Tuesday, March 16, 2010

COIN of the realm

No Kilcullen metrics for this?: McCrystal tries to change ethos of Special Forces in Afghanistan.

One wonders if the COIN theorists are prepared for the tension on the force, because of rules that increase risk.

Face it, that bargain is a very tough one to maintain even under a robust code-of-arms, witness Israeli soldiers charged with war crimes.

36,000 Taliban Fighters = ? months of engagement

Assessing the militants’ numbers, General Barrons said: “There are probably 900 in the leadership, counting very junior to very senior, and there are between 25,000 and 36,000 people who would call themselves fighters.”

-London Times

So, at a breakneck pace of 1,000 a month (a figure I doubt we've ever achieved to date), it would be three years or thirty-six months to kill, capture, or convert (neutralize) all Taliban fighters.

Another American War, Off the Books

Please, someone, let me know that this may have been another Elliot Abrams brainchild...it would only be fitting punishment to the Republic.

The Classified War Will Not Be Televised

Wheels within wheels.

Now, it looks like Pakistan may have been a prime mover in the arrest of Baradar, Taliban honcho in the Queta Shura. (What I find amusing is that Karzai is not suspected as a spoiler of talks).

Whether ISI were witting or unwitting partners in derailing top-secret talks with Afghanistani leadership, it's not clear, yet.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Kashmir's terrorists bite Pakistan in the ass

Biting the hand today that fed you yesterday?

Subsequent investigations had shown the attackers were the Punjabi Taliban belonging to at least three sectarian-cum-Jihadi groups, which are working in tandem with the Pushtun-dominated South Waziristan-based Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan to carry out joint terrorist attacks. The investigators had reported that some banned militant-cum-sectarian groups in the Punjab are gaining strength after having joined hands with the TTP.

-The News

Note the extensive use of suicide bombers against Pak targets that have nothing to do with "occupation".


No Kilcullen metrics for this? (A tale of two convoys)

Monday, March 08, 2010

The State of the State

The cycle of violence has short-circuited, exhausted itself, but the aftermath has its own cruelties:

The lives of Iraq’s millions of internal refugees remain bleak and the country’s humanitarian crisis is a grave one.

Cadillac of Cave Structures

For the record, the Pakistani army has shined the light underground, rolling up an 'undisclosed location' for Taliban (and possibly, at one time, a bunker for Zawahiri) in Damadola in Bajur.

Separately, the recent arrests of the Quetta Shura are being seen, now, not as pure scores for intelligence, but as one faction throwing another to the dogs for even thinking about normalization talks with the Afghan government.

The weekly drop of extremists in Pakistan seems to be continuing apace, by whatever means. But it is not one-way, a 1,300 pd car bomb exploded outside a police facility in Lahore ...

Saturday, March 06, 2010

India-Pak talks on Kashmir

As violence surges and ebbs (recently surging) in Kashmir, the hopes for a true diplomatic track spring eternal.

With Pakistan now sporting 'smart bombs' from the USA, one can only hope that India gets to the table, quickly...

Otherwise, the USA will have jumped from the frying pan into the fire, no?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Everyone is part of some minority

....and, sooner or later, the religious-political extremists come, in one way or another, for everyone.

Today is Gaza:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Gaza's Islamic Hamas government on Thursday banned men from working in women's hair salons, the latest step in its campaign to impose strict Islamic customs on Gaza's 1.5 million people.

More of Bush-Cheney's Faith-based Blunders

This time, affecting the military, directly:


In my last position in the Air Force, I led those 200 men and women in a deployment to Iraq, where my team came under daily mortar attacks as they were controlling the air space over Iraq. During this deployment I was named one of the top officers in my career field for the entire air force.

"Shortly after I left Iraq, someone in the unit that had replaced mine found my private e-mails that I had written to family and friends in the stress of a combat zone. In Iraq during the height of the insurgency, the Air Force conducted a search of my private e-mails solely to determine if I had violated Don't Ask Don't Tell, and to gather whatever evidence they could use against me. ...

"I was relieved of my duties leading nearly 200 airmen, my security clearance was suspended, part of my pay was terminated, and I was forced to endure a grueling 16-month legal ordeal before I was ultimately discharged from the Air Force. On my final day of active duty I was given a police escort from the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security.

Major Mike Almy, UAF

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Final Sacrifice

The first known gay soldier killed in Afghanistan.

A letter from his partner made it known.

(Even in death, his name is unknown to us, at this time - as are others.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thieves at the feast

The sad case of our own ammo finding its way, through allied hands, into enemy hands.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is U.S. Military Gassing Itself

No, not farts. Real concern about burn pits in theater.

Lies about the status of the Afghan conflict?

I don't remember Rumsfeld saying anything about strongholds have existed for three years:

U.S. and NATO commanders were not certain whether the insurgents who have lorded over Marja for the past three years would stay and fight
I guess that was part of national secrets?

After how many years, do you stop getting called an "insurgent"?

Now, in our seventh year or so of starting over-over-over-over-over-over-over:

The group finally got moving, but by then a group of Afghan soldiers had already raised their red, green and black flag in the bazaar for the dignitaries. The governor and the visiting generals walked around the rubble of the market -- large parts of which were destroyed by a U.S. Special Forces airstrike in spring 2009 -- and hailed the progress of the current mission.

or not:

"It's still dangerous in this area," one soldier said. The Taliban "might burn it.

"Cambodia" weighs in on the conflict

"It's high time we move beyond that era [of mistrust] and see what is good for all of us," a Pakistani military official said. "We are home to 70 percent of the Pashtuns," an ethnic group in southern Afghanistan and Pakistan that forms the bulk of the Taliban insurgency, "and we have a legitimate right to be part of this effort," the official said.


Or, is it more like Pakistan is the new Egypt? Praise Allah and pass the ammunition:

Reporting from Karachi, Pakistan, and Washington - The United States has delivered a fleet of drone aircraft and billions of dollars in aid to coax Pakistan to do more to confront Afghan Taliban militants taking refuge in the country.

Over the next seven years of our "deployment in Afghanistan", we will surely find out.

("Our deployment", not "war", must be the right term, given that the American public are seized of the Olympics, American Idol, and Tea Baggers, not "war").

and, Karachi, now?:

Several former U.S. intelligence officials and terrorism experts said Karachi is increasingly seen as a base of Taliban operations, with key leaders hiding in plain sight in an urban center that offers greater access to communication and resources.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A media war

A sophistcated, learning enemy:

He too is frustrated, accusing the Taliban of manipulating the rules of engagement by using women and children as shields and shooting from hidden positions before dropping their weapons and standing out in the open.

"They know we can't shoot them if they don't carry guns or without positive identification. They are fighting us at another level now," MacLean said.

-First Lt. Aaron MacLean, 2nd Platoon commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment.

I have no reason to doubt this.

I'll wonder aloud the same as one does when the Israelis complain the same thing: in such circumstances, a telephoto lens is probably more effective than a rifle scope. Using women and children as shields is really, really, really, really, really bad press.

Without the video tape, ...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Awesome Afghanistan Photos

David Guttenfelder, from last October, so a bit late to see these.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Cost of Bush-Cheney on COIN

What happens when you start late...:

The events provided another example of how fragile relations between Afghans and Americans have become, and how ready Afghans angered over civilian casualties are to blame American forces in virtually any circumstance.

While the first reaction to the explosion was shock, within a few hours an angry crowd gathered, chanting anti-American slogans. The crowd blocked the road to the border for several hours to protest the episode.


If this can be generalized, then "long, hard, slog" was just a prelude to "long, hard, slog"...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Imunity for Murder

US Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed the charges against the five [Blackwater defendants], saying prosecutors violated their rights by using incriminating statements they had made under immunity during a US State Department probe.

Cheney's no-blame zone is apparently bigger than anyone could dream ...

Civilian Self-Pity Meet Command Performance

O'Donnell, 29, stood at attention yesterday as the litany of broken bones was read off — then bounded up onto a makeshift stage as if none of that had ever happened, as he took command of about 290 soldiers that make up Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

Interesting because ...

..the injuries that Capt. Ray O'Donnell suffered in a 2007 Humvee rollover in Afghanistan.

... included facial fractures, traumatic brain injury, a crushed pelvis, spinal damage, a fractured hip, dislocated femur and severe nerve damage.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yup, Once Again, We've Got Nothing

When is someone - anyone - going to admit that the USA just cannot (and never has) been able to 'do intelligence right'?

latest recognition of failure

Is "the" reason that we play too much politics with our intelligence, both outside and inside the agencies? Probably.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Everyone's a fly-boy


The price tag, by Newsweek.