‘We’re pinned down:’ 4 U.S. Marines die in Afghan ambush — Rules of Engagement Revisited — Afghan troop request expected by Friday — Pakistan discovers ‘village’ of white German al-Qaeda insurgents — Krauthammer Does Not Believe Obama will give Gen. McChrystal the Troops He Needs for Afghanistan – Video 9/27/09 — Afghanistan troops surge: stakes for Obama could not be higher — Diverse Sources Fund Insurgency In Afghanistan — McChrystal: More Forces or ‘Mission Failure’ —
UPDATE IV – Jun 22, 2010
Washington Examiner – By: Byron York
There is a lot of uproar about Gen. Stanley’s McChrystal’s disrespectful comments about his civilian bosses in the Obama administration, and President Obama would be entirely justified in firing McChrystal for statements McChrystal and his subordinates made to Rolling Stone. Obama is a deeply flawed commander-in-chief who doesn’t want to be fighting a war on terror, but he is the commander-in-chief. He should have a general who will carry out his policies without public complaint until the voters can decide to change those policies.
But the bigger problem with McChrystal’s leadership has always been the general’s devotion to unreasonably restrictive rules of engagement that are resulting in the unnecessary deaths of American and coalition forces. We have had many, many accounts of the rules endangering Americans, and the Rolling Stone article provides more evidence. In the story, a soldier at Combat Outpost JFM who had earlier met with McChrystal was killed in a house that American officers had asked permission to destroy. From the article:
The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. Arroyo’s platoon for the memorial, I arrive at Combat Outpost JFM to speak with the soldiers he had gone on patrol with. JFM is a small encampment, ringed by high blast walls and guard towers. Almost all of the soldiers here have been on repeated combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen some of the worst fighting of both wars. But they are especially angered by Ingram’s death. His commanders had repeatedly requested permission to tear down the house where Ingram was killed, noting that it was often used as a combat position by the Taliban. But due to McChrystal’s new restrictions to avoid upsetting civilians, the request had been denied. “These were abandoned houses,” fumes Staff Sgt. Kennith Hicks. “Nobody was coming back to live in them.”
One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the platoon was given. “Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourselves with lethal force,” the laminated card reads. For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to fight, that’s like telling a cop he should only patrol in areas where he knows he won’t have to make arrests. “Does that make any f–king sense?” Pfc. Jared Pautsch. “We should just drop a f–king bomb on this place. You sit and ask yourself: What are we doing here?”
11/22/09 – The MEMRI Blog: Afghan Source: The U.S. Has Offered the Taliban Control in Return for Quiet
An Afghan source in Kabul reports that U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is holding secret talks with Taliban elements headed by the movement’s foreign minister, Ahmad Mutawakil, at a secret location in Kabul. According to the source, the U.S. has offered the Taliban control of the Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Kunar and Nuristan provinces in return for a halt to the Taliban missile attacks on U.S. bases. Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), November 22, 2009
IMPORTANT UPDATES AT END INCLUDING FOB Keating INFO
The Rules of Engagement now in effect in that war zone are designed to appease the faint hearted rather than win a war…According to military spokesmen, the ROE has been tailored to soften the possibility of civilian casualties. General Stanley McChrystal issued the new ROE restrictions on the use of military force to reduce the risk of further alienating the population… “Tying our Warfighter’s hands behind their backs is past unsatisfactory…it’s criminal! [Colonel Wayne Morris, USMC (Ret)]
The New Media Journal: Rules of Engagement & Other Stupid Decisions
A word of advice to the elite “Conservative” Blog Sites: If you have not worn the uniform or fought for your county, I would suggest you blog on another subject matter. As I was about to publish this post, I received the below comment from an “old gramma” on another website:
“I am too familiar with what goes on with our troops in Afghanistan. My grandson, who grew up in my home, spent 15 months in the Korengal Valley = aka The Valley of Death. They went through over 1,000 firefights, undermanned, all but abandoned on rocky shelves they pickaxed out of the mountainsides – no running water, housing only what they could cobble together – no hot meals, no heat in the brutal Hindu Kush winters, etc etc – they lost many.
They are going back – and all they accomplished has been lost with the NRE’s…it’s worse now than any time from the first year! How are they supposed to feel? The new ROE says THEY must, when it comes to it, sacrifice their very safety/lives to ensure no civilians get hurt! This is Gen. McCrystals New Rules of Engagement…we need to hold his feet to the fire. This is what we need to get out to the people.”
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers, September 8, 2009
GANJGAL, Afghanistan — We walked into a trap, a killing zone of relentless gunfire and rocket barrages from Afghan insurgents hidden in the mountainsides and in a fortress-like village where women and children were replenishing their ammunition.
“We will do to you what we did to the Russians,” the insurgent’s leader boasted over the radio, referring to the failure of Soviet troops to capture Ganjgal during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation.
Dashing from boulder to boulder, diving into trenches and ducking behind stone walls as the insurgents maneuvered to outflank us, we waited more than an hour for U.S. helicopters to arrive, despite earlier assurances that air cover would be five minutes away.
U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines — despite being told repeatedly that they weren’t near the village.
“We are pinned down. We are running low on ammo. We have no air. We’ve lost today,” Marine Maj. Kevin Williams, 37, said through his translator to his Afghan counterpart, responding to the latter’s repeated demands for helicopters.
Four U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday, the most U.S. service members assigned as trainers to the Afghan National Army to be lost in a single incident since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Eight Afghan troops and police and the Marine commander’s Afghan interpreter also died in the ambush and the subsequent battle that raged from dawn until 2 p.m. around this remote hamlet in eastern Kunar province, close to the Pakistan border.
Three Americans and 19 Afghans were wounded, and U.S. forces later recovered the bodies of two insurgents, although they believe more were killed.
The Marines were cut down as they sought cover in a trench at the base of the village’s first layer cake-style stone house. Much of their ammunition was gone. One Marine was bending over a second, tending his wounds, when both were killed, said Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 21, of Greensburg, Ky., who retrieved their bodies.
HISTORY OF RESISTANCE
A full moon was drenching the mountains in ghostly light as some 60 Afghan soldiers, 20 border police officers, 13 Marine and U.S. Army trainers and I set out for Ganjgal at 3 a.m. from the U.S. base in the Shakani District.
The operation, proposed by the Afghan army and refined by the U.S. trainers, called for the Afghans to search Ganjgal for weapons and hold a meeting with the elders to discuss the establishment of police patrols. The elders had insisted that Afghans perform the sweep. The Americans were there to give advice and call for air and artillery support if required.
Dawn was breaking by the time we alighted for a mile-long walk up a wash of gravel, rock and boulders which winds up to Ganjgal, some 60 rock-walled compounds perched high up the terraced slopes at the eastern end of the valley, six miles from the Pakistani border.
Small teams of Afghan troops and U.S. trainers headed to ridges on the valley’s southern and northern sides, setting up outposts as the main body headed slowly up toward the village and, unbeknownst to us, into the killing zone.
The terrain — craggy ravines and sweeping, tree-studded mountains riddled with boulders and caves — was made for guerrilla warfare. The ethnic Pashtun villagers pride themselves on their rejection of official authority, their history of resistance and their disdain of foreign forces that many regard as occupiers.
A possible clue to what was to come occurred when the lights in Ganjgal suddenly blinked out while our vehicles were still several miles away, crashing slowly through the semi-dark along a rutted track toward the village.
NO AIR SUPPORT
The first shot cracked out at 5:30 a.m., apparently just as the four Marines and the Afghan unit to which they were attached reached the outskirts of the village. It quickly swelled into a furious storm of gunfire that we realized had been prepared for our arrival.
Several U.S. officers said they suspected that the insurgents had been tipped off by sympathizers in the local Afghan security forces or by the village elders, who announced over the weekend that they were accepting the authority of the local government.
“Whatever we do always leaks,” said Marine Lt. Ademola Fabayo, 28, a New Yorker who was born in Nigeria and is the operations officer for the trainers from the 3rd Marine Division. “You can’t trust even some of their soldiers or officers.”
Sniper rounds snapped off rocks and sizzled overhead. Explosions of recoilless rifle rounds echoed through the valley, while bullets inched closer to the rock wall behind which I crouched with a handful U.S. and Afghan officers.
Lt. Fabayo and several other soldiers later said they’d seen women and children in the village shuttling ammunition to fighters positioned in windows and roofs. Across the valley and from their ridgeline outposts, the Afghans and Americans fired back.
At 5:50 a.m., Army Capt. Will Swenson, of Seattle, WA, the trainer of the Afghan Border Police unit in Shakani, began calling for air support or artillery fire from a unit of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. The responses came back: No helicopters were available.
“This is unbelievable. We have a platoon (of Afghan army) out there and we’ve got no Hotel Echo,” Swenson shouted above the din of gunfire, using the military acronym for high explosive artillery shells. “We’re pinned down.”
The insurgents were firing from inside the village and from positions in the hills immediately behind it and to either side. Judging from the angles of the ricochets, several appeared to be trying to outflank us to get better shots.
“What are you going to do?” Maj. Talib, the operations officer of the Afghan army unit, asked Maj. Williams through his translator.
“We are getting air,” Williams replied.
“What are we going to do?” Talib repeated.
“We are getting air,” Williams replied again, perhaps knowing that none was available but hoping to quiet Talib.
At 6:05 a.m., as our position was becoming increasingly tenuous, Swenson and Fabayo agreed that it was time to pull back and radioed for artillery to fire smoke rounds to mask our retreat.
“They don’t have any smoke. They only have Willy Pete,” Swenson reported, referring to white phosphorus rounds that spew smoke.
Fifty minutes later, as a curtain of white phosphorus smoke roiled across the valley, Swenson and Fabayo unleashed an intense volley of covering fire while the rest of us sprinted back some 20 yards to a series of dirt furrows, weighed down by our flak vests and water carriers.
The two officers raced back to join us. Everyone jumped up and ran for the next stone wall. Everyone but me. Afraid that too many people were jammed together as they raced, offering easy targets, I waited behind for a break in the gunfire, an Afghan border police officer crouched next to me.
TIME TO MOVE
We soon noticed that the insurgent snipers were trying to outflank us again. I saw one up on a small rise fire and miss us by several feet. My companion decided that it was time to go and bolted away across the wash, but the gunfire grew too intense, and again I pulled my body into the dirt and rocks.
I wasn’t as terrified as I was angry: angry at the absence of air support, angry that there was no artillery fire, angry that Williams’ interpreter had been killed, angry at the realization that the operation had obviously been betrayed and angry at myself for not bolting with the others.
I knew it was time to move when I saw a gaggle of Afghan soldiers pounding through the boulders past me, their commander, a bright 26-year-old lieutenant named Ruhollah, hopping between two of them, a bullet wound in his groin. Staying put was no longer an option.
Bundling my legs beneath me and grabbing the small bag I use to carry my pad, pens, glasses and other necessities, I sprang and ran, trying to weave as bullets kicked up dust around me.
I reached the next wall and plunged behind it, nearly falling on top of Swenson, Fabayo and several badly wounded U.S. soldiers.
As Fabayo cracked off rounds, Swenson lay flat on his back, clasping a pressure bandage to the shoulder of one soldier with one hand and holding the microphone of his radio in the other, calling out insurgents’ positions to two U.S. helicopters that finally had arrived.
It was now 7:10 a.m., and with the helicopters prowling overhead and firing into the hillsides, the incoming gunfire slackened enough for us to move again.
I stumbled down the valley to safety after I helped one of the injured soldiers into a medivac helicopter. Capt. Swenson and Lt. Fabayo headed off to find vehicles and, together with Cpl. Meyer, crashed back up the way we’d just fled to retrieve the bodies of the dead Marines and any other casualties they could find…]
The New Media Journal – Thomas D. Segel, September 23, 2009
Active duty military personnel, veterans and retirees alike all expressed their outrage and distain for the reported Rules of Engagement (ROE) that resulted in loss of life to four United States Marines and nine of their Afghan army allies. In a Taliban initiated ambush the insurgents out-gunned the joint military unit and pinned it to indefensible ground. The NATO advised Afghan force was denied artillery support and did not receive close air support for more than one hour after coming under attack. By that time 13 lives had been forfeited because of a politically motivated ROE that always favors the insurgents.
Why was artillery support refused? Why were the helicopter gun ships needed for close air support late? Why did more Americans die? Many feel it is due to the always politically orients Rules of Engagement, a war fighting practice that is only rarely understood by the general public, and is seldom clarified or accepted by members of the military community.
One person voicing such an opinion is retired Marine Corps Major Frank Stolz. This author – and authority on weapons of mass destruction – points out that the ROE has been a very controversial issue since before World War II. He explains, “The original rules were formulated through the League of Nations (1929 – 1946) and were mainly written and approved by diplomats, lawyers, peace advocates and many others appalled by the slaughter of millions in World War I.” The actions of that war, according to Stolz, “included the use of poison gases and the destruction of entire cities through artillery, naval gunfire bombardments and for the first time ever, aerial bombardment, often times when the cities were still filled with non combatant civilians.”
Those who formed the first “rules” included a few people who had observed the horrors of war, but most were never in or near the front lines. They formed their opinions on the conduct of war from places of safety and comfort.
Though the League of Nations attempted to stem the threat of wars, success was never seen. The first rules they accepted were No shotguns in warfare; No flamethrowers in warfare; No aerial bombing of inhabited cities; Enemy and allied supply ships were to be stopped at sea, the crews and personnel were then allowed to get into lifeboats with sufficient food and water to reach the nearest land, and then their ships would be sunk. Says Stolz, ”these were but a few of the nonsensical rules made up by pinstripe diplomats and lawyers.” As history tells us, all parties engaged in combat followed few of these rules.
The ROE we find practiced today will vary slightly from one combat zone to another. It combines the old League of Nation rules along with newer insufferable conditions demanded by the United Nations and many of the European countries. As Major Stolz points out the ROE was intended for the conduct of warfare by uniformed combatants. It was not created to deal with terrorists, anarchists, insurgents and criminal elements all hiding among the civilian populations. Stolz concludes by observing, “Either through stupidity or a desire by some to see us fail, we have now given terrorists who indiscriminately bomb and harm innocent civilians, the same “rights” afforded uniformed military combatants. That, to me, is akin to allowing serial killers periodic home leaves in order to get their heads straight.”
The retired military community seems to be angered by the ROE now in place and how our government appears to have little regard for the lives of our many troops now in harms way. Says one veteran, “I believe we are wasting lives in Afghanistan. It cannot be won without taking out all extreme Islamic fundamentalists. The Taliban are ruthless. They follow no rules, period! They massacre at will. They are pure evil. How do we win this? There is no way except massive casualties across the board. It is a useless war and one our brave soldiers should not be fighting.”
Marine retiree William Bloomfield write, “Having lived through more than one tour in Vietnam, in spite of the ROEs, it smells to me an awful lot like “déjà vu all over again”; politicians who haven’t a clue in charge of those who do. It is egos taking precedence over good judgment and common sense.”
Master Sergeant John Clayton says he is an old Vietnam combat veteran, who fought in that war during 1967 and 68. Clayton says, “There is no substitute for victory and appeasement leads to defeat, as France found out in World War II. Do our enemies have ROE other than to defeat those who oppose them?” He notes they battle the enemy “kill n any way they can and to hell with humanitarian ROE that our government imposes on our military for political and appeasement reasons.”
One soldier now on active duty, (we will call him Bob) writes, “I am scared every time I’m told to move into a dangerous area. Most of us know we will receive little support when things get hot. Nobody really seems to care about us. If they did, they would make sure we had the weapons and troops needed to protect ourselves and win this thing.”…]
Washington Times – By Eli Lake and Sara Carter, September 23, 2009
The commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, will make a long-anticipated request for additional troops by Friday after the first major showdown between President Obama and his military advisers, U.S. defense officials said.
The showdown led Gen. McChrystal privately to tell his senior staff he would resign absent a clear commitment from Mr. Obama to implement the counterinsurgency strategy approved by the White House in March, two senior military officials with direct knowledge of the general’s remarks said. They spoke on condition that they not be named because they were discussing internal deliberations. One official said the general has been frustrated with the delay but has since told his staff he will stay in command.
The official told The Washington Times Wednesday that Gen. McChrystal would turn in to the Pentagon by Friday a formal request for between 10,000 and 40,000 more troops – covering three options for fighting in Afghanistan – and that he expects to testify soon before Congress.
“The general is going to turn in his request by Friday,” the official told The Times. “He is going to ask for more troops and is prepared to explain to Congress the reasons behind his assessment.”
The decision to allow Gen. McChrystal to request more troops defuses for now the biggest battle between Mr. Obama and his generals since he took office.
The bold private remarks by Gen. McChrystal were prompted by Mr. Obama’s recent decision to revisit the counterinsurgency strategy the general had been asked to develop and implement when he took charge in Afghanistan following the ouster of Gen. David McKiernan…]
A counterinsurgency strategy calls for protecting and assisting the local population in hopes they will provide information about terrorist hideouts and planning. In an assessment of Afghanistan that was leaked to The Washington Post on Monday, Gen. McChrystal made clear his dismay at the situation in the country and his belief that more troops would be necessary.
Gen. McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, have argued that effective counter-terrorism against al Qaeda is not possible without a successful counterinsurgency.
One of the U.S. officials who spoke to The Times said Gen. McChrystal “wants a recommitment from the president. He wants to know, ‘Is our strategy counterinsurgency?'”
Gen. McChrystal spoke with his staff on Wednesday in Kabul to inform them that rumors of his threatened resignation were not true and that he is “firmly committed to the war effort, the president and the mission” in Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, spokesman for Gen. McChrystal…]
This video, released by a group calling itself the “German Taliban Mujahideen,” shows foreign fighters in weapons training and training in the snow. The video shows Abu Ibrahim Amriki, an American terrorist operating in Pakistan, and a spokesman named Ayyub Almani. The video appears to be produced by the Islamic Jihad Union, an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. This video is related to the below story in the Telegraph, which described a German “village” in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
(h/t: Long War Journal)
Investigators have discovered a “Jihadi village” of white German al-Qaeda insurgents, including Muslim converts, in Pakistan’s tribal areas close to the Afghan border.
By Dean Nelson in New Delhi and Allan Hall in Berlin, September 25, 2009
The village, in Taliban-controlled Waziristan, is run by the notorious al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which plots raids on Nato forces in Afghanistan.
A recruitment video presents life in the village as a desirable lifestyle choice with schools, hospitals, pharmacies and day care centres, all at a safe distance from the front.
In the video, the presenter, “Abu Adam”, the public face of the group in Germany, points his finger and asks: “Doesn’t it appeal to you? We warmly invite you to join us!”
According to German foreign ministry officials a growing number of German families, many of North African descent, have taken up the offer and travelled to Waziristan where supporters say converts make up some of the insurgents’ most dedicated fighters.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which has a foothold in several German cities, has capitalised on growing concern over the rising profile of German forces in Afghanistan. Their role has become increasingly controversial in Germany in recent weeks after dozens of civilians were killed in an air strike ordered by German officers.
Last night a foreign ministry spokesman told The Daily Telegraph they were now negotiating with Pakistani authorities for the release of six Germans, including “Adrian M”, a white Muslim convert, his Eritrean wife and their four year old daughter, who were arrested as they were making their way to the “German village”. They are particularly concerned about the welfare of the child.
They are being held in custody in Peshawar after their arrest in May shortly when they crossed the border from Iran. They are understood to have left Germany in March this year.
The spokesman said negotiations were “under way” with Pakistani authorities “concerning a group of German citizens” and that it had been aware that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had been recruiting in Germany “since the beginning of the year”.
Their recruitment drive has been led by “Abu Adam”, a 24-year-old German believed to be of Turkish or North African descent who was raised with fellow Jihadi, Abu Ibrahim, in the smart Bonn suburb of Kessenich.
Adam, whose real name is Mounir Chouka, received weapons training from the German army as part of his national service, and later spent three years training at the Federal Office of Statistics where colleagues described him as a “nice boy”…]
Krauthammer Does Not Believe Obama will give Gen. McChrystal the Troops He Needs for Afghanistan – Video 9/27/09
Freedom’s Lighthouse, September 28, 2009
Here is video of Charles Krauthammer on a “Panel Plus” segment of Fox News Sunday saying he does not think President Obama will give Gen. Stanley McChrystal the troops he needs in Afghanistan, and that he believes McChrystal will resign as a result.
Krauthammer had also pointed out how destructive it is for Obama to be waffling on Afghanistan for weeks while our allies look on. He believes our Allies, who are “hanging by a thread” on support of the war effort there, will not be strengthened in their resolve by Obama’s actions.
McChrystal himself, when asked on 60 Minutes last night if he was confident he would get what he needs from President Obama, would only say he is confident he can makes his assessment as to the needs in Afghanistan. In other words – “No” – he is not confident Obama will give him what he needs to win.
How sad is that?
Times Online: Tim Reid: Analysis,September 28, 2009
We have not yet reached a Harry Truman v Douglas MacArthur moment in Washington — the extraordinary day in April 1951 when the US President fired his top general for disagreeing with him on his Korean War policy.
Yet this much is now clear: a potential battle now looms between Barack Obama and his top generals over Afghanistan that could define, even destroy, his presidency.
After only nine months as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama has reached a critical point in determining whether to order a surge of additional troops into Afghanistan. It is a strategy that is being demanded by General Stanley McChrystal, his ground commander, General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, and by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the most senior military officer in the US.
The reason we know that General McChrystal urgently wants more troops is because his brutally grim, and until last week secret, assessment of the war, which he said could be lost within a year without a troop surge, was leaked in full to The Washington Post’s famed investigative reporter, Bob Woodward.
The source of the leak has yet to be revealed but most believe that it must have come from a very high level within the Pentagon in a move designed to make clear to the wider public exactly what Mr Obama’s top general is demanding, and the growing sense of alarm within the military over the President’s delay in deciding what to do.
Inside the White House, Mr Obama has indeed ordered a lengthy and deliberative delay to decide what his Afghanistan strategy should be, only six months after announcing to great fanfare his plan for the war: a classic counter-insurgency mission to protect the Afghan population, destroy the Taleban and rebuild the country’s civilian infrastructure. General McChrystal was hand-picked to execute that mission.
Mr Obama has scheduled at least five meetings with his national security team over the next few weeks to re-examine his Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. Two factors are giving him pause over whether to send more troops, over and above the 21,000 additional forces he ordered to be sent in March, all of which have not even arrived yet. They are the disputed Afghan election, and the memory of Vietnam.
The stakes for Mr Obama, in the decision he must ultimately make, could not be higher.
The Peshawar-Khyber region. Map created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal.
By Craig Whitlock, Sunday, September 27, 2009
KABUL — The Taliban-led insurgency has built a fundraising juggernaut that generates cash from such an array of criminal rackets, donations, taxes, shakedowns and other schemes that U.S. and Afghan officials say it may be impossible to choke off the movement’s money supply.
Obama administration officials say the single largest source of cash for the Taliban, once thought to rely mostly on Afghanistan’s booming opium trade to finance its operations, is not drugs but foreign donations. The CIA recently estimated that Taliban leaders and their allies received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan.
For the past decade, the U.S. Treasury and the U.N. Security Council have maintained financial blacklists of suspected donors to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The U.N. list, originally designed to pressure the Taliban to hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, requires all U.N. members to freeze the assets of designated Taliban officials and their supporters.
The U.N. and Treasury blacklists were greatly expanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since 2005, however, only a handful of alleged Taliban benefactors have been added to the lists.
Some American and Afghan officials said the U.S. government, which had been a leading nominator of names for the U.N. blacklist, paid less attention to Taliban donors after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Until recently, they said, Washington had also been preoccupied with preparing sanctions against individuals and companies doing business with the Iranian government.
Richard Barrett, the coordinator of the United Nations’ Taliban and al-Qaeda Monitoring Team, said Taliban sympathizers are much more skillful today at masking their donations and ensuring that the money cannot be traced back to them.
“It’s been very, very difficult to identify these people,” Barrett said. “You can track the money flow and say this money came from the Gulf, but it’s a lot more difficult to confirm the source.”
In July, Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the Taliban was reaping the bulk of its revenue from donors abroad, especially from the Persian Gulf.
Other U.S. officials have noted that the Taliban received substantial financial help from Gulf countries during the 1990s, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — along with Pakistan — were the only nations that gave diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government.
U.S. officials said there is no evidence today that the Saudi, UAE or other Gulf governments are giving official aid to the Taliban. They said they suspect that Pakistani military and intelligence operatives are continuing to fund the Afghan insurgency, although the Islamabad government denies this.
As the insurgency has grown in strength, the Taliban and its affiliates have embraced a strategy favored by multinational corporations: diversification. With money pouring in from so many sources, the Taliban has been able to expand the insurgency across the country with relative ease, U.S. and Afghan officials said.
In an Aug. 30 report assessing the overall state of the war, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the Taliban’s range of financial resources made it difficult to weaken the movement.
“Eliminating insurgent access to narco-profits — even if possible, and while disruptive — would not destroy their ability to operate so long as other funding sources remained intact,” McChrystal wrote…]
Taliban presence, by district, in Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Helmand provinces. Information on Taliban presence obtained from open source and derived by The Long War Journal based on the presence of Taliban shadow governments, levels of fighting, and statements from ISAF commanders. Map created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal.
By Bob Woodward, September 21, 2009
The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict “will likely result in failure,” according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”
His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.
McChrystal concludes the document’s five-page Commander’s Summary on a note of muted optimism: “While the situation is serious, success is still achievable.”
But he repeatedly warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely. McChrystal describes an Afghan government riddled with corruption and an international force undermined by tactics that alienate civilians.
He provides extensive new details about the Taliban insurgency, which he calls a muscular and sophisticated enemy that uses modern propaganda and systematically reaches into Afghanistan’s prisons to recruit members and even plan operations.
McChrystal’s assessment is one of several options the White House is considering. His plan could intensify a national debate in which leading Democratic lawmakers have expressed reluctance about committing more troops to an increasingly unpopular war. Obama said last week that he will not decide whether to send more troops until he has “absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be.”
The commander has prepared a separate detailed request for additional troops and other resources, but defense officials have said he is awaiting instructions before sending it to the Pentagon.
Senior administration officials asked The Post over the weekend to withhold brief portions of the assessment that they said could compromise future operations. A declassified version of the document, with some deletions made at the government’s request, appears at washingtonpost.com.
McChrystal makes clear that his call for more forces is predicated on the adoption of a strategy in which troops emphasize protecting Afghans rather than killing insurgents or controlling territory. Most starkly, he says: “[I]nadequate resources will likely result in failure. However, without a new strategy, the mission should not be resourced.”
The assessment offers an unsparing critique of the failings of the Afghan government, contending that official corruption is as much of a threat as the insurgency to the mission of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the U.S.-led NATO coalition is widely known.
“The weakness of state institutions, malign actions of power-brokers, widespread corruption and abuse of power by various officials, and ISAF’s own errors, have given Afghans little reason to support their government,” McChrystal says.
The result has been a “crisis of confidence among Afghans,” he writes. “Further, a perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents.”
McChrystal is equally critical of the command he has led since June 15. The key weakness of ISAF, he says, is that it is not aggressively defending the Afghan population. “Pre-occupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us — physically and psychologically — from the people we seek to protect. . . . The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves.”
McChrystal continues: “Afghan social, political, economic, and cultural affairs are complex and poorly understood. ISAF does not sufficiently appreciate the dynamics in local communities, nor how the insurgency, corruption, incompetent officials, power-brokers, and criminality all combine to affect the Afghan population.”
Coalition intelligence-gathering has focused on how to attack insurgents, hindering “ISAF’s comprehension of the critical aspects of Afghan society.”
In a four-page annex on detainee operations, McChrystal warns that the Afghan prison system has become “a sanctuary and base to conduct lethal operations” against the government and coalition forces. He cites as examples an apparent prison connection to the 2008 bombing of the Serena Hotel in Kabul and other attacks. “Unchecked, Taliban/Al Qaeda leaders patiently coordinate and plan, unconcerned with interference from prison personnel or the military.”…]
We Will Never Forget…
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Senior White House officials asked some of the sharpest questions, according to participants and others who have been briefed on the meeting, while the uniformed military, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, did not take issue with McChrystal’s assessment.
According to White House officials involved in the meeting, Vice President Biden offered some of the more pointed challenges to McChrystal, who attended the session by video link from Kabul. One official said Biden played the role of “skeptic in chief,” while other top officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were muted in their comments.
Clinton has given no public signals about whether she is inclined to side with Biden or with McChrystal. But Clinton often sees eye to eye with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who also has kept his views private. She met with Gates on Tuesday and has cleared her afternoon schedule for Friday to meet with her Afghanistan team.
Long War Journal: US, Afghan troops beat back bold enemy assault in eastern Afghanistan
Commenter From the Above Link
Over a hundred T’ban / tribals stormed FOB Keating and a little outpost nearby. The US and Afghans had to be extracted by Air Force SF. They couldn’t get to us for 16-24 hours so they were in just awful shape. Keating is completely demolished. Really terrible. It clearly shows how AQ is much better at the propaganda phase of all this. McCrystal’s plans had us pulling out anyways. We had already quit the northern province. But now they will credit themselves with conquering all of Nuristan.
Related You Tube Video: Bulldog Troop, 1/91 Cav patrols around FOB Keating
Here We Go Again…
To prohibit any increase in the number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan. (Introduced in House)
111th CONGRESS 1st Session
H. R. 3699
To prohibit any increase in the number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
October 1, 2009
Ms. LEE of California (for herself, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. MCGOVERN, Ms. WATERS, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Ms. WATSON, Mr. TOWNS, Mr. CLEAVER, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. COHEN, Mr. HONDA, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. STARK, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. KUCINICH, Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland, Ms. CLARKE, Mr. FILNER, and Mr. GRAYSON) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services
To prohibit any increase in the number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan.
- Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. PROHIBITION ON INCREASE IN NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES SERVING IN AFGHANISTAN.
- No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to increase the number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan so that the number of members serving in Afghanistan exceeds the number so serving on the date of the enactment of this Act.
Added Related Links & Text of HR3699 – end