Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Afghanistan; Are Local Defense Forces the Real Answer?

The drive to establish 'local defense forces' (LDF) is already 2 years old and it has taken nearly all of that time to get Kabul to agree to it in some form or another. Karzai has now apparently drawn up a rough draft that agrees to recruit upwards of 10,000 new recruits for the program. His past resistance to the implementation of such a force has to do with these things:

1. Kabul doesn't know who they can trust - anywhere in the country.

2. The Government in Kabul is as corrupt as anywhere else in the country.

3. Overcoming the practical issues of getting villages and tribes to agree with Kabul on what those 'security' operatives would look like.

4. Lack of well trained ANA or ANP to distribute (further complicated by the tribal issues) to those remote areas in the country.

5. The vast majority of the country don't see the Taliban as anymore a problem for them than any of us see our own federal government; it's a nuisance and corrupt, but necessary (In this case they see the Taliban as the 'True Soldiers of Allah').

Whatever else Centcom and ISAF may be guilty of, they surely understand this and have been trying to mediate (arm-twisting) in order to speed the process. Needless to say there is a delicate balancing act at play for if they implement an LDF program that is either lackluster, lacking well trained and disciplined forces or not welcomed by the regions in which it is implemented, it will only further complicate an untenable situation.

There appear to be other factors at work, however that hinge on the artificially established date for withdrawal of troops. President Obama made it clear during his election campaign in 2008 and reiterated in 2009 his intent to begin withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in early 2011. I have always found those kinds of remarks made by politicians laughable and even insulting.

To establish a 'timetable' for the withdrawal of troops from a fluid battlefield smacks of political maneuvering. To do so without the publicly announced advice and support of the very Generals assigned to prosecute the war, is insulting to the them and their Warriors. It is at the least ludicrous for anyone to treat a war as just another business deal with a definable beginning and end with a well knitted contract.

Wars are living organisms. They ebb and flow as the combatants leverage their forces in an effort to exploit what they have learned about the enemy. Once the enemy has declared his desire to end the hostilities, terms are drawn up and agreed to. The 'mop-up' effort then begins and that could take months to years as it did in both theaters of operation during WW II.

At what point in even 2009 did President Obama learn that he would be at the point of ending the mop-up phase of the war in Afghanistan by 2011? The answer; he didn't. What he did know was that he would want a good, clean, year to dispense with the fallout from the war and to answer any derisive commentary about his handling of the war. Part of that plan includes placing the Afghan government back in control of their country and their destiny - a plan I have no argument with; on the surface.

The problem is with those 5 troublesome points mentioned earlier. It has been crystal clear that the training program for ANA has been an abysmal failure. Not so much because it was ill-conceived but because the Afghan recruits aren't serious about what truly needs to be done if our combined effort to neutralize the Taliban is going to be effective. Again, there is exponentially mounting evidence that the ANA, ANP, Kabul and the citizenry support the Taliban effort - at least far more than they support us.

Each and every country should take care of it's own troubles and certainly it's own internal struggles. If there is one shred of evidence that the Kabul government truly wants the Taliban eradicated or at least neutralized, it should seek ways which probably include some form of LDF in remote areas.

I firmly believe that we, as Americans, have a right to expect our leadership to take our national security seriously and if they are going to project force, it should be to that end. It should not include carrying someone else's 'water' and certainly not using the tax payers money to try to re-build someone else's country - especially one that is hostile to our very existence.

I find it extraordinarily arrogant for a sitting President to establish an artificial date to end a war exclusively to benefit his personal chances for aggrandizement - especially when it further imperils the very country he has sworn to protect. No; the LDF push has a lot less to do with Afghan security or getting our guys out of harm's way than it has to do with paving the road for the 2012 election cycle.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard


  1. How do you save a nation from enslavement when the inhabitants refuse to fight for their own freedom?

  2. That goes back to the brain dead and their invalid use of an American phrase; 'Freedom isn't Free'. The Left and the 'save-the-world' folks are famous for their use of it. The problem is that apparently it is only Americans who are suppose to pay the price.

    If a people want to be freed from the oppressive handling of their governments or their theocratic leadership, they would do well to take a page from our history and pay the price that our founding fathers paid 234 years ago.

    The problem lies in the dirty truth that the ones crying for us to pay the price have absolutely no interest or intent in carrying that burden with their own blood or that of their children. They are, however, overjoyed at the prospect of someone else placing themselves or their children in their hands to be used as cattle to carry out their vision for the world.

    As far as I'm concerned; the Afghans and the rest of the Islamic and Third world are responsible for their own plight. Until they are willing to personally sacrifice for what they want; they don't deserve it and they certainly have no right to expect our children to pay that price for them.

    There is nothing honorable about helping those too cowardly to help themselves. There is nothing right about demanding others to pay a price for something you would not pay the same price for yourself.

    One of the Leadership Principles is; 'Never ask a man to do something you would not, or could not do yourself'.