Friday, May 24, 2013

Enough With NATO

In my last post I tossed out the question of "will Afghanistan be the end of NATO?" What I have to remind myself, and you the reader, is that my opinion is based on the very limited experience of 7 months in Afghanistan and no other experience with NATO operations such as Bosnia or Kosovo.

However, from what I can see here and now in Afghanistan, NATO is a completely useless organization. Many of the nations participating have a limited number of troops here and the few that do have a significant amount refuse or are unable (due to government restrictions) to conduct combat operations. My biggest gripes are with RC-W (Spanish and Italiens) and RC-N (Germans). I fully understand that much of counter-insurgency is protecting the population and using a little force as possible, but when insurgents are actively over running a district or are overwhelming an Afghan Army outpost, sitting on your hands is not the best option. Get outside the wire and go kill something damnit. RCs West and North seem perfectly ok with letting things fall apart around them as long as none of their soldiers get hurt.

There are some nations that are not afraid to get their hands dirty and appear to be carrying the weight of the ISAF/NATO mission. The British have no issues going out and cracking some skulls, as long as it's obviously legal...they are pretty hung up on legalities, they're essentially ISAF's conscious. The Aussies and Kiwis are excellent to work with as are the Canadians. The Poles and Georgians are up for pretty much anything. The Hungarians, Czechs, and Lithuanians are also helpful, but have limited numbers. The French would be great partners if they didn't always leave too soon. Same with the Dutch and the Danes, who also never seem to have enough manpower.

If I were Supreme Ruler I would dismantle NATO and form a new alliance for these pesky counter-insurgencies. US, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Poland, and Georgia can bring the most personnel to the fight and stay for the long haul. France, Denmark, and The Netherlands provide troops at the beginning when more outside support is needed and local forces aren't capable yet and then can run back home. Hungary, Czech Republic, and Lithuania provide the reserve.

And we keep the Mongols on standby in case shit really hits the fan.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Graveyard of Emprires? Not So Much

Afghanistan has the nickname "Graveyard of Empires" because of some silly notion that no conquering state can seem to control the place. However, if you actually look closely at history other than the British getting trounced a couple of times and the Soviet Union collapsing a few short years after leaving the country, Afghanistan has actually been the "highway of conquest" for many civilizations who were quite capable of conquering and controlling the region now known as Afghanistan, at least until 1842 or so.

Darius I and his Persians controlled the region until the upstart Alexander showed up and took it. Alexander's successors then held Afghanistan for 200 years. There was some back and forth control for awhile between various Indo-Greek nations until the Sassanids/Persians claimed the territory. Those pesky Mongols eventually showed up and had very little to no trouble until Tamerlane arrived. The Timur Empire would eventually move its capital from Samarkand to Herat. Doesn't exactly appear that Afghanistan is the graveyard for any empire.

But what about those Brits? They never actually wanted to absorb Afghanistan into the Empire. Afghanistan was a buffer state between British India and Imperial Russia. London only sent troops into Afghanistan in order to ensure the king in Kabul remained "pro-England" and did not become "pro-Russia". Yeah, I'm simplifying things a bit.

The Soviet Union? They were probably winning against the Mujahideen in Afghanistan up until 1984 or so when the US decided to arm the insurgents with Stinger missiles. Did Russia try and fail in Afghanistan? Yes, of course. But there were numerous factors at play.

Which brings me to now. I just completed reading Ahmed Rashid's Taliban (add that to the long list of books I should have read a long time ago) which describes the Taliban's rise and impact in Afghanistan. It's pretty obvious that the West, and specifically the US, bungled Afghanistan after the Soviets left, mostly because the West chose to ignore Afghanistan and let Pakistan handle things. It continued to be ignored even after 9/11 and the US invasion, mostly because the US focused its attention on Iraq. The challenges ISAF is facing here in Afghanistan can be traced back to the complete lack of security forces and troops from 2002 until about 2008/2009 which allowed for the Taliban to regroup and re-arm. Keeping our head in the sand about Pakistan didn't help either. Don't even get me started on Pakistan.

All of this got me thinking last night, which in itself is always dangerous and makes my head hurt. One question popped into my brain that I will attempt to tackle in my next post and kind of goes against my entire thought process above...

Is Afghanistan the graveyard of NATO?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Damnit Special Forces, Help A Brother Out

This should be easy, apparently it is not

The past week or so has been full of ups and downs. Here's a general run down of how things are going from the perspective of my little corner of the universe:

- LA Kings win. Yaaaaaah!

- I get sick. Booooo (It's either malaria or a bad head cold, I can't tell...)

- I got promoted! Double yaaaaaaaaah!

- Special Forces won't action (kill) the target I want them to. Booo

- Special Forces will action my target because I got someone to ask nice like. Yeeaaahh!!!

- Kings win their playoff series! HEAD EXPLODE YEEAAAAAAAH!!!

- Special Forces giving excuses for not actioning target. WTF boo.

Without going into too much detail, ISAF Joint Command does not have an action arm. We're a headquarters, not a battle space owner. The assets we have are tasked down to other organizations. The organization we typically use to action an operational level target is the special forces guys. It's not usually a problem.

For some reason we're getting a weird push back from the SF guys for a particular target we are trying to eliminate. 3 weeks ago they were all about giving this target a hellfire present but all of a sudden they are saying IJC should use it's own action arm to target the guy. Umm, what?

It's a real odd feeling for me to be pushing this much to try to get someone killed. I feel like my karma is going to be all fucked up for it. Ugh, enough of this frustration; here's a picture of a kitten to make me feel better:

This little guy would kill my target for me...kill him with cuteness!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Iraq The Unraveling

Is Iraq nearing some kind of collapse? My professional crush Emma Sky seems to thinks so.

Bodyguards of ministers being arrested; large and widespread protests by Sunnis; military moves around disputed Kirkuk; and media organizations, including Al Jazeera, being banned. This isn't your standard crap going on in Iraq. It's a series of events likely caused by a escalating problem.

My favorite quote: "We may be witnessing the breakdown of the post-WWI settlement and the nation-states established under the Sykes-Picot agreement."

That seems unlikely, but Ms Sky is far more intelligent than I am and understands the region much better than I. So two questions from me:

1. What does Iraq look like in 5 years? Shia dictatorship, autonomous regions, or something else?

2. Will the US do anything to try to keep Iraq stable and united or will we just sit back and watch it all unravel? This situation is essentially due to our little "intervention" afterall.