Truth, lies and Afghanistan

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
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What do you disagree with?

Seems to me he says a lot of what you have said.

LOL...that was my tongue-in-cheek way of saying I thought the guy was dead on. I said some of the same things two years ago and I know others on here have as well.

I hope Iraq was worth it.
 

Marauder06

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I see major problems with this article.

Regardless of how I feel about the accuracy or inaccuracy of what the LTC put out in the paper, something just isn't right. It sounds to me like he went over there with an axe to grind, and found a whole bunch of "anonymous sources" to back up his agenda.

He interviewed 250+ Soldiers? Really? What are his press credentials? Is this in his job description as part of the REF (doesn't seen like it based on the Wiki page) or was he out there "alone and unafraid?" Did the Soldiers know they were being "interviewed," or did they think this was just some old O5 out there handing out new goodies? It's really easy to get Joe to say whatever you want if 1) you outrank him, 2) you spend a little time with him, and 3) he doesn't know you're using him to advance your own agenda.

So yeah, I've got a couple of problems with this article. Maybe I'm being overly critical, but I've seen too many examples of bad apples out there trying to get their name in the paper, to accept this one at face value. This guy comes across to me like a disaffected Reservist with a chip on his shoulder.
 

AWP

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I think he has a political agenda based on his time with the senator, but I don't doubt his conclusions or the premise of the article. Now, an "interview" can be a 5 minute conversation and you could argue/ spin that if you spent 10 minutes talking to 6 or 8 Joes then you just conducted 6 or 8 "interviews." That could impact credibility in one sense, but the real meat of the question is "Is the guy right?"

I think he is.
 

Marauder06

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If you think the article has merit, then I'll take another look. I read a couple of paragraphs and starting smelling BS so I didn't pay too much attention to it.
 

AWP

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If I'm wrong, I'll eat crow....I've probably been wrong 2-3 times today already. :)

I tend to think he's right based on conversations I've had since my return in 2008. I can give specifics tomorrow (tonight) when I wake up.
 

surgicalcric

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...Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified...

That is where I started calling BS!!

...Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that ...military were progressing toward self-sufficiency.

This is the trouble with having conventionally minded people making policy about the HN forces; he is judging them according to our (US .mil) standards. While the troops may or may not be at MEC they are what they are.

Secondly, we DO NOT teach them all that we know because then we will have to fight them one day using our tactics against us. That is not something we really want to face.

...“What are your normal procedures in situations like these?” I asked. “Do you form up a squad and go after them? Do you periodically send out harassing patrols? What do you do?”

As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.

“No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!

Seems like they are learning from our risk adversity. They must be at MEC.

“Also, when a Taliban member is arrested, he is soon released with no action taken against him.


And learning from our justice department as well...


We all know there is a difference in the ground truth and what is reported. After all, who wants to be the guy who tells the King he isnt wearing pants - other than my CPT. Facts are GOs are political figures and they dont get promoted unless they paint rosy pictures, O6's likewise and on down the chain. The only guys who will tell the God's honest truth are the E5-E8's who get locked away when anyone -who doesnt want to hear the truth - comes around.

We saw it in Iraq this past year and we are now seeing it rear its ugly head in Astan, again.

Crip
 

mike_cos

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We all know there is a difference in the ground truth and what is reported. After all, who wants to be the guy who tells the King he isnt wearing pants - other than my CPT. Facts are GOs are political figures and they dont get promoted unless they paint rosy pictures, O6's likewise and on down the chain. The only guys who will tell the God's honest truth are the E5-E8's who get locked away when anyone -who doesnt want to hear the truth - comes around.

We saw it in Iraq this past year and we are now seeing it rear its ugly head in Astan, again.

Crip
Well said...
 

tigerstr

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Cant say much about the credibility level of his critique, but it already made the NYT in a piece titled "In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower" (also has replies from Petreaus and the Army) and Time.

As an outsider I think some points he makes sound valid.

And generaly speaking, fighting a COIN war with an official... deadline for exit, is very likely going to end badly!
 

DA SWO

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Be curious if the Senator arranged for him to go and give a more accurate assessment. He can write a report as a staffer that DoD can't modify.

I still think management above Group/Brigade level is clueless.
 

Marauder06

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Cant say much about the credibility level of his critique, but it already made the NYT in a piece titled "In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower" (also has replies from Petreaus and the Army) and Time.

As an outsider I think some points he makes sound valid.

And generaly speaking, fighting a COIN war with an official... deadline for exit, is very likely going to end badly!

So now he's a "whistleblower," with no corroboration of his "evidence" whatsoever. :rolleyes: Great journalism. You know who else people are calling a "whistleblower?"

If anyone has fact-checked the author's claims, I'd be interested to see it. Based on the article, what his job was supposed to be when he was forward, and the pictures on YouTube, this guy strikes me as a glory-seeking war tourist who had a personal agenda.
 

AWP

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Okay, here's my assessment, FWIW, of the guy's article.

My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.
I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.
I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.
From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.

I think the guy has a bit of a political agenda because he clearly has some background in our jacked-up political system. Now, how much of his article is driven by that agenda? I don't know.

I thought about the "interviewed or had conversations..." line and I can believe it, though I think the author is being a bit duplicitous. Have you ever waited for a flight here in Afghanistan? At best it is a oone-time trip to the pax terminal or LZ, a 3 hour wait, and then a direct flight to your destination. At best. Typically you make more than one trip and it is a longer wait than 3 hours, all of which give you a lot of time to kill chatting up the folks around you. I know I've probably conversed with close to 200 Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and Contractors under those circumstances during my 6 years here and that's only averaging one trip a month. If you were to make several trips a month that time waiting can add up. Also, you have DFACs and these patrols he went on and I can see that he conversed with 250+ soldiers in a year, though I think the number of formal interviews was a signifcant minority in that number.

"Insurgents controlling land beyond ISAF bases" Again, I think he's telling a partial truth. There are some regions where this is VERY true, but not in others. What is he defining as "controlling?" Hell, Bagram takes IDF, does that mean we don't control the area around the base? Insurgents operate in a village, even a small cell, does that mean we don't control the village? I think he's right, but I also think he's overestimated the effect of the insurgency. His picture is that the entire country is lawless and I would take issue with that assertion. I do believe the majority of the country is either controlled by the insurgency or simply lacks a gov't presence and the latter doesn't mean that the insurgents control the area.

As to the last two statements, I agree with those, there's a reason Karzai is called "The Mayor of Kabul." The Afghan gov't is not doing much outside of the major population centers and at times event that is suspect. The ANP are a joke, the Afghan military is horribly incapable of securinig the country right now, and we've all seen reports of the ASF working with the insurgents, but this also shouldn't be a shock or newsworthy. Look at EVERY occupation by a foreign power in Afghanistan's history...or any nation for that matter, and you'll see collusion with the enemy. This statement is a given.

Davis: “Here you have many units of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF]. Will they be able to hold out against the Taliban when U.S. troops leave this area?”
Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them.

Our own coalition members have made the same deals so why are we surprised the locals are doing it?

That murder took place within view of the U.S. base, a post nominally responsible for the security of an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Imagine how insecure the population is beyond visual range. And yet that conversation was representative of what I saw in many regions of Afghanistan.

Uh, colonel? The same thing happens in America so does that mean we don't control our streets?

The rest of the article is more of a "duh" moment because it was all reported before. Many of us have seen canned exercises and known the Army to fudge tests (remember the Bradley?) so that section isn't notable.

Based on what I've seen and people I've talked to, I agree with the premise of the article. However, I think the author has spun some of the facts to support his case. Lied? No. Been ambiguous? Yes.
 

AWP

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One addition: Calling this guy a "whistleblower" implies that he was spilling secrets. Um, he's saying what several of us have said for years. Are we whistleblowers? If a Border Patrol Agent came forward and said our border was unprotected does that make him a whistleblower for stating the obvious?

What's the next secret to come out? The Undertaker's feud with Shawn Michaels wasn't real?
 
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