Putting More Afghan Feet Into Boots On The Ground

The Afghan National Army still isn’t ready for prime time.   

The Afghan National Police are more likely to shake you down at a check point on the highway than do any silly cop stuff like fight crime or lock up criminals. The most gung ho Police Mentoring Team can’t fix the courts and the jails.

The National Directorate of Security gets mentored by whom, exactly?

Afghan National Security Forces need more help than we can give them and they can absorb between now and Obama’s declaration of “Peace With Honor.”

So how ’bout we spread some love to sub-national Security Forces at the provincial, district, and tribal levels?

I hate the New York Slimes. I hate linking to them.

I don’t hate Dexter Filkins.

As Afghans Resist Taliban, U.S. Spurs Rise of Militias

Reader’s Digest version:

The American and Afghan officials say they are hoping the plan, called the Community Defense Initiative, will bring together thousands of gunmen to protect their neighborhoods from Taliban insurgents. Already there are hundreds of Afghans who are acting on their own against the Taliban, officials say.

“The idea is to get people to take responsibility for their own security,” said a senior American military official in Kabul, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “In many places they are already doing that.”

The first phase of the Afghan plan, now being carried out by American Special Forces soldiers, is to set up or expand the militias in areas with a population of about a million people. Special Forces soldiers have been fanning out across the countryside, descending from helicopters into valleys where the residents have taken up arms against the Taliban and offering their help.

One of the most striking examples of a local militia rising up on its own is here in Achin, a predominantly Pashtun district in Nangarhar Province that straddles the border with Pakistan. In July, a long-running dispute between local Taliban fighters and elders from the Shinwari tribe flared up. When a local Taliban warlord named Khona brought a more senior commander from Pakistan to help in the confrontation, the elders in the Shinwari tribe rallied villagers from up and down the valley where they live, killed the commander and chased Khona away.

The feud between the Taliban and the Shinwari elders caught the attention of American officers, who sent a team of Special Forces soldiers to the valley. This reporter was unable to reach the interior of the valley where the men live, so it was difficult to verify all of the elders’ claims.

Both the Shinwari elders said that “Americans with beards” had flown into the valley twice in recent weeks and had given them flour and boxes of ammunition. (Unlike other American troops, Special Forces soldiers are allowed to wear beards.)

American officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they intended to help organize and train the Shinwari militia. They said they would give them communication gear that would enable them to call the Afghan police if they needed help.

Read the whole thing.

That ODA working with the Shinwari are having some hellacious adventures.  Allowing  their story to be told could persuade, change and influence elements of the domestic target audience in ways beneficial to U. S. Army Special Forces and maybe even beneficial to “victory.”

Meanwhile, back at Camp Eggers . . .

UPDATE 1123090128:  Tim Lynch sez Dexter Filkins writes a great article and it is worth reading but unfortunately as in most things published by the New York Times it is complete bullshit.

UPDATE 1124090215:  Beaucoup links

A question of tribal policy,  November 24, 2009 12:00AM

Secret U.S. plan to support Afghan militias echoes Canadian general’s ideas, Monday 23 November 2009

Gravediggers Disinter Tribal Militia Corpse,  November 23, 2009

US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan, Sunday 22 November 2009 18.48 GMT

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15 Comments

Filed under IW, The Forgotten War

15 responses to “Putting More Afghan Feet Into Boots On The Ground

  1. Very cool, and we should definitely be taking advantage of all and any divisions between these tribes and the Taliban.
    But to take it a step further, the kind of tribal engagement plan I think would be cool to see, is first make the connection with that tribe and create a firm foundation with them. Second, help them with their militia and give them the tools necessary to properly defend against these guys. But third, and this is what is missing in a lot of conversation about tribal engagement, is the formation of hunters that will actually go out and kill Taliban and AQI, as opposed to just playing defense all the time. That is where a concept like the Jezailchis Scouts come into play, like we were talking about before.
    We can also make killing Taliban and AQI a cottage industry for these hunters. The South African scouts had a similar system, where scouts that were successful in tracking and killing the enemy, were given bonuses for each kill. We could definitely make hunting Taliban and AQI an industry for these folks. Hell, that might actually turn a couple of Taliban, once they can see that they can make money by killing their own. As for proof of KIA’s? Well, that is were the ODA teams come into play. I am sure a system could be established, that would provide the necessary checks and balances for a campaign like this. I would say bring the entire body back, much like a hunter brings back a deer. Or maybe just the head? I would put that on the ODA teams on how they would set that up.
    The other reason I would like to see a scout program is because politically speaking, Afghanistan could turn into a loss for us. We need to establish a killing mechanism, that will last well beyond when we leave. Force is the only thing the Taliban and AQI will understand out there, and a couple of well trained Scouts with tricked out Jezailchi style sniper rifles, killing these guys from the mountain tops and cliff edges, much like they did to the British of yesteryear, would be a fantastic gift that would ‘keep on giving’ to these clowns. Better yet, once this industry starts spilling over the border to hunt for these guys, look out. I would love to see a Scout with Bin Laden’s head hanging by the hairs, and the tribe dancing and celebrating because one of their hunters just brought in the mother of all bounties. That would make me happy.

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  3. There are several .50 BMG and .338 Lapua rifles that would make decent Jezails. Training competent Jezailchis to effectively utilize their weapon is the difficult and time-consuming part. Kalashnikovs ruined their appreciation for long range marksmanship. That and Inshallah ballistics.

    If you can reliably hit a man out to 500 yards or more — and you have the will to do so every single time it is necessary — you have created a 700,000 square yard “freedom zone” around you.

    Tony Poe collected enemy ears for verification of body count.

    James Kirker took scalps.

  4. Phoenix “Action Arms”: The Provincial Reconnaissance Units
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2009/RAND_OP258.pdf
    pp. 10 – 14

  5. Thanks for the James Kirker link. Interesting history. Tony Poe is awesome history, and I got a kick out of that. He did some very interesting things back in the day.

    By the way, have you seen the latest stuff about Maj. Gant’s paper? Pretty cool.

  6. anan

    The militias and tribal fighters were dismantled. Now they are being reformed. The ANSF will eventually have to dismantle these tribal militias all over again.

    “The Afghan National Army still isn’t ready for prime time. ” Half of all ANA battalions are rated CM-1, or the highest available rating. Why do you think the ANA isn’t ready for prime time? Do you think that 203rd ANA Corps is ready for prime time?

    • Because they still need a lot more help than any ready for prime time army of a sovereign Westphalian nation-state should accept from foreigners.

      No, I do not think that 203rd ANA Corps is ready for prime time. Would you invade Pakistan with them?

      Get back to me when you would.

  7. Hey, I was wondering if you can help me out. I was trying to think of a historical reference to a ‘killing mechanism’ within in a tribe or community, that kept working on it’s own. Something like a force came in, co-opted with a tribe, taught it to kill a shared enemy (killing mechanism), and the force left and that killing mechanism continued to flourish and grow.

    My thoughts on this, are to explore how to create a killing mechanism within the tribes of Afghanistan, to continue killing AQ and Taliban, well beyond when we leave. To turn into sport or some kind of right of passage for the tribal warriors or something. Any ideas?

  8. I can’t think of any tribes that had to be taught how to kill their enemies by outsiders. They may have required instruction in how to operate and maintain new weapons acquired from outsiders.

    I can think of a few tribes that were recruited by outsiders to help kill a shared enemy, but none of those continued to flourish and grow after the outsiders left.

    Ever heard of the Kachins?

  9. Very cool. I will have to read more of those round up articles. How neat.

    Lately I have been exploring the concepts of killing mechanisms within organizations. Al Qaeda has a unique killing mechanism. The promote the death of infidels, and make killing them an honorable thing–almost necessary in the after life. A human that mentally has decided to kill others in the process of taking ones own life, is a powerful killing mechanism. It has a fault though. That is a one time use weapon system or killing mechanism. But the infidel or non-believer extermination killing mechanism works.

    Look at Ft. Hood. Maj. Hasan never trained in a camp, never traveled overseas to link up, never fought in the war, but he was able to come to a point where killing infidels was something he felt he had to do. That is a powerful killing mechanism.

    Now the killing mechanism that we have, is interesting. It is a state sponsored military, who is limited by it’s own size and weight, and limited by borders, and buy our laws and by international law. Our soldiers kill, and their desire is to live, so they can kill more. They are killing in the name of the state–we tell them that is the bad guy, and they kill it. But there is a fault with our killing mechanism. We are too big, too slow, bound by borders and laws, and our political will will only go so far. What happens when we run out of political will, and the enemy still has fight in him?

    So I go back to what would be an effective killing mechanism that would flourish and grow, until there is no more enemy to kill?

    Well I think I might have found it. Privateering. lol Privateers are what defeated the British on the high seas during our Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Privateers, much like today’s Somali pirates, were driven to take British ships, all for the bounty. The killing mechanism was free market capitalism. Investors put money into killing ventures, all with the hopes of getting the rewards. If we issued letters of marque and reprisal to companies located throughout the world, to kill or capture Al Qaeda operatives, we could effectively make eradicating extremists into a full blown industry. And get this. If nations really want AQ eradicated, then they put into the pot, and the interest collected on that pot of money would grow. The assets of AQ could also be captured and collected by companies, thus sweetening the deal.

    Now I know we have reward programs already, and they are actually doing pretty good. But we need to take the rewards program to the next level if we really want to see this thing take off. We continue to depend upon just individuals to turn in OBL. If we started a program that got industry involved with hunting our enemy, then that is a killing mechanism that would keep on giving. It worked with the early privateers and I think it could work now. What do you think?

  10. I don’t think there is any political will in the 111th Congress to exercise their Constitutional power to To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water, and there is unlikely to be much in the 112th.

  11. I agree. There is no political will in our congress to do something like this. Although I wonder if the concept will catch on with other smaller countries or even with the enemy? What happens when islamic extremists issue Allah endorsed letters of marque and reprisal on non-believer shipping or land based convoy operations? You see this already with the Taliban attacking convoys and stealing the loot, or the somalis hijacking ships. If in fact our enemy develops a business model similar to privateering in the name of allah, that could be very interesting. I predict it could be a world-wide epidemic if they actually caught on.

    It would actually accomplish alot. It would create havoc upon the shipping industries, and do damage to world markets. (especially oil) They could use the boats as weapons or as pawns to get money or for prisoner exchange. It would be privateering in the name of Allah, and not piracy, hence there would be some economic gain from being devout. It is a way to conduct jihad, which might appeal more to muslim extremists because of the possible financial gain. That, and they aren’t living in caves in Afghanistan or fighting in the bush in Somalia. Islamic investors could actually stand to make money off of this privateering jihad. Finally, the concept is totally open source insurgency material. A guy with a boat and an AK 47 could do a lot in the name of allah out there, and all of these dorks are studying exactly how the Somalis are doing this stuff.

  12. Westphalian nation-states can’t issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal that any other nation is bound to recognize because of the Declaration of Paris in 1856. The United States did not sign on to that, but has abided by it for 153 years.

    OUR POLICY AS TO PRIVATEERING, April 25, 1898

    WERE THE BARBARY PIRATES, PIRATES? Some were Ottoman privateers, while most were sea ghazis. No doubt the Somali pirates would like to be considered sea ghazis. So would the Moro pirates of the South China Sea.

    Taking a super tanker 800 miles out was quite a feat I would not like to see repeated. I’d hate for them to take an LPG tanker.

    UPDATE 200912081730: How Muslim Piracy Changed the World

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