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JB, hardly anyone discusses Green on Blue in lenght and in context.
A couple points on Green on Blue:
1) Green on Green happens 3 times as often
2) A number of these incidents are because of bad guys pretending to be ANSF and wearing the uniform (and then killing ANSF and ISAF)
3) Three quarters of the actual Green on Blue (when you exclude the impersonators) are not ideological. Causes often include personal reasons. ISAF people using the term “Mother F&^%er” and ANSF taking it literally. Other types of cussing. General forms of perceived disrespect (anecdotally this happens more by conventional military units that embedded partner with the ANSF rather than embedded combat advisors.) Another large cause is when corruption is discovered. [For fear that the ISAF soldier will report it up the chain of command and get them fired.] Other examples of bar fights with guns. It is important to remember that ANSF are remarkably young.
4) To reduce non ideological incidents, it would be helpful to educate officers and NCOs more. Most ANA NCOs only get 4 weeks NCO training. Remember most of them didn’t have a 1st grade education to begin with; haven’t had a summer job at Costco or a Bank; haven’t played team sports; and otherwise not been acculturated to team work and leadership in large organizations of people. Most ANSF officers get 20 weeks and they too are not that educated or that enriched by life experience to begin with. Increasing education for officers and NCOs would greatly improve discipline and professionalism within the force. Unfortunately it would cost a lot more money, which is why President Obama and others oppose this. [For example doubling the length of NCO training to 8 weeks from 4 weeks, and doubling the length of officer training from 20 weeks to 40 weeks would cost twice as much per NCO and officer.]
5) One quarter of Green on Blue (the ideological cases) are serious incidents.
Some general observations. The ANA, ANCOP and NDS represent the most anti Taliban, anti Al Qaeda segment in Afghan society. They viscerally hate the Taliban. There is widespread paranoia within the ANSF that ISAF backs the Taliban/AQ against the ANSF and Afghans. This perception has gotten worse over time. Why? Here is a partial list of reasons:
A) Obama is directly negotiating with the Taliban, and keeping the Afghans out of the negotiations. This is increasingly unpopular among Afghans who accuse Obama of selling them out to the Taliban. At the very least Afghans want to be informed about what Obama is talking to the Taliban about
B) The US is perceived to be allies of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Taliban is perceived by the ANSF to be a veritable wing of the Pakistani Army and a proxy of Saudi Arabia.
C) The ANSF had 847 dead in the last four months that I have data for. Some soldiers on the field insist that the actual total is higher, but understated because ISAF and Karzai want to show “progress” and the ANSF doesn’t want to pay the families of dead ANSF service members to save money. About 153 ISAF died during this same period. Naturally it is only right that ANSF are killed by the Taliban at 5 times the rate of ISAF. It is after all the ANSF’s country, and they would lose a hell of a lot more than anyone else if the Taliban/AQ ever won. The Taliban/AQ are likely to go after the families of the 353 thousand ANSF in retaliation if Taliban win. Unfortunately these statistics are also used by ANSF who believe the ISAF backs Taliban conspiracy.
D) President Obama has never said in public and with emotion that America is on Afghanistan’s side against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. President Bush did. This contrast has not been lost on Afghans. President Obama is more unpopular than President Bush.
Unless someway can be found to alleviate the paranoia that ISAF backs the Taliban, unfortunately this will indirectly contribute to green on blue incidents.
HattieBelle, Sirajuddin Haqqani sits on the primary Al Qaeda shura and is planning terrorist attacks against civilian targets in Europe, India, America (maybe Russia and Iran as well) as we speak. He commands the most powerful militia in Pakistan and Afghanistan and remains close to as powerful as ever.
A lot can be accomplished in Afghanistan if the “WILL” is there.
Remember that US policy was to keep the Afghan National Security Forces weak 2001 to November, 2009. The same Afghan National Security Forces that are the feared enemies of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Maybe Bush and Obama felt there were good reasons for this policy, since a strong ANSF might anger Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and cause them to increase their support for Al Qaeda/Taliban.
But whatever the reason, the attempt to strengthen the ANSF only began just over 2.5 years ago. Not 10 years ago. In many ways the “WAR” against the Taliban/Al Qaeda only began in earnest in November, 2009.
Unfortunately from my point of view Obama in early 2011 (about 1 year into the attempted ANSF build) decided to cut back the strong ANSF policy that Petraeus, McChrystal, Caldwell, Karzai, and the Afghan MoD and MoI lobbied for. This is a contributing factor that has exacerbated ANSF and Karzai’s tension with ISAF.
HattieBelle, maybe you don’t think the international community should significantly fight the Taliban/Al Qaeda. Maybe you are willing to accept a high risk of future 9/11 style attacks against the American cities, maybe with nuclear weapons. But it is misleading to imply that a major resourced attempt has been made for 10 years. It hasn’t.
Or perhaps you are conflating Afghanistan with Iraq. Both are extremely different conflicts.
HattieBelle, the issue isn’t the withdrawal of the UN mandated ISAF forces. That is happening. The issue is long term funding for the ANSF.
Obama wants the ANSF budget to be cut to $4.3 billion per year. The Afghans (and their allies such as John McCain, Lieberman and other members of Congress) are fighting for $6.5 billion per year.
$10 billion per year would more or less guarantee victory against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
$8 billion per year would give the Afghans a good but not certain chance of defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
$4.3 billion per year would likely give Al Qaeda and the Taliban large pockets of Afghanistan and Pakistan to rule and plan attacks against the American homeland (and Russia, India, Europe, Iran, Afghanistan) from.
This is what the fight is about. Not about keeping ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
I would remind everyone that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not only the enemies of Afghans, Indians, Russian and Iranians; they are also America’s enemies. They killed over 3 thousand Americans on 9/11 and are still trying to hit the American homeland. There is a significant probability that they will manage to take possession of nuclear weapons from Pakistan or the former USSR and use them against civilian population centers.
America has been spending large amounts on police for centuries:
“What do they think is going to get accomplished that they couldn’t achieve in the centuries we’ve been wasting money on them?”
Maybe the US should disband the US Army and Marines for the same reason.
Maybe the President does not right now. But a lot of other Americans do. And the President’s opinion might change.
A lot of other countries are threatened more by Al Qaeda Taliban linked networks than the US. Afghanistan, Iran, India, Russia and Turkey.
This isn’t a binary choice. Help the Afghans fight America’s worst enemies or don’t help the Afghans fight America’s worst enemies. There are many things in between. Help the Afghans fight them moderately over the long term. Tell the Russians, Indians, Turks and others, America will only help the Afghans if they also help the Afghans.
“Fact is we need not keep troops in afghanistan to insure Al-Qaida or any other group won’t target the US or other western nations. They have already moved as I’m sure you already know, ”
Respectfully this is propaganda for the 2012 election. The large majority of the global AQ/Taliban linked network is still HQed in Pakistan. They are close to as strong as ever. These other theatres are side notes that pose a small fraction of the threat emanating from the HQs.
Sure the Karzai regime is corrupt. But even with that corruption, victory isn’t that expensive. Obama wants an annual ANSF budget of $4.3 billion/year. Increasing that by a few billion/year and earmarking that to MG Patang’s MoI training command and BG Karimi’s training command is all that is necessary.
The cost of 9/11 to the global economy was about $1 trillion on an NPV basis. Paying for the ANSF is peanuts compared to the cost of terrorism.
“the Afghans have much work to do to convince me that our hard earned money should fund them any longer.”
The Afghans are fighting our mortal enemies, inflicting heavy casualties on them. And taking heavy casualties of their own in the fight. Why isn’t that enough?
“Karzai is corrupt, his government is corrupt but then again how do you judge corruption in AFG? ”
It is a big problem. But remember that the international community pays for the ANSF. This gives the international community leverage provided the international community speaks with one voice.
“Afghans can take care of themselves, or not.” I don’t believe the Afghans have the capacity to hold out against Taliban/Al Qaeda without foreign help. This is because of the help the Taliban and Al Qaeda receive from the extremist parts of the Gulf and Pakistani establishment.
What has changed since 2001 for you? Why has your opinion changed.
Anan, “a lot of Americans do”? I don’t remember the last time I talked to someone that supported us still being there. I for one don’t want to put my life on the line again for a corrupt country that that cannot be appreciably changed in my lifetime. It’s time to deal with our internal problems before we nation build somewhere else.
Chilihntr, well I guess we talk to different people 🙂
A lot of deployed people still believe that the mission can succeed.
Many countries are corrupt. But even corrupt countries can defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban with help.
“that cannot be appreciably changed in my lifetime.” Here we completely disagree. Afghanistan is changing extremely fast. Much faster than the US is changing. Just watch some of Afghanistan’s many 24 hour channels, including news channels. The country is changing so fast that it can be blinding.
Without naming this friend, he is deployed out in the mountains near Pakistan. He told me that many of these remote villages have grandchildren on facebook and that many of these grandchildren connected with him before his deployment.
During Taliban rule some 700,000 boys were in school and no girls. Today 4.5 million boys and 2.5 million girls are in school. The quality of many of these schools is subpar, but imagine the sheer speed with which this is transforming Afghanistan.
“nation building” is an inaccurate phrase. Nation building was not attempted at all before November, 2009. It was only then that a major attempt to build the ANSF began. Even after November, 2009, not much nation building was attempted. Perhaps “institution strengthening” is a better phrase.
The entire ANSF has about 50,000 training seats. This is likely to cost about $750 million per year long term. The education ministry is also sparsely funded.
We aren’t talking that much money. $6 billion in international aid per year to the two ANSF training commands and education ministry would rapidly transform Afghanistan. It would mean 200,000 ANSF training seats and another $3 billion per year for the education ministry. Even $4 billion per year–a dramatic increase from current levels–would make a major difference.
Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on direct military operations that are not nation building.
What I don’t get about you is what has changed since 9/12/2001? What additional information have you learned since then? Al Qaeda and her many international allies are at war with America and many other countries. Al Qaeda and her many allies are also at war with Afghanistan.
Facilitating Afghans defeating Al Qaeda/Taliban networks protects Americans. The many Al Qaeda linked networks are still trying to attack the American homeland. The large majority of them are still based in Pakistan.
Direct military action does not work against them since Pakistan has nuclear weapons. What is wrong with empowering Al Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s worst enemies?
What has changed?
1.The US President has set a time table for withdrawal. This affects “Will.”
2. Economic situation in the US has deteriorated and priorities much shift to domestic issues. Without the will to dominate and win why waste the money?
3. Afghan’s undermine their own potential as they steal from, bicker with, lie to and kill ISAF forces. Again, this will affect “will” and the desire to help. It’s up to the Afghans to convince the world they are worth the help (money) they ask for.
However, it’s often what has not changed. While you state a number of positive changes in TV channels, that is nice and while there may be more schools now then a few years ago again very nice, however the infighting amongst Afghans has not changed, the wasted money we have already spent for infrastructure hasn’t changed, the fact that much of the money we spend goes indirectly to either Taliban leaders or warlords (profiteers) hasn’t changed. Pakistan, a country we are unwilling to this day to directly confront, houses and finances Taliban and other organizations that undermine a free Afghanistan. This HAS NOT CHANGED.
Our will to actually fight the fight has declined. A majority of the American population does not support this war any longer. Once the US government announced a timetable we lost. That lone act destroyed much of the positive favor Americans had. The hope that a surge and reinforced efforts to train quality ANSF troops that would re-bound faded into dust. For the past few years all that we have been doing is looking for a way out while our troops try not to get killed.
Well-meaning military commanders and troops have tried over and over again to train and build a nation that will and can protect itself but find themselves frustrated over un-trustworthy ANA/ANP troops and a political system that refuses to work for the betterment of the entire country or hell even a district. Better training will not fix the mentality that is pervasive in Afghanistan. Over time this may change but it should be changed within and not from outside forces.
I suppose we are talking to different people. I was last in Afghanistan in Feb. I was not encouraged.
You may go on talking up the great Afghan turn-around but I didn’t see it. I saw backstabbing, petty in-fighting amongst all Afghan officials, ANA missions that leaked as soon as they were conceived and known infiltrated ANP units left in place.
Afghanistan is only one of many foreign policy issues we face as a country. We must prioritize and right now we’ve spent enough.
Afghans are free to take the lead, but let them lead with their own money. If they find they have none left well perhaps they could check the bank accounts of their government officials and local power brokers in Dubai.
“1.The US President has set a time table for withdrawal. This affects “Will.””
I don’t see the connection. The issue isn’t the ANSF assuming battlespace responsibility for the whole country. That should happen. The issue is long term funding and combat enablers for the ANSF.
The current Obama Administration position is that long term combat enablers for the ANSF (including embedded combat advisors, trainers, logistics and air) and direct action special forces will remain in Afghanistan for at least a decade after 2014.
You liberally criticize the ANSF. But keep in mind that the long term steady state budget of the ANSF is $4.3 billion/year, assuming Obama’s proposed 227 thousand steady state target. If the current 352 thousand ANSF force is sustained, then the long term steady state budget of the ANSF is about $6.6 billion/year. These numbers include the Afghan Air Force, Afghan armor, Afghan APCs, medical, Afghan engineering, EOD, supply and transportation units.
This is the cost of keeping 6,600 GIs in Afghanistan per year. One year ago ISAF had 150,000 troops. 99 thousand Americans. The rest foreigners. The cost of keeping this force in Afghanistan was $150 billion per year. $50 billion for the non US forces and $100 billion for the US forces per year.
How do you think the US military would perform if given $6.6 billion a year to field 352,000 troops?
The way many in DoD, ISAF, and Afghanistan phrase the argument is if it is better to keep 3,000 fewer ISAF combat enablers in Afghanistan per year, or give the ANSF $3 billion more per year? Which has a higher return on investment?
“2. Economic situation in the US has deteriorated and priorities much shift to domestic issues. Without the will to dominate and win why waste the money?”
The US still has a GDP of $16 trillion per year. If the US just gave Afghanistan one two thousanth of America’s annual income, or $8 billion per year, it would dramatically transform and improve the situation and significantly reduce the risk of WMD attacks on the American homeland. By paying $8 billion a year over the long term, the US could pressure other countries to similarly contribute. It is hard to ask Russia, India, Japan, Europe, South Korea, Australia, Canada and other countries to give aid to Afghanistan if the US won’t.
To pay for $8 billion/year, some strategic risk could be taken by marginally reducing armored, air and naval capacity. Cutting aid to Israel would fund $3 billion/year. Cutting aid to Egypt would net another $2 billion/year. $3 billion per year could be cut from other areas.
The DoD budget is currently over $600 billion per year.
You are stuck in binary thinking. The US doesn’t have to win. Just help enough to facilitate the Afghans (backed by Russia, India, Iran, Turkey, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia, UN, US) winning over a ferocious war that might last for another decade or two. Enormous numbers of Afghans might die in this war. But American civilians would be safer.
As it is, America’s mortal enemies (Al Qaeda, Taliban and their allies) kill some 220 ANSF per month, not to mention the many permanently injured. Several soldiers serving in the field insist the actual number is much higher than that. The total number of internationals (from the US and another 50 odd countries) killed per month is about 40, although this number is likely to drop significantly as internationals reduce their troop presence.
The ANSF are not only killing Afghanistan’s enemies, they are killing the people who attacked America on 9/11. The people who are still planning future WMD attacks on the American homeland. The Pakistani Taliban remain dangerously close to pulling this off. Have you forgotten?
Afghanistan has changed dramatically from even two years ago. The ANSF have dramatically increased their offensive tempo and are taking record casualties. Within weeks the ANSF will have complete security responsibility (de facto and de jure) in 75% of Afghanistan as measured by population. The ANSF is inflicting record casaulties on the enemy. But even in these areas the ANSF still require embedded combat advisors, air, medivac, indirect artillery fire support, transport, supply, signals intelligence and funding.
The question is how much of support should be provided.
In my view it would be better to reduce the number of long term planned forces in Afghanistan from 20,000 troops to 15,000; and use the $5 billion in savings on additional aid to Afghanistan.
“3. Afghan’s undermine their own potential as they steal from, bicker with, lie to and kill ISAF forces.”
Which Afghans are you talking about? Do you mean green on blue? Many ANSF die in these same attacks trying to protect ISAF forces. Many of these attackers are infiltrators assisted by another country. We both know which one. These infiltrators are often not Afghans. The infiltrators that are Afghans are traitors to their country who seek to murder as many of their fellow ANSF as possible.
Steal and bicker? Afghans do that to each other quite often. So do Mexicans and people from the large majority of countries around the world. ANSF can steal and bicker even while aggressively going after and killing the enemy.
“Again, this will affect “will” and the desire to help.”
Why would it reduce “will” that much? The ANSF are still killing an awful lot of America’s worst enemies.
“It’s up to the Afghans to convince the world they are worth the help (money) they ask for.”
Afghans are diverse. 34 million people. Some are worth helping and others are not. The ANSF are filled with anti Taliban, anti Al Qaeda fighters who want to hunt the enemy and kill the enemy. Why isn’t this enough to prove they are worth helping?
“however the infighting amongst Afghans has not changed”
True. That is Afghanistan’s problem. Let them work it out.
This problem does not prevent the ANSF from attacking America’s enemies. The purpose of aid to Afghanistan and combat enablers for the ANSF is to help them attack America’s enemies. It costs much less American blood and treasure (or Turkish, Russian, Indian, Japanese, European, etc.) for the ANSF to do it than for American special forces or conventional forces to do it. The ANSF is inflicting a lot of damage on America’s enemies.
“the wasted money we have already spent for infrastructure hasn’t changed”
The US does not have to pay for Afghan infrastructure. The US can direct all aid to the ANSF, ANSF training commands and education ministry. Let other countries such as India, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Europe, Japan, pay for Afghan infrastructure. For that matter, if the US only fully funded the ANSF and ANSF training commands themselves, that would be enough. Other countries can pay for the rest.
“the fact that much of the money we spend goes indirectly to either Taliban leaders or warlords (profiteers) hasn’t changed.”
That is exactly what Afghans say. A lot of US aid goes to Afghanistan’s enemies (Pakistan, Taliban) and is used to murder Afghans. That is the heart of anti Americanism among many Afghans and ANSF.
Instead of doing that, why can’t the US only give money to the Afghan MoI, MoD, NDS and education ministries?
“Pakistan, a country we are unwilling to this day to directly confront, houses and finances Taliban and other organizations that undermine a free Afghanistan. This HAS NOT CHANGED.”
You sound like an Afghan. This is what almost all Afghans shout to anyone willing to listen. Much of the Taliban are veritable wings of the Pakistani Army. Remember the anger between Japan and America during WWII? Multiply this by 10 to try to understand Afghan feelings about the Pakistani Army.
One week ago, the Afghan parliament voted to fire Afghanistan’s defense minister and Ministry of Interior minister. The parliament clearly stated their reasons for doing so.
The Afghan parliament (reflecting Afghan popular opinion) stated that Pakistan was attacking Afghanistan. Afghan Parliamentarians said that the ANSF had disobeyed many requests from parliament to enter Pakistan and engage Afghanistan’s enemies. This was the reason they fired the MoI and MoD ministers.
JB, why do you seem to believe that Afghans will not aggressively attack and defeat America’s enemies? Especially because of the intensity of Afghan public opinion and anger against the Taliban and Al Qaeda?
“Our will to actually fight the fight has declined. A majority of the American population does not support this war any longer.”
A few speeches by the President would change this. All CINC has to say is:
“We were attacked on 9/11. The people who tried to attack us on 9/11 are currently trying to get WMD to attack the American homeland and dangerously close to succeeding. Afghans and the ANSF hate the people who attacked America on 9/11 more than Americans do. That is why the US should provide funding and combat enablers to the ANSF to help them kick Al Qaeda, Taliban and company butt. We can trust in the ANSF’s will and capacity to do this with our and other international help. ”
“Once the US government announced a timetable we lost.”
No we didn’t. Obama’s plan to cut the size of the ANSF by 35% even as ISAF is withdrawing and before the enemy is defeated has done orders of magnitude more damage than the announcement of the timeline for transitioning battle-space to the ANSF that was widely expected by all parties.
“That lone act destroyed much of the positive favor Americans had.”
No it does not. Along with that announcement Obama promised Afghanistan funding and combat enablers and special forces on Afghan soil until 2024. If this is explained, public opinion in America will change. Afghanistan no longer needs conventional US forces, only combat enablers for the ANSF.
The ANA now numbers 195 thousand (full authorized strength) and has improved in quality and capacity.
“The hope that a surge and reinforced efforts to train quality ANSF troops that would re-bound faded into dust.”
No it hasn’t. The ANSF have demonstrated significant improvement and progress. The problem currently is that no new ANSF units are planned. Most training camps are being shut. Which means that there are no new forces coming in to augment success and to expand the ink spots of stability around the country.
“For the past few years all that we have been doing is looking for a way out while our troops try not to get killed.”
Some ISAF countries are doing this. But many soldiers who are in Afghanistan right now are still fighting to win.
ANON, It’s not our responsiblity to fund AFG, period. I’m glad you have faith in AFG I don’t. But that’s ok. You may convince someone to pay, I won’t support it. Not until the US gets more in return. Thanks for you input though.
“I suppose we are talking to different people. I was last in Afghanistan in Feb. I was not encouraged. ”
Just read this line.
Could we talk offline by e-mail or phone?
I would be curious to learn which district(s) in which province you are referring to. As well as which ANA battalion or local ANP force you dealt with.
I keep a detailed database of the ANSF by battalion (and sometimes by company.) I would appreciate being able to add your open source experiences to the database.
Without knowing more about your specific experience, I would note that Afghanistan is extremely diverse. There are enormous variations in quality between different ANSF units and different ANSF officers.
For example, about 12 million Afghans live in the Northern 9 provinces. More than 35% of the population. The North only has 2% of all enemy initiated attacks in the country. The ANSF have security lead in most of the North, and the public is strongly anti Taliban, anti Al Qaeda. The Taliban in the North is in large part a foreign fighter and terrorism problem.
“Well-meaning military commanders and troops have tried over and over again to train and build a nation that will and can protect itself but find themselves frustrated over un-trustworthy ANA/ANP troops and a political system that refuses to work for the betterment of the entire country or hell even a district.”
Don’t agree with you on the ANSF build. When Obama was elected the entire ANP only had 1 thousand training seats. By contrast, Iraq in 2006 had 40,000 police training seats. Even though Iraq is less populous, smaller, less mountainous; even though Iraq faced a much weaker and less motivated enemy, and even though Iraq didn’t confront the Pakistani Army.
A few soldiers were training a small number of ANSF. But too few to make a difference in a country as large as Afghanistan facing a powerful internationally backed enemy.
Your comment regarding the Presidential palace has some merit.
My response to you would be not to fund the Presidential palace and only send aid to the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Education. Let Karzai lobby other countries to pay for his other departments and his presidential palace.
Even if you want to give aid outside MoI, MoD, and MoE; you can still bypass the Presidential palace. You can identify good governors, good subgovernors, and good national ministries. And only fund them. Cut off all aid to provinces, districts and national ministries you don’t like.
“Better training will not fix the mentality that is pervasive in Afghanistan.”
I believe is incorrect. The entire ANSF only trains 650 Afghans per year for more than 20 weeks in a country of 33 million people. These are the NMAA 4 year cadets. Their quality is substantially better than the rest of the ANSF. There are also 10,000 in the ANA Special Operations Forces Division. And a classified number of NDS. Their demonstrated performance in the field is better than the rest of the ANSF by more than an order of magnitude.
Major General Malouk’s 215th ANA Corps and Major General Abdul Khaliq’s 203rd ANA Corps are also relative success stories.
I recently received confirmation that the ANA were using their D30 artillery guns to provide indirect fire support to infantry troops.
No one locality represents all of Afghanistan.
“Better training will not fix the mentality that is pervasive in Afghanistan.”
My strongest argument against this statement is the fact that “better training” has not been tried. The reason the Iraqi Security Forces won their war was because they had 80,000 ISF training seats, and because they didn’t confront the deep state.
If Afghanistan had 80,000 training seats, the nation would rapidly change. Currently there are 50,000 training seats, although Obama is trying to reduce that number. The cost of 80,000 training seats is $1.2 billion per year. Would you rather spend $1.2 billion per year on training the ANSF or have WMD attacks on the American homeland?
“Over time this may change but it should be changed within and not from outside forces.”
The purpose of the UN mandated missions in Afghanistan, ISAF and UNAMA isn’t to change this. Even without changing this the ANSF can still defeat the Taliban, Al Qaeda and launch raids against camps inside Pakistan.
“You may go on talking up the great Afghan turn-around but I didn’t see it.”
Obama sabotaged the entire mission in early 2011, when he proposed slashing the ANSF by 35% from the current 352,000 to 227,000. This is what the Saudis, Pakistanis and Taliban were demanding all along. Possibly a precondition for serious negotiations and the Pakistani Army delivering Zawahiri, other Al Qaeda “leaders”, Mullah Omar and the Quetta Shura.
This has been roundly criticized by the Afghan press and Afghan political parties.
Obama did this without getting any publicly known concessions out of Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani Army, Taliban or Al Qaeda.
The ANSF haven’t ever had nearly the resources and help that the Iraqi Security Forces had in 2006. How can the ANSF succeed without resources?
The Afghan Air Force still has not light attack fixed wing turboprops. Which are dirt cheap to buy and operate.
By contrast the Soviets poured far more aid into the Afghan Army in the 1980s. Back then the ANSF had a capable air force with supersonic fighter bombers, a large number of helicopters, armor and APCs. The ANSF hasn’t recieved anything like that since 2001.
The Afghans put up with America’s weak ANSF policy until November, 2009, because they didn’t want to offend America. At America’s request, they turned down equipment donations and trainers from other countries.
The ANSF today doesn’t have nearly the resources the ANSF had back in the 1970s before the Soviet invasion. The ANA in the 1970s was larger than the current ANA, even though Afghanistan has a much larger population now, is no longer at peace, and is fighting a de facto proxy of two of the most powerful countries in the world.
Even with all the aid the ANSF has received, the Taliban still pay their officers and soldiers more than the ANSF can afford. Without international help, the Taliban would massively out gun and out spend the ANSF. Plus the Taliban have a lot of embedded international combat advisors, trainers, training camps, supply, transportation, intelligence, fire support and other combat enablers.
If they win, the risk of WMD attacks against the US would increase dramatically. There would also likely be a sharp increase in attacks against Shiite Iran, India, Russia and Europe.
Also consider the following. The US took OBL from one of the most important centers of the Pakistani Army. The equivalent of another country launching an SOF raid two blocks from the pentagon. The OBL raid nearly caused a nuclear response from the Pakistani Army.
Is it better that the US launches these types of attacks? Or is it better that Afghans launch these types of attacks, giving the US plausible deniability? Similar to how the US condemned Israel attacking Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program in 1981.
“I saw backstabbing, petty in-fighting amongst all Afghan officials”
True. To some degree most countries have this problem.
“ANA missions that leaked as soon as they were conceived”
True. They have been infiltrated by international intelligence agencies. Plus Afgans don’t understand the value of OPSEC. Taking the best officers and NCOs aside and giving them long term training would change that. It hasn’t happened yet.
“and known infiltrated ANP units left in place.” There is no alternative. There aren’t ANP training camps training new ANP to replace them. The number of ANP training camps has been cut from 31 to 13. If the ANP had training camps, they could wholesale disband defective units and replace them wholesale. To a large degree this is how the Iraqi Police were improved.
“Afghanistan is only one of many foreign policy issues we face as a country. ”
The challenges that America and the world confront in my opinion are:
-global economic growth (technological innovation and structural unemployment)
-global warming and other environmental challenges
-the US has to reduce the long term budget deficit, partly by slashing health care spending on the elderly, partly by cutting Social Security, partly raising taxes on everyone, partly by accelerating product development/technological innovation, partly by reducing structural unemployment, and partly by laying off more federal workers.
By far the greatest security challenge confronting all 7.1 billion of us comes from extreme militant islamist; mostly of the Takfiri orientation. The large majority of this threat comes from the deep state, Gulf extremists and their proxies. In many ways the Taliban is a veritable wing of the deep state.
Fortunately the world doesn’t confront that many other large threats. The threats from instability in China, Russia, Venezuela are far less dangerous than extreme militant islamists. As is the threat of global organized crime.
This enables us to focus or security spending on our greatest threat.
Spending $8 billion per year (or even $6.6 billion/year) on the ANSF is a very cheap way to improve global security, which would enable much larger cuts in the DoD, Homeland Security and CIA budgets.
The other national and global priorities are also very important. But is neglecting security worth a WMD attack in LA or another major US city?
“Afghans are free to take the lead”
They are taking the lead. Within weeks they will have sole security responsibility in 75% of Afghanistan.
“but let them lead with their own money.”
You have been there. You have seen how poor Afghanistan is. Without international help, the entire Afghan Government would generate less tax revenue than the Taliban (funded as they are by Gulf extremists and the deep state) spends trying to kill the ANSF.
How can the Afghans win as long as the Taliban, Al Qaeda and their many allies are backed by powerful foreign countries?
“If they find they have none left well perhaps they could check the bank accounts of their government officials and local power brokers in Dubai.”
Even with all this corruption, the cost of the entire 352 thousand ANSF today is the cost of keeping 6,600 American soldiers in Afghanistan for one year. Consider this corruption part of the cost of goods sold.
Many Afghans would say that ISAF and internationals cause most of this corruption by the way they spend money. When ISAF combat units leave, they will buy far fewer goods and services from the local Afghan economy, causing far less corruption.
After ISAF conventional forces leaves, the international community will have more leverage over the Afghans to reduce corruption that the international community has now. The Afghans can’t risk funding for their beloved ANSF being cut off.
“It’s not our responsiblity to fund AFG, period.
Agreed. Is it our responsibility to defend the American people from terrorism? What is the cheapest way to do that?
“I’m glad you have faith in AFG I don’t.”
I would appreciate being able to talk to you offline about this. Are you saying that you don’t think the 10,000 ANASOC Division can fight?
“You may convince someone to pay”
Maybe Romney if he wins. He doesn’t want a WMD attack on America on his watch. Paying for the ANSF is a lot cheaper than keeping even 10,000 Americans in Afghanistan.
“I won’t support it.”
$6.6 billion per year isn’t that much money. America has a $16,000 billion annual GDP. It is one two thousand five hundreth of America’s annual income. And it doesn’t cost American blood.
“Not until the US gets more in return.”
Why isn’t the ANA and NDS killing a lot of Al Qaeda, JeM, LeT, Haqqani militia fighters, TSNM, TTP, IJU, IMU, Harakat ul Mujahadeen, Peshawar Shura, enough for you? They hate America. They are trying to attack the American homeland.
“To pay for $8 billion/year, some strategic risk could be taken by marginally reducing armored, air and naval capacity. Cutting aid to Israel would fund $3 billion/year. Cutting aid to Egypt would net another $2 billion/year. $3 billion per year could be cut from other areas.”
Cutting aid to Israel? Our only true, proven ally in the region? Hmmmm, something smells very, very bad, Anan……..Shall we just give the key to Israel to Iran? My tax dollars could be used much better than propping up a bunch of warlord/druglords, up to and including Karzai, that are using us to further their own pursuit of money and power. Apparently you have a vested interest in the area that a majority of Americans don’t. When I think of our position in the world globally, Afghanistan’s position has greatly diminished for many, many reasons over the last 11 years.
“Cutting aid to Israel? Our only true, proven ally in the region?”
Israel is a very rich developed country. It has grown much faster than the US since 2008. Israel doesn’t need any American help. America’s closest allies–Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey–don’t accept US foreign aid. In fact they pay the US and partly fund US operations in their part of the world and in their own countries.
In addition, they actually help in international operations that benefit Americans. Japan, for example, pays the entire payroll for all 140 thousand Afghan Police. South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey all have troops in Afghanistan.
Why should US taxpayers give money to Israel? America doesn’t plan to give money to America’s other middle east allies, Turkey and Iraq.
Israel should also contribute to international operations in Haiti, Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. Israel should participate in international bailouts of Greece; and if necessary Spain.
No more free riding.
Please substitute Iran’s cruel absolute dictator “Khamenei” for Iran. Iran did not attack America on 9/11. Parts of the Pakistani and Saudi establishment did. Iran is the mortal enemy of Al Qaeda and Taliban linked networks, and rivals of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Iran and the US are natural allies. Soon the greens will eliminate “Khamenei” and operationalize this natural alliance.
“My tax dollars could be used much better than propping up a bunch of warlord/druglords, up to and including Karzai, that are using us to further their own pursuit of money and power.”
Who is advocating this? The Afghan National Army and Major General Karim’s ANA Training command (pronounced “Aana-TECH”) are not “a bunch of warlord/druglord”. America’s enemies are killing 220 ANSF a month. Would it hurt to show America’s allies some respect?
Karzai is constitutionally required to retire in 2014 at the end of two full terms. Supporting the Afghan MoI, MoD, and education ministries will not help Karzai after 2014.
“Apparently you have a vested interest in the area that a majority of Americans don’t.”
So anyone who thinks that going after the people who attacked America on 9/11 and who are still trying to hit the US homeland with WMDs “have a vested interest in the area that a majority of Americans don’t.”?
What has changed since 9/12/2001?
“When I think of our position in the world globally, Afghanistan’s position has greatly diminished for many, many reasons over the last 11 years.”
Please elaborate? By far the largest security threat the US confronts comes from Takfiri Al Qaeda linked extremists. We should celebrate the fact that we suffer less non Al Qaeda linked security threats now than anytime since the 1800s.
Perhaps you mean that the US economy is a much smaller percentage of global GDP than was the case in 1945. What does Afghanistan have to do with that? The reason for slow US economic growth is because of sluggish product development. Product development drives economic growth and living standards over time.
Perhaps we are talking pas each other. Afghanistan by itself has little strategic interest to anyone outside of Afghanistan. The reason almost every non Afghan cares about Afghanistan is because it is adjacent to Pakistan. The headquarters (along with the Gulf) of global extremism and threats to global security.
Direct action against Pakistan hasn’t happened because they have several hundred nuclear weapons. The real reason why non Afghans should support the ANSF is because the ANSF can and will do what the rest of us cannot and will not.
The ANSF can launch its own operations inside Pakistan against AQ linked targets, giving Afghanistan’s allies (including the US) some plausible deniability.
Supporting the ANSF is an indirect way to affect Pakistan. That is why they should be supported.