Afghanistan links

In the past ten months there has been measured progress in the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF); in quality as well as quantity. Since last November, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan has supported the Afghan Ministries of Interior and Defense to recruit, train and assign over 100,000 soldiers and police, an incredible feat. To achieve this, the training capacity was increased, moving from under 10,000 seats for police training alone to almost 15,000.

William Caldwell (Small Wars Journal)

The NGO community in Afghanistan has grown into an industry where a large part of aid budgets is spent on security, and money gets frittered away on pointless projects. Afghans are becoming increasingly skeptical about the foreign organizations that are supposed to be rebuilding their country.

Der Spiegel (via RealClearWorld)

Petraeus: Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the other day that if the Taliban think that we’ll have a large number of American forces leaving in July 2011, they are to be sorely disappointed. July 2011 will mark the beginning of a process, as President Obama announced it, of transitioning tasks to Afghan forces at a pace that is based on conditions on the ground. There will be a process that we call a responsible draw-down of forces which, in my view, is a fairly sensible approach.

Der Spiegel (via RealclearWorld)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A singer from “Afghan Star” — our equivalent of “American Idol” — along with dozens of conservative scholars, members of Afghan civil society, hundreds of ex-warlords, former Taliban commanders, old K.G.B.-trained Afghan spies, an amateur comedian, medical doctors, athletes, a couple of young Western-educated Afghans and hundreds of other unknown faces are among those running in the Afghan parliamentary elections.

NYT’s At War blog

Abdullah Abdullah was Ahmad Wali Massoud’s protege, but there’s always been a problem with Abdullah, as the following report indicates. Is Amrullah Saleh the solution to the problem? We’ll soon find out.


10 thoughts on “Afghanistan links”

  1. There is something chilling about Americans training a 15K-strong “police force” under the assumption their newly acquired skills will be used in support of the state. When push comes to shove these trainees, with their newly acquired skills, are more likely to devote fealty to their tribe before a national government. Could be we’re making deals with the wrong Afghanis.

    Our efforts in Afghanistan are probably misguided and counter-intuitive—they have no positive view of national governance, nor any inclination towards same. I pray for our troops—as I did when GWB was their CINC—our policy is wrong-headed.

  2. I don’t see how the “nation building” approach can work there as there has never been any of the elements of a civil society. During the “Golden Age” of Afghanistan, the country consisted of Kabul with the rest of it tribal and untouched by civilization.

    My second problem is Pakistan which makes the situation impossible. I wish good luck to the troops serving there and follow the war with Michael Yon now that he was finally allowed back. The story of his expulsion is one of the reasons for my pessimism. I wrote a little bit about it on my blog last spring when he was expelled. Now, he is back and more real news may begin to flow. I hope it’s better.

  3. So much for the “constructive” approach to transforming/ modernizing terrorist territories for our security and their own welfare.

    Perhaps the completely sad lesson learned is that our most effective and affordable option post any terrorist event is to engage in harsh, punitive, decisive military reaction against sanctuary states and to promise worse punishment upon further atrocity.

    Problem is, as Bush knew all too well, the US would become the “terrorist” state committing “atrocity,” for the BBC and all civilized peoples know that innocent populations shouldn’t be held accountable for the actions of a few criminals who could be apprehended via Interpol and that any such “disproportionate response” on our part would indubiably lead to further bad acts on the part of “freedom fighters” who dislike American foreign policy dating back to the Crusades.

    Plus, we wouldn’t want the UN to denounce us or the sometimes well-intended but always self-perpetuating and funds-guzzling corrupted politicized NGOs to condemn us.

    I, for one, am glad we tried the more “humane” approach with the idea that our expenditure of blood and treasury would protect the US by rooting out the worst elements, bringing pressure to bear on surrounding hostile states, and introducing some light and functionality into extremist corners of the world as benighted culture meets the western GI, businessman, engineer and contractor.

    Don’t know if this is what you’re suggesting with this post, but I’d agree it’s probably time to pull way back with protected hard assets and humint in arena and go the “You’ll hurt worse than we do, if…” route.

    The Afghani Congress looks only marginally worse than ours, at the moment.

  4. J. Scott – I think that you’ve misread the capacity. It’s not a 15k force, it’s 15k of seats in police training per month. So let’s say you’ve got a classroom with 10 trainees and you’re teaching them how to properly gather evidence so that justice can be more than who pays the highest bribes. And let’s say that tribal loyalties are going to pull 7 out of 10 of those people into tribal militia after they’ve learned this and all the other techniques of civilized policing. You end up with 3 policemen, very expensively trained but what have the tribes gained? They don’t use proper evidentiary procedure. They don’t muss about with natural rights, and all the rest of the training. Their computerization and attention to procedure is singularly lacking. So what do the 7 tribesman take back to their various tribal factions?

    Other than a bit of firearms training, the only way the tribes are going to take advantage of police training is by using civilized police procedures themselves. And if they do that, then it’s just fine. We don’t care who sits in Kabul and runs the country so long as they are civilized and keep their crazies controlled internally.

    Creating sub-factions who believe in civilized police methods inside the tribal factions trying to take down Karzai is a net plus for the US and the rest of the civilized world. The worst situation for nation building is when you have an “indespensible man” in an otherwise barren political class. You’ll never get a free, independent society out of that.

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    @ The Royal Hector: I put up a series of links that I thought would be interesting. I honestly don’t know about Afghanistan. I’m worried about how the Karzai government will function once we draw down and about the support given the Afghan Taliban/Talibans by Pakistan and Iran, etc. Where will the money come from in the future to meet payroll for the Afghanistan Army and National Police? I mean, besides foreign aid?

    But I’ve never been in the military and never been to Afghanistan. I tried to include a few more “positive” links to counteract the more skeptical ones.

    Who knows? It may be that we will muddle through to something less than perfect, but durable, and as we do so, the Chinese and Indians will continue to develop the economics side of the equation.

    Americans are great “muddlers” and people sometimes forget that.

    *I don’t get some of the non-stop foreign policy “apologias” by this administration. Sometimes it seems as if we play right into the information loop of our enemies or something. Frustrating.

    – Madhu

  6. Onparkstreet, “muddling” is an apt term. Fortunately, it can be good enough in many situations. As far as those issues of less than stellar efficiency in the Army command structure go, brought up at Small Wars Journal, sure looks like a breakdown in disciplined strategic focus with mid-level careerism run amok. You’d think two hot wars would winnow out more of these mediocre types.

    Re Afghanistan, have we averted some additional terror events that would’ve been staged from there and laid the foundation for *some* rebuilding of the country into more of a nation-state with which we can deal? Perhaps. You make a good point about the possibility of Indian and Chinese commercial engagement helping to build up civil society, but your skepticism over local will and means being sufficient to sustain “the program” puts the donkey before the cart (and cart bomb.) Most of us look at more modern, radicalized and struggling Pakistan and wonder what’s the use. In both countries, the worst elements we’ve been rooting out, terrorists and corrupt officials (at least the ones we can’t work with), keep growing back like the insidious bamboo I keep hacking and digging up out back. I think I’m gonna win, tho’… eventually ;) Even if we pull out soon and Afghanistan appears to revert to mid last millenium, our mil and intel forces will still have language, contacts, local knowledge, COIN skills, on-the-ground assets, etc.

    Maybe after laying the groundwork this time, the next time we won’t go the major mobilization/ muddy boots war and nation-building route in dealing with terrorism after the fact, just brutally punishing. Meanwhile, aren’t there hints we’re dealing with the Iranian nuclear menace in a less confrontational way, employing cyber backdoor and other sabotage? Also, the left-reactionary proscription of black ops and targeted assassination doesn’t seem to be as politically constraining, anymore, at least for a Dem admin. Could be our post-Soviet “end of history” complacency and prissy sensibilities are being rolled back as we get more serious about national security. Overseas, however, is one thing, seems more problematic stateside.

  7. You make a good point about the possibility of Indian and Chinese commercial engagement helping to build up civil society, but your skepticism over local will and means being sufficient to sustain “the program” puts the donkey before the cart (and cart bomb.) – The Royal Hector

    You make a good point, too. I’m going to have to think about that a bit more….

    *I’ve updated the post to reflect a change in the “byline” of the piece at SWJ. It originally said the post was by “frontier 6.” It has been updated to William Caldwell. (Which you could have figured out from the original post by scrolling down to the end of the article.)

    **The following articles might be of interest to some of our readers:

    – Madhu

    (edit: by “of interest,” I don’t necessarily mean “agree with.” At least one of those articles drives me a little batty :) )

Comments are closed.