Concerning that Robust Afghan National Security Force

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 2 months ago

Joshua Foust has given us a rundown of what he sees as contradictions in Andrew Exum’s prose concerning Afghanistan.  Particularly salient is one specific paragraph that Andrew uttered.

Nowhere that I went was I able to get a really coherent definition of what it means to hold and what it means to build, and how you do that. And I don’t think we’ve cracked the nut operationally on how we do those things. So first off, I think there’s some confusion as far as what that means. Second off, without question, we do not have the resources to hold much terrain in Afghanistan. We’ve got very limited international forces in Afghanistan, and we’re actually not using them to their best effect if we’ve got them “holding.” So if the Marines in Helmand are holding terrain right now, that’s a waste of resources. The “hold” function should be executed by a robust Afghan national security force.

Oh Good Lord! After admitting that the campaign is under-resourced, he claims that the Marines are wasting resources by holding Helmand.  The Marines, according to Andrew, should turn over to a “robust Afghan national security force.”

Do tell?  So which robust Afghan National Security Force are we discussing, Andrew?  Would it be those Afghan National Police?

Afghan villagers had complained to the U.S. Marines for days: The police are the problem, not the Taliban. They steal from villagers and beat them. Days later, the Marines learned firsthand what the villagers meant.

As about 150 Marines and Afghan soldiers approached the police headquarters in the Helmand River town of Aynak, the police fired four gunshots at the combined force. No larger fight broke out, but once inside the headquarters the Marines found a raggedy force in a decrepit mud-brick compound that the police used as an open-pit toilet.

The meeting was tense. Some police were smoking pot. Others loaded their guns in a threatening manner near the Marines.  The U.S. troops ousted the police two days later and installed a better trained force they had brought with them on their recently launched operation into southern Helmand. The original force was sent away for several weeks of training the U.S. is conducting across Afghanistan to professionalize the country’s police.

And more data:

“The police are just worthless,” fumed Fulat Khan, 20, when Haight said his troops were backing up the local cops. “Anytime there is a fight in the community, the police just laugh and watch it. We need an organization or a number we can call so somebody can come here and help us.”

No?  Or maybe Andrew is referring to that 85% of the Afghan National Army that would be lost if they implemented drug testing.  No?  Maybe he is referring to that ANA that actually colluded with the Taliban to kill U.S. troops at the Battle of Bari Alai?

No?  Pray tell, Exum.  Where do we get these robust Afghan National Security Forces?  Do we wave a magic wand of strategic words from CNAS and make them appear out of thin air?  If Mr. Obama wants them to exist badly enough, does it make it so?

Exum embarrasses himself by presuming to tell the Marine Corps that they are wasting resources or anything else (as if the USMC cannot figure out how to spend their time).  He is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, and despite Exum’s stolid miscalculations, the Marines must hold Helmand.



  • BruceR

    According to that Reese memo yesterday, it’s no better in Iraq, after five years of trying. (Maybe our standards are too high?)

    By the way, I spent a little while with the ANA, too. And, with respect, you’re reading a little too much into single-source accounts. Drug usage was nowhere near the problem with our guys that the one soldier quoted by the Guardian makes it out to be with his. Re Bari Alai, yes, 3 Afghan soldiers dead and 9 captured, with the prisoners being well-treated by their captors, is something worthy of investigation, sure, but it’s hardly certain proof of collusion. For our part, we never had a problem with an OpSec violation with our ANA that would suggest those kinds of divided loyalties.

    All the other problems Reese and the Guardian videographer document? Sure, had them all in droves. There’s a lot wrong with the ANSF.

    http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    I consider it a telling statistic that at Wanat, nine U.S. Soldiers perished, while no ANA did. That’s an indication of who can be relied upon.

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  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » C. J. Chivers on the Afghan National Army


You are currently reading "Concerning that Robust Afghan National Security Force", entry #3482 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Abu Muqawama,Afghan National Army,Afghan National Police,Afghanistan,Marines in Helmand and was published July 30th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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