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21 June 2010


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The LA Times has a recent piece on the danger of turning to local "anti-taliban" forces:
Anti-Taliban tribal militias come with baggage

"These militias are becoming their own sources of insecurity in the country," said Ahmad Nader Nadery, deputy chairman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. "They're not bound by any law and are not following any clear guidelines."
"This is a very dangerous game," said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, a lawmaker and head of a party that backs President Hamid Karzai. "Who is responsible for these militias? Who will save them if the Taliban attack them? It's a nice dream, but I think these militias are a failed formula."
Shah blames the militia for provoking the violence by wresting away land that wasn't theirs. If anything, he said, the episode illustrates the risk of relying on untrained, unsupervised militias to help shoulder the burden of battling the insurgency.

"These militias aren't useful," Shah said. "These aren't trained people. In the name of bringing peace to the region, they're misusing their authority for their own gain."

Patrick Lang


So you think a centralized nation state is a possibility in Afghanistan. pl


"[Repudiation of the Taliban] is likely much less probably in the Taliban's homelands in the Pashtun areas."

Kagan admitting the pointlessness of it all? Inviting a discussion of the best outcome that might be had? Will wonders never cease?

As a prime PR person (I mean "scholar") for military adventurism, Kagan's jumping ship is amazing.

Sounds like Obama will soon be set up to take the blame. Of course, he should have seen that coming long ago.



The USA has its own history with Bushwhackers, Renegades and Cattle Barons. Before and after the Civil War there must have been those who despaired that the violence would never end. Civilization prevailed with the return of Commerce and Schoolmarms.

Anyone who has live in a Foreign Colony or an ex-Colony knows how the outsiders keep control; promote a minority who learn the colonial language, and keep ethnic tensions slumbering underneath.

But in the American Middle East Invasions, there never was enough force available to establish a colonial government or the veneer of security.

America is now caught in its own trap. To withdraw, it needs an opposition that can bring peace and civilization back to the Middle East. But the native religious culture that provides its history and place, Islamic Courts and Imams are the targets of American Operations.

Only when Frederick Kagan’s Rice Bowl is broken, can Civilization prevail. The one and only purpose of these War Mongers is stealing America’s wealth.



I don’t read your blog often enough, or intensively enough,
to know who “Jon” is.
(And the photo doesn’t do it for me, either.)
Might it be a good idea to have more specific identifying information
in each post from a guest correspondent?
(E.g., the one from “Hagan” or something like that.
Or was it Hagar? :-)
Or is that already present, and I just cluelessly missed it?
Or maybe this is all about protecting your sources? :-)


Col., is there any chance of your go small strategy to be implemented?

I am beginning to believe that as long as we are in an area of Afghanistan, that area will welcome the Taliban.

If we are not in an area, the Taliban are not welcomed by the local tribes and/or Warlords.

The key point appears to be that the Afghans do not want us and/or our "Man in Kabul" forces in their areas.


BREAKING: McChrstal Mocks Biden

"US commander mocks Biden in interview

Updated 1 hour 5 minutes ago

US Army Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal has appeared in an unflattering interview in Rolling Stone magazine.

Tension: US Army Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal has appeared in an unflattering interview in Rolling Stone magazine.

The US commander in Afghanistan has mocked the vice-president and accused a top diplomat of betrayal in a magazine interview.

Tensions between General Stanley McChrystal and the White House are on full display in the unflattering profile in Rolling Stone.

It portrays his aides as profane and intensely loyal, while arguing the general has seized control over the war on the military and diplomatic fronts.

General McChrystal jokes sarcastically to the magazine about preparing to answer a question referring to vice-president Joe Biden, known as a sceptic of the commander's war strategy.

"Are you asking about vice-president Biden?" he asks the interviewer. "Who's that?"

"Biden?" suggests an unnamed top adviser to the general. "Did you say: bite me?"

The article revisits the friction between president Barack Obama and the military last fall as the White House debated whether to grant General McChrystal's request for tens of thousands of reinforcements.

Although Mr Obama granted most of what General McChrystal asked for in the end, General McChrystal said it was a difficult time.

"I found that time painful," he told the magazine.

"I was selling an unsellable position."

An unnamed adviser to General McChrystal alleges the general came away unimpressed after a meeting with Mr Obama in the Oval Office a year ago, just after the president named him to take over in Afghanistan.

"It was a 10-minute photo op," the general's adviser said.

"Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. He didn't seem very engaged.

"The boss was pretty disappointed."

General McChrystal tells the magazine that he felt "betrayed" by the US ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, in a White House debate over war strategy last year.

Referring to a leaked internal memo from Mr Eikenberry that questioned McChrystal's request for more troops, the commander suggested the ambassador had tried to protect himself for history's sake.

"I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before," General McChrystal told Rolling Stone.

"Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say 'told you so'."

Mr Eikenberry, himself a former commander in Afghanistan, had written to the White House saying Afghan president Hamid Karzai was an unreliable partner and that a surge of troops could draw the United States into an open-ended quagmire.

The four-star general also derides the hard-charging top US envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke.

"Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," McChrystal told the magazine, looking at his messages on a mobile phone.

"I don't even want to open it."

- AFP"



Pat asks:

So you think a centralized nation state is a possibility in Afghanistan. pl"

Hell, no!

There is a natural balance between the tribes and quams that needs to be restored to give Afghanistan some peace.

The U.S. financing this or that tribe and thereby taking sides is distorting this balance and that keeps Afghanistan at war.

Get out and leave it alone.

And stop financing the Taliban through the privatized military logistic.

KABUL, Afghanistan — American taxpayers have inadvertently created a network of warlords across Afghanistan who are making millions of dollars escorting NATO convoys and operating outside the control of either the Afghan government or the American and NATO militaries, according to the results of a Congressional investigation released Monday.
The subcommittee, led by Representative John F. Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts, also uncovered evidence suggesting that American taxpayer money is making its way to the Taliban. Several trucking company supervisors told investigators that they believed the gunmen they hired to escort their convoys bribed the Taliban not to attack.

Bought and Sold

1. Sell Russian helicopters to Afghan Army(They Are)! 2.Sell missiles to Talaban! 3. ? 4. Win!


"From a general survey of the people and the country, it would seem that silver makes a better weapon than steel. A system of subsidies must tend to improve our relations with the tribes, enlist their interests on the side of law and order, and by increasing their wealth, lessen their barbarism. In the matter of the supply of arms the Government would find it cheaper to enter the market as a purchaser, and have agents to outbid the tribesmen, rather than to employ soldiers. As water finds its own level, so the laws of economics will infallibly bring commodities to the highest bidder. Doubtless there are many other lessons which the present war will have taught. These may lighten a task which, though long and heavy, is not beyond the powers or pluck of the British people. "

Winston Spencer Churchill "The Malakand Field Force" - 1897

Gautam Das

Col. Lang,

Sir, I think I've just posted my LONG comment in the wrong thread (the one about the Green Berets' success story in Gizba); it really should have been here.

May I request your readers to read the comment as if here - or go there after they've read these?


Gautam Das

Patrick Lang

General McChrystal should be relieved. If he is not, then his insubordination will affect the whole force.

If McChrystal wishes to criticize the president and other senior officials, he should retire. Then he can do what he wants, hopefully within the bounds of good taste.

I can't but think that the COIN crowd have been a bad influence on the general. pl

Neil Richardson


Has Gen. McChrystal never heard of Admiral Fallon? What was he thinking (or more precisely what was his public affairs staff thinking)? I suppose his resignation is due any minute now.


The administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said McChrystal was ordered to appear in person at the White House for the monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan, rather than over a secure video conference from Afghanistan, as is the custom.

The general was directed to provide a face-to-face explanation to President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates of his quotes in the article, the official said.

McChrystal has apologized for his remarks. He issued a five-sentence statement after news organizations published excerpts from the Rolling Stone article.

“I extend my sincerest apology,” McChrystal said in the statement e-mailed by the press office of his command, the International Security Assistance Force, in Afghanistan. “It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

William R. Cumming

My guess is the "Great Game" with new players will soon be active in Afghanistan whether the US stays for a while longer or goes. Who are they?

Russia, China and Pakistan. Pakistan now regards Afghanistan as a stratetic asset and now that the US has provided information on potential riches in Afghanistan from mineral wealth we can expect all three of the above countries to double down on their Afghanistan bets. Should the US pick a winner and losers? Russian and Chinese interests are most likely to render Afghanistan safe for US and is democracy (Republic) from non-state terrorist activity. Why do I conclude this? Both Russia and China are experiencing internal terrorism and to some degree the US and its INTEL apparatus is ignorant of these events. Yet what is of interest is the few international non-state terrorist actors that seem able to use Russian or China as a base for their activities. Is this luck, or policy effectiveness, repression, or whatever? Hey why not commission an NIE on why this is the case?

And in case you have not noted the Praxelites [sic] who are really Communists now look to me like they are in de facto control of almost a third of India. What NIE has been written about that threat to the largest democracy on Planet Earth.

And by the way PL would be interesting to hear from you on how NIE topics are selected? Is is the reaction to events or in some cases utilization for long term strategy or even tactics? My ignorance is great on that topic. Perhaps you could illuminate and it would be of interest to note how many NIE have been produced since January 20, 2009.


Col. I can't agree more that General McChrystal should be revlieved. If a private had done this he'd be in the brig.


The MSM has been labeling this (actually these wars) "Obama’s War"

The rebranding has begun. Too bad Obama's a lawyer and not a pilot. No 'mission accomplished' banners on air craft carriers for him. Just insubordination from the general staff.

Neil Richardson

Dear Col.Lang,

I don't know if this did indeed happen, but I wondered what your father would've thought about this rather awkward flattery by McChrystal.


But there were tensions. Even though McChrystal voted for Obama and told him so during their first meeting, he sensed that a number of senior White House aides didn't really believe that the former commander of the military's special missions unit during the Bush-Cheney years was suddenly on their side. National Security Adviser James Jones, who is a bit of cipher to McChrystal's team, may or may not have been one of these aides.

Lee B

OT--wish you'd do a piece on General McChrystal. If our army generals are going to be censored for speaking their minds, we aren't going to hear the truth.

Adam L. Silverman

Mr. Cumming: The bigger issue with the Naxalites is that there is some circumstantial evidence that they are either training non-Naxalites in the region or that the non-Naxalite movements are adopting their tactics and targeting to confuse responders. When the Mumbai attacks happened I did my first post for COL Lang on how the entire operation really looked like it was done by the Naxalites. While it now seems pretty clear that this was a Pakistani backed Kashmiri operation, the actual tactics and targeting are right out of the Naxalite playbook.



I'm surprised to see my comment promoted, but appreciate the honor or notoriety this represents. I would also like to apologize for at least one egregious spelling error.

Additionally, the accompanying photo is not of myself. I hope that individual takes no offense.

To return to the point: I believe that Afghanistan is governable, in some fashion. It was a kingdom for quite a while, though the king exercised rather weak control of his provinces.

I don't know what efforts Iran is making in Afghanistan. But it is clear that Pakistan, and particularly the ISI, has interests and activities it is pursuing independently, though they are unlikely to fully control too much.

Pakistan is likely to be essential in coming to a resolution with Pashtuns and the Taliban. Currently it seems that at least some Pakistani elements see more opportunity in Afghan instability, than Islamic radicalism is posing a threat in the NWFP, or in the cities and on the plains. It also seems clear that the US is unable to exert sufficient influence over Pakistan for them to adopt our policies or timetable.

Adam L. Silverman

Jon: The picture is of Dr. Fred Kagan of the AEI. Dr. Kagan, as the person who thought up the Surge, is, of course, solely responsible for victory in Iraq. He is also a commanding general in the 101st Chairborne Division!


Jon, Dr. Fred Kagan is also a once professor at the United States Military Academy where among many subjects, he taught Grand Strategy of the 20th Century. Many of the Army’s company commanders and battalion staffs where educated by this man. I was honored to have him as my professor and blame him for my designs on receiving my PhD in a similar field.

Adam L. Silverman

CPT Morgan: Are you, by any chance, the younger brother of MAJ (unless he's been promoted again) Scott Morgan? He and I went to grad school together. If so its both a small world and you've got a great brother and sister in law.


Unfortunately not, Morgan is my first name, and the title of Captain Morgan is not only the current rank but rather a nick-name that I have had since I was a child.

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