Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Makhmut Gareev Blogging

I did a post for AFOE about the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and their successful effort to support their allies there afterwards. With Ivan gone, a significant chunk of the mujahedin movement was willing to make terms with the government, and with significant economic and military aid, the government was able to deal with the rest, until the new Russian authorities cut off all assistance in 1992. (To the extent that the Afghan army had hundreds of tanks available to defend Kandahar but no diesel to drive them.) The piece was based on this US Army study (pdf) of the withdrawal.

I'm beginning to think this may be an idea with legs. Here's "Newshog" Cernig on the Taliban's internal divisions; here is news of much high-level negotiating between the US and the Afghan government. Here, it seems the Afghan government is looking at setting up a security force for the crucial roads based on "important people" in each province - this is precisely what the Afghan Communists and Soviets did in 1988 in preparation for the withdrawal.

Further, there is a push on for more funding for local development projects, which sounds like a potential way of getting people on board, and the idea of a ring road strategy is being floated. And the advisory/training mission is being doubled.

Now bring on the all party talks. Najibullah got 12-15 Il-76 loads a day plus 600 trucks a week and about $4bn a year, money of the day, in 1989-1992; going by the Viktorfeed stats, the private sector is already doing the air equivalent of that from the UAE, just you don't know what they are shipping. Talk to Iran, now, as someone once said. And if anyone knows where Makhmut Gareev, who headed the post-withdrawal advisory mission is, you could try talking to him.


Anonymous said...

I'm really not sure where you're going with this, Alex. The idea that success means standing up an Afghan government that can defend itself isn't new. Nor is the idea that we'll need to talk to the Taliban and other anti-government forces. The new thing that you seem to be proposing is that NATO should start withdrawing its uniformed personnel right now, but I'm not sure of even that.

I apologize. It's not meant as an attack. I just honestly don't see what the here is here, just as I didn't over with your AFOE post.

Alex said...

Perhaps you should read the US Army FMSO paper?

It's necessary to a) really work on the Afghan forces, which implies looking at them as they are, b) make it clear that the current elite can't rely on permanent support, c) redeploy to hold the bulk of the population, e) minimise the violence. Getting away from the Wedding Party Airraid/Inflation Spending/Convoy Guard culture is either the first 80% or the first 20% but either way it's the first..

Anonymous said...

I would very much like to know why you assume that I haven't read the paper. I must come across as uninformed, ignorant, or lazy. That's certainly not my intention, and in my own self-interest as someone with no small on-line footprint and a modest professional reputation that I would like to preserve, I would appreciate it if you'd tell me exactly what I've done to give you that impression.

For what little it's worth, my interest in Afghan issues is professional. I have, in fact, read that paper. Among quite a bit of other material. Which doesn't make me an area expert, of course, just somebody who's gotten involved in assessing the Afghan situation.

It seems as though you believe that current tactics are counterproductive. Me too. The problem, as I've said before, is that I don't see how you can switch to building up the Afghan armed forces and switch to a population-protection strategy without a fairly large increase in the interim number of ground forces. If you disagree with that assessment, I would like to know why.

Alex said...

Because I suspect that a lot of our current activity is counter productive. The only solution is a political solution, and our operational art must be redirected to make achieving it the first priority. Unlike the Soviets, we have the advantage that we're not fighting all over the country; resources should be concentrated militarily on the south half of the ring road, but most of all, on replacing western troops/contractors with Afghans.

The only operating mode where Afghanistan isn't at war is where there is a stable balance of power within the Pashtuns and between the Pashtuns and the others. How can we achieve that?

Anonymous said...

1) Police: get them better trained and get them doing police work in the urban areas rather than fighting ACF in the mountains

2) ISAF: redeploy; concentrate on ensuring security in the cities and large towns

3) Narcotics: in the short term, buy up and destroy the poppy crop; in the medium term, complete overhaul of the eradication program, including financing for alternative crops

4) Political: set a definite deadline for withdrawal; make explicit the link between public order and the withdrawal of coalition troops

5) Other militias: bring OEF and other CTFs under unified ISAF control

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