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About Bigduke6

  • Birthday 06/24/1960

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  1. Haven't heard from you in a while. Hope you're all right.

  2. John, Cool Breeze and Mr. Emrys: It's pleasant to be remembered, unless it's by the tax people. Thanks guys. I can say this: I'm in Donbass. I've been there since early last year. Nothing secret, nothing clandestine, but my employers want me to to avoid making anything like a public comment on the conflict. Hence the lurking. You've been having some really great arguments in here and it's been all I could do to keep from jumping in. So far my self discipline is holding. But JK is different - the man is an institution.
  3. I haven't posted in this forum for years as an employment change a while back forced me to into lurking. This forum is, as it ever was, a place where strong opinions are traded regularly, and weak arguments are slammed down mercilessly. May it stay that way forever. My opinion, this forum is much the richer for John Kettler's participation. He is an asset, he is imaginative and he is loyal. I don't tolerate his posts, I look forwards to the next one.
  4. We weren't arguing, we we exchanging points of view. *sniff*
  5. Yep, that is enough evidence to exclude option three. Even if you assume the military had an interest in feeding the story to the WP, and that what he did was heroicized at least somewhat, it seems pretty impossible that he was on the Taliban target list. Seems like a brave guy, RIP.
  6. Yeah, I doubt we're going to come to a common opinion on this one. As for me, collapse of the Karzai regime and Afghanistan's return to a hothouse for violence and extremist groups, would be a failure of US policy. Although, come to think of it, the both of us seem to think the Taliban are going to improve their position in the coming chaos, but neither of us see the Taliban as a dominant force capaple of ruling the country effectively. In other news, did any one see the report on who the raiders killed? One of them was the squadron commander, a major. He's identified as Lt. Col. Christopher 'Otis' Raible So ya gotta wonder: - Was Raible just in the wrong place at the wrong time? - Is it possible Raible got killed because he decided he needed to lead the QRF? - Or did the Taliban target him? We can't rule out any option, but at least you have to consider the possibility the Taliban targeted him. They appear to be pretty good at identifying local government officials they want murdered, and then assassinating them. You have to believe the would have had the idea to target the guy when they were planning this thing. A cynical extra piece of iffy evidence is, as nearly as I can tell the circumstances of his death have not been publicized. Those of us suspicious of official sources of information might take this as support to the argument the way he died is not something the Marines want publicized. But that's really cynical and I don't want to argue that it's proof. But if the raiders actually went onto a US base and killed the squadron commander intentionally...man, that's scary.
  7. If those few thousand can keep the Karzai regime in place. Otherwise the whole thing comes down like a house of cards. Considering the work it takes to keep that government propped up with more than a 100 grand NATO types in country, and the less-than-sterling performance of the ANA so far, I'd call that a pretty big "if".
  8. http://afghanistan.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/03/cnn-poll-u-s-opposition-to-afghanistan-war-remains-high/ It is data like that that makes me suspect that, once the US troops substantially leave, they will not return. Two out of three Americans is pretty difficult to overcome. But if there's any evidence out there that the US population and politicians would support a re-commitment of force to Afghanistan, symbolically or materially, I'd be interested to see it.
  9. Vanir, Of course the Taliban will be welcomed by many as liberators. As your link makes clear, Dick Cheney was talking about invading another country. The Taliban, among others, are defending their country from foreign invaders. They are fighting a jihad. Karzai's death or flight abroad will not solve the basic problem that the regime we have installed in Afghanistan is corrupt and is so unpopular, that compared to that regime, for many people living in the country, the Taliban seem like a better alternative. Getting rid of the foreign invaders and tossing out the Karzai regime is appealing to many non-Pathans, it's not like the Taliban have a monopoly on wanting to run their country themselves. Why should the Hazara/Uzbeks/Tajiks etc. etc. support the Karzai regime? It's not as if Hazara/Uzbeks/Tajiks etc. etc. have never made deals with Pathans before, or that all those ethnicities wouldn't be united by a desire to grab a bigger share of the pie and kick out the foreigners. As I see it, the ANA is incapable of securing the regime or the country, and post-2014 the will on the part of the US population to secure the regime will be even less. Would Obama if re-elected re-commit troops to prop up the regime? If Romney is elected,would he? Would any forseeable Congress agree to it? Could such a recommitment, once most US troops are out of the country, be accepted by the US populace? Absent another bloody terrorist attack originating in Afghanistan on US citizens and territory, I don't see it. The end game I see is, the infidels leave and Afghanistan reverts to its normal state of equally-shared chaos, followed by lots of hands-wringing in some western military circles along the lines of "We coulda won if the politicians had let us". Which brings me back to my original point. This is what defeat looks like.
  10. Vanir, Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the Secretary General of NATO. He has held the job since 2009. Before that he was Denmark's Prime Minister, and a key player in pushing NATO participation in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Here is the key phrase from his comments, which are in the link you provided: "The goal is unchanged, the strategy remains the same, and, eh, the timeline remains the same." This begs two questions. 1. If the Secretary General of NATO is not some one to whom you look for the "blue" position on Afghanistan war strategy, then who is? 2. Why do you think the handover timeline is still on track? If the ANA is not trustworthy, and Rasmussen is saying the full handover will be complete by the end of 2014, how do you see that happening? I argued in a previous post that that leaves something like 24 months to convert the ANA from what it is to a force capable of providing security in the country on its own. Given that it is clear NATO and the US are, right now, not even sure which ANA soldiers can be trusted not to attack NATO and US soldiers, how do you see the ANA becoming a reliable and independent force over that time frame? P.S. If I've given the impression I think NATO and NATO service members are slovenly, I apologize. I think the service members are fairly dedicated but that like any rich military they are overly dependent on a high-tech approach and that many sevice members have an unsafely high opinion of themselves and their mission. I consider them tactically competent although, given the amount of resources they spend to do simple things like conduct a patrol or clear a village, I would say they damn well better be. I think the special forces, by which I mean the green berets and units like them, have failed miserably in Afghanistan, in that these special forces' primary mission is training foreign forces to support US military objectives. I'm sure the US special forces are competent enough at raiding compounds and calling down air strikes and rousting Afghans out of their beds, but the ANA sucks and the US trainers are the ones that took on the job of making the ANA a reliable force. As for the hope "Well, once the combat forces leave we'll guarantee Afghan security with air support and special forces", I think there are more than a few of us old enough to remember that was precisely what the US promised the South Vietnamese regime. Air support and special forces, even competent ones, are insufficient to support a discredited regime lacking support from the poplulace. The Karzai regime is corrupt and strictly speaking its sway right now extends not much further than Kabul's city limits. How many ANA soldiers do you think are ready to lay down their lives for that regime? And if they are not, how can we hope to keep that regime in place? If, when the US/NATO main force leaves, the Taliban and warlords are united, along with the population, with a collective hatred of the Karzai regime, the Taliban and the warlords - be they Uzbek or Tajik or Hazara or whatever you want - will not need conventional forces. They simply will waltz into provinces and the local leadership and population will receive them with open arms. And some super-duper NATO special forces trooper on the ground with a radio and a laser-designator is going to stop that? If he is stupid enough to follow orders and try, in nine cases out of time, I would predict his local "friends" will rat him out to the Taliban or their allies. If they can't trick him into calling in strikes on the ANA first.
  11. If I am obtuse, it is an unintentional accident. You and I agree a critical approach to information coming out of Afghanistan is important. Further, you and I agree NATO is one of the sources of that information. So I'll repeat the question: Do you believe Rasmussen when he says the security handover plan is still on track? If you do believe him, even in general terms, why? As you have probably gathered, I have concluded (not assumed from the get go, concluded, as in "after weighing the evidence available and making a considered judgement)" that NATO has little idea of the situation in the country, or that they are willfully handing the people that pay their salaries a load of bull hockey.
  12. I would say: NATO probably does not fudge numbers that can be checked relatively easily by an independent agency. This would normally be the media but it could be the political opposition or citizens' groups or the lower levels of the military itself. The obvious example would be soldiers killed; it is a very sensitive issue and even though it certainly would be in NATO strategic interest to put out lower casualty figures, than actual, it would be almost impossible to do without getting caught, and getting caught would be a huge PR disaster. So those numbers I believe. Numbers like "ANA personnel trained to combat effectiveness" or "Estimated Taliban killed" or "Provinces under Karzai government control" are not so easily checked independently, and I would not trust NATO declarations on these data as far as I could throw it. NATO has every incentive to put out the most positive number possible, that cannot be easily contradicted. In some cases their definitions are highly suspect, for instance, they for years now have told us a specific number ANA forces are online and can reliably be trusted to provide security, but now we have a NATO hold on joint operations with any ANA. (Again, unless a BG or higher signs off on the op.) So what are we to make of past NATO statements about the ANA? Were they lying intentionally, or just incapable of telling reliable ANA from unreliable ANA? To what extent has the rot set it? How many of these past joint operations, where they call in the media to watch the ANA clear a village or patrol in the mountains or operate checkpoints or whatever it is, were in fact dog and pony shows having nothing to do with actual ANA capacity? We obviously don't know. So I would say the NATO number on mission-capable ANA is highly suspect. Even if, and this is a if not just big but of Biblical proportion, NATO were to be an incredibly honorable and professional bureacracy practically free of traditional military careerism and CYA, NATO has a very big incentive not just to put out rose-colored numbers, but to make rose-colored judgements that create the assumptions build those numbers. Further, what about the things NATO simply doesn't know? If they say, well, Wardak province is now more or less peaceful and under reliable Karzai government control, and shut down NATO outposts there, then how are we - the people who are paying for this brilliant military operation - to know whether (a) the Taliban aren't waltzing in there the moment night falls and the Karzai people lock their doors or ( the Taliban haven't already cut a deal/intimidate the local Karzai people so the Karzai local officials just lie about their control of the region to Kabul and NATO or my personal favorite © the Taliban have come in, killed all the local Karzai people or put them to flight, and the Karzai government knows it but it just lies about the province's reliability to NATO? Yet our civilian policy-makers, and the general public, who pay them, are supposed to make informed decisions on how well the hearts-and-minds campaign is going, based on our military's estimate of how peaceful or violent it is in the Afghan sticks? It gets to the point where any NATO assertion about any security status, where NATO troops are not physically located, becomes inherently absurd. They don't know, they have no reliable way of finding out because their sources of information are limited and those that do exist often lie. So what are we to make of Rasmussen declarations like "we're on track with the security handover". How could that possibly be based on anything but wishful thinking? Are we to take his statements at face value, just because he's in charge of NATO? Does he think we're stupid? Gunnergoz, thanks for the note on the sandstorm. If I had to guess I would agree with you, it seems to me like the Taliban is intelligent and patient enough to wait for the right weather to pull off a raid like this. I also think it's possible that, if the British reaction forces are less efficient than the Marines' at this base - which I would say is possible but far from a given - then that may well have been something the Taliban factored in when planning the raid as well. It seems like they had enough information to know where to breach the perimeter and where to send the assault teams. The might have also had enough information to figure out, that hitting the British side of the base for whatever reason would give the assault teams more time. But of course we can't say that for sure. But knowledge of the British QRF capacity or no, that's more evidence the assault teams were in US uniforms not by accident, but as part of a well-thought-out plan. It is just a smart move, if you are going to raid a NATO base, to do it at night, and to send dudes dressed in the uniform of one of the coalition members, and then have hit an area where troops where another coalition member is predominant. NATO fear of blue-on-blue incidents is no secret and that's an easy way to take advantage of it. I mentioned it before, but again, one has to give the Marines and indeed the command at the base at least some credit; no blue-on-blue casualties were reported. In the chaos that's a sign of good discipline and control, although of course we can't say how much extra damage the raiders did, because the base command was taking its time and being careful to keep from killing its own people.
  13. Well I must have misunderstood you, because I thought you accepted the NATO assertion that 1 out of 4 green-on-blue incidents was Taliban-related, and the others not.
  14. No, you misunderstand me. I say we should not take NATO statements at face value and accept them uncritically. I can't tell you what the "true ratio" is, but again, green-on-blue incidents have tripled and NATO has stopped most joint operations with the ANA because of that. We can take as a fact that, on an individual basis, relative cultural sensitivity on the part of ANA and NATO personnel has not changed overnight. But the amount of green-on-blue incidents has, in a big way. The Taliban have said they have been infiltrating the ANA for some time and that instigating green-on-blue incidents is part of their campaign strategy. I think this is compelling enough to call the NATO assertion that one in four incidents is Taliban-linked into question. But I also think we won't agree on this. But that's not the only issue to be discussed, of course. Rasmussen said shortly after the announcement of the halt of joint ops with the ANA, that the security handover plan was still on track and that the country would be secure in 2014 once NATO forces (for the most part) leave. That's a pretty clear statement. To my mind, it is another NATO statement flatly contradicted by the evidence, and common sense. In my personal considered opinion, it is ludicrous to assert that, after something like 5-6 years of really trying to make the ANA a viable force, and now that it is not trustworthy enough to operate jointly with NATO, that in 18 -24 months the ANA will be made reliable. The force is too large, the country is too big, and it is reasonable to assume that as the NATO exit deadline approaches, Taliban penetration of the ANA will increase. Already we can state as a fact: "NATO has a poor grasp of the real degree of Taliban penetration of the ANA, for it seems that the only way NATO seems to find out about Taliban operatives, is when ANA soldiers open fire on their NATO colleagues." Eighteen months is not nearly enough time to purge the ANA of Taliban operatives, recruit and vet replacements, and create a viable force. Further, I would in the strongest terms question NATO's ability even to purge the ANA, as it would be the corrupt Karzai regime that would be doing the prosecution. At the same time NATO forces already are drawing down; that is reduced force capacity and pretty much for all of recorded history the moment the occupying force in Afghanistan reduces force imprint, the insurgents reassert control over the wavering provinces, starting with the most remote and heading towards Kabul. But Rasmussen says the handover plan is on track. He is the boss of NATO. Do you believe him? That's nice. If the campaign to do that created millions more irate Muslims and so also created an international fringe of several thousand young men willing to carry out terror attacks against citizens of Western nations, providing some one tells them how to do it, then I do not call that a reasonable return. In exchange for "eliminating" Al Quaeda (well, reducing substantially) we have made our country the legitimate object of a world-wide jihad for any nut job who wants to fight in Islam's name. Would you call that a positive? I'm not sure of the end state. I think once the West leaves the Karzai regime will crumble and there will be some form of civil war. The Taliban may win but they may splinter and they may be badly damaged in the conflict. But in any case, Afghanistan will become an even more lawless place with plenty of valleys run by bandits and drug lords or religious nuts, or any combination of the above, that an Islamic extremist group might well find protection from. What I am sure of is that the West is on a fool's errand, they cannot secure the country given resources available, and they are perforce wasting lives and treasure. You say time will tell. The West has been at this for a decade and they're bailing. The last "surge" troops left Afghanistan yesterday, it was in the news wires. I say time has told.
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