Big Army Incompetence Has Left A Potential Viceroy In Play

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.

Ajmal and I chilling at the Taj after his trip in 2010

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.

10 Replies to “Big Army Incompetence Has Left A Potential Viceroy In Play”

  1. Great post Tim and thanks for the mention! There are numerous examples of private warfare being successful. Another one that popped up that I think is relevant is Britain’s involvement in Yemen in the sixties. David Stirling, the founder of the SAS, later formed Watchguard International in retirement and used former SAS guys and local tribes to fight in Yemen against the Egyptians. It was very successful, and little known. Probably the only footage of this venture can be found in this Mayfair Set documentary. At 13:00, they go into detail about what happened in Yemen.

    1. I’m fascinated by the resolute refusal of international elites to recognize the utility of PMC’s while ignoring the raping and pillaging of UN troops in Africa. I updated the post to include Blackwater’s rescue of three coeds in Kenya back in 2009 too. Eric Prince not only immediately sent in a team to get them but once they were out and their parents asked for the bill he told them it was on him. I know the guy he sent too – former FBI agent, African American and the country manager in AF for BW at the time….a really solid citizen. Yet despite ample evidence that PSC’s work and are not money hoarding kleptocrats what is the common perception of Eric Prince? Could you imagine the Clinton’s even attempting to help normal American’s yet alone not charging millions for their efforts? I can’t and remain frustrated that facts mean nothing in today’s hyper political climate.

  2. Prince’s plan might work but the real question is why bother. There was never a good reason to invade Afghanistan and no good reason to occupy it beyond cash, careers and reputations (to be made and saved) to be made in DC.

    Why keep pouring billions of dollars into a place of zero worth? No strategic value. Not a terrorist generator. Not an international terrorist base. Little economic value- actually none if it’s costing you billions in security costs to exploit what little it has. Drugs! So far all the US anti-narcotic programs have resulted in more drugs and more violence, so I’ll pass on eradicating opium cultivation.
    “Little girls to school”? Getting child brides to be able to read isn’t worth billions.

    But the worst reason for spending billions more is to prove who’s COIN theory works best. The west doesn’t need another Petraeus.

  3. On thinking more I’ve decided I was too kind in suggesting Prince’s plan might work.

    The major problems are:

    1) The US appointment of a ruler of Afghanistan would set off Afghans who are now on the fence and support for the insurgents would skyrocket.

    2) the Viceroy would prove the Islamist narrative about US intentions. It would make a mockery of US talking points about “democracy”.

    3) Why would you trust the people who brought you Dynacorps or Blackwater?

    The minor problems are:

    1) If the point is to save money then contractors must replace military people. Paying a contractor to do a job while the soldier he replaced is sitting on base in the US costs money it doesn’t save it. Worse more of the money will be spent abroad rather than the US.

    2) How many mercenaries are we talking about? An A team for every 40 villages would take about 13,000 men or about the current combat arms strength of the British Army. How many good ex-soldiers will actually sign up to hang out with Afghans for years? The fewer people you assign to each Afghan unit will decrease the number of people willing to sign up. They’re not many T.E. Lawrences around and finding genius or insanity is not the basis of a sound plan.

    3) A plan that seeks victory rather than delaying admitting defeat would cost about $ 5 billion annually for the mercenaries before ANSF costs and would still need loads of US air support.

    4) Discipline. What code of conduct do you use? How do you maintain discipline? What are the chances that the standards for the mercenaries would decrease to save money or keep billable days up? 100%. What are the chances some will become involved in organized crime? 100%. My worry would be that many would choose Colonel Kurtz or Milo Minderbinder as their role models.

    5) Do you expect the ANA officer Corps to be pleased with being replaced by people who can’t speak Dari or Pashtu? Remember what happened when the Iraqi Army was disbanded?

    6) How do you deal with dissemination of classified information to non US citizens?

    7) How much will the need to get the mercenaries ready cost? There will a need for a period of months at least to get them all up to speed with TTPs including air and fire control. Replacing US soldiers with gaggles of people from multiple armies can’t be done without preparation.

    That’s not all but it’s enough.

    1. I wrote on this topic before saying the Viceroy needs to be an Afghan and he needs to be backed by the Ulmea. I don’t trust DynCorp at all but do trust Prince. I think the key is a limited number of guys who bring enablers and are working with tribes not district governors. I may be tooting the Ghost Team horn too much but I think we proved the concept will work. We were infantry and SF dudes not civil engineers yet we never failed to complete a project on time and on budget. It would been easier to ask us to train up tribal fighter then it was to build major infrastructure.

      I don’t know how the ANA officers will react but if we used the same pseudo ops techniques that were taught to the Ugandans in their hunt for Koney I would think they would have no problems.

      But I also think the chances of any of this happening are zero. Too many broken rice bowls in DC

  4. Since the CIA and SOF don’t play nice and tell their US Army friends- let alone contractors- what they’re doing I’d worry about pseudo operators being killed by their own air power. I’d be concerned about fratricide without unity of command in a geographical area.

  5. There was a very good reason to invade Afghanistan in late 2001. But that reason had left by the end of 2001.

  6. “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.”

    Joseph Komy -> Joseph Kony

    I just finished Eric Princes’ book and I think you are wrong. 😉 Eric Prince needs to run for US President, not an Afghan Visroy. That guy is my new hero. I’m no Eric Prince, but I grew up with a Catholic family and a father that was devote, worked hard and shared his wealth with his men and his family (what wealth there is in a roofing business) . I’ve always tried to drive my colleagues and teammates by being a good, hard working, positive example. I’ve always felt like an oddball outsider because of that. It’s very gratifying hearing someone else express those concepts and to see them being so successful.

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