"Mission Accomplished" my Arrse.....

No.4 Mk.1

On ROPS
On ROPs
As much as he gets slagged off I've got some time for No. 4 because since his tour he has endeavoured to learn more about the conflict he was involved in. My issue is that I completely disagree with many of the conclusions he was drawn.
I appreciate the acknowledgement. FYI i also read Ahmed Rashid's book "Taliban" before deploying, enrolled myself on a Pashtun course and did a lot of other research.

Ahmed Rashid made mention of a Mujaheden who used to submerge himself in road side irrigation ditches, wait for the vibration of military vehicles and then pop up with his RPG. That was why i wore my body armour on the 20 year old Afghan bus that did a lap of the perimeter fence at the same time EVERY day, passing points where the road was higher than the fence and there were irrigation ditches on the other side. I appreciate now that we weren't particularly lucky that a bus didn't get hit - they were just waiting for a bigger target, i.e. the airfield raid.

I later realised that watching "The 9th Company" a few days before boarding a flight to Helmand might not have been the best idea (Russian transport plane gets shot down as it's departing Afghanistan), but at least i was ready to kiss my arrse goodbye in a moment.
 
Lunatic.

They didn't need to know what day it was planned for, they only needed to switch on the x-ray and metal detector (that were already there) and put a security guard in a corridor to check WTF people walking on to a BFO jet plane were carrying in their hand luggage.

Just checking - are you suggesting if they knew the day they wouldn't have bothered being prepared the other 6 days of the week? That is quite terrifyingly dumb. Were you one of Sandhurst's finest?
No you are being ridiculous and offering fallacious arguments- You know as well as I do that security states are heightened and lowered with the threat assessment - Its not possible to run max security all day every day. Hence intelligence identifying an attacks intended time and place being crucial I intercepting it.

I'm disappointed in your puerile and insulting response re not prepared the other 6 days. I may not agree with you but generally your arguments are reasoned - but here you are suspending logic and common sense to support conspiracy theories-

Re Metal detectors luggage etc - you make a valid point - but the US deemed the threat of internal terrorism so low it didn't screen internal flights.
Internal flights were used because A they weren't screened and B flights that originated from the US that did odd things did not attract a USAF aircraft coming to investigate.
Now with the benefit of hind sight we can see that was a massive error.

As to the Jews bit - No Lunacy on my part - The world is outraged whenever a muslim is wrongly arrested - yet the wrongful arrest of some Jews has attracted vitriol and accusations. There are elements that blame the Jooz for everything - I didn't say you were one - I was raising it as a very valid reason why these Israelis are still vilified and the lies perpetuated.

Edit Perhaps a careless use of the phrase You care to invent on my part - meant as a general you not a nominative accusative you.
 
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seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
I appreciate the acknowledgement. FYI i also read Ahmed Rashid's book "Taliban" before deploying, enrolled myself on a Pashtun course and did a lot of other research.

Ahmed Rashid made mention of a Mujaheden who used to submerge himself in road side irrigation ditches, wait for the vibration of military vehicles and then pop up with his RPG. That was why i wore my body armour on the 20 year old Afghan bus that did a lap of the perimeter fence at the same time EVERY day, passing points where the road was higher than the fence and there were irrigation ditches on the other side. I appreciate now that we weren't particularly lucky that a bus didn't get hit - they were just waiting for a bigger target, i.e. the airfield raid.

I later realised that watching "The 9th Company" a few days before boarding a flight to Helmand might not have been the best idea (Russian transport plane gets shot down as it's departing Afghanistan), but at least i was ready to kiss my arrse goodbye in a moment.
I see where the bitterness comes from now.

This was your moment to shine and they wouldn't let you play at being Lawrence of Afghanistan.
 
You've made a very valid point.

AFG however was so complex that trying to let people understand the big picture could be rather problematic.
If you're talking about people being on the outside looking in and drawing the wrong conclusions and you then being unable to articulate what is actually happening then in a conflict being fought by any major western power, where public perception (and the political capital which is intrinsically linked with it) is so important, you have a real problem.

Or have I misinterpreted what you're saying?
 
I appreciate the acknowledgement. FYI i also read Ahmed Rashid's book "Taliban" before deploying, enrolled myself on a Pashtun course and did a lot of other research.

Ahmed Rashid made mention of a Mujaheden who used to submerge himself in road side irrigation ditches, wait for the vibration of military vehicles and then pop up with his RPG. That was why i wore my body armour on the 20 year old Afghan bus that did a lap of the perimeter fence at the same time EVERY day, passing points where the road was higher than the fence and there were irrigation ditches on the other side. I appreciate now that we weren't particularly lucky that a bus didn't get hit - they were just waiting for a bigger target, i.e. the airfield raid.

I later realised that watching "The 9th Company" a few days before boarding a flight to Helmand might not have been the best idea (Russian transport plane gets shot down as it's departing Afghanistan), but at least i was ready to kiss my arrse goodbye in a moment.

We watched Team America on the way to brize when I went to Iraq, slightly different tone.
 
Its vey easy with benefit of hindsight and some inspired reading to decide that its all going wrong. The problem is that the authors saying later on 'it went wrong here and this is why' were not there ar the time.

Strategy and decision making, particularly in a warzone is done by tired people in an alien environment operating in a foggy world where their ability tp decipher what is going on is limited to a variety of means that can be open to manipulation, messaging and change. You are playing a 3D boaedgame while only able to see one part of the board and the rules you play with change depending on your political masters whims, the locals and the enemy who it turns out were not playing your game but a totally different one.

I've worked on Afghan issues at a tactical (on the ground), (vaguely) operational (support to Ops in UK) and Strategic level (in FCO) over the years. I make a point of not trying to cite specifics of what did or didnt go right because it is so bloody complicated, and there are so many intangible and interlinked factors at play that to presume you know and understand Afghanistan is the height of arrogance.

If it were straightforward it would have been different. Unless you were present throughout the entirety of HERRICK and saw how UK and NATO got to where it was, your ability to comment meaningfully is limited, as is just about everyone else here.
 

No.4 Mk.1

On ROPS
On ROPs
I see where the bitterness comes from now.

This was your moment to shine and they wouldn't let you play at being Lawrence of Afghanistan.
Call me pedantic, but i took deploying on Op Herrick quite seriously.

I only used my very limited Pashtun language in Bastion- i used to say hello, etc to an Afghan LEC grey beard most days. After about 4 months he stopped me one day and said "You are a good man". One of my proudest & the most humbling moment of my tour.

And they did let me play out - i did more than i had ever dreamed of by going out on 5 cmabt logistic patrols as top cover. Not bad for a 42 year vehicle mechanic old STAB, although admittedly that was only because many in my Platoon spent the whole tour skiving and drinking milkshakes in the US PX yard.

There were two VMs in my Platoon who were deployed forward to a PB. They were sent back after 3 days because they were considered an utter waste of space - playing hide and seek when there was work needed doing by their own admission. They were popular lads within the Platoon still - i think the limit of their 'punishment' for that was someone 'having a quiet word' with them - the same strict punishment dealt out to people caught sleeping on airfield stag. Professional army? Be the best? GTF.

And for the record i'm not bitter - i'm ****ing livid. Men died because the British Army (the Senior Command & small parts of it at least) didn't know their arrse from their elbow.
 
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No.4 Mk.1

On ROPS
On ROPs
You are playing a 3D boaedgame while only able to see one part of the board and the rules you play with change depending on your political masters whims, the locals and the enemy who it turns out were not playing your game but a totally different one.
Is that why Colonel Tootal and Brigadier Butler left their decision making to an Afghan with a Batchelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Irrigation? Or was the Governor of Helmand Province (who WE had appointed 6 months before) the British Army's political master?
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Whilst I was always aware of the above it was speaking to guys I deployed with on H10 about their H15 tour which surprised me with the differences they described (once you got past the "we hardly blew anything up, it was shit"). It was at that point that I realised just how out of date my experience was.
Exactly. I prepped for a late HERRICK with a unit that had previously been there five rotations earlier. Some people deployed to the same areas that they'd been two years before and found the situation utterly different to what they'd seen the last time. We had Sgts who'd been in almost daily contact in certain areas who could barely believe that we only had about one contact a month this time around. Even when we did have those contacts, they were generally at extreme range and didn't require much of a response.

The rate of change from H14 (ish) onwards meant that their previous experience just wasn't applicable. Things changed fast in the later stages of HERRICK. The interesting question is whether this was because we started doing things better, or whether we'd just reached a tipping point where things settled down after we'd got the Taleban on the back foot militarily following a series of very violent tours.
 
Is that why Colonel Tootal and Brigadier Butler left their decision making to an Afghan with a Batchelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Irrigation? Or was the Governor of Helmand Province (who WE had appointed 6 months before) the British Army's political master?
Colonel and Brigadier - why are you bolding ths exactly? OF5 and 1* - Thats not really Senior.
 
If you're talking about people being on the outside looking in and drawing the wrong conclusions and you then being unable to articulate what is actually happening then in a conflict being fought by any major western power, where public perception (and the political capital which is intrinsically linked with it) is so important, you have a real problem.

Or have I misinterpreted what you're saying?
Sorry. I was feeding the baby at the time.

The afghan AO was a nightmare to understand with tribalism, blood feuds, greed and every other human weakness thrown into the fray.

Often, units would go and speak to somebody local and you're average AFG was very adept at describing their enemy as Taliban to gain ISAF support.

Here's a classic example.


Another example was the arbaki in the north of the country. Some bright spark thought it was a good idea to arm them as they were anti Taliban. Those of us in the know realised we'd arm people who didn't like the pashmina who had stolen their land over a century ago and would effectively ethnically cleanse the area.

We'd go into areas trying to clear it of Taliban to find strong Taliban resistance that was actually xenophobic Pashtuns who didn't want anybody around.


The problem seemed to stem from high rotation of units, poorly briefed on their AO and a command decision to make a difference during their tour.

RC east was the worst with tenth mountain and 101 airborne tryingtindemonstartea how great they were. Each left their area 'better' than they found it. The other took over, realised it was pants but couldn't be seen to be 'leaving it' in a worse state that it was reported to be in before they took over so over inflated how good the security situation was.

How do you explain to Tommy Atkins youre going to a country where some villages didn't even know the Russians were there in the 80s let alone ISAF. However the next village you go to has the village chief ask you in perfect BBC English about prime ministers question time. Never mind the 's**t we've broken down in the middle of the desert and we know nobody is around for miles' to later be surrounded by afghans offering to fix your vehicle.

Some serious mistakes were made out there, but looking at it now good stuff happened.

Even if you look at Northern Ireland for example and OP banner. I'm sure those who served in the late 70s and early 80s thought how pointless it was. But their actions set the Scene for a degree of success in the future.
 
Its vey easy with benefit of hindsight and some inspired reading to decide that its all going wrong. The problem is that the authors saying later on 'it went wrong here and this is why' were not there ar the time.

Strategy and decision making, particularly in a warzone is done by tired people in an alien environment operating in a foggy world where their ability tp decipher what is going on is limited to a variety of means that can be open to manipulation, messaging and change. You are playing a 3D boaedgame while only able to see one part of the board and the rules you play with change depending on your political masters whims, the locals and the enemy who it turns out were not playing your game but a totally different one.

I've worked on Afghan issues at a tactical (on the ground), (vaguely) operational (support to Ops in UK) and Strategic level (in FCO) over the years. I make a point of not trying to cite specifics of what did or didnt go right because it is so bloody complicated, and there are so many intangible and interlinked factors at play that to presume you know and understand Afghanistan is the height of arrogance.

If it were straightforward it would have been different. Unless you were present throughout the entirety of HERRICK and saw how UK and NATO got to where it was, your ability to comment meaningfully is limited, as is just about everyone else here.

Good post.

Hindsight shouldnt just be about playing I-told-you-so but act as part of an objective lessons learned process. When looking at how people deal with situations retrospectively you need to understand their scope of understanding and the information they did and dos t have sight of, so you're right it's often not done in a fair manner.

I'm not someone who thinks that everything that we did in the country was a disaster, or that every decision made was the wrong one but I do believe that our "big" aims which we seem so commit to from the start (western government, support them to secure the country etc. ) was flawed and that the people making those decisions made poor choices with what they had in front of them.

If you get the big stuff wrong the rest is just detail and it doesn't matter if you get it right.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
If it were straightforward it would have been different. Unless you were present throughout the entirety of HERRICK and saw how UK and NATO got to where it was, your ability to comment meaningfully is limited, as is just about everyone else here.
Good point. There's always an element of 'we should have done x because it worked in NI/Malaya/Aden/Phillippines'. This kind of analysis is nonsense because COIN campaigns are so complex that what worked well for one campaign won't work well for another, or what works at a given time may not apply a few months later. Indeed, what works well in one area will be a disaster in another.

One of Kilcullen's principles of COIN is that insurgencies need a bespoke solution every time. We're rarely going to get that right straight out of the gate, and we're even less likely to maintain the correct solution as the situation shifts around us. I think we need to accept that in the majority of cases, COIN campaigns will have a period of failure and increased violence as an inherent part of the learning process. How fast, or even if, we learn is the key. In Afghanistan we learned and adapted, albeit fairly slowly; in Iraq we barely learned at all.
 
If you're talking about people being on the outside looking in and drawing the wrong conclusions and you then being unable to articulate what is actually happening then in a conflict being fought by any major western power, where public perception (and the political capital which is intrinsically linked with it) is so important, you have a real problem.

Or have I misinterpreted what you're saying?
Sorry. I was feeding the baby at the time.

The afghan AO was a nightmare to understand with tribalism, blood feuds, greed and every other human weakness thrown into the fray.

Often, units would go and speak to somebody local and you're average AFG was very adept at describing their enemy as Taliban to gain ISAF support.

Here's a classic example.


Another example was the arbaki in the north of the country. Some bright spark thought it was a good idea to arm them as they were anti Taliban. Those of us in the know realised we'd arm people who didn't like the pashmina who had stolen their land over a century ago and would effectively ethnically cleanse the area.

We'd go into areas trying to clear it of Taliban to find strong Taliban resistance that was actually xenophobic Pashtuns who didn't want anybody around.


The problem seemed to stem from high rotation of units, poorly briefed on their AO and a command decision to make a difference during their tour.

RC east was the worst with tenth mountain and 101 airborne tryingtindemonstartea how great they were. Each left their area 'better' than they found it. The other took over, realised it was pants but couldn't be seen to be 'leaving it' in a worse state that it was reported to be in before they took over so over inflated how good the security situation was.

How do you explain to Tommy Atkins youre going to a country where some villages didn't even know the Russians were there in the 80s let alone ISAF. However the next village you go to has the village chief ask you in perfect BBC English about prime ministers question time. Never mind the 's**t we've broken down in the middle of the desert and we know nobody is around for miles' to later be surrounded by afghans offering to fix your vehicle.

Some serious mistakes were made out there, but looking at it now good stuff happened.

Even if you look at Northern Ireland for example and OP banner. I'm sure those who served in the late 70s and early 80s thought how pointless it was. But their actions set the Seventies and eighties set the scene.
 

No.4 Mk.1

On ROPS
On ROPs
Colonel and Brigadier - why are you bolding ths exactly? OF5 and 1* - Thats not really Senior.
They were senior enough to send men to their deaths on a fools errand. Perhaps i should have highlighted the "Batchelor of Science" instead, because that appears to be the qualification of the man who actually made the decision to deploy North to Platoon Houses.

Having said that, whilst Butler and Tootal have said on film that it was Daoud that made them do it, there are two other documentaries that say separately that the decision was made by MI6 or the UK Ambassador to Kabul.

As the Defence Select Committee have said, no one really seemed to know who was actually in charge.
 

No.4 Mk.1

On ROPS
On ROPs
If you get the big stuff wrong the rest is just detail and it doesn't matter if you get it right.
There was one decision in 2005 that appears to have dictated the rest of the Helmand campaign - the decision to sack Helmand Governor (2002 to 2005) Sher Mohammed Akhundzada.

I don't know but i suspect that decision came from Downing Street (impression from what i've seen & read) - Blair putting the final nail in the coffin before ****ing off on his $5 MILLION speaking tour of the US.
 
Exactly. I prepped for a late HERRICK with a unit that had previously been there five rotations earlier. Some people deployed to the same areas that they'd been two years before and found the situation utterly different to what they'd seen the last time. We had Sgts who'd been in almost daily contact in certain areas who could barely believe that we only had about one contact a month this time around. Even when we did have those contacts, they were generally at extreme range and didn't require much of a response.

The rate of change from H14 (ish) onwards meant that their previous experience just wasn't applicable. Things changed fast in the later stages of HERRICK. The interesting question is whether this was because we started doing things better, or whether we'd just reached a tipping point where things settled down after we'd got the Taleban on the back foot militarily following a series of very violent tours.
My personal feeling is we were doing things better. Troop densities were up and we were making an effort not to destroy everything we laid eyes on. Looking at some of the jobs my battalion conducted whilst it was very kinetic and lots of guys got medals (I had a grand old time as well), in hindsight I'm not convinced we helped matters.

The fact that we also announced we were leaving may also have had an effect.

I don't believe it is a problem we could've killed our way out of, and I don't believe that's why there was an improvement. Otherwise they wouldn't be resurgent now.
 
There was one decision in 2005 that appears to have dictated the rest of the Helmand campaign - the decision to sack Helmand Governor (2002 to 2005) Sher Mohammed Akhundzada.

I don't know but i suspect that decision came from Downing Street (impression from what i've seen & read) - Blair putting the final nail in the coffin before ****ing off on his $5 MILLION speaking tour of the US.
Now I know you're talking pish. SMA was a nasty piece of work. The best thing that ever happened was getting rid of him.
 
There was one decision in 2005 that appears to have dictated the rest of the Helmand campaign - the decision to sack Helmand Governor (2002 to 2005) Sher Mohammed Akhundzada.

I don't know but i suspect that decision came from Downing Street (impression from what i've seen & read) - Blair putting the final nail in the coffin before ****ing off on his $5 MILLION speaking tour of the US.
There were serious errors made there but even this stuff is detail for me. By 2005 we should've already been back home for 3 years.
 

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