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02 November 2010


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I am looking more and more at the negotiations with the Taliban as another factor here. Karzai is plainly moving to secure a survival deal by power sharing with Taliban, and I'd really like to know what Petraeus really thinks about the prospects of doing enough damage to insurgent command structures, through targeted assassinations of field commanders, drone operations, etc. for force an acceptable deal with Taliban to cool things out and get troop drawdown going. I suspect best possible outcome is something like Iraq, with fairly robust residual force left behind as guarantor of any political deal. It's the best outcome, and may not be totally off the charts at this time. The successful US-Russian joint anti-drug operation last week, taking out a major heroin lab near Jalalabad and grabbing over a ton of refined heroin really spooked Karzai, especially the Russian involvement. This was a noteworthy small step towards bringing the Russians in on terms they will like: shut down flows of heroin and opium through Central Asia into Russia, which are killing 30,000 Russians a year by heroin overdose, and funding insurgencies in Caucasus and Central Asia that are strategic concerns to Moscow. Victor Ivanov, their top anti-drug guy, was in Washington a few weeks ago, and pressed the issue, getting green light for a joint operation that was in the works for months, based on Russian intelligence on precise locations of labs. This had to be approved by Petraeus, and suggests a good learning curve.

Charles I

Question to me is what Pakistan and the Taliban want. If they want us out, they will do nothing but wait til we're gone. If they want us fighting there, surely they will keep attacking.

Which "they" will want/do what? Dunno, but I predict attacks will continue to keep the pots boiling.

Can the Taliban fight on in Afghanistan against the active opposition of all the Pakistani elements that matter? Can anyone answer that?

Patrick Lang

Charles 1

"Can the Taliban fight on in Afghanistan against the active opposition of all the Pakistani elements that matter?"

I think that they cannot in any serious way that is not manageable. pl


The Pakistanis would probably be agreeable to some kind of deal that keeps India out.

The Twisted Genius

My guess is that the Marines will continue to closely watch the Afghan Army units at these small bases. Petraeus certainly cannot afford one of these outposts to defect to the Taliban like the Police unit in Ghazni recently did.

Gautam Das

The class composition of Afghan National Army(ANA) units, ie, whether they are all Dari speaking Tajiks and/or Hazaras, or whether a mix of Dari speakers and Pashto-speakers,or all Pashtuns, will determine their loyalties to a great extent. Dari-speaking ANA units are generally seen as 'foreigners' in Pashto-speaking areas, and get classified in the local mind as the 'enemy' as much as the white 'feringhees' (USMC/US Army/NATO/ISAF).

The reported pension plan for the ANA (ie, full pay as pension on retirement), if true, could be a good inducement to stay on as a professional ANA soldier, but can the USA/NATO afford to support a large-enough ANA with this kind of pay-packet + pension?

Also, is a mere 6-week training programme turning out ANA soldiers from raw Third World recruits good enough to turn out good-quality long-term professionals? Please compare with how long the Pakistan Army recruit training curriculum may be, since they also train Pashtun regular infantry soldiers, especially in their Frontier Force Regiment (FF Regt): it could be 7-8 times that length of time.

The 'unit-mentoring' system the USA/ISAF is trying in Af'stan is perhaps not the best way to go. For example, how would a US platoon or even company 'mentoring' a similar-sized ANA sub-unit actually operate? I suspect that they would be forced to have the ANA lot being mentored merely tag along behind, and be remote-controlled through an interpreter with a radio set to the ANA commander (company or platoon), while the US Army or USMC company or platoon carried out the actual operational task, even if the ANA sub-unit has been well-briefed and is integrated into that particular tactical plan. Adjustments or manoeuvre of the ANA element during the operation will be difficult. So how much actual proficiency and experience will the ANA sub-unit gain? Enough to leave them on their own in hostile surroundings? Worth thinking about. The present King David dispensation in Kabul seems wedded to this method.

As food for thought for my concerned American friends on this site.

Gautam Das

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