Lazarus was only dead four days. CIIDG was dead nine years. Don’t know how long it will stay alive this go around. Took a long time to do what had to be done to post this. Never had the patience or motivation until now. Operation Enduring Freedom was 54 months of my life. Three Forward Operating Bases. Anyway, many dead links to be culled, prescient predictions to bragged upon, dumb stuff to be deleted.
Category Archives: The Forgotten War
An anonymous Afghan employee of The New York Slimes contributed reporting from Kunduz, Afghanistan in which the term for the traditional Pashtun tribal law enforcement arrangement is used synonymously with Afghan Local Police, who should not be referred to as Sons of Afghanistan.
If I was running this show I’d call ’em District Jezailchis.
. . . to nonexistant for awhile. Sorry. Other priorities. Check the archives for an idea of where I am. I’m there again. My apologies for all the spam in the comments. Haven’t had opportunity to clean it up.
It’s time to leave Afghanistan. In fact it’s time to leave most of the Middle-East. We tried folks. We tried to help them. We tried to free them. But the plane facts are they aren’t ready for freedom. They aren’t worth our lives and money. We won the war in 2002 when we removed the Taliban and killed most of Al-Qaida. Small amounts of Special Operations Forces could have been left in strategic locations to periodically take out AQ as they popped up. Afghanistan could have been allowed to succeed or fail on their own. An individual concept we’ve forgotten here in the US also.
It’s time to leave. The modern narrative is that no one has been able to conquer Afghanistan. I say BS. Alexander took it, and the British took it three times. The fact is there wasn’t any reason to keep it. It wasn’t worth the blood. The people aren’t worth it. It may have once been a crossroads from east to west but that time has long since passed. It is a modern wasteland. It is a waste in resources, a waste in time and a waste of people. Fear not friends these types of cultures won’t win. They are fighting themselves as much as anyone else. It is the west that continues to allow them to live. Lets pull the life support.
via Jb’s Sanctuary. Read the whole thing. Don’t skip the comments.
There are new crises in the Middle East, and a bigger crisis than all the rest in Washington, where the Democrats are spending our children’s inheritance like there is no tomorrow. Hanging on in Afghanistan is not helping us to meet these more important challenges, and, while the war there represents a very small part of the federal budget, it is critically important to save where we can. The defense budget inevitably must take a hit, and Afghanistan is the best place for that ax to fall.
Wars can be won or lost. If we quit, we lose. It took from 1975 to 1991 to get over losing the last war we lost.
How do we unass Afghanistan without it looking like we were run out?
How do we achieve Obama’s version of Peace With Honor without psychologically damaging the men and women America sent to Afghanistan and denigrating the heroism of those who did not come back?
Leave in good order, at our own pace, with enough wailing widows and smoking villages in our wake to preclude much Taliban triumphalism.
@cannoneerno4 sigh I agree, would like to see Ur take on it, Blog? G
The most obvious dependency is Afghanistan. An entire fighting force is in a landlocked theater, dependent on Pakistan for access to the sea. This gives Pakistan enormous leverage over Obama. Moreover, Obama, in betting on Afghanistan, has staked his political credibility on something the Pakistanis can deep-six. For both military and political reasons, the Pakistanis have Washington over a barrel.
My take is that Mr. Ten Percent’s suit and sack are not quite as empty as Obama’s. The Pakis would not have had the audacity to jerk President Bush’s chain in such a way. Obama has been measured and found wanting in all the attributes that keep Axis of Evil type’s heads down.
America went to war in Afghanistan to avenge 9-11. Shooting camels with cruise missiles wasn’t going to cut it. Boots on the ground had to go in and kick ass and take names until America’s thirst for Muslim blood was slaked, lest comparatively “innocent” Muslims in America be persecuted by vigilantes.
The deal made with Musharraf back in 2001 was “give us overflight, a SPOD at Karachi, and an MSR and we’ll give you billions of dollars worth of bribes, plus F-16′s with which to threaten the Indians. We’ll let you play us like rubes as long as you keep the LOC open. Alternatively, we could just nuke you back to the Stone Age.” Musharaff took that deal.
I have the sneaking suspicion that the Uzbek dictator Karimov played us like a bass drum when he offered us the Karshi Khanabad Air Base. We would never have done what we did in Afghanistan in 2001 without K2, and getting kicked out of there in 2005 should have been a war stopper, but F-102 pilots CAN DO and nobody else in the chain of command would say “Whoa, Boss, Can’t Do” so we endeavored to persevere with an economy of force side show on a shoe string at the end of a very long and insecure line of communications while the main effort went to Mesopotamia.
Then the main event sputtered to an unsatisfying conclusion that might be victory, the American people in their infinite wisdom replaced their CAN DO Commander-in-Chief with a WE’RE SORRY C-in-C, and the main event now became a land war in Asia.
The way things are going now it is hard to see a happy ending for OEF.
If we can stave off disaster until our regime can be changed everything might turn out all right in the end. Won’t know for sure we won in Afghanistan until we check the number of Afghan nail salons in our strip malls in 2046.
In the end, there can be only one.
Once is an accident.
Twice is coincidence.
Three times is enemy action.
McCrystal was no accident.
Caldwell is no coincidence.
LTC Holmes, enjoy your new career, sir, and may you live in interesting times.
The perpretrators of this mess were FA30 folks(who are coordinators and not trained practitioners of PSYOP) and not MOS 37 (who are PSYOP/MISO folks operating under the authority given by USC Title 10 Section 167j). This whole debacle just goes to show how broken, disjointed, and confusing our Strat Comm, PD, IO, influence, PSYOP, MISO, etc efforts are. Truly sad.
Information Operations (IO) teams are often multi-disciplined, but they are certainly not endowed with mystical powers that give the ability to control people’s minds. LTC Holmes, the IO officer quoted in the article is either confused, misquoted, unaware of what PSYOP should or should not do, incapable of dealing with the media or all of the above.
Labeling all PSYOP personnel as “propaganda people” is not only unfair and untruthful but also borders on slander. This type of quote surely reveals how little the Rolling Stone really knows about PSYOP in the first place and that they are more interested in readership and web clicks (which of course lead to more advertising money – duh) than in reporting actual news. Posted by Lawrence Dietz at 12:43 PM
Donald Rumsfeld Condemns False Newsweek Story on Koran Flushing: You Can’t Apologize to the Dead | NewsBusters.org
Seventeen dead in Jalalabad, killed by kinetic reaction to an enemy Psychological Operation widely disseminated by enemy sympathizers in the Counter Insurgent’s media.
Nobody killed over it at KAF, but other problems were caused that had to be dealt with.
Newsweek was pushing Taliban propaganda. But for some reason it is not politically correct to call them traitors.
SecDef talks to Rush 2006/04/18
Rumsfeld’s victory: a retrospective look at our de facto flytrap strategy in Iraq Sunday, December 16, 2007
GEN Petraeus: . . . And the Afghan Local Police Programme in itself is another very important element in the way ahead. I think we’re up to nearly 60 sites identified, 17 of those already actually validated, officially in operation, and then the others are in various stages of Ministry of Interior approval. And there’s quite a rigorous process, these are not militias, as some journalists have characterised them. They’re not Arbakai [a form of tribal policing system or militia]. The members of these organisations are nominated by shuras [a council of elders] that have to be representative of the areas in which the ALP will be operating. They are vetted by the NDS [Afghanistan’s intelligence service], they have biometric data collected by MOI [Ministry of the Interior] and ISAF forces, they’re armed by the MOI, with distinct limits to what they’re allowed to do. They work for the district chief of police, not a local warlord or elder or power-broker.
The idea is that these actually mobilise not just individuals, but communities. They’re typically several different villages in a district that will provide these Afghan Local Police members. This is now the community defending itself against the Taliban, which in some cases they have actually thrown off themselves. As in, day, Gizab — in southern Daikundi [a province in southern Afghanistan].
So again that’s a very important element of the overall approach as well. there will be a slight increase in additional capability on the NATO-ISAF side as additional trainers and actually some additional combat battalions come in as part of constant force adjustments. But the real increase over the year that lies ahead will be in the Afghan security forces. We saw an increase of 70,000 this past year.
FT [Matthew Green]: Do you have a target for the end of this year?
GEN Petraeus: We have a target for the end of October and it is 304,500 total Afghan National Security Forces.
FT: But not including the Afghan Local Police?
GEN Petraeus: That’s a different structure, and that’s a relatively small structure, but frankly that’s an element that punches above its weight class. It’s literally only 3,100 or 3,200 right now for the 17 validated sites. Again, as I said, nearly 60 sites total have been identified, but by no means begun. There’s a very rigorous process that goes through, they have to be authorised by the ministry of the interior, that’s the first step. Then they have to start the process, there’s a visit during that process, there’s a final validation that takes place before they’re actually allowed to bear arms.
It’s almost the personification of counter-insurgency — because as we say in the field manual about counter-insurgency being 70 per cent political and 30 per cent military, that’s ALP. It really is quite substantially political community mobilisation. Elders support it. The elders also police it to a degree. If an ALP member gets out of line, the complainsts will be made to the elders who nominated these individuals and vouched fo rthem, and that’s a serious commitment on th epart of an elder. So the elders will actually then sit down with th eleaders and say “this is unacceptable, youve got to clean up your act.”
FT: Do you have a target for where you want to be by the end of the year in terms of how many you’ve got [Afghan Local Police]?
GEN Petraeus: No, it is difficult to say, because it depends on the pace of validation. President Karzai was very clear — this is his directive that guides this. He lays down very clear tasks that have to be performed before these sites are validated, and will only go as fast as the individual sites can go. This programme is so important that I actually attached a US Army conventional infantry battalion to the Special Forces command that supports this programme around the country. That has enable the Special Forces Green Beret teams — typically 12 man teams — in some cases to split in half, with the support of say an infantry squad or platoon, that thickens them. We may have to augment that further to enable this over the course of the year, and if so I’m prepared to do that.
Is it paranoid to wonder if Pooti-poot and Karimov didn’t sucker us deeper into Afghanistan after 9-11 by making available facilities for the logistical support of a land war in Asia in which we might not otherwise have embroiled ourselves?
OEF would have been done differently had we never been allowed on K2. Not necessarily better, but our footprint next door in Aghanistan would have been lighter out of necessity. One of the reasons the headcount down in Afghanistan grew to the size it did was because it could, due to the big Class I yard at K2 and connectivity to the European rail system.
K2 was my introduction to CENTCOM AOR. Mildly interesting the first time. Sucked the other three times. Would have sucked worse to be forced to sit at the ADACG (Arrival/Depature Airfield Control Group, AKA PAX Terminal) instead of having free run of the place, such as it was. Some extraordinarily beautiful Uzbek women worked at K2 back then. They were pretty the first time I saw them in September, 2004. By the time I saw them again in March, 2005 they were stunning.
. . . if I can find a way of reducing the costs to the American taxpayer, and more profoundly, to our young men and women in uniform, while making sure that we are not rendered much more vulnerable to a terrorist attack in the future, that’s going to be the option that I choose.
This is what passes for strategic leadership at the National Command Authority-level these days.
What he just said is that the war he complained of being under resourced by his predecessor is going to be nit-picked, Mickey Moused, audited and bureaucratically starved. Maintaining an army in Central Asia 700 miles from the sea in a country with no railroads was hard enough before The Surge.
What he also said was that Force Protection is second only to saving money.
Fobbits never won a war. Neither have road-bound Mine Resistant Ambush Protected motorized infantry. But then he’s not in it to win it, is he?
UPDATE 20100930: Roger that, Operator Dan. Good Copy.
And for the first time, the military revealed the identity of the subordinate officer – Master Cpl. Bianka Langlois, a married mother of two and a resource management clerk with 5 Service Battalion, based at CFB Valcartier in Quebec. This is Ménard’s home base, as well as the base where his wife, also in the armed forces, is stationed.
Is Oprah on up in Quebec?
Excerpt of particular interest:
On a cold winter night in late February 2005, two bearded SF soldiers quietly packed several days worth of supplies on three donkeys. They set out under the cover of darkness from a small special forces A-camp in the remote mountainous border region of eastern Afghanistan, near the Taliban controlled Pakistani border town of Lwara. They spent the next four days, accompanied by four indigenous members of the irregular Afghan Security Force (ASF), walking across snow covered mountains in order to make contact with tribal leaders in Afghanistan’s isolated and historically enemy-controlled Gayan Valley.92
The SF detachment at A-Camp Tillman had been experimenting for several months with employing small four-to-six man “recce teams” to hunt Taliban insurgents moving freely through the mountains on their way to conduct attacks throughout Paktika Province. The recce teams consisted of a two-man SF sniper/observer element and two-to-four locally hired and specially selected (ASF) scouts to serve as guides and provide security. In February, these operations began to meet with success. The small teams, often employing pack animals, moved long distances through the mountains discretely, established hide sites along suspected infiltration routes, and achieved tactical surprise on Taliban patrols. Over the next six months, these small teams increasingly inflicted losses on squad and platoon-size Taliban elements. They effectively employed a combination of stealth, sniper engagements and artillery fire from the 105mm howitzers at the A-Camp to achieve relative superiority over numerically superior enemy forces, without endangering the population in the villages.93
The Taliban defeats were physical, but more importantly psychological. The insurgents had become very comfortable with being able to move freely through this difficult terrain to conduct rocket and mortar attacks on coalition bases and set up ambushes on coalition patrols that were largely tied to their vehicles along the narrow mountain trails and streams that sufficed as the Afghan equivalent of roads. The sudden and unexpected surprise of sniper and artillery fire shattered the confidence of the Taliban who could not visually detect the recce teams, anticipate the contact or effectively respond to the tactics. Each contact concluded with the insurgents retreating back across the Pakistani border after taking initial casualties. Radio intercepts clearly revealed their frustrations. The insurgent physical casualties resulting from these operations, though often minimal in nature, had a profound psychological impact. The insurgents were now unsure in an environment they previously felt confident in and reconsidered their movements along infiltration routes they once traveled with impunity. By late spring, insurgents largely abandoned border penetrations in the Lwara area and instead focused on long-range rocket attacks from the relative safety of Pakistani territory.94
Unfortunately, the acceptability of these highly successful small-team tactics largely came to an end following the loss of a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team in Operation Red Wings in June 2005.95 The operational environment became more restrictive in the months that followed and the appetite for the risk associated with these tactics rapidly evaporated. In the Lwara area, this would eventually result in the resumption of large-scale enemy penetrations and attacks in the fall of 2005.
Several days before their journey into Gayan, Sergeant First Class Christopher Roach and Sergeant First Class Victor Cervantes had approached their commander with an interesting idea. After the first couple of daylight returns from their “recce patrols” they had abandoned theirposture of stealth and overtly approached a couple of small mountain villages. 96 The villagers first assumed that the small party of bearded men descending from the mountains in a motley mix of camouflage and afghan garb was Taliban. The Afghans cautiously came out to greet the party as it entered the small village, but somewhat shocked when the “Taliban” (the ASF scouts) introduced them to the Americans accompanying them. What followed surprised the two green berets. The tribe welcomed them into the village with a level of hospitality they had yet to witness in Afghanistan. In their first two of months in the Lwara area, their contact with villagers had normally come as they stepped from a Humvee bristling with machine guns. Now they were initially mistaken for a Taliban patrol. Moreover, even after their foreign identity was known, they were still treated noticeably different by the Pashtun tribesmen because of the way they looked and familiar Afghan manner they had approached the village. Their appearance and actions, especially the way they entered the village walking down out of the mountains leading donkey, reflected a warrior image that the Afghans identified with and embraced. After the second incident like this, they developed a theory that they could walk over a mountain range and enter the last “bad guy” valley in the district and potentially receive the same instant rapport.97
The Gayan Valley was a narrow opening between two mountain ranges that converged again at the upper end in the north. A single stream emptied out of the lower end of the valley in the south and served as the only vehicle route in and out. The rock canyon walls of the stream were thirty feet high in areas and were so narrow in some places that the mirrors on a humvee had to be folded in to squeeze through. This canyon essentially served as gate to the valley. It was
virtually impossible to fight into the valley on the ground if the local tribe chose to resist. Several gunfights with coalition forces had taken place near this southern gate between 2002-2004.98 This resulted in a few special operations helicopter raids near the southern end of the valley that further soured the valley’s reputation with the coalition, and the coalition’s reputation with the
valley. Nevertheless, it was unclear whether the tribe in Gayan had real ideological links to the Taliban or simply preferred their isolation and made that point by occasionally shooting at coalition members passing by the southern opening.99
SFC Roach and SFC Cervantes planned their mission for several days. They would cross a 10,000 ft. high snow covered mountain range and approach the valley from the north. They would observe the valley for a couple days from the mountains to ensure no large insurgent elements were present, and would then decide whether or not to approach. Once initial contact was made they had a three-fold agenda; build rapport, conduct an assessment of the tribal leadership’s political sentiments, and attempt to secure an agreement from the tribe to accept a medical civic action program (MEDCAP) visit. If successful, the MEDCAP would set the environment for eventually negotiating a mutual security pact with the tribe. The long-range goals of the SF team included a future safe-house and clinic in Gayan along with a 40-man security force to protect the valley. However this mission would be a success even if it only opened a line of communication with the tribe in Gayan.100
During this reconnaissance and assessment, the small six-man party would be outside the range of the camp’s artillery To mitigate this short-coming in protective firepower, a Marine Corps Embedded Training Team (ETT) assisted by positioning an Afghan National Army reaction force approximately 20 kilometers from Gayan under the guise of a traffic control point along the main east-west route through Paktika province. Nevertheless, it was an inherently risky operation, even more so given the valley’s history and the A-Camp’s inability to range the valley with artillery fire. Nevertheless, the theory the two SF sergeants presented was strong, their argument compelling and the potential payoff worth the risk. 101
After two days of walking and two more watching the valley from a rocky peak, two bearded Americans, four Afghan scouts, three donkeys, and a dog walked down out of the snowcovered mountains and into the Gayan valley. The result exceeded expectations. As the two SF sergeants predicted, the appearance of the patrol both amazed and bemused the tribe, especially when the ASF scouts introduced them to the two Americans. They walked into the village like members of the tribe returning from one of their own patrols. One of the tribal elders was so impressed by the event, that before dinner that evening, for the first time in years, he put on his old police uniform from the pre-Taliban era. After a couple of dinners and meetings over chai, the tribal elders agreed to the proposals in full. Two weeks later the MEDCAP drew over 2,000 patients, the team hired a 40-man tribal security force, rented a safe-house and established a permanent presence in the valley. Over the coming months based on the success of this operation, CJSOTF-A decided to relocate an SF detachment from Orgun, Afghanistan, to occupy the new safe-house, assume control of the security force, and begin the construction of a firebase. Without a firing a shot, two SF sergeants had pacified the Gayan valley and changed the dynamics in the one of the most dangerous districts in Afghanistan.102
The Quiet Professionals have been way too quiet about adventures like this. Anyway, MAJ Litchfield’s whole monograph is worthy of your attention.
If Petraeus must step down from global, strategic, Combatant Commander to assume operational command of ISAF and USFORA and Operation Enduring Freedom, that’s a demotion, unless the new COMCENTCOM works for Petraeus instead of the other way around.
Unity of command means that all the forces are under one responsible commander. It requires a single commander with the requisite authority to direct all forces in pursuit of a unified purpose.
Petraeus can only succeed if he is given carte blanche to do what needs doing, change what needs changing, bribe who needs bribing, kill who needs killing and win over or neutralize the rest. The C-in-C may have promised him that. We shall see.
General Mattis would make an outstanding CENTCOM, but SECDEF passed him over for Commandant of the Marine Corps. Does Gates not like Mattis, or was he saving Mattis for this?
Pogues in DC are going to have to STFU and let the professionals get to it.
Most of the strap hangers on the big box FOBs will have to be reassigned to Combat Out Posts and Joint Security Stations.
ANA kandaks must be task organized and cross-attached and integrated into [U. S.] Regimental/Brigade Combat Teams.
District and village defense forces must be recruited, trained and integrated into provincial defence commands.
Force Protection must be reined in and risk must be accepted. Can’t go everywhere in four MRAP convoys with a minimum of 16 shooters in full battle rattle and sunglasses.
Petraeus as COMISAF will have to nail down exactly what the non-US contingents can be held responsible for, then hold their feet to the fire to do what they signed up for. The fewer caveated, salsa-dancing consumers of Cl I on the head count, the more bullets and go-juice we can move.
He’ll need to institute spartan Command Supply Discipline even more austere than McChystal. Fewer lobster nights at the DFAC, more barbequed goat. Adios Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Popeye’s, Cinnabun, Tim Horton’s, and, yes, even Green Beans Coffee. That will suck, but there’s a war on.
He’ll have to bring all the contractors under control, bust a few COR’s to encourage the rest, send some non-performing expats home and put the fear of God (or Allah, as applicable) into all of them. Then he’ll need to defend the clean contractors from the critics.
Afghanize the war. Round up Afghan truck drivers, draft them into the ANA Transportation Corps and put the convoys under military discipline and escort. Afghan TC KATUSA’s.
Pashto ain’t Arabic. Americans can pick it up fairly quickly with some effort. That effort must be made. A quasi-fluent Pashto-speaker for every company-sized element.
Control the message, control the media, beat the Taliban and their enablers in the infowar.
The 10 ANP manning the checkpoint in Kajran came under heavy small-arms and 82mm rocket fire just after noon and called for support. Approximately 250 residents gathered with personal AK-47s and, along with ANP reinforcements and ISAF aircraft, forced the Taliban to retreat.
About 250 civilians gathered with personal assault rifles and, along with police reinforcements and International Security Assistance Force aircraft, forced the Taliban fighters to retreat.