th century. Those that take a visible stand tend to get shot, stabbed or killed in some other manner. Somehow this will be spun as our fault
POTH: Afg army's high turnover clouds US exit plan
Reply #1326 on:
October 16, 2012, 02:49:27 PM »
WSJ: Shift for Afghan special ops
Reply #1327 on:
October 19, 2012, 08:19:34 PM »
U.S. Sees Shift for Afghan Special Ops
Elite Forces Will Take Noncombat Roles, Says Commander, as Troops Withdraw.
By MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS
SARKANI, Afghanistan—Elite U.S. special-operations troops are preparing to shift to a rear-guard role in Afghanistan when the main allied forces withdraw at the end of next year, according to their commander.
U.S. Army Special Forces and other elite American troops expect to stay but will shift from the battlefield to rear positions such as the defense and interior ministries, helping improve Afghan command-and-control capabilities, said U.S. Maj. Gen. Tony Thomas, who commands U.S. and coalition Special Operations forces in Afghanistan, in an interview.
Michael M. Phillips/The Wall Street Journal
A coalition Special Forces soldier from Hungary checks the marksmanship of member of Afghanistan's SWAT-like units.
His remarks are some of the most detailed yet about the U.S. military's expectations of its role after most conventional troops leave. Special operations units are currently advisers to their Afghan counterparts and they fight alongside each other, a situation many expected to prevail after the drawdown.
Pulling back from the front lines would likely reduce the risk of U.S. casualties in a war that has already claimed more than 2,000 American lives and might make a long-term presence in Afghanistan more palatable to a war-weary American public.
This thinking is one reason the U.S. is urgently pushing to prepare Afghan special operators—police SWAT teams, army commandos and special-forces strike teams—to conduct night raids, capture top-level insurgent leaders and defend against Taliban terror attacks with an ever-decreasing need for U.S. assistance.
"Two years from now, they better be a lot better," Gen. Thomas said by telephone. "If they are better, we can afford to be at a more detached level."
Such a scenario would return the Afghan war closer to the way it was fought in 2001, when elite U.S. troops assisted Afghan rebels in overthrowing the Taliban, by coordinating U.S. airstrikes and providing battlefield advice. The large influx of conventional allied forces came later, culminating in the troop surge that President Barack Obama ordered in 2009, bringing the U.S. presence to more than 100,000 troops.
The U.S. and its allies have already announced plans to withdraw tens of thousands of conventional forces by the end of 2014. What happens to those left behind—and whether there will be troops left behind at all—is now the subject of U.S.-Afghan talks on a long-term bilateral-security agreement, which will likely hinge on whether Kabul grants U.S. troops immunity from Afghan law. Failure to reach such a deal scuttled plans to keep some forces in Iraq after the U.S. withdrawal last year.
Assuming the talks are successful, Western officials have talked of an enduring U.S. presence between a few thousand and 20,000 troops, not all of them special-operations forces. While Gen. Thomas oversees elite units from Hungary, Norway and other coalition partners, these countries will negotiate their own deals with the Afghan government.
Presidential elections in the U.S. next month and Afghanistan in 2014 could also complicate the outcome. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has endorsed the 2014 timetable, but said the precise extent of the withdrawals should be based on local conditions, so as not to signal an exact timeline to the Taliban. He has criticized the U.S. for not leaving a residual counterterrorism force in Iraq, suggesting he would push for that in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military, meanwhile, is planning for its preferred outcome. Elite coalition forces no longer conduct missions on their own, according to their commander; missions include Afghan counterparts.
In Sarkani in eastern Afghanistan, Green Berets and Hungarian special operators are training an Afghan paramilitary SWAT unit called the Provincial Response Company, one of 19 nationwide that conduct hostage rescues, high-risk arrests and weapons seizures. The government has some 4,000 such special police officers.
This month, the Sarkani SWAT team captured an alleged insurgent named Saidullah, who is accused of providing supplies to the Taliban. Based on U.S. intelligence, Maj. Sayeed Afandi, the unit commander, knew that Saidullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, was in the nearby town of Asadabad. The major found him in a restaurant, sent his driver inside in civilian clothes to confirm his identity, and then arrested Saidullah himself.
When the Afghans spotted 15 to 20 insurgents on the ridgeline above their base this month, however, it was the Americans who fired artillery at the fighters' positions.
Elite units in general are especially useful because of the tactics of insurgents. It is uncommon for large groups of fighters to try to take over entire districts or overrun allied positions. Massed fighters draw coalition airstrikes and risk large insurgent casualties. who tend to operate in small teams, planting bombs and conducting hit-and-run or suicide attacks. "Overall, the insurgency is a small force operating in small groups," said the commander of the Afghan Crisis Response Unit, a paramilitary SWAT team in Kabul. "Their strategy to do blitzkrieg operations failed."
In April, the Crisis Response Unit was called in to clear insurgents who had taken over three buildings in Kabul. The Afghans swept the buildings and killed the insurgents, with close support from their Norwegian advisers, who assisted with intelligence, communications and coordination.
"It's like walking your kid to school and holding his hand," said Australian Brig. Gen. Mark Smethhurst, a senior commander of allied special-operations troops. "We're still holding their hands."
Cooperation with Afghans has been tested by a recent surge in attacks on coalition forces by local troops, known as green-on-blue attacks. The decision whether or not to continue them was left up to the discretion of local commanders.
Allied and Afghan commanders say they are seeing improvements that should allow elite Afghan units to conduct battlefield operations on their own after 2014, even if they need foreign assistance at higher levels, including air support and resupply.
Last month, special police units conducted 299 missions, 80% of which were led by the Afghans, while the foreign advisers led the rest, according to allied and Afghan commanders. Some 15% to 20% of elite police operations involved no foreign assistance, a senior Afghan commander said.
Taliban mailing list brain fart
Reply #1328 on:
November 16, 2012, 04:06:14 PM »
POTH: Karzai orders takeover of Bagram prison
Reply #1329 on:
November 22, 2012, 09:58:02 AM »
Karzai Orders Takeover of Prison at Bagram
By ROD NORDLAND
Published: November 19, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai has ordered Afghan forces to take control of the American-built Bagram Prison and accused American officials of violating an agreement to fully transfer the facility to the Afghans, according to a statement issued by his office on Monday.
The move came after what Mr. Karzai said was the expiration of a two-month grace period, agreed to by President Obama in September, to complete the transfer of the prison, at the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. The Afghan president convened a meeting Sunday of top officials to report on the prison’s status, which led to Monday’s statement, officials said.
Particularly at issue were 57 prisoners held there who had been acquitted by the Afghan courts but have been held by American officials at the prison for more than a month in defiance of release orders, Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for President Karzai, said in an interview.
Afghan officials were also concerned with the status of new prisoners being captured on the battlefield by American troops, who the Afghans feel should be transferred to their control under the prison transfer agreement signed by the two countries this year.
Mr. Faizi said hundreds of new prisoners are being held by American authorities in a closed-off section of the Bagram Prison, which the American military calls the Detention Facility in Parwan. American military forces, mainly Special Operations troops carrying out night raids, have been arresting suspected insurgents at the rate of more than 100 a month, according to Afghan officials.
“We expect the Americans to respect the agreement according to the memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries,” Mr. Faizi said.
The American military did not respond to specific complaints from Afghan officials, but United States Forces-Afghanistan released a statement saying, “The United States fully respects the sovereignty of Afghanistan, and we are committed to fulfilling the mutual obligations incurred under the Memorandum of Understanding on Detentions.” American officials have said that the agreement on detention left open to further negotiation how to handle new prisoners captured by American forces on the battlefield. Those negotiations have stalled, however, over disputes about the release of some earlier prisoners that the Americans have refused to let go.
Tensions over detainee transfers have been on the front-burner since the Memo of Understanding was signed in March, setting a six-month timeline for full transfer of Parwan to Afghan authority. That deadline lapsed with the central issues of a prison transfer still unresolved, leading to a two-month extension agreed to in a videoconference between Mr. Karzai and Mr. Obama in September.
Now, the continued disagreement threatens to complicate an even larger issue: the two countries began negotiations last week on a status of forces agreement that would govern the sort of American military presence that would remain in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal deadline.
The status quo was “a serious breach of the Memorandum of Understanding”, In the statement by Mr. Karzai’s office on Monday, he was quoted as saying the Americans were in “serious breach” of the prison transfer agreement and ordered Afghan officials, including the commander of the Bagram Prison, to take “urgent measures to ensure a full Afghanization of the prison affairs and a complete transfer of its authority.”
American officials, however, say it’s not so simple. One American official, speaking on condition of anonymity because a formal response to Mr. Karzai had not yet been prepared, said: “It’s an issue of sovereignty for the government of Afghanistan, and to General Allen it’s a matter of security for the coalition troops. You can’t just bring these guys in and let them go.” Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of American and NATO troops here, is still in Washington, D.C., after a scandal erupted over numerous e-mails he sent to a woman in Florida.
The American military’s statement maintained that the agreement “contains reciprocal commitments to provide for the security of Afghan citizens, the A.N.S.F. and coalition forces by keeping captured enemy combatants from returning to the battlefield.” It added that the military was confident of working out a solution with Afghanistan on that issue.
Mr. Faizi said there would not immediately be a change in actual control over the Bagram facility, despite the Afghan president’s strongly worded statement. He said Afghan judicial, defense and prison officials would hold urgent discussions with American officials and report back to President Karzai in the next couple days about how to actually implement his order. After that, Mr. Karzai would hold a news conference to announce his government’s next steps.
The Bagram Prison, which has a capacity for more than 3,000 detainees, lies within the much larger, American-controlled Bagram Air Base and is surrounded by American-manned checkpoints as well as being heavily staffed by American guards.
Human rights advocates welcomed President Karzai’s move. Tina Foster, a lawyer with the International Justice Network, who represents some Bagram detainees, met recently with Afghan officials in a still-unsuccessful effort to visit her clients in Bagram. Afghan officials approved the visits, but the United States military blocked them, she said.
“When we met with Karzai’s staff it was clear that the Afghans are tired of being treated like servants in their own country,” Ms. Foster said. “Symbolic gestures are not going to cut it anymore. They want the keys to the prison, and the ability to determine the fates of the prisoners held there.”
Review of Jake Tapper's "The Outpost"
Reply #1330 on:
November 23, 2012, 07:24:48 AM »
Jake Tapper's 'The Outpost' Raises Vital Questions on U.S. Afghanistan Strategy
by Kurt Schlichter 22 Nov 2012, 2:30 AM PDT
The Army uses the term “BLUF” – bottom line up front. The BLUF on Jake Tapper’s new book on Afghanistan, The Outpost, is that you need to read it.
If you are a civilian, you need to do so to see and understand something of what you ask America’s warriors to do in your name. If you are one of those warriors, especially if you presume to lead American soldiers, you need to do so for the sake of your fellow troops.
Jake Tapper is an unusual mainstream journalist, one who movement conservatives respect. That’s not because he’s a conservative himself – he’s not – but because he seems to embody the kind of objectivity that the mainstream media has almost completely abandoned in favor of outright partisanship. And he’s a stickler for accuracy – I once clashed with him over some long-forgotten article in Big Journalism where he took offense over my questioning of his reporting. His stubborn dedication shows here; the lawyer in me appreciates the thorough documentation at the back of the book.
The subtitle of The Outpost is An Untold Story of American Valor, and it’s a crime that this is true. You don’t know the story. America doesn’t know the story. That is something of the point. This is the story of the tactics that derive from a strategy that, if more Americans understood it, might not be the strategy at all. We just had an election and the only discussion of Afghanistan focused on who would pull out fastest. That’s not strategy.
The focus of The Outpost is not the men who fight the engagements over the several years that the ill-fated Combat Outpost (“COP”) Keating existed in a remote corner of Afghanistan but COP Keating itself. This is significant. The book orients on terrain, just like classic warfare. When you talk about conventional fighting, you are necessarily talking terrain, or (less frequently) the enemy itself. But the war in Afghanistan is not traditional warfare.
Tapper’s story is really one of men at the unit level – the troopers in various Infantry Brigade Combat Teams’ (“IBCT”) reconnaissance (i.e., cavalry) squadrons – trying to come up with effective tactics in support of a non-traditional strategy, counter-insurgency (“COIN”). COIN doesn’t try to dominate particular key terrain or destroy the enemy (though these things play a supporting part). Rather, the decisive effort is oriented at the populace. COIN assumes that if you win over the populace – the people's “hearts and minds” – the insurgency is defeated.
COP Keating – named after a lieutenant killed in an painfully unnecessary vehicle accident – lay at the base of towering mountains near a road and a village that the IBCT command was determined to engage and convert to the government’s cause. Tactically, the location was a disaster waiting to happen – as various soldiers rotate into COP Keating over the years, Tapper records, to a man, they are baffled at the decision to locate the post there.
In a traditional war, it would be insane. But in COIN, it makes a kind of twisted sense. You have to be where the people are, and the people don’t choose to locate their villages based on the teachings of Fort Benning’s Infantry School.
This is a story of the consequences of America’s choice of strategies. Strategy, the Army War College teaches the senior officers selected for that coveted course, consists of a symmetry between the means available (resources) and the possible ways (courses of action) and the desired ends. The Outpost illustrates a strategy out of sync. The ends are vague – there is a lot of talk about supporting the central government and “development” but the end really seems to be just keeping the locals from fighting the allies. Moreover, the ways are very constrained; the awesome firepower of the American forces is limited by restrictive rules of engagement.
The means are limited as well – a single IBCT for several provinces. An IBCT is about 4000 soldiers. What struck me is the lack of troops for the mission – the job is just too big for the number of troops dedicated to it. As a result, it’s a stalemate.
We see, graphically, the effect on our troops. We, of course, have the power to completely pulverize any target in Afghanistan. We could, if we chose, clear the villages and place the populace in “protective custody” then proceed to wipe out everyone else, who would presumably be the enemy. But we won’t do that because we aren’t savages.
Yet by constraining ourselves, we ensure that the fighting is roughly even – that is, units of insurgents with small arms engaging often smaller units of Americans with small arms. The equation changes when air power and artillery are available – when either is actually in range and when it can be used without killing innocents – but the bottom line is that COIN forces Americans to do something no soldier ever wants to do: give the enemy a fighting chance. In Desert Storm, the last conventional war, we annihilated the Iraqi forces before they saw us by air, by artillery, and by tank guns that outranged them. We had the initiative. It was utterly lopsided – and therefore better for all involved.
COIN gives the enemy the ability to hold its own because, in a macro sense, we have to hold our heaviest fire and largely duke it out man to man. And they have the initiative because we only have the strength to hold the ground we stand on while they can range through the rest of the battlespace – therefore giving them the initiative since they can start (and end) combat when and where they choose.
The Outpost therefore chronicles a series of inconclusive firefights set against a backdrop of desperate attempts to convert the wary locals to our cause – locals who, as Tapper points out, have seen invaders come and go over the ages and see Americans as just another one that will eventually depart. The enemy initiates the fights and chooses when to end them. The Americans, contrary to everything they have even been taught, are left to react.
The valor of these cavalrymen is unquestioned, and their skill and courage in battle against a brave and cunning foe is ably depicted in Tapper’s lean, clear prose. Tapper has a rare sense for what’s important, probably as much as one can expect from a civilian. There are a couple minor technical errors military folks will pick out, but they are of no import. Tapper gets it.
He draws the real-life characters vividly; we get to know them as people, not just grades and military occupational specialties. I wish Tapper had talked a little about the unique cavalry culture – no mention of Stetsons, spurs or Garry Owen? Also worth mentioning is that, except for a cav squadron’s C Troop, which is infantry (as Tapper points out), cavalry troopers are not infantrymen yet they were fighting that way.
My authenticity test for military books is whether I recognize the characters from my own career, albeit with different names. I did, starting with the military intelligence specialist right at the beginning who thinks he knows more than his officers – and may, in fact, be right, at least in a non-COIN war. There’s always a bright E4 in every S2 shop who thinks he’s got it all figured out. Always.
Tapper’s interest is in the cavalry troopers, with only a few mentions of the full colonels and generals in the first half of the book. More come later as distant figures, seemingly disconnected to the reality on the ground. That’s a challenge for the reader, because from where the rubber meets the road things look very different from the driver’s seat.
I get that; in some form, I’ve held many of the officer leadership positions described in the book. A commander’s action that looks to a lieutenant as callous indifference may well be the result of a battalion commander having to make tough calls. Your platoon doesn’t get priority of fire during a mission? It’s probably not because the commander doesn’t care but because he does; he just thinks he can better support the mission and protect soldiers’ lives by making the tough choice to give priority to someone else. I wish I knew as an angry lieutenant what I know today as a former cavalry squadron commander.
The civilian reader is exposed to a completely new world which, for various reasons, the mainstream media has utterly failed to make familiar. For military readers, there are practical takeaways. You get an idea of enemy tactics, the challenges of COIN, and the nature of Afghans and the Afghan forces. Not (yet) having been to Afghanistan, I found myself taking copious mental notes.
The last part of the book chronicles a massive, coordinated enemy assault on COP Keating and the courageous actions of the 50-some soldiers who held out against all odds. You swell with pride at our warriors, then wonder how the men could have ever been put there.
But under the strategy we as citizens have validated, COP Keating was bound to happen. It’s not merely a result of commanders trying to do their already nearly-impossible job with far too few troops. Of course their decisions put soldiers at greater risk – COIN is all about risking (hopefully wisely) soldiers’ lives to achieve victory by deemphasizing kinetic effects (firepower) in favor of engaging the population. COIN is America’s strategy, and that strategy is validated by our elected representatives. For better or worse, it is America’s strategy – though Tapper raises the question of whether what was happening there at the end was still COIN at all and not just bureaucratic inertia. Regardless, if you want to know who is to “blame” for Afghanistan, find a mirror.
The Outpost is a worthy addition to any bookshelf next to the two gold standard texts of modern war – Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down and Sean Naylor’s Not a Good Day To Die. But it won’t be on mine. A number of my friends who I served with over the last two decades on deployment and in natural disasters will soon depart for Afghanistan. I’m passing on my copy of The Outpost to them in the hope it will help them win the fight and bring their people back.
Kurt Schlichter commanded a National Guard IBCT cavalry squadron in the United States from 2006 to 2008. The views expressed here are solely his own.
WSJ: You want to fight for this?
Reply #1331 on:
December 11, 2012, 10:32:45 AM »
WASHINGTON—American soldiers should brace for a "social-cultural shock" when meeting Afghan soldiers and avoid potentially fatal confrontations by steering clear of subjects including women's rights, religion and Taliban misdeeds, according to a controversial draft of a military handbook being prepared for troops heading to the region.
The proposed Army handbook suggests that Western ignorance of Afghan culture, not Taliban infiltration, has helped drive the recent spike in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces.
Excerpts: 'Do Not Discuss Religion'
Below, read excerpts from "Insider Threats – Afghanistan: Observations, Insights, and Lessons," a draft handbook prepared for U.S. and coalition forces serving in Afghanistan:
Green-on-blue incidents provoke a crisis of confidence and trust among [coalition forces] working with [Afghan troops]. As a means of illuminating this insider threat, those [coalition] personnel working on Security Force Assistance Teams during 2012 that live alongside and mentor [Afghan security forces] have about 200 times the risk of being murdered by an [Afghan security force] member than a U.S. police officer has of being murdered in the line of duty by a perpetrator.
* * *
Understand that they may have poor conflict resolution skills and that insults cause irrational escalation of force.
Do not discuss religion
* * *
Flashpoints/Grievances Some U.S. Troops Have Reported Regarding Afghanistan National Security Forces:
To better prepare [coalition forces] for the psychologically challenging conditions in Afghanistan, familiarize yourself with the following stressors some U.S. troops have reported concerning [Afghan security forces] behavior during previous deployments. Bear in mind that not all [coalition] troops have reported such experiences or beliefs.
Some ANSF are profoundly dishonest and have no personal integrity
ANSF do not buy-into war effort; far too many are gutless in combat
Incompetent, ignorant and basically stupid
Bottom line: Troops may experience social-cultural shock and/or discomfort when interacting with [Afghan security forces]. Better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [coalition forces] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead towards green-on-blue violence.
* * *
Etiquette Violations Best Avoided by [coalition forces] Taboo conversation topics include:
Anything related to Islam
Mention of any other religion and/or spirituality
Debating the war
Making derogatory comments about the Taliban
Advocating women's rights and equality
Directing any criticism towards Afghans
Mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct
Bottom line: Try to avoid highly charged and emotional issues.
"Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member," according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.
The 75-page manual, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, is part of a continuing effort by the U.S. military to combat a rise in attacks by Afghan security forces aimed at coalition troops.
But it has drawn criticism from U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan, who aides said hasn't—and wouldn't—endorse the manual as written. Gen. Allen also rejected a proposed foreword that Army officials drafted in his name.
"Gen. Allen did not author, nor does he intend to provide, a foreword," said Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. "He does not approve of its contents."
Gen. Allen hadn't seen the proposed foreword until a portion of the handbook was called to his attention by the Journal, Col. Collins said. Military officials wouldn't spell out his precise objections. But the handbook's conclusion that cultural insensitivity is driving insider attacks goes beyond the view most commonly expressed by U.S. officials.
The version reviewed by the Journal—marked "final coordinating draft" and sent out for review in November—was going through more revisions, said Lt. Gen. David Perkins, commander of the Army's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., whose Center for Army Lessons Learned wrote the manual.
The proposed foreword was prepared by Army staff for Gen. Allen's eventual consideration, and the general's concerns will be taken into account as the military moves ahead with more revisions, he added.
The proposed handbook embraces a hotly debated theory that American cultural ignorance has sparked many so-called insider attacks—more than three dozen of which have claimed the lives of some 63 members of the U.S.-led coalition this year. The rise in insider attacks has created one of the biggest threats to American plans to end its major combat missions in Afghanistan next year and transfer full security control to Afghan forces in 2014.
Afghan leaders say Taliban infiltrators are responsible for most insider attacks. U.S. officials say the attacks are largely rooted in personal feuds between Afghan and coalition troops, though not necessarily the result of cultural insensitivity.
Last year, the U.S.-led coalition rejected an internal military study that concluded that cultural insensitivity was in part to blame for insider killings, which it called a growing threat that represented "a severe and rapidly metastasizing malignancy" for the coalition in Afghanistan.
The study was reported last year by The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. military at the time said the study was flawed by "unprofessional rhetoric and sensationalism."
The 2011 report—"A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility"—is now a centerpiece of the draft handbook's advice to soldiers heading to Afghanistan, and it is listed under the draft's references and recommended reading. The report's findings also informed the current manual for troops in Afghanistan, which was released in February, according to Gen. Perkins.
U.S. Army officials didn't make the current version of the manual available for review.
The Army officer who headed up the 2011 study, Maj. Jeffrey Bordin, now is serving as the Army center's liaison to Gen. Allen's coalition headquarters in Kabul.
Manual Brings Pashtun Population Into Focus
Maj. Bordin's work was included in the manual as part of a broader assessment of the insider threat in Afghanistan, said Gen. Perkins.
"We are very serious in trying to solve this problem, so we are not discounting any insights that we think are useful," he said. "We are pulling out all the stops to do everything we can to gather lessons learned."
Maj. Bordin didn't respond to email requests to comment, and the military didn't make him available for an interview.
The study, based on interviews with 600 members of the Afghan security forces and 200 American soldiers, painted a grim portrait of opposing cultures with simmering disdain for their counterparts.
The draft handbook uses Maj. Bordin's conclusions to psychologically prepare troops for serving in Afghanistan. A summary includes views of some U.S. soldiers that Afghan forces engage in thievery, are "gutless in combat," are "basically stupid," "profoundly dishonest," and engage in "treasonous collusion and alliances with enemy forces."
The draft handbook offers a list of "taboo conversation topics" that soldiers should avoid, including "making derogatory comments about the Taliban," "advocating women's rights," "any criticism of pedophilia," "directing any criticism towards Afghans," "mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct" or "anything related to Islam."
"Bottom line: Troops may experience social-cultural shock and/or discomfort when interacting with" Afghan security forces, the handbook states. "Better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [troops] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead toward green-on-blue violence."
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1332 on:
December 11, 2012, 10:47:05 AM »
Bottom line, if a muslim does something bad, it's always someone else's fault.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1333 on:
December 11, 2012, 10:54:59 AM »
So, what are we doing there?
After a tremendous success in overthrowing the Taliban, Bush established strategic incoherence and multiplied it with neglect. Obama ran on it being the right war and once in, surprise! decided to posture for a while and then cut and run.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1334 on:
December 11, 2012, 11:01:32 AM »
I dunno, so we can say we gave it a good shot before we decide to nuke it flat?
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1335 on:
December 11, 2012, 11:07:13 AM »
Ummm , , , ignoring for the moment the rather significant issue of massive collateral damage to the innocent, Pakistan is the world's fourth largest nuke power, yes?
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1336 on:
December 11, 2012, 11:10:24 AM »
So, we make it a joint US-India operation to pacify SW asia.
Pakistan: Mixed results from a Peshawar attack
Reply #1337 on:
December 26, 2012, 10:50:28 AM »
In Pakistan, Mixed Results From a Peshawar Attack
December 20, 2012 | 1103 GMT
by Ben West
The Pakistani Taliban continue to undermine Pakistan's government and military establishment, and in doing so, they continue to raise questions over the security of the country's nuclear arsenal.
On Dec. 15, 10 militants armed with suicide vests and grenades attacked Peshawar Air Force Base, the site of a third major operation by the Pakistani Taliban since May 2011. Tactically, the attack was relatively unsuccessful -- all the militants were killed, and the perimeter of the air base was not breached -- but the Pakistani Taliban nonetheless achieved their objective.
The attack began the night of Dec. 15 with a volley of three to five mortar shells. As the shells were fired, militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device near the perimeter wall of the air base. Reports indicate that all five militants inside the vehicle were killed. The other five militants engaged security forces in a nearby residential area and eventually were driven back before they could enter the air base. The next day, security forces acting on a report of suspicious activity confronted the militants, who all died in the resultant shootout.
Pakistani security forces came away from the incident looking very good. They prevented a large and seemingly coordinated team of militants from entering the confines of the base and thus from damaging civilian and military aircraft. Some of Pakistan's newly acquired Chinese-Pakistani made JF-17s, are stationed at the air base, and worth roughly $20 million each, they were probably the militants ultimate targets.
Another reason the militants may have chosen the base is its location. Peshawar Air Force Base is the closest base to the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan, where Pakistani and U.S. forces are clashing with Taliban militants who threaten Islamabad and Kabul. The air base is most likely a hub for Pakistan's air operations against those militants. The Dec. 15 attack killed one police officer and a few other civilians, but it did no damage to the air base, the adjacent civilian airport or their respective aircraft. Flights were postponed for only a couple of hours as security forces cleared the area.
Tactics and Previous Attacks
Major military bases in Pakistan have been attacked before. In May 2011, Pakistani Taliban militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and firearms destroyed two P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft and killed 10 soldiers during an attack on Mehran Naval Air Base in Karachi. The militants entered the base by cutting through the fence.
More recently, seven Pakistani Taliban militants scaled the walls of Minhas Air Force Base in Kamra before killing a soldier and damaging a Ukrainian transport aircraft. They were pushed back before they could damage the squadron of F-16 fighter aircraft stationed at the base.
The Dec. 15 attack was not nearly as destructive as these other attacks, probably because half the militants were killed immediately in the explosion at the perimeter. Their deaths suggest the device detonated earlier than expected or that they were not far enough from the device when it exploded. It is unclear why they died, but the device could have detonated prematurely for several reasons. There could have been a glitch in the construction or detonation of the device. Otherwise, it could have been the result of the security forces' countermeasures (something officials have not yet claimed). Had the militants survived the explosion and breached the perimeter, they might have been more successful against security.
The Dec. 15 attack also differs from the previous two attacks tactically. Whereas militants stealthily entered the bases in Kamra and Karachi, the militants who attacked the base in Peshawar used mortars and explosives because the wall -- roughly eight feet high and topped with barbed wire -- could not be cut or climbed easily. These tactics are much more aggressive than the two previous air base attacks, and therefore they immediately caught the attention of security forces. Indeed, security forces in the vicinity would have heard mortar shells and explosions. But just as important, mortar shells and explosions create flames that security forces can use to pinpoint the attack and respond quickly.
It is hard to say whether the combination and coordination of mortar fire, explosives and a direct ground assault with firearms would have resulted in a successful attack even if half the militants had not died in the initial explosion. They certainly would have been greatly outnumbered. The few mortar shells fired at the base may have suppressed forces momentarily, but the militants did not sustain their indirect cover fire, which eventually allowed security forces more mobility in responding. In any case, breaching the wall with an explosion sacrifices the element of surprise too early -- outside the base rather than inside -- reducing the amount of time the assailants have to find their targets before security could respond.
A final reason the attack failed may have been the fact that the threat was known about weeks earlier. In late November, authorities apprehended a would-be suicide bomber and his handler entering Peshawar on a motorcycle. The suspect later confessed that they were targeting the airport. Peshawar airport was already on high alert after the attack on the Kamra base in August. The November arrests heightened security, which lessened the militants' chance of surprise. Moreover, the arrests were made publicly available in open-source materials, so the militants should have known that security forces were on high alert.
As for the security forces, the protective intelligence available was obvious, and the attack came when they were most prepared to repel it. Yet they benefited greatly when the explosion did half their work for them. It appears that they just got lucky.
The Dec. 15 attack appears to have been carried out by militants who intended to replicate the damage caused by their comrades' attacks in Karachi and Kamra. Tactically, they failed.
But that does not mean the operation wasn't valuable. Like previous attacks on Pakistani military installations, the Peshawar attack grabs headlines because of its high profile. Put simply, the sensitivity of the target demands media attention.
As in the Karachi and Kamra attacks, the Dec. 15 attack involves the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. There are no indications that there are nuclear weapons stored at the Peshawar base, and there is no evidence that the nuclear weapons that may have been stored at the Karachi and Kamra bases were compromised. But the attack nonetheless raises questions about the security of Pakistan's military installations and by extension their nuclear arsenal. For the United States and India, such attacks compel lawmakers to revisit debates over whether the United States should intervene to protect the weapons.
These headlines and discussions benefit the Pakistani Taliban because they call into question Islamabad's ability to rule. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban will continue to try to destabilize the military, one of the strongest pillars of the state, and provoke fear of external involvement from the United States.
In fact, the Pakistani Taliban would benefit from U.S. involvement, which would create huge public backlash and chaotic conditions in which the militants could thrive. The Pakistani Taliban do not necessarily need to destroy aircraft or kill military personnel to raise these doubts in Pakistan and the wider world. From the perspective of the insurgents, all the coordination and firepower they brought to the attack was a strategic success if this attack nurtures that doubt, even if it wasn't as tactically successful as previous attacks.
Read more: In Pakistan, Mixed Results From a Peshawar Attack | Stratfor
POTH: AFghan police green on green killings
Reply #1338 on:
December 28, 2012, 09:34:22 AM »
POTH: Reprisals for drone attacks
Reply #1339 on:
December 30, 2012, 12:06:00 PM »
WSJ: Talks to define US military presence
Reply #1340 on:
January 03, 2013, 05:06:22 PM »
Kabul expects the U.S. to help modernize the Afghan military, including a higher-end air force. Above, soldiers shown recently at a northern Afghan base.
KABUL—Afghan President Hamid Karzai is set to depart Monday for Washington to meet President Barack Obama in a visit that promises tough talks over the U.S. military presence here after the American mandate ends in 2014.
The leaders will also discuss Kabul's wish list of military gear.
In an address Wednesday to Afghan lawmakers, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul outlined Kabul's expectations for the talks, which he said would define the two nations' relations after the U.S.-led coalition leaves.
"This is one of the most important visits of the president to the United States of America," Mr. Rassoul said, adding that it "will cast new light on the future relations."
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the White House and the State Department didn't respond to requests to comment.
The discussions in Washington are expected to touch on everything from post-2014 U.S. military and financial assistance to wider regional security issues. Officials in both countries hope the meeting will smooth the way for a U.S. drawdown after more than a decade of war, while preserving hard-won security gains.
Washington and Kabul late last year launched talks over a long-term bilateral security accord on a residual U.S. force. The White House has yet to officially disclose the number of troops it seeks to keep in Afghanistan, but U.S. officials have described a White House preference for up to 10,000 troops in the post-2014 period. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander, has recommended a range of between 6,000 and 15,000 troops.
The two presidents are scheduled to meet as the fragile peace process with the Taliban appears to be showing new promise after last month's meeting between envoys from the Islamic insurgency and senior Afghan politicians near Chantilly, France.
Ashraf Ghani, Mr. Karzai's adviser on the security transition, said Washington and Kabul were building a "comprehensive agenda" for Mr. Karzai's U.S. visit around several issues, including peace talks, the bilateral security accord, military equipment and financial support beyond 2014. "Both sides have been preparing intensely—this is a very well-prepared trip," he said.
Top Afghan officials in recent days have made clear they expect the U.S. government and its allies to help modernize the Afghan military. The officials say they want a higher-end air force that can defend the country's airspace, something their U.S. and coalition counterparts are skeptical the country can afford. Afghanistan largely depends on foreign aid to pay for its army and police, but international donors expect the country to foot an increasing share of the bill for its security over the longer term.
Afghanistan now has a relatively primitive air force, equipped largely with Russian-made transport helicopters, small cargo planes and training aircraft, and Afghan officials have been frustrated by slow progress in building up a more modern fleet. Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said the Afghan military wanted aircraft for "external defense."
Afghan officials refer privately to the potential threat posed by the country's powerful neighbors, Iran and Pakistan, but take care in public to avoid bellicose rhetoric.
Afghanistan's defense ministry prepared a weaponry wish list well in advance of the Washington meeting that includes better intelligence and surveillance equipment, longer-range artillery and equipment to detect and clear roadside bombs. Mr. Karzai's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said discussions about military equipment would be "the most important part of the negotiation" in Washington.
"The Americans know Afghanistan's needs and they have been given a list of the equipment Afghanistan needs," Mr. Faizi said.
Less clear is how Afghan negotiators will tackle some of the touchier issues of sovereignty. In the past, Afghan officials have made demands to curtail immunity for U.S. forces, and Mr. Karzai has railed against U.S.'s detention of Afghan citizens. Afghan officials would wait to see what kind of troop presence the U.S. is seeking before negotiating conditions, Mr. Faizi suggested.
"Until it is clear how many Americans troops will stay in Afghanistan, how many bases they will have…this issue can't be raised," he said.
Another question is how the Obama-Karzai meeting will play into the continuing peace contacts that top Afghan leaders have had with the Taliban.
In his Wednesday speech, Mr. Rassoul, the Afghan foreign minister, delivered the strongest official endorsement to date of the Chantilly talks, saying that all parties now recognized that fighting would not end the Afghan conflict. But he added that the Taliban—who routinely describe Mr. Karzai's administration as an illegitimate puppet of the U.S.—must talk directly to Kabul.
Abdul Hakim Mujahid, deputy chairman of the High Peace Council, a body created by Mr. Karzai to negotiate with the insurgency, who served as the Taliban envoy to the United Nations and the U.S. in 2001, expressed hope that the talks in Washington would help speed the nascent peace process.
"I think the United States government is supportive, it's very positive toward Afghan national dialogue," he said, adding. "But what counts are the key statements of the country."
—Ziaulhaq Sultani contributed to this article.
POTH: Choices on Afg?
Reply #1341 on:
January 07, 2013, 01:30:15 PM »
Do we have any thoughts on residual forces in Afpakia?
Choices on Afghanistan
Published: January 6, 2013
President Obama will soon make critical choices on Afghanistan, including how fast to withdraw 66,000 American troops and whether to keep a small residual force there once the NATO combat mission concludes at the end of 2014. His talks with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, this week will be an important marker in that process.
A lot has happened since the two men met in Kabul last May and signed a strategic partnership agreement. Some developments, like signs of an incipient peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government, are promising. But many are not. The Afghan Army and police forces have taken responsibility for securing larger and larger swaths of the country, but the Pentagon has admitted that only 1 of 23 NATO-trained brigades can operate without American assistance. The recent alarming rise in fatal attacks by Afghan forces on their American military mentors has crushed whatever was left of America’s appetite for the costly conflict.
Ideally, the 66,000 American troops would already be leaving, and all of them would be out as soon as safely possible; by our estimate, that would be the end of this year. The war that started after Sept. 11, 2001, would be over and securing the country would be up to Afghanistan’s 350,000-member security force, including the army and police, which the United States has spent $39 billion to train and equip over a decade.
But there is a conflict between the ideal and the political reality. Mr. Obama has yet to decide how fast he will withdraw the remaining troops, and the longer he delays, the more he enables military commanders who inevitably want to keep the maximum number of troops in Afghanistan for the maximum amount of time.
Another matter of concern is that Mr. Obama is seriously considering keeping a residual military force for an indefinite period after 2014. He needs to think carefully about what its mission would be and make his case to the public. Gen. John Allen, the commander in Afghanistan, had provided the White House with options for an enduring presence that went as high as 20,000 troops. That was an alarmingly big number, but fortunately now seems to be a nonstarter. American officials on Saturday said the administration is considering a much smaller force of 3,000 to 9,000.
If Mr. Obama cannot find a way to go to zero troops, he should approve only the minimum number needed, of mostly Special Operations commandos, to hunt down insurgents and serve as a deterrent against the Taliban retaking Kabul and Al Qaeda re-establishing a safe haven in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama will want to discuss all these issues with Mr. Karzai. The United States cannot go forward if Afghanistan opposes a residual force or puts undue restrictions on those troops.
Mr. Karzai, a deeply flawed leader who is expected to leave office next year, has his own agenda, which includes requests for updated American aircraft, surveillance equipment and longer-range artillery to modernize his army. Those requests cannot be taken seriously when Afghan security forces are increasingly murdering Americans and the Afghan government remains so profoundly corrupt.
POTH notices what will come when the US leaves
Reply #1342 on:
January 09, 2013, 11:23:25 AM »
WSJ: Zero Dark Afghanistan
Reply #1343 on:
January 11, 2013, 12:34:54 PM »
Well, gents (especially YA), where do we come down on the matter of leaving US troops in Afg?
Zero Dark Afghanistan
Karzai's dysfunction meets Obama's detachment..
Afghan President Hamid Karzai visits the White House on Friday, and he was given an early welcome this week with a statement that the U.S. may withdraw all of its troops from the country in 2014. If both sides aren't careful, that's exactly what will happen and the result won't be pretty for anyone but the Taliban, al Qaeda and Pakistan's Islamists.
The ever-truculent Mr. Karzai is, among other things, coming to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement beyond the scheduled handover to Afghans of total military control in 2014. Until recently, the U.S. has said it wants to maintain some military presence in the country past that date. But suddenly the White House is floating the "zero option" that if the terms aren't right, Mr. Karzai can go hang—which he might end up doing, from a lamppost.
This may be part of President Obama's negotiating strategy, and Speaker John Boehner knows how that goes. Mr. Karzai has played the role of ungrateful nationalist for several years, and he is still resisting adequate immunity safeguards for U.S. troops. His intention to release several hundred Taliban-linked prisoners is not encouraging. The U.S. threat to pack up and leave may be a slap to get Mr. Karzai to consider what life would be like on his own.
Then again, you never know with Mr. Obama. It's possible this is the start of a drama intended to get the U.S. out while blaming Mr. Karzai for failed negotiations. Mr. Boehner knows how that goes too.
That's what happened in Iraq in 2011, when the White House kept saying it wanted a permanent presence but made Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an offer he couldn't accept. U.S. commanders recommended a force of up to 18,000, but the White House whittled that down to so few troops—3,000—that they could barely defend themselves much less make a difference to Iraq's security.
Mr. Maliki concluded the feeble presence wasn't worth the criticism he'd take from domestic nationalists, and now the U.S. has only a few dozen troops riding in black SUVs in Baghdad. This may have been Mr. Obama's goal all along, letting him fulfill his 2008 promise to end the war and mollify his critics on the left who disliked his Afghan surge. The result is that the U.S. has little remaining influence in Iraq, while Iran's leverage grows.
The White House seems to be repeating the same pattern in Afghanistan. U.S. commanders recommended a range from 6,000 to 20,000 troops (from the current 66,000), with more risks the fewer the troops, but the White House asked for options with even fewer. The latest word is that many in the White House now prefer as few as 2,500 troops past 2014.
As in Iraq, that would barely be enough to protect their own perimeter, much less train Afghan forces and pursue counterterrorist operations. Special forces raids require intelligence and backup that would be harder to acquire or provide.
Drone strikes in the al Qaeda sanctuary along the Afghan-Pakistan border could continue, but from a greater distance and without key posts close to the border. The U.S. presence would largely be confined to bases in Kabul and Kandahar, which would themselves be vulnerable to rocket attack.
The question is whether Mr. Obama is trying to make an offer that Mr. Karzai will find isn't worth the political heat he will take at home for keeping any foreign troops. If Mr. Karzai rejects a U.S. presence, Mr. Obama could blame the Afghan leader for what happens after America leaves. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama could wash his hands of a now-unpopular intervention, further cut the Pentagon budget to fund ObamaCare, and continue his pursuit of America's global retrenchment.
A total U.S. withdrawal doesn't make a Taliban return inevitable, and much depends on the progress that Afghan forces make in the next two years. Afghan troops have slowly improved their ability to fight, and as they take on more responsibility they are now dying in greater numbers than are NATO forces. But they also lack the logistics, air power, intelligence and other resources that U.S. troops can provide.
The U.S. strategic interest is to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming an al Qaeda sanctuary, while keeping terrorists under pressure along the Pakistan border. This interest will be compromised if the Taliban is able to retake huge swaths of the country because the U.S. leaves prematurely.
Mr. Karzai's willful sense of entitlement may lead him to make foolish choices that put his country's future at risk. But after so much American sacrifice, Afghanistan's fate is also Mr. Obama's responsibility. If Kabul falls to the Taliban, or the country descends into renewed civil war, it will also be an American defeat—and President Obama's.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1344 on:
January 11, 2013, 01:01:51 PM »
"where do we come down on the matter of leaving US troops in Afg?"
Hard to believe that after all the investment in Iraq and Afghanistan that we would not want to negotiate to ability to keep some kind of military base and premise on the ground in both places, slightly over the horizon, from where we can take take actions like taking out future terror training camps etc before they rise again to pre-9/11 levels.
The downside might be our own vulnerability and the resentment a permanent US presence might foster.
Last to die?
Reply #1345 on:
January 17, 2013, 11:41:15 AM »
17 January 2013
[Authored by a Marine Field Grade Officer]
Over the weekend, I received an order from Higher Headquarters to ask for volunteers for 2013 and 2014 deployments to Afghanistan. Their mission: train and fight with Afghan National Security Forces during the same time that America is leaving Afghanistan.
This is not the first time we have asked for volunteers to deploy. In the reserve community, we have done this since at least 1995 when I volunteered to deploy during humanitarian operations to deal with the Haitian and Cuban refugee crisis. During the Global War on Terrorism, we routinely asked reservists to volunteer for deployment. When I returned to the reserve community after active duty in 2006, I witnessed this practice first hand, this time for combat deployments.
When directed, our job is to augment the active duty force. But many of our servicemen and women are not actually deploying because they have been recalled to active duty; they have elected to stay at a unit and have volunteered to deploy. These Marines are usually called “non-obs” or “non obligated” and can, at their convenience, drop to the inactive ready reserve or transfer to another unit. Once a unit is slated for deployment, there is usually a decision point for these individuals; they must leave the unit or deploy.
It has been my experience that the vast majority of Marines will volunteer to deploy if their unit is activated. Their professionalism, dedication and patriotism compel them to go into harm’s way with the Marine on their right and left.
When I decided not to deploy to Iraq with my unit because of a serious family illness, I felt like I was abandoning my brothers. It was my company commander who sat me down and provided sage counsel: your family is your priority. Our Marines will be OK without you.
His leadership helped me understand that it was perfectly acceptable to decide not to go. I was grateful for his honesty.
This past weekend one of my Marines, a young father with a new baby, sought my counsel. He is a Marine with several combat deployments and he and I had served together in Afghanistan. He had always wanted to deploy with a mentor/training team and was interested in volunteering. I told him unequivocally that he should not volunteer.
At virtually the same time we were collecting the numerous names of Marines who had volunteered, the following exchange occurred between George Stephanopoulos and the Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass on the Sunday ABC news show “This Week”:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Richard Haass, the president also addressed our overall success in Afghanistan on Friday…Is he right about that and is it sustainable after 2014?
HAASS: The short answer is no. What we started in Afghanistan after 9/11 was a warranted war of necessity. We expanded it over the years, particularly under President Obama in 2009, when we tripled our forces, we decided to go after the Taliban, essentially join Afghanistan's civil war and nation build.
The idea that we're going to be able to leave behind a self-sustaining, capable Afghanistan able to -- or a government that's able to keep control of its territory, we are not going to be able to do it. It was a mistake to try. We are not going to achieve that result. Essentially what we're going to fall back to I would think is what we could have fallen back to years ago, a limited counterterrorism mission with trainers and advisers on the ground. And when we have to, we'll send in special forces or drones to deal with if there are, for example, remnants of al Qaeda to ever come back into the country.
So in other words, Afghanistan is lost.
The ethics of asking for volunteers to wade into the problem that is Afghanistan is simple: asking Marines to volunteer prays on their loyalty and dedication in order to satisfy requirements from HHQ.
It is an abdication of responsibility and leadership to commit to a flawed [course of action] that has no hope of success. Our leaders are transferring the burden of mission accomplishment to a group of volunteers; dedicated men and women who haven’t been read in on the current friendly situation and have no idea of the enemy’s most probable course of action. They don’t even have the tools to do a simple METT-T in order to assist them in making an informed decision.
Its one thing if a unit is assigned the mission and Marines are ordered to go, but these volunteers are making a decision to go to combat with people they don’t know at a time when political imperatives overwhelm tactical considerations and our Afghan “friends” are ambushing American Soldiers and Marines.
In the end – those who volunteer will go because they feel that it is their duty as Marines to share the burden of combat.
I have a responsibility to provide my Marines with a frank and honest assessment of the situation; if they want to volunteer, they need to know what they are getting into.
I am not confident that other leaders are doing the same and that is an absolute travesty.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1346 on:
February 10, 2013, 03:51:15 PM »
Hello!...after a long time. This is an old article from 2010, Plan B was proposed then...which I think is still a good idea. See how the alternatives have turned out...
Plan B in Afghanistan
ROBERT D BLACKWILL, Dec 21, 2010, 12.00am IST
US policy toward Afghanistan involves spending scores of billions of dollars and suffering several hundred allied deaths annually largely to prevent the Afghan Taliban from controlling the Afghan Pashtun homeland.
But the United States and its allies will not defeat the Taliban militarily. President Hamid Karzai's corrupt government will not significantly improve. The Afghan National Army cannot take over combat missions from ISAF in southern and eastern Afghanistan in any realistic time frame. And on December 15, the New York Times assessed that "two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents operating from havens on its Afghan border". That won't happen.
With these individual elements of US Afghanistan policy in serious trouble, optimism about the current strategy's ability to meet its objectives reminds one of the White Queen's comment in Through the Looking Glass: "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
De facto partition offers the Obama administration the best available alternative to strategic defeat. The administration should stop setting deadlines for withdrawal and instead commit the United States to a long-term combat role in Afghanistan of 35,000-50,000 troops for the next 7-10 years.
Concurrently, Washington should accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south and east and that the price of forestalling that outcome is far too high for Americans to continue paying. The United States and its partners should stop fighting and dying in the Pashtun homeland and let the local correlation of forces take its course - while deploying US air power and Special Forces to ensure that the north and west of Afghanistan do not succumb to the Taliban. The United States would make clear that it would strike al-Qaida targets anywhere, Taliban encroachments across the de facto partition line, and sanctuaries along the Pakistani border using weapons systems that were unavailable before 9/11.
Accepting a de facto partition of Afghanistan makes sense only if the other options available are worse. They are.
One alternative is to
stay the current course
in Afghanistan. The United States deploys about 1,00,000 troops in Afghanistan, yet there are now only 50-100 al-Qaida fighters there. That is 1,000-2,000 soldiers per al-Qaida terrorist at $100 billion a year - far beyond any reasonable expenditure of American resources given the stakes involved. And even if many of the roughly 300 al-Qaida fighters now in Pakistan did move a few score miles north across the border, it would not make much of a practical difference - surely not enough to justify an indefinite major ground war.
Another alternative is for the United States to
withdraw all its military forces
from Afghanistan over the next few years. But this would lead to a probable conquest of the entire country by the Taliban. It would draw Afghanistan's neighbours into the fighting. It would raise the odds of the Islamic radicalisation of Pakistan, which would in turn call into question the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. It would weaken the budding US-India strategic partnership, undermine Nato's future, and trigger a global outpouring of support for Islamic extremist ideology and increased terrorism against liberal societies. And it would be seen around the world by friends and adversaries alike as a failure of international leadership and strategic resolve by an ever weaker America.
A third alternative
is to achieve stability in Afghanistan through successful negotiations with the Taliban. As CIA director Leon Panetta has said, however, so long as the Taliban think they are winning, they will remain intransigent. Despite the major intensification of drone attacks, the US cannot kill the Taliban into meaningful political compromise.
The analogy most cited to justify the current Afghanistan policy is the 2007 "surge" in Iraq. Yet as former US envoy to Afghanistan James Dobbins has pointed out, by 2007, the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq had been decisively beaten by majority Shia militias, and it was only after this defeat that the Sunni Arabs turned to American forces for protection. The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, in contrast, is rooted in that country's largest ethnic group, not its smallest.
These Pashtun insurgents have been winning their civil war for the last several years, not losing it. In Iraq, by 2007 al-Qaida had made itself unwelcome among its Sunni Arab allies. In Afghanistan, al-Qaida is hardly present, and presents no comparable threat to the Afghan Taliban leadership. Pashtun elders are less influential than the Iraqi sheiks that brought their adherents over with them when they decided to switch sides. In short, the Iraq surge has little application to Afghanistan.
Historians may puzzle over why the president, despite his deep agonising as described in Bob Woodward's book on the war, deployed 1,00,000 troops into Afghanistan nearly 10 years after 9/11, why US policy makers spoke as if the fate of the civilised world depended on the pacification of Marja and Kandahar. Accepting the de facto partition of Afghanistan is hardly an ideal outcome in Afghanistan. But it is better than the alternatives.
The writer is a senior fellow at the US Council on Foreign Relations and former US ambassador to India. A longer version of this essay appeared in the December/January issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.
Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
Reply #1347 on:
February 10, 2013, 03:58:23 PM »
Glad to see you back, ya.
1, 2, 3, 4, what are we fighting for?
Reply #1348 on:
February 24, 2013, 07:06:50 PM »
Re: 1, 2, 3, 4, what are we fighting for?
Reply #1349 on:
February 24, 2013, 07:17:30 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on February 24, 2013, 07:06:50 PM
I dunno, us trying to win left with W.
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