Afghan Security Force’s Rapid Expansion Comes at a Cost

Afghan Security Force’s Rapid Expansion Comes at a Cost as Readiness Lags by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post.

The U.S. military has nearly met its growth target for the Afghan forces, but they are nowhere near ready to assume control of the country.

No Afghan army battalion is capable of operating without U.S. advisers. Many policemen spend more time shaking down people for bribes than patrolling. Front-line units often do not receive the fuel, food and spare parts they need to function. Intelligence, aviation and medical services remain embryonic. And perhaps most alarming, an increasing number of Afghan soldiers and policemen are turning their weapons on their U.S. and NATO partners...

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Proposed Question: What is the purpose -- the reason for being -- of the military, intelligence and police forces of Afghanistan?

Proposed Answer: To stand against those members of the Afghan population -- and to stand against those members of other countries -- who do not wish to see the state and society(ies) of Afghanistan transformed more along modern western lines.

Proposed Question: Based on this understanding, what type and number of military, police and intelligence forces and capabilities (ours and theirs) are required to accomplish this mission, to wit:

a. To transform the state and society(ies) of Afghanistan more along modern western lines and

b. To stand against those members of the Afghan population -- and to stand against those members of other countries -- who do not wish to see such a fundamental state and societal change in Afghanistan take place?

Bill:

Thought the same about the DIV HQ.
This wrong model army will get into big troubles in the next years.
BUT within NATO this issue is not even adressed.
Although this issue will be vital for the post-ISAF mission (ITAAM).
After more then 10 years the military leadership does not understand even the principles of the current type of warfare.
Just too bad.

To add to Bill's comments:

Excerpts:

QUOTE No Afghan army battalion is capable of operating without U.S. advisers. Many policemen spend more time shaking down people for bribes than patrolling. Front-line units often do not receive the fuel, food and spare parts they need to function. Intelligence, aviation and medical services remain embryonic. And perhaps most alarming, an increasing number of Afghan soldiers and policemen are turning their weapons on their U.S. and NATO partners.

“We’ve built a force that’s simply too big,” said Roger Carstens, a former Special Forces lieutenant colonel who spent two years as a senior counterinsurgency adviser at the NATO headquarters in Kabul. “When you try to generate that many people that fast, you create leaders without the requisite leadership, maturity or acumen to get the job done. You can’t meaningfully vet anyone. You can’t ensure morale and discipline.” END QUOTE

I hate to sound critical of the hard work done by so many and sacrifices so many have made and be a second guesser but I think the question has to be asked is whether we can or should try to create a military in our image? We have done a phenomenal job in mobilizing and training a large force very fast and such an effort would of course work in the US (and of course has so well in the past which is probably why we are so good at this). But the question is can we apply what we do so well for ourselves to another nation? And should we be then judging the military that we develop by US military standards? I think the answer to this rhetorical question has to include the self critique that maybe we cannot do it for another country when they do not have the history, customs, traditions and culture that allows the American way to be imported to their society and military.

Perhaps:

- Wrong strategy, we are focused on a defensive strategy which requires tens of thousands of security forces to secure all the lines of communication and villages. If we had an offensive strategy that focused on defeating the threat instead of simply protecting the populace then these large and unsustainable security forces wouldn't be required.

- Stop pretending our General Purpose Forces are the right forces to lead this fight, this passage from the article points to our inappropriate mirror imaging:

"The U.S. military has imposed unnecessary methods and impractical equipment on the Afghans. American commanders funded large, U.S.-style division headquarters with command centers that feature wall-mounted plasma screens and staff officers schooled in making PowerPoint slides, even though many of those facilities lack reliable electricity. Critics within the U.S. ranks contend that dry-erase boards and paper maps would have been sufficient".

- Not to long ago a US Army General stated that GPF were the ideal forces to build partner capacity because they had the experience to teach DIV and BDE level operations. They do, but 99% of the forces we partner with don't need it and can't sustain it.

- Wrong equipment, wrong weapons, wrong tactics, but when all else fails try to overwhelm the enemy with our traditional industrial approach to war by employing overwhelming mass (but not in defensive positions).