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The White House leaks stories about Afghanistan every week.

-- First, its that Gen. David McKiernan was replaced because he didn't understand strategy.

-- Then, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was going to need 40,000 fresh American troops to avoid another Saigon 1975 debacle.

-- Gen. David Petraeus was rumored to want another "Surge" to bring the war to enemy strong points.

-- The Karzai brothers are openly connected to poppy gangsters. Diem brothers, redux.

-- Backgrounders stress Taliban strength in Pakistan.



Republicans can't decide whether to denounce Obama for sitting quietly on the sidelines, or to come out publicly and ask the President WTF he's up to.

Feel free to forward to Afghanistan. Let's get pro feedback.

So... what is this picture all about ??? -- BTF :::

This photo depicts a graduating class of Guardians. Afghans, serving their local towns and villages and under political control of these local authorities. NATO ISAF pays them each $1500 a year.

HERE is a link with the overall direction.

Afghan Public Protection Program.

The first teaser, here, is that this AP3 and The Guardians are still flying under the press radar. No mention from anyone anywhere close to Obama and his defense team. Then... oddly... you find out that Gen. McKiernan is running this thing. Its his baby.

AP3 is a knock-off for Lt.Col. Bill Corson's version of the Combined Action Program (CAP) from Vietnam. Local forces are trained, armed, then put under political control of their own people. They guard against corrupt national government forces, as well as from insurgents. They work with units of the U.S./ISAF regular units. Same as CAP.

McKiernan is nobody's fool.

Counterinsurgency warfare -- COIN -- always got attention at the War College and at Joint Chiefs. More so when SecDef Donald Rumsfeld ignored professional advice and tried to do a War of Attrition in Iraq.

That's what Westmoreland had tried to do. Westmoreland killed the most of 2,600,000 Vietnamese. Rumsfeld and his generals only killed ~1,000,000. That's using Extra Deaths stats, not just the direct-fire casualties.

Both Westmoreland and Rumsfeld were losing their wars when they were replaced.

SecDef Robert Gates came in. Then, it didn't take him more than a week to figure out where the management game for Iraq and Afghanistan was being played.

Generals Petraeus, McChrystal, and McKeirnan have been favored by Gates because they combine organizational and communications skills with professional COIN expertise.

Petraeus and Gates went as far as you can to avoid drawing attention to operational details. They spent $30,000,000 a month in Iraq, bribing Sunni local leaders. Didn't tell anybody at the White House about it. Didn't tell anybody for a year.

They used a couple dozen dogs -- trained to key on explosives -- to clean out northwest Baghdad. Hard to believe it, but no one had used explosives dogs there, previously. Soon as you take a street, walk the dog down the street and he'll tell you everything you want to know.

For COIN warfare, its these subtle changes that make the difference.

What McChrystal and McKeirnan are doing in Afghanistan will REDUCE the overall manpower requirement.

Try to do SWAT.... That is manpower intensive.

The AP3 system is set up now for training 500+ Guardians a month. That can go to 2,000+ a month in short order. The limit, so far, has more to do with screening candidates than doing the logistics.

A quick spread based on population demographics indicates that running AP3 Guardians up to 100,000 is doable. Wardak and the rest of central Afghanistan can absorb 25,000 Guardians.

Central Afghanistan gets solid local protection for $37-million a year in salaries and another $15-million for communications and materiel.

These Guardians get AK-47s. That's what they wanted. (That's good for Kalashnikov, which just recently went bankrupt. jokes they'll end up owned by Goldman, Sachs.)

All this works -- where CAP and other "Vietnamization" projects had problems -- because the various insurgent groups are far weaker than NVA was in Vietnam. There is no such thing as a Taliban Regiment.

Getting together a 100-man attack force is a one-time, one-event super effort. A double squad in a 20-man unit is a very large permanent field operation. Most Taliban incursions are two-man or three-man walk-abouts.

There is no equivalent in Afghanistan to the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Insurgents have to get what they need locally. They can walk in grenades and small quantities of explosives. There are no "Molotova" trucks tooling down the HCMT making things easy for them.

Manpower calculations.

These Guardians reduce NATO ISAF manpower needs. Not a word about this out of Pentagon, White House, the usual-suspect military experts. Not a word that McKiernan is on it full time.

The ratio looks to be something on the order of 5:1. Five Guardians to one regular army trooper. Its a balance of factors. These troops are not going to be running around from village to village. They stay where they are placed, serving as a local SWAT force.

Local knowledge matters. For taking on the 2-man, 3-man Taliban or  warlord forces, these Guardians have to be stronger going head-to-head. But it takes a lot of them to cover a wide, dispersed area.

Afghanistan is roughly the size of six New Mexicos.

Insurgent units are relatively small, compared to Vietnam, as noted. Still, controlling 650,000 sq. mi. where there are few roads is a problem that cannot be completely solved.

The poppy money finances criminal gangs. These gangs can cause trouble. Nothing that Obama does or that any other political organization does is going to change the facts. Are the gangs going to take over Afghanistan ? No way.

Insurgent forces are manned at less than 1/10th what we were fighting in Vietnam.

There is no such thing as a Taliban or Gulbuddin regiment.

A unit the size of a U.S. Army company is a giant operational construct for these organizations. Even a large platoon, as a permanent force, is a rarity for Taliban.

The plan, based on what we can see from here, is that the national army and a police force will do heavy support and road control for AP3 units. Since these national units will not have local SWAT roles to fill -- not have to run around all over the landscape chasing bandits -- they become effective as soon as the communications networks are integrated.

Local SWAT is what absorbs the massive numbers of man-hours, when you don't have suitable local forces in place. These Guardians are coming to Central Afghanistan in relatively large numbers, taking over these SWAT roles.

The mission is Afghanistan is simple: keep Taliban from taking over the country and/or getting access to a sizeable fraction of the poppy money.

AP3, as outlined, provides the SWAT manpower to shut down Taliban ambitions.

Since these units work as local police, there is no problem with corruption and the Karzai brothers and their poppy gangster connections.

Sounds to me like Obama and Gates and these generals know exactly what they are doing.

The GOP... the rightie noisemaker buffoons... not so much.

Originally posted to vets74 on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:50 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  TJ -- Updating Afghanistan (17+ / 0-)

    Sure, there'll be comments that call for handing the poppy/opium/heroin biz over to the Taliban.

    $ 80,000,000,000 is worldwide street value retail for opium/heroin. The poppies come from Afghanistan. Overwhelmingly.

    Taliban could work with locals to set up a PoppyOPEC.

    No way they couldn't get $4,000,000,000 a year.

    Do whatever they want with it.

    And I don't think that GS Taliban are the big threat. The wild-crazy Islamicist fanatics are still there. They are more than happy to do the drug biz for funds.

    Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

    by vets74 on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:49:57 PM PDT

  •  Give a man a fish (5+ / 0-)

    he'll eat today, teach a man to fish he'll eat for a lifetime.  Same principle.  Teach them to defend themselves then get the hell out.

    "My brothers keeper"

    by Reetz on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 03:55:13 PM PDT

  •  McKiernan's not a COIN expert (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74, sulthernao

    He's a fairly conventional forces kind of guy.

    •  Uh.... "was." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      David McKiernan had this started well before Petraeus and McChrystal got involved.

      Problem was, the AP3 system is going to take too much staff work -- overburdening McKiernan's staff -- for them to do much of anything else.

      McChrystal is a world class salesman. Much better writer than McKiernan.

      Perfect for lying to Congress, which is what the top Afghanistan job will require.

      Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

      by vets74 on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:15:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have no clue whether this is a correct analysis (8+ / 0-)

    but it's certainly spoken in the syntax and grammar of reality.  Simple, low-cost, low-manpower solutions with minimal publicity footprint = optimal COIN.  Sounds exactly like something the Obama administration would do.

  •  Awesome Diary (4+ / 0-)

    Recd A skirt. A skill. A life saved.

    by librarianman on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:04:33 PM PDT

  •  Then there is this about training the ANA and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Or how things work at the local level using Balkh as an example:

    And our troops are worn while Contractors, including Blackwater rake in the bucks to help 'train'. Totally luved this pic that the LA Times used:

    Maybe we really do need a third option here.

    "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

    by deMemedeMedia on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:20:25 PM PDT

    •  LA Times says this: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, sabredance, deMemedeMedia

      The review could result in a scaling back of efforts to reform Afghanistan's politics and develop its economy. The U.S. could then focus more on hunting down Al Qaeda and its close allies with small special operations teams and armed Predator drones. Such an effort could avert the need for additional troops, officials and experts said.

      McCrystal is going to need dog-based Combat Tracking Teams to get that one.

      "Hunting down Al Qaeda" really means back-tracking insurgents to their bases.

      Back-tracking means using dogs. Using them very well indeed.

      BTW: the U.S. Army hasn't done CTT since 1975.

      And they don't do nose dogs at all.

      Don't understand the concepts.

      We'll see.........................................

      Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

      by vets74 on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:33:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, vets74

    Are you saying that the leaked report asking for more troops was just a smoke screen and not serious request?

    by Bush Bites on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:33:54 PM PDT

    •  Headlines had the "more troops" meme. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Gen. McChrystal makes no mention, whatsoever, of having to get more troops. Far as we can tell, he has never/ever mentioned such a change.

      I've read this report. McChrystal is in no way hiding his requirements.

      We've wargamed the on-the-ground situation in some detail. This AP3 program is brilliant.

      The beginning of an end to search-and-destroy, the end of aerial bombing savagery.

      McChrystal is on it.

      Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

      by vets74 on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:49:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the headlines vs. the backstory. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        What we hear in the news is that the administration is just muddling through, plus or minus the occasional tidbit for commentators (including ourselves) to cluck over.  

        McChrystal releases report!  Insubordination!  Eeek!  etc.   (I recall diaries in the last couple of weeks saying that one of more of the Generals was pulling a MacArthur and Obama was letting him get away with it.)

        Obama's track record clearly shows that he has zero tolerance for anyone in his administration making themselves an issue, or having themselves be made an issue of by anyone.   If there was an issue around McChrystal or anyone else over there, it was part of the gameplan to keep everyone guessing.  

        So here you've spelled out the gameplan, and from what you said, it looks damn good.  

        I don't know much about the intricacies of ground warfare, so I can't really form an independent opinions of this stuff based on primary source reading.  But I know a decent amount about intel, and on that score, Obama gets an A+.   His handling of the Iran nuclear issue this week was a textbook case in how to do it right.  

        First of all, he kept the secrets airtight, that the US had information about another secret Iranian nuclear facility, until he could make use of that information for maximum impact.  Second, he talked to various world leaders in private and sought a consensus.  Once the consensus was in place, he pounced by making the annoucement at the UN, and the other world leaders who were in on it made their statements: a unified front.  

        So there was Ahmadinejad, caught with his pants down while the whole world was watching.  And he could do nothing about it except accede to having international inspections.   Perfect.

        Now of course Ahmadinejad will hem & haw, hedge & delay, and generally try to obstruct the inspections.  But the paradigm has shifted, so there is no backtracking from accepting inspections one way or another.

        And along the way, we also find out, or perhaps I just inferred it from a pretty obvious hint, that the US has been successfully decrypting Iran gov communications again.  For the past couple of years.  

        This is excellent news, since we left this story at the point where Admed Chalabi compromised our cryptanalysis of Iran in about 2004.  I was guessing it would take five years to get another good break in the system.   Turns out that NSA did the job in less than three years.  Ten points for them, and by now Ahmadinejad knows that if he doesn't want his mail read, he will have to start using carrier pigeons!

        All of these bits & pieces, taken together, demonstrate that we really are in damn good hands now.   It feels great to know that smart grownups are in charge.  

        •  Eisenhower, yes. (0+ / 0-)

          Kennedy, no. A child-man.
          Johnson, no. Lied to every day.
          Nixon, yes but not domestically. A pirate.
          Ford, yes.
          Carter, yes despite internal sabotage. Sullivan in Iran....
          Reagan, no except for Russia.
          Bush41, yes. A player.
          Clinton, yes.
          Bush43, LOL.
          Obama, yes.

          Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

          by vets74 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:09:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Alas, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gordon20024, vets74

    in Vietnam too, we were always training Vietnamese to take over their own defense, and we always had a lit of competent hardworking people, and there was always some new prospect of light at the end of the tunnel.

    keep Taliban from taking over the country and/or getting access to a sizeable fraction of the poppy money

    Is not an endgame, as far as I can see. Just a recipe for continual attrition, and the question is, who gets attritted to the quitting point first? Well, you know, not the Afghanis, at least since Alexander the Great. And not for want of contenders.

    We went in there to get rid of Al Qaeda. Should have taken the first opportunity to declare victory and move out. Still a good idea.

    •  CAP worked well, but for 114 villages/towns. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Gordon20024, deMemedeMedia

      And there's no Ho Chi Minh Trail bringing in trucked supplies for Afghan insurgents.

      Try Bill Corson's book, "The Betrayal."

      Andrew Krepinevich's book, "The Army and Vietnam."

      Really, though, you had to be there. Westmoreland was a disaster and it took too long and 2,600,000 dead Vietnamese to replace him.

      Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

      by vets74 on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 04:59:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Analogies... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, vets74

      Funny thing about these analogies, people tend to pick the ones that make their point.  

      You want to see Vietnam all over again in every move we make in Afghanistan, of course it'll look bleak.  Someone else wants to see another war, it'll probably look a bit different.  

  •  What's to keep the Guardians from being (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74, DrFitz

    corrupted and using their AK47's for other purposes?

    The crooks are leaving have left office, unprosecuted and scot-free.

    by BentLiberal on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 05:01:37 PM PDT

  •  Hmmm....yes. It all sounds so... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74, DrFitz

    ...clear cut and organizationally sound. How do you factor in the "loyalty" of these trainees to their unpopular, ineffective and corrupt government? What's preventing these soldiers from turning those AK-47's on Americans or other Afghani military at some point? (Not much need for a specific supply route for weapons if WE are the ones supplying them) It's very shortsighted to imagine that everyone else in the world will do something simply for monetary gain. Nowhere in this diary are religion, tribalism or national character considered. All of this would be gloriously tractable if we were talking about stage managing cardboard cut-outs instead of actual people with a very long and deep-rooted tradition of expelling foreigners interested in rearranging things. So in the long run we are forcing the Afghanis to support an army and police force that they can not afford to pay for (Gee, who's going to pick up that open-ended tab? I wonder...) whom the locals don't trust....yes, it'll all work out. If we believe hard enough anything is possible. Hahaha!!!  

    •  AP3 Guardians are loyal to locals. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The national Karzai corruption-trough is not involved.

      Its all ISAF and the locals.

      Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

      by vets74 on Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 05:32:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  again... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...we are still presuming how the local mentality operates in the face of eight years worth of combat and civilian casualties and the prospect of a semi-occupation by Western forces for at least another decade. Not to mention the corrosive intentions of Pakistan. But by all means, celebrate the idea that a strategy has been implemented. I'm sure the planners are intelligent enough to recognize any possible future pitfalls.

        •  Not presuming at all. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Knowledge and an understanding of their history and culture is important.

          Treating people with the respect they deserve rather than like a "POS" the way rumsfeld treated them is a good start.

          There is a hell of a lot of damage not just from this Bush, but from his daddy Bush and Reagan to be redeemed.

          •  And we've been so very successful.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

   our dealings the natives in far-off lands. But this time it'll be different because our hearts are pure. This time we won't be allowing major corporations to control resources, or hand out christianist literature to Muslims, or give tons of cash to whatever elite class of warlords exist in Afghanistan. No this time, for real, we're going to try to help the "people". This is finally the situation wherein we will truly be embraced as welcomed and beloved liberators by those we haven't killed. Yes, it's absolutely a wonderful and foolproof  resolution. Now I don't know why I even had the slightest trepidation about it working out for the best.  

            •  go right ahead and be cynical. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              In the end we'll all get to see what happens.

              If this becomes another feeding trough for corrupt corporate interests, I'll get cynical too, and sooner or later we'll cross paths again here again and I'll be more than willing to tell you that you were right.

              But if it works as Vets74 says it should, will you change your opinions?  

              And by the way, the worst oppression in Afghanistan is not the US oppressing Afghanis.  It's Afghani males oppressing Afghani females.  The sheer brutality of the sexism in the culture is almost beyond comprehension.  And that is an issue that will have to be dealt with, the sooner the better.  But in order to do that, we have to achieve enough success on the ground that the tribal leaders are willing to listen to what we have to say.  

              This is not going to be easy or quick.    

              •  Yes. Of course I would welcome... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ...a good outcome and gladly admit I was mistaken. But I believe that any change must be implemented from within the particular society and not imposed from an outside agency. There's just no way that works.

            •  Barack HUSSEIN Obama.... (0+ / 0-)

              Makes a world of difference.

              Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

              by vets74 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:14:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  look up John Robb's stuff..... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Keyword search Global Guerrillas, which will take you to his blog.  

          Look up his stuff on primary loyalties.  

          The new Afghan forces of which Vets74 speaks, have their primary loyalty to their tribal leadership.  This is cemented in place by the entirety of their history and culture.  

          The point of vulnerability for us, is the tribal leadership itself, but it's safe to say we're dealing with that issue quietly and carefully.   And the rightie-nut noise in the US about Obama being a ni--, er uh, Mooslim, paradoxically helps in that department.  

          •  Do the primary loyalties... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ...take into account the armed presence of an alien population?

            •  huh? the ETs have landed and they're hostile? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Oh, you mean the US in Afghanistan.


              The Afghani locals are loyal to their tribal leadership.  if they see the US forces as supporting the local tribal leadership, there is not a conflict of loyalties there.  

              The real tragedy of Afghanistan is raw brutality of the gender oppression in the culture.  Geopolitical considerations are such that our primary issue there, for our own national defense, is to neutralize the Taliban and AQ.   However, morally, we should be taking whatever steps are needed to support modernization of the culture and put a stop to what amounts to the slavery of Afghani women.  

              •  Bingo ! (0+ / 0-)

                BTW: a lot of what you see as oppression of females is an adaptation to living where there are no police, whatsoever.

                Wearing a tent is one protection from rape or kidnapping.

                Brutality is a general condition. Toward other males as well as females. The national game involves playing polo, but with a dead lamb for the ball.

                Compare with bull fighting.

                Angry White Males + Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The GOPer Base

                by vets74 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:18:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Vietnam was different b/c there was a state with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a regular army backing the insurgents. Great observation btw.

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