Small Wars Journal

Building the Security Force That Won't Leave

Building the Security Force That Won't Leave by Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell IV and Captain Nathan K. Finney, Joint Force Quarterly. Here's the abstract:

If Afghans are to be weaned away from the insurgents, they must be convinced they will not be left unprotected by an America and an international community who are both eyeing the exit. Assurance will come from empowered Afghan National Security Forces who, being indigenous and capable and buttressed by NATO Training Mission--Afghanistan (NTM--A), will be an enduring presence. NTM--A supports the overall mission of building Afghan capacity by producing the forces required to provide security and stability for the population and to safeguard Afghanistan's borders. Meantime, Washington will need the political patience to maintain a substantial military presence in Afghanistan for the indefinite future.

Building the Security Force That Won't Leave.


G Martin

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 6:46pm

Allow me to paraphrase:

- the ANSF will secure the population (and thus win the overall conflict) from having NTM-A behind them in an enduring way
- U.S. politicians need to change their minds about the decisions they've already made reference bringing troops home
- A national force will defeat the insurgents because the national force "won't go away"
- the Afghans only want good government and then we'll "win"
- ANSF quality has improved (despite all reports from the field to the contrary)
- Inside every Afghan is an American, waiting...
- NTM-A has huge challenges (not the least of which is how they are going about carbon copying the U.S. model)
- The solution to their problems is to establish centralized, Soviet-style systems and push NTM-A to the top of the foreign investment/donor list

I don't know what is more disturbing, that they actually believe this, or that they admitted to it in public!!!

Bill C. (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 4:25pm

Addendum No. 2:

Fundamental lesson of recent years?

We may have (1) dramatically over-estimated the appeal of our way-of-life to others and (2) dramatically under-estimated the appeal of various populations re: (a) their own way-of-life and, therefore, (b) the deeply engrained conservatism of said populations.

Bill C. (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 4:11pm


Lesson learned: Foreign intervening power (FIP) must work hard to (1) obtain popular support for such way-of-life changes as it (the FIP) desires and must (2) in addition to and/or in lieu of item (1) above, build up massive security capacity IN ADVANCE of (and/or in anticipation of) aggressive movement forward with this initiative.

Bill C. (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 4:03pm

Should we consider that massive security forces are often and commonly required when foreign intervening powers wish to transition a state and society -- via "their" local government -- from one way-of-life (for example: less-modern) to another (ex: more-modern)?

In such circumstances, the ox of some significant segment(s) of the native population is/are bound to be gored.

In that such transitions (ex: from less-modern to more-modern) are often -- by their very nature -- historically traumatic, disruptive and initially devastating events (and, therefore, are understandably unpopular with much of the indigenous population),

Then this explains why -- if massive security forces could not be or have not been developed locally before this transition begins (the rational and logic for "building partner capacity" preemptively), then such forces must initially be provided by the foreign intervening power -- who has determined that such way-of-life changes as it desires must be made.

Long-term project this (transitioning state and society from less-modern to more-modern)? Can be -- especially if there is little or no local understanding of or support for such an initiative.

Bob's World

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 11:06am

Reading this article reminded me of the time I spent in the National Guard after the first Gulf War and Prior to 9/11.

Units were historically understrength, and Personnel readiness was the primary measure of success for every commander in the Guard. The ability to fill a unit with MOSQ, depoloyable soldiers was the mark of a great commander, and the measure employed by NGB to determine which state got funding and the best types of units.

This bred an environment of "Focus on recruiting now, and we will begin training once we have filled the unit." The problem being, that like the ANSF, the back door was wide open and the units never reached the magic number that would allow the senior leadership to give the green light to shift the focus from recruiting to training. End result was units that were far less trained than they could have been, a social club culture rather than a warrior culture, and a tendency for soliders who wanted to soldier getting out, while guys who just wanted to hang out with their buddies one weekend a month to stay in.

Bottom line, if the ANSF were serious about security they would be executing that mission now, not at some future date when the magic number is met.

Bottom line, if the people of Afghanistan felt that GIRoA offered them acceptable governance they would not need a massive security force designed soley to force the populace to submit to their rule.

I would offer to LTG Caldwell that he has been misinformed as to the nature of the insurgency. That he builds a force to engage the resistance, and that such efforts only make a resistance worse. That while he works diligently to build such a force, that the revolutionary issues between GIRoA and the senior Taliban leadership in exile in Pakistan lay ignored, unaddressed and unresolved.

By all accounts LTG Caldwell is a superb leader and perhaps the best possible man for this mission of building an ANSF. That is not the problem. The problem is that the creation of such a force as been promoted as a metric for GIRoA success and a reduction of Coalition forces; and that is a position with little merit behind it.

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 10:28am

we will be better off than them no matter what. poor women.

gian p gentile (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 9:42am

what about for us if we stay there "indefinitely"?

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 8:33am

Very scary outlook for The Afghanis.

Long Term (not verified)

Fri, 07/08/2011 - 6:47am

Let's be realistic - aid to Afghanistan will wane as troop numbers decrease. We have plenty of plans to build up the ANA and ANP, but what about plans to draw them down if/when they are no longer needed (hopefully) or the US is no longer willing to fund them (more likely)? Haven't we learned what happens when we leave a heavily armed indigenous force at loose ends with no support? (See Iraqi Army, mujahedin, etc.)

gian p gentile (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 10:02am

This sounds to me like a senior military officer lecturing his political masters in Washington DC on what the policy in Afghanistan ought to be.

What if policy directs withdrawal, which it does, and then generals say no, we cant leave but must stay for "the indefinite future?"

In 1917 Clemenceau said in response to Pershing's desire to prevent amalgamation of American troops arriving in France into French and British units that "war is too important to be left up to the generals." Decades later Stanley Kubrick in his classic movie "Dr Strangelove," riffing on Clemenceau with the character in the move General Jack D Ripper who said "now war is too important to be left up to the politicians."

This is what happens though when a field army becomes so enthralled with its operational framework (in this case pop centric coin) that it not only eclipses strategy but now also policy.

In other words, militarism.