Wardak Awakening

U.S. to Fund Afghan Militias, Applying Iraq Tactic

The first militias will be established in Wardak Province, in eastern Afghanistan, in coming weeks,

“This will be a grass-roots, community-defense layer against the Taliban,” Wardak Gov. Mohammed Halim Fidai said in an interview. “We believe that the more people you involve in security, the greater the impact.”

In the first phase of the pilot program, villages throughout Wardak will convene “shura” meetings of local tribal, religious and political figures. The community elders will then be responsible for recruiting the local militias and overseeing their conduct.

As in Iraq, the new Afghan militias will be paid by the U.S.

The Canadians don’t like it. But is somebody forcing them to do this in RC South? The Canadians may be right that tribal forces aren’t such a great idea in RC South. Tribal structures have been undermined and deteriorating since the Soviets invaded, and I know around Kandahar members of different tribes live in mixed neighborhoods and villages. There is no Alokazai Reservation in Arghandab District of Kandahar Province where Alokazai tribal police enforce the laws made by the elders.

But there are districts in the provinces of RC East where one tribe dominates, and some of these tribes have retained the old ways.

We need Afghan feet in boots or sandals or tennis shoes on the ground. Not just Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara feet, but Pashtun feet. The various Armed Opposition Groups American and Canadian forces face are almost entirely ethnic Pashtun. We need our own Pashtun Scouts to help us fight Pashtun hostiles.  The British had them on the east side of the Durand Line, and there are Chitral, South Waziristan, Tochi, Mahsud, Swat, Orakzai, Khushal Khan, Dir, Bajaur, Thal, Sibi, Kalat, Pishin, Ghazaband, Loralai, and Bolan Scouts in the Frontier Corps to this day.  We need Ruff Puffs, Kit Carson Scouts and chieu hois.  We need Pashtun Regulars in the ANA, Pashtun cops in the ANP, and Pashtun Irregulars in local, district, and provincial forces.  The professional, trained, competent Army and Police capable of independent operations we want has taken too long to create.  We don’t have time for Focused District Development.

UPDATE 200812230910:  Command Changes Hands for Afghan Security Forces Training

UPDATE 200812240830:  Afghan and U.S. Officials Plan to Recruit Local Militias

“We don’t have enough police,” said Maj. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, the deputy commander of American forces in the country. “We don’t have time to get the police ready.”

UPDATE 200812281020: Everyone Plays The Taliban

The anti-militia crowd will lose this argument, but you’ll see a lot about it in the media. Allies squabbling, whether real or imagined, makes for exciting news.



Filed under IW, The Forgotten War

12 responses to “Wardak Awakening

  1. Victory speaks with a louder voice than any other.

    Unfortunately, so does defeat. The good news is that Iraq was a win and not another Vietnam.

  2. Was?

    Not enough Americans willing to accept victory. What if the Bad Guys Do Something that makes everybody who claimed we won look foolish?

  3. It depends on who can drown out whom. If everybody agrees, shows no weakness, and provides no tactical benefit for the opposition to talk about it, then the opposition will not talk about it.

    Unfortunately, there is too much a streak of honesty and principle in the military or the current civilian administration for doubts not to leak in one way or another.

    It is not a natural consequence that if the enemy does something that it will make everybody who claimed victory look foolish. It will only be done if the flanks fall inwards, confusion results, and leadership gets paralyzed.

    On the battlefield, one side does not willingly give the other side glimpses in their weak points or their reactions to enemy attacks. That is part of military OPSEC and it is a very strong tradition because it is necessary. However, in civilian sphere, you need civilian and political allies because there is no tradition of OPSEC amongst civilians. There is only a tradition of law and following the law. But that law is not an operational security law. It is just a contract and only as powerful as its enforcement quality. The fact that the laws, what little we have, are not being enforced when government employees leak information to the New York Times makes operational security on the civilian side very patchy. The fact that journalists cannot be imprisoned or prosecuted, without some kind of Constitutional amendment or challenge process, is also an obstacle to OPSEC.

    Still, when you break it down into its constituent components, civilian morale can be manipulated the same way as military morale. Just the tools are different because of the differences between the two spheres.

    The MSM reports and does what they want, but they rely upon sources. Sort of like a long and vulnerable logistical line. But they do have the advantage of never having to admit that they are wrong. They don’t have principles, they aren’t honest, their allies in Hollywood and the Democrat party can be said to be even more dishonest practitioners of confirmation bias (Dan Rather, Oprah, Hollywood actors like Matt Damon and guy who tried to take on Sarah Palin). These are advantages when it comes to upholding their side’s morale because they can lie to themselves and to each other and never admit defeat. They don’t have to tell the truth, however problematic it is, because they feel no guilt about lying. And if they feel no guilt about lying, this makes them far more convincing and united than our side would necessarily be.

    Some adaptation to the enemy on this score would be wise, yes. But we won’t win the ultimate war against them by playing by their rules. We will never be as good at deception operations as they will be, for the precise reason that they actually believe their own propaganda. We, living in the real world, cannot afford to do the same. Even, if assuming, we could produce superior quality propaganda than the opposition.

    No, I tend to view ultimate victory through the lenses of playing to our strengths rather than trying to emulate the enemy’s strengths. It would be nice if we could blunt their psychological operations on the domestic front, yes, but somebody will always disagree and jam up the works. Even in the case of Haditha, you had military lawyers on Blackfive working the other side because they believed. And they believed not in so much because of enemy propaganda because they wanted to believe: their own confirmation bias made them believe it. Some of that was working for the other side as well, but the very fact that you have this division and conflict makes for very weak propaganda production. Propaganda is best produced in a homogeneous state where nobody can contradict the official line. The fact that democracy and at least the public representatives of the military (whether bloggers or retired generals or PAO officers) must tolerate dissension and alternative views means that the opposition always gets their say.

    What if the Bad Guys Do Something that makes everybody who claimed we won look foolish?

    So to that question, I would say that people’s responses to such an event will spell out their loyalties and once people’s loyalties have become clear, then you can analyze their weaknesses and strengths for future targeting. But something else has to be done before we get to that point. And that has to do with organizing our own side. Every army has to train up to a standard and drill for teamwork before taking on the enemy. And in this respect, there has been a lot of effort expended simply to explain Iraq and the MSM to people who are naturally inclined to support Iraq or to share our views. Until they recognize that these organizations are enemies and until they recognize that we need a sufficient unity of policy to deal with such enemies, fragmentation and chain of command confusion will prevent any really effective attacks on the enemy. Even if the enemy is vulnerable to many many things that I can personally see, that only matters if I also have the capacity to exploit those vulnerabilities. If I don’t, because I lack the resources to do so, then my hands are tied for the moment. No one is truly helpless and there is no such thing as a deadly weapon, but that only emphasizes the importance of leadership and organization. On this note, Obama may do more to motivate people and our civilian lords and masters than Bush has done over the last 8 years. Only a possibility at this point, of course.

    I think, in general, that it is a good idea to low ball things. Meaning, if you tell people to expect the worst and hedge your bets, then if the final outcome turns out much better, then the uptake on morale will be higher. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not take advantage of victorious events, but if the objective is to increase morale than this is one way to do it with great efficiency. The real problem is that there will be disagreement about the final outcome, like the bombing, so what you need to do is to give the populace a specific negative warning about an event and then when that event is much better, you get an uptake in morale. The media did something like this for us, accidentally, with the election in 2005 because they predicted violence for the Purple Fingers and when it didn’t happen, they had to sit eating crow, which generated some positive coverage and uptake in morale. And for the Surge, they did the same thing, except they learned from their mistakes, thus when the Surge didn’t collapse, they just refused to report about it, period. This way, there would be no uptake in morale because the population would still be under the primary impression that the Surge will fail and that nothing good will come out of Iraq.

    A lot of the attempts to declare victory in Iraq didn’t produce good things. This was precisely because it was too soon to declare victory and because nobody had a real idea what was going on in Iraq in 2003 or 2004. Local commanders could fix local problems, up until they rotated out, of course, but they couldn’t change the overall strategy itself. Casey and Rumsfeld was in charge of that. None of this would have mattered, much, had the American populace understood how war went. But those Americans didn’t have the context to put these things into perspective and nobody in the civilian leadership had the time, resources, or desire to educate the American population on this score. Bush may have had the desire and the resources, if not the time, to do it. But given Bush’s macromanagement style, he may have just created a whole nother executive department for this. Which would not be a good thing given the Obama deal. So, since the American population didn’t have the context to process any news of defeat or victory, they became dupes. While the Left were perfectly okay with exploiting this trait, because the Left themselves are dupes of the Soviets, the supporters of Iraq didn’t see Americans as dupes and also didn’t treat them that way either. They didn’t treat the media as dupes.

    I’ve noticed a few positive trends over the last years, however. At sites like Neo-Neocon and other pro-Iraq and pro-America sites, I noticed a general desire to treat the MSM with fairness and an expectation that the MSM could be convinced to abide by their own standards. Now, however, the debate is ended, for Iraq supporters at least. Now it isn’t about whether the MSM lied or whether they failed in their standards. Now the presumption is that the MSM did lie, and the only question is how did they do it and who they are working for. Now the presumption is that MSM has no standards. The War in Iraq has exposed this cancerous tumor in America and that will be very beneficial in the times to come.

    The fact that the MSM can produce propaganda to manipulate public perception about Iraq is of secondary importance to the esteem and prestige of the MSM itself here in America.

    While many people began their criticisms of the MSM on the basis that they were biased in one direction, it has now gotten beyond that to the point where simple “bias” is not the primary deficiency of the MSM. It is the fact that they lie about their biases and cover up important contextual information that people are now becoming aware of. This grassroots awareness, completely independent of whatever Bush has been doing, is a very important foundation. Individuals or groups cannot fight an enemy effectively until they understand the enemy, its goals, its weaknesses, its strengths, and so forth.

  4. If everybody agrees, shows no weakness, and provides no tactical benefit for the opposition to talk about it, then the opposition will not talk about it.

    Everybody never agrees. There are always weak links. Somebody will always open their pie hole and spew forth stupidity to be exploited by the opposition.

    Did you see “All of this fluffy-bunny feeling is a good mosque bombing away from backsliding.”?

    You might be interested in the comments to Dueling Information Operations

  5. Everybody never agrees.

    That’s true, but you can fake it. The AP didn’t want to admit the Surge worked so why did their editors allow reporters to report that very thing? Sure, it wasn’t on the front pages of anything, but even for AP, letting such news go admits that they had to. That they either did not have the power or the willingness to block it.

    People tend to like to jump on the bandwagon, so while not everybody agrees on everything, you can at least get most people to agree on something by directing the momentum past a critical point.

    Did you see “All of this fluffy-bunny feeling is a good mosque bombing away from backsliding.”?

    That was actually my exact reaction everytime Bush or company said something positive. I didn’t start off with that opinion, but by the time the Left had started going full speed on their anti-iraq propaganda in 2005, I had learned my lessons then. The trend and pattern was quite obvious.

  6. pashtun

    The Pashtun tribes are not like the Arab tribes. They will take your money, your weapons, and your supplies and then at the end of the day, they’ll do whatever they wanted to do. And of all the tribes, the Wardak from my experience will probably not be subdued very easily. They won’t be the first in any uprising against Kabul, but once you piss them off enough to stand up against you, you won’t be able to get them to sit back down. This whole plan is doomed to failure. The Soviets tried the same thing and it didn’t work. Afghans politics are very complex. The only loyalty one has is to their own village/tribe.

    • Tribes are tribes. They all have their unique attributes, just like individuals, but they all have their similarities, just like humans. Yes, they may become troublesome to Kabul or to the Americans, but if they become even more troublesome to the various Armed Oppositional Groups causing all the problems, then that is a risk somebody thinks worth running. Everything America has tried to do in Afghanistan for the last eight years may well be doomed to failure. Possibly was from the beginning. Yet Americans keep trying. Do something, even if it is wrong, is an American maxim.

      It takes an Apache to catch an Apache.

      How far did the writ of Kabul run during the reign of King Zahir? How was peace kept and justice administered in those days? The Pashtuns were armed in those days, were they not?

      Do you have a connection with a tribe?

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  8. halim

    Whatever the governer or governmental officials say i do not want to hear any more because all these are lie.
    I just suggest this governer to help the and develop the educational system in wardak.and make opportunity for emplyment in that province;make hopeful the new generation for a shineful future.


    • As salam aliekum, halim. Welcome to my blog. I am surprised to have a reader in Wardak.

      Sounds like your opinion of your politicians matches my opinion of my politicians.

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