January 07, 2010

Some gems from FRI

Tim from FRI on the ANA:

"Of course nobody in Afghanistan or any place else on planet earth believes we will start to pull out in 18 months but that is not the point. Afghans currently populating positions of power have paid hefty sums to be appointed to those positions and are insisting on getting a good return on their investments before the gravy train leaves the station. My military friends have seen the same thing as they fight endless battles on the Niper net to get the food allowances and other petty cash paid to their Afghan Army soldiers without getting the Afghan senior officers they mentor fired for bringing the problem up in the first place. It is most depressing and leaves little for me to write about as I cannot blog on specifics which were told to me in confidence."

Also here:

"The Army has started changing up their operations by embedding the Afghan Army inside there combat brigades. They take care of the logistics. commodities and personal administration but the price is that all patrols are joint and done under US force protection rules. The effective administration of things like pay and leave may help reduce ANA attrition. But if you mandate that every squad which goes out has with it a four MRAP, 16 man American equivalent and that the patrol only go where the MRAPís can go and that the patrol be cleared with multiple correctly formatted PowerPoint briefs then your tempo of operations plummets."

Too true. More good observations at both links.

Posted by BruceR at 10:51 AM

Other random Afghan report-based observations

The U.S. high command is apparently disappointed at Gen. Flynn's report on intelligence, referenced in two posts here yesterday. I agree with Blake Hounshell's observation that it's unlikely a serving officer would put out such a critical report under CNAS letterhead unless and until he's entirely dissatisfied with the possibility of working the changes the way he wants within his chain of command... and this is the senior int guy for the whole war we're talking about here. At least the McChrystal and Eikenberry leaks looked like leaks. This is a shot across someone's bow. (Indeed, the report's preface says exactly that: "Some of what is presented here reinforces existing top-level orders that are being acted on too slowly. Other initiatives in this paper are new, requiring a shift in emphasis and a departure from the comfort zone of many in the intelligence community.") See also Judah Grunstein.

Meanwhile in December there was yet another U.S. military report critical of the ANA leaked to the press. The leaked document itself has not yet surfaced that I'm aware of, but the highlights according to NBC are (all reportedly actual quotes from the report in question):

"Many ANA leaders work short days..."

Yep.

"...are often absent..."

Yep.

"...place personal gain above national survival..."

No question.

"Corruption, nepotism and untrained, unmotivated personnel make success all but impossible."

I'd like to read the whole paragraph there, and know what date that observation was made, but it's not exactly crazy talk, surely.

"...mentally, physically unfit and drug addicts hurt units..."

True. As reported here before, the days of Afghan soldiers being expected to behave like hopped-up mountain goats are in the past.

"Estimate for soldiers actually in battalions far below reported...between 40 and 50 percent in some areas."

I've said as much, several times.

"The ANA above company level is not at war."

Said that too.

Posted by BruceR at 12:09 AM