Four months in, SF has no taliban in sight

SR-25

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Four months into their tour in southern Afghanistan, a Special Forces A-team still has no idea who they’re fighting.

“I don’t know where to pinpoint them [or] how to pinpoint them,” the team’s intelligence sergeant tells Army Times ace Sean Naylor. “They’re not wearing awesome T-shirts that say, ‘I’m Taliban.’ ”

“I can’t find them,” he continues. “This is our biggest failure.”

As Naylor points out in his story (not yet online, alas), the team has been able to help stitch together a stronger local government. Some counterinsurgents might say that’s way more important than focusing on the enemy. Major General Mike Flynn, the top U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan, blasted his colleagues and subordinates earlier this year for focusing too much on whacking Taliban, and not enough on learning the cultural, social, and economic lay of the land.

But ignorance about the other side — I’m pretty sure Flynn didn’t have that in mind, either.



Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/201...ces-team-cant-find-the-taliban/#ixzz0qyOr0l2h
 

car

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Some units out there are too impatient to allow the intelligence to develop and get a good handle on where a tango actually is, instead of a "possible area." The way you do this is to develop relationships with the locals - a typical SF and/or HUMINT role. That's what MG Flynn is talking about - meat eaters who would rather kick down a door on a rumor than wait until you have better info - which takes time and care......the folks giving us info are risking their lives. That's not an easy decision to make, especially when you're a poor farmer with a family. Flynn is spot on.

Of course, my view is a bit skewed. I was intel for 28 years, saw the current conflict actually approach the concept of "Intelligence Driven Operations," and I worked for Flynn once or twice.
 
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7point62

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Four months into their tour in southern Afghanistan, a Special Forces A-team still has no idea who they’re fighting....“They’re not wearing awesome T-shirts that say, ‘I’m Taliban.’


Um...how long have we been fighting insurgents? C'mon, SF, you guys (and the Marines) developed the doctrine.
 

surgicalcric

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... C'mon, SF, you guys (and the Marines) developed the doctrine.

A doctrine yes... What we cant develop is a set of nuts for the CoC or the CinC.

The problem isnt typically the ODA's, though there are some who believed the movies instead of reading books on what SF was and should be (please dont get me started again...I still owe our resident sheep fucker an explanation...) Our hands are being tied by a bunch of rank chasing pussies in both the NCO and Officer Corp... I am thinking about switching out my Special Forces tab for a Standard Forces one...

The SGM is correct as well...
 

car

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A doctrine yes... What we cant develop is a set of nuts for the CoC or the CinC.

The problem isnt typically the ODA's, though there are some who believed the movies instead of reading books on what SF was and should be (please dont get me started again...I still owe our resident sheep fucker an explanation...) Our hands are being tied by a bunch of rank chasing pussies in both the NCO and Officer Corp... I am thinking about switching out my Special Forces tab for a Standard Forces one...

The SGM is correct as well...

Thanks for the acknowledgement, Crip.

But you're absolutely right - it will be interesting to watch over the next few months/years ...... The emphasis has surely moved back to the Stan. I wonder what will happen. We (SECDEF Rummy) tried to use successful SOF tactics from A-stan in Iraq. Mistake. Then once we (kinda) figgered out how to deal with IZ, we lost the initiative in A-stan. Now, we have put the emphasis back in the Stan, (including, but not limited to, Pak, so let's say "AFPAK"). Will we make the same mistake and apply "lessons learned" in IZ to how we conduct ops in AFPAK? Or will we look back to the beginning of the century and apply tactics that won the day back then?

I know......there are several threads here that address this very issue. But it pisses me off. I could go on and on about how many times I saw the wheel re-invented in the last several years, but I'm not going there - cuz, like I said, there are several threads here that already address it.

All I'm saying is that it will interesting to watch, cuz I'm betting that the current administration doesn't have the first fucking clue, and, more to the point, isn't smart enough, to even look at successfull lessons learned not yet ten years old.
 

Rabid Badger

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All I'm saying is that it will interesting to watch, cuz I'm betting that the current administration doesn't have the first fucking clue, and, more to the point, isn't smart enough, to even look at successfull lessons learned not yet ten years old.

SPOT ON WITH ALL POINTS.....SF had this war won in '02 with kinetic ops.......:(

lessons learned??.....let's start with velcro....:doh:
 
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7point62

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I'm betting that the current administration doesn't have the first fucking clue, and, more to the point, isn't smart enough, to even look at successfull lessons learned not yet ten years old.

"We repeatedly learn but then seem to perpetually forget," is something I heard at a COIN lecture I attended a few years ago. The uninitated, like Rumsfeld, misinterpreted that to mean you can trot out the same tactical and technical solutions without adapting them to a radically different environment. Or, that you bring back old tactics from past counterinsurgencies because you remember the tactics but forget that they failed.
 
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7point62

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SPOT ON WITH ALL POINTS.....SF had this war won in '02 with kinetic ops.......:(


They surely did, and it was a beautiful thing to watch, my friend...right up until the momentum shift in March '03. Then you had the rug pulled out.
 

AWP

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SPOT ON WITH ALL POINTS.....SF had this war won in '02 with kinetic ops.......:(

Very, very true, however I would argue that we couldn't maintain the peace like that. The conditions SF created by mid-'02 were ripe for follow-on SOF and CA missions and without those missions we'd find ourselves in an endless cycle of kinetic op after kinetic op. Dropping the Pukin' Dragon in here to run the show began that steady decline into what we have today. SF gave Civil Affairs, DOS, etc. the breathing room needed to do their thing.....and then the world changed and we've chased that goal ever since.
 
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7point62

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Yeah, it's kind of pointless to try to do one without the other. FID/COIN/CA with one hand while you keep pressure on the enemy with the other. The minute you give the enemy time to regroup and reorganize, they can regain the initiative politically because most times the insurgency is better situated socially and politically and has more in common with the local population...so if you lose your grip, the default mode automatically benefits the bad guys.
 
J

JJ sloan

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Sounds like a young F who is having some trouble getting organized... Not surprising since they are running X's through the course with no experience whatsoever.
 

Ranger Psych

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I mean... an example of DA+COIN/UW.

Durka comes across border to shoot americans.
Tries to shoot americans.
Gets lit up like nobodys business.
Local populace gets pissed
We talk to local mayor, tell him the dumbass tried to shoot at us
local populace goes oh, well that was stupid

Or one time when we got RPG'ed... 2 of 3 shots went long and detonated in a group of homes... We sent a BIG patrol to go find those asshats and a small patrol with heavy medical to check on where the rounds impacted.. noone hurt but they appreciated that we came to make sure everyone was ok, handed out vitamins and toothbrushes and continued our business.

It's the little things...that keep good info coming in so we're not pissing people off. Like chasing down the goat they keep in their house (why? no fucking clue) when we do a search and it gets loose. Fun? no. But when it's a dry hole it helps ease things... same with not thrashing everything when doing a search... you might not find anything there due to it just being pissed off neighbors.
 

Highpockets

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We got there just after the initial campaign had pretty much leveled everything and they were still reeling from the onslaught. We found it hard initially to find the enemy because they had blended back in with their communities. We changed tactics slightly and everything changed.

I had an old guy laugh at me one time when I was questioning him after I asked if there were Taliban in the area. He said, "we are all Taliban, they come here after you leave, they give us some money and say, "shoot these rockets at the Americans, if you don't we will kill you", then we become Taliban".

Tough war to fight but taylor-made SF mission; at least in my humble opinion.
 
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