"How the West Contributed to the ANSF’s Dire State"

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by theblindking, Jun 19, 2011.

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  1. The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) / How the West Contributed to the ANSF’s Dire State

    Not bad, though flawed in parts. I particularly like this bit:

    "I am not sure whether there really is no single Afghan unit capable of fighting on their own. To me, that very much looks like Western arrogance. First, NATO standards, like in planning etc, definitely cannot be applied. Afghan forces also do not have their own air support. Over-advising and over-mentoring might be another factor, taking away initiative and responsibility from Afghans."
  2. We have provided the ANSF with an enormous amount of money and equipment, and spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to improve their doctrine, training and fighting ability. Granted - we have made a number of mistakes along the way & have been limited by short deployments and a host of other failings.

    The general competence of the ANA is slowly improving, but no amount of money and effort can ever be enough while the Afghans have no clear idea of what we want them to die for, little willingness to die for it, and are systematically weakened by corruption rooted at the very top of Afghan politics.

    Tactically, the ANA can be quite good or truly awful. But none - even the ANA SF mentored by ISAF TFs - are capable of operating independently. And those few regiments which were set up as model units of inter-ethnic cooperation and professionalism have begun to deteriorate as they were given a longer leash.

    I don't think its arrogance not to have given the ANA their own air-support. ISAF troops don't have dedicated air support either, and the ANA have use of it. Not always easy to bring it to bear when you receive a desperate plea from a commander taking a battering at an isolated outpost when he doesn't know his grid reference, where he is to the nearest 10 km on a map, or where the enemy are.

    As for planning - well it could be western arrogance to insist on lengthy planning and god knows you could argue a good deal of our planning tool are nugatory - but when for the nth time the ANA say they can't embark on a deliberate op because they've sold their POL, insist on returning after 1 day because they haven't enough food, start taking food from the locals, or loafing around expecting ISAF units to do everything... you do decide that before you leave the gates next time you really must make sure they've not only signed up the plan but understand it and will see it through.

    ISAF nations haven't attempted to inhibit the development of the ANSF - we've trained a nascent air force which now spends most of its time flying paying passengers and drugs around the country and SF which have been known to go rogue. The French and US would love the ANA to have tanks and artillery too, but given the experience of giving ANA units any substantial amount of kit, the cunning plans have been shelved until they're dusted off by another staff officer at the start of his tour.

    The only really good point in the article is the one of "over mentoring" - i.e. we feel compelled to get involved so we achieve a bare minimum with them, so that the ANA don't lose face and we look good. Whereas a better approach would let them fail on the assumption that they will pick themselves up and want to learn from their mistakes and our expertise. But that is risky on two counts - firstly because the political imperative demands that we are seen to be making progress, so that we can pack up and piss off sooner. Secondly because it assumes that the ANSF would see the light and recognise the value of their mentors - rather than stay in camp, milk the system and mount tribal / reprisal raids whenever it suited them.

    In short, any army which really wants to win will make the most of what it has to defeat its enemy. But most of the ANA don't care whether we win or lose, so long as the money keeps coming. Until that changes, the approach we take is rather academic.

    On the plus side, for the sake of balance, I should add that the ANA - when they want to give someone a shoeing - are the best & bravest QRF you've ever seen. And in the absence of beer they can put on have a cracking nights entertainment with vodka, naan bread, goat meat and mobile phone porn that would make 3 Para retch.
  3. The ANSF would be a top tier military capable of giving the Russians AND American forces a run for their money... but we got involved.
  4. Goat BARMA - pure genius and instant kebabs if it goes wrong
  5. If the ANA wants tanks and artillery it's because, unlike ISAF which is focused on the internal threats, the Afghans still very much care about the possibility of a conventional neighbour "invasion". Not saying it could happen, just pointing out that's where they are coming from when they advocate MBTs and FA.
  6. Absolutely - alot of senior ANA officers would love to head South with some tanks and and attempt to kick the shit out of the Pakistanis. Also, being in charge of lots of men and sexy equipment carries a lot of prestige - looking after it.... less so.