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Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
4/14/2021 11:53:24 PM
The US has announced it will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 11/09/2021 (I know that fouls US dating protocols, but I use the two alternate formats – DD.MM.YYYY or YYYY.MM.DD – as being more broadly accepted). This will end almost but not quite 20 years of US troops on the ground, without considering the 10 years+ in the 1970-80s decade, when they were supplying Afghani irregulars with sophisticated weaponry to use against the Soviets. Lost (at least to me) in Mr Biden’s announcement was exactly how this affects any NATO or other coalition troops who might be in place.

Are we now at a point where we can assess both the aims of the western incursion, if they can be determined, and whether our military tactics, strategies or decisions were ever effective?

I will admit that I have never felt comfortable in supporting without question the Afghan War. The Iraqi War (Desert Storm II) I was comfortable in rejecting: I thought then and continue to think it was a bogus war waged for bogus reasons. Amongst other issues, I remains bothered by:
• The US definition of who their troops would fight. It led, IMHO, to violations not just in Kabul and Afghanistan but across much of Europe. It led to the continuing outrage of Guantanamo, of course, but also to the plethory of “black sites” where US intelligence could make people disappear. All because of a one-sided, meaningless definition of who was a legitimate enemy and how he must be treated.
• The initial lack of co-ordination between NATO troops that led to the deaths by friendly fire of troops from allied nations.
• The shift of focus about war ends, which led to allied troops (I know this happened to Canadian troops) attacking Afghanis rather than protecting them or trying to work with them.

All that aside, what I’m trying to raise is whether the West’s latest 20 years messing with a nation that continues to survive accomplished anything. Did the assault diminish Al Qaeda? Were the caves of Afghanistan vital to Al Qaeda’s message? Were the Taliban allies of Al Qaeda in 2001, or did they grow more anti-western because of western conduct?

Like most westerners, I continue to have difficulty accepting huge portions of what seems to be Taliban practice. Their treatment of females is a start, whether talking about education, social cohesion or sexual freedom. The destruction of the ancient Buddhist statues – long before Al Qaeda – is another. But I also sensed that the Taliban became targets beyond any potentially legitimate attack on Al Qaeda. I think, perhaps, that much of the effort in Afghanistan became misdirected, because the initial goal was so poorly defined and established.

Going out on a limb, I would suggest that the western incursion into Afghanistan was a bust. As was the Soviet incursion of the 1980s. Or the British incursions of prior centuries, for that matter. But I think the successes and failures of this 20-year war is perhaps now open to discuss. Was it a success or not?

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5271
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
4/15/2021 3:51:25 AM
Brian,

You won’t think me cynical or irreverent, I hope, if I opine that seeking vindication for the outcome of this enterprise is a bit like polishing a turd.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 802
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
4/15/2021 9:38:56 AM
Brian & Phil,

It seems to me that the successful invasion of what is now Afghanistan was by Alexander the Great; even an egotist such as him had the sense to achieve his limited goals (tribute and safe passage for his army) and move on. The Coalition forces went in with an apparent specific objective to remove the visible bases of Al Qaeda and remove what supports the Taliban were offering. That was achieved quite quickly; the Al Qaeda cells moved into the mountains to fight a war of attrition with their backs to the wall (literally). Pockets survive but surely offer no direct threat to the West.

However, attention turned to the Taliban, who were more willing to fight it out and the prolonged conflict and failure to get Bin Laden early on has created the conditions whereby a cause has been made that radical Islamists around the world can rally to. From Yemen to the streets of cities in Europe, the terrorist threat exists (IMO) in a greater form than it did prior to 9/11.

In military terms, the Coalition hasn't been defeated, but neither has the Taliban, who act with impunity and have coerced the population into tacit support for fear of reprisals. My prediction is that Western forces will leave very soon, with few casualties on the way out. The Taliban will then sweep away whatever government has been set up. It will be a return to the status quo of the late 1990s, and the tens of thousands of deaths will have been for nothing.

Cheers,

Colin
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"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 2924
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
4/15/2021 5:33:02 PM
1,100 german Bundeswehr troops will be returning home as well.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
4/15/2021 9:02:50 PM
Canadian forces left in 2014. 158 dead. I want to believe that these men and one woman died for a noble purpose but I am not sure. They did as their country asked them to do.

George
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6748
Joined: 2006
Afghanistan – the long war
4/15/2021 9:40:05 PM
Good post Brian,

Getting involved in Afghanistan is almost as bad as Vietnam!?

What say you?
MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5271
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
4/16/2021 2:20:38 AM
Quote:
and the tens of thousands of deaths will have been for nothing.

Cheers,

Colin


An awful thought , Colin !

And will it be just “ tens” of thousands ?

We’re in the realm of scores, or even hundreds of thousands , I fear.

And how many more to come ?

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 2924
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
4/17/2021 2:50:03 PM
Quote:
Canadian forces left in 2014. 158 dead. I want to believe that these men and one woman died for a noble purpose but I am not sure. They did as their country asked them to do.

George


59 german troops dead as well as police officier volunteers killed while training the Afghan police force. They were a particular target for the Taliban. As were Afghani police trainees.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
4/17/2021 6:14:36 PM
The window to succeed in Afghanistan closed in 2004 or so when it was decided to focus attention and resources on pacifying the entire country rather than begin with the areas that were actually under control and ready to be developed. After that it has been a steady march towards the inevitable.

Once again a failure to understand the country and history. Taliban always knew they just had to wait it out.

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 2924
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
4/28/2021 6:10:44 PM
Just released. 30 german police will be returning home at the end of May. The last of hundreds who over the years volunteered to train Afghani police forces.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 995
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
5/28/2021 11:35:07 AM
Hello MD:

I tend to so no to your question, was getting involved in Afghanistan as bad as Vietnam. As previously mentioned in another post in this thread, US forces knocked out and pushed into the hills the al Qaeda terrorists rendering them nothing more than hill fighters, that was a success. The attacks also hurt the Taliban and those who directly supported aQ, a small success. But, that is where the success ends, again mentioned in the same post within this thread.

IMO, the difference between the two, initially, valid targets. Afghanistan, aQ. Vietnam, the spread of Communism. Ideology is a rather daunting aspect to eliminate, look at the Neo-Nazi's idolizing Hitler, who in there right mind would do that, yet, people do.

Yet, here we are all these years later and for what? After the initial success, it appears the two wars are similar in their net results, long-term.
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"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 644
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
6/30/2021 9:36:10 PM
The Taliban are literally picking up tones of arms, munitions and communications equipment (some of it the latest tech) as ANA units fold and go home. Not to mention vehicles and light armored cars.

Should make the transition very interesting in the coming months.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
6/30/2021 11:58:31 PM
Wazza, is there any ulterior/hidden significance in abandoning without destroying equipment? I have to assume that not all abandoned equipment falls into the hands of the Taliban, and that many local or regional warlords will be snuffling up as much abandoned material as they can as well.

How are we meant to view our “incursion” into Afghanistan? I guess we set up a puppet regime in Kabul, just as the Soviets did. I guess we managed to kill a lot of Afghanis we then declared to be Taliban and/or a/Q fighters. I guess we did a job on traditional poppy farmers, though I sense that collateral success. I guess we made sufficient promises that the women of Afghanistan had a brief hope of being seen as human. That, of course, is now but a bitter memory.

I note in the papers today that the Pakistani President has stated that his nation will not become a staging ground for US interference in Afghanistan in the future. Yada yada: money will talk there. I worry about those Afghanis who were promised protection and potential citizenship for their language and guidance services, because in past incursions those promises have not been fulfilled.

Ridding the world of Al Qaeda was at best a bogus argument for either the scale of the Afghan incursion or the length of troop presence, IMHO. Ridding the world of the leader of Al Qaeda may have been significant, but the movement itself had been superseded by other Islamic forces such as ISIS.

I’m not, of course, any kind of military strategist. But I sense it is becoming increasingly difficult for the west to walk away from such conflicts simply by saying “Mission Accomplished”.

When you say: Quote:
Should make the transition very interesting in the coming months,
are your thinking of the Chinese curse?

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G




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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 644
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/1/2021 3:28:14 AM
Brian, I assume whoever has the most influence in the particular area gets the weapons.
We are hearing that the Taliban is rapidly moving in and threatening the ANA units. Many ANA back to being ripped off by their leadership in regards to pay etc.

I think a lot of warlords will either side with the Taliban to survive or if they are strong enough work out some sort of arrangement.

Need Kaii's input on this as he would also likely be hearing similar stuff, from a European perspective.

China apparently is already in country so they will be the next nation to face the test of Afghanistan politics and tribal beliefs.
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 644
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/3/2021 8:24:30 PM
There is current footage on the internet of an entire ANA formation handing over their arms and heavy equipment to the Taliban. Quite disappointing to see.
Worth checking out to see how normal it all appears.
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 155
Joined: 2008
Afghanistan – the long war
7/3/2021 10:10:14 PM
Quote:


China apparently is already in country so they will be the next nation to face the test of Afghanistan politics and tribal beliefs.


What is China's goals in Afghanistan?

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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 644
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/4/2021 12:21:06 AM
They want the mineral ore resources.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/4/2021 12:36:04 AM
Wazza, I don’t think I want to see such footage, to be honest.

Am I wrong in believing that US and (was it UN or NATO) allies have slightly different goals? Am I right in thinking they got confused?

Like you, I’d love Kai’s take on this. In the mean time, I think we’re looking at yet another “western” attempt to control a cultural area which has not one interest in adapting western values.

17th, you ask: Quote:
What is China's goals in Afghanistan?

I have to believe that China would like Afghanistan to support the the “silk road/rail” initiative. I assume China’s initial desire has nothing to do with cultural issues at present. China is looking for a stronger economic and cultural corridor than has existed since about the time of Marko Polo.

My guess is that China will have more success dealing with Afghanistan than Britain, the USSR, or the US/NATO forces have been able to work out. But I think Afghani historical values will prove too challenging to Chinese economic commitment. China too will fail, IMHO. But they will probably find their efforts have more impact than the cultural values carried by most western troops thinking they can convert Afghanis to Western values.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 155
Joined: 2008
Afghanistan – the long war
7/11/2021 7:00:11 PM
Quote:


I have to believe that China would like Afghanistan to support the the “silk road/rail” initiative. I assume China’s initial desire has nothing to do with cultural issues at present. China is looking for a stronger economic and cultural corridor than has existed since about the time of Marko Polo.

My guess is that China will have more success dealing with Afghanistan than Britain, the USSR, or the US/NATO forces have been able to work out. But I think Afghani historical values will prove too challenging to Chinese economic commitment. China too will fail, IMHO. But they will probably find their efforts have more impact than the cultural values carried by most western troops thinking they can convert Afghanis to Western values.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G


China may be more successful the less they are involved.

If they sit back and let one side or the other win. Then pay the winning side for what they want. Be that minerals or safe passage.

If the taliban win they will need hard cash. They will not be above selling minerals or safe passage through Afghanistan to the Godless Chinese as long as they keep their values to themselves.
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/11/2021 10:16:17 PM
17th, your comment makes good sense.

China has always been long on patience. At present, it appears the Taliban will resume control of Afghanistan. And as you note, any governing body needs money.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Gunzz
Tampa FL USA
Posts: 2
Joined: 2021
Afghanistan – the long war
7/19/2021 4:45:37 PM
Quote:
Good post Brian,

Getting involved in Afghanistan is almost as bad as Vietnam!?

What say you?
MD



I think it's a little premature to make that comparison. Certainly, coalition casualties are not comparable to the US/ROK/AUS/NZ casualties in Vietnam. If, when we exit, the Taliban take over the whole show and restore their rigid oppression, the end results of both conflicts might be categorized as similarly futile.

We don't know the future. I've been acquainted over these past years--and still am on a daily basis--with a number of Army officers and NCOs, most of them involved in special operations, COIN and FID initiatives, who've shared with me their opinions of our efforts in Afghanistan to leave that country with some measure of military and political stability. It's my view that the Afghan Army and security forces are at least in a better state then the state in which we left the South Vietnamese.

There have been many mistakes in OEF, particularly with regard to mission creep, especially in the years after Tora Bora and the great AQ exodus through South Waziristan. And in trying to understand the subtle and confusing politics of inter-tribal relations. Suffice it to say, US Special Forces in these latest--quieter years--have done a very admirable job preparing the Afghan military and security apparatus for whatever comes next. Knock on wood.

Admittedly, there are many, many similarities with aspects of both conflicts (and with the Iraqi insurgency) and I've had many an interesting discussion about these parallels.
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
7/19/2021 8:40:29 PM
Quote:
Brian, I assume whoever has the most influence in the particular area gets the weapons.
We are hearing that the Taliban is rapidly moving in and threatening the ANA units. Many ANA back to being ripped off by their leadership in regards to pay etc.

I think a lot of warlords will either side with the Taliban to survive or if they are strong enough work out some sort of arrangement.

Need Kaii's input on this as he would also likely be hearing similar stuff, from a European perspective.

China apparently is already in country so they will be the next nation to face the test of Afghanistan politics and tribal beliefs.


There is indeed a great scramble now among the various warlords to position themselves for the future.
The central government will probably collapse within months and the ANA is already collapsing in areas like Faryab, Balkh and Kunduz. I just spoke to a source in Meymaneh yesterday, and he confirmed that the ANA forces are now essentially left with no control of the region.
There are still strong warlords in some of regions that may be able to withstand a Taliban takeover in their areas, Hekthmatyars forces, for instance, took control of the Baharak district a couple of months back when central government forces withdrew and Taliban were advancing. Players like Hektmatyar and Ismail Khan in Herat can still field fairly well equipped forces of several thousand fighters, that can grab and hold land. Mohammed Atta Noor is still a considerable power in the northand good old Dostum is still a hero for the Uzbekh minority and can mobilise forces there.There are also a few relatively new players, like Abdul Ghani Alipoor and Sulfiqar Omid in the central areas, but I would be surprised if we do not see a Taliban government again within 12 months, perhaps less.
Keep an eye also on Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the old Al-Quaeda man and a true survivor in Afghani politics.

Question though, is whether that will be a bad thing or a catastrophic thing for the west. The Afghan Taliban were never anti-western as such and were, and still are to a certain extent, primarily inward looking. They would perhaps even be open to support from the west in fighting off the growing influence of ISIS in Afghanistan. The new generation of Taliban fighters are, whilst still religious, also more practical, and most of all, more aware of the world outside Afghanistan than their parents that were in charge in 2001. We may have to hold our noses and talk to them, while we watch womens rights be returned to the middle ages etc, but frankly I think the power of modern communications and internet will force an "arab spring" of sorts also upon the Afghanis eventually. Just seeing for instance, how much mobile technology has spread outside Kabul now, and how up to date younger people are in more parts of the country, gives room for some optimism.

I, unfortunately think we are looking at 10 years of civil wars again first though.

China will try to enter now, I am sur, and perhaps they will get what they want, as part of their belt and road strategy. I would expect to see massive chinese investments in infrastructure all over the country much like we have seen in Africa.

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/19/2021 10:39:19 PM
Gunzz, welcome to MHO. You have some interesting credentials, and I look forward to engaging in discussions with you!

I agree that “it’s a little premature to make comparisons” between any of the recent (and not so recent) US or US-led campaigns, let alone NATO-led incursions.

At the same time, I think it possible to make decisions about whether US declared intentions in Iraq and Afghanistan (both different, IIUC) have been met at the time the US announced withdrawal of troops from the two locations. US declarations in Vietnam were, I suggest, very different: we’re talking a half-century. We were in a Cold War then, and though I never bought into McNamara’s hype over a “Domino Effect”, it turned Vietnam into a satellite war for both the US and the USSR, and maybe also the Chinese.

But I might suggest that Vietnam nontheless remains most readily available model for what the results in Iraq and Afghanistan might present. And IMHO Vietnam cannot be deemed a success.

I agree, “We don’t know the future”. At the same time, I think we have little indication that the US has been more successful in its interventions since Vietnam that it was previously. I believe that Iraq is more impoverished now than it was when the US and the coalition of the willing invaded it. I believe that Afghanistan is already returning to Taliban control, and that US has not in any way created a strong or meaningful Army or security force ready or capable of facing the clear and present opposition. I respect US efforts, but that doesn’t mean I believe their conclusions. I simply see no indication that Kabul-loyal forces are committed to fight Taliban or tribal forces, because Kabul is simply a skin placed over the Afghan tribal reality. And there is no indication that US military training or weaponizing has touched the hearts of most of the Kabul recruits.

I might ask, therefore, whether when you talk about knowing the future you are talking about reality or about US policy hopes. I still don’t accept the US description of Al Qaeda or it’s Taliban supporters in Afghanistan, which means I still don’t support the 20-year treatment of those who defended their nation against US troops.

I’m not as aggressive as this post suggests, Gunzz. But I don’t have the same faith you have in US assessments of success.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G



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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Gunzz
Tampa FL USA
Posts: 2
Joined: 2021
Afghanistan – the long war
7/20/2021 5:27:02 PM
Quote:
Gunzz, welcome to MHO. You have some interesting credentials, and I look forward to engaging in discussions with you!

I agree that “it’s a little premature to make comparisons” between any of the recent (and not so recent) US or US-led campaigns, let alone NATO-led incursions.

At the same time, I think it possible to make decisions about whether US declared intentions in Iraq and Afghanistan (both different, IIUC) have been met at the time the US announced withdrawal of troops from the two locations. US declarations in Vietnam were, I suggest, very different: we’re talking a half-century. We were in a Cold War then, and though I never bought into McNamara’s hype over a “Domino Effect”, it turned Vietnam into a satellite war for both the US and the USSR, and maybe also the Chinese.

But I might suggest that Vietnam nontheless remains most readily available model for what the results in Iraq and Afghanistan might present. And IMHO Vietnam cannot be deemed a success.

I agree, “We don’t know the future”. At the same time, I think we have little indication that the US has been more successful in its interventions since Vietnam that it was previously. I believe that Iraq is more impoverished now than it was when the US and the coalition of the willing invaded it. I believe that Afghanistan is already returning to Taliban control, and that US has not in any way created a strong or meaningful Army or security force ready or capable of facing the clear and present opposition. I respect US efforts, but that doesn’t mean I believe their conclusions. I simply see no indication that Kabul-loyal forces are committed to fight Taliban or tribal forces, because Kabul is simply a skin placed over the Afghan tribal reality. And there is no indication that US military training or weaponizing has touched the hearts of most of the Kabul recruits.

I might ask, therefore, whether when you talk about knowing the future you are talking about reality or about US policy hopes. I still don’t accept the US description of Al Qaeda or it’s Taliban supporters in Afghanistan, which means I still don’t support the 20-year treatment of those who defended their nation against US troops.

I’m not as aggressive as this post suggests, Gunzz. But I don’t have the same faith you have in US assessments of success.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G









Thank you for the welcome.

Admittedly, there's justifiable pessimism with regard to the future among both former and active NCOs and officers who served in advisory/FID capacities with Afghan forces. I tend to opine more optimistically hoping against hope that there may be a different outcome than that which we saw in SE Asia in 1975. I would hate to see the people of Afghanistan under the yoke of the Taliban once again--particularly the women of that country who suffered great indignities and oppression under Taliban rule. As the product of one lost cause I'm reluctant to admit that thousands of Americans and allied soldiers may have died in vain. I know first hand about the sacrifices our forces have made trying to train the Afghans to avoid the same fate as the South Vietnamese...and as a professional who worked exclusively with indigenous forces I know the extreme difficulties of that endeavor. I'd like to think it may have paid off in OEF, but my gut tells me you are right and everything will eventually go to hell.
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 644
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/27/2021 3:40:33 PM
In my honest opinion and watching the current scenes in Afghanistan with the regular army collapsing and those that are actually fighting lacking any concerted support, 'we lost the war'.


Larry Purtell
Little Meadows PA USA
Posts: 1374
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/27/2021 3:44:31 PM
It looks like Afghanistan is going to be a repeat of Vietnam. The US will make numerous promises and scram leaving the locals who supported them to face the wrath of a conquering army. I see Afghanistan under taliban control no later than June 2022.

Larry.
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"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/27/2021 7:20:29 PM
Wazza, Larry, Gunzz, I gotta question or two for anyone. Not trying to be nasty by raising any of them. I just see so many contraditions and concerns, and at the same time so many echoes of the past, that these things keep buzzing around my head.

Local support. Larry, you raise it, but it’s been bothering me for some time. I assume that, even under unified command, multi-national forces make promises to locals who act as guides, interpreters and provisioners. Why is there so much apparent difficulty in honouring those promises? Hell, we know that the US is still – what’s the word the print media are using? – “scrambling” to meet their commitments, which could be exacerbated by strong, ongoing anti-Muslim criticism regarding citizenship or immigration. Canada seems not much better; I noted the other day that while our government talks about meeting its commitments, CF vets are talking of pooling their money to get the action started. Wazza, Phil, Kai, Trevor – your countries must also be dealing (or not) with the same issue.

War or battle? What exactly was going on in Afghanistan over the past 20 years? We didn’t go to war with Afghanistan, IIRC; we went to war with terror, in the form of Al Qaeda and those who supported, fed and nurtured Al Qaeda. That was the Taliban, IIRC, and the Taliban at the time were de facto in control of much of Afghanistan. But they were not recognized as a government, and their armed members were not recognized as soldiers. Hence, IIRC, Quantanamo and all it’s lack of either military or civilian justice.
It took nine years (May 2011) to track down bin Laden, and at that he was killed in Pakistan. I don’t much think that Al Qaeda was defeated by his death, so much as it morphed in the period of ten years. Yet troops remained in Afghanistan, though from a reduced number of nations and in reduced numbers in general, for ten more years.

When did this become a war against something beyond Al Qaeda? When did countries like Canada find they weren’t there to keep the peace? When did the Taliban, driven out of districts in once controlled, become what Larry calls “a conquering army” rather than a mob of terrorists?

If we were at war with “terrorism” in Afghanistan, did “terrorism” win? Because the Taliban are still there, as the US (and others) pull out.

Afghanistan has a reputation going back 150 years of being the graveyard of western armies. Looks like they’re still batting 1.000.

Cheers. And keep yourselves safe.
Brian G




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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 644
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/28/2021 3:29:49 PM
Why aren't we honoring our commitment to relocating locals who worked for us? Politics.
We have had approx 250 relocate to Oz, however there are many more that appear to be left to the wolves. It is currently a huge issue between ADF vets and our
Government and I expect with all this pressure the intake numbers will increase.

Taliban are taking over the outer suburbs of Kandahar with minimal effort. I expect this will not change either. They are rapidly gaining control of territory as the National army either collapses, runs or dies fighting with minimal support and practically no air support.

THE USA made the goals in Afghanistan and we met them to some extent for a few years (destruction of the Taliban, education for women, infrastructure etc) but then things kept changing, got complex, got 'wishy washy' and then the threats of US withdrawal in the last decade hasn't helped.

The rather abrupt US withdrawal and it certainly saw many FOB's practically shut down overnight was a bad tactical mistake. The fragile Afghanistan Army didn't handle this well at all.

Sadly, it will descend back into some form of restrictive Taliban control. The current Taliban is more modern viewing than those we originally fought. Time will tell.


Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/28/2021 10:20:44 PM
Wazza, it’s nice to think that Oz vets can bring pressure to bear on your federal government in any way. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Canada. Increasingly, our government has lost the distinction between promise and action. God help those who helped CF in Afghanistan and have now been forgotten.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 644
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/28/2021 11:15:40 PM
We are also going through the Brereton Inquiry into our SF's and the unjustifiable killings of innocent Afghanis', made notable by VC medalist Ben Roberts Smith currently in court fighting defamation claims made by the media about him.

In a nutshell, ADF members including SAS members had been raising concerns about unjustifiable killings by the SAS in Afghanistan.

Defence carried out a vague form of investigation and put it to bed, then the media got hold of it a run with as only they can do.

Its been very messy the past two years and surprisingly escaped notice on this forum.
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 802
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/29/2021 4:50:12 AM
The UK is also dragging its heels over bringing in the Afghans who very visibly assisted our forces. I don't really understand in the ins and outs of it, but it will be an utterly shameful moment in our collective history if we end up watching these poor people murdered in vengeance by the resurgent Taliban. We owe them and should make all efforts to make sure none of them (or their families) are left behind.

Cheers,

Colin

----------------------------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
7/29/2021 8:46:27 AM
The Canadian government announced the creation of a new and temporary programme to bring interpreters and other fixers who aided the Canadian military effort to Canada. This had been done before when Canada brought its troops home, but the criteria for immigration was more stringent and some people were turned away. As we know there is greater urgency to re-examine some of these applications to emigrate.

And so Afghanis who have aided Canada must re-apply and in an article on the CBC today, it seems that the window to apply is only three days long.

Prospective applicants were informed today by e-mail that they have three days to complete the application and to scan all relevant documents to submit as well.

Quote:
"If you do not provide a completed application package within the next three days, we will conclude that you are not interested in participating in this Public Policy,"
. Quote taken from e-mail to prospective applicants.

As Brian mentioned some of the greatest advocates for these people were the soldiers that served in Afghanistan and needed those that helped them. Many have said that the timeline is too restrictive and fails to account for the fact that some Afghanis may not have access to a computer in remote areas where they may be hiding and that it takes time to gather documents for their family members.

I am a little sympathetic to the government. I can't imagine that the window to move these folks will be open for very long. There may be a few flights in and then the window will close. The government did announce that the three day application window was not set in stone but you have to feel for the former interpreters and aides. (cooks, drivers, cleaners, construction workers, security guards and staff employed at the Canadian embassy) They must be very frightened for their safety and that of their loved ones. For many without internet access, a dangerous trip from their hiding places to Kabul is in the offing.

Cheers,

George
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 802
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/29/2021 9:43:06 AM
Hi George,

I am a little sympathetic to the government Quote:


I have next to no sympathy for the western governments on this matter. They knew this day would come one day. In fact, they must have realised about a decade ago that they were never going to manage to decisive defeat of the Taliban, so should have made plans for the full evacuation for all persons who meaningfully assisted NATO forces in Afghanistan. I fear the Taliban will show no mercy, and when Kabul falls, as it surely will, we will see a wave of violent retribution that we could have prevented.

Cheers,

Colin
----------------------------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 802
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
7/29/2021 9:43:17 AM
Hi George,

Quote:
I am a little sympathetic to the government


I have next to no sympathy for the western governments on this matter. They knew this day would come one day. In fact, they must have realised about a decade ago that they were never going to manage to decisive defeat of the Taliban, so should have made plans for the full evacuation for all persons who meaningfully assisted NATO forces in Afghanistan. I fear the Taliban will show no mercy, and when Kabul falls, as it surely will, we will see a wave of violent retribution that we could have prevented.

Cheers,

Colin
----------------------------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
7/29/2021 2:52:24 PM
I understand your point, Colin. It does seem that some western countries ignored the threat to interpreters even as the Taliban resurgence was evident.

But I am given to understand that Canada had already instituted a programme to bring some of these people over. That programme has ended and I had presumed that all who wished to apply had been vetted and either brought to Canada or rejected. About 800 Afghans were resettled in that programme.

If that is that case then who makes up the large group that is left? Are they people who simply did not wish to come to Canada when the original programme was implemented? Perhaps they did not feel that they were in danger when Canada pulled out in 2014.
Or are they people who were rejected? If so, why?

Now as Canada had rejected some original applicants, are their cases any more compelling today than they were a few years ago? Certainly the danger level has risen for combat interpreters. They and their families need to be fast tracked.

But there are hundreds of others who may have been civilian contractors employed to build something for the Canadian military. I do not know whether these people are at risk at all. My point is that there must still be a vetting process and a detailed security check.

The announcement that the US would soon be pulling out has reinforced the need to move quickly.

Cheers,

George
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/29/2021 7:02:34 PM
George, there is further information about Canada’s latest effort. It’s not just the timeline that is the issue. Those Canada claims to wish to re-assess are being asked to respond electronically in an Adobe form package format offered only in English. And they’re being given three days to respond. Please try to think of doing that in Urdu or Pashtun. Talk about a gesture which is both challenging and insulting simultaneously!

Three days?! Some forethought, Canada! Bravo!

We started using Afghani guides and interpreters 18 years ago. God help us, we started making promises to them at the same time. Surely we can do better than open an “additional” 3-day window. As to immigration restrictions under the initial program, that reeks of immigration snottiness: you’re good enough to keep our troops alive, but not good enough to come to our country. Yes, the window of opportunity has suddenly narrowed, as the Taliban reclaim their unelected controlling role in Afghanistan. But the requirement to serve “our” Afghanis has been open and needed for almost 2 decades. Our government gets no sympathy from me for proving (once again) its incompetence where foresight is concerned.

(Once again) I’m ashamed of how utterly third-world our federal government appears to be. Lotta walk. Lotta talk. No delivery.

Cheers. Still masking in public.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
7/29/2021 7:48:38 PM
Brian, there are Canadians on the ground right now in Afghanistan. I think that they should give them a chance. Please remember that the government of the day was willing to take in Afghan interpreters and families when our troops were pulled out.

As well, the government has announced that the 72 hour deadline is not written in stone. Back tracking? Perhaps. The situation is very fluid however and the government is scrambling.

Do you feel that Canada should have maintained an open ended settlement programme for Afghan assistants who wished to come here? Again, the response seemed very good in the first settlement programme. It also had an end date. This new programme will end when the Taliban have assumed control.

I agree that the task, for an Afghan interpreter, is monumental. Apparently many are in contact with former Canadian soldiers. Perhaps these men may act as sponsors. Certainly, these men have been a thorn in the government's side in the last couple of weeks. Many have no access to a computer and must make their way to Kabul to find one and many are hiding in remote rural villages.

Before completely dismissing the country's efforts, I wonder whether the Afghans who now wish to come here would have wanted to come had the Americans decided to stay to keep the Taliban in check.

Cheers,

George
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
7/30/2021 6:49:09 AM
Quote:
The UK is also dragging its heels over bringing in the Afghans who very visibly assisted our forces. I don't really understand in the ins and outs of it, but it will be an utterly shameful moment in our collective history if we end up watching these poor people murdered in vengeance by the resurgent Taliban. We owe them and should make all efforts to make sure none of them (or their families) are left behind.

Cheers,

Colin



Same over here in Norway. Here it is also actually Afghan vets that are pushing the government to get things sorted - whereas politicians are dragging their heels, more focused on the upcoming elections in september.
It was just announced a few days ago that Norway will send combat forces to Mali to assist the French operation there. Once again with no political plan or understanding for what we get ourselves into.

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
7/30/2021 6:57:18 AM
In Afghanistan, with all focus now on the Taliban and their progress, keep an eye on the developments along the Tadjik border. The Russians have poured in troops and money to support the Tadjik government in expectation of potential trouble spilling over from Afghanistan. Or so the Western press reported, having seemingly just discovered this angle last week...

In reality this situation has ben developing for some time, and the "Tadjik Taliban" - Jamaat Ansarullah - has been steadily building their influence in the border regions, to the level where they now essentially have taken control of several districts in the Badaksthan region in Afghanistan, seemingly will full backing from the Taliban, who is nominally in control of the region.
The leader of Jamaat Asarullah is believed to be Mohammad Sharifov (with Nomme de Guerre Mahdi Arsalon) who has been in charge of a Tadjik special forces militia group that fought on behalf of Taliban in some of the northern regions. The Tadjik government is keen to avoid any spillover effect, but with Jamaat already in control of several border posts on the Afghan side, there appears to be just a matter of time before they are forces to start operations in Afghanistan. Expect to see substantial Russian support in that case.

K

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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 142
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
7/30/2021 10:10:22 AM
The first Afghanistans who aided the US and other Western nations have started to arrive in the United States. It's going to be a slow process and the family members need to come with them. The numbers will probably be in the tens of thousands and some have already reportedly been killed by the Taliban.

[Read More]

Gary
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