Breaking News: Looks Like A Broken Plan For Afghanistan! But Wait A Moment Folks!
The content of the report comes as no surprise as does the premature revelation, leak or media detective work. But; I am troubled by the knee jerk reaction to facts that we knew were to come into play down the line. Posing questions as to what President Obama will do now are an utter waste of time.
Both the withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan are predicated upon the political/electoral cycle time tables of 2010 and 2012. That is the simple ugly truth and everything will be managed and manipulated around those two hinge pivots.
The Democrats will position themselves in the draw down mode and the Republicans will be screaming: “Stay, Stay, Stay or terrorists will be headed our way! We have no moral compass left; we have no way to win these debacles in a military sense and all the rhetoric to the contrary is a truck load of pasture shoveling.
The only folks who can really believe that we can win by military force of arms are those who are clearly ignorant of proud of it!
Those who advance such notions are only hell bent on the macho vomit of a bye-gone world determined to polarize the ignorant sheep of their party in a destroy Obama at all costs in 2012. It is pure Cheneyism!
Breaking...Pentagon Papers-Oops There Goes The Afghan Plan.
On the Nightly News with Brian Williams, NBC's chief correspondent Richard Engel broke his exclusive that NBC titled as: Afghan Army flunks Pentagon report card.
NBC News Transcripts
SHOW: NBC Nightly News 6:30 PM EST NBC | December 29, 2009 Tuesday
Report On Afghan National Army Released To Public
BRIAN WILLIAMS | RICHARD ENGEL
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:
Now to news from overseas tonight. Tonight we have an NBC News exclusive, a report that was prepared for US military commanders about the situation in Afghanistan, how ready the Afghan army is. This report was not to be distributed, but it has been now. And as you'll see, it shows what a tough road Americans in uniform now have in front of them. Our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel obtained the report. He's here with us in our New York studios with more.
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD ENGEL reporting:
Good evening, Brian. This is a copy of that report. It was prepared for a briefing for CENTCOM commander, General David Petraeus. It was also copied to his commanding general in Afghanistan. And the military says that it is still a preliminary report, that it's not final, but that does not change what this says about the Afghan national army, or the ANA.
The 25-page study obtained by NBC News says senior Afghan commanders are, quote, "not at war. Many ANA leaders work short days, are often absent and place personal gain above national survival." The report says Afghan troops simply aren't leading the fight, but remain dependent on US forces, and show few signs of wanting to take off the training wheels. But what's striking about the report is that it goes to the heart of President Obama's argument about the war. When announcing the surge, the president said Afghan forces must be trained and equipped quickly, so American troops can return home. But the report's section on the Afghan army's personnel says, "Corruption, nepotism and untrained, unmotivated personnel make success all but impossible."
And there may not be nearly as many Afghan battalions as the country claims. The report said previous estimates are not believable. "Estimate for soldiers actually in battalions far below reported," it said. "Example: between 40 and 50 percent in some areas." And Afghan soldiers still in the ranks have literacy problems, and that "mentally, physically unfit and drug addicts hurt units."
Perhaps the most controversial finding, however, has to do with timing. President Obama has said he wants the troop surge to start drawing down in July 2011. But the assessment said it will take time to expand and rehabilitate Afghan forces. The report said it "cannot take a year to fix this problem."
The report is dated from mid-December, and it just goes on and on, mostly complaining about leadership and corruption within the Afghan security forces.
WILLIAMS: We went over there weeks ago just to watch them train the Afghans. The problem is you don't get to see the end result.
ENGEL: That is now the priority, and this says that the priority is--has a problem.
WILLIAMS: Richard, thanks for your reporting tonight. Richard Engel here with us.
When our broadcast continues here on a Tuesday night, about those herbal supplements, specifically the big name supplement supposed to improve your memory. A new study says save your money. And later, remembering this past year by remembering those who left us.
"December 29, 2009
Rachel Maddow: New Pentagon Report Blows HUGE Hole In Obama's Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan: Maddow calls it "narrative changing-course changing.
MADDOW: "We are about to break some serious news on this show. Next, joining us here in studio is NBC's Richard Engel. He's NBC's chief foreign correspondent and he is joining us with an exclusive jaw-dropping report from the Pentagon about America's chances for military success in Afghanistan. This is a report that Richard has obtained exclusively. It may change the whole narrative of how we discuss the war...
- snip -
He broke the story tonight on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. We'll have Richard here in person in just a moment to walk us through this document he has obtained.
Because we are talking about Afghanistan, I do want to report first, though, that an American soldier was killed today there under very worrying circumstances. The Defense Department and NATO are not saying anything about this yet, other than to confirm that an American was killed in a shooting, but it's reports from Afghan and Italian sources that make this so worrying. They're saying this American was killed by an Afghan soldier, who opened fire on foreign troops with whom he was serving. Two Italian soldiers wounded in the same incident in which one American was killed... A corps commander with the Afghan National Army told the Associated Press that this Afghan solider got angry when NATO soldiers tried to keep him away from a helicopter that was about to land. Italian sources reporting that there was no chance that this shooting was accidental - it was intentional.
Now, this isn't the first time something like this has happened, not by a long shot. In November, an Afghan policeman shot and killed five British soldiers in Helmand province. Late October two American soldiers killed when someone wearing an Afghan National Police uniform opened fire on them... In March, an Afghan soldier killed two American servicemen and wounded a third before killing himself. Back in July 2007 an Afghan soldier opened fire and killed four of his own countrymen and wounded an American advisor. The American was reportedly the target of his outrage. And in May or 2007, an Afghan soldier shot and killed two American soldiers and wounded two others outside a top security prison outside of Kabul.
... but incidents like today's and this, even, abbreviated catalog of past carnage of this type, raise questions about the nature of our mission in Afghanistan, even as our President escalates it. The most minimal description of what our forces are there to do is to train and equip Afghanistan's military and police, so that they can defend their country themselves. It appears that at times, we are arming them and then they are turning around and training that fire on us.
There are also new questions today about whether our mission to train Afghan forces, even if it is wise, a question about whether it has a chance of succeeding. At least, whether it has a chance at succeeding within the time frame that President Obama has laid out for that mission.
With us again tonight is NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel..."
ENGEL: "This report, it's 25-pages long, was provided for a briefing for the top commander, CENTCOM commander, David Patraeus. Also CCed on this report was the senior commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and it talks about the readiness of the Afghan security forces, primarily, the Afghan National Army.
To understand the context of this: THE main mission of the United States Army, all of the different forces that are there, is to train the Afghan security forces so that American forces can ultimately leave. That is THE No. 1 priority. The reason 30,000 extra troops are going there is to try and create enough security so that an Afghan Army can be built. I was told this by numerous commanders. No. 1 priority.
This report says that that priority is facing serious, serious problems and the military knows it.
This was an independent study; if I could just read a few things... It talks about how, this is the opening statement, 'The ANA (which is the Afghan National Army) above company level is not at war.' Now, company level means the small units, so the soldiers on the ground, they're fighting. Above, say 150 soldiers, anything, colonel, general, anyone at that level, doesn't believe he's at war. They talk about corruption. This is a quote: 'Nepotism, corruption, and absenteeism among ANA leaders makes success impossible. Change must come quickly.' Another line: 'If Afghan political leaders do not place competent people in charge, no amount of coalition support will suffice in the long term.'
It's more than sobering. It says that this is a serious challenge. It goes on to say that rehabilitating the Afghan security forces will not take one year, it will take a long time."
MADDOW: "Do they give a time frame about how long it would take if it was going to happen?"
ENGEL: "No. I've heard that, independently from this report, that they're thinking about four years. And the reason that the dates are important is, there is the key speech by President Obama - he says he wants to start dialing back the surge, roughly, eighteen months - the summer of 2011, eighteen months from when he announced it. That is impossible according to this study, to get the Afghan security forces up and running and in place and even with some sort of semblance. Another key finding in this report says that the numbers of Afghan troops and police that on the ground are inaccurate, that some battalions will over-report by 40-50 percent, inflate their numbers."
This report, it's 25-pages long, was provided for a briefing for the top commander, CENTCOM commander, David Patraeus. Also CCed on this report was the senior commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and it talks about the readiness of the Afghan security forces, primarily, the Afghan National Army
Btw, the ANA openly admits on their own website that "The problems of desertion and difficult recruitment are recurring problems." The ANA claims to have been active since the 1880s, but the earliest date listed for any activity is, not surprisingly, 2001.
-Back to the report
ENGEL: The ANA (which is the Afghan National Army) above company level is not at war. Now, company level means the small units, so the soldiers on the ground, they're fighting. Above, say 150 soldiers, anything, colonel, general, anyone at that level, doesn't believe he's at war. They talk about corruption. This is a quote: 'Nepotism, corruption, and absenteeism among ANA leaders makes success impossible. Change must come quickly.' Another line: 'If Afghan political leaders do not place competent people in charge, no amount of coalition support will suffice in the long term.'
For U.S., Vast Challenge To Expand Afghan Forces, NPR, 20 December 2009
EXCERPT: "Twice as many recruits joined the Afghan army in the first two weeks of December as during the entire previous month. Among them are hundreds of young men at a military training center in the hills of eastern Kabul. President Obama's strategy for Afghanistan hinges on a rapid buildup of the Afghan army and police force to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida so that U.S. troops can start coming home in mid-2011. The ambitious plan seeks to churn out thousands of new soldiers and police officers in the coming months from training academies across Afghanistan. By 2012, U.S. military officials hope to double the Afghan security forces from its current size to 400,000 people. But the rapid expansion could create many more problems than it solves. And there's the cost: $10 billion a year, according to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who predicts it will have to be funded by the West for the next two decades. . . NATO advisers are struggling to help with another key Afghan military and police issue: getting the most basic supplies to soldiers and police officers in the field."
Read the full story.
A short-term approach to Afghanistan, The Washington Post, 22 December 2009
Ex-US diplomat predicts Afghan troop surge failure, BBC News, 22 December 2009
Look east for lessons in US Afghan surge, AFP, 20 December 2009
What to watch in the Afghanistan war: Training the Afghan Army [editorial], The Christian Science Monitor, 11 December 2009
Afghanistan: State of surge, Mother Jones, 10 December 2009
Related media and reports:
Afghanistan: Perfect paralysis, Chatham House, January 2010
Paying for the troop escalation in Afghanistan, Center for American Progress, 22 December 2009
Video: Afghanistan’s toking troops not exactly battle-ready [video], Wired // Danger Room, 21 December 2009
Shaping ANSF: What it will take to implement Obama's new strategy, 10 December 2009
Pay raise boosts applications for ANSF, 9 December 2009
Afghan training mission faces tough obstacles, 3 December 2009
Drugs, defections plaguing Afghan forces: NATO commander, 6 November 2009
The long march: Building an Afghan National Army, 29 May 2009
16 December 2009
NATO Chief Seeks Russian Helicopters for Afghanistan, BBC News, 16 December 2009
EXCERPT: "Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has asked Russia to provide helicopters to Afghanistan to help win the war against the Taliban insurgency. During talks in Moscow he also asked Russia to help train Afghan forces. Russia said it would study the request. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed what he called a new 'readiness for dialogue' between Russia and Nato. Mr Rasmussen's visit is the first by a Nato chief since relations chilled after last year's Russian-Georgian war. The three-day visit, including talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, signifies the alliance's determination to strengthen ties with Moscow, analysts say. Mr Rasmussen said he had presented Russian leaders with a list of 'concrete proposals' on helping Nato confront the Taliban insurgency. Helicopters are considered a crucial asset in the war against the Taliban, for their ability to move troops around and provide air support. Nato allies have found a shortage of helicopters one of the main handicaps in fighting the insurgency."
Read the full story.
Russia-NATO relations enter new stage: Medvedev, RIA Novosti, 16 December 2009
RF not dramatise disagreements with NATO: Lavrov, ITAR-TASS, 16 December 2009
Experts remain pessimistic over NATO chief's mission to Moscow, Deutsche Welle, 14 December 2009
Russia and Nato: A frozen conflict - Editorial, The Guardian, 14 December 2009
Russia and NATO Explore the Limits of the "Agreeing to Disagree" Posture, The Jamestown Foundation, 14 December 2009
NATO urges Russia to help equip, train Afghan forces, 7 October 2009
Russia-NATO agree on Afghan routes, 30 January 2009
NATO, Russia mend relations as Afghan war heats up, 26 January 2009
NATO's Afghan mission in trouble: Brown, 29 April 2008
Helicopter shortage hurting Afghan mission, 27 November 2007
10 December 2009
Shaping Afghan National Security Forces: What It Will Take To Implement President Obama's New Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 10 December 2009
EXCERPT: "President Obama has announced a new strategy for Afghanistan whose success is dependent upon beginning the transfer of responsibility for Afghan security to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in mid-2011. This is a far more difficult challenge than many realize. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have made significant advances during the last few years, but their development had low to moderate priority for nearly half a decade. It was not until 2006-2007 that the ANSF began to have meaningful force goals, and to have adequate NATO/ISAF and US aid in developing its 'force quantity.' The present ANSF goals are probably still only about half the level that will eventually be needed to work with NATO/ISAF forces; implement the ISAF/Afghan strategy of shape, clear, hold, and build, and defeat the insurgency. Critical problems still exist in 'force quality' because of a long-standing lack of mentors and partners, equipment, and a lack of the financial support the ANSF needs to grow and become effective."
Read the full report [pdf].
Military build-up not remedy to Afghan imbroglio, China View, 10 December 2009
US may start Afghan transition before July 2011, Reuters, 10 December 2009
Afghan police slow to earn trust of Americans, Stars and Stripes, 9 December 2009
NATO stresses capable Afghan force, UPI, 4 December 2009
Afghan training mission faces tough obstacles, 3 December 2009
NATO training of ANA, ANP to consolidate efforts, 23 November 2009
Drugs, defections plaguing Afghan forces: NATO commander, 6 November 2009
Assessment of plans to train Afghan National Security Forces, 5 October 2009
Critical failures in resourcing Afghan and Iraq wars, 11 August 2009