Last week in one of the stronger passages of a solid speech President Trump said “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.” Most Americans, to include myself normally like bold, unambiguous statements like that. Our nation building efforts in Afghanistan have not born much fruit, Americans don’t, as a general rule, like terrorists. Killing them is, in theory, not a problem.
What is a problem is defining who is or is not a terrorist in the context of Afghanistan today. The US and her allies do not have reliable human intelligence networks in Afghanistan resulting in a 15 year run of raiding Afghans who are not connected to the Taliban and also killing some of the strongest supporters we had in that country. For example Razi Khan, the district governor of Chora district in the Taliban controlled Oruzgan province. Razi Khan had fought the Taliban all his life and was a strong ally of the Australian military who were assigned to Oruzgan province. He was killed by the Australian SAS during a night raid that was based on faulty intelligence.
There is also the problem of tribal leaders who are congruent with our goals in Afghanistan but rejected government officials sent by Kabul who the locals viewed as little more than criminals. Ajmal Khan Zazai, Canadian citizen and head of the tribal federation in the Zazai valley of Paktia province is one of those. As I wrote here back in 2010 he was considered an AOG (Armed Opposition Group) leader by the US Army and thus, today, could be considered a “terrorist”.
The American military in general and Secretary Mattis in particular is not adverse to learning bitter lessons, adapting to those lessons and overcoming them in time. But it is not an institution that values creativity which results in change in small increments. The military attracts smart, orderly people who master the discipline they work in but view change as micro steps of improvements to the existing structure. People like this fit well inside the evaluation structures these institutions use to judge performance.
That is a function of human nature. The military, like all bureaucracies, is chocked full of conscientious people who can work very hard at going the wrong direction for years on end. Creativity is a high risk, high gain game best played by highly creative people. It is much safer for the high intelligence segment of the population to find a functioning entity and operate as a cog within that entity. Highly creative people tend to go off on tangents all the time but the probability that one of those tangents is exactly what is needed at the exact time it is proposed are ridiculously low. The most reasonable response to the tangential ideas from a highly creative person is “that’s stupid”. Take a few minutes to listen to one of my favorite Canadians explain this dynamic in detail.
Damn, I just went off on tangent again. The purpose for that was to, once again, point out that dismissing creative solutions like the one Eric Prince proposed is to be expected but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily well informed.
It is important to note that our stated strategy of preventing a terrorist organization from planning and launching attacks against America from Afghanistan is a red herring. As friend of FRI, J Harlin pointed out in the comments section, the 9/11 attacks were planned in Hamburg, Germany; controlled from Yemen and the vital training for the attack took place in Arizona and Florida. Afghanistan housed bin Laden, the founder of al Qaeda, which was a good reason to go there and smoke check him. It is also the reason we should have never let him slip away once we had him trapped in Tora Bora.
Second, focusing on the application of force alone to “win” is not a coherent solution to our commitment in Afghanistan. The war there will end with a political settlement, not a military victory. Crafting that settlement will take creative diplomatic thinking that isolates the Taliban affiliated tribes and clans from the rest of the Afghan population. All the military can do now is provide the space for these efforts by keeping the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the fight.
Do we have the talent resident in our diplomatic corps to take advantage of the time/space being generated by military? We have people with the requisite language skills, connections and time in country seeded throughout the various government establishments (DoS, DEA, CIA, NSA, USAID, etc…) to foster an acceptable endstate. Are these people being sent back into the fray? Is there a plan or even a single unifying leader with the authority of a Viceroy to implement a plan?
The answer, I fear, is no because the idea of splitting the Taliban from the rest of the population while playing India off against Pakistan is, in the eyes of our federal bureaucracies, stupid. Yet in the eyes of creative, strategic thinkers it is the only plan that will work. Inshallah somebody with the traits of the later will emerge to shepherd the efforts of the former to a logical end.
Bellum Romanum is all-out war without restraint as Romans practiced it against groups they considered to be barbarians. I came upon the term a few days ago listening to a Dan Carlin Hard Corps History podcast about my ancestors titled the Celtic Holocaust. He starts the podcast by asking “what are you willing to die for”? He then ups the ante by asking “what are you willing to sacrifice everything for? That question, although profound, is an alien concept in the western world today.
I recommend downloading the podcast, it’s a long one but fascinating. Although the topic involved the epic slaughter of my ancestors it is hard, these thousands of years removed, not to admire the Romans. Could you imagine going into battle, at hand to hand range, with a people who were 6 inches taller and commensurately stronger than your side? That had to be terrifying; as is the thought of being forced to take a stand where everything you know and love hangs in the balance.
Which brings us to Afghanistan. The Voice of America published a solid article recently which explains what an additional 4,000 American troops will most likely be doing when deployed to Afghanistan:
“We need guardian angels,” said Lt. Col. John Sandor, deputy senior adviser for the Afghan Army’s 201st Corps, referring to security forces that would protect U.S. training teams so they can work alongside Afghan brigades.
….Sometimes, said Maj. Richard Anderson, operations adviser for 201st Corps, the Afghan answer is: “Let the Americans do it.” In early spring, when U.S. forces asked the Afghan army to step up its pursuit of IS militants in Nangarhar province, they encountered resistance. Demoralized by an IS attack that killed 16 Afghan soldiers in April, Afghan commanders wanted the American and Afghan special operations forces to carry the fight. But ground units are needed to hold territory, so U.S. advisers were forced to spend weeks cajoling the Afghan Army to join the battle.”
It appears we are sending more American troops to protect their fellow American’s from the Afghan troops they are training and trying to get to fight. The Afghan soldiers apparently are not willing to die for a central government in Kabul that is not only corrupt but is also, in the eyes of most Afghans, not legitimate. How could they view it as anything else when it was installed and maintained by infidels from the west?
For American troops the question of what they are willing to die for is easily answered. Each other. That is the harsh reality of a military system designed to promote small unit cohesion by linking directly to unit histories, traditions, discipline and military virtue. The American military can fight effectively with or without the support of the American people. The support and appreciation of the military by the public helps mitigate the sacrifices soldiers are asked to make but it is not required. Most importantly soldiers know that if they are killed in battle their families will be provided for by the government who placed them in harms way.
Afghan troops do not enjoy the advantages of their western mentors. Afghanistan is not a cohesive country; it’s a disparate group of tribal peoples living inside an artificial boundary dictated by foreign colonialists over 100 years ago. Their army has no winning tradition, no lineage to draw upon, lacks competence at all levels and is unable to generate sufficient combat power to confront its internal enemies. The Afghan soldiers know if they are killed in battle their families are on their own. If wounded and unable to bribe the hospital staff to feed them soldiers will linger and die a protracted, agonizing, completely avoidable death.
The various groups that comprise the Taliban do not operate under the same circumstances as their countrymen in the Afghan military. They have built-in cohesion based on the tribal/clan structure from which they come. They often flock to successful commanders giving them rudimentary esprit de corps. The Taliban make an effort to look after the families of their fallen and although their medical capabilities are poor they are consistently applied. No Taliban fighter convalescing in a Pakistani or Iranian hospital is going to perish because nobody fed him.
Most importantly the Taliban are facing, in their minds, Bellum Romanum. They are fighting for their land, their families and their way of life. They view the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as puppets of western infidel powers bent on their total destruction. What’s the counter-narrative to that? There isn’t one.
The only course of action that would make any sense is placing private military mentor/trainers at the battalion (Kandak) level and leaving them there long enough for those units to develop cohesion around their mentors. Add to that combat enablers in the form of indirect fire, some decent snipers, effective tactical air and the lift needed for dust offs (medical evacuation) and combat resupply and maybe, just maybe, you can develop a security force that has the cohesion required to generate and sustain combat power.
Doing that would not take many men; it would take the right men, which could have proved difficult to find, incentivize, and retain. For now that option appears dead in the water so the point is moot. What is not moot is what it will take to achieve a military solution in Afghanistan. It would take some form of Bellum Romanum; a zero sum campaign that matches the zero sum attitude of the other side in this conflict. The American military cannot and will not fight that kind of war. We have fought like that in living memory and here is a story about what that looks like from my Dad, MajGen J.D. Lynch USMC (Ret).
When I was a first classman at USNA (somewhere around 2 centuries ago), during an aviation class, an instructor reminisced about WWII and his time as a carrier pilot flying Hellcats. When asked by one of the guys what he considered his most dangerous and for that matter, frightening experience during the war. His response was that, early in the war he was Admiral Nimitz’s pilot. After the Battle of Tarawa, the admiral was so concerned about the casualty figures that he was flown to Tarawa to see for himself (he traveled by sea planes in those early days of the war). In any event, the pilot, now an instructor at Navy, said that he left the plane with the admiral’s party and walked the Tarawa battlefield …. he said that was his most frightening experience of the war … the Marines just stared at everybody and seemed ready to kill anybody at any time with little or no reason.
Could you imagine front line troops so formidable that they scared a pilot (from their own side) who made his living landing on aircraft carriers? I can’t and we’re not going to see that kind of infantry anytime soon. We’re not going there because we don’t have to go there. The ANSF security forces aren’t going there either although they need to. In our enlightened modern world where history is little known and often twisted to fit the political narrative of the day we believe that war can be fit inside of some magical box that excludes butchery, savagery, hatred and slaughter. We believe we are above Bellum Romanus even in the face of Islamic terrorist who fight with the same methods and ferocity of the barbarian tribes that contested Roman rule.
Those who believe the arc of history will deliver us to an enlightened state where Marines in contact will always be tame enough to make senior naval officers comfortable inside their lines are deluded. Granted front line American infantry today does not resemble the Marines on Tarawa; it doesn’t have to as we’re not fighting an existential threat (yet). Our divided country, with its fractured culture and forgotten history, will be tested again. Most likely by a unified culture fighting under the banner of Islam. When that happens we will fight like the Roman’s fought, like the Vietcong fought, like we fought on the hellish islands in the Pacific or we will be vanquished. Then we will learn what the Romans knew; Vae victis (woe to the vanquished).
Sending more trainers to Afghanistan to watch over the trainers already there so the trainees don’t kill them is not a viable military strategy. It is, however about the only option available to the Axis of Adults given the the fiscal and manpower constraints the Pentagon operates under today.
The only diplomatic effort that could possibly break the current stalemate would involved way outside the box ideas like advocating for a Pashtun and Balouch (and a Kurdish while we’re at it) homeland that would erase the artificial lines drawn on the world map (by the west) over a hundred years ago. That would cause enough disruption in the status quo to get Pakistan, Turkey and Iran worked up to the point of hysteria while aligning ourselves with the insurgents goals. I like the idea of turning the insurgents back on their creators while we occupy the moral (these people deserve their own homeland) high ground.
It would also be sticking our thumb in the eye of the UN, an organization for which I have little use. But that’s not going to happen, outside the box thinking like that is no longer accepted by the ruling classes. It is a threat to their grip on power and prestige despite its practicality. They will fight to the last American to defend a system that is collapsing right in front of our eyes.
America can sustain the deployment of 10 to 15 thousand troops into Afghanistan indefinitely but we have a critical center of gravity. We will not tolerate excessive casualties. If the Taliban are able to do what Afghans have always done; if they isolate and destroy in detail a military unit, our adventure in Afghanistan will come to a rapid end. If they are not able to inflict large numbers of casualties on us then maybe we can run the clock on them to the point that even the Taliban are tired of fighting. Maybe….but betting on the Taliban growing weary of war, when all they know is war and they seem to be winning said war, is like financial planning via buying lottery tickets. It could work but the odds (and reality) are against it.
The privatization of the Afghanistan War is still generating headlines and the majority of the coverage is hostile, uninformed, inaccurate and basically ad hominem attacks on Mr. Prince. Did you know that Betsy Devos, the current Secretary of Education is his sister? Can anyone explain what that has to do with Afghanistan or why it is a standard feature in almost news story about this plan?
When looking at these stories one realizes that trying to explain this program to the media and general public is like trying to explain quantum physics to kindergartners. It appears to be a hopeless task but FRI has the advantage of an informed readership. With that in mind we’ll cover the details in the hopes that you, my dear readers, will have additional ammunition should you chose to engage friends, family or co-workers on the topic.
The Prince plan involves putting trainer/mentor teams at the battalion level of the Afghan National Army and augmenting their helicopter and tactical aircraft with some 90 additional high speed, low cost aircraft. The plan takes the current projected annual price for supporting the Afghan military from 40 billion down to 10 billion. Reducing the hemorrhaging of tax money to stabilize a losing effort is the strong component of a workable the plan.
The second benefit of the plan is reducing the stress on our tactical air assets. The Marine Corps air component is currently in crisis. Average flight hours for pilots have gone from well over 80 hours a month (on average) when I was on active duty to around 10 hours and that is not enough flight time to maintain proficiency. The primary Marine tac air platform, the F-18, is so worn out that Marines are going to museums to strip parts that are no longer in production of museum pieces to try and keep their birds in the air. The Navy, who wisely went with the F-18 Super Hornet instead of waiting for the trillion dollar F-35, is in slightly better shape. The Air Force also has serious readiness issues and all the services are hemorrhaging experienced pilots. Taking the load off the our tactical air fleet is an imperative.
Also part of the plan is a helicopter fleet for combat resupply and dust offs (medical evacuation). The Afghans had dust off’s when the Americans (and NATO allies) were there in force. They have none now which means Afghan troops, who would have survived their wounds in the past, now die. That is a moral killer and unquestionably contributes to the high desertion rate then ANA is experiencing.
Another component of the plan is embedding large teams of trainers/mentors at the battalion level where they will eat, sleep, train and fight with their Afghan colleagues. We have never tried this before with the exception of the high end Afghan Special Forces units. The embedded mentor teams of the past fought with the Afghans but did not live, eat or sleep with them. They were housed in secure FOB’s inside the Afghan FOB’s where Afghans were not welcomed and could go enter.
The costs associated with maintaining mini FOB’s inside Afghan FOB’s with KBR DFACs (chow halls) that served excellent American food (to include pecan pie and unlimited mint chocolate chip ice cream) flown into the country from who knows where were astronomical. I assume the Prince Plan is not duplicating that failed strategy and base the assumption on both the cost savings and the amount of experience Mr. Prince has doing this sort of thing in the 3rd world.
Added bonus for the proposal is that the DoD is already sending armed contractors to Afghanistan to mentor (another hat tip to Feral Jundi). Here is an example from Raytheon who is looking for “armed S2 mentors”. S2 means intelligence and what they are proposing is these guys arm themselves and then mentor Afghans on an individual basis. That’s not only crazy it illustrates the hypocrisy resident in DoD opposition to the Prince plan.
The weakness of Price’s plan is not the plan itself but the way the U.S. Government (USG) handles contracts like the one he is proposing. Unless they give it to Prince as a sole source contract it will be open for bidding. A sole source contract means the contractor is the only business that can provide the services needed. Based on my observations of the performance other US PMC contenders in Afghanistan I would argue that Prince should be the sole source. But that probably won’t happen in the highly charged political atmosphere in DC today. If a contract, based on this plan, is let for bid companies with demonstrated poor performance will be allowed to bid and if they come in with a lower cost than Prince they will win. Other international companies will bid too despite the fact that they cannot conduct the proper pre-deployment training (due to restrictive weapons laws in their home country). Because they can’t train up their people they will not incur the costs associated with that training and will naturally come in lower than Prince.
I saw this play out on the Kabul Embassy security force contract and would explain that debacle in detail were I not terrified of lawyers and law suits. If the DoD or DoS or whoever lets the contract chooses the lowest bidder the plan will fail, the savings evaporate, the quality of the embedded trainers will be poor and the results will be a dismal, expensive failure.
There is also the problem of ad hominem attacks on Prince because of the Nisour square incident. I addressed why those attacks are uninformed gibberish in this post. What I want to stress is I’ve been on both sides of that problem. I know well the gut wrenching fear of watching an Opel gun it’s engines and come after you in Nisour square. I’ve had two SUV’s shot out from under me in Kabul – one by the Brit army and one by the American army. I urge you to read the linked post to get some perspective, from a guy who has been on both sides of the situation, on the Raven 23 incident.
I rate the probability of this planning moving forward at 50/50. The reason for my optimism is that there are no other rational alternatives available. The Pentagon has proposed more of the same thing they’ve been doing which is clearly (by their own admission) failing. Senator John McCain, a man I hold in extremely low regard, is threatening to come up with his own plan and I can promise you his plan will be fraught with stupidity and fuzzy logic. He’ll take parts of the Prince plan and try to shoe horn military trainers into it resulting in a 40 billion increase vice a 40 billion decrease in spending…watch and see if I’m not right.
News reports from inside the administration indicate little enthusiasm from Secretary Mattis and the DoD. That may or may not be true. Our legacy media has zero credibility with me and the vast majority of my fellow citizens. If they are saying Mattis is opposed to the plan odds are he’s not. But if he is opposed he’ll need to come up with a better plan and he knows that he doesn’t have one.
The one legitimate obstacle appears to be General McMaster; the current head of the National Security Council and author of the book Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. McMaster appears to be opposing President Trump on many of his policies which you’d expect from a guy who wrote a book about weak generals who sucked up to the presidents they were serving. It also appears that McMaster is tolerating zero dissent in his office, firing anyone holding contrary views, retaining Obama appointed deadwood and refusing to use or acknowledge the term “Islamic Terrorist”. One would not expect that from the guy who wrote Dereliction of Duty. But just because a guy writes a book about flaky generals doesn’t mean he’ll end up not being a flaky general. He may not even be a flaky general, who would you know? Reading chicken entrails is easier then deciphering media reports these days.
Generals are weird; I don’t know McMaster so I’ll focus on one I do know. If you told me that my former boss John Allen would, as a former four star general, speak in support of Hillary Clinton at a democratic national convention I may have throat punched you (metaphorically given my fear of lawyers and law suits) for bad mouthing one of my heroes. There was no way those of us who knew John Allen as a junior officer could have imagined him morphing into a political general with such spectacularly poor judgement.
I mention that to say this. The “Viceroy” portion of the Prince plan – the one government official who resides over the entire Afghan effort in order to break up the petty rice bowl guarding, slow decision making, and multiple agendas? That guy needs to have serious chops and John Allen is the only man I can think of who could do that.
Our country is so politically polarized that rational discussions have become almost impossible. The recent firing of goggle engineer James Damor who wrote a well researched piece concerning liberal group think and intolerance in an organization he was obviously devoted to is the latest example of this. The Afghans need some serious help to stabilize their country and the Prince plan is the only rational plan that will but them the time they need to stand on their own.
Demonstrating the unique human trait of hope over experience Chief Ajmal Khan Zaizi recently made a heart felt appeal to the international press to not forget Afghanistan. It was a moving speech that (experience would say) was wasted on a group of international elites who know little about history but a lot about the legacy media narrative.
Despite his efforts being wasted on the audience he was addressing seeing the Khan speaking in public warmed my old bitter heart. If there is an Afghan capable of being the Viceroy Afghanistan needs to end the vicious cycle of violence plaguing the country he is that man. The reason he’s that man is because the American Army branded him as Taliban despite the fact he is a western educated Canadian citizen who (with the help of Ghost Team) had to fight the Taliban to get into his tribal lands when he returned to lead them in 2010.
From my 2010 post about our attempts to connect Ajmal with the American army:
The initial political appointees to the Zazi Valley were sent packing back to Kabul shortly after they arrived. So now, in the eyes of the FOB bound American military, the Zazi Valley tribal police and their leadership are considered AOG (just like the Taliban they are constantly fighting). Check out this correspondence between The Boss and the young commander of the closest Combat Outpost (COP) to the valley:
Thank you for your message. Any development project in Jaji would be great, but I would like to ensure that it ties into the district development list/tribal development list, in order to ensure that the district leadership is not undermined.
Unfortunately, Ahjmal Khan Zazai is not a tribal leader at all. I do not want you to come into this environment thinking that to be a fact. Additionally, the security force of Amir Muhammad is an illegal force that is not endorsed by MOI.
The facts are that Azad Khan, the Jaji Sub Governor, has a great relationship with the tribes a focus for his district. The ANSF in this area (ANP and ABP) are a professional/legitimate force that does a tremendous job in keeping the best security for the people.
I’ve CC’d my higher HQ, as well as representation to Department of State and the PRT, to ensure that they are tied in to your work. Again, I would love to see development here, but I want you to have the facts and go through the proper channels before beginning work. Thank you for your time.
VR, Name withheld
The young captain who wrote this message was correct about one thing; Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai is not a tribal leader. He’s the leader of the entire tribal federation in that part of the country, a point which our army did not understand or refused to acknowledge. From the 2010 post:
The battalion at the Gardez FOB called The Horse to ask if he knew why thousands of people had migrated towards “some compound in the Zazai Valley.” When he told them what was up they asked to meet with him and Ajmal when they headed back to Kabul. The meeting turned out to be a joke. A visibly upset major demanded to know why, if the Zazai Valley tribal police were on their side, had they not reported to the Americans the location of IED’s? Ajmal, by this time exhausted and barely able to talk, explained that they are not in the “sell IED’s to the Americans” business. Reporting an IED for the cash reward is a common money scam in those parts and increases the number of IED’s being made. The only IED’s the tribal police have seen were aimed at them and all those had gone off. He added that if they do gain knowledge of an IED cell on their lands they will bring both the IED’s and the heads of the IED makers to Gardez.
The Americans remain skeptical, Ajmal remains frustrated, Crazy Horse who, like myself, has spent his adult life as an infantry officer is heart sick and I am so f’ing pissed off I can’t see straight. It is impossible to be optimistic about the future of Afghanistan unless the military USAID, State Department and all the other organizations with unlimited funding get out of the FOB’s to live with the people.
That was then; this is now and the fact that Ajmal did not enter into ‘collusion’ (using a new fake news dog whistle) with the Americans is a not insignificant point. The current administration is trying to come up with a plan for our continued efforts in Afghanistan, I offered my thoughts on a way forward and what I was proposing is the same concept that Eric Prince has articulated. Recently Secretary Mattis met with Mr. Prince and reportedly he listen politely and dismissed the concept out of hand. I don’t believe that for a second because Secretary Mattis knows his history and understands the concept behind the East India Company. He is not the type of man to ignore sage council.
What I found most distressing about this meeting with Prince were the comments that showed up in comment sections and on my face book feed. They had two themes the first being that Prince was a billionaire war profiteer and the second was his sister is Betsy DeVos, the current Secretary of Education. Eric Prince and his sister are successful, competent, extraordinarily decent people who built their own fortunes and are thus exemplary Americans our children should wish to emulate, not castigate. The only problem I have with Secretary Devos is she heads a federal department I believe should be disbanded. Not on constitutional grounds but on practical grounds; the department of education is not a functional, competent organization and it has no business interjecting federal rules in an area that should be the sole purview of the 50 states.
Eric Prince has articulated a plan that could work and one that addresses the problem of Pakistan because it would eliminate the need to pay Pakistan billions to allow our logistical tail to pass through their country. Yet in the current climate of media driven hysteria regarding the Trump administration we can’t examine that plan on it’s merits because the media and most of our fellow citizens have decided Eric Prince is a mercenary who is only driven by the desire to make obscene profits. That not one word of that characterization is supported by facts is irrelevant.
Here is an interesting aside about that: I’ve mentioned several times about the need for Afghan forces to do Pseudo Ops. Feral Jundi recently posted on a white “mercenary” who taught Pseudo Ops to the Ugandan military and although he asked for not one penny to lead this effort his team and supplies were funded by a woman from Houston, Texas. The target of the effort was international villain and complete asshole Joseph Kony. From Feral Jundi’s post:
In September, 2011, the first special-operations group trained by the South Africans crossed into South Sudan and caught Kony by surprise at a meeting with all his commanders. He escaped, but the Ugandans took back a haul of valuable intelligence: satellite phones, a computer, and diaries. Defectors later revealed that the L.R.A. fighters were baffled by the attack: Was this some new Ugandan army? After the raid, Kony lost contact with his entourage. He roamed the bush alone with one of his pregnant Sudanese wives, and helped deliver her baby—one of probably more than a hundred small Konys now in the world. When he reemerged, he was so furious that he demoted all his commanders. According to defectors, he had moved to a new camp, in southern Darfur.
Have you not heard about this? Of course not because it counters the legacy media narrative about so -called “mercenaries” while illustrating the uselessness of the United Nations in combating terrorism. Eeben Barrlow and his men are not mercenaries in any sense of the word. There is not a snow ball’s chance in hell that Joseph Komy or any other terrorist organization could hire them no matter how much money they paid. They are former military professionals who, although retired, remain military professionals willing to endure primitive conditions for months on end to teach their expertise to appropriate clientele.
Another aside – Eeben Barrlow providing his services for free reminds me of another man who did the same. That would be Eric Prince who funded the rescue effort of three young college girls who were working at an orphanage in Kenya when the country erupted in violence following failed elections in December of 2007. Hundreds of people were being slaughtered in villages near them and they had no way to make it out to Nairobi so their panicking parents started calling congressmen, senators, anyone in Washington DC who they thought could help and none of the people they contacted had a clue about getting their girls out of harms way. A family member. on a whim, then called Balckwater who got the girls out (along with dozens of other international aid workers) in about 48 hours. When asked how much the rescue effort cost Eric Prince said he paid for it – didn’t think it fair to charge desperate parents money to get their daughters back. That is not the action of a war profiteer; it is the mark of a truly great American. I don’t know Eric Prince but I do know the man he sent into Africa to get the girls out (he was his Afghanistan country manager) and there are few finer.
The concepts that Prince is talking about and that Feral Jundi and I have been writing about for years work. All of us know that because all of us have done it. The only question regarding the concept of a Viceroy for Afghanistan heading a mostly Private Military Corporation effort to move Afghanistan toward peace is who heads the effort. Thanks to our incompetence in 2010 there remains an Afghan in play who has the organizational ability to do so and he is not tied to the Americans or NATO which is plus on the credibility side with his fellow Afghans.
Will somebody in the halls of power recognize this? I doubt it, for now anyway but we are going to be in Afghanistan for a long time and what we are doing there will not work. At some point somebody is going to actually try (instead of just talking about) an outside the box solution. When they do they are going to be talking to Chef Ajmal Khan Zaizi. When that happens I hope Ajmal remembers The Horse, Panjiway Tim and I. We’re tanned, rested, fit and will answer his call with alacrity because we know good leaders, remain fond of Afghanistan and enjoy making a difference.
As I said in my last post the Green on Blue attacks will continue and they have with the wounding of fourmake that seven (the count keeps increasing) more soldiers. This time the attack was in Mazar-e Sharif, the capitol of the once peaceful province of Balk. There are several factors driving these Green on Blue attacks but the most important one to understand is that Afghans hate us. Couple their traditional antipathy of foreign armies operating in their country with 16 years of broken promises and what you are left with is hate.
Hatred of ‘the other’ is a natural motivating tool that America has used in previous wars. We are genetically programmed to love our own families, tribes and clans while hating those who are not part of them. Satoshi Kanazawa, an American-British evolutionary psychologist, currently with the London School of Economics, explains why in this article:
….ethnocentrism (or “racism”) is an innate human tendency. We are designed by evolution to love members of our group and hate members of other groups, in order to motivate and facilitate intergroup conflict. Yes, hate is natural. But remember the danger of the naturalistic fallacy — deriving moral implications from scientific facts. “Natural” means neither “good” nor “desirable.” Nor does it mean “inevitable.” Most of us learn to overcome our innate evolutionary tendencies.
The concept of “hate” has been removed from our lexicon but it is alive and well among the Islamic radicals we are fighting around the globe. Understanding hate helps to explain our floundering efforts in Afghanistan and the most disturbing question from the San Bernardino attack of 2015. I remember survivors of that attack saying they had recently thrown a baby shower for Tashfeen Malik, the pregnant half of the terrorist couple, and they could not understand why she had come back to kill them after they had showed her so much kindness. I’ll tell you why; she hated them, not for anything they did but because of who they are.
Hate is a dangerous weapon that is now being used by our elite political, media, entertainment, academic and corporate masters against the silent majority in the United States. Look what is has wrought so far…and here’s another prediction; there will be more political violence directed at President Trump and his supporters. Why? Because the legacy media and the democrats have doubled down on their lunatic hatred of the President and those who support him.
After sixteen years of broken promises the Afghans have no reason to trust the United States or the international community but they do have plenty of reasons to hate them. Gestures of support, like sending a permanent advisory teams to the Afghan army and national police in Helmand province (which is what the Marines are doing now) are meaningless. They will not turn the tide of battle, will not increase combat proficiency or decrease the unsustainable loses currently being inflicted on the Afghan security forces. Everybody knows this to be true yet the kabuki theater continues because the pentagon, at this point in time, has no idea what else to do.
The introduction of more troops will increase the number of potential targets for Green on Blue attack. Continuing to conduct night raids and air strikes will also increase the chances of more Green on Blue. Why? I’ve told you why in dozens of previous posts but now there is a high speed Modern War Institute study out of West Point to cite so I don’t have to repeat myself. Check this out:
….research suggests that most of the attacks are triggered by cultural frictions and personal disagreements. The triggers include, among others, anger from night raids and airstrikes conducted by international forces that result in civilian casualties, violations of privacy during searches, disrespect to religious beliefs, cultural misunderstanding and violations of local norms and values, combat stress, and personal differences between Afghan troops and their NATO counterparts.
How long have I been railing against night raids and the force protection mentality that allows NATO to shoot up car loads of civilians and pretend that it was their (the civilians) fault? Nine years if you’re counting and when I started saying this I received tons of push back but little support. In fact the only support I remember came from Herschel Smith at The Captain Journal . Having Herschel watching my back has been one of the true joys of my blogging adventure….I really need to go meet him in person one of these days.
How did the men (and women) of Ghost Team not only survive but thrive in the contested areas during the worst of the fighting? I’ll tell you our secret (which is in the linked article). We did what we promised we would do, on time, on budget and with exceptional quality control while respecting the local people, their religion and their mores. We were not only protected by the Afghans we worked with and for; we were liked and respected by them too.
Not all Afghans hate us Kharejee; there is an educated elite who are not taking part in the plundering and pillaging of the Afghan economy. They are grimly hanging on hoping that one day their talents will help unite a fractured country. Identifying who they are and supporting them would require our embassy people or the UN bureaucrats to get out from behind their walls to find them. That, they can no longer do, which is why they need to go.
For now hatred rules Afghanistan and that vile contagion is spreading rapidly across America too. Victor Davis Hanson sums the case up well:
Most Americans agree that the present levels of borrowing and spending cannot continue. But many believe that the tough medicine to cure the disease of chronic annual deficits and mounting debt is unacceptable. America’s infrastructure and military are vastly underfunded, even though some voters want more subsidies for themselves and apparently want others to pay for them.
America’s once-preeminent colleges and universities are fatally compromised. Universities charge far too much, resist reform, expect exemption from accountability, and assume their students must take on huge amounts of debt. Yet campuses can’t guarantee that their graduates are competently educated or that they will find jobs. Illiberal attempts to end free speech, to sanction racial and gender segregation, and to attack rather than argue with opponents are disguised by euphemisms such as “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and various -isms and -ologies.
Behind the guise of campus activism and non-negotiable demands is the reality that too many students simply are unprepared to do their assigned work and seek exemption through protests in lieu of hard studying.
As I wrote in my D-Day post war is a horrible thing but let me caveat that with this; civil wars are worse. In a civil war the contagion of hate runs rampant. I don’t hate Afghans but as a professional I would not hesitate to smoke check one if I was certain he was a villain who posed a threat to me or those around me. I can watch documentaries on the Taliban and respect their ability to suck up bad weather, bad food, bad karma and massive amounts of firepower without feeling a bit of hate towards them.
What I can’t do is watch footage of anti-fa protesters screaming hysterically at normal people and attacking them with bike locks, boots, pepper spray and urine without feelings of intense hatred raising in my consciousness. And I am not an angry person by nature, a fact I consider a true blessing.
The Taliban are not going to back down because they don’t have to; they’re winning and will only come to the negotiating table when they, not us, can dictate the terms.
Progressives in America are not backing down either, not because they are winning but because they face no consequences for their unhinged lunacy. Globalist big money backs the left as does Hollywood, the legacy media, professional athletes, every comedian who doesn’t want to be blacklisted, academia and our coastal elites. The progressives have plenty of money and an unlimited number of poorly educated young people for astro turf protests that make life miserable for average, hard working Americans.
I can see a way out of Afghanistan that would benefit the people of that tragic land and I’ll write about that next. What I can’t see is a way out of the culture of hate in America currently being directed at the productive classes. The progressives will continue to push right until they start facing the consequences of their actions. At that point it will be too late. Civil wars are horribly bloody affairs because identifying friend from foe is easy as is the natural impulse to hate.
There is much more darkness to venture through before we start seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel.
When dealing with news out of Afghanistan we must start with what we know to be true before speculating on the remainder in an effort to understand what happened. The soldiers were killed in Achin district where the Afghans with American Special Forces units in direct support, have been battling ISIS-K. I suspect the soldiers were in the field operating with Afghan soldiers when this unfortunate incident occurred. That would explain how four them were hit by a loan assailant. That also means the units assigned to the ‘advise and assist’ mission are engaging in direct combat. They have to do that to gain even a shred of credibility with the Afghan army but I bet they won’t be out and about much longer.
What additional troops were doing rolling around in Khogyani district requires speculation.
I suspect they were moving from the base at Jalalabad (FOB Fenty) into Achin district using the back roads to avoid the exposure of the Jalalabad – Torkham main road. Regardless of circumstances the killing of a car load of locals, something that was all too common when there were large numbers of NATO forces moving on the roads, is bad.
It appears the Taliban are trying to force Kabul to the negotiating table by inflicting massive casualties that the population can no longer endure while driving a wedge between the NATO advise and assist troops and their Afghan colleagues via green on blue attacks. That is a sound strategy. When those same American troops, while moving through a countryside they know to be hostile, kill civilians who happen to be too close to them when an IED goes off…..that’s a perfect storm. NATO doesn’t trust the forces they mentor to not kill them, the forces they mentor risk being shot every time they are getting mentored. The people are getting hammered by the Taliban and by NATO if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s a storm alright (a s–t storm) and one for which NATO, the UN and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have no answer.
When the problem of Green on Blue attacks reached a crisis stage in 2012 the response by NATO was to separate themselves (even more) from the Afghans they were supposed to mentor. Then they instituted a ‘guardian angel’ program to protect themselves from the Afghans they were there to help. Here are the Green on Blue numbers (hat tip Long War Journal)
US military commanders in Afghanistan have assigned “guardian angels” to watch over troops as they sleep, among a series of other increased security measures, in the wake of rogue Afghan soldiers targeting Nato forces.
The so-called guardian angels provide an extra layer of security, watching over the troops as they sleep, when they are exercising, and going about their day.
Among the new measures introduced, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons in several Afghan ministries. They have also been told to rearrange their office desks so they face the door.
Now the Guardian Angels will have to be standing, at the ready, prepared to shoot any Afghan who makes a move for his gun too fast during every interaction between Afghans and NATO. How that will work out in field operations is obvious – it won’t and thus we are going to suffer more of them.
The issue is trust and trust is something that can only be built over long periods of time in Afghanistan. Governments in the West have been proving, for years now, they are incapable of taking the steps needed to protect their citizens from Jihadist terrorism. Sovereign citizens have little reason to trust their ruling elite who are more concerned with inclusion, diversity, various ‘phobias’ and not being perceived as racists then they are with protecting the population. Afghans have no reason to trust their ruling elites and the question is when you can’t trust the government who do you trust?
Tribes and clans are still used when information security and omerta are paramount. No technical solution yet devised can beat treachery. Only loyalty can do that — and we have made loyalty, to nation at least, a bad word.
The Afghans who are committing these Green on Blue (and Green on Green) attacks are trusting the Taliban to take care of their clans when the dust settles. That is probably a solid bet. The Americans and other NATO troops in Afghanistan are not able to build trust networks during their seven month tours so they have to trust their fellow soldiers to have an OODA loop quick enough to protect them. That is not a solid bet – being that quick on the trigger will result in Blue of Green deaths that were unnecessary and further divide allies who are supposed to be fighting together.
The Perfect Storm is building and it is obvious that it will break soon. When that happens we can be certain of one thing. The elites who masterminded this fiasco will ignore it and continue taking us down the path of multi culti madness. It is too late to save Afghanistan the only question now is do we have the intestinal fortitude in the West to save ourselves?
I never attend public observances of military holidays because they make me uncomfortable. My reluctance starts with the knowledge that many of the men who participate at these ceremonies are frauds. It ends with the knowledge that to date, we have failed to protect our fellow citizens from a dire threat emanating from abroad.
In 1998 a former army artillery officer named B.G. Burkett wrote the book Stolen Valor after volunteering to help establish the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Two things struck him at the organizational meeting for this monument; the first being the number of successful men he knew from his business circle who turned out to be Vietnam Vets. He never knew they served and they didn’t know he had because none of them talked about participating in what was then an unpopular war.
The second anomaly was the number of derelicts who showed up in tattered jungle utilities claiming to be former LRRP’s or SF or SEAL’s or Force Recon. In his book Burkett talks about long range reconnaissance teams (LRRP’s) coming into his fire-base to sleep, refit, re-hydrate and then slip back out into the night. The traits he saw in those men were absent from the derelicts presenting themselves to the Texas commission. So Mr. Burkett submitted freedom of information act (FOIA) requests for the service records on these self proclaimed Rambo’s and guess what? None were what they claimed to be and a majority had never even served in the armed forces.
…but the phony tales spun by modern impostors — especially those who claim Vietnam service — are no laughing matter. These are the frauds who, every Veterans’ Day, show up at parades and at the Vietnam memorial in Washington in their rag-tag fatigues and flea market medals, telling credulous reporters that Agent Orange or Post Traumatic Stress ruined their lives, and that memories of slitting children’s throats keeps them awake nights. All too often, these suffering “veterans” never set foot in Vietnam — and yet, the images they offer have permanently shaped the way Americans view soldiers from this war: As slovenly, drug-addled baby-killers who loiter on America’s streets when they’re not committing violent crimes. Phony Vietnam vets typically tell tales of Vietnam horrors to explain and excuse their failed lives, Burkett says, and naive journalists uncritically lap them up. Much research proves that — far from being homeless, alcohol-drenched failures — most Vietnam vets are healthy, mentally stable, successful men who deserve their country’s respect.
The fact that military service has once again become respectable means America is currently fielding a bumper crop of frauds claiming to have fought somewhere or other — and they have the medals to prove it. Last May, FBI Special Agent Thomas Cottone, Jr. told the Wall Street Journal that for every actual Navy SEAL today, there are at least 300 imposters. And more than twice as many people say they’ve received the Medal of Honor than the 124 living recipients who actually earned it.
In 2006 the Stolen Valor Act, based in part by the book, was signed into law making it a crime to lie about being a military hero. In 2012 that law was struck down by the 9th Circuit Court as being a violation of the 1st Amendment. The Supreme Court followed up with a ruling that said fraudulently wearing medals of valor was also covered by the 1st Amendment. The rampant fraud thus continues to this day under the protection of a constitution the frauds did nothing to defend.
I also have a problem with the remark “thank you for your service”. The reason that kind gesture of support is unsettling is it’s premise. Often I hear on TV or read in the print that the military is “over there” to keep the enemy from being “over here”. But the enemy is here.
Homegrown Jihadi’s John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, in October 2002, paralyzed the greater Washington DC area for 3 weeks with a carbine and a white van. Our military could not have stopped the Islamic extremist who were already here but it could have reduced the number coming in from abroad if only we had killed OBL in 2001 and come home.
The military has not battled a foe who represents an existential threat to America or our way of life since WWII. All the fighting we have done for the last 16 years in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya has not made the population of America safer; it has made us less safe. We are less safe because Jihadi’s use our fighting strength in Muslim lands as a way to recruit. In their recruitment propaganda they are David and we are Goliath; they are the underdog and we the gigantic bully who seeks to dominate and them eradicate Islam. The ranks of suicidal, militant Jihadists have grown as a result of our efforts to fight it overseas.
Common sense measures to mitigate the threat of Islamic terrorism are dead on arrival today. The Democratic party and their adjuncts in the legacy media and academia hysterically smeared a proposed 90 day pause on immigration from seven countries designed to tighten screening of immigrants from those countries as a ‘Muslim ban’.
The largest Muslim country in the world is Indonesia; only one of the seven countries identified for that pause (Iran at number 7) were in the top ten Muslim majority countries in the world. That pause was well within the authority of an Executive Order but the liberal judiciary insisted on interpreting what they thought was inside the presidents head, not the law.
Trump’s order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote. He said the order conflicts with the First Amendment’s ban on “laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
Not every citizen from those seven countries is a Muslim. Islam is not a monolithic religion anyway. Shia’s do not practice Islam like Sunni’s; Wahhabi Islam is not the same as the interpretations of Salafism. Cultures absorb religion, religion does not absorb cultures which is why, in Afghanistan today, the people still celebrate Zoroaster holidays like Naw-Ruz. How similar are the practice of Catholicism to Baptists in America today? They’re not remotely the same but for some reason, to our elites, all forms of Islam are the same. Any attempt to differentiate among them is ‘Islamaphobia’ a word best defined (by Andrew Cummings) as “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”
The enemy we face comes directly from the exportation of the Wahhabi variation of Islam. President Trump is the first world leader to throw down the gauntlet in his speech last week where he told the Gulf Arabs, the exporters of Wahhabi Islam:
The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children. It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.”
The ninety day pause in immigration that President Trump proposed targeted countries known to export the Wahhabi strain of Islam. It was a reasonable move by a man who takes the protection of American citizens seriously. You could argue there should have been more countries, not less, on that list but you can’t argue that the intent was clear and just.
We have more to worry about that Islamic Terrorism. President Trump is finally addressing the threat of North Korea before they develop a multi stage rocket system to deliver their nukes. Preventing the NORKs from developing a delivery system that gives them the ability to strike us is critical if we are to prevent the specter of nuclear war. Yet the press focuses not on that but on an allegation that the President told another world leader we had two nuke subs in the area. What does that even mean? Was he saying we have two subs within striking range of North Korea? Every sub we have can strike North Korea from any ocean in the world. They don’t need to be close – so why all the hysteria?
Our youth are not being educated in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic which, when combined with instruction on logic, reason and the history of western civilization enables citizens to participate in rational civic discourse. They are being indoctrinated into a world view that negates the positive contributions of western civilization and replaces it with the soft virtue of victimology. Our children are being taught that ‘truth’ is a cultural construct rendering them unable to understand the basic truth that not all cultures are equal, not all cultural diversity good.
Despite of the enormous influence of toxic progressive-ism in America we are still fielding the finest armed forces the world has ever known. None of the problems I am writing about are the fault of the American soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. Those of us who have served should be thanking you for our service. Not many Americans can qualify to join the armed forces today. Of those that do and choose to serve the vast majority find their time under arms to be a privilege. We serve with men and women who (for the most part) are smart, fit, motivated and serious. There are no comparable experiences available to civilians. Service is a privilege few understand and fewer still appreciate but those who serve know they were the lucky ones.
The military men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in War deserve the respect that comes with a national holiday set aside to honor them. They do not deserve to have their legacies tarnished by frauds. They do not deserve to have their sacrifices made moot by political and military leaders who deal, not with reality, but the expedient of the progressive liberal Narrative.
There are several men who will be remembered in my prayers tonight and not all of them are Americans. But they were all warriors; they lived the virtues of discipline, courage and self-sacrifice. They never failed to move towards the sound of guns. They were better men than me and I was blessed to have known them. I will honor them in my own way today skipping ceremonies officiated by self serving politicians and constitutionally protected frauds.
Last night England experienced another terrorist attack; this time a suicide bomber who targeted a large crowd of young concert goers in Manchester. The media has focused on the targets being children which is curious. There have been thousands of children beaten, raped and brutalized by Muslim (mainly Pakistani) grooming gangs for years in England without a peep from the British media. In fact, the most recent grooming gang scandal happened right outside Manchester in the hamlet of Roachdale. That not one person in England has been held to account for those crimes against humanity speaks to how dismal life must be for white British female teens who belong to the lower classes.
Political leaders from Berlin to LA have sent the reassuring message that they “stand with the people of Manchester“. That’s great; let’s add the colored lights and social media UK flag filters and it will no doubt help. Right?
The response in the UK is predictable kabuki theater. They have dispatched 5000 soldiers into the streets to replace the police who are busy rounding up the usual suspects. The usual suspect the police round up after terrorist attacks are British citizens who have posted remarks critical of Islam on their social media accounts.
The British press has, as usual jumped on the prospect of a wave of anti-Muslim attacks to warn their fellow citizens not to do what, to date, they have never done. Newsweek immediately jumped on that band wagon too with this article stating that:
If you go to the link about this 65% increase you’ll find a BBC article that states that there was a 65% increase and nothing more than that. What are these hate crimes? The BBC doesn’t say and I suspect they are social media posts like the one pasted above and nothing more. Are Muslim women wearing the hijab being hassled in the streets? That would be bad but not as bad as being tortured, sodomized, raped and forced into prostitution; a fate that has befallen thousands of white girls in England while the authorities turned a blind eye.
There are going to be more of these attacks, they will increase in severity and there is nothing any of us can do to stop them. In Europe the ruling classes refuse to define the problem as Islamic Terrorism which was true in America too until President Trump was elected. When the President recommended a prudent course of action; temporarily suspending visa’s from seven countries known to export Islamic terrorism until we could find a better way to vet visa applicants, the liberal press and their adjuncts in the Democratic party erupted in outrage at what they claim to be racism and ‘Islamophobia’ whatever the hell that means.
Islam is a religion that has adherents from every ethnic group in the world. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors which would preclude allegations of racism one would think. But our leaders don’t think and in the name of liberal progressive virtue they will refuse to adapt any common sense measure to protect their citizens. That dynamic will not change no matter how many more of their citizens are massacred by bombs, guns, trucks and the sword.
What our leaders will do is to continue restricting our freedoms and forcing group punishments, like the American TSA screenings at airports, which accomplish nothing other than harassing the traveling public. They will close the barn door after the cows have fled by deploying troops into the streets as if that will accomplish a damn thing.
Where is this leading us? As he has so often done in the past Richard Fernandez, blogging at the Belmont Club, lays it out for us. I’ll give him the last word.
Government is losing its credibility as an effective protector. Under these circumstances “carrying on exactly as before” is likely to have a meaning opposite to Independent’s intention. For most people it will mean continuing to batten down the hatches and rebuilding the trust networks so foolishly discarded when they put their trust in the State. The vision of future may prove to be not the borderless EU after all — but Israel. If government fails to protect people they are likely to fall back on tribalism and wire instead….
If we are to prevent a new medievalism finding the right balance between an open society and maintaining loyalty and allegiance is necessary. It is a difficult task under any circumstances. But rarely has anyone failed more dismally at it than the leaders of our multi-culti world. By stigmatizing calls for reasonable loyalty as bigotry they have climbed out on a limb and sawed themselves off; by their dogmatic insistence on mindless inclusion they’ve foreclosed all attempts to bring things back to even keel. They have reduced themselves to the level of hapless bystanders, unable to either prevent or explain an onslaught they themselves — were they honest enough to admit it — should have foreseen.
Kharejee is a word used in both Pashto and Dari for foreigners. Afghanistan has a long history of welcoming Kharejee to their lands as long as they weren’t members of invading armies. When westerners arrived in force back in 2002 they weren’t, initially, considered invaders are were welcomed in most places by most people. Unfortunately the kharejee are not too welcomed anywhere in Afghanistan today.
Last weekend a western NGO, Operation Mercy, out of Sweden was attacked; their Afghan security guard decapitated, a German aid worker killed and a Finish aid worker kidnapped. Both of the Europeans were female which, in days gone by, would add to the sense of outrage in the West. They were probably targeted by the Taliban (given the decapitation) but could have been victims of a kidnapping gang. Regardless of motivation the kidnapped victim stands a good chance of surviving her ordeal if her government steps in and quickly ponies up some serious cash.
Which raises the question why the German woman was killed? She was worth a lot of money alive and nothing dead. My educated guess is she armed herself with some sort of bludgeoning weapon and tried to fight back. Some of the German NGO women I saw working in Afghanistan weighed a good bit more than your average Taliban and could have beat the stuffing out of them with a baseball bat.
Fighting back is not the best option in this kind of scenario but it’s what I would have done. It is also why disarming us Kharejee was stupid. Armed expats have stopped these types of attacks in their tracks several times in years past. Armed westerners have been killed by bombs in Kabul but only one was killed in a ground attack. He was working for the UN and was credited with saving 17 of his colleagues although he was badly wounded in the process. The wounds he sustained didn’t kill him, an Afghan police officer did by shooting him at point blank range.
Former American sailor or Marine – reports on his past differed Louis Maxwell with his H&K G36 rifle. The flame stick was stolen after he was killed by ANP officers responding to the attack on the guesthouse he was protecting. Louis Maxwell is a true hero and like most true heroes he will never be recognized, remembered or acknowledged. But I remember him nightly in my prayers and hope I’m not the only one.
It could be worse for the Finnish worker: if ISIS-K grabbed this woman there will be no getting her back. ISIS fighters don’t do ransom – they do blood work in the name of Allah. If they have her stand by for the orange jump suit and decapitation video.
German journalists Sandra Petersmann and Birgitta Schülke-Gill did some interesting reporting after the latest attack by asking local folks about their opinions on NATO sending in more troops. The responses they got were consistent with common sense which is the exact opposite of what we are hearing from our leadership concerning the need for more troops. Here’s an example:
“What good will more foreign soldiers do if they’re not allowed to fight?”
I believe the answer to that question is obvious.
What is also obvious is Kabul is a very dangerous city for Westerners today. Yet the NATO’s Resolute Support Public Affairs office insists that journalists who want to embed spend multiple days traveling back and forth to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) in Kabul to get credentialed before embedding. I have no problem doing that as I have many places in Kabul where I can go to ground surrounded by friends I know will protect me. There are a handful of Western journalists who could do the same. Any journalist without years of in-country experience and a tight support network will be in grave danger if they attempt to embed. This is the reason we will be getting very little reporting from the country in the coming years.
What are the chances that elite American journalists, the type you see on TV frequently, are required to expose themselves to this level of risk? I think it zero but hope I’m wrong. The point being that Resolute Support is resolutely refusing to acknowledge the current ground truth. You would think, given the reluctance of NATO countries to commit more manpower, some reality would work its way into their media plan to enable more reporters in-country to tell their story.
In other disturbing news the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) lost 20 men in a series of attacks on static checkpoints. They are going to lose a lot more because static checkpoints are easy targets to isolate and destroy. That the ANSF continues to use them indicates our advise and assist efforts over the last 16 years have yet to bear fruit. The National Directorate for Security, which are the MoI’s secret police have, for years, established flying checkpoints that are a much more effective way of screening traffic for villains and gathering bribes. I wrote a post about one where I lost two sets of irreplaceable body armor and that post made it into Soldier of Fortune magazine.
The continued use of static checkpoints indicates that ANSF soldiers and commanders are impervious to reason. How much mentoring would it take to get them to use mobile checkpoints that vary in time and location? I’m not sure but believe that 16 + X number of years will not be enough. ANSF will continue to sustain unsustainable losses because they insist on being sitting ducks.
Habits are hard to break, even when it is a reasonable assumption they will get you killed. It is difficult to see how more advise and assist trainers will turn the battlefield momentum. It is also difficult to see how this will end in an acceptable state of affairs. Time is not on our or the Afghan peoples side.
But I’m still on their side because I know too many Afghans who are decent, caring people and they need some moral support. Besides being in dangerous places is invigorating to me. Since my return to America I’ve discovered I’m a type II diabetic. The only dangerous thing I do now is to let my toe nails grow longer than I should. So, once again, I pull out the big threat:
If you have the means and interest please donate to my effort to embed at the the Baba Tim Go Fund Me page. Without accurate, informed reporting our ability to help is going to become seriously limited.
As reported in the update to my last post the Army has started a friendly fire investigation into the two most recent deaths in Afghanistan. Why would the they start a friendly fire investigation when the soldiers who were there are adamant that enemy fire killed sergeants Rogers and Thomas? That’s a question with two answers; the first being the pentagon is required, by law, to notify next of kin if there exists the slightest chance that their loved one was killed by friendly fire. The second reason is the Pat Tillman case which also involved the Army Rangers and was one of the more disgraceful cover-ups in the last 15 years. Or so I thought until I looked into the matter over the weekend.
The Pat Tillman case is worth examining not just because of the cover-up the incompetence of the staff officers who sent Pat’s platoon on the ‘clearing villages’ mission in the first place was a story too. Pat Tillman was killed during a multi day sweep of villages on the Pakistani border of Khost province. They were ordered to search villages for Taliban fighters or weapons and to do so on a strict timeline dictated from on high.
Let me inject some reality into that mission. The maps being used back then, just like the maps used today, seldom identify villages by their correct name or location. What appears to be secondary roads on these maps are most often dry stream beds or goat trails. Instructing men to clear villages that don’t exist using roads that don’t exist is the epitome of 2nd generation military thinking.
If 40 Rangers go into the a village and search every dwelling (an unspeakable insult to highlander Pashtuns) finding no weapons is the village clear? If they come under fire while leaving the village are the villagers Taliban? The answer to both questions is no. The mission was a fools errand that could not have accomplished anything other than getting the villagers on the war path and our men wounded or killed for no reason.
It is difficult to track down the Tillman story today because of all the legacy media garbage that populates the search term. 60 minutes did a segment on him which told the viewer nothing other than his mother was pissed. ESPN did a segment which I assume was crap but I won’t watch ESPN propaganda so I’m not sure. The only good source I found over the weekend was the book Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. He got to the story late and took four years to research and write the book so when it came out it was OBE (military slang for overcome by events) and few paid attention to it.
The ensuing cover-up should have ended the careers of the generals who created the story and put it into play. I was talking to some of my Marine buddies years later and they hated General McChrystal because his blatantly unethical behavior in signing off on a fairy tale (that he himself concocted) made it impossible for them to get the Silver Star awarded to men who had earned it.
Did you know Pat Tillman was part of the Jessica Lynch rescue package? Me either; that fact was uncovered by Krackauer; he was part of the quick reaction force standing by in reserve and did not participate in the mission because the reserve was not needed. The reason they were not needed was the Iraqi fighters had left Nasiriyah days earlier. Lynch had been well cared for by the Iraq staff of the hospital she had ended up in after sustaining serious injuries when her vehicle crashed. The story behind that incident is a parents worst nightmare – having a child in combat who is poorly trained and incompetently led.
The large rescue to get Lynch was not only unnecessary but stage managed by a Bush administration official named Jim Wilkinson to deflect attention from the fact that 17 of the 18 Marines killed in the battle for that town were killed by friendly fire. Two A-10’s from the Ohio National Guard killed them during repeated strafing runs. Wilkinson was able to shunt special operational forces into the area and have them cool their heals until he could get a special operations media team there to cover the rescue. How a junior White House staffer could do that and why the generals he was brow beating didn’t throat punch him remains a mystery.
Another mystery is why the cover-up of the Marine friendly fire incident remains in place to this day despite the fact that one of the Marines on the ground, who had been attacked by Air Force A-10’s during the Gulf war, knew exactly what was happening as soon as he heard the chain guns. I’ve heard that sound too (coming from a range thank God) and it is not a sound you’ll ever forget.
In all three of these cases the men on the ground knew what had happened and knew the official stories were lies designed to cover the asses of senior officers and political figures. Jessica Lynch never fired a round, did not battle with Iraqi soldiers and could not have fought after her truck crashed knocking her unconscious. She was not abused or raped but instead protected by the hospital staff from the Iraq military and that staff tried several time to give her back but were thwarted by Marine sentries who would not let them approach their lines.
The slaughter of Marines from Charlie company 1st Battalion 2nd Marines was recognized as friendly fire instantly by the survivors yet it took a year for the investigation to be completed and the results were a bold face lie. The Rangers with Pat Tillman knew he was killed by friendly fire within 90 seconds of it happening yet were ordered not to tell anyone, to include his brother, who was a member of the platoon but was not close enough to witness the act. That, by the way, is an unlawful order that no military man was obligated to follow and I would hope that were I in their shoes I would have enough balls to ignore it out of hand.
There were a ton of irregularities in all these investigations that should have sent up red star clusters to the media and senior leadership. But in all three cases the senior leadership participated in the lie and there were no competent media (for example C.J. Chivers of the New York Times) on hand to look into the story. There are few (if any these days) members of the media who could even understand what it was they were looking at which is why I’m trying so hard to get back to Afghanistan.
An optimist would conclud the Army has finally learned it’s lesson about cover-ups and now follows the letter of the law regarding potential friendly fire incidents. I’m not an optimist and sense something is not right with this story.
So what do we know? News reports generated from pentagon press releases tell us 50 Rangers and 40 Afghan Commandos took part in this mission. It was a raid targeting Abdul Hasib, the self-described “Emir” of ISIS-K who reportedly runs their tactical operations.
I have long argued night raids in Afghanistan were counterproductive but have no problem with this night raid because the local folks living in the Mamand valley of Achin district departed long ago. This raid was targeting a known commander who was holed up in a series of compounds we knew to be inhabited by bad guys. We could have dropped another MOAB on him (just to make a statement) or used any of a hundred other weaponeering choices to destroy those compounds and all who were in them. But instead we chose to do a raid with Rangers and Afghan Commandos. Why?
Why did we use that option? I have no idea but fear the answer will be every bit as unsatisfactory as the answer to why Pat Tillman was combing through the valleys of Khost province chasing wild geese. The American public still holds our military in high esteem thanks to the the generation who served ahead of them. In the 70’s, when I was a teen, the military was universally despised for being liars and hypocrites. The men serving back then did not deserve the antipathy that washed over them from the Carter White House, the congress, the press and academia. The men serving now are not maintaining the trust passed down to them and if the lying, obfuscation and meaningless missions continue they will deserve every bit of the scorn the country they are supposed to be serving will be heaping on them.
There is no way to determine what the hell is going on over there without competent reporters on the ground digging up truth and reporting that in context. That is why I’m trying so hard to fund an embed back there but I cannot do that without your support. If you can please consider a donation to the Baba Tim Go Fund Me page in support of accurate reporting from the front lines.