Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

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Gates declares Afghan war strategy is working

 Now it’s all good in Afghanistan.  The strategy is working.  The  goal to hand over the keys to the Afghans in 2014 can be met.  The security climate is improving while Regional Command-East, South, and South-west remain in a constant kinetic posture.  And you can eat chicken in Marja!

Taliban Bombs Hit New High; 1500 in November Alone

Good data provided by the Danger Room on IED’s.  Sadly, a new record was set this past month of November in Afghanistan when more than 1,500 new IED’s were constructed and emplaced.  However, somehow there is good news in all of this because the majority of IED strikes were less lethal and produced lower casualties.  I thought the idea behind COIN was to win the support of the populace by securing them.  If the numbers of IED strikes are a metric to gauge the intensity of an insurgency, and this number continues to increase over time (and set new monthly total records), then where is the good news in the fact that November’s IED totals set a new record?  Obviously we will always take comfort in the efforts to improve survivability and detection, as well as having less casualties, but really, this fact is not good news nor does it shed a good light on how effective or successful US/NATO COIN operations are.

Final note, why do General Officers who fail in their missions (i.e. defeat IED’s) get promoted and assume additional responsibilities?  Where is the accountability?

Handover to Afghan troops will start in few months

A lot happens when the Secretary of Defense visits the battlefield.  Miraculous progress is suddenly noted.  Karzai is suddenly a good guy because he stood stoic during the recent Wiki-imbroglio.  IED strike totals are up, but it doesn’t matter because no one is getting hurt.  And so on and so on…  Now we hear that Nawa district in Helmand Province is “our most advanced district” and will be the first point of security transition from U.S. to Afghan troops “in a few months.”  Well like the First Sergeant used to say “the checks in the mail; there will be trucks on the drop zone; we will be serving Hot-A’s after this mission” and so on and so on…anything to motivate the troops and keep the press happy. 

U.S. soldier dies of wounds in Wassit

Lest we forget that there are 50,000 troops deployed to Iraq still under fire.  This week a soldier assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team, north of Kut was gunned down by a sniper and died of his wounds.  The grind continues.

Petraeus’ negative tone at odds with Obama’s optimism

The overall commander on the ground in Afghanistan is saying one thing on the lack of overall progress of the war, while the commander-in-chief and Pentagon officials trumpet a “more optimistic message”.  But the tactical and operational commanders on the ground are telling the blunt truth on the situation.  Grunts don’t like mixed messages, which is what they are getting.  Grunts especially don’t like when senior commanders hedge when they say, “no commander ever is going to come out and say, I’m confident that we can do this…I don’t think there are any sure things in this kind of endeavor”, which is what General Petraeus told ABC News this week.  What grunts do appreciate is when tactical and operational commanders are forthright, like Major General John Campbell who realizes the futility of their “endeavors”.   He is candid when he states that while his troops were making progress, “a lot of the reason we get attacked is because we’re up here.” “People don’t want us up there, but they don’t want the Taliban either,” he said. “They want to be left alone.”  He added that the region was vast and that his forces could not be everywhere. “We can’t be in every single valley; I mean there’s thousands of them out there, we just can’t do it,” he said.

Video thought to show American held in Afghanistan

In the din and bustle of the daily news stream that flows out of Afghanistan, we cannot forget that there is an American missing in action, and hopefully this recent and new video of Specialist Bowe Bergdahl is proof that he remains a Taliban captive.

Afghanistan war: why IEDs are taking a mounting toll

Why are we are losing the IED fight in Afghanistan?  Basically, very little to no local population support.  When you read the Christian Science Monitor report, keep in mind that in a July USA Today interview Lieutenant General Oates, Director of JIEDDO informed that the public that by the end of this year there will be a drop in IED’s.

General sees IED drop by year’s end

A drop.  That’s right, a drop by the end of December 2010.  Well actually, there has been a categorical increase.  Oates blames an Taliban surge.  Simply clueless.  Period. And regardless of the rudimentary technology and methods employed, IED’s remain the number one killer on the battlefield.  I wonder if IED data will be used as a metric to gauge the progress of the war during the ongoing Afghanistan war strategy review.

Troops Re-doubling Advise, Assist Efforts in Iraq

Lest we forget the grind continues in Iraq for our 50,000 troops still deployed.  Here is an update on the ongoing plan to “assist and advise” while troops transition to an Iraqi and State Department lead.   Oh, and morale remains “high”.

War’s Progress Measured By Commanders In Afghanistan

Two points of interest in this interview with Major General John Campbell, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division and Regional Command East – Afghanistan:

[The interview is timed at 7 minutes, 48 seconds; the points of interest are at 5:38 and 6:15 respectively]

5:35 of 7:48  “Cricket?” “Roger that Sir…and we suck sir…” (A young captain’s remark to General Campbell on his units attempt to bridge the cultural Afghan gap and play cricket with the locals) and;

6:15 of 7:48 General Campbell’s view on the likely adjustments and troop dispositions (i.e. refocusing where the 101st can protect the populace) and the withdrawal of forces from the Pech River Valley [vicinity of Korengal Valley].

Infantry automatic rifle is Afghan-bound

Designated Marine Corps units will be issued the new M27 infantry automatic rifle which fires a 5.56mm round from a 30 round magazine.  The M249 SAW may see its final days if the M27 performs as advertised.  Problem is, it’s tough to go “automatic” at the cyclic rate when you have to change magazines every 30 rounds.  Kind of defeats the purpose of establishing fire superiority, and if the plan goes forward there will be less light machine guns in a rifle company limiting tactical options.  Go figure.

For Invaders, A Well-Worn Path Out Of Afghanistan

National Public Radio has posted a handy online report of Afghanistan for reference.

Key highlights:

  • Many observers remain pessimistic about the administration strategy. History does not offer encouragement. What do the armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British Empire, the Soviet Union and now the United States all have in common? They all shed blood and tears in the indomitable mountains of Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan became a “bleeding wound” for the Soviets, as President Mikhail Gorbachev said in 1986. He decided to pull his country’s troops out, a process that took another three years. “All foreign forces invading must learn it’s easy to enter Afghanistan,” Seraj says. “It’s very difficult to leave Afghanistan.”
  • Population: 28.4 million; Religion: 80% Sunni Muslim, 19% Shiite Muslim, 1% other; Literacy: 43% male, 12% female; GDP per capita: $800; Population 14 and under: 44%; Population 65 and older: 2.4%; Life expectancy: 44.7 years
  • Karzai has proven to be a problematic ally for the U.S., with his administration widely accused of corruption and mismanagement. Karzai, in turn, has criticized U.S. strategy and methods with increasing frequency in recent months. Diplomats who have encountered him and others who know him say Karzai has a conspiratorial streak, can be emotional and lashes out when he feels he is being criticized.
  • A year ago, President Obama announced a new strategy for Afghanistan, committing 30,000 additional troops to the effort. Those were on top of a 21,000-troop increase he’d announced shortly after taking office, bringing total U.S. force levels above 100,000.Obama’s strategy calls for the beginning of troop withdrawals in July 2011. In recent weeks, the administration said it will maintain a major military presence in Afghanistan until 2014 — more than a dozen years after the initial invasion.
  • Obama and his generals are arguing that the more engaged and aggressive strategy put in place a year ago needs more time to succeed. In recent weeks, the administration has laid out a new timetable, which calls for a continuing Western military presence in Afghanistan until 2014. In an interview with ABC on Monday (12/6/10), Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in Afghanistan, refused to say that he is “confident” that the Afghan army will be prepared to take over control by 2014.
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