Monday, August 27, 2012

Afghan Security Forces a Horror-show

The experiment is fast proving itself to be an exercise in futility.

"Two U.S. Troops Killed by Rogue Afghan Soldier," from Reuters, August 27 (thanks to Awake):
KABUL (Reuters) - A rogue Afghan soldier shot dead two U.S. troops in east Afghanistan on Monday, the NATO-led coalition said, the latest in a series of insider killings that have strained trust between the allies ahead of a 2014 pullout by foreign combat troops.

The deaths in Laghman province brought to 12 the number of foreign soldiers killed this month, prompting NATO to increase security against insider attacks, including requiring soldiers to carry loaded weapons at all times on base..........

There have been 33 insider attacks so far this year that have led to 42 coalition deaths. That is a sharp increase from 2011, when, during the whole year, 35 coalition troops were killed in such attacks, 24 of whom were American."

Noble as the intentions may have been, it is painfully apparent that no amount of money, training, example-setting, or plain supplicating will change the culture of a people who have long forgotten their pre-Islamic orgins. Any dignity that their ancestors possessed prior to the Islamic conquest of their region is long gone. The Iranian (Not modern Persian - that is a subgroup of Iranian/Iranic peoples) tribes, despite their faults that all cultures have, were a noble and honorable people before the onset of Islam and the resulting Arabization of their culture.

The Afghan security forces have become at best a sick joke and at worse a dangerous breeding ground of personnel who have been exposed to Western methods of conducting military and police operations. 

In response to the increasing threat of violence at the hands of those whom we have trained to make Afghanistan a somewhat peaceable and civilized nation, US Military personnel have reportedly been authorized to keep their weapons loaded while going about their regular duties.

They have to deal with insurgents outside of their camps, and rogue Afghans inside the same.

A "Red Team" study on the current state of affairs paints, to put it bluntly, an ugly picture.

The study begins with an artillery barrage of sorts. Complaints of behavior of coalition soldiers, particularly that of US members by ANSF personnel, are provided in an opening salvo. The vast majority of them appear to be, from my experience in operating as a member of the US military, either grossly exaggerated of fabricated outright.

Below is a small sampling of some of the complaints about US personnel:

"u.s. Soldiers often retreat and leave us behind during firefights. This is not good behavior.
They don't care about us or our relationship."
"We don't get air support if we are alone in a battle." [Very unlikely]

"When ANA soldiers are taken to the US. 's hospitals they are not given good care; our soldiers
often end up having their arms or legs amputated. When treated at ANA hospitals they
are less likely to lose a limb. " [Very unlikely]

American Soldiers and Marines have traditionally tossed chocolate and other small gifts to kids in war zones. For ANSF guys, this is a problem.

"US. Soldiers throw gifts out of their vehicles for children; but such a way is insulting; it is not

They have the gall to eat and drink while Muslims are fasting.

"It is very rude to drink in front of us during Ramadan while we are fasting."
"This is our country; they should fast too."

The giving of gifts to kids puts the children in danger - this from a culture that makes a habit of choosing fighting positions amongst women and children.

"If they hand out candy to children, the children are at risk of getting hurt by being so close to the Americans if there is an attack. They put them in danger."

They prefer to sit in a manner that makes them look manly. This too is a problem.

"They should sit with their legs crossed, but sometimes they sit in a vulgar way with their legs open."

Americans won't be friends with us.

"Most U.S. Soldiers don't bother socializing with us."
"It is obvious they do not like us."

Americans refuse to hide and quietly await the end of the engagement.

"During battles they get overly excited, yell, and reveal positions."

Here are some quotes from US members on their allies.

DRUG ABUSERS (Estimated hashish use among ANA members averaged 74%; see pgs. 27,40.)

"Almost all of them use hashish; at least 90%."

"They are stoned all the time; some even while on patrol with us."

"Drug use like never before seen."

"At COP ... we found a large roomful of used needles in the ANA building. There were an astronomical number of needles just lying allover the floor. We thought maybe nearly half the ANA there were on heroin and we saw 90% use hashish."  "They had a HORRIBLE problem with heroin and other drugs."

"We can't leave anything out; they'll steal it all." .
"I know they're poor; if they'd just ask for it, if we can, we'd give it to them. But they'd rather
just steal. Then they go into denial saying, 'We are Muslim, we don't steal.' Bullshit!"
"I even saw an ANA soldier steal a kid's bike. The kid just stood there looking while the ANA
rode off. It was pathetic."

"Our biggest issue was they stole everything, including our defibrillator! It was for them too!"

"While on patrol.. .. I don't trust them."
"It's funny how they tend not to get shot at when we are not with them."
"I think it is pretty obvious that many have informal truces with the insurgents."
"A reporter attached to my platoon said that during a conversation with ANA soldiers they said that if the Taliban began to win the war, they would switch sides and join the Taliban."
"We know some of them are giving information to the insurgents about our planned operations."

"There were several occasions where the ANA made me fear for my life."

"I wouldn't trust the ANA with anything, never mind my life."

"They shot one of my soldiers when he was walking up to the ECP; this was due to carelessness." 

"I was fired on by ANA personnel multiple times during my deployment."

"They seem to act on emotion rather than common sense."


"We can't even get rid of the worst ones; we have no authority to fire or transfer them."

"They are just about useless; genuinely stupid."

"ANA need a lot more training and discipline. From what I've seen the ANA are a joke. '.'

"They shot an RPG and a .50 Cal at our dismounted element; this was just careless negligence."

"They are completely incompetent."

"The overall quality of the ANA cannot be intelligently described. It would benefit Afghanistan to disband the ANA and start over again."
"There are some good ones, but they tend to get killed off"
"We are interfering with Darwinian Theory!"

"Their officers are just useless. They avoid going out. ... They are rarely there anyway. Their
one week vacation usually turns into a month."
"They have no functional NCO Corps."
"They follow a Soviet style [structure] where officers make every decision and NCOs are just overpaid privates."
''They won't cooperate with us such as having their troops turn in their cell phones.... "
"One ANA officer embezzled food funds; he stole the food right out of the mouths of the
soldiers he was responsible for."

"They are totally reckless when handling their weapons. 1 catch them all the time walking
around the base with their weapon on semi-automatic instead of safe!"
"One idiot taped his RPG round to the tube and then failed to remove it when he fired it. He
blew his hands off and badly wounded several others around him. This is what we have
to work with!" (Often mentioned incident; they were incongruous with such ((stupidity.")

"They fire off all their ammunition right away. They will burn out their gun barrels if we don't stop them. " [A maximum sustained rate of fire is required to keep barrels from overheating]
"During battle they tend to spray their fire; some of these rounds just barely missed my soldiers on occasion."

"They are here to simply collect a paycheck; nothing else."

"They are pretty much gutless in combat; we do most of the fighting."

"They don't get anything from Kabul; we have to give it to them. But they tend to waste or steal a lot of what we do give them."
"They are not supported by their government. They don't even get the basics."

These is particular bothered the US members:

BRUTAL TREATMENT OF DOGS [Dogs are unclean animals to Muslims]
"An ANA soldier on guard duty threw a dog off a cliff for no reason. The U.S. Soldier at the OP got livid and grabbed the ANA soldier to throw him off the cliff too, but decided it was
not worth the trouble he'd get into."
"If a stray dog comes onto the base and we feed it the ANA will kill it; maybe out of jealousy?"
"I think they tortured my dog to death, but 1 couldn't prove it."
"One of them kicked my dog. 1 grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and to1 d him never to do
that again. Later, my dog still ended up dead, but I don't know who was responsible."

''They stink; they simply don't wash themselves, except their feet-without soap, but with our
bottled water. Nor do they change their clothes."
"Terrible hygiene."
"Take a look at their latrine. It's obvious that it has never been cleaned. How can they live that way?"

"They simply refuse to work very hard. If we give them a weapons training exercise that should
be repeated twenty or thirty times to master it, they'll stop after just two or three
iterations claiming they don't need to do it anymore."

"They prefer to just lie around all day and do nothing."
''We are always sensitive to their religious practices, but if there's a work project that needs to be done you can count on it also being their prayer time."
"They are always late. They will leave their security shift even if their relief hasn't arrived!"

"During Ramadan they fasted even when we were out on combat patrol; it endangered everyone
because they were weak and light-headed."

"They have no pride in their army."

"We can't trust them to do house searches. They will say they searched a room when we know that they didn't."
''We allow the females· to move in and out of the rooms before we search them to respect their culture, but they still complain."

u.s. Soldiers said that they were aware of the ANP and ABP reputation for being highly corrupt and of extorting civilians. They tended to rate them lower than the ANA.

"The ANP I saw did nothing the year I was in Afghanistan."

"The ANP in the Pech Valley might as well be insurgents."

"The ANP would constantly abandon their post."

'The ANP never got shot at; we knew they had an alliance with the insurgents." 

"They are just a bunch of pot heads and I didn't want my soldiers mixing with them."
"They spent enough time with each other--in bed."
"One ofthem crapped in our sink; why would we socialize?"
"You never know when one of them is going to tum around and shoot us; I keep my distance."

ill the survey on average, U.S. Soldiers perceived that 50% ofANA were Islamic radicals (pg. 38).

Many troops said there was a lack of Command emphasis/directive in how to partner with ANSF.

Many U.S. Soldiers had quite negative attitudes towards them. They did not like or trust them and thought many were insurgent sympathizers and informants. They were repulsed by how women and children are treated.

"How they treat their women and children is disgusting; they are just chattel to them."
"I had one guy bring in his son who had a terrible hand injury that was obviously many days old; the kid's fingers were falling off. I asked him if he had a car. He said yes. I then asked
him why he didn't take the kid to the hospital when the kid got hurt He just couldn't be
bothered to do it and knew I'd treat him when I got back." 

-From the report on page 45:

Many U.S. Soldiers (as well as those from previous field research) were appalled by the
rampant torture of dogs and puppies they witness while being based with ANSF units. Many
ANSF members are prone to inflicting abuse onto the stray dogs they bring to the base for
'entertainment' purposes. Other ANSF members, while not condoning the torture, fail to see any importance in such behaviors given the standing of dogs in Islam. Dogs are often seen as vermin and many ANSF members find it inexplicable that anyone could be concerned about such 'trivial matters' and deeply resent any interference. (There is a dichotomy here; ANSF members reported 44 getting upset when u.s. Soldiers shoot dogs, but those dogs were viewed as personal property, security assets for their owners. Strays are seen in an entirely different manner.) This animal abuse is a substantial psychological stressor for many U.S. Soldiers and has been the cause of many serious social altercations with ANSF members. Senior Afghan MOl and MOD officials should be strongly encouraged to implement and enforce a non-torture policy for dogs, at least on joint bases. U.S. Soldiers should also be educated and psychologically prepared for the extreme abuse and torture of dogs many will inevitably witness while 'partnering' with ANSF. 

Several U.S. Soldiers reported that they had observed many cases of child abuse and neglect that infuriated them and alienated them from the civilian populace. They made it very clear that they wanted nothing to do with people who treat children so cruelly.

Although not reported by the U.S. Soldiers who participated in this study, there have been numerous accounts of Canadian troops in Kandahar complaining about the rampant sexual abuse of children they have witnessed ANSF personnel commit, including the cultural practice of bacha bazi ,
["boy play" - forcing young boys to dress and dance like girls and raping them] as well as the raping and sodomizing of little boys. (One reason some Afghan civilians prefer insurgents over the ANSF are the latter's propensity to seize their little boys at checkpoints and sexually assault them.) U.S. Soldiers witnessing such barbaric acts may likely lead to violent confrontations with the perpetrators. Similarly, U.S. Soldiers sometimes mentioned the poortreatrnent and virtual slavery of women in Afghan society and how they found such practices repugnant. They found it unpalatable to befriend other men who had such primitive beliefs; the cultural gulf was too wide.

They also were repulsed by the abuse and neglect they observed in how children are treated in Afghan society. U.S. Soldiers largely reported that they did not care for Afghan civilians due to these factors as well as their suspected sympathies for the insurgents. More research should be completed on U.S. Soldiers' attitudes and experiences with the Afghan civilian populace. Other common themes expressed by U.S. Soldiers were that they were not specifically educated in how to actually train ANSF personnel, lacked command guidance in executing the 'partnering' concept, and were fairly unprepared for the many challenges associated with training a force composed of illiterates from an extremely different culture. They generally were not satisfied with the quality or comprehensiveness of the cultural training they received.

The paper is 70 pages long. 

Time for us to go. Unless Islam is erased from the region entirely, there is no hope for change.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely time to go.

    However, we must find a way to prevent them from exporting terrorism and jihad around the world. We can bomb any camps that build up, and we can bomb leaders we see driving around. However, we can't do this without intelligence and it will be difficult to collect intelligence when we have no footprint in-country.

    I just don't know what the solution is. Right now we are there with giant targets on our backs. Heavan help us if the taliban gets hold of SAM's.

    I agree that getting everyone out now is better than what Obama is doing. We have tried nation building in many places and I can't think of a single instance where it worked. We need to let our military be warriors, not builders.

    It would be nice to put a cordon around the country to prevent import of arms and troops. Unfortunately the geography, political and physical, doesn't support that. Perhaps we should warn the world that if we see this happening we'll bomb them and ask questions later.

    Hopefully Romney's geo-political strategists have something up their sleeves.