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Afghan National Army prepares for overall security responsibility



US and ISAF forces are planning to end combat operations in Afghanistan by mid-2013 and to withdraw their troops by the end of 2014. As they withdraw, the Afghan National Security Forces will have to take an increasingly large share of security responsibility across Afghanistan, and eventually for the entire country.

Al Jazeera provides an update on the development of the Afghan Army and its readiness to take over operations. While the report is far from comprehensive, it contains some useful insights, including the following points.

Overall, the Afghan Army doesn't lack for courage or willingness to fight. It has a basic level of leadership and tactical expertise. Its training capability has progressed to where it can be conducted wholly by Afghan personnel. On the other hand, many important elements of combat support are inadequate, including air support, intelligence, medical services, counter-IED, and heavy weapons.

Comparisons between the ANA's performance and Western military standards are often inappropriate. While the ANA doesn't get things done the Western way, it does seem to be get most things done the Afghan way. Take logistics, for example: While Western militaries emphasize advanced and detailed planning, Afghans get by with last-minute improvisation and making do with what they have.

Finally, there is a war going on for the hearts and minds of the ANA. The Taliban are heavily engaged in strategies to undermine the resolve and morale of ANA personnel. One strategy is direct threats by the Taliban against individual ANA soldiers and their families warning them to leave the ANA. Another is the instigation of green-on-blue attacks: ANA soldiers or Taliban infiltrators attacking ISAF troops. And another is spreading conspiracy rumors and memes through the ANA.



READER COMMENTS: "Afghan National Army prepares for overall security responsibility"

Posted by blert at December 17, 2012 5:27 AM ET:

In this, and every other MSM tale, is the embedded notion that the ANA is expected to prevail at war -- almost like Napoleon at Austerlitz -- otherwise it's a loser army.

As George Washington could tell you, such is not so.

A national army of defense merely has to make the opposition's campaign impractical. Even that is enough to make aggressor forces bend and break.

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The other trope see above is the silliness always in evidence when raw recruits are in boot camp. There is not one nation on Earth who's raw recruits don't come off as pretty silly as they adjust to military procedures and command logic.

Which makes film at boot camp a joke -- for any army -- at any time.

British SAS and American SEALs are the cream of the crop. They cull 97% of their volunteers before the men are deemed ready for combat employment -- two-years later. (!)

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The biggest issue for the West, as a whole, is stepping up financially to support the ANA and its government, flawed as they are, until Kabul can earn its way in the world.

As it stands, ISAF nations are spending approximately $1,000,000 per man-year for ISAF troops on the front line.

The price is in orbit because Afghanistan is at the extreme end of a brutal supply network. That's where the money evaporates.

Obviously, $1,000,000 could finance an entire battalion of ANA (static) regulars for one-year, or an elite mobile platoon.

As we've seen in Korea, this type of irredentist conflict can go on, and on, and on. Korea also shows that there really can be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Forgotten by the current generation, Korea was, in 1950, considered to be utterly backward, destitute and primitive; just a hopeless bloody mess.

Her original ROK troops were the laughing stock of the Far East. They were in much worse shape than todays ANA. Go back and read the contemporary accounts. The ROK was considered so hopeless that Ridgway buddied up ROK divisions with American formations so that they'd have any kind of staying power at all.

Only ONE single ROK division, the Capital Division, was responsible for ALL of the eventually successful leadership of the ROK Army.

(One is reminded of the 36th Battalion in the Iraqi Army.)

It took quite a while, but as each young brave man showed his spurs in the Capital Division, he was promoted up and then out, and off to the other divisions, starting with the 1st. The division was an incubator of talent.

The ANA does have such incubators of talent -- but permits no filming there. While the MSM isn't looking, a fledging army is being built.

Even the Dane recognized that something's afoot.

Posted by anan at December 17, 2012 11:23 AM ET:

We have seen a frightening increase in the number of green on green attacks this year, including inside 215th ANA Corps. The goal of insider attacks seems to be in large part to increase tensions between Pashtun and non Pashtun ANSF.

The ANA has lost 124 dead a month over the past 7 months. The ANP about twice that. ISAF (entire international coalition) lost 17 dead in November.

Posted by Brian L at December 17, 2012 12:52 PM ET:

This is really, really interesting, whether or not you agree with the conclusions in the piece. Please continue to post future updates from Al Jazeera et al that are of similar value.

Posted by mike merlo at December 17, 2012 3:08 PM ET:

Had not the Soviet Union(Russia) ceased supporting Mohammad Najibullah with aid & war fighting material he would have been able to continue successfully resisting & fighting back against the threats arrayed against Afghanistan.

Had not the USA ceased supporting President Thieu of South Vietnam with aid & war fighting material the South Vietnamese would have been able successfully repel & fight back against challenges from the Communist North.

As long as the US continues to provide Afghanistan with appropriate aid & war fighting material they will be able to successfully combat external & internal threats to Afghanistan

Posted by mnd at December 18, 2012 10:15 AM ET:

ANSF casualties as mentioned by ISAF and others:




http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/isaf-releases/isaf-factsheet-on-current-ansf-status.html


In 2012, the Army averaged 243 killed and wounded per month.


In 2012, the Police averaged 292 killed and wounded per month.






http://www.afghanistantimes.af/news_details.php?id=1044
MoD spokesman Gen. Zahir Azeemi on Monday told a news conference in Kabul that 600 Afghan National Army soldiers were killed over the past two months.






And surprisingly blert manages to get it right once, at least in principle. Indeed, an army does not need to win against an invading enemy, it just has to make continuing the war so costly, that the enemy does not continue.


However, blert, as expected, gets it wrong again in the end by applying the correct idea to the wrong party of this conflict.
The largely non-Pashtun ANA is the invading group in most areas where the fighting happens. Which is why the insurgents are still up and fighting, with a lot more of success than the mainstream media reports. Which shouldn't be news for any reader of this informative blog.

Posted by blert at December 18, 2012 3:04 PM ET:

mnd...

I appreciate the snark. Thanks.

WRT the Pashtun line-up: arguably the crux of the Afghan-Pakistan war -- of which none dare call it such -- is the British demarcation, the Durand Line, that splits the Pashtun nation in two.

It is a fundamental object of Islamabad to keep east Pashtunistan (aka FATA) inside Pakistan.

Since Pashtuns have lived almost to the Indus river's edge for millennia, and that terrain is brutally faulted and mountainous, actually displacing them off towards the west by the Punjabi has never been attractive.

Yet, if Islamabad acknowledges that it has no sovereignty there, Pakistan's western border moves shockingly close to India.

It's a 'map image' sort of shock. In economic and military terms, the land west of the Indus is virtually worthless. It's impossible to shift tank divisions north to south on the defiles that pass as roads in Pashtunistan. Particularly in the event of a hot mechanized war with India.

Yet, the universal perception, if the border were adjusted, would be that India could sever Pakistan in two with one single lunge south of the Punjab.

( In this it echoes the Israeli headache: both are too thin at the waist. )

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Islamabad is not too keen on moving their border west and including all of the Pashtuns. That would be too much of a 'good thing.' As it stands, the national leadership of Pakistan alternates between Punjabi and Sindh factions. ( Crudely put.)

(Musharraf, himself, being a case in point. He's a Sindh by blood, raised in Punjabi culture. He made that a major campaign statement, and it served him well as he rose in the ranks. The Punjabi are dominant within the Pakistan Army.)

Too many additional voters, Pashtun voters, would shift the internal political dynamics of Pakistan away from the status quo.

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All of which means that Islamabad regards meddling in the nationhood of Afghanistan as an almost existential need.

Towards that end, the ISI has built up a slew of proxy armies in the ancient warlord/ tenured baron style. While every attempt is made to aim these forces westward -- to keep Kabul in complete upheaval -- the very nature of the brigandage causes blow-back into Pakistan, proper. Such players are, of course, 'Bad Taliban.'

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It's mnd's contention that the ISAF and ANA are primarily fighting local Pashtuns -- putting down their aspirations, if you will.

It's my contention that the fighting cadres of the conflict are Pashtuns that have marched west from the FATA -- with AQ jihadis as shock troops.

I further contend that, by coming so far, they constitute an invading army. Rather in the manner of Union forces entering the Confederacy -- or JEB Stuart trooping through Pennsylvania -- they really stick out amongst the locals.

Under no circumstances do the local Afghans, of any persuasion, take these Pashtuns as native sons. If you listen through the above video you can hear and see how native sons are intimidated because these alien formations are threatening their families. What local boys they have in their ranks have been dragooned into service. Anti-government forces only get 'popular' right up towards the eastern border -- where blood ties begin to bind.

Because of the broken terrain, there is no comity of man. Because of all the blood feuds, Westerners can have no expectation that adjacent neighbors -- even one hill away -- aren't blood-brothers or ancient enemies. So, it's impossible to generalize as to the local 'order of battle.'

What is evident is that FATA Pashtuns have accents so profound that Afghans can spot them a mile away. ISAF forces can't.

Ultimately, that's going to be the number one reason why the ANA is going to embarrass the ISAF with its cultural competence.

We, the West, have to scale back our presence and step up financially, even though Washington has big time money worries.

Posted by mnd at December 18, 2012 7:55 PM ET:

Well, blert, whatever you believe about the war in Afghanistan, i'll take offical sources over some anonymous comment on a blog anytime, especially with some of the nonsense you mostly spew.


Insurgent groups are located primarily in the Pashtun-majority inhabited areas of Afghanistan. Most insurgent commanders and fighters operate within or near their home districts, and low-level fighters are often well-known in the local population. Out-of-area fighters Pakistani Pashtuns or other individuals from the immediate region who fight outside their home districts) and foreign fighters (those fighters who have travelled to Afghanistan from outside the Afghanistan/Pakistan region) comprise a considerably smaller portion of the insurgency.
Taken from Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan as released in December 2012.
www.defense.gov/news/1230_Report_final.pdf

Posted by Mr. Nobody at December 18, 2012 10:18 PM ET:

Attack the corruption first, then fight the enemy.

Posted by blert at December 19, 2012 12:54 AM ET:

1.5: REPORTING PERIOD SECURITY OVERVIEW
THE INSURGENCY

"The Taliban-led insurgency is composed of a syndicate of semi-autonomous groups, including the Haqqani Network. These groups are united under the senior shura in Quetta, Pakistan under Taliban founder and spiritual leader Mullah Omar and share a common vision of the re-establishment of an Islamic Emirate. Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and some Pakistan-focused groups such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan provide support to the Afghan Taliban."

From the pdf cited by mnd

Continuing...

"Taliban senior leaders remain capable of providing general, strategic guidance to the broader insurgency and channeling resources to support operational priorities, in particular in RC-S, RC-SW, and RC-E. Pakistan-based senior leaders exercise varying degrees of command and control over the generally decentralized and locally-based insurgency in Afghanistan."

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I submit that the last line is Pentagon double-speak, since under no circumstances is the Pentagon going to report to Congress and the larger world that the ISI is perceived as pulling the strings.

So the sentence is written to cover all meanings. On the one hand all of the insurgency's senior leadership is east of Afghanistan...

While on the other hand, it's a "locally-based insurgency"...

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Slimming it down to a nutshell, they're describing what I've termed warlord-classic.

It IS an attack by the ISI against Afghanistan. Kabul has been screaming about it for years, and years, and years. It, however, is still being done in a 'deniable manner' such that mnd and others consider the whole matter an ethnic revolt.

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As for the idea that the ANA is employing non-Pashtun warriors in Pashtun lands -- that's never quite worked -- even when attempted. Every time Northern Tribes are posted down south they walk off -- and go home. It is a rare trooper who is willing to fight for Afghanistan's nationhood. The only troops thinking along those lines are within the ISAF.

Something like this was seen during the Vietnam War. The vast bulk of the ARVN would not deploy any serious distance from home. The elite troops (parachutists and marines) became pinned down as the capital city's defense. Out of four or five brigades, only one, maybe two, could be deployed. The rest had to sit still and calm the city.

It's precisely because Kabul can't shift non-Pashtun troops into the southeast that all focus is now on recruiting and training entirely fresh formations from Pashtuns.

The calm in and around Kandahar has provided a breathing space for just such recruitment. The course of events can break either way from here.

One thing well know for sure, the Taliban are lousy for business -- and not too popular among the Pashtun -- the minute they can talk freely.

Unlike mnd's contention, once ejected, the areas go quiet, business resumes, and the locals start talking.

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As for corruption. Massive corruption is the norm in war. Every time you shift your focus to corruption, you're taking your eye off the ball.

In the badlands of Afghanistan, virtually all dealings with the government would be deemed corrupt by Western standards.

And, no wars are more overrun with corruption than civil wars.

See the film: Glory. It's but a taste of American corruption a century ago.

Posted by ahmad at December 19, 2012 11:18 AM ET:

As we know that Afghanistan's pre domminant population is pashtuns.
these are the people who created this country.
and more than 90% of the afghan national leaders(kings,presidents, primieres were belong to the pashtun majority community. and including the armed forces too.top level senior generals and other beaurocrates majority of them were pashtuns.
so then after the decades of wars and current government which is headed by hamid karzai is also a pashtun politician.
but as today the govt faces various chalenges due to lack of giving support to the predominant pashtun population for key govt seats as like before. and today the majority seats were alloted to non pashtuns. and which they feel insult and they do not give general support to kabul regime.and instead thier sympathy rises to the taliban. the major ethnic group faces like a minor ethnic group in its home land.
which is very shamefull for the ISAF and afghan govt.
but recently the govt shows some reconcilliaton in pashtun areas and starts mass recruiting program of pashtun youths in the Armed forces and various other institutions.
Afghanistan will be prosperous and a power full country when there will be a ballance for govt jobs to all ethnic groups according to the population ratio, to avoid any ethnic voilence and to stop our enemies to trying to infiltrate and gain loyalty from our respected patriot ethnic groups.
" tal d ve azad Afghan watan"
" hamesha azad basha watan-e-Aghan

Posted by ahmad at December 19, 2012 11:35 AM ET:

As we know that Afghanistan's pre domminant population is pashtuns.
these are the people who created this country.
and more than 90% of the afghan national leaders(kings,presidents, primieres were belong to the pashtun majority community. and including the armed forces too.top level senior generals and other beaurocrates majority of them were pashtuns.
so then after the decades of wars and current government which is headed by hamid karzai is also a pashtun politician.
but as today the govt faces various chalenges due to lack of giving support to the predominant pashtun population for key govt seats as like before. and today the majority seats were alloted to non pashtuns. and which they feel insult and they do not give general support to kabul regime.and instead thier sympathy rises to the taliban. the major ethnic group faces like a minor ethnic group in its home land.
which is very shamefull for the ISAF and afghan govt.
but recently the govt shows some reconcilliaton in pashtun areas and starts mass recruiting program of pashtun youths in the Armed forces and various other institutions.
Afghanistan will be prosperous and a power full country when there will be a ballance for govt jobs to all ethnic groups according to the population ratio, to avoid any ethnic voilence and to stop our enemies to trying to infiltrate and gain loyalty from our respected patriot ethnic groups.
" tal d ve azad Afghan watan"
" hamesha azad basha watan-e-Aghan

Posted by Dick em! at December 19, 2012 12:13 PM ET:

Whats being missed, (in the above commentary)being that the US and NATO, wouldn't have had to had intervened to such an extent within Afghanistan, and play the game of geopolitical 'liar' with Pakistan, if a far more cohesive western home security plan had been active around the year 2000...(with all the various agencies actually pulling together than pushing apart!)

Saving much blood and treasure.

Posted by mike merlo at December 19, 2012 2:31 PM ET:

@blert
I couldn't agree with you more concerning Force Composition of the 'Taliban.' Anybody willing to spend more than just a cursory look at this issue will find that the Insurgency presently opposing/challenging Afghanistan is anywhere from 60% to 100% non Afghan

Posted by blert at December 21, 2012 1:59 PM ET:

@Dick...

That's a philosophy of war that has been put to the test of time.

The upshot is that cops can't stop warriors.

The ENTIRE basis of policing in Western societies is that cops are NOT to intervene unless laws are being violated -- and, more generally -- to act AFTER events have unfolded at which point the perps are arrested and brought to court.

A society that prevents unlawful warfare (a Western concept) with its police is termed a 'Police State.'

More than you might know, Western governments have morphed towards an Electronic Police State. This has profoundly altered the nature of man and government.

For, by shifting our emphasis towards the domestic front, our leaders have permanently committed us to an all intrusive government.

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At bottom, murder-suicide can NEVER be thwarted by government sanction. It's immune to legal process.

For all of the 'holes' in our domestic arrangements that have been plugged since 9-11, per your focus; there will ALWAYS be holes that remain unforeseen.

It's an AQ thesis that a great power is best defeated by getting itself to tie itself tied in knots.

This, the West is doing. In America, the TSA is groping all and every -- quite personally -- and at phenomenal expense. The process is a humiliation to the law abiding and must give AQ no end of satisfaction.

The TSA and its superiors still don't get it: the whole purpose of the Detroit crotch-bomber WAS to 'fail' and get caught.

The amount of explosives on his person was too small to ever down an airliner -- at whatever altitude. Just how many ounces can anyone hide in a jockstrap?

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All of which nets out as: policing is but a palliative.

At a strategic level, the pervasive policing is morphing our society -- and reducing its economic vitality.

The ONE thing that would really wound AQ at a strategic level would be to drill for oil. For, AQ is being funded by 'spare change' coming down the Golden Chain from those whose wealth comes from oil exports.

It would also defuse the long Shi'ite vs Sunni sectarian war. In one form or another, it's been bubbling along for 1,000 years.

Without oil revenues, the entire muslim world would leave the world stage. It has no other claim for attention.

For, at the global level, economics drives importance. Red China is an exemplar in this regard.