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 Post subject: Winning the war – Parts I-XI
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 6:03 pm 
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A long series of posts accessible via an index piece linked at the bottom of this entry.

This "agenda setting" series starts with the fortnight in early June, which had been an unhappy one for British forces in Afghanistan. Deaths reached 106 since the start of military operations in November 2001, with ten killed in the last ten days, including the first woman soldier.

Add to that the daring jailbreak in Kandahar, freeing hundreds of Taleban prisoners, and the open insolence of the insurgents who seized a number of villages in the fertile Arghandab valley, a mere 12 miles northwest of Kandahar, and a picture of gloom descends upon this troubled country. The prevailing image is of a floundering Afghan government struggling to convince the population that they have a grip on security.

We then explore what is needed to turn the situation round and win the "war".

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I & II
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:02 pm 

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Hrrumph, this won't do, it's far too intelligent.
The surge worked in Iraq because the US got the economy on the ground going, I'd say this is an important attempt to take that thinking across to a very different, primitive economy.
This requires serious thought, especially since it crosses so many disciplines.
With no infra-structure heroin is the highest value/volume export, so what other crops that like that environment can be distilled in a similar way?
What price are the farmers getting for opium and could western drug companies outbid the taleban?
Do villages need teams of SAS 'Seven Samurai' to defend against the taleban return?



Well DEFRA and the MoD practised co-operation on foot and mouth, let's see how they do on poppies.

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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I & II
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:30 pm 

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Interesting, from the Telegraph article, the army can only hold prisoners for three (?) days, if they pick them up without a gun in their hands.

As I've said before, the first thing is to deny the other side (and I don't think Taliban is a good term for them, tribesmen works for me) any sort of victory, in order to make the game not worth the candle. They won't keep their less-determined foot-soldiers without some encouragment in the form of military success. You can't worry them by inflicting casualties, but you surely can discourage them when they endure the marching, the cold, the danger, in order to fail to hurt our side. And that means no losses of vehicles or helos on routine patrols or missions. And no platoons hung out to dry in exposed positions. And possibly no gung-ho units or bosses trying to make a name for themselves.

Could we establish and publicise a few free-fire zones for air and arty on their supply/smuggling routes? Then we don't have to check there's a gun in their hands before killing them. This is what the Met do on the london tube (except for the publicising bit, and the air/arty), it can't be too illegal/illiberal for Afghanistan, can it?


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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I & II
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:51 pm 
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Mosquito wrote:
Could we establish and publicise a few free-fire zones for air and arty on their supply/smuggling routes? Then we don't have to check there's a gun in their hands before killing them. This is what the Met do on the london tube (except for the publicising bit, and the air/arty), it can't be too illegal/illiberal for Afghanistan, can it?


This is where I'm begining to depart from the orthodoxy, coming to the conclusion that we should not be fighting a war, as such, but winning the peace. What I am exploring is a view that the lead should be taken by the civilian agencies, with the Army equipped and structured to support those agencies ... not the other way around. Much more thinking (and writing) to do but, I suspect, the idea of free-fire zones, etc., is not going to be terribly helpful.

SandyRham wrote:
Do villages need teams of SAS 'Seven Samurai' to defend against the taleban return?


Yes ... this seems to me the important issue - strategies (and tactics) designed to protect and support economic activity, first and foremost - doing what is necessary to achieve that end, rather than prioritising on "winning" the unwinnable shooting war.

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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:06 pm 

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The FFZs are half of the two-part military approach--lose no men, and engage the enemy in a way that has the maximum effect on his morale, 'death from above'. I don't think we can proceed directly to the nation-making bit without consideration of the military problem, the other side will engage the nation-builders when we can't protest them, the way the IRA used to shoot brickies etc who worked for the Brits. The way the other side right now can shut down schools and such as soon as the army is gone, and deny the uncommitted population (if there are any) any fraternisation with the occupying power (which is what we ARE).

In the end, if this is to work, only the Afghan civil power can fix the country. The trouble is that police/army recruited in the North might as well be foreign invaders, as far as the southern tribes are concerned. Maybe worse. Anyhow, if we are not prepared to impose a nation on them and to eliminate all behaviour we don't like, such as drug cultivation and fundamentalism, we might as well quit now as later.


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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:45 pm 

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With such primitive infrastructure a full-blown western 'nation' may well be a step too far. Michael Yon strongly hints that Iraq worked because local commanders worked to build structures from the ground up, ignoring the existing corrupt politics. A crucial point was when the insurgent could no longer lose the weapon and become a civilian, because the civilians would point them out.
All farners want to work their fields and know their wife can go to market safely, and they'll support any system that guarantees that.
One almost wonders if the Saxon structures of the Doomsday book might apply.

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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:24 am 

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I've been mulling this over and it seems something these lines might work:

1. Aside from garrisons in population centers, place bases at key corridors of trade and human traffic, forcing the insurgents to take more difficult routes, hobbling mobility, stretching their supply lines, and making attacks that much ore difficult.

2. Combine with forward operating bases, to create a presence among the population and allow for quicker responses to terrorist strikes.

3. Quit trying to deal with the Afghans in a Western legal paradigm. They have their own customs and laws. Begin forging alliances with local tribes with in the ancient Middle Eastern patron/client paradigm. With a sufficient number of alliances in place, you can gather a majority of them together to forge an intra-provincial pact, which can then serve as the basis for some basic law and order, even incorporating a basic constitutionalism, something akin to the Magna Carta.

4. Quit using prisons. They take up precious resources and as we've seen so recently, there is always the risk of a jail break. Instead, punishments should either be executions, after a trial, best conducted by tribal authorities, or corporal punishment for lesser crimes, which have a prominent element of public humiliation and work with in the honor/shame structure of Middle Eastern societies.

5. Carrot and stick: Harsh punishment for corruption and reward for honesty. Those who do well should be recognized and those display good faith actions, on their own initiative, should be more closely trusted.

7. The "Rhodesian option" should be adapted to integrate allied tribes. Small teams can be used to track and eliminate insurgents, but they should also be used to train tribal militias, who can then defend themselves. If they prove loyal, begin appropriating insurgent weapons and ammunition for tribal use.

6. Give grants and tax breaks to any firms willing to come in and develop infrastructure, with the requirement that they use local materials and labor, where possible.

So, at a high level, a lot of what should be happening is the building of a parallel political structure, but using the ancient and relatively uncorrupted tribal system as a foundation, whilst the structure built upon it can then begin channeling those traditions into a basic rule-of-law framework.

Eliminating corruption and utilizing the local market in economic development are vital and should occur BEFORE any infrastructure development. The reason the most of the developing world stays underdeveloped is corruption, which siphons money away from the common people, preventing them from buying, saving, and investing. It also prevents a stable rule-of-law society in which a healthy market can exist. Aid organizations and foreign aid money only exacerbate this problem, by lining the pockets of those in power. Africa is an all too tragic example, but it can also show us the correct way foreign aid should be rendered, in a more commercial fashion.

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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:14 am 

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Hmm, the lessons of history again.
I wonder if our own Calliope (near enough muse of history PDT_Armataz_01_29 ) would be kind enough to suggest then when and where that we should be looking?

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 Post subject: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:34 am 
Richard's article rightly emphasizes that there is more to winning wars than just
shooting more often & more effectively. However, 2 recent articles from the
Strategy Page website emphasize the severe shortages that Britain is facing with
helicopters. Frankly we have far too few choppers in Afghanistan - a viewpoint
that is constantly expressed by soldiers serving there.

But one of the main reasons for that is that, anyway, we have far too few
choppers in inventory, period. As far as I am aware, we have only acquired 10
new helicopters since the Iraq war broke out in early 2003. Four of these are
A109s that ministers & the top brass can zip around Britain & Europe in - but are
not available for use in the M/East. The other 6 are the 6 ex-Danish Merlins.
Frankly, the 8 initially non-operational Chinooks don't count as we had them
already - but weren't using them, because we couldn't make them work
properly, because of a botched procurement specifications process.

This tiny number of new choppers - ie 10 in 5 years despite fighting 2 tough
wars in Iraq & Afganistan - is despite the fact that most of the Chinooks, & all
the Pumas & Sea Kings are aging, & the near-clapped out Lynxes can only
operate safely in Afghanistan at night-time - because of the thinness of the air
there!

Surely this is reason enough for more helicopter orders, for more Chinooks,
which can carry up to 54 soldiers (many more than Pumas, Sea Kings, & Lynxes
can), plus sufficient number of smallish (perhaps Lynx-size)
communications/casevac etc choppers that are "hot-&-high" capable - & are
sturdy & cheapish to operate.

However, the 2 Strategy Page articles draw attention to another problem, which
only makes the insufficient overall numbers of helicopters in Afgahnistan even
more disturbing. The hot & dusty conditions there are causing many choppers to
be sidelined, & some cannibalized, for parts - because of a general spare parts
shortage. Despite this, no emergency extra orders for spare helicopter parts
appear to have been made, nor extra orders made for Apache helicopters which,
according to the Strategy Page articles, are facing chronic problems of non-
availability due to the hot & dusty conditions in Afganistan. See:

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlog/ ... 80131.aspx
&
http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlog/ ... 80310.aspx

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 Post subject: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:01 am 
The 'defense-aerospace' website reports that the much criticised (& deservedly so) MoD has approved 3.5billion UK pounds worth of UOR expenditure since operations in Iraq & Afghanistan began in 2003 & 2006 respectively. This includes money for MRAPs, grenade machine guns & underslung grenade launchers (though we should have had these long ago!), & long-range sniper rifles etc.

All well & good, but as our soldiers there keep sayingthere are too few helicopters in theatre, & as it now emerges, not nearly enough spare parts to keep the choppers that are actually there, operational either!

See:
http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bi ... ele=jdc_34

Agincourt


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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:31 am 
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You really need to ask why the six ex-Danish Merlins - bought to augment the fleet in Afghanistan - are not now going to be deployed in that theatre, despite the expenditure of £200 million. You also need to ask who is blocking the acquisition of Mi-17s, which are immediately available.

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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:38 am 

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Ok, so I'm asking...?
Or is this in the nature of an 'exercise for the reader' ??

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 Post subject: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:29 pm 
Rightly we should be thinking hard about how to win current wars - especially
the one in Afghanistan. But future wars can be lost if we fail to prepare for
them now. This especially applies to wars at sea, bearing in mind how long it
takes both to construct ships, & also to build up a well-balanced fleet.

The MoD's recent news about their cancellation of their plan to build 2 more Type 45 large destroyers, originally planned to be in addition to the 6 currently under construction, is deeply disturbing, bearing in mind that the Type 45 Air/Defence destroyer programme originnaly envisaged 12 Type 45s. These ships are intended to escort, among other things, Britain's planned 2 new large a/carriers. But because of this latest cancellation, there is a gap in capacity that needs to be filled, because in addition to the 2 near-super carriers of 65,000 tons each, there are also the LPH Ocean & (currently at least) the A/S & assault helicopter-capable RFA Argus to escort, as well as RFA tankers & landing ships, & numerous merchant vessels etc.

How could the A/D deficit be filled, assuming money could be found? Well, the US-designed Arleigh Burke A/D destroyers carry more & longer-range missiles than the British-designed Type 45s, & are about 100 million UK pounds cheaper!

For more information, see the 'defense-aerospace' website's article:
http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bi ... ele=jdc_34

Agincourt


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 Post subject: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:37 pm 
RAENORTH wrote:
You really need to ask why the six ex-Danish Merlins - bought to augment the fleet in Afghanistan - are not now going to be deployed in that theatre, despite the expenditure of £200 million. You also need to ask who is blocking the acquisition of Mi-17s, which are immediately available.


Dear me, it gets worse every minute! But why did Britain buy back the Danish Merlins if they were no good for Afghanistan, when the same money could have bought about 10 or so Chinooks?

Incidently, thanks for the quick response, but isn't there a major after-sales problem with Russian kit?

Agincourt


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 Post subject: Re: Winning the war – Parts I - III
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2005 11:11 am
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Quote:
but isn't there a major after-sales problem with Russian kit?

You could buy the factory for the cost of a Merlin maintenance contract.

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