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Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
7/31/2021 10:30:32 PM
Gary, I noted that article yesterday. Crazy busy right now, so haven’t followed it up.

I will admit that from what I read I couldn’t be sure if there were qualified Afghanis, including military assistants and their families to the total of 200, or whether there were 200 military assistants plus their families. Either way, it is good to see the lead nation in the conflict doing something active, however tokenish it may be. Canadian military strength in airlift capacity is, I believe, non-existent. I think CF would have to lease a/c to lift endangered civilians from poor, bloody Afghanistan, rapidly becoming once again a national war zone.

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.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
8/1/2021 8:08:01 AM
Brian, the RCAF does have lift capacity. I live about 20 minutes from the base in Trenton and I see the aircraft overhead when training and on the ground when I am in Trenton. These include five CC177 Globemaster III aircraft and 17 CC-130J Super Hercules. They also have 12 of the older CC-130's which are used primarily for SAR and for refuelling other aircraft. Some of the Super Hercules have been converted to handle the roles that the older Hercules had assumed.

It doesn't sound like a lot but the RCAF does have lift capacity. I think that the load would fall on the Globemasters and CC-130J's and so the question is how many Afghans will we be transporting to Canada.

Cheers,

George
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 142
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
8/1/2021 9:14:40 AM
Quote:
Gary, I noted that article yesterday. Crazy busy right now, so haven’t followed it up.

I will admit that from what I read I couldn’t be sure if there were qualified Afghanis, including military assistants and their families to the total of 200, or whether there were 200 military assistants plus their families. Either way, it is good to see the lead nation in the conflict doing something active, however tokenish it may be. Canadian military strength in airlift capacity is, I believe, non-existent. I think CF would have to lease a/c to lift endangered civilians from poor, bloody Afghanistan, rapidly becoming once again a national war zone.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G


Brian,

On the video the lady stated there were 221 on the plane including 57 children and 15 babies. Perhaps that clears it up for you.

Gary
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
8/11/2021 10:18:14 AM
this is going south even quicker than I had thought. Taliban has captured nine regional capitals in the last week or so, for instance an important city like Kunduz fell with little fighting. When I spoke to a contact in Mazar-e-Sharif this morning I could hear artillery fire in the background. Taliban are now only 4 km from the centre of Mazar. Taliban might be outside Kabul as quickly as in a month, and I expect within three to four months we might see Taliban forces in control of parts, if not the entire, Kabul.
General Dostum's forces, for instance, appear to have been simply brushed aside, unless they have made a deal with Taliban of course. They did not seem to put up too much of a fight.

Russia's quick deployment to the border areas with Tadzhikistan appears to be founded on sound intel and the situation there is probably even more precarious than first reports indicated.

I am working with a group of veterans trying to get 14 Afghani combat interpreters out of Mazar, and I am afraid it is already too late. Blood will be on all of our hands, but politicians will shrug it off as usual.

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.
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 802
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
8/12/2021 9:47:28 AM
Hi all,

10 regional capitals have fallen in a week. I think they'll have reached Kabul within a month or so. The Afghan army is melting away and only air support seems to hold off the Taliban ground forces for any sustained period.

We can expect a humanitarian crisis, as people rush for the borders and also suffer under the renewed Taliban regime. I think withdrawal has been an unmitigated disaster and a collectively shameful episode in our history.

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
8/12/2021 2:17:26 PM
Quote:
I am working with a group of veterans trying to get 14 Afghani combat interpreters out of Mazar, and I am afraid it is already too late. Blood will be on all of our hands, but politicians will shrug it off as usual.


Well done Kaii. I hope that you can get them out.

Our government is being rather secretive. The press has reported that three Globemaster flights leaving from Afghanistan have come to Canada but none were full and they won't tell us who these Afghans are.

Another report said that there were Afghans waiting at the airport to board the RCAF flight to Canada but they were refused permission to leave; not by the Canadians but by Afghan authorities who were insisting that they present up to date valid passports.

That sounds crazy. Why would Afghanistan care whether the people departing had passports? Shouldn't that be Canada's concern?

Apparently there were dozens of Afghans crying in the airport because they were denied passage. They had their families and worldly goods but no go.

Quote:
Every effort is being made to put approved applicants on planes as quickly as possible. Canada must also abide by the rules established by the host government and we are working collaboratively to address issues that have the delayed the departure of some individuals.”
. Canadian immigration spokesperson, Jeffrey MacDonald

Again there are rumours that the people that have made it here are not yet the high value targets like interpreters and fixers would be. One flight had a group of embassy workers on board.

The newspaper, (must confess that it is the Toronto Sun, noted for the Sunshine Girl who appears on the back page) also said that those refused boarding passes are either sleeping in the airport or are in hiding nearby, waiting for the call to come to the airport.

The last rumour to report is that the Afghans without passports have been asked to cough up the equivalent of $500, which none would have and to whom I do not know, to receive a passport in the airport or have been told to make a trip through hostile territory to a passport office where presumably the cost is significantly lower.

What a mess. We should have been moving on this much earlier than we have.

Cheers,

George

If true, it sounds like blackmail. Graft is rampant I suppose when a country is on the verge of collapse.
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6748
Joined: 2006
Afghanistan – the long war
8/12/2021 7:54:30 PM
Quote:
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



Kai,

Just what do you think it would have taken to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan??

It seems like it really was a matter of time for them to prevail?

As always, Thanks for your take,
on military maters across the globe!

Regards,
Dave
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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."
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
8/13/2021 10:35:15 PM
Quote:
Quote:
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



Kai,

Just what do you think it would have taken to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan??

It seems like it really was a matter of time for them to prevail?

As always, Thanks for your take,
on military maters across the globe!

Regards,
Dave


Hi Dave,
I suppose my guess is as good as anyone's here, but there really was no need to defeat Taliban at all initially. The objectives of destroying Al Quaeda could have been reached without the need to invade at all. The Taliban were never anti-western as such and never actively supported terror in western countries. Their focus was entirely inward looking. They would have handed over Al Quaeda if the western countries had been a bit smarter about how they approached it threats are rarely a good idea in a tribal society run by honour and reputation).

Short of killing every man, woman and child in Afghanistan, we could not have defeated the Taliban as such. But we could have rendered them obsolete and impotent.

The small window of opportunity was there in 2003-4 when parts of the country was actually cleared completely of Taliban influence. The biggest mistake the coalition made was to not focus on pacifying and developing the parts of the country that were mostly under control. Once the areas were cleared of Taliban units, the coalition forces moved on and the local population saw no visible improvement in their lives, in many cases it got worse, since the policing function the Taliban had held was wiped out, leaving the villages in a vacuum where local bandits had free reign. There were few, or no, real improvements in infrastructure, and the improvements that were made were largely done without consulting the local tribes (i.e. western engineers deciding that this is the best spot for a new road, without understanding local needs and behaviours). We tried to push a foreign democratic system on a population that were largely happy to live in a tibal society where they are loyal to whomever keeps their villages safe at night.

Instead we kept pushing for a complete military defeat of Taliban in all parts of Afghanistan, and focusing resources on that unachievable objective. The Taliban always knew they just had to wait it out.
Allowing an Afghan regime that was ripe with corruption to get into power, backed by western arms, ensured the support in the population would never be solid, and the soldiers of the ANA don't really see why they should die for a bunch of corrupt leaders. Pretty much like Iraq.
Had large parts of the country been developed and given proper security in 2004 onwards, not flimsy security where coalition troops patrol during the day and Taliban control the villages at night, local support might have taken hold and it would have been very hard for Taliban to retake those parts. Tribal loyalties would have shifted and cemented against Taliban, because there would clearly be much more to gain from the alternative.

Allowing the Afghan authorities to pursue their vendettas against the Pashtun population, for instance by not allowing them to take part in elections (by not getting election materials sent out to the Pashtun villages as we saw in the Faryab province), stoked the fire, and ensured that the Taliban maintained their strong support in the Pashtun population. There is no peace in Afghanistan without the Pashtuns.

And finally, by not taking Pakistan to task over their active support for both the Taliban and other destabilising forces, the west shot its own leg. Much like continuing to support Saudi Arabia and the Emirates is feeding the very forces the war on terror is supposed to fight.

There was never a military solution in Afghanistan, but neither politicians nor military command realised that. The few attempts that were made were based on a belief that Afghanis are really just like Americans and will respond in the same way as Americans will.

It was a shit show from the very start, started by people who had no f... clue what they were getting into, no idea how to get out of it, and lost interest halfway through. In the words of David Kilcullen, we were trying to fight a flock of mice using an elephant gun. By connecting the war in Afghanistan to some imagined global islamic war against the west, w completely bungled it. There never was an elephant, just a bunch of mice we could have easily killed one by one using different targeted means.

Not sure if any of that made sense, but hey, I have had a few whiskies, so ...

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.
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6748
Joined: 2006
Afghanistan – the long war
8/14/2021 9:01:19 AM
Thanks Kai,

For your informed & involved take!

It’s to bad that perspective wasn’t considered?

Another region of the world lost to the bad guys!?

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."
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
8/14/2021 2:22:23 PM
Mazar-e-Sharif and Meymaneh have fallen today. Gen. Dostum and Ata Mohammed Noor have fled and their militias appear to be dissolving, with elements joining the Taliban.

The Taliban now control the entire northern Afghanistan, and times will be very tough indeed for those combat translators and fixers that are still there. Our 14 guys are in hiding.

K
----------------------------------
“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
8/14/2021 4:13:52 PM
Reports that several B-52H planes are now on the way to bomb the air base at Mazar. The objective is probably to destroy the Afghan air force equipment stationed there, so this does not fall into the hands of Taliban. A-29B planes are among the planes stationed at Mazar, so in capable hands they could do serious damage.

K
----------------------------------
“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
8/14/2021 4:13:53 PM
Reports that several B-52H planes are now on the way to bomb the air base at Mazar. The objective is probably to destroy the Afghan air force equipment stationed there, so this does not fall into the hands of Taliban. A-29B planes are among the planes stationed at Mazar, so in capable hands they could do serious damage.

As it looks Kabul will be under attack within 48 hours, and will perhaps fall within a week.

There are reports of massive columns of ANA personnel and equipment fleeing across Friendship Bridge into Uzbekistan now this evening.

K
----------------------------------
“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
8/14/2021 9:41:49 PM
Kai, thanks for both your original and revised reports.

To my shame, I have no idea what “A-29B” a/c are. The internet didn’t help me. I also don’t know of any specific importance of the the AF base at Mazar. Help?

I guess I gotta ask as well if a B-52H strike might have been in Plan A for withdrawal, or whether it is part of any kind of Plan B that must have been in place. And in my growing cynicism over this – can Western intelligence be so ignorant across the board about the Kandahar regime, the weakness of Kandahar forces, the ongoing strength of the Taliban! – might this B-52H strike be designed to create a different kind of collateral damage?

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G

PS, I have Canadian friends (not military folks) who are so shamed by CDN lack of support for Afghanis we made promises to that they are searching for means to donate funds to help get individuals out. Your comments suggest this is an issue in Norway; another MHO thread suggests that US veterans are also looking to help. Dunno about Brits, Aussies, or other groups who sent troops or trainers.

Do you know of an international funding group? I have neither the cash nor the stability to provide support for a deserving family. Jesus, there must be some folks out there trying to help Afghanis who gave us such necessary support, albeit in a losing cause.

B
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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
8/15/2021 2:43:17 AM
A narcissistic West that thinks the entire world should be created in its own image ?

Hubris.

Nemesis in Afghanistan .


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
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
8/15/2021 8:08:03 AM
So the Taliban are in the outskirts of Kabul. The Bagram Air Force base was surrendered and there have been sounds of gun shots.

Apparently, the Taliban have agreed not to attack the city as they await a "peaceful transfer" of power. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Al-Jazeera that they have visited the government of Afghanistan and have demanded an unconditional surrender. With the arrival of US and British troops and others from other NATO countries, it may be that the Taliban is reluctant to engage in combat. It would be costly.

This has all happened so quickly. It wasn't long ago that the US said that Kabul would not come under pressure for a month.

Taliban now control all entrance points to Kabul and they aren't letting anyone in or out so the only way out is through the international airport which is a busy place.

After 20 years of training and the support of the US and other nations, you would think that the Afghanistan Defence forces would have put up a stronger fight but it seems that they are surrendering quite quickly. I suppose that they cannot see a reason to die for a cause that seems to be lost.

The Canadian government has removed Afghans though I do not know how many RCAF flights and chartered flights have left Afghanistan. I can't help but think that the government thought that it had more time. I fear that any people who worked for the Canadians and who are not in Kabul right now are in grave danger.

Cheers,

George

kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
8/15/2021 9:33:08 AM
Quote:
Kai, thanks for both your original and revised reports.

To my shame, I have no idea what “A-29B” a/c are. The internet didn’t help me. I also don’t know of any specific importance of the the AF base at Mazar. Help?

I guess I gotta ask as well if a B-52H strike might have been in Plan A for withdrawal, or whether it is part of any kind of Plan B that must have been in place. And in my growing cynicism over this – can Western intelligence be so ignorant across the board about the Kandahar regime, the weakness of Kandahar forces, the ongoing strength of the Taliban! – might this B-52H strike be designed to create a different kind of collateral damage?

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G

PS, I have Canadian friends (not military folks) who are so shamed by CDN lack of support for Afghanis we made promises to that they are searching for means to donate funds to help get individuals out. Your comments suggest this is an issue in Norway; another MHO thread suggests that US veterans are also looking to help. Dunno about Brits, Aussies, or other groups who sent troops or trainers.

Do you know of an international funding group? I have neither the cash nor the stability to provide support for a deserving family. Jesus, there must be some folks out there trying to help Afghanis who gave us such necessary support, albeit in a losing cause.

B


Hi Brian,
the A-29B is the Super Tucano, a Brazilian turboprop ground attack/counter insurgency aircraft which can do severe damage if unopposed by AA systems or fighter planes. The US uses them in a special ops role, the Afghanis had some100 or so of them (I think, I would have to look up the exact number). The importance of the Mazar air base was primarily that there were a number of A-29s stationed there that appeared to have been abandoned by the Afghan air force units. As it looks now, it is uncertain if the B-52 strike actually took place yesterday, there were certainly some attacks by other types of coalition jets.

Yes, the abandonment of our brothers in arms is certainly becoming a big thing over here. The government say that these guys had a two year window to apply for refugee status in Norway, which is technically correct, but this was in 2009-2011, when there was no reason to leave, and their claims for asylum would likely have been rejected because Afghanistan was considered "safe". These guys never wanted to come to the west in the first place, but rather hoped to help build a better future for their own country. As in other countries, it appears to be mainly veterans from the war that are actually trying to o something, the Norwegian government are busy trying to get the last Norwegian military units and civilians out of Kabul (there is a Norwegian field hospital which is filled to the brim with wounded from the fighting). The feeling of betrayal has not been this string since the German invasion in ww2, and the government has underestimated the strength of the veteran community. With elections in under a month, they will be swept from power in what now looks like will be a historically disastrous result for the Conservatives. It was all there for the taking after a very good handling of the corona crisis, but they fumbled the ball.

There are several groups here trying to organise some sort of help, but the only real help now is to get them people in question brought out of Afghanistan before Taliban can consolidate their hold completely - which obviously moved much closer with the announcement today that there will be a peaceful transfer of power. I fear that there will be a bloodbath now.

One possible cause for a bit of optimism is that it does appear that the Taliban may have cut some deal that there will be a form of coalition government and that some of the regional warlords will be allowed to maintain control of their regions, as sort of vassals of a central Taliban led government. The Taliban does not have the military strength to fully pacify the country yet, so my guess nowis that there will be some sort of quasi/democracy, where there is a religious council with veto powers- not unlike Iran.

Who lives will see.

It has been a long night and it is a bleak morning here I must admit.

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
8/15/2021 9:48:20 AM
I should underline here, that for the majority of the population in Afghanistan this development will probably not matter a lot.
There will be photos circulating now of women dressed in shorts and short dresses in Kabul in the 70s but that was never standard in this country. Outside the major cities, this is a very conservative tribal society regardless of who is in charge in Kabul and for most villagers it will not change much that Taliban is in control. Sharia laws are often observed regardless of rulers in Kabul and most people can not read and write anyway. There was a young generation with more modern outlook starting to develop in the cities, but would have needed another 20 years at least for there to be any major cultural influence from this.

For the West the situation will probably not change much in the short run either, but one possible curve ball is the development of ISIS in Afghanistan. The Taliban are not going to go on a terror spree in the west, but we may well see a situation similar to 2001 where smaller, extreme groups can use areas of the country to build and train.

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.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
8/15/2021 1:24:39 PM
A news report claims that the President of Afghanistan has departed for Tajikistan. Is this part of an upcoming negotiation or has he flown the coop?

The Canadian government announced that it has suspended diplomatic operations in Afghanistan as of today. Don't know what that means for the interpreters and fixers and their families.

Cheers,

George
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
8/18/2021 1:41:19 PM
Well, looks like a new Northern Alliance is being cobbled together in Afghanistan, with forces of VP Saleh, Dostum og Atta Noor now joining up. They appear to have taken back the Charikar area, and taken control of the important Salang-tunnel. In the mix is also Ahmad Massood - a name some may recognise as the son of the Lion of Panshir.

Taliban hold a fairly weak strategic position in the north, so a coordinated effort from these forces, with some NATO air support could well turn back the ide in the northern half of the country.

Another interesting aspect in this is that Russia appears to have know about the Taliban offensive and the Afghan government collapse for some time, as they mobilised forces in Tadjikistan in preparation for accepting refugees some three weeks ago. There are some reports that Tadjik regular army forces, supported by Russian special ops, are ready to support a new northern alliance in combat.

Keep tuned in, this aint over yet.

K
----------------------------------
“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.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11980
Joined: 2009
Afghanistan – the long war
8/18/2021 3:23:47 PM
That's interesting, Kaii. I also heard that soldiers of the Afghan Defence Force had gone into hiding when the Taliban made its move and have been summoned by Massood to come to Panjshir to join his resistance group.

How many warlords are there in Afghanistan with sufficient influence to organize other resistance groups? As well, would they co-operate with one another? Or are we looking at another civil war?


Cheers,

George
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
8/18/2021 8:34:42 PM
Kai, thank you for your input.

Question: Twenty years ago (and for at least some time after the West’s intrusion) the Northern Alliance was supported by the West as an accepted alternative to the Taliban. Twenty years ago, the Taliban were under constant negative commentary because of attitudes to women’s rights and destruction of monuments, which hardened into seeing the Taliban as supporters of terrorism. Are we creating a possibility of gauging the future against the past? Can the values of Northern Alliance have changed? Can the values of the Taliban?

You mention possible NATO air support for North Alliance forces as a possibility.

Question: Would this not simply create another potential need for a possibly nasty withdrawal? Air power is foreign to Afghan forces on whatever side; in other words, air support is foreign. When do we get to the point where we realize Western intrusions continue to be unwelcome in this hardy, hostile land?

Russia is of course in a far weaker position militarily now than they were 40 years ago, but I assume they can still put boots on the ground if needed. I get hints from your commentary that Russian equivalents of CIA might be setting up support group for those opposed to Taliban control. Pakistan would simply be replaced by Tadjikistan as a rebel base, iven that thinking.

Lots more to talk about as the poor bloody Afghanis adjust to their new world.

Cheers. And (this now sounds like a mockery!) 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.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3968
Joined: 2004
Afghanistan – the long war
8/20/2021 7:03:46 PM
I’m pretty certain the linked op-ed is biased. In this case, however, it is hard to write a news story about Canada’s lack of initiative without it sounding biased. The comparison between French and Canadian responses is stunning; the failure of Canada at every meaningful level is shocking.

As a second take on this issue, Toronto’s “Globe and Mail” (aka The Goad and Flail) reported this morning the Canadian relief flight that departed Kabul this a.m. was the first Canadian out-bound flight since the Taliban returned to Kabul. This is not a proud moment in Canadian history, by any means: the True North has lost its moral compass. Shame is too kind a word for what I’m feeling about the diplomatic b.s. we pander to the world as we act so cravenly.

Cheers. And get those masks back out.
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
8/20/2021 8:03:15 PM
Brian, I think that you are being a little harsh. We have very little information on what our special forces have been doing in Afghanistan right now. Nor do we have the same number of assets in hardware that a country like France would have. Nor do we have the same number of people that need to be rescued. Our operation will be smaller because our military used fewer Afghan citizens in support than did the US or UK.

I think that we should wait to see how many Afghans that we do manage to get out before the US closes shop for good. To call us craven is a unfair to the immigration and military people who are there to assist deserving Afghans, don't you think?

The way that this unfolded caught everyone by surprise and remember our combat forces left in 2011. Our training mission ended in 2014. The collapse of the Afghan Army caught everyone by surprise but if we didn't have troops to rescue Afghan citizens then how could our response be immediate?

I am not saying that it should not be better but remember that the Hamid Karzai airport was closed to all flights, commercial and military while the US forces got control of the airport. No-one was flying for a day or so.

Kevin Newman is touting a bold move by the French. Fair enough. Is he suggesting that we have sufficient assets to pull the same sort of stunt. Apparently, the US is in constant contact with Taliban leadership. I would hope that they are negotiating safe passage to the airport for Afghans who worked for allied forces. And I do not think that Canada would have the same clout to negotiate as does the US.

Some Afghans who surely deserve to get out, likely will not. Should we feel shame because we did not anticipate the collapse of the Afghan military and government? When the veil lifts and we know exactly how our rescue mission unfolded, then that will be the time to criticize I feel. Or perhaps praise??

EDIT: It seems that Canada has had to negotiate with the US for access to the Kabul airport. According to several reports that negotiation led to an agreement for two RCAF C-17's to fly regularly, in an out of Kabul. I guess what I am saying is that there has to be some planning and co-ordination between all of the countries that wish to fly into Hamid Karzai. If Canada wasn't able to fly in for a short period, there may be a reason for that.

As well, it seems that international co-operation sees people destined for Canada on the planes of other nations. An RCAF Globemaster just left Afghanistan with 188 people on board. Not all were bound for Canada.

Quote:
The flight left the Kabul airport late Thursday evening carrying 175 vulnerable Afghans and 13 foreign nationals, the Department of National Defence (DND) said in a statement.

The DND said the people on board "have been accepted under the immigration programs of other nations".

"Other participating nations are, in turn, carrying Canadian citizens and Afghan nationals destined for Canada on their flights."
. source: DND Canada

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier has asked whether Canada is preventing its soldiers from venturing into hostile areas of Kabul to escort Afghans to the airport as the Brits and the French have done. That is a good question I think, and do we have numbers to be able to handle a mission like that?

That is the type of information I need before passing judgement on this government.

EDIT: So far as I know, at least 7 flights have landed in Toronto


Cheers,

George


kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2976
Joined: 2010
Afghanistan – the long war
8/22/2021 4:06:03 PM
Quote:
Kai, thank you for your input.

Question: Twenty years ago (and for at least some time after the West’s intrusion) the Northern Alliance was supported by the West as an accepted alternative to the Taliban. Twenty years ago, the Taliban were under constant negative commentary because of attitudes to women’s rights and destruction of monuments, which hardened into seeing the Taliban as supporters of terrorism. Are we creating a possibility of gauging the future against the past? Can the values of Northern Alliance have changed? Can the values of the Taliban?

You mention possible NATO air support for North Alliance forces as a possibility.

Question: Would this not simply create another potential need for a possibly nasty withdrawal? Air power is foreign to Afghan forces on whatever side; in other words, air support is foreign. When do we get to the point where we realize Western intrusions continue to be unwelcome in this hardy, hostile land?

Russia is of course in a far weaker position militarily now than they were 40 years ago, but I assume they can still put boots on the ground if needed. I get hints from your commentary that Russian equivalents of CIA might be setting up support group for those opposed to Taliban control. Pakistan would simply be replaced by Tadjikistan as a rebel base, iven that thinking.

Lots more to talk about as the poor bloody Afghanis adjust to their new world.

Cheers. And (this now sounds like a mockery!) stay safe.
Brian G


Brian, apologise for late reply, have been traveling to an area not very far away from these recent events for a few days...
Some very good comments and observations in your post.

Your first point is a good one, "we" have adopted the Northern Alliance as good, and Taliban as bad, for many people creating an image that the NA is a bunch of western minded democrats, and Taliban are terrorists. None of those are true, of course. Pretty much all factions in Afghanistan are essentially what we would refer to as extremely islamic in their daily outlook and how they want to run the society, and to be frank a girl of, say teenage years, does not have a lot more rights under an Afghani tribal elder council than she does under Taliban. The NA have been more pragmatic though, and open to cooperate with "the devil" (i.e. the US) to get the upper hand in what is essentially century old tribal conflicts.

The Taliban has certainly changed dramatically in these twenty years, exactly how much, is hard to say. Their religious teaching appears to be fairly similar, but they have also adopted internet, smart phones etc and are no longer a group of essentially illiterate, uneducated peasants. They may well realise that they do not have the capability nor capacity to actually run Afghanistan on their own as a calpihate, and may well agree to some power sharing, perhaps similar to the Iranian model where there is a nominally secular government, but under the, shall we say observation, of a religious council or supreme leader. Would it be any better for most people there? My guess is as good as yours.

Getting involved again with air support for the NA would indeed be riddled with possible mine fields, but could, probably ensure that the NA could recapture the Northern half of the country fairly quickly. Taliban are weak in these regions and the local warlords that have supported them now, perhaps because they lacked any other options, would be quick to change sides again. Again, where would that leave Afghanistan, and "us"?

Ultimately, some form of agreement will have to be made between Taliban and the other factions. The alternative is a continued civil war with various external power supporting various factions, and that could go on for years and years, as we have seen. That option is probably by far the worst for the civilian population.

I would like to bring in a perspective that has been overlooked a bit in the "was it worth it debate" so far: From an infrastructure and educational perspective, Afghanistan of 2021 is dramatically better positioned than 2001. Now 89% of the population in urban areas have access to clean water, in 2001 the percentage was 16. Hundreds of thousands young people have had schooling, and education, and are in a position to place completely different demands on their elders and government than in 2001. The average life expectancy at birth has risen from 56 to 64, child mortality rate dropped dramatically, and child weddings are reduced by around 1/3.Young people have smart phones, they use instagram and tiktok, and are well aware of the world outside Afghanistan. In 2001 they were largely not. It is not a given that a Taliban government will be able to keep the society closed and stuck in the middle ages in 2021, like they could in 2001.

The Russians: oh yes, our dear polonium friends have been active especially in northern Afghanistan for years, and have recently stepped up their presence in Tadjikisthan and Uzbekisthan. An interesting bit of information is that many of the Afghani air force assets, notably many of the A-29s and Black hawks, appear to have ended up in Uzbekisthan, after wat appeared to have been a coordinated escape from Afghanistan as soon as the Taliban began their offensive. Interestingly there are some reports that Afghani pilots and senior air force personnel were actually paid to bring their equipment to Uzbekisthan. I wonder who might have been in a position to do that? And for what purpose. It ensured the Afghan government forces would not have air support from their own air force during the most critical days in the north. At the same time, it does appear that the Russians are fairly pragmatic in their approach to the Taliban, and have, for instance, maintained their embassy in Kabul and pledged to work with the new government on "issues of common interest".

Lots of twists and turns to come. I am happy to report that some of the people we have been working to get out were able to escape Afghanistan, but not all. Yet.

The Norwegian field hospital at Kabul airport is still operational, and will stay for now, is the message. What appear to be Norwegian Special Ops soldiers have evacuated both Norwegian, Afghani and other citizens the past few days, and there has also been cooperation between Norway and Denmark to get people out. One soldier made international news when he was photographed holding an Afghani toddler during the evacuation.

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.
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 802
Joined: 2005
Afghanistan – the long war
8/23/2021 8:51:53 AM
Kai, thanks for the update. I'm glad that people are managing to get out, even if the situation on the ground is beyond horrendous. Please stay safe.

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."
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