Sunday, December 27, 2015

Team Skiff Sunday Read: Unicorns, Skittles and Fairytales: Deconstructing the Dishonest DOD December 2015 Final Report on Afghanistan

 Unicorns, Skittles and Fairytales:  The Powers Pretend-Play Doctrine

A brutal but necessary review of the DoD Report on Afghanistan

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Warning: This is a longer than usual read, but we think it is worth it.  
Feel free to bookmark the original DOD report, and refer back to it often. 

Team Skittles:  Getting Americans Killed because you're not watching

DoD December 2015 Final Report on Afghanistan

We stated that we would get around to providing some analysis and commentary on the DoD Report (December 2015) listed above. Here you are.  The most recent attack on US Forces embedded in Afghanistan just restarted the Team Skiff wondering what the strategy was in Afghanistan. Luckily, that is spelled out by POTUS in the beginning of the document:

current U.S. strategy and objectives in Afghanistan are to disrupt threats posed by al Qaeda, support the ANDSF, and give the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed as they stand on their own.” - POTUS

Once strategy is lined up, what are the objectives to achieve with the strategy? They helpfully state the following:

continue building the capabilities and long-term sustainability of the ANDSF


U.S. Counter terrorism efforts remain focused on the defeat of al Qaeda and its associates, protecting U.S. forces, and preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists to plan attacks against the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests and partners.

It would be more helpful if strategy and objectives were something a bit more solid, like KILL THE ENEMY, ENFORCE POLITICAL WILL, MOVE ON.

Who makes up this stuff? Who is manning the ramparts in Afghanistan, so to speak?

Figure 1 shows the players in the "coalition". Total strength is 13,110... of which 6,800 are Americans. Italy has 760, Germany and Georgia each have about 850, Romania 650, Turkey 509, U.K has 395 troops there. Of the 40 members of the coalition (NATO as well as non-NATO), fully 25% provide 10 or fewer troops.  One can't even fill out a single squad's Table of Organization with them. Unless these players are bringing some niche skill to the table, we will go on the assumption that they provide window dressing that this is a larger "coalition" than it is in reality. For example, what on Earth does one lone service member from Luxembourg bring to the table? 2 from Iceland? 4 each from Greece and Estonia? This superficiality does NOTHING to bring combat power to bear to achieve stated policy goals of “disrupt threats posed by al Qaeda, support the ANDSF, and give the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed as they stand on their own”, per President Obama. The support and interoperability of the interpreters alone are cause for sober thought.

Coalition Strength Numbers are Fig Leaf, Face Saving Propaganda for Team Skittles
Our advice on page 9 of this Magnum Opus is to drop the word “functional” from “functional advising”. What else would Advisors do? Each Officer has a specialty, a job, known as an "MOS" (Military Occupational Specialty). You would not send a surgeon to advise an artillery unit on firing procedures. The "functional concept" is pointless complication generated by White Paper Bandits. The term is redundant.

Does anyone else out there get a sense of paternalism leaking through these documents when they keep talking about "ensuring development of Afghans"? Are we mistaken, or is that concept the very definition of colonial patronization, treating them like infants? They took care of themselves before we arrived, they can do it now, and will do it after we leave.

The statement of “DoD condemns sexual abuse of any kind and expects U.S. forces to take appropriate action when confronted with violations of human rights and criminal behavior, to include sexual abuse” on page 10 is shown to be patently untrue. Please go read what happened to SFC Martland after he stood up to the actions of the locals

SFC Martland is a hero, but the DoD gave him the heave ho over this. Soldiers and Marines are astute, they know which way the bureaucratic winds blow. The stated policy is unclear on what the “appropriate action” is. Given what happened to SFC Martland, one wonders indeed. If the Brass will not stand up and do the right thing, for the right reasons... that sets a pretty stark leadership landscape for the troops at the action end of the policy.

Upon reading this, our minds came to a complete cartoon skidding stop like Wile E Coyote upon reading the header “ Resolute Support Gender Office “ on page 12. We could quote at length, but this gem, “assist Afghan leadership to ensure that an appropriate gender perspective is incorporated into planning for all policies and strategies within the Security Ministries” is absolutely gobsmacking. Afghanistan is largely a 7th Century proto-state, and here the Western world via NATO thinks piling on “Gender Support” as a cross functional advising line of operation will help? The Constitution there recognizes the importance of empowering women within Afghan society? At this point, a General Officer who is in the approval chop chain of this should have manned up and told the Administration to put down the Afghani crack pipe. This is way out of line in a War. Are they trying to Win, or are they trying to obfuscate this so badly that no one can ever figure out what went wrong?

Is American blood and treasure being spilled in Afghanistan for THIS?
The Team would ask that the authors of this Report go out into the hinterlands of any 3rd world hell hole. Go to Haiti, go to Venezuela, go to Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Take a look at the traditional family, tribe and social structure out there. It is not a system that supports such a postmodern concept as “gender support”. This is absurd. This is laughable. The way to get to the winning part of a War is to make the goal and the way clear. LeMay. Patton. Eisenhower. Not this nonsense. 

Openly Gay USAF Officer killed
The cultural history of Afghanistan is not what a reasonable Westerner would consider very progressive. Perhaps the Taliban and others are fighting because they do not want their women subjected to “Westernization”, which they equate with apostasy. Why make enemies when you don't have to? This folly even has a UNSCR, “UNSCR 1325 and the National Action Plan also address the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace.”

The Government even set a goal of women comprising 10% of all ANP and ANA uniformed positions by 2020. This sort of categorical set-aside needs to be understood from a 3rd world perspective, not from some emasculated NATO progressive view. Putting women into these jobs will displace men. This is first and foremost a power issue. It is not about women, but getting a power system to do the bidding... that is what this is about. Get the Afghani Government to bow to something progressive and the NATO/American leadership has something to crow about at home. Not that it is helping them win the War there. Not that it helps them actually reduce opium poppy production... but because it makes them all warm and fuzzy inside. Remember folks, America's sons are dying for this craptastic Progressive vision. Please jump to page 44 for more, in their own words, about the challenges this program faces.

Thousands of Lives and Billions in Treasure ....
On page 14, there is a color graded Progress Report format for the Afghan forces. We will tell you this from first hand experience with the Iraqis... there is no incentive to ever get away from the cornucopia of American support, due to the opportunities for graft and corruption that allow locals to enrich themselves. That is how the 3rd world works... powerful people channel resources to their tribes while the getting is good. That is the way it has been and ever shall be. Think not? O.K... ever wonder why people really do not leave section 8? Our case is proven. That some do does not change the overall effect of this. Like section 8 recipients, Afghan ministries and units are hooked on American support and payola because they WANT to be. Their people would look down on them if they did not exploit this. At this point, has anyone in the Pentagon considered that there may be a symbiotic relationship between the Afghani Government and the Taliban? If it were not for the Taliban and other terrorists there, surely America and NATO would not be there, funneling in untold resources. Is it too much to ponder what could be achieved by local Afghanis if the local “Taliban” and the local forces had some side deal worked out to keep the Americans and NATO engaged, pouring funds in? Think about it... it is a win/win for them. Just an idea.

Color Coded Metrics were mocked when the Bush Admin used them, but since Team Skittles has adopted the same childish and sophmoric format, it's "all good"
Figure 7, page 36... why in Hades is an American report referring to “Solar Year 1392”? This is not helpful for a Western audience. The first rule of briefing is to know your audience. This is a FAIL. Footnote 25 is an effort to defuse that, but really... same on page 64, figure 14. If you cannot get on the same calendar as the nation funding and advising forces, just think how that impacts the small things... like fire missions and air support.

The discussion of Legal Corps activities being used to more vigorously prosecute corruption... where to begin? Do American Officers not understand that this tool is used to prosecute tribal enemies within the system, or enforce discipline on someone who is not providing his designated share of Baksheesh to higher offices? This is theater, perhaps with a few real sacrificial examples to give the Americans something to show subjective “progress” on monthly reports and Promotion Board FitRep bullets.  Welcome to the 3rd world.

The issue of logistics is discussed at length, but the crux is here: “Coalition Advisors have routinely found that reported shortages in operational units are most often the result of failures in accounting and distribution rather than actual deficiencies. Common supply chain management complications include the loss of paper records, difficulty identifying specific needs for corps units, overflow of stocks at the Central Supply Depot, misplaced stock, and the theft or hoarding of items at the depots and in transit.” -pg 40.

We will explain what this bureaucratic weaseling really means:

Failures in accounting = deliberate theft and redirection of material, which is then sold on the black market. 
Loss of paper records = same thing. 
Overflow of stocks = likely an issue of not being able to consistently transport goods from depots to end user. 
Misplaced stock = mostly theft & black marketing, and 
Theft = theft. Hoarding of supplies is culturally rampant, as they are never certain that they will get that next shipment.  We have personally seen an Iraqi General's staff come in and loot a subordinate Headquarters of foodstuffs, desks and even the carpets. That is the 3rd world in action.

 “As part of a major effort to reduce the incidence of “ghost soldiers” within the ALP, as of November 30, 2015, MoI staff had issued ID cards to 25 percent of ALP personnel and are working to close the gap for the remaining 75 percent in 2016”. O.K., remember, ability to siphon funds and resources specifically to your tribe and people is a source of power as discussed before. We do not expect that they will get much further with this, at the risk of whole units deciding to go over to the Taliban over this issue (among others... see section on women in the ANSF).

The MoI continues to capitalize on its strength in human intelligence; however, significant gaps remain in areas such as analysis, information sharing, and employment of intelligence capabilities to support operations.” pg 68.

Understand that Intelligence is Power, particularly in the 3rd world. They will continue to use HUMINT as a venue where American and NATO Advisors will be hard pressed to penetrate what they are doing. Expect the Intelligence services to function as arms against tribal enemies and enforcers of political will. The most feared and powerful men on 3rd world military staffs are the Intelligence Officers. This is a difficult concept for Western forces to grasp, where in Western military culture, typically the Operations Officers (S3) are regarded as the "Alpha males" of the staff. Failure to understand this and work with it will cause problems. If you want an illustration of how this works, just ask an American OpsO who has primacy - him , or the S2? We rest our case.

Page 69 has the 3rd solid mention of the Gender Office. We will state up front that this shows an absolute lack of cultural intelligence. Think of how much good will and effort has been burnt on this specific altar. For what? Talking points back in Washington? As soon as America and NATO leave, this effort goes away overnight. No doubt about it. Look no further than this key sentence: “By facilitating training outside of Afghanistan, this program allows women to avoid cultural obstacles and societal norms that would impede in-country training”. That illustrates the point that we have made about the incompatibility of this effort with the Afghani people and culture. They can't even train the women in the home country, because the Afghanis want this "gender program" so much. That Generals sign off on this colossal stupidity rather than resign or retire says a lot about their ethical flexibility. Again, do the right thing for the right reasons. "No situational ethics", we were told as freshly minted Butter Bars. That concept has apparently gone away.

The Obama Administration is spending US Tax Dollars to bring Afghani women to the USA for training as military pilots ....
Starting on page 82, Annex A lists "essential functions and indicators of effectiveness". That is all well and good, but look at what weasel words are used. Count the number of words like: appropriate, fully, accurately, timely, secure, implements, reduced. These are all soft terms. What is needed here is something to the effect of KILL THE ENEMY, DOMINATE THE PEACE, IMPOSE POLITICAL WILL OF THE VICTORS. Anything else is weak sauce indeed.

We rest our case. This document is intended to soothe the fragile egos and politically correct commissars in the Pentagon and other parts of the U.S. Government. It will have zero impact after the last American leaves. Afghanistan will gradually revert back to what it was and the world will try to forget. Please read the whole report from the original source. Make your own judgments and apply what you know to it. It is up to you to be outraged, or not. Let your Representatives and local media know either way. Then, think about this... how would your opinion change if it was YOUR son out there, trying to implement this?


"Preparation of this report cost the Department of Defense a total of approximately $235,000 in Fiscal Year 2015. This includes $4,500 in expenses and $230,000 in labor.
Generated on November 24, 2015 Ref ID: 3-EB2160C"

Feel all warm and fuzzy now?


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