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21 June 2010


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William R. Cumming

Is the critical item in this story the noting that the "uprising" was before US support?

frank durkee

Based on domestic experience the critical key is "What is replicable what is not, what difference does the "not" part make." In my experience that is the essential element in 'pattern reading. The 'not' part is the crucial and most difficult part of the evaluation. If they use it, one hopes they get it right.

Patrick Lang


"The uprising appears to have been the result of a combination of Taliban overreaching, U.S. encouragement and local resentment."

I read "US encouragement" to mean that the SF guys were encouraging them to do this.

In my experience the three elements of this ARE reproducible. Then when the rebellion takes place one must be prepared to support it as in this case. pl


Very interesting.
"But U.S. officials say they have heard concern voiced by Taliban commanders on intercepts of telephone conversations. Several rank-and-file fighters, and even a few mid-level leaders, have put down their weapons and reintegrated into the community. " If we are tired of this after 9 years imagine how the locals feel. "The first wave of Taliban commanders moved into Gizab in 2007. The residents were initially acquiescent, and unemployed young men in the area were eager to sign up as fighters for hire."

My, my providing services to the highest bidder? How free market of them. If this war is 9 yeasr old why did it take 6 years for the Taliban to show up there? It didn't take them long to wear out their welcome. "But the Taliban began to wear out its welcome over the past year. Its fighters commandeered the health clinic, destroyed the school and started seizing trucks along the road, often to steal cargo or levy taxes." Then the Taliban killled his family with a road-side bomb then demanded the Afghan governemernts compensation payment? At least we don't have a monopoly on stupidity.

"Lalay's credibility had been enhanced in the eyes of his fellow residents -- many of whom were initially skeptical that they could be successful -- because of the way he treated the first three Taliban prisoners. All three were executed before the Australians arrived." I believe that sent a message to the Taliban.

Only $60/month each for 300 men? That is too low, imagine what one Blackwater merc costs. If we could secure the infilatration routes from Pakistan, and more importantly eliminate the Taliban in the region by hiring the locals to change sides for less than $20K a month what the hell are we waiting for? This is less cost annually than one infantry squad - and no US dead. Too bad the beltway bandits and Karzai's cronies don't get there cut.

frank durkee

Col. Thanks.


The most important line in that report is:

"They used to be nice to people, but then they changed," said Abdul Rab, a farmer.

This was three years after the Taliban arrived and the locals fed them and added their own sons to the Taliban force. Then things changed and here is where the recipe to repeat this "pattern" starts:

1. Make the Taliban deviate from Mullah Omar's rules and to be assholes by denying services to the locals
2. Make the Taliban steal from trucks passing by
3. Have Special Forces pass by to talk up resistance
4. Make the Taliban to try to extort some $25,000 from some dude
5. Make the Taliban to kidnap that dude’s family
6. Let dude and locals go crazy on the Taliban
7. Build up dude's private local army

Can one use that recipe?

Yes, if the enemy is dumb, doesn't behave to the Taliban's ROE and repeats the mistake to overreach.

Maybe one can trick them into that but I have no idea how.

Patrick Lang


"But a successful outcome may not result in a strong, centrally governed democratic nation, where the warlords have been neutered, women have many rights, or opium is not widely cultivated."

The pursuit of such a vision is what has led us to this condition.

Naive. pl

The Twisted Genius

"But the Taliban began to wear out its welcome over the past year. Its fighters commandeered the health clinic, destroyed the school and started seizing trucks along the road, often to steal cargo or levy taxes. "They used to be nice to people, but then they changed," said Abdul Rab, a farmer."

Here's one pattern: don't be a dick. Other than that, stay out of the way of the artists (yes, the green beenies) and let them do their art.


George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the new British government is tomorrow going to announce to the House of Commons an emergency budget that will massively cut government expenditure. The intention is that government debt be rapidly reduced from the current astronomical levels made necessary by a Keynesian boost to the economy generated by the previous government as a response to the banking crisis. No area of government expenditure is supposedly safe from the axe. A major cost currently is the British military effort in Afghanistan. After the USA the UK spends more than any other NATO member in this seemingly endless and arguably futile war. Today, the 300th British military death in Afghanistan was announced. You might suppose that the British Government, confronted by the bill for this wasteful war half a continent away, and determined to lead the country from the financial swamp into which it has sunk, might contemplate reducing defence expenditure by beginning a withdrawal. Not a bit of it. Contrary to what has been reported in the media, the British government has shown no inclination towards leaving the US to fight on more or less alone towards that "successful outcome". A cynic may suspect this loyalty could be the price paid as a kind of compensation for the negligence and devastation wrought in the Gulf of Mexico by "British" Petroleum.


I pray that Gen. McChrystal and his advisors have enough sense NOT to flood Gizab with money, grandstanding Generals, "consultants" and resources, and please to keep the media away from this, or fights will break out over the real or imaginary "spoils" from this event.

Col. Lang, is it possible that we might have the wisdom and common sense to give the people of Gizab a little of what they ask for instead of tonnes of what we think they need? Especially not "Government in a box"?

Can we (re) learn enough to be able to replicate this?...And Kabul can go hang.

The Twisted Genius

Walrus said:

Col. Lang, is it possible that we might have the wisdom and common sense to give the people of Gizab a little of what they ask for instead of tonnes of what we think they need? Especially not "Government in a box"?

Walrus, that is true wisdom. I pray we can do that and disabuse ourselves of the silly notion of creating a modern democratic nation-state in the area known as Afghanistan.

Like the Rolling Stones said:

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need

FB Ali

The State Dept looks for patterns and breakthroughs. Jim Gant wanted to do it one tribe at a time. McChrystal plans to deliver government in a box. Petraeus hopes the surge will work again. Jon would like an excellent discussion. Walrus prays for wisdom and common sense.

Unfortunately, none of them will work.

The US and the West have too many things working against them in Afghanistan. History is against you. Geography is against you. Economics is against you. The politics is against you. Time is against you. Space is against you. The Afghan people are against you (as they have always been against foreign armies).

The only thing working for you is your science and technology, and all that that can do is to kill and destroy. But the Soviets proved that killing and destroying cannot give victory ‒ or anything else.

Patrick Lang

FB ali

You are right, of course, but I would still try if I were young enough, not because we could win, but because the attempt would be irresistible and you would probably help me. pl



If you go, can I be your security detachment? ;)

Gautam Das

I've read three reports/reportage on reports on the Net today on Af-Pak today, (1)Seth Jones and Chrintine Fair, RAND Corpn, (2) Brookings Inst on educational systems in Pakistan, and (3)this. I have thus been moved to write down my own two-bit's worth for the USA.

Umm; it's a bit long, but I'm feeding it in, nevertheless, with an apology for its length.

Winning Obama’s War: Fixing Afghanistan
Gautam Das (India)
June 22, 2010

With so many Presidential reviews, Congressional hearings, and so much ‘think-tanking’ going on in the USA as to how to win the ‘Right War’ in Afghanistan and the Af-Pak theatre of operations, it may seem grossly superfluous to add yet another opinion, that too from India, which is perceived by some players to be part of the problem.
At the risk of annoying the US military, which has recently declared PowerPoint to be an enemy, I will try and put the central theme of this note, ie, the few things that need to be done by the USA to solve their Afghanistan problem, in a brief, PowerPoint-able form. The basic premise is that the US is floundering in Af-Pak because it is attempting to find solutions without correcting a few fundamental mistakes which have already been made in the past. Without undoing these, it will be impossible for the USA to ‘win’ in Afghanistan, no matter what the desired contours of ‘winning’.
What the USA needs to do is:
• Force a revision of the fairly-new Afghan Constitution, to allow the Provincial Governors to be elected by each province, rather than nominated by the President.
• Devolve powers of fixing taxation and the collection of taxes to each province.
• Force Pakistan to allow export of Afghanistan’s traditional horticultural products to its traditional market, Pakistan AND India, by road through Pakistan.
• Create an internationally-funded incentive-cum-subsidy for growing wheat and cotton, and a guaranteed government purchase system for these two crops, linked to an anti-narcotic punitive system.
• Concentrate on restoring the irrigation systems, using the already-created PRT arrangements, and focusing on the micro-irrigation systems including the traditional ‘karez’ and the ‘mir-ab’.
• Create an altogether different patter of Afghan National Security Forces than is being attempted at present:
 Merge the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police into ONE Afghan Security Force (ASF), with both security functions (counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism) AND tax-collection.
 Organize the ASF broadly on the pattern of the British-run Indian Army of 1922 to 1947, with a regimental system based on separate communities, rather than having them all mixed up in the same company and battalion. Each regiment will then have a specific regimental language and culture of its own.
 Officer the ASF with a combination of Afghan and deputed US military officers on long-term regimental affiliation. In addition, give each brigade (US regiment) an attached US Special Forces (‘Green Berets’) ‘A’ Team as a training team, and as a back-up component.
 Create a punitive reserve formation within the ASF, with tanks, armoured fighting vehicles such as Bradleys and Strykers, and dedicated fire support, supported by in-country US air support. This could deal with recalcitrant provinces if needed. This reserve formation should also have in-built anti-aircraft defensive capability to deal with any future Taliban Air Force, and anti-tank capability to deal with Taliban armour.
• Retain a limited US military force in Afghanistan at selected locations, with at least one multi-role formation such as an Armored Cavalry Regiment, supported by a co-located attack helicopter regiment and a unit of A-10 close support aircraft.
• Create and train an Afghan National Air Force with close-support aircraft, preferably the A-10, as the fixed-wing attack component.
The suggested military solution is neither weighted in favor of the COIN-dinistas of the Nagl-Kilcullen persuasion and their ‘Clear-Hold-Build’ paradigm, as presently being favored by Gen. Petraeus, the US CENTCOM commanding general, nor in favor of the counter-terrorist (CT) strategy which was originally the province of Gen. ‘Stan the Man’ McChrystal, the American commander in Afghanistan, till his 2009 volte-face. The suggested political solution, which has to precede the military solution in application, is aimed at preventing the eventual anarchic arrival of the other workable political solution. This eventuality is the division of the present Afghanistan into two regions, one Pashtun with about 40-50 per cent of the population, and the other Farsi (Dari)-speaking with about 55 to 60 percent of the population. The macro-economic and trade solutions offered are the only ones that can help Afghanistan get back onto its own feet economically, and thus stabilize, as well as reduce the financial burden on the international community.
Pursued with dedication and urgency, this composite package is the only one that can succeed in Afghanistan without affecting the stability of both Afghanistan AND Pakistan. It will allow the US to both win in Afghanistan, and to withdraw in a graduated manner, while leaving a small US force with a low ‘footprint’, which will be effective and not vulnerable in itself. Try it, it will work.

The author is familiar with the peoples of Afghanistan and the history of Afghanistan up to the present. In the past he has been associated with the military training of elements of a former Afghan National Army.


Is McChrystal on the way out? Check this out from The Daily Beast:

McChrystal Apologizes for Rolling Stone Story

The man leading the war effort in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, apologized Tuesday for granting an interview with Rolling Stone, which published an article portraying the general as a lone wolf who feels betrayed by many White House officials. He has also been ordered to appear in person at the White House Wednesday, leading to speculation he could be ousted. In the magazine, an aide describes McChrystal as “disappointed” with President Obama after their first meeting, which the general said he found the president unprepared for. The article also says Ambassador Karl Eikenberry “betrayed” McChrystal, in the general’s view, when a memo leaked that said the ambassador doubted Afghan President Hamid Karzai was a good enough leader to justify the strategy building up his government. "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books," McChrystal told Rolling Stone. "Now, if we fail, they can say 'I told you so.'" The article said that McChrystal’s “real enemy” was “the wimps in the White House.” From Kabul Tuesday, McChrystal issued a statement saying, "I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened."


I think he's toast.


Posted by: FB Ali | 21 June 2010 at 08:10 PM

This belongs on a plaque.

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