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. Zerohedge.com 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.
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.