Why NATO Troops Cant Deliver Peace in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, May 29, 2008.

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  1. 05/29/2008
    Why NATO Troops Can't Deliver Peace in Afghanistan

    By Ullrich Fichtner

    Forty nations are embroiled in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Anyone who travels through the country with Western troops soon realizes that NATO forces would have to be increased tenfold for peace to be even a remote possibility.

    Thirteen days before the next attempt on his life, Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives at a cabinet meeting, surrounded by a swarm of bodyguards. He holds his shirt collar shut against the rainy cold in Kabul. It's a Monday in mid-April -- and while there may be some good news this morning, most of it is bad. The Canadians want Karzai to dismiss the governor of Kandahar, the United Nations contingent is missing 50,000 tons of food and the Kazakh ambassador is promising money for a hospital in Bamyan. A suicide bomber has blown himself up in Helmand, the Norwegian defense minister is visiting Kabul and the opium harvest has begun in southern Afghanistan. A cabinet meeting is about to begin in the presidential palace.

    Karzai is the last to arrive, long after his ministers have gathered at the palace. Visitors must pass through four security checkpoints, walk through metal detectors three times and turn over their bags to be sniffed by dogs. It takes an hour to reach the innermost courtyard, where Karzai's palace -- the cheerful villa Gul Khana, set in a garden planted with cedar trees -- is located. When the president enters the room at 9 a.m., everyone sitting around the long conference table stands up, 28 men and one woman. This is the group that governs Afghanistan -- officially, at least.
    Much more on the link
  2. It's not NATO. It's ISAF. He's probably never visited Afghanistan.

    Suicide bomber in Helmand? Oooh big news? That happens like twice a week.
  3. I thinke he's spentmore time in AFG than you spent in reading his report.

    isaf/nato - Just labels - NATO C2 and ifrastructure underpins the op, commanders are found from NATO member states (who is taking over from Bomber McNeill, I wonder?), NATO SOPs underpin its procedures and NATO member state governments restrict the kind of ops their troops can undertake.

    Interesting - depressing - observation in the report: COMISAF has barely 47,000 combatants under his command, few of them with the kind of 'unlimited' deployability you would expect to see in a single-nation op. The author estimates that - according to current COIN theory (e.g. that of Petraeus) he would need nearly 10 times as many. Petraeus has been able to work with local Sunni groups to partly make up the shortfall in Iraq: no such option appears to exist in AFG. Worse, though there is widespread acknowledgement that the economic recovery of AFG is fundamental to the achievement of Western goals in AFG - yet no government has begun to make good on their promises of effective development. Agencies like DfID are too timid to cooperate with the military, preferring to channel thier money via indigenous govenment appointees, who often simply embezzle the money, while contractors appointed by the US, frequently build and bugger off with their profits, leaving second-rate schools and clinics that have no maintenance contracts, let alone doctors or teachers to man them.

    The Red Cross assesses that Taliban has control over much more territory in AFG than was the case even a year ago.

    Today, US news reports have The Shrub telling Air Force cadets that the war on terror is as important as WW2: the rhetoric isin no way matched by action on the ground.

    Western politicians are trying to subdue real eastern renegades through half-hearted gestures, the kind that their dopy voters have grown accustomed to putting up with at home. As long as it stays off the front page, Broon's a happy chappy.

    Soldiers and Afghans are dying and being crippled needlesly as a result.

    If we are not prepared to do this thing properly - should we be trying to do it at all?
  4. I agree this half hearted attempt is of little value and in the long term will cause more harm than good both to them and ourselves. Without a meaningful attempt at reconstruction we will run ourselves into the ground. I say this having run this thread for a year now. The evidence that we are making sustainable progress is just not there. However the consequences of failure will be even worse than not making a unified attempt at turning round what is a failed state. Our NATO politicians are saying this but not willing the means to do it.
  5. We (NATO/The West/ISAF) therefore face a choice. Either:

    a) Acknowledge that we are not willing to make the effort necessary to succeed, and pull out, saving any further pointless losses, and allowing our troops to prep for whatever comes next, or

    b) Get the act together and make some meaningful effort.

    At the moment - indeed since the Iraq adventure kicked off - AFG has become a sideshow, a token effort, when it ought, logically, to be the Main Effort - by hich I mean not jus the activity set that draws the largest resource (as some seem to interpret that phrase) but in the sense of being the place we seek to achieve something decisive.
  6. msr

    msr LE

    What is that then?

  7. Well, if you believe the gunmints of US and UK, Afghanistan is key to the GWOT, because if it is allowed to continue being the failed state the pre-dated 9/11, it will become a hotbed of Islamic terror, threatening our way of life. Ergo - we should be aiming to decisively recover the place, in order to protect our own survival.

    If you believe those gunmints, that is.

    The evidence, however, strongly indicates that those gunmints (along with all of the others) do not believe their own rhetoric. if they really felt that our civilisation is as threatened as they say, they would spare no effort to achieve that decision, and resources devoted to the operation in particular, and to defence of the realm in general would be going up - not down.

    Conclusion - therefore - is that the US is principally in AFG in hopes of apprehending OBL (I had to pause after I typed that, because I fell down on the floor laffing) as a matter of national pride, with Afghan recovery as a pretext, and the rest of us are there because our shoddy politicos simply want to show half-hearted solidarity with the Chimp.
  8. I think there are enough pundits that know exactly what to do in Ganners that we should be able to form a crack unit from them stick them in Musa Quala and it'll be over in a jiffy!
  9. One of the main reasons that development isn't getting done (in Helmand at least) is the security situation.

    We need security so contractors can finish the road to Kajaki so they can put in the other turbine.

    We need greater security so that they can't start to build schools, hospitals etc.

    But we can't achieve peace with the amount of troops we have on the ground. As was shown very well in Ross Kemp in Afghanistan with the Royal Angilians and Taking on the Taleban with The Queens Company I Gren Guards.

    We can fight and take ground but are unable to hold the ground because we haven't got the boots on the ground.

    We can win in Afghan but NATO and it's members must be prepared to put up the money and get blokes on the ground.
  10. msr

    msr LE

    We will win every tactical battle, but what is the vision of strategic victory?

    We can't even get Paddy Ashdown appointed.

  11. I agree with crow_bag - up to a point: we can win - given enough resources, and those would include development/reconstruction resources (employing robustly-minded souls who are prepared to go out and do, instead of sitting around waiting for Sangin to turn into Camberwick Green before they'll lift a shovel). But I question whether success can be achieved if our plans and actions are confined within the borders of Afghanistan.

    Msr's point about vision is a key one: we are thinking about 'winning' in Afghanistan - the Taliban/Pashtuns do not recognise the same boundaries, which gives them a big advantage.
  12. msr

    msr LE

    You can't defeat an ideology with military forces. If we have no idea what victory looks like, how will we achieve it?

  13. It's hoped that the ANSF will - in time - be able to provide the force levels and capability necessary to take over all internal security duties. This, combined with the neutralisation of the Taleban and other militant forces such that they are no longer a significant threat, is the strategic vision (in simplistic terms). I don't think anyone is pretending that we can 'defeat' the Taleban in the conventional military sense.

    However as Stonker indicates, Afghanistan's internal security is significantly dependant on factors outside its borders.
  14. Apparently I wasn't clear in my last post. Currently oour 'vision' (if it even dserves that title) is constrained to a vague picture of 'things are OK inside the borders of AFG'. Even if we succeeded in crystallising that into something more pragmatic (again, falling off my office chair, laffing at the idea of Gordo or Swiss Des or any of those tw@ts beginning to adress that one) - if achieving it was confied to working inside the borders of AFG, it would be a dead duck.

    Taking this seriously involves a bigger game than we are really prepared to countenance, and it is going downhill faster by the day.
  15. Mate I don't disagree with anything you written throughout this entire thread: how nice to read something informed and sensible. I would add that this is a war me must win; and it is a war we can win. However, I don't agree that it's all going downhill at a rapid rate in purely military terms and I too would like to see greater engagement from DfID (among others) and all the other components of the 'Comprehensive Approach'.

    Hang on a sec: haven't the US just binned this concept and gone back to pure MDMP? Do they know something we don't? Ooooeerrrr...