Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Afghan villagers take up arms against Taliban

Al Jazeera covers the formation of the 'National Uprising Movement,' a group of fighters from four villages who have banded together to fight the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan.

H/t: The Long War Journal

Friday, 22 June 2012

Positive Afghanistan report

Despite signs that the Taliban’s influence is spreading throughout Afghanistan, international military efforts over the last 12 months have not been fruitless, as changes on the battlefield are becoming visible. This can mainly be attributed to prolonged ISAF/ANSF operations against the Taliban’s (and other anti-government elements) logistic chains and, more importantly, their mid-level commanders. These commanders, with their years of tactical experience, are crucial to the Taliban’s battlefield strategies, and their loss has significantly affected the Taliban's ability to continue the same level of intensity and effectiveness that characterized their campaigns from 2009-2011.
TOTAL Taliban/Anti-Government Element (TB/AGE) incidents(Includes all types of attacks, intimidation, abductions, extrajudicial killings & assassinations): 
2011: 10103 - 2012: 5198 A decrease of 41%
IEDs Total: 2011: 5133 - 2012: 2269 A decrease of 55%
Successful IEDs: 2011: 1789 - 2012: 889 A decrease of 50%
Failed IED Attempts: 2011: 3344 - 2012: 2269 A decrease of 32%
Direct Attacks: 2011: 3510 - 2012: 1787 A decrease of 41%

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

International conflict triggers and potential conflict points resulting from food and water insecurity

A Workshop Report by Future Directions International:

Over the next 40 years, there is a high probability of a global food and water crisis. This will result from population pressures, an increasing shortage of fresh water and a decline in access to arable land. The result will be demand exceeding supply due to competing interests, including environmental pressures, poor governance, high levels of food wastage, pre- and post-harvest losses and inadequate research.
All these factors will put upward pressure on the price of food. Unfortunately, those most affected are the least able to afford price increases.
There have been tensions between, and within, states over access and control of food and water. The signs of an impending crisis suggest these tensions will increase.
This paper summarises the conclusions reached during a series of workshops conducted by FDI over the last 18 months, including the recent workshops on conflict points held in March 2012.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Most successful contingent in Afghanistan

from The Simple Truth? Securing the Population as a Recent Invention by Sergio Miller in the Small Wars Journal.

The most successful region has been the Italian-Spanish Regional Command West (measured by incidence of violent acts, civilian and security force deaths, and reconstruction). Why have the Italians and Spanish succeeded where the rest are floundering? ... Neither contingent has attempted to ‘secure the population’ (or start gun fights with local fighters, as the British did so disastrously in 2006). The opposite has been the case. The last time the British were in Herat they became embroiled with the locals and destroyed a number of the city’s historic towers, an act of cultural vandalism that has not been forgotten. The Italians and Spanish were never going to follow that route. Instead, both have deliberately maintained a low profile, away from Afghan civilian centres, and both have focused on training and reconstruction. It has paid off.

Irregular Warfare, Village Stability Operations and the Venture Capital Green Beret

at Small Wars Journal by EM Burlingame:
And there are three overriding truths driving this IW [Irregular Warfare, of Globalisation, not of the Cold War]: investors are more powerful than nation states; stateless actors are more effective than standing armies; and, stability means employment.

The Platoon Leader's Fight: Lessons from Maiwand

Excellent article in the Small Wars Journal by Alexander Frank.

This point needs to be quoted in full:
Train your men for flexibility
The single best training you can do is squad-level situational training in which your squads get hit from multiple directions by direct fire mixed with IEDs or suicide bombers. After defeating the ambush, have a large group of civilians come up to them while they are evacuating their casualties. The transition between direct fire and dealing with non-combatants will be key. To add more realism to it, make it a force-on-force. Task one of your squads with conducting the ambush and one to reacting to it. Grade both squads at the same time.
Read the rest of this paragraph:
...There should at least be one person devoted to intelligence full time, and one person devoted to money and politics full time in every company.
This is what at bottom you're doing:
...the basis of governance is a consistent set of enforceable rules that bring stability, security and order to people’s lives. People will kill for it and Afghan leaders will need your help if they are going to achieve it...

Numbers count and other things

from Waging COIN in Afghanistan: An Interview with Col. Robert M Sandusky

...The first thing you adapt is your thinking and doctrine and then you try to get the equipment more suitable for the war you are currently waging...
...The Soviets failed not because they had too many troops but because they employed too few in waging the wrong kind of campaign...
...counterinsurgency is not in itself a strategy, but a methodology for undermining or mitigating the insurgents and their effects. You can do counterinsurgency continuously, but you may not achieve success if you don’t have a strategy to which that is linked...
...I was always intrigued by the CORDS program ... [f]rom Vietnam the US military should have learned the imperative in counterinsurgency for a command and control structure that was capable of unifying and integrating indigenous and allied military forces, paramilitary organizations, both military and civilian effort...

Friday, 15 June 2012

Preventing Conflict: Interagency Village Stability Operations Model

A report from the Col. Arthur D Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation (The Simons Center) by Matthew Denny self-described as:

This essay explores village stability operations (VSO) in Afghanistan as an “innovative, low-cost, and small footprint” method of achieving U.S. security objectives. New strategic guidance from the Department of Defense (DoD) calls for such measures as a means to fight and win America’s wars, prevent conflict, and shape the security environment.
Promoting stability in failed or failing states is a national security interest of the U.S. and their regional partners, as failed or failing states provide opportunities for transnational crime, terrorism, and other destabilizing activities. VSO in Afghanistan serves as a template for interagency efforts in dispute resolution and fostering relationships with local governements, and provides a conceptual framework to achieve a shared understanding among interagency partners to address both conflict and state fragility where it matters most—at the local level.
The concept of Afghan VSO has a wider application for other interagency efforts to prevent conflict and promote stability in failed or failing states. VSO facilitates coordinating interagency efforts to build local governance capacity and to link the community to the Afghan government.

The PDF of the report is here.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

James Traub from Foreign Policy with his on-going sort-of anti-drone campaign:

At best, drones are an instrument of policy, not a policy in and of itself. Critics of the Obama administration's emerging counterterrorism strategy in Yemen and elsewhere argue that the United States needs fewer drones, and more of something else. The question for this week is: What's the "something else"?

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Tribal elders "biggest hurdle" to Taliban

Khan said that the tribal elders posed the "biggest hurdle" to the rise of the Taliban and the imposition of sharia. The Taliban's solution was to liquidate the tribal leaders who opposed them. 
"In the struggle for sharia, the tribal elders of this area were the biggest hurdle for us," Khan said. "Some of the tribal elders fled the area and some of them were killed."

From an interview with Hafiz Saeed Khan, the Taliban's emir in Arakzai.