ANA: Crows from Hell

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Rumpelstiltskin, Apr 17, 2009.

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  1. Take every 5th man and fire him from a cannon, that'll focus the minds of the others. It worked for us in India.
  2. rasselas

    rasselas Swinger Book Reviewer

    Slightly grating to hear the septic lecturing him on Afghan military history - as if the Muj' who gave the Russians more of a beating than the Yanks ever did were all correctly wearing their helmets.

    For every rubbish stoner I had there'd be an awesome soldier, hard as nails and up for a scrap no matter what he was wearing, and these are guys that live it all year every year instead of dropping in for 6 months charging round then coming home for an 18 month breather - I say cut them some slack.
  3. Nothing new here. Who's to say whether the clip is a fair depiction? There are some obvious journalistic misnomers - for example...

    ...the Taleban are all well trained and motivated
    This is a standard media cliche. Anyone remember how the Iraqis were so experienced from the Iran / Iraq war that they'd fight us to a standstill on our invasion route into Iraq? And turn Basra into a Stalingrad? And the Serbians before them, who had been hardy fighting men since the 13th Century and would therefore be able to resist Nato forces invading Kosovo?

    How come the Taleban are full of battled-hardened ex-Muj who've already seen off the Russians and eat BMPs for breakfast, wheras the ANA from the same era are uniformly corrupt & useless? For every chars-smoking "deliquent" 17 yr old ANA askar, there's a frightened, brainwashed, repeatedly raped 17 graduate of a Pakistani madrassa on the other side.

    "7 years and they still can't..."
    Yes, we have been training the ANA as a whole for 7 years but doesn't mean that every man is going to be great - the massive expansion recently means that quite a few are straight out of very basic training.

    The number being trained is ramping up, as are the number of kandaks reaching credible status. Even with all due scepticism re: the assessment standards this shows some progress.

    What matters is that we develop the mindset of an army who want to hand the fight over to the ANA, and will display the massive patience and stamina to do so. They don't need to be great, they just need to be good enough. Every uninterested training team who view them as "crows from hell" make the day we leave further and further away.

    I've met ex-OMLT members who took the "useless bunch of stoners" attitude. By contrast I've also met others who saw good things in the ANA among the bad. The key strengths of the ANA are essential to COIN - they have cultural awareness and legitimacy far beyond what we can hope to achieve. Most importantly, when well led, they are prepared to fight and die. By contrast every British commander's main effort - explicit or not - is to bring as many of their guys back as possible. For the ANA - largely operating with zero arty / CAS - the game isn't about patrolling out, being hit, dropping JDAMs and going home.

    Yes, the ANA are ropey, but they're at the start of a long haul. Pointing out their obvious deficiences is easy. We need to work hard at recognising what makes them good ( I'd like to add their pretty minimal requirement for expensive UORs, and ability to "fight light" as well ) and get them good enough so that we can support them in the roles that we are good at - relatively risk-averse, firepower and technology-intensive ones.

  4. I seem to recall seeing a link somewhere on here to an American report on the Taliban, although I can't find it, detailing how many of them are experienced, with in many cases decades of fighting to their names; they are well trained and disciplined, exercising decent fire discipline and firing with surprising accuracy, not just blatting away. Their logistics train is well-developed and good at bringing up large volumes of supplies over long distances without attracting attention to themselves. Their morale is apparently high despite high casualties; much to do with the influence of religion, and their tactics of attrition show considerable insight into the weaknesses of casualty-conscious Western armies.

    Considering that the enemies we loosely group as "Taliban" have kept us engaged in some of the toughest fighting British soldiers have seen possibly since the Falklands and before that Korea for seven or eight years, and AFG has been referred to by troops as the "new Northern Ireland", I wouldn't be too quick to write them off. We did a very good job training them all those years ago.
  5. That's some pretty shoddy journalism. For a start, why are they calling Afghanistan 'Barack Obama's War'? Seems like a title intended to make some sort of political point, although I can't work out what it is.

    As per usual there's plenty of misrepresentation: 'these men have been trained for seven years and they still can't get the basics right'. Wrong. Seven years is how long CSTC-A (the ANA and ANP trg/mentoring organisation) has been established, not how long the men in the report have been trained for. And anyway it does somewhat miss the point because it takes an overly Western view of what 'the basics' are. Does it really matter if a weapon is slung, if it can be brought into action quickly enough, and the man holding it presses home his attack? Don't sweat the small stuff. We don't have time, for a start.

    I'm going to cut the US Marine ETT some slack and say that they were blowing off steam with some of the comments they made. But the lack of cultural awareness was still evident, and disappointing. As Charlie Cong has implied, you have to exploit their strengths, not constantly bang on about their (to Western eyes) weaknesses - otherwise the result is the totally de-motivated ANA officer we saw in the clip.

    I should say that I have been involved in training the ANA both at section and Bde HQ level and fully appreciate the frustrations. But they can be very good indeed at delivering an effect on the target, despite back to front helmets or flip flops instead of boots. And as has been pointed out previously, their knowledge of the ground/culture/people will always surpass ours, so we shoudn't be too quick to give them a hard time about things that would bother us in a Western soldier.

    Bottom line is that the ANA (and ANP) are the only chance Afghanistan has of establishing even the most rudimentary form of security - unless it is preferred that the warlords/drug barons/Taliban get the job. Heavily biased and negative reporting like this does not help anyone.
  6. For what it's worth I'm with LISpace here on this one. I encountered the ANA and ANP on H4 and as I recall the OMLT blokes I met had nothing but good things to say about them. The ANP guys I had dealings with were shall we say a little different to us but, crucially as I was told one day whilst trying to organsise his defence at the VCP - he had been in contact for 3 days on and off, not paid for 2 months and he was expected to man the whole thing 24 hrs a day for his tenure, with 4 blokes. All while being beasted by us because they were supposed to be an outer Cordon of sorts.

    When faced with that you have to give them a little credit - be suspicious but some credit nonetheless.

    It's not a short term fix anyway - we're on HERRICK for some time yet
  7. Bravo_Zulu - You're right, apologies for the exaggeration - I should and do know better. Large elements of the Taleban clearly are hard, experienced, sophisticated fighters. But not all.. I just bridled at the habitual journalistic contrast.