Archive for the 'Taliban' Category



ISI Allows Taliban Free Run of Pakistan’s Baluchistan

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From The Economic Times of India, citing mainly Newsweek:

Taliban has been given a free-run in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province bordering Afghanistan and its hardscrabble capital city of Quetta, which has been declared off-limits by Pakistani military to US predator strikes.

The outfit’s military chief Mulla Abdul Qayyum Zakir, ranked number two after Mullah Omar, and his men are operating with impunity in the high-desert landscape and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence ( ISI) seems to be giving them a free hand, ‘Newsweek’ reported.

“They are coming and going in groups without end,” says a senior Quetta politician, an ethnic Pashtun.

“Whatever the Taliban is doing is supervised and monitored by the [Pakistani] intelligence agencies”, he said.

Old hands among the insurgents say it reminds them of 1980s Peshawar, where anti-Soviet mujahedin operated openly with the ISI’s blessing and backing, the magazine reported.

[ ... ]

A local government councillor says the area’s mosques and madrassas are packed with insurgents in need of temporary lodging as they head back to Afghanistan. Way stations have been set up all over the region in rented houses, he says, and swarms of Taliban pass through town on motorbikes every day. Most carry Pakistani national identity cards. “They’re enjoying the hospitality of the ‘black legs’ [derogatory slang for the ISI],” he says. He worries that the local culture is being Talibanized.

Read the entire report.  The Taliban are said to  be stunned and despondent over the successful OBL raid.  But this fact appears not to be holding the tide of fighters in abeyance.  As for other parts of Pakistan which supply sanctuary for both the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, in a report at The Global Post (which I will be citing again in the future), Shafiq Ahmed, a former Pakistani army general, flatly says that “If America wants to stay in Afghanistan, or safeguard its interests in case of a proposed pull-out, it has to tame North Waziristan.”

It would appear that as I have observed, the Durand line is completely imaginary, and that a regional approach to the problem of Islamic militancy is necessary.  A pullout of U.S. forces, leaving the problem to the pitiful Afghan National Security Forces (ANA and ANP), doesn’t fit the bill.  So what else does the current administration have for us?

The Morphing of the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

Joshua Foust is both a genuinely good guy and an expert on the affairs of Central Asia.  I am neither.  With that said, I strongly disagree with the theme of his analysis of the question of whether all militants are the same?  He weighs in thusly.

Max Boot thinks all militants are the same.

Of greater immediate concern are al Qaeda’s allies: the Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqani network and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HiG), which among them deploy thousands of hardened terrorists. These groups, in turn, are part of a larger conglomeration of extremists based in Pakistan including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban), Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed…

The major difference among them, at least so far, has been one of geographic focus. The Taliban, the Haqqani network and HiG want to seize power in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban aspires to rule in Islamabad. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are primarily focused on wresting Kashmir away from India, although there have been reports of the former’s network expanding into Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Only al Qaeda has a global focus—so far.

Apart from rightly noting that al Qaeda is the only one of these groups that poses even a remote threat to the U.S. homeland, this is basically all wrong—so wrong I’m curious if it is the result of maliciousness or just laziness. Boot engages in some worrying conflations and conceptual fuzziness. Assuming the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban groups work together, are equally associated with al Qaeda, or pose an equal and in some way interchangeable threat is, put simply, dramatically at odds with our understanding of those groups, their goals, and their methods. There is no ” a larger conglomeration of extremists,” as he asserts, as that term implies an interoperability that just doesn’t exist in the real world.

Mullah Omar, contrary to what Boot writes, was not closer to Osama bin Laden than Hafiz Muhammed Saeed — and that sort of formulation misses the point anyway. Similarly, and again in contrast to Boot’s portrayal, there ARE a number of signs that the Afghan Taliban (NOT the Pakistani Taliban or Kashmir-focused terror groups, all of which Boot confuses) is seeking a way to break with al Qaeda — and we have reports of these signs going back at least to 2008.

We’ll start with this bit.  I am of the opinion – based on what I have studied – that most of the so-called Afghan “Taliban” who have sought to “reconcile” with the Karzai government are washed-up has-beens who want an easier life as they go into their golden years.  They play us and the Afghan government for fools, and they don’t legitimately represent either the Quetta Shura or Tehrik-i-Taliban (or any allied or affiliated or similar group).

Moving on, it might have been legitimate to have discussed divisions, subdivisions and categories of Taliban and al Qaeda ten or even six years ago.  Things have changed since then.

… they have evolved into a much more radical organization than the original Taliban bent on global engagement, what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban. The TTP shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.  A Pakistan interior ministry official has even said that the TTP and al Qaeda are one and the same.

Nick Schmidle – who is also a genuinely good guy and a scholar – gave us a learned warning shot over the bow.  It was reiterated by David Rohde who was in captivity by the Taliban.

Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.

More recently we have a report at the Asia Times from Syed Saleem Shahzad on Maulvi Nazir.

Extremely loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and a part of the Afghan Taliban, Nazir began as a conventional Talib guerrilla and a follower of the populist traits of the Taliban movement.

This changed in 2006, when, like many others including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Nazir became inspired by al-Qaeda and realized that fighting a war without modern guerrilla techniques meant draining vital human resources for no return.

That led to the advancement of the skills of Nazir’s fighters, and it also came with rewards.

In Afghanistan, if a commander sticks solely to his relations with the Taliban, he will never climb the ladder to prominence and the Taliban can only provide a limited number of local tribal fighters and meager funds. But if a commander allies with al-Qaeda, he is given the opportunity for joint operations with top Arab commanders who arrange finances for those operations.

Similarly, breakaway factions of Pakistani jihadi organizations like the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Laskhar-e-Taiba and the Harkatul Mujahideen also supply an unending stream of fighters to those commanders associated with al-Qaeda.

Nazir’s affiliation with al-Qaeda seems to have passed unnoticed by the United States and NATO, which are investing heavily in a reconciliation process with the “good Taliban” and they appear not to understand the drastic changes that have taken place among the top cadre of the Taliban …

“What is the rationale of dialogue after NATO’s withdrawal?” Nazir asked rhetorically. “Then, the Taliban and NATO can hold a dialogue on whether the Taliban would attack their interests all over the world or not, and what treaties should be undertaken in that regard.”

Taken aback by this statement from a Taliban stalwart who is not perceived as being a global jihadi but simply a guerrilla fighting against occupation forces in Afghanistan, I intervened. “Hitting Western targets abroad might be al-Qaeda’s agenda, but it is not the Taliban’s, so why should the West negotiate that with the Taliban?”

“Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are one and the same. At an operational level we might have different strategies, but at the policy level we are one and the same,” Nazir said, surprising me further.

I’m usually hesitant to cite Syed Saleem Shahzad since he is a mouth piece (witting or unwittingly) for the Taliban.  But occasionally he scores significant interviews, and those tend to be very productive and informative.  For this particular interview, the only thing that surprises me is that Syed Saleem Shahzad is surprised.

To be sure, there are factions within the TTP, and in fact, the Taliban are an amalgam of groups, subgroups, factions, leaders, and so on and so forth, some of whom disagree and even level threats at each other.

So what?  We all knew that.  The question redounds to threat, or some approximation thereof.  And so here is the crux of the issue.  Back to Foust as he opines “If these groups do not pose a threat to the United States, then it is not our problem to “fix” them. Period.”  And he summarizes.

I had hoped that the death of Osama bin Laden would at least temporarily tamp down on the irresponsible fear-mongering over a few crazies with guns in mountains whose names we cannot pronounce and who cannot and do not pose an existential threat to our existence. I guess my hope was mistaken.

Well, yes, no and maybe, depending upon point and inflection.  Let’s dissect.  I agree that it’s not the task of the U.S. to fix all of the world’s problems if there is no national security interest.  In fact, I couldn’t agree more.  While it’s laudable that we might want women treated better in Afghanistan, that’s not a reason for war.  We cannot be the policemen of the world, nor does the world want us as policemen.

But this issue of threat is more complex.  Don’t forget that the Hamburg cell headed for Afghanistan intent on receiving training and returning to Germany to perpetrate violence there.  It was OBL who persuaded them to pull off an attack in the States, and we know it as 9/11.  It was actually a fairly simple attack, and if there is any mistake that the AQ leadership is making at the moment it is that they are focusing on big, flashy attacks when they should be focusing on the simple.  I am thankful for this error in judgment.

I have already described an attack that America simply cannot absorb despite the ignorance of the current administration (who claims that we’re just fine).  The unfortunate truth is that American infrastructure, from bridges to malls, from buildings to roads, from airports to power plants, from water supplies to electrical grid, hasn’t been hardened since 9/11.  It would cost too much money to do it, far more than waging a counterinsurgency campaign in the hinterlands of the earth for the next decade.

As for threat, I never really believed that Baitullah Mehsud could actually pull off an attack on Washington, D.C.  What’s important is that he wanted to.  With enough time, money, motivation and several hundred dedicated fighters, I could bring the economy of the United States to its knees.  So can any smart Taliban leader.

Unlike Josh who believes that Max believes that all militants are the same, I see his mistake differently.  Max Boot makes the mistake of subdividing the Taliban, as if these are neat, clean, Aristotelian categories into which we can drop an organization.  This is wrong in my estimation.  They have swam in the same waters for the last decade with globalists galore, and this ideology has morphed the Pakistani Taliban into something they weren’t.  To a lesser extent this has happened with the Afghan Taliban.  Lesser extent, I admit, but it’s still there.  The mistake Joshua makes is that he sees no threat.  Again, this is wrong in my estimation.

I can play the subdivision game too.  I know the various groups of militants in the Pech River Valley, Hindu Kush, Kandahar, Helmand, FATA and NWFP.  It just doesn’t matter as much as it might have a few years ago, and to some extent I see it as pedantic and braggadocios to list out all of the names (and it’s even more impressive if you pronounce the names right – and for heaven’s sake, pronounce “Pech” correctly as “Pesh”).

But at some point I think this is all being too smart for our own good, and fiddling while Rome burns (or in this case, Central Asia).  The death of Bin Laden will have little affect on the global insurgency.  He and his ilk were but one manifestation of the globalist Islamist movement, the larger framework being the Muslim Brotherhood.  With the air of respectability, the MB will proceed apace.  Their military manifestation will still be seen in AQ, the TTP, Hamas, Hezbollah and others.  Bin Laden is dead.  The war continues.

The Great Escape – in Afghanistan!

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

Approximately three years ago the Taliban broke more than 1000 prisoners out of a prison near Kandahar, including some 400 Taliban fighters.  It’s happened again with more than 450 insurgents, but this time as a function of an innovative plan from both the inside and outside.

The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville said prisoners did not break out but in fact people outside broke into the jail.

More than 470 inmates at a prison in southern Afghanistan have escaped through a tunnel hundreds of metres long and dug from outside the jail.

Officials in the city of Kandahar said many of those who escaped from Sarposa jail were Taliban insurgents.

The Kandahar provincial governor’s office said at least 12 had since been recaptured but gave no further details.

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the escape was a “disaster” which should never have happened.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said it had taken five months to build the 360m (1,180ft) tunnel to a cell within the political wing.

He said it was dug from a house north-east of the prison that was rented by “friends” of the Taliban, and had to bypass security checkpoints and the main Kandahar-Kabul road.

About 100 of those who escaped were Taliban commanders, he added. Most of the others are thought to have been insurgents. The prison holds about 1,200 inmates.

“A tunnel hundreds of metres long was dug from the south of the prison into the prison and 476 political prisoners escaped last night,” said prison director General Ghulam Dastageer Mayar.

One escapee told the BBC it had taken him about 30 minutes to walk the length of the tunnel. The escape took most of the night and vehicles were waiting at the exit point to take prisoners away.

Kandahar’s provincial authorities said a search operation was under way.

So far, only about a dozen of the prisoners have been recaptured. Police said they were looking for men without shoes – many escaped barefoot.

The jailbreak is the second major escape from the prison in three years.

In June 2008 a suicide bomber blew open the Kandahar prison gates and destroyed a nearby checkpoint, freeing about 900 prisoners, many of them suspected insurgents.

After that, millions of pounds were spent upgrading the prison. The 2008 breakout was followed by a major upsurge in violence.

The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says the escape is a further setback for security in the area, and for the fight against the insurgency.

“This is a blow,” Afghan presidential spokesman Waheed Omar said. “A prison break of this magnitude, of course, points to a vulnerability.”

The Afghan politician and former MP, Daoud Sultanzai, told the BBC that the escape exposed “the porousness of our security apparatus”.

In the end it matters little from the vantage point of Taliban fighters in the countryside.  As I have observed before, given the catch-and-release program, the radicalization of half-way insurgents in these prisons, and the reflexive reversion to capture rather than kill, ISAF operations that capture insurgents are becoming a literal joke among the Taliban (see prior articles).  I pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to ISAF press releases that begin with “Taliban fighters detained …”

If this is offensive to sensibilities, if this causes an outcry over advocacy of harsh rules of engagement, if this causes moral preening over the rules of war, then so be it.  Withdraw from Afghanistan and end the campaign now.  In either case, prisons do not work in counterinsurgency.  Kill them or let them go, but putting them into a fake justice system is a worthless enterprise.

On another level, this is bad for the campaign in that it causes continued inability to trust anything associated with the Karzai regime, whether from ineptitude or malfeasance.

Prior:

Because Prisons Work So Well In Counterinsurgency

Afghan Prison an Insurgent Breeding Ground

Prisons Do Not Work In Counterinsurgency

Hamid Karzai: Defeater of the High Value Target Program

The Ineffectiveness of Prisons in Counterinsurgency

Jirgas and the Release of Taliban Prisoners

Prisons in Afghanistan

Prisons in Counterinsurgency

Hundreds of Taliban Loose After Prison Break

Taliban: One Day We Will Reach The Gates Of America

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

AlJazeera has an interesting video of Taliban fighters taking over bases abandoned by U.S. troops in the Pech Valley.  This is a well rehearsed theme here at TCJ.  What’s interesting about this report is what one Taliban fighter says.

Oops.  Uh oh!  “Our jihad against American troops will continue and one day we will reach the gates of America.”  Oops.  This dude didn’t follow the script.  You know.  The script that goes “We are the Taliban and you can negotiate with us if you’ll only leave Afghanistan because we aren’t al Qaeda, are interested only in local governance and an Islamic Afghanistan, and aren’t concerned with global issues.”  Yea, that script.  That’s the one.

I guess he has learned that global stuff from his ten years of exposure to al Qaeda fighters and the fact that they swim in the same waters.  I guess this also rather calls out our own narrative on the same subject as rather stupid.  Yes, I’m sure that it does.

Prior: Al Qaeda Makes a Comeback in the Pech Valley

When Mullahs Misbehave: Iran Smuggles Rockets, U.S. Winks

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 8 months ago

The Telegraph has the story.

British Special Forces in Afghanistan have seized a convoy of powerful Iranian rockets destined for Taliban fighters.

The haul is the strongest evidence yet of a significant escalation in Tehran’s support for the Taliban, military officials said.

The consignment of 48 rockets hidden in three trucks was intercepted last month after a fierce fire fight which left several insurgents dead in the remote southern province of Nimroz, bordering Iran.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the British ambassador has raised the matter with officials in Tehran.

“I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence that Iran continues to supply the Taliban with weaponry – weapons clearly intended to provide the Taleban with the capability to kill Afghan and ISAF soldiers from significant range,” he said.

“It is not the behaviour of a responsible neighbour. It is at odds with Iran’s claim to the international community and to its own people that it supports stability and security in Afghanistan.”

The 122mm rockets have twice the range and twice the blast radius of the Taliban’s more commonly used 107mm missiles and have not been seen in action against Nato forces for the past four years.

The 48 weapons had been deliberately disguised to appear manufactured elsewhere, but tests by weapons experts had determined they were from an Iranian factory.

So let me make sure that I understand this.  British SAS nab a convoy of three trucks shortly after they cross into Afghanistan from Iran carrying a load of potent rockets for use against U.S. and allied forces.  Last time I checked, Iran does not have wide open borders where any sympathetic, Iranian, Taliban-lover could decide to truck in a load of 122mm rockets on a whim.   The rockets came from the mullahs and their henchmen, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  No two ways about it.   Yet the article phrases this as, “the strongest evidence yet of a significant escalation in Tehran’s support for the Taliban…”  This is not “evidence” of anything.   It is the proverbial smoking gun.   It is both hands in the cookie jar, crumbs all over the face, cookie sticking out of the mouth.   And, so far, the most strident statement comes from the British Foreign Secretary, to wit: good neighbors do not send 122mm rockets across the border.

Here is an account published in Yahoo News! of the same incident which provides additional details:

The shipment is seen as a serious escalation in Iran’s state support of the Taliban insurgency, according to NATO officials and described in detail by an international intelligence official.

It’s also an escalation in the proxy war Western officials say Iran is waging against U.S. and other Western forces in Afghanistan, as Washington continues to lobby for tougher international sanctions against Tehran to dissuade it from its alleged goal of building nuclear weapons.

Fascinating.  This is a “serious escalation” of Iran’s “proxy war…against U.S. and other Western forces…”  Yes, indeed.  It seems to be accepted that Iran is waging a proxy war against us.  Afterall, the U.S. is not blameless.   We are hurting Iran, lobbying “for tougher international sanctions” that do nothing to stop their nuke program but, on the other hand, no doubt hurt their feelings very much.

The article goes on to note that the Taliban are not happy with the common weapons and ammunition being provided by the mullahs:

In a separate development, the intelligence official said a high-level Afghan Taliban leader had travelled to Iran in the past two weeks to meet with a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force leader to ask for more powerful weapons to attack Afghan and NATO troops in the spring and summer fighting season.

***

In the alleged meeting with the Quds Force, the Taliban leader is believed to have asked the Iranians to provide more shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile systems, such as the two Iran provided in 2007, which were used against one British and one U.S. Chinook helicopter, the official said. But Iran has not provided such weapons since, sticking to the smaller 107-millimeter rockets, C4 plastic explosives that have been used in some improvised explosive devices here, rocket-propelled grenades, and small arms like AK47 assault rifles, the official said.

Good to know that the IRG has some limits on what types of weaponry they will and will not furnish for the express purpose of killing Americans.  Of course, we assume that the IRG has not “provided such weapons since…”  How can we know for sure?   Maybe the IRG sent our Afghan commanders a small note:  sorry about those AA missiles, guys.  Just kidding around with you!

What sort of response has this “escalation” earned the regime in Tehran?  (A regime, mind you, that is incomparably more brutal and bloodthirsty than the Libyan regime that Obama recently said had lost its right to rule).

Nothing.

If one our readers can provide a link or quote to an official White House or State Department response to this latest outrage, I will gladly update this post.   I have yet to find one.   This is perfectly consistent with an Administration that, over and over again, is voting “present” on every, major foreign policy issue.

Iranian uprising in 2009?  Sorry, can’t meddle.  Don’t want to be seen intruding on the internal affairs of the bloodthirsty tyrants in Tehran.

Overthrow of autocracy in Tunisia?  Missed that one.  Sorry.  Busy getting a Slurpee or something.

Riots in Egypt?  Well, um, some of us think Mubarak is a swell guy and others think he has to go, but not yet, eventually, maybe, and probably soon if it looks like the protesters are actually going to succeed.

Revolt in Libya?  We’re thinking….long and hard.  Yes, Qaddafi should step down, but we are not prepared to help in any meaningful way, regardless of the slaughter.

Pathetic.

And here we have the latest outrage from the Dictators in Tehran, caught red-handed providing rockets to the Taliban (and entertaining Taliban officials with weapons shopping lists) and the Administration has no response.

But cheer up.  Our recently-demoted to second-class-ally-status Brits are going to have a word with the Iranian ambassador.  Terrific.

How much lower can we sink?

NYT Changing Tune on Afghanistan? Are Fairies Real?

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 9 months ago

When a newspaper as biased and agenda-driven as The New York Times begins to voice even cautious optimism about Afghanistan, there is only one question to ask:  how does this help the liberal agenda?

Herschel covered the opinion piece by Nathaniel Fick and John Nagl in his most recent post and threw considerable cold water on Fick and Nagl’s optimism.   Within the space of a day, The New York Times runs an almost companion-piece/follow up article by Carlotta Gall that reports on growing “fissures” between the fighting ranks of the Taliban and their Pakistani-based masters.

Consider this hopeful tone:

Recent defeats and general weariness after nine years of war are creating fissures between the Taliban’s top leadership based in Pakistan and midlevel field commanders, who have borne the brunt of the fighting and are reluctant to return to some battle zones, Taliban members said in interviews.

After suffering defeats with the influx of thousands of new American troops in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand last year, many Taliban fighters retreated across the border to the safety of Pakistan. They are now coming under pressure from their leaders to return to Afghanistan to step up the fight again, a Taliban commander said. Many are hesitant to do so, at least for now.

“I have talked to some commanders, and they are reluctant to fight,” one 45-year-old commander who has been with the Taliban since its founding in 1994 said in an interview in this southern city. He spoke on condition he not be identified because he was in hiding from American and government forces. “Definitely there is disagreement between the field commanders and the leaders over their demands to go and fight.”

It is a bit disorienting, I admit.  I will have to ask my father, a WWII veteran, whether this is what newspapers used to sound like before they began bleating unashamedly for American defeat.

At any rate, after reading these, two articles (and regaining my equilibrium) I wonder whether we are beginning to see the first bit of 2012 Campaign messaging on Afghanistan.

I should state up front that I would like to believe that the war in Afghanistan is going better.  I am not afraid to use the word, “victory.”  Indeed, it is almost impossible to believe that the influx of additional troops — although far too few vis a vis the Iraqi Surge– could not achieve at least some tactical gains.  Furthermore, when I reflect on the unbelievably negative reporting from liberal media throughout the Iraq campaign, I consider that a few, like Michael Yon, who spent long embeds with combat units, pointed to a turnaround in Iraq long before it became clearly established, so, perhaps, Fick and Nagl have insights that the rest of the media is missing.

Could major media outlets like the NYT have learned from their mistakes on Iraq and actually be catching the first signs of a turnaround in Afghanistan?

Maybe.  But I doubt it.  As any parent will tell you, when your 12-year old, who is allergic to washing dirty dishes, starts cheerfully cleaning the kitchen, the first reaction is suspicion not sudden conversion.  It is about knowing with whom you are dealing.

And when we are dealing with liberal media like the NYT, we know that they have a congenital predisposition to echo whatever talking points they are given by Obama and the Democrats in general.

Turning to the Fick/Nagl piece and the Gall article, is there a discernible message being conveyed?  Yes, it seems that way.  When you compare these, two pieces on Afghanistan, there is a narrative that emerges that may very well be Obama’s re-election theme for 2012 on foreign policy: bringing Afghanistan back from the drift of the Bush years and making it possible to “Afghanize” the war by 2014, ending U.S. involvement.

Consider the Fick/Nagl opinion piece.

It stresses themes that are clear, Obama policy goals such as drawing down troop levels:

It now seems more likely than not that the country can achieve the modest level of stability and self-reliance necessary to allow the United States to responsibly draw down its forces from 100,000 to 25,000 troops over the next four years.

Here is another liberal talking point that argues that we can prevail in Afghanistan by simply protecting population centers and key road:

Half of the violence in Afghanistan takes place in only 9 of its nearly 400 districts, with Sangin ranking among the very worst. Slowly but surely, even in Sangin, the Taliban are being driven from their sanctuaries as the coalition focuses on protecting the Afghan people in key population centers and hubs of economic activity, and along the roads that connect them. Once these areas are cleared, it will be possible to hold them with Afghan troops and a few American advisers — allowing the United States to thin its deployments over time.

Again, the key aim emphasized is to leave behind a “few American advisers… to thin [U.S.] deployments over time.”  I am not against reducing deployments “over time,” but this is a basic disagreement over strategy between having enough troops to beat down the Taliban and getting by with insufficient numbers for too short a time to do any, lasting good.   In order for the “less is more” approach to work, however, the ANA has to get much bigger, much better and, most importantly, much faster.  Strangely enough that is just what Fick and Nagl find:

Afghan Army troop strength has increased remarkably. The sheer scale of the effort at the Kabul Military Training Center has to be seen to be appreciated. Rows of new barracks surround a blue-domed mosque, and live-fire training ranges stretched to the mountains on the horizon.

It was a revelation to watch an Afghan squad, only days from deployment to Paktika Province on the Pakistani border, demonstrate a fire-and-maneuver exercise before jogging over to chat with American visitors. When asked, each soldier said that he had joined the Army to serve Afghanistan. Most encouraging of all was the response to a question that resonates with 18- and 19-year-old soldiers everywhere: how does your mother feel? “Proud.”

And then we have the theme that Obama and liberals everywhere hooted constantly– the tragic distraction of Bush’s Iraq (the “bad war”) that we are now, at long last overcoming; the prospect of negotiating with the Taliban to end the war that is “vital” to our national interests (the “good war”):

Not since the deterioration in conditions in Iraq that drew our attention away from Afghanistan have coalition forces been in such a strong position to force the enemy to the negotiating table. We should hold fast and work for the day when Afghanistan, and our vital interests there, can be safeguarded primarily by Afghans.

The planned drawdown of forces in 2014 is a foregone conclusion.  Negotiations with the Taliban is a favorite fantasy of the Administration.

The news article by Gall picks up the ball from Fick and Nagl nicely. As noted in the quote above, the “influx of thousands of…troops” has worn down the Taliban and created “fissures” between the fighters and Taliban leadership in Pakistan.   The opportunity for negotiation just keeps getting better and better.  In fact, as Gall frames it, if it wasn’t for those stick-in-the-mud-mullahs in Pakistan, Hillary Clinton would be signing peace deals all over the place:

The differences point not just to the increasing stresses on the battlefield for midlevel Taliban commanders like him, but also to the difficulty of ending the insurgency as long as the Taliban’s top leadership has sanctuary in Pakistan, which has long protected and sponsored the Taliban.

Secure across the border, and tightly controlled by Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, the top Taliban leadership remains uncompromising. At the urging of their protectors in Pakistan, Taliban members say, they continue to push midlevel Taliban commanders back across the border to carry on the insurgency, which extends Pakistan’s influence in southern Afghanistan.

The midlevel commanders have little choice but to comply, as they also depend on sanctuaries in Pakistan, where they maintain their families, say residents in Kandahar who know the Taliban well. The Taliban commander said in his interview that the field commanders would obey their orders to resume the fight, however reluctant they might be.

We have this about won, it seems.  But as Herschel has repeatedly noted, the Taliban cannot be beaten with the whack-a-mole strategy.  We have too few troops spread out across too much territory.  This Administration has been trying to find the exit ramp out of Afghanistan since day one.

If the NYT stories are any indication, the message from Obama on Afghanistan in 2011 and beyond is more smoke and mirrors.  Or is that ‘hope and change’ ?

Former Afghan Spy Chief Slams Taliban Talks

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 11 months ago

From The Washington Post:

Peace talks with the Taliban will lead to disaster unless the insurgent group is disarmed first, Afghanistan’s former intelligence chief said Thursday.

Amrullah Saleh, who headed Afghanistan’s spy agency from 2004 until earlier this year, said the key to peace with the Taliban is cutting off their support from Pakistan and disarming and dismantling the group before allowing them to operate as a normal political party.

“Demobilize them, disarm them, take their headquarters out of the Pakistani intelligence’s basements,” Saleh said. “Force the Taliban to play according to the script of democracy,” he added, predicting the party would ultimately fail, “in a country where law rules, not the gun … not the law of intimidation.”

Saleh said the United States should give Pakistan a deadline of July 2011 to pursue top insurgents inside their borders or threaten to send in U.S. troops to do the job.

Saleh, who headed the Afghan National Directorate of Security until he resigned last June from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, warned an audience at the National Press Club that failure to cut off Pakistani support would allow the Taliban to only pretend to make peace, then sweep back to power after NATO troops leave.

The former spy chief’s comments display the dissension at the highest levels of Afghan political society over whether to engage the Taliban in talks, or keep fighting them. His criticism of Pakistan also highlights the widespread suspicion among Afghanistan’s elites that the neighboring power continues to allow militants to flourish inside Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have said that such a deal is key to drawing down U.S. and NATO troops, starting in July 2011, with eventual handover to Afghan forces in 2014.

Saleh said this year’s surge of U.S. troops had accomplished a “temporary effect” of securing some territory, but failed to change the “fundamentals.”

“The Taliban leadership has not been captured or killed,” he said. “Al-Qaida has not been defeated.”

He added: “The current strategy still believes Pakistan is honest, or at least 50 percent honest.” Still, he predicted Pakistan would continue to support the Taliban and other proxies to try to maintain influence in Afghanistan.

Saleh ran Afghanistan’s intelligence service after serving in the mostly ethnic Tajik Afghan Northern Alliance, which battled the Taliban before the U.S. invasion. Many members of Tajik regions together with other Afghan minorities have warned of another Afghan civil war if Karzai makes a deal with Taliban.

Not much talk here of digging wells, handing out candy to the children and providing governance to the people.  Much talk of killing Taliban and al Qaeda, incursions into Pakistan and disarming and dismantling the insurgents.

What a breath of fresh air to hear honest analysis from someone on the scene and who should be “in the know.”  As for killing or capturing Taliban leadership, he refers – it seems to me – to senior leadership.  That would be a good thing of course, and my lack of admiration for the HVT campaign has been primarily associated with mid-level commanders.  I applauded the killing of Baitullah Mehsud (TTP).

Still, I believe that the best way to handle the insurgency and marginalize the leadership is from the bottom up, not the top down.  Either way, Saleh deals with the whole of the insurgency when he discusses disarming, dismantling and killing.  That about covers it.

As for Pakistan, there is no hushed, reverent tone in his missive in respect for their being a nuclear power.  There is no respect for an imaginary Durand line.  There is only knowledge that the Taliban and al Qaeda live in the Hindu Kush, Nuristan, Kunar, Helmand and surrounding areas.  They must be killed.  Would that our own strategic thinkers were so clear-headed.

The HVT Campaign and New Breed of Taliban Commanders

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 11 months ago

From The Telegraph:

The special forces onslaught hailed by Nato as helping turn the momentum against the Taliban was in fact making peace more remote he claimed.

Mullah Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a deputy leader of Hamid Karzai’s peace council tasked with finding a political settlement, said the attempt to wipe out the Taliban hierarchy was “in vain”.

The comments by the former Taliban ambassador to the United Nations contradict buoyant Nato commanders who have boasted the raids by troops including the SAS have rattled the insurgency.

By driving Taliban from their heartlands with Barack Obama’s surge reinforcements, while targeting the command, Nato believes it can drive insurgents to the negotiating table.

Mullah Mujahid however said an older more pragmatic generation of Taliban leaders was being replaced by zealots opposed to any reconciliation.

He said: “Any older commanders that have been killed, the fanatical ones have come in their place.

“In that way we are losing a lot of politically-minded Taliban. The new ones have a more religious mentality. They are only fighters.” Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir, a hardliner and former Guantánamo Bay prisoner who rose to become deputy leader this year, typified the new breed he said.

While regular readers know all about my lack of advocacy for the HVT campaign, I don’t want to read too much into this report.  Mujahid’s account isn’t reason enough to abandon the HVT campaign if it’s working.  My claim isn’t (and has never been) that we are replacing bad actors with worse actors, or that the SOF operators aren’t highly qualified and useful warriors, or that it wouldn’t be a good thing to have more Taliban commanders dead.  My claim has heretofore been that it is a mostly ineffective strategy and misuse of highly skilled operators who should be matrixed to infantry Battalions (as in the Marine Corps, i.e., Force Recon and Scout Sniper).

Nor have I been a proponent of the ridiculous reconciliation program.  There is absolutely no point of similarity between the Sons of Iraq program – implemented when the Iraqi insurgents were losing badly – and the supposed Taliban reconciliation program.

However, there is an interesting revelation that comports with a theme I have been following, that is, the increased religious radicalization of the Afghan Taliban given the protracted nature of the campaign and the prolonged exposure to foreign (Arabic) religious influences.  The longer this thing draws out, the more we are facing (what was once) a national insurgency that has now become a transnational insurgency.

Holding Terrain in Afghanistan: Pakistan’s Games of Duplicity Part III

BY Herschel Smith
4 years ago

In response to U.S. Marine Corps Combat Action in Sangin, Old Warrior said:

… in my mind, if you go to war, go to war right. They are completely robbing most of these young men of the resources that are available to them. Also, as long as the Taliban is crossing over from Pakistan every minute, they will never cease to multiply and that blood vessel needs to be cut quickly. For every Taliban these men kill, another hundred cross the border to replace them. The fundamental strategy of this war is faulty, and it saddens me to see the young, brave men of the infantry, in particular, have to pay the price with their lives. -0311 Vietnam

Recall Lt. Col Allen West’s counsel regarding the difference between occupying terrain and chasing the enemy where he establishes himself.  Population-centric counterinsurgency isn’t any different than occupying physical terrain in time and space, except that the terrain is the mind and will of the population.  That’s why we have “human terrain teams” deployed in Afghanistan (and did in Iraq).

But just like the 80-100 foreign fighters crossing the Syrian border into Iraq for many months on end, and the Quds forces who came across the Iran-Iraq border (many even before the war began), Afghanistan is a theater in a larger, transnational insurgency.  In fact, the problem is even more pronounced in Afghanistan than it was in Iraq.  Iraq was a country.  It’s best not to think of Afghanistan as a country.  It’s also best not to think of the Taliban as a Pashtun insurgency.  It isn’t.  There are Uzbeks, Arabs, Afghanis, Pakistanis and others involved (even a smattering of Europeans).

In Games of Duplicity and the End of Tribe in Pakistan, and then again in Pakistan’s Games of Duplicity Part II, we discussed Pakistan’s gaming the system of largesse with U.S. lawmakers and various U.S. administrations.  There is an important intersecting issue here pertaining to a much-discussed Taliban and al Qaeda ideological alignments.  I previously observed that:

… they have evolved into a much more radical organization than the original Taliban bent on global engagement, what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban. The TTP shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.  A Pakistan interior ministry official has even said that the TTP and al Qaeda are one and the same.

Finally, recall our discussions of David Rohde’s remarkable captivity by the Taliban and his subsequent escape to Pakistani Army forces.  At the time I found it especially troubling and even somewhat amusing how little the presence of Pakistani forces mattered to Taliban sanctuary.  Now comes a report by The Nation that adds to our knowledge base of the events surrounding David’s captivity and escape, and the collusion of Pakistani ISI with the Taliban.  Extensive quoting is necessary.

On a Friday night in June 2009, New York Times reporter David Rohde and his translator made a dramatic escape from captivity in Pakistan, climbing over a wall while their Afghan Taliban guards slept. Rohde wore sandals and a traditional salwar kameez, and he had a long beard, grown during his seven-month imprisonment. The two men walked in the darkness of the city, a Taliban ministate, past mud-brick huts, and found their way to a Pakistani military base just minutes away.

Rohde had been a prisoner shared by two competing groups of Taliban fighters, both of which appear to have held him not as a political or military tool in their operations against the US and Afghan governments but for his monetary value as a hostage.

Rohde’s escape was an unexpectedly joyous ending to a harrowing episode for him, his wife, his colleagues and friends. But it was by no means the end of the story.

An Afghan who is well acquainted with several of the participants in the kidnapping has provided The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute with new details about the perpetrators, as well as new information about what happened after Rohde’s escape. This source’s account reveals how Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) serves as an arbiter for the various Taliban groups that compete with one another for influence, loot and profits. According to the source, the ISI, acting on behalf of one Taliban faction, took two of Rohde’s guards into custody to interrogate them about how he escaped. Then, despite its knowledge of the men’s role in the kidnapping, the ISI simply set them free.

Though this new information merely lends more substance to already strong suspicions about the ISI’s close relationship with the Taliban, it’s still an explosive allegation: rather than cooperating with US authorities, Pakistan’s intelligence agency essentially became an accessory after the fact to Rohde’s kidnapping.

[ ... ]

After capturing Rohde, Najibullah quickly saw dollar signs. Realizing that he might have to hold on to Rohde for a long time to shake loose real money in ransom, Najibullah brought him to Pakistan, where the American reporter, his translator and his driver were placed in the custody of the Haqqani network. Rohde, in his forthcoming book, explains how he had made a mistake his second night in captivity: desperate to stay alive, he told Najibullah that he could be traded for “prisoners and millions of dollars.”

The Haqqanis, a mujahedeen clan from Khost province, may be some of the most effective commanders battling US forces. They deploy terrorist tactics—waves of well-trained attackers wearing explosive vests deployed in operations such as the assault on the Kabul guesthouses, the assassination attempt against Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a series of large-scale actions against US combat outposts on the border near Pakistan.

The Haqqanis were even more effective against the Soviets in the 1980s, when they worked closely with the CIA. The late former Congressman Charles Wilson famously referred to Jalaluddin Haqqani back then as “goodness personified.” A former agency official who used to know Jalaluddin said, “I really regret the fact that we are tangling with him, because he is not a guy to fuck around with.”

When the United States invaded Afghanistan, the Haqqanis sided with the Taliban, not Karzai. By 2002 the Haqqanis were almost on the ropes. Jalaluddin was injured in a US bombing raid. So the younger generation took over. Jalaluddin’s son Siraj, trained like his father in the twin arts of paramilitary warfare and charismatic religious leadership, was now in charge.

The Haqqanis are also known to live well. “They do business,” The Nation’s source said. “They’ve done business for years. They are involved in war, but if they find some business opportunity, they do it. They like buying houses and selling them and stuff like that. Now they have trucks and trucking equipment in Peshawar.”

Rohde’s kidnapping was in essence a business opportunity. Najibullah, the young commander who first captured Rohde, was not a subordinate of the Haqqanis; but by bringing Rohde to them, he would build up his reputation with the clan, giving him a safe base from which to conduct negotiations. Najibullah and his men brought Rohde across Afghanistan’s border to the Haqqanis to make it easier to hold him for an extended period, according to the source familiar with the kidnapping. In Pakistan, they figured, they were safe from American rescue efforts, since they understood that the Haqqanis had the protection of the ISI …

The Nation’s Afghan source said that guarding Rohde was a task shared by Najibullah and the Haqqanis, who provided the logistical support, housing and a secure environment in which to operate near Afghanistan. With so much money at stake, each faction was mistrustful of the other. Of Rohde’s three chief guards, one was a Haqqani loyalist and two were Najibullah’s men. So important was this operation to Najibullah that he had his brother Timor Shah act as a full-time guard for Rohde. (These details are corroborated in Rohde’s book.)

Not only were the Haqqanis and Najibullah eager to use Rohde for profit but the main Taliban Shura—the head council that oversees the Afghan Taliban—hoped to get involved as well, according to The Nation’s source …

Throughout his captivity, Rohde was well aware of the likely connections between the ISI and the Haqqanis who held him, though he said no ISI agents made themselves known during his captivity. “I didn’t witness any direct contact between the ISI and the Haqqanis.” That said, he was living proof, in a sense, that Pakistani authorities gave the Haqqanis full freedom to do as they liked. “What I did see,” he emphasized, “was that Pakistan forces never came off their bases, and the Haqqanis were allowed to operate their own Taliban ministate in North Waziristan.”

In Pakistan, Rohde’s escape was devastating for the Taliban. Not only had they lost their prize prisoner but the loss caused the Haqqanis and Najibullah to turn on each other. They were both convinced, in a case of mirror imaging, that the other one must have released Rohde as part of a secret arrangement in which they kept the ransom money for themselves. Instead of suspecting incompetence on the part of the guards, they believed someone was cheating and getting rich.

“There was a big problem between Siraj [Haqqani] and Najibullah,” the source familiar with the kidnappers told me. “A huge issue. Siraj was blaming Najibullah, that he’s the one who took money from the Americans and let the guy go. 
And [Najibullah] was blaming him, that he did it, because it was his compound.”

Even the Taliban Shura in Quetta got involved, the source said. They “thought that Siraj kept the money.”

To arbitrate the dispute about the kidnapping, the Haqqanis turned to the Pakistan government’s intelligence service, according to The Nation’s source. Siraj, the source said, turned over the two guards affiliated with Najibullah to the ISI for questioning. “One of them,” the source said, “was Najib’s brother Timor Shah.”

The guards were allegedly interrogated fiercely and tortured by the ISI. The interrogators demanded to know exactly how Rohde had escaped. Who had let him go, and why? Were the men paid a ransom they had not shared? In other words, the ISI was making sure that the relations between the Taliban factions weren’t destroyed by anyone’s betrayal.

Once the ISI was convinced that there had been no bribes and no ransom, Rohde’s guards were set free. Despite their role in the kidnapping, they were not charged in court or handed over to the Americans. After more than a month in custody, they were let go.

First, while this report ends with musings on civil war within the Taliban, there is no such war.  There might be individuals who battle each other for preeminence, but the various factions seem to me to get along remarkably well, from the Tehrik-i-Taliban to the Haqqani network, to the Quetta Shura, to al Qaeda.  Anyone who questions the religious and ideological underpinnings of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s fighters should make sure to watch this interview by the NEFA Foundation.  Regardless of the internecine battles, the Taliban factions are well connected.

Second, we have previously focused in on Matthew Hoh’s arguments to get out of Afghanistan because the enemy is in Pakistan.

Advocating disengagement from Afghanistan is tantamount to suggesting that one front against the enemy would be better than two, and that one nation involved in the struggle would be better than two (assuming that Pakistan would keep up the fight in our total absence, an assumption for which I see no basis).  It’s tantamount to suggesting that it’s better to give the Taliban and al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan as Pakistan presses them from their side, or that it’s better to give them safe haven in Pakistan while we press them from our side.  Both suggestions are preposterous.

This isn’t about nation-states and imaginary boundaries.  When we think this way we do err in that we superimpose a Western model on a region of the world where it doesn’t apply.  This is about a transnational insurgency, and it’s never better to give the enemy more land, more latitude, more space, more people, more money, and more safety.  Any arguments to this effect are mistaken at a very fundamental level.

Seeing things in terms of Pakistan or Afghanistan is a category error.  We aren’t dealing with European nation-states, but dangerous waters in which rogue elements freely swim, where they exchange ideas and are increasingly becoming radicalized, and where elements of the Pakistani ISI collude with the enemy rather than fight them.

As we focus on physical and human terrain in Afghanistan, it has become painfully obvious that no amount of focus or effort will secure that terrain when the very insurgents we fight are supported by the Pakistani ISI and given both safe haven and free passage across the border.

Finally, the Durand line is imaginary, and unless we chase and kill the insurgents where they are, the campaign in Afghanistan is doomed.  The press is filled with positive reports lately about progress in Afghanistan, but wherever the ebb or flow of the war is, they enemy awaits our withdrawal to reclaim his own territory.  Pakistan is an enemy in this campaign, not an ally.  Unless we take clear-headed action in the coming months to address this problem, not only will the opportunity to win the campaign be lost, but the opportunity to use this theater to wage war on our enemy will have been relinquished.  We will not find a better theater than this one.

From the Front Lines in Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 1 month ago

An important and recent account of combat action from a friend and patriot currently in Afghanistan.

How can you not love and admire the American fighting man. Men who are sent perform pointless, thankless tasks in the service of their nation. Poorly lead, poorly supported; they still manage to perform with patience and valor. It is unfortunate that there are no words to describe the thoughts and actions of such men. I try to explain to the privileged 99% of American citizens who do not serve, just what this means. And fail miserably. They just look at me, disbelief on their faces and I’m sure, disgust on mine.

So the platoon is vehicle mounted, MRAPS and Hmmwv’s with ANA in Ford Rangers. The platoon negotiates a defile with high ground all around and the ambush is sprung when the lead and then trail vehicles are disabled with IED and RPG fire. Its a good size linear ambush; PKM’s and RPG’s. The platoon takes causalities immediately and all vehicular maneuver is initially destroyed under intense fire. The soldiers dismount to fight for their lives. Even the gunners are forced off their turrets.The Taliban forces have RPG 9′s and are trying to take the vehicles apart even as the PKM fire is pinning the dismounts and killing and wounding. C2 is a mess and the some of the ANA forces are trying to run away.

One soldier, armed with an old iron sighted M14 he found in a Conex container in a small outpost, targets three PKM gunners who have the main element pinned down. The Taliban forces intend to reduce this force to the point that they can conduct a ground assault across the ambush site and secure equipment and prisoners. Platoon leadership is massing fires and calling for Medivac and CAS, but it’s not going too well.

The RPG men are at 200-350 meters, close to their max range. They are popping up and down over various rocky berms that define the surrounding high ground above the kill zone. They know their business; target the vehicles and masses of men, hold them in place so that the machinegun fire and ground assault forces can finish the job. As they pop up and down they make lousy targets for the ambushed forces pinned down below. The RPG’s are fast and loud and leave an evil, snaking, brown smoke trail in their wake.

Its the PKM fire that is the real issue. Cleverly and with sound tactical acumen, they are positioned within their max range on a berm above and behind the RPG gunners. It is very difficult for the U.S. Forces on the valley floor to see them and fix them with their own fires. Here the M4 is not really in its element. Firing up slope from exposed positions at machine gunners with cover and concealment, the little 5.56mm round is no match for the  7.62mm rounds delivered at a high rate of fire. The soldiers are off their trucks, away from their own machine guns and heavy weapons which again are very limited due to the steeply sloping terrain. They are difficult to elevate to the point that effective fire can be delivered. The Taliban RPG and PKM gunners suffer no limitations.

The platoon leadership struggles to maintain their fires and a fighting force. Despite all the chaos they begin to get vehicles moving and their remaining heavy weapons on target. The Taliban is tightening the noose on this ambush. The balance of the U.S. forces are still dismounted, returning fire and treating casualties. The Taliban now has 360 degree fire on this tiny force. U.S. Forces are surrounded and need to get the heck out of there.

The M14 gunner has watched fire from 3 specific PKM’s who have the front, back and sides of the ambushed forces pinned down. With some assistance spotting fire, he is able to silence or slow them down. He then takes the initiative and with a fire team in tow; maneuvers on a ridge line and kills the assault commander, his body guard and other PKM gunners. This breaks the back of the assault force and the platoon is now able to take charge of their Alamo Vally and recover their tactical loses from the ambush. CAS is now on site but no one cares. It’s F15′s and they rarely drop anything for fear of civilian collateral damage. Besides, the Platoon FAC is mired in ROE as opposed to mission, concerns. He is removed from the platoon COP within 24 hours of this fight.

The ambush is defeated but the remains of the platoon have very little time to recover and remove their own dead and wounded and to police the Taliban dead. The remains of the Taliban force are quickly scrutinized. The U.S Forces need to get the heck out of this ambush site before they are counter attacked by a larger Taliban force.

The Taliban assault force commander is well dressed and equipped. His pockets are rifled to reveal papers identifying him as a Pakistani Intelligence official. Its difficult to match his identification papers to his person because he was shot in the face and not much remains. He is also caring a small black book that has identifying and contact information for all the ANA and ANP officials in this area. The platoon interpreter is on site and he suggests that the information in this black book demonstrates the complicity of all local Afghan officials.

The Platoon consolidates vehicles and equipment for evacuation. Dustoff arrives for the wounded and though full of complaints, hauls the combat dead as well. Some equipment is destroyed on site with Thermite and direct fire and the Platoon returns to their COP to debrief, refit and turn-in their hard earned combat intelligence. Its really just another day in Afghanistan.

There are many themes from previous discussions, from Pakistani duplicity in this campaign, to micromanagement of the enlisted men, to ANA cowardice and lack of discipline, to the need for additional training in marksmanship and the need to arm members of fire teams and squads with various weapons that enable them to engage in more long range fire and maneuver tactics (in Marine Corps terms, this would mean relying heavily on the DM, or Designated Marksman, or Scout Sniper for long range targeting).  It also means arming squads with M14s or some equivalent weapon.  There are tens of thousands of M14s still in armories in the U.S. waiting to be utilized.

But without rehearsing too much detail on the main themes of heroism, megalomaniacal staff level officers, weapons training and selection, and poor performance of our allies, this account takes its place among the great ones in this campaign.  God bless the U.S. warrior.


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