Friday, August 1, 2008

After Action Report-Afghanistan

Afghan Tribal Areas
Children of Afghanistan

U S Marines 24th MEU
Afghan National Army in Action

A very important report has been posted at Small Wars Journal by the SWJ Editors. The report was filed by retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, who recently returned from a fact finding study in Afghanistan. His observations strip away the veneer and gets to the heart of what the World must face up too, in order to midwife the difficult birth of a nation.

The Report: After Action Report (AAR)

Bottom-Line: Six Assertions:

(1) Afghanistan is in misery. 68% of the population has never known peace. Life expectancy is 44 years. It has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world: One of six pregnant Afghan women dies for each live birth. Terrorist incidents and main force insurgent violence is rising (34% increase this year in kinetic events.) Battle action and casualties are now much higher in Afghanistan for US forces than they are in Iraq.

(2) The magnificent, resilient Afghan people absolutely reject the ideology and violence of the Taliban (90% or greater) but have little faith in the ability of the government to provide security, justice, clean water, electricity, or jobs.

(3) The courageous and determined NATO Forces (the employable forces are principally US, Canadian, British, Polish, and Dutch) and the Afghan National Army (the ANA is a splendid success story) cannot be defeated in battle.

(4) 2009 will be the year of decision. The Taliban and a greatly enhanced foreign fighter presence will: strike decisive blows against selected NATO units; will try to erase the FATA and Baluchi borders with Afghanistan; will try to sever the road networks and stop the construction of new roads

(5) US unilateral reinforcements driven by US Defense Secretary Bob Gates have provided additional Army and Marine combat forces and significant enhanced training and equipment support for Afghan security forces.
(6) There is no unity of command in Afghanistan. A sensible coordination of all political and military elements of the Afghan theater of operations does not exist. There is no single military headquarters tactically commanding all US forces. All NATO military forces do not fully respond to the NATO ISAF Commander because of extensive national operational restrictions and caveats.

General McCaffrey also addressed the entities that are part of the problem and solution in Afghanistan.

NATO we are lost in Afghanistan. The next Administration must have a major diplomatic commitment to strengthen the capabilities and commitment of our 26 NATO allies.

Pakistan is a state of four separate nations under a weak federal government. The
Pakistani military is the central load-bearing institution of the state.

Afghanistan: A Narco-State
The Taliban, Al Qaeda, war lords, and Afghan criminal enterprises are principally funded by what some estimate as $800 million dollars a year derived from the huge $4 billion annual illegal production and export of opium/heroin and cannabis.

Building the Afghan Security Forces
… We desperately need an additional 2300 police trainers. This is the central effort to win the war in Afghanistan.

The US Armed Forces:

The combat effectiveness, courage, and leadership of our deployed joint military forces are simply inspirational. The leaders are battle-hardened, show enormous initiative, and can organize anything.


We cannot allow ourselves to fail in Afghanistan.

NATO is central to achieving our purpose.

This is a generational war to build an Afghan state and prevent the creation of a lawless, extremist region which will host and sustain enduring threats to the vital national security interests of the United States and our key allies.

Afghanistan is a region that has resisted change, and outsiders for over two millennium. The very nature of those who chose to inhabit the lonely mountain valleys and are content to live as their ancestors have lived presents a problem that the core states of the World find completely alien. McCaffrey notes that it will take at least 25 years of involvement to bring Afghanistan to a sustainable level. The level of commitment will be tested many times, and truthfully, if we follow the pattern of history, Afghanistan and the mountainous tribal regions will remain unreachable until some other social cancer like AQ or it's offshoots commit such an unspeakable horror that the World reacts too in a equally unspeakable response. That said, it is a mission that the collective world needs to see completed. General McCaffrey lays out his views, they may diverge from other's but his bottom line is the same for all informed observers.
Below are two links that focus on Afghanistan.

Ghosts of Alexander

Afghanistan Analyst

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