The Administration Implementation Of The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Herschel Smith · 29 Jun 2014 · 39 Comments

The setup for this has been occurring for quite a while.  The collectivists on the right have helped the leftists gain strength, but the rate and fury of activity that has been consequential in destabilizing the United States has increased almost beyond comprehension. The long term evolution of America to a position where such a strategy might stand a greater chance of success began long ago with the move towards urbanization.  The flight from rural America was helped along with family…… [read more]

Maliki Turns Towards Iran: Will We Yet Lose in Iraq?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

I have been following the political machinations in Iraq, and warning against a government ruled by Maliki.  Amir Taheri outlines the sheer magnitude of trouble brewing in Iraq as a result of Iran’s influence.

Last week, he (Maliki) concluded an accord with the Sadrist bloc — whose leader, firebrand mullah Muqtada Sadr, has been living in the Iranian holy city of Qom since 2008. The two men pretend to have forgotten, if not forgiven, the bloody battle for Basra that broke Sadr’s Mahdi Army (trained and led by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard).

To clinch the deal, Maliki has dropped his “Iraq first” rhetoric in favor of a pan-Shiite approach. He has agreed to stop legal proceedings against the fugitive mullah, who’s wanted in Najaf on a charge of murder. Maliki even has dropped hints that the remnants of the Mahdi Army, which fled to Iran, would be allowed to return with impunity.

Yet the Sadrists demand more: key posts, such as ministers for oil, the interior, defence and education. If they succeed, the key policies of Iraq’s government could be made in Tehran.

Tehran helped the deal by ordering its oldest Shiite clients, the so-called Supreme Islamic Assembly of Iraq (and its armed wing, the Badr Brigades), to back Maliki. Another Iran-sponsored Shiite group, under ex-Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, has also thrown the little weight it has behind Maliki.

Even then, the math doesn’t work. Maliki’s bloc, The State of Law, won 89 seats in the 325-seat National Assembly. Adding the Sadrists, the Badrists and the Jaafarists yields 156 — still seven short of a majority. But Maliki’s advisers claim that he can seduce enough independents to secure a bare majority.

Forming such a government would be bad for Iraq and the region — and for Maliki’s place in history. It would be based on less than 40 percent of the votes in the election. And more than 90 percent of those votes came from only nine out of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

An estimated 30 percent of Shiites didn’t vote for the four parties in the proposed coalition. In five provinces, the coalition parties didn’t draw even 1 percent.

No government in Baghdad would be able to run Iraq without the support of the secular bloc of Sunnis and Shiites led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, which came first with 91 seats. And any new government must also win over the Kurds, some 20 percent of the population.

The three Kurdish parties, with 60 seats, could give Maliki a strong majority. But their price is too steep. They want a third of the Cabinet and insist that no key decision be taken without their approval.

They also want a free hand to exploit oil resources in their three autonomous provinces — and to annex oil-rich Kirkuk, where Kurds are 40 percent of the population.

There is a host of problems associated with the current U.S. engagement in Iraq, not least of which is the highly restrictive Status of Forces Agreement which has Soldier’s under virtual house arrest, unable to do anything without Iraqi permission.  The tactical capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces is still highly questionable, and in one recent engagement called the Battle of Palm Grove, the ISF couldn’t handle even the basics of small unit fire and maneuver warfare.

But even within the current framework, there are still missteps by the administration that are making the problem far worse.  Continuing with Taheri’s assessment:

Maliki’s advisers tell me that he decided to turn to pro-Tehran groups because he believes the Obama administration has no overarching strategy in the Middle East, let alone in Iraq. By constantly apologizing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and talking of leaving Iraq (and the region), President Obama risks reducing the United States to irrelevance in a complex power game that could decide the future of the Middle East.

Vice President Joe Biden’s public appeal to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to intervene in the formation of a new government showed the administration’s failure to understand the desire of most Iraqis, including Maliki’s supporters, to keep the mullahs out of politics — a desire shared by Sistani himself.

Maliki’s ability to hang on is not limitless. By the end of this year, as the term of the annual budget ends, his government could run out of money. His accord with the Sadrists suggests that he’ll announce a new government before then. Such a government, however, might prove unstable, making a political crisis, leading to fresh general elections, a possibility.

The Obama administration appears to have no plans to deal with the situation — even though, for all the talk of leaving, America still has 55,000 troops and perhaps as many civilian workers in Iraq.

Desperate to secure a government in Iraq – any government – the U.S. administration has done exactly the opposite of what is needed, and continues to send exactly the wrong message.  China continues to violate the trade embargo with Iran, weapons are still being interdicted from Iran on their way to fighters in Afghanistan, and the administration continues to pretend that diplomacy is accomplishing forward progress with Persia.

Maliki knows better, and he is laying his bets on Tehran to prevail.  It is estimated that fully one quarter of U.S. deaths in Iraq were at the hands of Iranian fighters.  Even more came from Iranian-backed fighters.  Their ghosts demand justice, but instead find that the U.S. and Iran may even be colluding to invoke power sharing in Iraq.

And thus this administration may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Jake Tapper Signs Book Deal on COP Keating

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

In a bit of a surprise, Jake Tapper has inked a deal to author a book on the battle at Kamdesh, in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan.

Little, Brown and Company is announcing a book deal with Jake Tapper, ABC News Senior White House Correspondent.

In “Enemy In the Wire,” Tapper will tell the story of U.S. troops’ deadliest battle in Afghanistan last year. At dawn on Oct. 3, 2009, the 54 U.S. soldiers at Combat Outpost Keating in northeast Afghanistan — tucked in a vulnerable valley surrounded by three heavily forested mountains near the Pakistan border — were attacked by 300 to 400 Taliban, some of whom had managed to get inside the camp – “in the wire.”

After more than 18 hours of fighting, with eight American troops killed, the men of COP Keating managed to beat back the enemy.

Tapper, 41, will tell the story of the battle; detail the soldiers’ heroism and valiant service under fire; tell their stories and those of their loved ones; and describe the history of the camp within the context of the larger mission in Afghanistan.

The book should be out toward the end of 2011, and Tapper plans to go to Afghanistan.

“I first heard the gripping story on ABC News and just couldn’t stop thinking about it,” he told POLITICO.

“What’s it like to be under attack and so vastly out-numbered? Why was the camp there to begin with? How did the troops defeat the Taliban? Who were these men — what are their stories? The more I read and watched on the news, the more I wanted to know. On another level, as someone who has covered the Afghanistan debate from the White House North Lawn, I wanted to see it from the perspectives of those on the front lines.”

Having such little history in this line of reporting and analysis, it should be interesting to see how Tapper handles this.  But there is really no reason that he shouldn’t have the freedom and support to enter military journalism with such a interesting and storied battle.  I expect a good product from Jake.  Welcome to the community.

However, with the attention and thought I have given to the battle at COP Keating, Jake should make sure to send me a pre-publication version of the book for review.  And as reviewer for the book, it makes sense for me to go to Afghanistan with him.

Also, I think it’s important that Jake place this battle within the larger context of previous engagements such as at Wanat, where there was similar massing of enemy forces.

Investigating the Battle of Derapat

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

The diggers were involved in a significant engagement in the Oruzgan Province on August 24th.  The diggers were apparently let down by intelligence and restrictive rules of engagement, but as expected, there is push-back by the Australian Army brass.

An email from a soldier who criticised the army over a deadly battle will be part of an investigation, Defence Minister Stephen Smith says.

Digger Jared MacKinney died in the battle on August 24.

Another soldier who cannot be named told a friend in an email that it was a miracle that more Australians didn’t die in the battle.

“The army has let us down mate and I am disgusted,” he said.

Mr Smith told reporters after visiting HMAS Stirling south of Perth that force protection was a “serious matter” for the army and the government.

“The views of soldiers on the ground has always been taken into account so far as force protection measures in Afghanistan is concerned,” he said.

“The issues that are raised in the email will be considered in the course of Defence’s investigation of this matter.”

[ ... ]

Lance Corporal MacKinney’s widow, Becky, gave birth to their second child, a son, Noah, just five hours after his funeral service in Brisbane on September 10.

The soldier said in his email that his section had been in a contact 100m from the same spot two days earlier and reports from sappers clearing bombs on the morning of the battle had said civilians were fleeing the valley.

“That told us it was going to be on,” he said.

The patrol’s first big surprise was the size of the enemy force. No intelligence reports had prepared the two sections of about 24 men for a confrontation with up to 100 enemy attacking from multiple firing positions as close as 80m.

“We were at times pinned down by a massive rate of fire but we stuck to it,” the soldier said.

The second shock for the Diggers, forced to withdraw as they started to run low on ammunition, was the complete lack of fire support from artillery, mortars or aircraft.

“We are not f—— happy, but then again the BG (Battle Group) f—- up the intelligence report because a certain Major writes it from the signal log book (radio log of conversation) instead of getting contact reports, patrol reports and a patrol debrief,” the soldier said. “The army has let us down, mate, and I am f—— disgusted.”

The soldier, from Brisbane’s 6th Battalion, said an unmanned spy plane flew above the battlefield pin-pointing enemy positions throughout the three-hour battle, but effective fire support still failed to materialise.

He also revealed Lance-Cpl MacKinney died almost half an hour into the battle.

“Jared got hit and the boys were working on him but he would have been gone already,” he said.

“They were copping rounds the whole time, all the way through to carrying him on the stretcher and loading him on the AME (Aero Medical Evacuation chopper).”

The soldier’s email has been circulated to senior officers, including Defence Chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

His plea is supported by retired counter-insurgency expert, Major General Jim Molan.

“We must never incur casualties because the support for our soldiers was not fast enough, not accurate enough or not able to be used because of restrictive rules of engagement,” General Molan said.

The enlisted ranks have their supporters among the brass.

Former Iraq war commander Jim Molan, a respected commentator on counter-insurgency, says aspects of the firefight are cause for serious concern.

In an opinion piece in today’s The Weekend Australian, the retired major general calls for the use of more aggressive tactics to prosecute the war — tactics he says will save lives in the long term and force the Taliban to negotiate.

“Combat commanders must be under no illusion that when they make contact with an enemy force . . . they must do their utmost to destroy that force,” General Molan says.

“Our troops found themselves facing (some say) up to 100 Taliban. This is one of the few times when we actually know exactly where our armed enemy is, and we must always capitalise on it.

“In this battle, the few Australian soldiers accompanying the Afghans once again fought brilliantly and, along with supporting fire, may have killed up to a third of this force.

“As the Australians withdrew, the other two thirds of the enemy went somewhere, certainly with the capacity to kill more Australian and Afghan soldiers . . . and still able to intimidate the population.”

But is this view common among the officer corps?  Maybe not.

Senior military sources told The Australian the war in Afghanistan was not a “kill and capture” mission but a “care and nurture” mission, in which discrimination and proportionality were crucial.

The senior military sources have made a fundamental logical blunder.  They have confused an emphasizing reduction with an exclusive reduction.  To be sure, nurturing anti-Taliban elements is a goal of the campaign, for instance.  But to claim that it is the only goal is wrong.  To encourage your troops to nurture your allies is an emphasizing speech.  To say that that is all that they are there to do is an exclusive focus on one element, and it is not only wrong-headed, it is dangerous.  If killing the enemy is not the main goal or at least one of the goals of the campaign, the campaign has lost its focus and should be ended.

I am currently trying to obtain a copy of the subject e-mail.  At the moment, we know that it makes the following claims.

“That contact would have been over before Jared died if they gave us f…..g mortars,” he wrote.

The email also says how two units of about 24 men each were left unprepared for a confrontation with up to 100 enemies attacking from multiple firing positions as close as 80 metres away, because of lack of intelligence reports.

This sounds eerily familiar.  It isn’t required that it be U.S. troops for there to be problems with the rules of engagement.  We will learn much more before this investigation is over, and the Australian military needs to be open, honest and forthcoming with the information.  There is much to learn from this engagement, from the Taliban tactic of massing of forces, to problems with the rules of engagement.

Will the U.S. Marine Corps Become A Second Land Army?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

The U.S. Marines are allegedly trying not to become a second land army by focusing on sea-based forcible entry via the EFV.  But recall the view expressed here at TCJ?  The Orange County Register shows it pictorially.

Note the question at the left.  “Would helicopters and Ospreys ferrying troops to shore, landing behind enemy beach positions, remove the need for a beach landing under fire?”  Yes, we had better hope that it does.  And I haven’t seen any advocate of this position except here at TCJ.

But the hugely expensive and troublesome EFV and the concept of forcible entry under heavy fire is the only differentiating factor now in its vision and the Army’s vision.  The return to the sea apparently requires the EFV according to current Marine Corps doctrine, and without it, the Marines are dead – or so we are told by the U.S. Marine Corps thinkers.

In every other way the Marines are doing everything in their power to ensure that they become a second land army.  Lose their rifleman skills?  Sure.  Start up some heretofore unneeded cyber command within the Marine Corps?  Sure.  Why the Marine Corps needs a cyber command is anyone’s guess.  What these Marines are going to do is anyone’s guess, and they as much as say so.  The balance of the branches have robotic stuff, so how about the Marines?  Sure.  After all, the Corps must stay up with the other branches, right?

Where is the strategic and innovative thinking?  Where are the original concepts?  Where are the scholar-officers in the Corps?  While the Corps turns to robotic mules, heavy equipment, cyber warfare and green power, and turns away from being able to get fresh water from their own environment when dropped into the battle space, the nation continues to turn more to special operations forces and the SOCOM chain of command to perform its expeditionary and irregular warfare.

So be it.  The stubbornness and lack of adaptability of the old and outdated Marine Corps vision will ensure its irrelevancy and expendability.

Treating Battlefield Injuries with Nanoemulsions

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

Imagine that you are in Iraq and you receive this letter from your father.

If you become wounded – especially on your extremities but also even on your whole body – and a doctor begins to discuss rapidly propagating infection, or amputation of limbs, you need immediately to request that he administer 50 Rads of gamma or x-ray radiation to the affected area.  If the infection doesn’t begin to retreat within 12 hours, request another 50 Rads.  If the doctor doesn’t understand or wants to talk about this, have him call me.  You know how to reach me at any hour, night or day.”

The idea has to do with radiation hormesis, and at least to practitioners and those familiar with it, it’s science is well known and well understood.  But there is help coming in the form of treatment of battlefield injuries with nanoemulsions.

In the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers often suffer shrapnel wounds and burns as a result of improvised explosive device blasts.

But other threats – bacteria, viruses and fungi – linger in the air and soil. Contact with the soldiers’ broken skin can lead to debilitating and potentially life-threatening infections.

With the goal of developing a treatment that can be applied to soldiers’ wounds at battle zones and hospitals to prevent infections, the U.S. Department of Defense allocated a $1.5 million grant to researchers at the University of Michigan and the NanoBio Corporation, the university announced Tuesday.

Researchers at the university’s Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences and the Ann Arbor-based NanoBio Corp., a biopharmeceutical company, will use the money to study the effects of nanoemulsion-based therapies on curbing wound and burn infections in combat situations.

“A broadly effective nanoemulsion-based wound treatment that can be safely and easily applied at the time of injury, without causing pain or interfering with wound healing, would have great value to prevent infection, increase survival and enable more rapid healing of wounded United States military personnel,” Dr. James R. Baker, the principal investigator for the grant, said in prepared remarks.

Nanoemulsions are made up of soybean oil, alcohol, water and surfactants emulsified into droplets 200 to 600 nanometers in diameter, according to the release. Research shows that nanoemulsions are effective in combating various bacteria and viruses.

The two research entities will develop 10 new nanoemulsion formulations against bacteria, fungi and spores in lab culture studies. The formulations will then be studied on animals for safety and effectiveness before moving on to human trials.

Nanoemulsions have shown promising results in other aspects of health care. The application of nanoemulsions for the treatment of cold sores is currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials. Nanoemulsions have also been studied to treat cystic fibrosis infections and develop vaccines against influenza and bioterrorism agents.

The $1.5 million grant will be distributed to the University of Michigan and NanoBio Corp. over a three-year period.

Faster please!

Odd Things in Counterinsurgency

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

There are two examples of what I consider to be odd behavior for our forces in Afghanistan.  The first comes from C. J. Chivers, who gives us a mixed report on the Afghan National Army.

… the Pentagon must overcome a persistent problem in the Afghan security forces: attrition. Official estimates put attrition across the force at roughly 3 percent each month. Attrition is a powerful drain that makes growth difficult. Police officers and soldiers simply disappear, even as replacements flow in.

For this reason, for the army to grow by 36,000 more soldiers, the government must recruit and train 83,000 Afghans, according to projections released by NATO. Similarly, for the police to reach the hoped-for increase of 14,000, the government must train 50,000 more officers. This drives up costs to Westerners paying the bill.

The training mission in Afghanistan also labors under a legacy of unfulfilled past promises, inadequate training even in basic skills like marksmanship and driving military vehicles, and a pattern of overstating how ready or skilled the forces are.

Early this year, the Pentagon and senior Afghan and American officers in Kabul insisted that the complex operation to re-establish a government presence in Marja, a Taliban stronghold, was “Afghan led.”

It was not. And many Afghan units, by the accounts of many Americans present, performed poorly. Some units openly shirked combat duty — refusing to patrol, or sending a bare minimum of soldiers on American patrols, sometimes only a pair of soldiers to accompany an American platoon. The remaining Afghans stayed behind, lounging in the relative safety of outposts the Americans secured.

In the operations under way in Kandahar, reports continue to indicate that American forces are almost always in the lead.

This is backwards from the way I would have implemented the garrisoning and training of the ANA.  Catching the ANA willingly refuse the go on patrol, get high on hashish, or sit in the safety of a FOB while one of their own goes outside the wire is reason for dismissal.  It’s a good thing.  Furthermore, the vetting and recruiting of ANA should be stricter and more involved.  We should be striving for a smaller force, not a larger one.  A smaller force where the Soldiers are well trained, more reliable and more mature should be the goal, not large numbers to put down on paper.

The second example comes directly from Cali Bagby who is with the Marines in Marjah.  This will be fairly lengthy to get the full picture.

MARJAH, Afghanistan – As the Marines run across a main road, there are no men on mopeds or children hanging out in crowds.

“There is no one is outside today,” says Sgt. Michael Brattole, squad leader, several times as he passes through wadis and fields.

“Is that good or bad?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

The Taliban rarely fire when the streets are busy with people. After three months in Marjah and three casualties in their company, the Marines from Echo Company are all too familiar with the nature of warfare.

The mission is to confirm the location of Akhmed Shah’s home. Shah, an elder, could be the key player in securing the area called the Qasaab Block, located outside of Echo Company’s base.

The section of land the Marines are maneuvering is populated predominately by the Alokzi tribe. Shah’s father stood as the leader for the tribe, but war and the Taliban has created a people without a leader.

Shah’s oldest brother is the rightful tribal leader of the Alokzi, but he chooses to live in Lashker Gah, located about 10 miles away. The Marines would like to help Shah stand as a leader – but first they have to find his house.

This task seems simple enough, but simple tasks in Afghanistan can be deceiving.

The Marines start their search with the first elder they come across on their patrol. His beard is white with shades of blackened gray. In the shadows in one of the dark rooms inside his compound, he holds a mound of cotton and speaks with the Marines.

Outside,  security is provided from the 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon. Inside, one Marine who wishes to remain anonymous, asks the questions.

“We do support Akhmed Shah, he is my nephew. Why not help him?” Haji Torjan says. “Everyone supports Akhmed Shah.”

When the Marines asks if Torjan will send one of his boys with the squad to point out Shah’s home, the elder refuses.

“There are no men, just women and children, in our culture it will be bad,” says Torjan.

There are several more exchanges between the Marine and the Afghan. The Marines try to get the elder to point to the house on a map, or just walk outside ahead of the Marines or at least describe the surrounding area, but the man is of no help.

“If you find it by yourself that’s fine, but I can’t help you,” says Torjan.

“We need your help, to help you,” says Brattole, stepping in for a moment to warn the Marine that the more time they stay in one spot the more time the Taliban has to set up an ambush.

The Marines try a few more tactics with the elder, explaining that if he doesn’t show them they will have to go around asking for Shah’s home, alerting the whole block they are working together.

“You can detain me, take me anywhere you want, but I won’t show you where he lives,” says Torjan.

The Marines are forced to head back out into the other compounds and see if they can get more information from other Afghans. They stay off the road, where they are most likely to get shot at by Taliban.

In order to take the back roads, they must climb over a series of tall and crumbling walls with heavy guns and packs.

The Afghans willing to talk to the Marines have similar answers. Either they have never heard of Shah, or they know who he is and where he lives but refuse to point out the house.

Instead they say, it’s very far away. A few young men suggest the Marines head up farther on the road and surely someone will point out the house.

“If you won’t show me, why would anyone else show me?” asks the Marine. The Afghans smile and nod their heads, as if to say they can’t help him any further.

When children trail the patrol, a Marine pulls aside one of children and asks him about the block’s elder and where he lives. The small boy laughs, chewing on a plastic yellow toy, and shakes his head.

As the Marines push forward, they encounter more locals along the way – and ask the same questions, again.

“We’re just farmers, we don’t know anything,” says a local man. “We have to go back to work.”

Minutes later the same man is across the field bathing in a pump from a nearby well.

Some of the locals give descriptions of Shah’s home: it’s by a canal, near a mosque with speakers over the two-story building, and it’s very far away. The Marines follow the breadcrumbs of information climbing over more walls, questioning more men and children.

After three hours outside the wire, Marines receive a tip that the Taliban is setting up an ambush in the very direction the patrol is headed. Brattole and a few other Marines head farther up the road to inspect the news as the rest of the squad hangs back listening for the sound of gunfire.

After 30 minutes, it’s getting late in the day and the Marines decide to return to the base – without locating Shah’s home. Climbing over the same walls and fields, another long day is over. Sweat covers the brow of the men, and they walk with few words.

After passing a compound, shots are fired from the north. The Marines turn and run towards the gunfire, over the wall, alongside a wadi and towards the main road. By the time they make their way back to their last position, the gunfire has ended. The Marines question four young Afghan men who matched the identities of those firing weapons during the firefight.

The young men want to know what the Marines want with them.

“You were just running away from a firefight,” says the Marine. “”How do I know you weren’t the ones firing?”

“Ask the owner of this compound, when the firefight started we were with them,” says one of the young Afghan men.

Without further evidence the Marines can’t hold the men.

The firefight has ended, the sun is setting deeper into the landscape and the patrol returns to the base.

This effort is misplaced.  It would have been more effective to kill insurgents, make their presence known, meet villagers, find weapons caches, question young men, and interrogate prisoners (or potential prisoners).  They have given no reason for this tribal leader to ally himself with the Marines.  The Marines haven’t yet shown that they are there to win.  When the Marines get the Taliban on the defensive, the tribal leader will more than likely come to the Marines rather than the Marine searching him out.

The next patrol should focus on those fighters who were setting up the ambush.  Send a few Scout Snipers that direction.  Flank the insurgents with a squad or fire team, and approach the area where these men are supposed to be doing their nefarious deeds.  Find them, kill them.  Do this enough and the Marines won’t have to search out the leaders.  Then it will be time to sit down and drink tea.  This is the recipe for success.

We needn’t do things backwards.  It only lengthens the campaign and makes it costlier.

Marines in Marjah Face Full Blown Insurgency

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

Lance Cpl. Wesley Samuels, of Winter Haven, Fla., with the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines’ Echo Company, fires at Taliban insurgents during as gunbattle in Marjah, Afghanistan.

AP reporter Todd Pitman and I have exchanged e-mail before during his embeds in Ramadi.  He felt at the time that a comment he left here at TCJ might have gotten him into trouble with AP for potentially representing formal AP position.  Hopefully this was an earlier time and a different atmosphere, before AP learned the value of interacting with the new media.  Or have they?  Does AP still cling to its policy of disallowing any copying of text into posts?  In either case, while AP might have poor policies, Todd Pitman is a very good reporter and his most recent article provides anecdotal accounts and some analysis of the situation the Marines face in Marjah.

MARJAH, Afghanistan — The young Marine had a simple question for the farmer with the white beard: Have you seen any Taliban today?

The answer came within seconds — from insurgents hiding nearby who ended the conversation with bursts of automatic rifle fire that sent deadly rounds cracking overhead.

It was a telling coincidence — and the start of yet another gunbattle in Marjah, the southern poppy-producing hub which U.S. forces wrested from Taliban control in February to restore government rule.

Eight months on, the Taliban are still here in force, waging a full-blown guerrilla insurgency that rages daily across a bomb-riddled landscape of agricultural fields and irrigation trenches.

As U.S. involvement in the war enters its 10th year, the failure to pacify this town raises questions about the effectiveness of America’s overall strategy. Similarly crucial operations are now under way in neighboring Kandahar province, the Taliban’s birthplace.

There are signs the situation in Marjah is beginning to improve, but “it’s still a very tough fight,” said Capt. Chuck Anklam, whose Marine company has lost three men since arriving in July. “We’re in firefights all over, every day.”

“There’s no area that’s void of enemy. But there’s no area void of Marines and (Afghan forces) either,” said Anklam, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “It’s a constant presence both sides are trying to exert.”

That day, militants in his zone of operations alone had attacked Marines in four separate locations by mid-afternoon.

[ ... ]

… the end of Taliban control in Marjah has sown the seeds of an entrenched guerrilla war that has tied down at least two U.S. Marine battalions and hordes of Afghan police and army troops.

The result, so far at least: Residents say the town is more insecure than ever.

[ ... ]

Coalition forces are also trying to win over the population by organizing the delivery of solar panels to businessmen, and refurbishing shops, wells and mosques, Anklam said. But residents are weary: One Marine simply trying to give away a lollipop to children at a checkpoint tried three times before finding one who would take it.

Todd includes this nugget of gold.

Anklam has spread the Marines of Echo company as much as possible. The squads are now based at 13 small outposts — twice as many as in July. As a result, Marines say that although firefights occur daily, violence has decreased overall.

Several observations are in order.  First, to say that the insurgency has “tied down” ANA and ANP probably embellishes what they have accomplished, which has been problematic at best (as we have discussed many times in the ANA and ANP categories).  It is the Marines who are being tied down.  The ANA is at the very best being mentored by the Marines, at the worst are high on opium or hashish.

Second, as if we needed any more indication that the British notion of the government in a box doesn’t work, Todd’s article should be about the last nail in the coffin of that debacle of a strategy (and make no mistake about it, we brought this “government in a box” to Marjah at the behest of the British, in a tip of the hat to their approach to COIN).

Finally, notice what the Marines are doing.  A single company is spread out at 13 outposts.  A single infantry company.  This is remarkable.  It’s a tribute to the tactics employed by the U.S. Marines, and should be an embarrassment to the folks who spend all of their time at FOBs, including the SOF boys with ZZ Top beards wearing backwards ball caps and T-shirts who ride to the fight in helicopters and bed down back at the base after a hot meal and shower.  They are adding  nothing to the campaign.

It isn’t the work of the U.S. Marines that is in question.  Given time, they will win.  The questions are: (1) do they have it, (2) will we give them the resources, and (3) will we get out of the way and let them do what they have to do?

Concerning Cartoons and the Chinese Military

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

I was watching cartoons over the weekend (don’t ask me the context, please), and spent a couple of minutes on one very special one about the bears and foxes.

Kai-lan and her friends are playing in the backyard when they get a visit from their superhero friend, the Monkey King, who really needs their help! There’s trouble in a kingdom far away–the foxes and bears who live there won’t talk to each other and there’s only one person who can help them become friends–Kai-lan! Kai-lan and her friends set off on a magical adventure with the Monkey King to help the Fox King and Bear Queen (voiced by Lucy Liu) work out their differences.

As it turns out, the bears danced and shook the ground, while the foxes sang and polluted the environment with noise.  All they really needed was to talk to each other.  The solution to their differences was for the bears to dance while the foxes sang, and they were both happy!

It was all very sweet – for a two or three year old.

In our very own, real life version of the bears and foxes, Secretary Gates must figure that we just need to communicate better with the Chinese military.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, in Vietnam on Monday for the first time since the two militaries suspended talks with each other last winter, calling for the two countries to prevent “mistrust, miscalculations and mistakes.”

His message seemed directed mainly at officers like Lt. Cmdr. Tony Cao of the Chinese Navy.

Days before Mr. Gates arrived in Asia, Commander Cao was aboard a frigate in the Yellow Sea, conducting China’s first war games with the Australian Navy, exercises to which, he noted pointedly, the Americans were not invited.

Nor are they likely to be, he told Australian journalists in slightly bent English, until “the United States stops selling the weapons to Taiwan and stopping spying us with the air or the surface.”

The Pentagon is worried that its increasingly tense relationship with the Chinese military owes itself in part to the rising leaders of Commander Cao’s generation, who, much more than the country’s military elders, view the United States as the enemy. Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union.

The younger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise.

“All militaries need a straw man, a perceived enemy, for solidarity,” said Huang Jing, a scholar of China’s military and leadership at the National University of Singapore. “And as a young officer or soldier, you always take the strongest of straw men to maximize the effect. Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.”

The stakes have increased as China’s armed forces, once a fairly ragtag group, have become more capable and have taken on bigger tasks. The navy, the centerpiece of China’s military expansion, has added dozens of surface ships and submarines, and is widely reported to be building its first aircraft carrier. Last month’s Yellow Sea maneuvers with the Australian Navy are but the most recent in a series of Chinese military excursions to places as diverse as New Zealand, Britain and Spain.

China is also reported to be building an antiship ballistic missile base in southern China’s Guangdong Province, with missiles capable of reaching the Philippines and Vietnam. The base is regarded as an effort to enforce China’s territorial claims to vast areas of the South China Sea claimed by other nations, and to confront American aircraft carriers that now patrol the area unmolested.

Even improved Chinese forces do not have capacity or, analysts say, the intention, to fight a more able United States military. But their increasing range and ability, and the certainty that they will only become stronger, have prompted China to assert itself regionally and challenge American dominance in the Pacific.

That makes it crucial to help lower-level Chinese officers become more familiar with the Americans, experts say, before a chance encounter blossoms into a crisis.

It’s almost as if the Chinese military is already studying cyber exploitation within the context of offensive operations; it’s almost as if they already practice it; it’s almost as if the Chinese military has been trained up in the art of unrestricted warfare; it’s almost as if, in a different time, the recent Chinese saber-rattling in the South Pacific would have caused Japan to seek stronger military ties with the U.S. Oh, wait.  They have already done that.

Perhaps Japan needs to watch the cartoon about the bears and foxes.  Then we could all understand everyone’s point of view and get along.

The Logistical Magnitude of the Campaign in Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

In what will not be read closely or widely enough, the Montgomery Advertiser gives us a view to the magnitude of the logistical problem that is campaign for Afghanistan.

Clouds of dust rise to meet a descending Blackhawk at Kan­dahar Airfield. Before the heli­copter’s wheels settle, the crew chief and gunner climb through windows just behind the pilots and begin urging soldiers to hustle on board.

Carrying heavy trunks and duffels, these men are destined for forward operating bases and combat outposts in the most ac­tive area of Afghanistan, Re­gional Command-South, which this summer recorded the high­est death toll since the war be­gan in 2002.

With an escort Blackhawk hovering nearby, the crew mem­bers urge the soldiers to strap in — ideally, the helicopters won’t be on the ground for more than a couple of minutes before they offload, onload and take off. When they do, the same red dust cloud chases the helicopter as it ascends, headed for the moun­tain range in the distance, then to parts unknown.

For each man on that Black­hawk, as well as any Chinook or cargo plane routing soldiers to their battle areas, one man is re­sponsible for the supplies that will support them in Afghanis­tan — Brig. Gen. Reynold Hoo­ver of the Alabama National Guard.

Hoover, commander of the joint sustainment command in Afghanistan and commander of the 135th sustainment com­mand (expeditionary), is in charge of supplies from food that fuels the troops’ nutritional needs to fuel that runs the mine-resistant MRAP vehicles that protect them from the constant threat of IEDs.

When the 135th took charge of the Joint Sustainment Com­mand on Dec. 28, 2009, it became the first one-star general com­mand from the Alabama Nation­al Guard since World War II. The task is daunting — deliver­ing supplies throughout a coun­try the size of Texas and thwart­ing Taliban attempts to destroy supply lines.

Hoover, who earned his mas­ter’s degree in public and pri­vate management from Bir­mingham-Southern College in 1992, has long held ties to Alaba­ma.

Since 1988, he has returned to Alabama for his once monthly Guard obligation. Since the 135th took command, it has de­livered more than 27.5 million pounds of mail, delivered 88 mil­lion meals and used enough fuel to drive a Honda Civic to the sun and back 68 times.

The 135th sustains approxi­mately 70,000 soldiers in Afgha­nistan and can deliver 504,000 bottles of water each week and more than 210,000 meals each day.

[ ... ]

“Movement is a challenge here. We’re in a landlocked country where we don’t control the road. But we’re determined for every trooper to have a hot meal and a canteen.”

Add to that the number of aircraft, both rotary and fixed wing, required to move troops and supplies, and what emerges is an incredible supply and de­mand — all controlled by the Alabama National Guard.

As regular readers know, infantry rules the battle space, while logistics rules everything else, including capability to support and sustain the infantry and air power, financial burden to deploy troops, the ability to conduct distributed operations, the geographical reach of the campaign, and the timeliness of battle space decisions and actions.

Besides the issues surrounding international logistical lines, there are the more immediate and localized logistical issues with which we must deal.  I continue to assert that IEDs are a problem (they are responsible for the majority of U.S. casualties) mainly because we haven’t deployed the troops necessary to find, chase and kill those responsible for building and planting them.

Technology and gizmos are slick and always demand the lion’s share of the defense dollars.  What we need are more Marines, more snipers, more door kicking, more census-taking and more biometrics.  We need to be in their face, in their homes, in their streets, in their markets, isolating the insurgents and destroying them – not putting them into the rotating “catch-and-release” prisons only to see them kill more U.S. servicemen.

And what would all of this gain us?  It’s an oddity to see a General make the following claim in public:     ” … we don’t control the road.”  Indeed.  Control the roads and we will begin to see the end of the insurgency.  No, not check points, not isolated patches of road, but control the roads.  All of them.  Beginning to end, front to back, top to bottom.  From the very beginning the Taliban strategy has been to target logistics, just as I said it would be.  Go after the perpetrators, not the IEDs.

James Jones Out as National Security Adviser

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

James Jones is out as National Security Adviser:

President Obama will announce Friday that retired Gen. James L. Jones is resigning as national security advisor, to be replaced by deputy national security advisor Tom Donilon, an administration official confirmed.

Jones’ departure comes amid a larger turnover of staffers in the Obama White House this fall. Just a week ago, Obama announced in the East Room that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was leaving.

Several other changes in personnel are forthcoming, the result of what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the “natural life expectancy” in the administration’s pressure-cooker jobs.

Pressure cooker jobs.  That’s the spin.  Michelle Malkin notes that Jones was critical of the administration lackeys who surrounded Obama.  In Woodward’s recent book Jones is quoted as privately referring to Obama’s political aides as “the water bugs,” the “Politburo,” the “Mafia,” or the “campaign set.”

But let’s recall just a bit about Jones and his involvement in the troop deployment decision-making process.  During a briefing with General Nicholson (then in Helmand, Afghanistan with his Marines), the following exchange took place.

… Jones recalled how Obama had initially decided to deploy additional forces this year. “At a table much like this,” Jones said, referring to the polished wood table in the White House Situation Room, “the president’s principals met and agreed to recommend 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan.” The principals — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Gates; Mullen; and the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair — made this recommendation in February during the first full month of the Obama administration. The president approved the deployments, which included Nicholson’s Marines.

Soon after that, Jones said, the principals told the president, “oops,” we need an additional 4,000 to help train the Afghan army.

“They then said, ‘If you do all that, we think we can turn this around,’ ” Jones said, reminding the Marines here that the president had quickly approved and publicly announced the additional 4,000.

Now suppose you’re the president, Jones told them, and the requests come into the White House for yet more force. How do you think Obama might look at this? Jones asked, casting his eyes around the colonels. How do you think he might feel?

Jones let the question hang in the air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted room. Nicholson and the colonels said nothing.

Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have “a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.” Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF — which in the military and elsewhere means “What the [expletive]?”

Nicholson and his colonels — all or nearly all veterans of Iraq — seemed to blanch at the unambiguous message that this might be all the troops they were going to get.

Jones looked at his brothers in arms, currently under fire, and who had no input to the decision whatsoever, and told them that they would get no more resources than they were told that they would need by men who sat in the safety of their plush offices - and then ridiculed the idea that they would demur.

WTF? indeed.  Jones was part of that Politburo which set into motion the current situation in Afghanistan.  It may be a little too hard to rehabilitate that image now that the campaign is not faring so well and Obama is not the savior of the world any more.  I called for him to resign more than one year ago.  It’s a shame that it took him this long.  As for his replacement, Michelle also notes his crony ties with Obama’s past (and looking at his credentials and previous involvement with Obama’s decisions on Afghanistan, it’s hard to envision that he is actually qualified for the job).

Very well.  One down, another to go.  Reload, aim …

Prior:

Afghanistan: The WTF? War

Calling on NSA James L. Jones to Resign

This is your National Security Adviser


26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (675)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (28)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (6)
Ammunition (13)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
AR-15s (34)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (34)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (24)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (44)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (15)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (4)
Body Armor (16)
Books (2)
Border War (6)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (25)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (1)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (5)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (214)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (113)
Department of Homeland Security (9)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (5)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (1)
Featured (159)
Federal Firearms Laws (14)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (241)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (38)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (187)
Guns (501)
Guns In National Parks (2)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (28)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (377)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (33)
Islamists (37)
Israel (17)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (70)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (8)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (1)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (11)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (7)
Logistics (46)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (229)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (22)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (20)
Mexico (21)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (9)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (13)
NATO (15)
Navy (19)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (204)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (16)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Police (99)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (132)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (70)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (73)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (27)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (133)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (22)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Survival (9)
SWAT Raids (46)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (86)
Thanksgiving (4)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (10)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (4)
U.S. Border Security (11)
U.S. Sovereignty (13)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (2)
Uncategorized (38)
Universal Background Check (2)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (2)
War Reporting (17)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (5)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (11)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2014 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.