Foreign Affairs report slams Afg planning and mission creep

#1
Published today, full report;
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmfaff/302/30202.htm

Conclusions and recommendations;
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmfaff/302/30203.htm

CHAPTER 6: THE UK'S MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN

The UK's expanding mission in Afghanistan

29. We conclude that the UK's mission in Afghanistan has taken on a significantly different, and considerably expanded, character since the first British troops were deployed there in 2001. The UK has moved from its initial goal of supporting the US in countering international terrorism, far into the realms of counter-insurgency, counter-narcotics, protection of human rights, and state-building. During our visit we were struck by the sheer magnitude of the task confronting the UK. We conclude that there has been significant 'mission creep' in the British deployment to Afghanistan, and that this has resulted in the British government being now committed to a wide range of objectives. We further conclude that in its response to this Report, the Government should set out, in unambiguous terms, its first and most important priority in Afghanistan. (Paragraph 225)

The UK deployment to Helmand

30. We conclude that the UK deployment to Helmand was undermined by unrealistic planning at senior levels, poor co-ordination between Whitehall departments and crucially, a failure to provide the military with clear direction. We further conclude that as the situation currently stands, the "comprehensive approach" is faltering, largely because the security situation is preventing any strengthening of governance and Afghan capacity. The very clear conclusion that we took from our visit to Helmand is that stabilisation need not be complicated or expensive, but it does require provision of security, good governance, and a belief within the local population that ISAF forces will outlast the insurgents. (Paragraph 236)

The role of, and impact on, the British armed forces

31. We conclude that the Government must ensure that our armed forces are provided with the appropriate resources to undertake the tasks requested of them, particularly in an environment as challenging as Helmand. We further conclude that in spite of well-documented difficulties, British armed forces are now gradually beginning to create and sustain the conditions that make it possible to extend good governance and the rule of law in the most heavily populated areas of Helmand. We conclude that the support provided by additional equipment and by the US 'surge' of troops in Helmand will be of considerable assistance, and is greatly to be welcomed. (Paragraph 248)
 
#2
Don't you think it is a bit funny that it has taken 6 years to come up with this little jem, or am I being a bit cynical in thinking that it may just be MPs trying to ensure they have a future after Cyclops and New Labour are sent down the swanny. Rats leaving ship,again
 
#4
Can't find a reference to DfID, only oblique references to what they have failed to achieve;

145. We conclude that the international effort in Afghanistan since 2001 has delivered much less than it promised and that its impact has been significantly diluted by the absence of a unified vision and strategy, grounded in the realities of Afghanistan's history, culture and politics. We recognise that although Afghanistan's current situation is not solely the legacy of the West's failures since 2001, avoidable mistakes, including knee-jerk responses, policy fragmentation and overlap, now make the task of stabilising the country considerably more difficult than might otherwise have been the case. We recommend that in its response to this Report the FCO sets out what lessons have been learned from the mistakes made by the international community over the last seven years. We further recommend that in its response the FCO sets out what it considers the most important priorities of the international community in Afghanistan to be.

Also found this gem of a paragraph. questioning UK Armed Forces ability to do the job; (I do believe it was a political decision made at the very highest levels NOT to support US Ops in Basra).

276. Professor Farrell also argues that the UK has an unstated aim of ensuring its reputation and relationship with the US. The FCO's written submission only refers to the fact that "Afghanistan is an enduring US political commitment, reinforced by the President-elect" and makes few other direct references to the UK's relationship with the US.[452] Echoing a number of recent press reports, Professor Farrell told us "the feedback that I have received from people in Washington is that the American view is that we were very good at counter-insurgency at one stage, and now we are not so good. All the operations surrounding the Charge of the Knights [in Iraq] - our failure to support that operation and the fact that we lost control of Basra - is evidence to them that we have lost the ability to conduct COIN [counter-insurgency]".[453] In Professor Farrell's view this is "really worrying because if […] one reason why we are in Afghanistan is to support our relationship with the United States, we are kind of wasting our time if they think that we are not performing. That is part of a misperception on their part".[454] Professor Farrell suggested that public opposition to the war in Iraq and distrust about the British Government's role in supporting the US in its mission there had made the Government wary of stating publicly that part of the reason for being in Afghanistan was to support the US.[455]

Indie's take;

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...cades-says-our-man-in-washington-1766248.html
 
#5
nigegilb said:
..Also found this gem of a paragraph. questioning UK Armed Forces ability to do the job; (I do believe it was a political decision made at the very highest levels NOT to support US Ops in Basra).

276. Professor Farrell also argues that the UK has an unstated aim of ensuring its reputation and relationship with the US. The FCO's written submission only refers to the fact that "Afghanistan is an enduring US political commitment, reinforced by the President-elect" and makes few other direct references to the UK's relationship with the US.[452] Echoing a number of recent press reports, Professor Farrell told us "the feedback that I have received from people in Washington is that the American view is that we were very good at counter-insurgency at one stage, and now we are not so good. All the operations surrounding the Charge of the Knights [in Iraq] - our failure to support that operation and the fact that we lost control of Basra - is evidence to them that we have lost the ability to conduct COIN [counter-insurgency]".[453] In Professor Farrell's view this is "really worrying because if […] one reason why we are in Afghanistan is to support our relationship with the United States, we are kind of wasting our time if they think that we are not performing. That is part of a misperception on their part".
It will be very interesting to see what background to Charge of the Knights becomes public in the Iraq Inquiry. The lack of substantial BRITFOR involvement in the operation needs serious questioning. Political involvement or direction in order to save bad news from breaking?
 
#6
We could always go for route one and post it here on arrse first!

Fairly obvious that Brown was desperate to stop the flow of bad news and British fatalities in Iraq. Army Chiefs colluded in the pretence that we won in Basra. But from what I can garner most British troops were just happy to get out in the end. We are still the most dependable ally to the US, hampered by a socialist government totally unwilling to provide the support necessary to achieve progress in Afg.

What I found interesting about this report is the criticism of the planning that went into the Helmand deployment. Brass hats were involved in that planning process, God only knows what they were thinking. Were they political puppy dogs or just barking mad?

Having just read Doug Beattie's book about Afg I am favouring barking mad at the moment......
 
#7
nigegilb said:
We could always go for route one and post it here on arrse first!

Fairly obvious that Brown was desperate to stop the flow of bad news and British fatalities in Iraq. Army Chiefs colluded in the pretence that we won in Basra. But from what I can garner most British troops were just happy to get out in the end. We are still the most dependable ally to the US, hampered by a socialist government totally unwilling to provide the support necessary to achieve progress in Afg.

What I found interesting about this report is the criticism of the planning that went into the Helmand deployment. Brass hats were involved in that planning process, God only knows what they were thinking. Were they political puppy dogs or just barking mad?
Jackson is supossed to be answering that question today on the Andrew Marr program, which today has Stepheny Flowers in the chair, and quite likly to ask him some real questions instead of Marr's usual following of the New Labour script
 
#8
...
Regional neighbours

7. We recommend that the Government continues to make clear to the Iranian leadership the total unacceptability to the UK of Iran's direct and indirect assistance to the Taliban in their operations against Coalition Forces. (Paragraph 53)

8. We conclude that the FCO should continue to use its influence to foster greater co-operation between Afghanistan and its neighbours and recommend that in its response to this Report it updates us on recent developments in this respect. (Paragraph 61)
...
CHAPTER 4: PAKISTAN'S STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE AND ROLE IN RELATION TO AFGHANISTAN

Pakistan's strategic importance

21. We conclude that Pakistan's strategic importance derives not only from the sanctuary that its semi-autonomous border areas provide to extremists who seek to cause instability in Afghanistan, but also because of connections between the border areas and those involved in international terrorism. We further conclude that it is difficult to overestimate the importance of tackling not just the symptoms but the root causes that enable this situation to persist. (Paragraph 158)

22. We conclude that allegations raised during our inquiry about the safety of nuclear technology and claims of possible collusion between Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, and Al Qaeda are a matter of deep concern. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government sets out its assessment of these allegations and the extent of the threat that this poses. (Paragraph 160)

Recent Pakistani responses to militancy

23. We conclude that there is a pressing need for the Pakistani government to address the role that some madrassahs play in the recruitment and radicalisation process in Pakistan. We recommend that the British Government sets out in its response to this Report what discussions it has had with the Pakistani Government about this issue, and whether it has raised allegations of Saudi Arabian funding of radical madrassahs with the Saudi authorities. (Paragraph 164)

24. We conclude that Pakistan's civilian government has recently taken some important steps to counter insurgency at a considerable cost in terms of military lives lost. We welcome the increasing recognition at senior levels within the Pakistani military of the need for a recalibrated approach to militancy but we remain concerned that this may not necessarily be replicated elsewhere within the army and ISI. We conclude that President Zardari's recent remarks that he regards the real threat to his country as being terrorism rather than India are to be welcomed. However, we further conclude that doubts remain as to whether the underlying fundamentals of Pakistani security policy have changed sufficiently to realise the goals of long-term security and stability in Afghanistan. (Paragraph 176)

Pakistan's relationship with Afghanistan

25. We conclude that addressing long-standing concerns of the Pashtun populace on either side of the Durand Line and the respective governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in relation to the Durand Line itself, could, in the long term, help to increase bilateral co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, reduce sources of political friction and help tackle the causes, and not just the symptoms, of poverty and weak governance which Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups have exploited so effectively in recent years. Given the UK's close relationship with both Afghanistan and Pakistan and its historical ties to the region (which include the imposition of the Durand Line by British colonial administrators), we further conclude that the UK has a moral imperative to provide whatever diplomatic or practical support might be deemed appropriate by the relevant parties to assist them in finding ways of addressing the many problematic issues that are the Durand Line's legacy. (Paragraph 182)

US attacks on targets in Pakistan

26. We conclude that the use of US drones to attack Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan may have resulted in serious damage to Al Qaeda's network and capabilities. However, we also conclude that these attacks have damaged the US's reputation among elements of the Pakistani population who regard them as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. We further conclude that drone attacks remain a high-risk strategy and must not become a substitute for the challenging yet vital task of building a Pakistani civilian government counter-terrorist capacity and army capable of conducting counter-insurgency operations and dealing with extremist threats. (Paragraph 199)

India

27. We reiterate our previous conclusion from our South Asia Report that the UK should encourage India and Pakistan to make further progress on the peace process, but that the Government should not get directly involved in negotiations nor try to suggest solutions to the question of Kashmir, unless requested to do so by both India and Pakistan. (Paragraph 201)

28. We conclude that the US plan marks an important and long overdue recalibration of its relationship with Pakistan. Its emphasis on civilian aid, with appropriate conditions attached, has the potential to ensure that long term improvements in Pakistan's political, economic and social capacity limit the appeal of extremism. We further conclude that it is crucial that the US addresses Pakistan's fears, both legitimate and perceived, relating to India and reassures Pakistan about the extent and nature of the US's long-term commitment to Pakistan. (Paragraph 211)
This is understated to the point of being timid. It reads like it was re-drafted from a text written four years ago. Much has changed.

The situation in Pakistan should be now be the major strategic concern. The Pashtun wars core is now South of the Durand line and the survival of the nuclear armed Pakistani state itself is at risk.

The Pak military has always fostered transnational terrorists. The ISI had intimate relationships with AQ long before 9-11. Evidence of operational collaboration is plentiful. Often just before major US visit they show a suspicious ability to produce yet another 3rd level AQ commander as tribute. DC lavishing them with aid in response may have produced a moral hazard. Most AQ basing is now in FATA. Elements in the Pakistani Taliban have adopted far enemy rhetoric and threaten attacks on the West. Nearly every Takfiri terrorist scooped up in Europe recently has received basic training in FATA.

If the disastrous muddle that we used to call GWOT should focus anywhere its Pakistan. This was obvious to regional experts in 02 by now it should have sunk in in Whitehall.

Interestingly diplomatic wording. We have "Iran's direct and indirect assistance to the Taliban" as apposed to "possible collusion between Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, and Al Qaeda" and "allegations of Saudi Arabian funding of radical madrassahs". Our "allies" do not merit such mealy mouthed language.

Iranian meddling with their old enemies the Afghan Taliban has been relatively modest. It amounts to keeping a hand in the game. They still mostly focus on their Hazara allies.

In contrast large parts of the Afghan Taliban are viewed as a strategic asset by the ISI. It has received not just rear basing but arms, training, logistical and even occasionally artillery support from the Pak military. The Pak military has with great reluctance tackled the Pakistani Taliban it still seems to regard the Afghan Taliban as a ward of state. The Afghan Taliban Shura currently sits in unmolested in Quetta. The ISI has been directly implicated in substantial terrorist actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Openly displeased by Obama's escalation of the war the braided chaps in Lahore still plan to take Kabul back once we are gone.

The Saudis and other Gulf Kingships have a well documented policy of lavish missionary aid to the Deobandi sect which is the ideological spine of the Taliban. It's a relationship that goes back more than a century. They also have an intimate relationship with the ISI and are almost certainly are the major source of funding for the Taliban. From Kosovo to Chechnya and Indonesia bearded Jihadist loons run on Gulf Kingship funds.

DC has been slowly reversing its policy of appeasement with Pakistan. American officials stopped being tight lipped about ISI involvement a year and a half ago. Clearly British MPs have yet to grow a pair.
 

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