Tuesday, December 22, 2015

LIES the President, Pentagon and Obamedia MAY have told me .... the Afghani Quagmire, A PZ Rant

"Lies the President, Pentagon and Obamedia MAY have told me ... the Afghani Quagmire, as explained by Partyzanski"

Taliban attacks NATO-Afghan patrol outside Kabul,  
6 American servicemembers KIA
2 gravely wounded

Stories like this make my blood boil. There are a number of issues here, but first, let us have a moment of silent thought for the dead and wounded, and for their families.

* * *

First off, when you see the term “NATO” in articles about this latest attack, what it really means is “American”. Make no mistake about it, NATO is a word fig leaf to provide some plausible alliance meme. Note well that of the NATO members, the servicemen who were killed and wounded were AMERICANS. It is time that Americans call a thing by its rightful name, and stop with the silly, transparent evasions. NATO = American.

Picture this if you will... a large foot patrol ventures forth to “win the hearts and minds” of the locals, establish a sense of security, and carry on in the tradition of the COIN-istas, or as I have stated before, re-enacting “Bwana” in the hinterlands. 

I say large, as at this stage in the war, does one imagine mere squads going out on patrol? If 6 in a squad are killed, that is almost a 50% loss and the unit would be defined as “destroyed”. As no other specifics are provided, I will make an educated guess that the joint NATO-Afghan patrol was probably on the order of a Company sized element, say... 120 men, give or take.

Since it was just the Americans who were killed in this attack, one must wonder what the rest of the joint patrol was doing... no one in the probable 100+ Afghan element say anything, or did anything? This to me is mind boggling. American Advisors, to fulfill their role, would out of necessity be with the command element of such a patrol. This would be somewhere around the middle of the mob, denoted by different camouflage utilities, different gear, and a lot more radios. Nothing draws attention and says “I probably do something important” in the 3rd world like having an antenna sticking up.

Antennas mean radios. Radios mean communications, connections to supporting fires (artillery, mortars, reinforcements, medevac...) That is why insurgents, guerrillas and all manner of malcontents try to shoot the radio operators (RTO). The Officers are next on the target priority list, as they lead the defense and offense. NCOs are next. The enemy seeks to leave the masses without the ability to communicate or be cohesive. The middle of the formation position would allow Advisors to have the best ability to see and advise the Afghan Commander. It makes no sense if the Advisors are at the pointy end of the formation, then they are reduced to being at most fire team leaders for an Afghani officer – defeating the whole point and theory of COIN and “Advising”. This is a word to the wise... don't get so “fangs out” that you lose the big picture.

Here is the area around Kabul, including Bagram Air Base. The attack took place in a village close to the base.

Given the reasons why the Americans were likely in the middle of this mob and not at the periphery, it then logically follows that the Afghans at the outer edge of the formation would have to have seen some person sitting on a motorcycle. If he just sat there and idled, he would be noticed. If he charged in at high speed, he would be noticed and heard. It is the responsibility of the patrol members, ALL patrol members, to act as eyes and ears for the unit as a whole. In this, the Afghanis failed. There may be reasons for the failure, such as lack of clear rules of engagement, to outright collusion with the enemy. No matter, as Americans are now dead because of it.

A c.1995 Russian General Staff map of the Kabul area, presented to show variations in national topographic preferences.

The article further states that “The Taliban insurgency has spread across the country this year, following the withdrawal of international combat forces at the end of 2014.” How can it be that there is a "NATO-Afghan coalition", yet international combat forces withdrew in 2014? Are the writers at military.com confused? If these are actual words coming out of NATO and Pentagon spokespeople, then there is a huge, fundamental disconnect at the basic messaging level. I would hope that they get on fixing that, right now.

Beyond the headline attack, the bigger picture in Afghanistan is looking not so rosy. This is not an issue of defeatism, this is an issue of acknowledging facts. To wit, from the same article:

“a major reason "that our forces are losing" was that many soldiers and police were deserting their posts in the face of the Taliban onslaught.” - head of Helmand's provincial council, Muhammad Kareem Atal

This is what the Taliban controlled in 2010:

Regions controlled by non-state groups in 2010. Graphic from The Long War Journal.

This is what they controlled in 2015:

Regions controlled by non-state groups in 2015

"There is a big difference between the number of both soldiers and police recorded as on duty, and the real number," he said, saying the official record was stuffed with "ghost police and soldiers. - Ibid.

Let us take a moment to digest this. Desertions appear to be a problem. This would imply logically that there is a lack of confidence among all those trained Afghani soldiers that American taxpayers have paid to train. It echoes the collapse of the Iraqi Army in the face of ISIS, despite the Billions of dollars spent and lives lost to “enable” them. Maybe the Pentagon needs to rethink some of the assumptions it has as well as understand that the most damaging lies are the ones that it tells to itself.

Damaging lies? What in Hades are you talking about? Well, consider if you will that all Advisors, to do the job and provide the all-important “metrics” to Headquarters, provide subjective reports on how their units are doing. There are no hard and fast means to define what the headquarters seek to know in a Western military sense.

I am positing that there is a built-in incentive to massage that data, to show gradual improvement. Even if the Team provides the harsh reality, is it a stretch to imagine that a higher headquarters would massage the data to be able to claim a “success”? I am not saying it happened or is happening, but when you consider that careers are on the line and potential lucrative follow-on gigs with corporations afterwards, you have to expect human things to happen. There really is no way to prove any assessment wrong, as it is subjective... so you can see how that could unfold.

Now, considering the gaps and surfaces that corruption can play upon, here is this gem:

"There is a big difference between the number of both soldiers and police recorded as on duty, and the real number," he said, saying the official record was stuffed with "ghost police and soldiers.” - Ibid.

To the uninitiated, this means nothing. I'll tell you what it DOES mean. The method of fraud called “ghost soldiers” is rampant in 3rd world hell holes. This is a particular hot button for me personally, as it is my belief that an attack on a convoy I was in during August, 2006 was directed to dissuade me from looking into the personnel policies of a specific Iraqi unit.

How “ghost soldiers” work is simple and actually quite genius. America provided and provides vast sums of money to pay the soldiers in foreign armies, as in Iraq or Afghanistan. The existing government and banking infrastructure make it otherwise impossible to pay and therefore retain soldiers and officers. Although America may not directly put cash in hand of soldiers, it does so via its Satraps in the Capitol.

Since digital banking and direct deposit are not “a thing” there in any measure, the pay for units is distributed manually, in large sacks. Those pay sacks are allotted based upon the rosters for a unit. Say a Division has 10,000 men on the books... it has 10,000 names, not 10,000 actual effective end strength (warm bodies). “What difference does this make?”, echoing the words of our esteemed former Secretary of State... well, names draw pay. However many actual people receive that pay, well, that is up to the Commanding General of that foreign unit. The way it typically goes is that the “ghost soldiers” are pure profit. The Commanding General keeps that for himself, probably pays out a percentage to his trusted henchmen to administer and move the loot. The actual soldiers who get paid, well, they also pay a percentage of their pay to the next higher echelon, and so on. It is a multi-level scheme where it matters not if the soldiers live or die, the pay still gets collected and America still bears the majority of the costs of maintaining a fictional roster. Are you shocked and disgusted by this practice? Is this the first you heard of it? This is why foreign Commanding Generals in third world armies are such a powerful force.

For all you Advisors out there... how many of the regular troops do you know for a fact exist? Do you know them on a personal basis through all the leave rotations? Or, do you take the word of the allies that they exist? Yes, you likely see the same G and S level officers in staff sections... past that, what do you really know?

Now for perhaps the heaviest question in this nesting construct of questions... are any of the funds spent of foreign military “salaries” recycled into American political campaigns and coffers through taking a piece of skim from selected "no-bid" contracts? I am not saying they are, not saying they are not. It is just a question.

For those interested, here is the report out this month from DoD on Afghanistan. It outlines what the strategy is. I will leave discussion on that for another time. In the meantime, read it and ask yourself what concrete objectives this covers. That, and how would you measure that? What is the black letter Victory condition?

Addendum @ 18:30h

Dear Readers, I found this article after deadline for this post. It left my jaw on the floor. 
The Ghost soldiers are acknowledged to have cost $380 million in one year. How much did it REALLY cost? This level of obscene corruption built over years as the infrastructure of dirty Iraqi politicians, officers and their know-nothing bag men from whichever agency dispenses largesse in the USG, has likely peaked. I do not care where you sit on the political fence... you should look into these practices and decide for yourself. One may only speculate at the true total figure thrown into the bonfire of Iraqi pay systems. If this is the pinnacle, even given moderate increases year on year, the total must comfortably cross into multiple BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars. B-I-L-L-I-O-N-S. Is it reasonable to assume that officials on all sides of the fence did not see that fat milk cow coming?


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Anonymous said...

Try this for a taste of the intellectual corruption and flexible nature of what is official truth:



michele@seaone.org said...

Wow! I don't know how I fell off of your subscription list so I am glad to see/read you again!

BRAVO. Entirely comprehensively excellent reporting. THANK YOU!