Afghanistan War

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
It's always looked to me as if the ISI mostly thinks in zero sum terms, & can't conceive of anything being beneficial to both Pakistan &, e.g., India, though it can understand things being harmful to both, & is willing to accept harm to Pakistan to cause greater harm to what it sees as its enemies.

That is very dangerous.
The ISI reminds me of Heydrich's SD on steroids, a law until itself and responsible to none. Well Heydrich only answered to Himmler, and if he hadn't been assassinated in Prague by Czechoslovak resistance he probably would've have eventually supplanted Himmler as Reichsfuhrer SS.
 

swerve

Super Moderator
I suspect Heydrich was lining himself up to be Hitler's heir. Unlike, e.g., Himmler, the Blond Beast looked the part of an Aryan leader, & was athletic, a skilled fencer & excellent swimmer. He also had the sense to use carrots as well as sticks. You might be scheduled for extermination, but for now you'd have Saturdays off, & unemployment & sick pay, to keep you docile & productive.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Post 3 of 3: The Adults are back in charge for the upcoming NATO withdrawal of Troops

13. The news cycle talks about Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan by 9-11; and that he spoke to Bush and Obama before the announcement. But no one in the press seems to be asking what the Afghans think.

14. The twin presidential swearing-in ceremonies in March 2020, in which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah claimed to have won the presidency, tells us that there is no unity within even the Afghan Government. After the US failed to convince Ghani and Abdullah to form an “an inclusive government”, then–US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a US$1 billion cut in US aid to Afghanistan and threatened to cut another billion in 2021.

15. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord and head of the Hezb-i Islami political faction, fits the definition of a “total spoiler” – one who pursues total power and whose objectives are not subject to change. Between 1992 and 1995, Hekmatyar ordered the shelling of Kabul, which killed thousands of civilians. This act earned him the nickname the “Butcher of Kabul” and demonstrated that he would seize by force what he could not gain through negotiations.

16. US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been circulating seeks to replace the current government with temporary leaders, establish three “co-equal” branches of government, broker a ceasefire, and hold elections after the formation of an interim government. The co-equal branches would comprise an executive, a national representative body or shura, and a judiciary with a supreme court and lower courts.

17. Given the above, do the locals really believe that Afghanistan’s security and defense forces are capable of defending its people and country?

18. At present, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani commands the Afghan security forces, who are engaged in intensive operations to prevent the Taliban from gaining more ground and to stave off the insurgents from accruing greater military and political gains.

19. CIA director William Burns acknowledged that there is a "significant risk" that the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces from Afghanistan could allow al-Qaeda and ISIS to rebuild, but stressed that these groups currently do not have the capacity to attack the U.S. homeland. Ultimately, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani needs to step up and lead. If he fails or is disposed by rivals (like Abdullah Abdullah or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Hezb-i Islami faction), the threat from al-Qaeda and ISIS can re-emerge in Afghanistan.

20. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said:"To say I'm concerned is a vast understatement — this is a reckless and dangerous decision. No one wants a forever war, but I've consistently said any withdrawal must be conditions-based." "Arbitrary deadlines would likely put our troops in danger, jeopardize all the progress we've made, and lead to civil war in Afghanistan — and create a breeding ground for international terrorists."
 
Last edited:

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I would argue that how long does the US have to stay then? 20, 40, 80, 100 years? The Afghans have to sort this out themselves one way or the other. It's one of the few places in the world where foreign interference and intervention doesn't work and ultimately fails. The only person to conquer it was Alexander the Great 2,300 years ago when he took his army on the great walkabout.
 

CheeZe

Active Member
It's one of the few places in the world where foreign interference and intervention doesn't work and ultimately fails. The only person to conquer it was Alexander the Great 2,300 years ago when he took his army on the great walkabout.
I'm pretty certain that the Mongol Empire also conquered Afghanistan since they also pushed into Persia.

Is the situation today one of the Afghans' making or is it one of the Americans'? One could argue that the US needs to stay as long as it takes to clean up the mess they made in the post-9/11 invasion and occupation. Pull out now because it's inconvenient and costly and damn the local consequences? Very reminiscent of Vietnamization.

"As long as the terrorists abroad don't affect America or its allies' homelands, I don't care what happens to the locals." I've heard that statement from many people recently*. It's the same America First nonsense, which is really just "America Only." Either the US is the leading world superpower which consistently honors its responsibilities in that role or acknowledge that it is not going to be a global superpower and reduce its global presence.

This whole "Afghanistan is where empires go to die" mentality is simply one of cost and perhaps brutality. If I remember my history correctly, neither Alexander nor the Mongols were particularly given to "humane" treatment or "hearts and minds" when it came to people who resisted them. Nor were they particularly put off by the deaths of a few tens of thousands. The US can (re)build Afghanistan, but it's just not at a cost, financially or in American lives, which is acceptable.

EDIT: *This from people on both sides of the political aisle.
 

STURM

Well-Known Member
The Afghans have to sort things out by themselves but that’s the issue : the Kabul government will try to stay in power and the Talibs will try to gain power. 20 years after the invasion; after billions spent and thousands of Afghan civilians dead; there is still conflict and the Taliban (for various reasons) have survived all that was thrown at it.

We often hear of how IS and other elements will attempt to fill in the gap left by the withdrawal of U.S. troops; this may be true but given how the Taliban lost power in 2001 because of its involvement with AQ; they won’t major the same mistake again. There is also the fact that the Taliban will not allow any other group to challenge its position; that the Taliban and IS don’t get along and that IS and groups like it may not find the level of local support they need.

In the past the Talibs received local support from people who didn’t necessarily share its ideology but nonetheless supported it because it was a local organisation fighting against a foreign backed Kabul backed by foreign troops on Afghan soil - this will no longer be the case soon.
 
Last edited:

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
The Taliban learn from their mistakes and like @STURM says they will put down any alternate group to them, especially an outside group. If they had given up bin Laden in 2002 they wouldn't be in this mess. Or they could've shunted him across the border to either Iran or Pakistan and discreetly told the Americans where he was.

@CheeZe claim that Afghanistan as the place where empires die mentality being one of cost and brutality, well that's what war is about - inflicting suvh a sufficiently brutal and high enough cost on the enemy that they cease to resist / attack, and go home with their tail between their legs. It's not handbags and tiddlywinks. Alexander, Ghengis, and Kublai Khan were a product of their times and culture. It doesn't do any good judging their times using our own moral values because you end up with false reasoning for their actions or lack thereof.

Yes I wonder if the concept of Vietnamization has ever left the US toolbox because it appears to be in use. If it is, they don't appear to have learned the lessons of the Vietnam War. In fact I would go so far to say that whilst the uniformed military have learnt the lessons, the civilian leadership and pollies quite cheerfully keep repeating the same mistakes as their predecessors.
 

STURM

Well-Known Member
Quite large part of the mess which later became Iraq and Afghanistan was lack of a plan for ''what next''. The expectation or rather delusion was that once freed from their previous governments; both countries would eventually get back on their feet again with minimal need for their liberators to engage in nation building; something disliked [naturally] by the military and policy makers but something which was essential.
 
Last edited:

STURM

Well-Known Member
In the 2002/3 period when the bulk of ordinary Afghans actually welcomed the presence of foreign troops in the hope or belief that it would eventually lead to a better future and when the Talibs were defeated; the U.S. squandered everything by shifting attention to Iraq; by supporting [for its own ends] various warlords and for failing to come up with a long term coordinated military/civilian effort to get the country back on its feet again.

Both excellent reads.

Book review: Losing Small Wars: British military failure in Iraq and Afghanistan By Frank Ledwidge

Farewell Kabul
 

swerve

Super Moderator
I would argue that how long does the US have to stay then? 20, 40, 80, 100 years? The Afghans have to sort this out themselves one way or the other. It's one of the few places in the world where foreign interference and intervention doesn't work and ultimately fails. The only person to conquer it was Alexander the Great 2,300 years ago when he took his army on the great walkabout.
Alexander took it over from the Achaemenid Empire, which had ruled it for a couple of centuries. Persian empires kept conquering it, e.g. the Parthians, who overthrew the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, which was ruled by Alexander's successors, ruled western Afghanistan, & the Sassanians who followed the Parthians conquered all of it.

The Ummayad caliphs conquered it in the 7th & 8th centuries, which is why it's now Muslim. The Seljuqs conquered a big chunk in the late 11th century. The Mongols conquered it in the early 13th century. Timur (Tamerlane) conquered all of it 600 years ago, & his heirs hung on to it for some decades. Nader Shah took most of it in his invasion of India - which had to go through Afghanistan - in the 1730s.
 

CheeZe

Active Member
It doesn't do any good judging their times using our own moral values because you end up with false reasoning for their actions or lack thereof.
So why bother mentioning that "The only person to conquer it was Alexander the Great"? As @swerve and I have pointed out, others have done it. Those who have achieved that feat tend to care less about the human cost. The cost in American lives is obviously considered too high for the US politicians and public to handle. But that doesn't mean Afghanistan is unconquerable.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Start of Final Retrograde Operations from Afghanistan — Part 1

1. It’s good to see that the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to Kabul on 15 Apr 2021 in an unannounced visit after President Biden announced he has decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, ending America's longest conflict. As professionals, Blinken’s team care about optics and told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that Blinken intended to "demonstrate with my visit the ongoing commitment of the United States to the Islamic Republic and the people of Afghanistan." "The partnership is changing, but the partnership is enduring," Blinken said.

2. Ashraf Ghani, when he was:
(a) finance minister, carried out extensive reforms, including issuing a new currency, computerizing treasury operations, instituting a single treasury account, adopting a policy of balanced budgets and using budgets as the central policy instrument, centralizing revenue collection, tariff reform and overhauling customs. He instituted regular reporting to the cabinet, the public and international stakeholders as a tool of transparency and accountability, and required donors to focus their interventions on three sectors, improving accountability with government counterparts and preparing a development strategy that held Afghans more accountable for their own future development. Poverty eradication through wealth creation is the heart of Ghani's development approach; and​
(b) a former World Bank economist developed deep expertise in tackling the problem of failed states. There is no doubt he is well-qualified for the job of reviving the economy. But the biggest obstacles for him is corruption and warlordism in Afghanistan.​

3. Past pullouts, such as the 2013–2014 withdrawal of US Marines from Helmand Province, were a lengthy and deliberate process run by units like R4OG, the Redeployment and Retrograde in Support of Reset and Reconstitution Operations Group. Thousands of principal end items (vehicles, weapons, and other significant gear) were pulled back to major bases, cleaned, inventoried, and either shipped back to the US or destroyed. The transition to Afghan lead for security started in 2011 and was completed in December 2014, when the ISAF operation ended and the Afghans assumed full responsibility for security of their country. In Jan 2015, NATO launched the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces and institutions. At the July 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, the American allies and their operational partners committed to sustain RSM until conditions indicate a change is appropriate; to extend financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces through 2024; and to make further progress on developing a political and practical partnership with Afghanistan.

4. Blinken arrived in the Afghan capital as NATO announced it would follow the U.S. lead and withdraw its roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan within a few months. "After years of saying that we would leave militarily, at some point, that time has come," Blinken said at a news conference at the US Embassy in Kabul.

5. In Afghanistan, the process is further complicated by its geographic constraints — namely that the nearest ports are in Pakistan or Iran. By changing the withdrawal date from May to Sep 2021, the Pentagon avoids pulling transportation and logistical resources away from other missions around the world. Instead of abandoning a bunch of perfectly good equipment in Afghanistan, some of these can be handed over in an orderly manner to the ANSF. This avoids leaving allied and partner forces in Afghanistan twisting in the wind. As Blinken said, "but even when our troops come home, our partnership with Afghanistan will continue, our security partnership will endure."
 
Last edited:

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Start of Final Retrograde Operations from Afghanistan — Part 2

6. This planned NATO and US withdrawal is not a chaotic Saigon scenario, and the insurgents will probably do everything short of escorting US troops to their terminal. The latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, by John Sopko’s team noted that in the last quarter, even the most elite Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) strike teams conducted 96% of their ground operations independently — nearly quintuple the rate of a year ago — a result of both COVID restrictions on US troops and the US–Taliban deal. Outside of these units, the vast majority of Afghan soldiers and policemen have been operating unpartnered for nearly a decade.

7. What ANSF will miss the most from an American withdrawal is not just air strikes but ISR and logistics in contested areas. A certain amount of equipment would have to be given to Afghan forces or destroyed. Helicopters could be flown out, and any sensitive intelligence or surveillance systems would be retrograded or destroyed. The remaining US bases, around 10 in number, would have to be hastily transferred to ANSF units. Without sufficient engineering work to make their defence more manageable for the ANSF, some might be abandoned or lost to the Taliban. By changing the withdrawal date from May to Sep 2021, the Pentagon avoids the loss of these bases to the Taliban.

8. While the US has recent experience withdrawing quickly from Iraq in 2011, in that case it was able to drive and haul the last of its people and equipment over land to bases in Kuwait, where it had the luxury of secure facilities to process the last of the items being withdrawn. In the case of Afghanistan, the US will not be able to drive the last of its people and gear into a neighboring country. Drawing on the hard lessons from President Barack Obama’s decision a decade ago to withdraw American troops from Iraq — allowing the rise of the Islamic State 3 years later — the Pentagon is discussing where to reposition air power in support of ANSF missions, possibly to neighboring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to US officials. But there are risks. There is a small risk of Afghan commandos (who have been providing the bulk of intelligence on insurgent threats), disintegrating within 2 to 4 years, after the US withdraws.

9. The Taliban label both Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah as "American puppets", the same term they used for Hamid Karzai. It seems that the Taliban are still more intent on fighting than talking. IMHO, what matters is the ground truth but there is almost no Western media reporting on the ground truth about feelings of the ANSF troops in those last 10 to 12 American and NATO bases they are taking over by Sep 2021, as there is a lack of interest on what really happens in Afghanistan.

10. Biden entered the job with more foreign policy experience than any of his recent predecessors, and White House officials described him as convinced the war in Afghanistan was diverting resources and attention that were better spent elsewhere, be it improving conditions in the US or trying to catch up to China two goals he believes are inherently intertwined. "We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021," he said from the Treaty Room

11. For those of us living in the Indo-Pacific, we are glad to see adults back in charge in the White House — where a decision is made (to refocus American resources) but made in an orderly manner that reaffirms US relations with NATO and in a manner that does not leave the ANSF twisting in the wind.

12. If Russia amounts to a diminished former Cold War adversary whose disruption of cyber networks has proved deeply destabilizing, another country — China — represents a rising power whose economy and military could overtake the US in the coming decades. While there is risk in this withdrawal from Afghanistan, the risk of not making a decision, is also not an option available for the Americans.
 
Last edited:
Top