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The front page of Sunday's Washington Post reports that the senior commander for Special Operations forces in Afghanistan "has suspended training for all new Afghan recruits until more than 27,000 Afghan troops working with his command can be re-vetted for ties to the insurgency."

Afghan troops and police have killed 45 NATO soldiers this year, forcing NATO officials to acknowledge that "Many of the incidents might have been prevented if existing security measures had been applied correctly," the Post says. Insider attacks are responsible for nearly 15 percent of this year's coalition fatalities.

"The vetting process for Afghan soldiers and police was never properly implemented, and NATO officials say they knew it," the Post says. Officials now say that the laxity in security that was for years the norm is no longer acceptable, the Post says. This begs the question: why was it acceptable before?

For a decade, coalition officials watched as Afghan security services overlooked key elements of the vetting process -- sometimes for the sake of expediency and sometimes because of corruption.

Many Afghans, even those who were vetted, were never issued official badges, making it impossible to tell who was supposed to have access to any particular facility. In Helmand province, thousands of Afghan police officers lack identification cards, according to U.S. officials.

"For years, there have been thousands of guys without proper identification. Our troops had no way of knowing who they were, or if they picked up their uniform in a bazaar," said a U.S. official...

Is there anyone who still dares to claim that we have to do whatever the generals say, when it is obvious that the generals act to deceive when they claim that everything is going fine, according to their plans? They continue to insist that everything is going fine, until some screw-up becomes so spectacular that they finally have to do something about it. And when they finally act, this always begs the question: if you're so on top of everything, why didn't you enact this reform before, and save the lives of American troops, which you claim to hold dear?  

If we learn nothing else from this episode, we must learn this: we must stop behaving as if the word of the generals is the word of God.

And it's crucial that we learn this lesson right away, because this week the generals and their amen corner in Congress are pressing Secretary of State Clinton to make a decision that is likely to prolong the war, and to keep a U.S. soldier in captivity and in danger of being killed by a U.S. drone strike longer than necessary.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Secretary of State Clinton faces a Congressionally-imposed deadline this week on whether to designate the Haqqani network - part of the Afghan Taliban - as a terrorist group. Some U.S. officials say doing so would make it more difficult to restart peace talks with the Taliban, and obstruct a prisoner exchange with the Taliban that would free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held since 2009 by the Haqqanis.

Officials in the White House and the State Department are pushing back against the military, the Post says. They say designation would be symbolic and would have little real impact, and that the military is using the Haqqanis as an excuse to deflect attention from the military's own failure to achieve what it claimed it could achieve when it demanded that Obama send more troops to Afghanistan.

A U.S. official who opposes designation says it would only make peace negotiations harder:

Administration policy "heavily depends on a political solution," this official said. "Why not do everything we can to promote that? Why create one more obstacle, which is largely symbolic in nature?"
What does "heavily depends on a political solution" mean? It means that the Administration is counting on the ability, at some point, to achieve a political agreement or agreements with some or all of the Afghan Taliban. There is no plausible story that the training program now underway will be adequate to deal with the insurgency if there is no political agreement. But if there were a political agreement, so that most of the insurgency were removed from the battlefield by political means, then the training program underway could be sufficient to help deal with any remaining holdouts. After a political process ended the bulk of the violent conflict in Northern Ireland, a group of holdouts emerged, calling themselves "the Real IRA," and continuing to carry out armed actions. After a political deal in Afghanistan, perhaps a "Real Taliban" will emerge and continue to carry out armed actions. The training program now underway could deal with that. It cannot deal with anything like the present insurgency.

If you want to know why we're still at war in Afghanistan, long after most people have given up on it, a key fact to realize is this: the only way the war is going to end is through peace talks. Who obstructs peace talks prolongs the war.

If you wanted to pass legislation in Congress saying that the war is great and should continue indefinitely, you couldn't do it. The war is too unpopular: even Republican convention-goers applaud when Clint Eastwood mocks it. So, if you want to prolong the war, what you do instead is you obstruct peace talks and the prisoner exchange. It's a stealth means of prolonging the war.

And this is why it would be really useful right now if some people in Congress would speak up. It would be great if a few people in Congress would have the fortitude to clear their throats and say: "Dear Secretary of State Clinton: we understand that peace talks and the prisoner exchange - and therefore an earlier end to the war and the release of Sgt. Bergdahl - would be threatened by designating the Haqqani network a terrorist group. Please don't do it."

"Never waste a good crisis," Secretary Clinton has said. Now she should heed her own counsel. She should take advantage of the military's spectacular failure in the training program to thwart their plans to scotch diplomacy and prolong the war.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.


First things first. Shorten the war and save Sgt. Bergdahl

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Comment Preferences

  •  you can't vet (5+ / 0-)

    that's just saying, what he really means is no more training, ever. What great news, I know a few troops who served there who will be happy no more of their fellow soldiers will be required to train people who plan to kill them.


    reelect the president

    by anna shane on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 03:01:20 PM PDT

  •  What a deceptive diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MartyM, Sky Net, MKSinSA

    you portray the situation in such a manner that almost all readers would think that training of the Afghan National Security Forces has ended completely, whereas the truth is that only training of the Afghan Local Police, which is a minor element of the ANSF, has ended.

    And if you think that the IRA and the Taliban have much in common, then you really don't know jack about Afghanistan and its history.

    Progressive "journalism" is best when it allows people to become more informed, not misinformed....

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 03:09:38 PM PDT

    •  re: "What a deceptive diary" (4+ / 0-)

      Oh please. I closely followed the Washington Post report.

      You should either

      1) explain how my account differed from the WaPo account, or
      2) explain how the WaPo account was deceptive, or
      3) put a cork in it.

      •  That's what happens when you piggyback on (5+ / 0-)

        other people's shoddy journalism without doing fact-checking....

        Let's look at some other sources:

        The US says it is suspending training for new recruits to the Afghan local police (ALP) while checks are carried out on possible ties to the Taliban.

        The move follows a series of incidents in which foreign troops have been killed by Afghan soldiers or policemen.

        The suspension of training - which only applies to new ALP recruits - will allow US special operations forces to "re-vet" current ALP forces.


        The Afghan army and national police, trained by Nato, are unaffected by the suspension. The training of Afghan special forces will also continue.
        Lt. Col. John Harrell, a spokesman for U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the pause in training affects about 1,000 trainees of the Afghan Local Police, a militia backed by the government in Kabul.


        The Post also reported that training of special operations forces had been halted, but a spokesman for the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, or NTM-A, which oversees this training said there has been no such pause.

        "There has been no halt in training with NTM-A assets as they relate to special forces," said Maj. Steve Neta of the Canadian military. He also said no other training programs involving the traditional military or police have been halted for re-vetting.

        But hey, if one writer at the Washington Post thinks that he knows better than everyone else, run with it!

        If the author of that article knew anything about Afghanistan, then he'd realize that much of the training of Afghan forces is now being run by Afghans themselves, so a complete suspension would be very unlikely, to say the least.

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 03:38:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Far Out. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert Naiman, elwior, brasilaaron, stevej
    If we learn nothing else from this episode, we must learn this: we must stop behaving as if the word of the generals is the word of God.
    Image Hosted by

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 03:27:14 PM PDT

  •  Notice who the article says is advising the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, RonV, truong son traveler

    military, Fred Kagan of American Enterprise Institute, i.e., Neocon Central thinktank, same people that were in PNAC.  
    Neocon hardliners vs neocon lites.  

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 03:39:30 PM PDT

  •  However, if Congress wants the designation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Byrnt, truong son traveler

    then they're purposefully or inadvertantly agreeing to a backdoor method to prolong the war in Afghanistan, and the war on terror in general.  
    Can they politically continue the war on terror without Afghanistan? Or have people completely forgotten about the war on terror?

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 03:43:34 PM PDT

  •  It's all just a ruse (4+ / 0-)

    There is no "political solution.  There is no "Afghan Government".  There is no "end to this war".  

    Complicity and cowardice are not strange bedfellows.

    Leave these people to themselves.

    Leave Now!

    Stop the War.

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 03:48:26 PM PDT

    •  I believe what is meant by "solution" is to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, EdMass, Robert Naiman

      come to terms with the insurgent force in a manner that is mutually beneficial, rather than prolonging the conflict.
         For us that means getting out sooner than is currently planned, not later, maintaining enough of a presence to ensure against a resurgent Al-Qaeda in the region.
         The formula for such an agreement exists, will save lives on both sides, and end an American presence which very few Americans or Afghanis want to see continued.

         Any barrier to that process, particularly one of only symbolic significance should be discouraged in order to accomplish what is in our national security and economic interests, as well as getting our people out of harm's way as soon as possible.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 04:21:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sure there is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Get rid of Mullah Omar and officially partition Afghanistan into its Indic and Central Asian halves.  Then all the rest resolves remarkably quickly.

  •  I agree with the central theme of this diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brasilaaron, Byrnt, Robert Naiman

    A political solution is not only the fastest way out of Afghanistan, it is also the way that will best serve that Nation after we are gone.
       And it will in the best and most efficient way serve the stated American goal of making sure that that Nation will not serve as the safe harbor for Anti-American terrorists which it did prior to 9/11/01.

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 04:01:10 PM PDT

  •  A faint glimmer of hope, about this story (4+ / 0-)

    The change specifically involves the Special Operations/local police programs.

    "Poor vetting" doesn't really apply to the local programs. It's the strongest vetting: our local warlord chooses his local guys for his local militia. How much stronger could the vetting be?

    Perhaps the story is as presented in the newspapers. We will now be revetting individual members in these local militias, at whatever cost of absurdity.

    Or perhaps, faint glimmer of hope, we have finally come to the realization that having U.S. Special Operations arm, fund, train and direct corrupt local warlordism has been a very bad idea for attempting to bring stability to Afghanistan.

  •  The death of Badruddin Haqqani (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The believed 'day-to-day' leader of the Haqqani network in a recent drone strike may just give Hilary the clout needed to stave off a terrorist designation for the group.

    I think there is a legitimate belief that the Haqqani network isn't a terrorist group so much as it is a militia with a few terrorists like Siraj & Badruddin running it.

    I sense we're close to a deal that will at least bring Sgt. Bergdahl home, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:35:00 PM PDT

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