July 09, 2009

Palin continued: Washington, Schmashington

Now she's George Washington. What is this fixation with comparing Sarah Palin to military leaders?

Anyway, as is well documented, in 1754 Washington had just been released from French detention after surrendering Fort Necessity to them in the first clash of the French and Indian War. When he returned home, he was told he would be demoted 2 ranks to captain due to the governor's militia restructuring, and so did resign briefly. As the war in the central colonies wound down he would resign again in 1758, semi-permanently, after it was clear the British were not going to give him a commission in their regular army despite his distinguished service through 4 more years of continuous frontier fighting.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, heard a nasty joke about her daughter.

(Previous posts on Palin as Jackson, and as MacArthur.)

Posted by BruceR at 06:24 PM

DOD June report, part 3


CSTC-A has requested $589 million in supplemental funds in order to build the first eight kandaks of the new force structure in FY 2009. Because of the limited amount of equipment immediately available for accelerated fielding, these kandaks will initially receive only 40 percent of the standard infantry kandak transport capabilities. The new kandaks will be used to provide security along the Ring Road.

One could be excused for wondering whether forces who only have trucks for 40% of their personnel are going to be very successful when assigned a primary task of road patrol. But, TIA.

The previous 1230 Report, from January, is here, in case you're curious, and says many of the same things about security, current ANSF weakness, and shortages of Western mentor teams.

UPDATE, July 10: The new 1230 Report (the biannual report by the U.S. Department of Defense to Congress on Afghanistan) linked in this and the two posts below was briefly pulled from the DOD site yesterday, after initially being put up on July 8, and has been now replaced with a new PDF version. No significant changes, at least to the sections I was excerpting, so after briefly pulling these posts overnight until it was clear what was going on here, they're now going back up with the correct link.

Posted by BruceR at 12:18 PM

DOD June report, part 2

More from the June 8 DOD report to Congress on Afghanistan:

If provided the necessary resources, the Afghan National Army (ANA) will reach its currently-authorized end-strength of 134,000 personnel by December 2011. As part of this acceleration plan, eight infantry kandaks (battalions) are being fielded in 2009 as security force kandaks. Shortages of training personnel
for the ANA persist. The United States has fielded 1,665 of the 3,313 personnel required for Embedded Training Teams for ANA. Fifty-two ISAF Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams provide the equivalent of another 799 personnel.

Canada provides something over 100 of those 799. Note that the current mentoring shortfall (849 personnel) is larger than the entire NATO/ISAF contribution. Put another way:

NATO has committed to providing 103 OMLTs by the time the ANA reaches 134,000 personnel in 2011. As of April 2009, there were a total of 53 OMLTs out of the current requirement of 65 OMLTs.

Canada currently provides ~6 of those 53 teams, which under current policy will be leaving with the rest of Canada's forces in 2011, at the same time NATO is trying to find 50 more on top of that. More on the security force kandaks in the next post.

Posted by BruceR at 12:03 PM

New DOD report to Congress on Afstan

Link to the June "1230" report here. Of note:

Military deaths, including international and Afghan security forces personnel, increased by 68 percent [over last winter]. The increased level of violence outside of the usual “fighting season” was due in part to an ISAF decision to deny insurgents respite and to aggressively pursue them in their winter enclaves.
Unseasonably warm conditions also facilitated higher levels of insurgent activity during the late winter and early spring.

Interesting how the increased tempo is attributed to intent on the West's part, and exogenous factors (weather) on the insurgents' part. I'd respectfully suggest we may not be the only ones here who have intentions, plans, etc.

Agreed, there was no "winter lull" that I saw. The milder weather was a factor, but intentions on both sides were the real driver, I would suggest. All the indications so far are this summer is going to be more kinetic than last, as well. Both sides are able and aiming to consistently generate significantly greater kinetic effects than they could even a year ago. Because this is primarily IED-based on the insurgents' part, most of it is will continue to be causally related to the steady increase in the "attack surface", to use a virus-fighter's term, both because of our decision to push into places they've been unmolested in before -- like South Helmand --and the insurgents' parallel intent to also broaden their front geographically out of the south, as well, to places like Kunduz, rather than any new tactical approach on their part in more established areas (in other words, they're probably not going to reinforce Zhari District, they're going to leave Zhari perking along the way it is and put any extra resources somewhere else, same as we are doing). As with us, the steady increase in capability is primarily being used to expand their target set in this regard.

The good news there is that we're getting much better at neutralizing IEDs and killing the IED-layers, so while it's true one might reasonably expect to see increased attacks this summer, a reasonable forecast would be that we'll see only comparable levels of Western and ANA casualties to the year before, at least when looked at on a country-wide basis. That means the insurgents are having to work harder to achieve the same direct military effect in some ways. That's not the only metric either side cares about, of course, but it's not nothing if you're deployed there, either. More in the next post.

Posted by BruceR at 11:58 AM