Sunday, July 19, 2009


Stumbled upon an interesting article by Michael Yon. Kind of nice to see that someone who knows what he's talking about has reached many of the same conclusions about this place that I have. It's tough to avoid the conclusion that we're being taken over here. Taken for everything we can provide, while we can provide it because developing this place is simply a herculean task. If anyone's doing a cost-benefit analysis of what's going on, I find it hard to believe they'd find this endeavor worth it at this point, though as an American I have full confidence that we can achieve anything given enough time. Frankly, I view a lot of what we're doing as enabling. And if there's anything an Afghan is especially good at, it's letting another person do his work for him and clean up his mess should such a person prove so willing. Our being here enables the local forces (the ANA, Afghan National Police) to sit back and let us do most of the fighting.

I'm not saying the ANA don't know how to fight, because I know from experience when the times get tough they are more than capable of turning it on and getting down to business. But since I've been over here I've seen the US forces in the area take a good number of casualties and KIAs. And I've yet to see the ANA lose a single soldier. Part of this is because the people we're fighting against sometimes don't target the ANA because they're fellow Muslims, but it's mostly because the ANA don't really get out there and do the kind of operations that would put them in danger...and would have more of an effect on the enemy. They like to sit back and let the US Army handle those missions. At this point in the war, the ANA should be doing the bulk of the fighting while the Americans sit back and provide fire support, medical support, and logistical help. But that's far from how it is. Allowing our absence to be felt might give the ANA the impetus to put up...or get overrun.

I will say this: the optimism, can-do attitude, perseverance, and industriousness of the Americans over here makes me very proud to be a part of what we're doing. Since I can't see our efforts magically producing those qualities in the average Afghan citizen, I foresee more of the same difficulties.


Little Bill said...

Is it better to give a man a fish or teach him to fish?

It seems we have done both very well. The saying doesn't mention fishing for him.

We back home agree. Thanks

matt said...

you're in our thoughts back home. It's a tough, crummy mission, but perhaps one of these days The Afghani's will realize they are a country and not a bunch of tribes.

Everything I've heard about our troops has been outstanding. You make us proud.

My guys, 3/509 (ABN), lost two of theirs on July 4th. I tried to do what I could for the families and their buddies. LUN



Anonymous said...


Thank you for your service to our country---we know you bec of the nice note Brandon wrote us after we sent you the packages and the cigars....we think of you often and know things are tough---just know that we care, support you and you should be proud for what you are doing---

Graeme and Lee

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/21/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

anna sue said...

The citizens of this nation, for the most part, are such generous people. I sometimes fear that we don't realize that our work ethic and uniqueness as a free country is so very unusual in this world. When that freedom is taken away, we, too, will accept that enabling, I'm afraid. We already do in some of these socialist programs on this administration's agenda. I applaud for seeing how that kind of enabling will only cripple a nation. Semper fi.

Anonymous said...

Great shot of this guy! Is it you? He seems to be on bended knee. God bless all of you there serving our country, and God bless the Afghan people who want to live free of The Taliban.

SA said...

No, that pic is not of me. It's of an US Army lieutenant who came along for the ride. Good thing he was with us too...not too many other people could have carried a 25-pound machine gun up that hill in addition to his other gear after the donkey quit....

Anand said...

Thanks for your service. I assume you are mentoring a unit from 203rd ANA Corp.

My view is that the 203rd ANA Corps should be given their own battle space to be governed on their own (even if the battlespace are starts out as small.) A US brigade should be super embedded into the ANA 203, and under the command and control of the top advisor for the 203 ANA commanding general. Fight through the ANA and their chain of command.

The 203rd Corp is the best in the ANA. They are as ready for taking battlespace now (as light infantry) as they will ever be.

The current confused state of ANA and ISAF/OEF sharing the same battle space seems to have contributed to the impasse you discuss.

On another note, have you observed some ANA battalions that are better than the one you mentor?

SA said...


Interesting idea to embed a full US battalion or larger size element into a larger ANA unit like a Corps. I'm in agreement that sooner is better as far as giving the ANA their own battlespace. If we keep taking the lead everywhere, they'll never take the steps they need to take to become self-sufficient and competent. We keep enabling them to half-ass it by owning the battlespace and picking up their slack everywhere.

Can't say I've really seen any other units other than our Kandak (battalion). We're a part of the 201st Corps actually so I can't speak to the 203rd.

Anand said...

K, could I ask you what province you are in without getting you in trouble with the OPSEC Gods? Maybe not. Would like to touch base via e-mail.

I assume that you saw the former 201st Corps Advisor Marine Corps Col. Jeffrey M. Haynesblogger briefing from Dec 9, 2009?

Any thoughts on what he said? He argued that the ANA was capable of assuming more battle space and doing much more, but was being held back by ISAF. He also said that "Provincial reconstruction teams should migrate under the control of the ANA, along with battlespace." I agreed with most of his points.

My view is that one ISAF advisory brigade should super embed with each of the 5 ANA Corps and 111th Kabul Division HQs (6 total.) A division HQs should embed with the ANA operational Army HQs.

Similarly, one division HQs should super embed with the MoI operational HQs.
-1 advisory brigade should super embed with the ANCOP, its four regional brigades, and its 20 combat battalions.
-1 advisory bde should super embed with Helmand provincial ANP (since Helmand accounts for close to half of all Afghan violence.)
-2 advisory bns should super embed with Kandahar provincial IP
-1 advisory bn should super embed with provincial ANP in every other important Afghan province, including Kunar and Kabul.
-some safer provinces could be jointly covered by a single advisory bn.

A similar model was used to some degree with ISF. In some cases, very successfully.

I think that battlespace should be transitioned to the ANP and ANA where possible (not in Helmand and Kandahar, since the ANSF are not ready.) PRTs and economic development should also be transitioned to ANA and ANP and their advisers.

Given Afghan respect for rank, I think each ANA Corp will need a Major General for an adviser, who will have tactical control over the advisory bde. Similarly, each ANA bde will need a Colonel for an adviser, who will have tactical control over his advisory battalion.

I think this is a good way to rush the transfer of battle space and responsibility to the ANSF and GIRoA.

SA said...


Thanks for sending those links. I'm going to go ahead and post my email address on the site so you can contact me there if you'd like. Interesting comments by Col Haynes. As my posts have indicated, I'm in agreement with Col Haynes that we need to start turning areas over to the ANA faster. I just don't see them improving much without the challenge of owning the battlespace. Certainly, they'd need to start small and have plenty of manpower for the area they'd be in, but they can handle much more than we give them credit for.

I'd like to be able to comment intelligently on the super-embedded brigade concept, but this is really something well beyond my experience level at this time.

Anand said...

K, from page 24, in:

The ANA is losing more casualties than the OEF/ISAF. The ANP is suffering several times as many casualties as the ANA. Why do you think this is?

My impression is that the ANP suffer high casualties because they are less able to defend themselves. For example, advised ANP anecdotally seem to suffer fewer casualties than unadvised ANP.

What do you think accounts for high ANA casualties? Could it be that other ANA units have more initiative? Could it be that the ANA suffer greater casualties when they are attacked than OEF/ISAF because they are not as good quality. Could it be for some other reason?