Notes on the
SIGAR Afghanistan Report and WikiLeaks
A recently released
US document, titled "Actions
Needed to Improve the Reliability of Afghan Security Force Assessments"
and published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction
(SIGAR) Arnold Fields, has pointed out serious flaws in the manner in which
the military evaluated the progress by the Afghan army and police. Allied
trainers and mentors are supposed to bring both groups to the stage where
they can hold their own against the insurgents.
The report was
released on 28 June 2010 (comments on the recent WikiLeaks
posts follow afterwards).
From the perspective
of Otoom the focus is not so much on the bureaucratic framework under which
assessments of any kind are made, but rather the mindset responsible for establishing
the necessary parameters in the first place; in other words, the cognitive
dynamics underlying the processes of perception.
A measuring device
called Capability Milestone (CM) has been used by the US military, where CM1
denotes the highest capability (ie, ready to be handed over the responsibility
to look after their own), and CM4 the lowest.
on the pages dealing with the situation in Iraq (Notes
on the Iraq Study Group Report and Notes
on Where is Iraq heading? Lessons from Basra) the demographic in that
area is characterised by intense religiosity, a commensurate emotionalism,
closely-knit tribes and a general lack of education based on societal priorities.
a similar picture. The aim by the US and its allies to establish a comprehensive
society that overarches the differences created by ideological views which
have been hardened through compact social scopes and supported by lack of
a general education must therefore be questioned.
The SIGAR report
stresses the difficulty of establishing a common framework for evaluation,
so that a certain CM mark referring to several particular units will in fact
indicate comparable achievements. Apart from the procedural detail, if one
unit of the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) or the Afghanistan
National Police (ANP) consists of members from certain tribal areas and another
unit features a different composition, for an outsider to evaluate their respective
behaviour according to some common standard would be a problem from the beginning.
According to the report, "'The inability of top-rated units to sustain
their capabilities over time calls into question the effectiveness of the
CM rating system as a reliable measure of ANSF development progress. Furthermore,
the CM rating system created unintended disincentives for ANSF units to attain
top-rated capabilities. Finally, similarly rated ANSF units have not always
manifested similar capabilities'" (p.5).
As far as sustaining
their capabilities are concerned, "The ANP will simply stop doing what
we asked them to do as soon as we leave the area. This is especially troublesome
in areas of security and patrolling" (p.5). As to the reasons why, "Mentor/partner
support for ANA [Afghanistan National Army] units at the top rating level
has been minimized to re-prioritize support for lower-rated units; in the
case of ANP units, it is withdrawn entirely. Not surprisingly, ANSF units
dislike the prospect of losing U.S. and Coalition mentors and partners who
bring with them force protection, expertise, supplies, funding, and prestige"
When a group
that, in line with the strategy and its feedback assessment, has been left
to its own devices and then falters for lack of "protection" and "expertise"
immediately afterwards then there would be a serious issue with the group's
ability to digest information and training. Furthermore, when prestige becomes
a factor one should consider the degree of maturity which otherwise would
engender the exact opposite: someone who has been prepared and knows it would
leave the protection of guardian proudly and endeavour to demonstrate that
they can now stand on their own two feet. Not so here.
that function under the umbrella of a collective rule set tend to exhibit
an ongoing mutual dependency on the others. The absence of a sufficient degree
of individualism that allows leaving the 'nest' more familiar in the West
has lead to a misinterpretation by the Coalition of what they are dealing
"For example, our discussions with army and police mentors and partners
revealed that in some fully supplied units poor leadership, corruption, and
other factors had significantly diminished operational effectiveness"
(p.7) illustrates the typical effects of tribalism, and they jeopardise the
goals of the US to a considerable extent.
of the report is telling: "However, personnel inputs used in ANA unit capability
assessments did not reflect operational realities, as they were based on measurements
of the number of personnel assigned to each unit, without also considering
the actual number of soldiers present for duty. Due to substantial absences
without leave (AWOL) and approved absence rates, this method of evaluation
has falsely inflated measures of personnel readiness, contributing to an overstatement
of ANA capabilities" - and, in a footnote, "MOD's [Ministry of
Defense] definition of AWOL includes those personnel absent from regular duty
after 24 hours. MOD does not consider personnel late back from leave to be
AWOL. Additionally, according to officials at NTM-A/CSTC-A, an MOD AWOL amnesty
was in place for ANA personnel through the end of the last solar year, 1388.
That amnesty allowed troops to return to the rolls without punishment "
With soft spots
like these the idea does suggest itself that the assessments were meant to
appear as positive as possible, and as a consequence making it easier for
the Coalition to extract itself from the quagmire.
"However, even with a top rating for personnel, a unit may have a low number
of personnel present for duty. For example, as of March 2010, the 1st kandak
[battalion] of the 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps, was granted a CM1 rating for
personnel, based on a fill rate of 99 percent. Specifically, this kandak had
796 personnel authorized and 795 assigned. However, the same unit had only
469 personnel present for duty, giving it a present-for-duty rate of 59 percent,
which would have corresponded to a CM3 personnel rating" (p.9) can be
seen as a confirmation of the above.
is found in the following section: "Overstated Police Capabilities: The
Case of Baghlan-e Jadid IJC's [International Security Assistance Force Joint
Command] March 2010 TRAT report included a CM1 rating for the Baghlan-e Jadid
police district in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan. The district first
reached a CM1 rating in August 2008 and, according to IJC, maintained that
rating for 9 months until it graduated from the Focused Police District Development
(FPDD) program in June 2009." And, "One IJC official commented, 'Unfortunately,
*FPDD+ graduation has become synonymous with CM1 (a super CM1 if you will)
that doesn't exist at all in reality.' He added that in his opinion the Baghlan-e
Jadid police force had 'withered away to the point that it barely functions.'
Another U.S. military official, operating from within RC-North said, 'I doubt
CM1. Most of their police officers do not even have uniforms, nor has the
majority received basic training, either'" (p.13).
Not only do the
results of their training remain elusive, the people themselves are hardly
in the Afghan military and police forces has undermined developmental gains
in many units, by reducing the number of trained personnel available for operations.
As of March 2010, the ANA's AWOL rate was 12 percent and, as of May 2010,
the ANP had an overall attrition rate of over 17 percent. Those losses, coupled
with high levels of approved absence and frequent reassignments, have left
many units with insufficient personnel to permit effective operations. For
example, according to NTM-A/CSTC-A, as of February 2010, solar-year-to-date
attrition in ANCOP-'the premier force in the ANP,' according to DOD-was about
73 percent. One ANCOP battalion in RC-West had an attrition rate of 140 percent
over that period. The attrition rate for Afghan Border Police over the same
period was 27.4 percent, according to NTM-A/CSTC-A" (p.18).
The reason? "In
one instance, in July 2009, mentors reported that at Waza Zadran police district
in Paktia Province there were only 6 ANP personnel in place, compared with
the tashkil authorization of 53 officers. That district completed FPDD training
in April 2008, when 23 students were trained, according to NTM-A/CSTC-A's
records. Mentors said this severe attrition was largely due to actions taken
by powerful anti-coalition forces and disappointment over pay levels"
It seems those
"powerful anti-coalition forces" wait until the men have been instructed in
the ways of the Coalition and then take them aside to make use of that information.
Hardly an effective way to wage a war. Interestingly an article in Brisbane's
Courier Mail reported on the increasing sophistication of the Taliban, as
related by US military officials .
As far as corruption
is concerned the report notes, "Fuel: Corruption has affected fuel availability
and distribution within the ANSF, and thus the operational effectiveness of
army and police units. Problems with fuel accountability, including siphoning
and selling fuel, were widely reported in police unit assessments and detailed
for us on our visits to army and police units around the country. An October
2009 report on a top-rated police unit in Chaparhar, Nangarhar Province, stated
that the lack of accountability for fuel was the greatest issue in sending
out patrols. A January 2010 report from Bala Boluk, Farah Province, described
fuel-related corruption as a 'perpetual problem.'
- Illegal checkpoints: Mentor/partner reports noted that in some places it
was typical for Afghan police to 'shake down' travelers for money in order
to pass through districts.
- Personnel: Misuse and diversion of police personnel were cited in numerous
police assessments as challenges to effective operations, weakening the present-for-duty
strength of many police units.
- Pay and rank: Pay fraud and rank abuse were widely reported, although electronic
fund transfer programs were credited with reducing payroll abuse in some police
units. Reports of ghost police were common and RC-North police mentors stated
that paying for promotion was commonly accepted among the ANP. Mentors in
Ghowrmach police district, Baghdis Province, reported in October 2009 that,
even though electronic fund transfer was not available for the unit due to
its remote location, pay continued for absent police, those whose loyalties
were suspect, and officers who had never worked in the district" (p.20).
a by-product of compact social scopes, where the allegiance to those considered
close overrides any concerns about the wider society. It therefore represents
a lack of maturity.
of what a tribal culture means on ground level appears in the following comment
regarding drug use: "As of February 2010, results from drug tests during
a personnel asset inventory of the Afghan police force overall showed positive
results for drug use in 17 percent of police tested. NTM-A/CSTC-A officials
who assisted MOI with the inventory said that this rate was likely understated,
and the March TRAT report noted that the inventory results for Ghazni and
Paktika Provinces were returning an average usage rate for controlled substances
of at least 50 percent, with the highest rates in more remote areas" (p.20).
One example was given: "According to several officials with responsibility
for ANSF development, an extreme case of drug abuse had occurred at an ANCOP
unit of about 100 personnel based at Nimla Gardens, Nangarhar Province. There,
according to eye witness accounts from U.S. military personnel, ANCOP personnel
were openly using marijuana and were unwilling to conduct operations or even
leave their compound" (p.20).
The more remote
the area, the stronger the ties among the locals. That example could have
come straight out of a bad movie.
When one considers
that "since 2002, the United States has provided over $27 billion-over
half of all reconstruction dollars-for ANSF training, equipping, and sustainment"
(p.2) the need for applying a proper cognitive evaluation of the conditions
on the ground presents itself in stark relief. Quite apart from the ill-considered
plan to combat Islamic militancy in a far away territory without giving the
problematic influence of Muslims within Western borders hardly any thought,
the idea of fast-tracking evolution in people who have maintained their characteristics
for many centuries reveals a political correctness which refuses to accept
that not all people around the world are the same.
As this report
shows once again, such blindness is being paid for with many lives and the
waste of literally billions of dollars.
1. Courier Mail, 17 Jul 10, "Taliban step up attacks".
Comments on the
The SIGAR audit
gave many hints what the situation on the ground is like. Away from the daily
sound bites propagated through the media the harsh reality comes through.
An even more
direct view has been made available through the recent leaks of military reports
to the WikiLeaks
website. One after another they are the voices of soldiers as they field
their stories day by day. The language is terse and precise.
to provide their own imagery that these sentences imply.
Here are four
samples from almost 77,000, taken from the file afg.csv on the 28 July 2010.
As can be seen, they more than confirm the sentiments expressed on these pages
- relating the actual environment that soldiers have to put up with in a land
that is far from what we are used to in the West.
As you read them,
try to visualise the type of people who act in such a manner; their tribalism,
their religious fervour, their small social horizon, their brutish nature.
And what it must be like to face all this day after excruciating day, and
for the slightest mistake put through the wringer by their own side. Then
imagine that we sacrifice our soldiers' lives and many of billions of our
money for that.
(S//REL GCTF) MULLAH ABDULLAH, MULLAH LALA, AND OTHER UNIDENTIFIED TALIBAN
ARE TARGETING ORUZGAN PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR JAN MOHAMMAD FOR ASSASSINATION.
(S/REL GCTF) SOURCE COMMENT: AN UNIDENTIFIED TALIBAN RECENTLY SENT A NOTE
OF WARNING AND CAUTION TO ORUZGAN PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR JAN MOHAMMED. THE UNSIGNED
NOTE WAS WRITTEN IN BLUE INK ON A SCRAP OF BLUE-LINED WHITE PAPER. (S/REL
GCTF) THE TRANSLATION OF THE NOTE IS AS FOLLOWS: FROM SOME UNKNOWN TALIBAN,
WE GIVE THIS WARNING TO MULLAH MALIM AND MULLAH YOUSEF BECAUSE YOU GIVE PEACE
AND ACCEPTANCE TO THE SONS OF BUSH. YOU HAVE SELECTED THE WAY OF UNBELIEVERS
SO WE KNOW NOW WHAT TO DO WITH YOU. WE ARE JUST WAITING FOR THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY.
WE WILL NEVER FORGET THE STORY OF HAJI LALA AND THE HILUXES. (EXPLICIT) YOUR
MOTHER WHEN WE ARE KILLING YOU WE WILL NOT SEE THE HOLY QURAN. YOU CAN SEE
WHAT HAPPENED TO AMANULLAH. WE HAVE LEFT OUR HOMES, SONS OF THE UNBELIEVERS,
YOU HAVE PUT THE HOLY QURAN UNDER YOUR FEET JAN MOHAMMAD, AND WE WILL (EXPLICIT)
YOUR MOTHER. (TF LINEBACKER INTSUM 27 MAY 04)
300910ZOCT07 - PCC reported about attack on Jingle truck IVO Baza Khala (VB
720 799) at 300730ZOCT07: 4 trucks were attacked (VB 75200 78200). 301020ZOCT07
PCC reported that ANP patrol was sent to the location, found 1 civilian truck
burned. Several trucks from the convoy arrived at jingle truck holding yard
at FOB Sharana. The drivers were questioned by THT and intelligence officer
of PBG. One of them, named Aziz Rahman, was the driver of the lead truck.
He said he was stopped by the attackers IVO Baz Kala village, about 2 km after
he past the second Police station IVO the Band-e Sardeh dam. Four attackers
came out from the village, wearing green military-style jackets, black sneakers,
and had their faces covered. They all had beards. They were armed with AKs
and tried to direct his truck into the village. The driver took advantage
of their carelessness and escaped by his truck. The attackers shot at the
truck to stop him, but he kept going and managed to escape with only minor
damage to his vehicle and cargo. The rest of the trucks also tried to escape.
But some of them were stopped and burned. The driver doesnt know how many
were stopped and burned but he is sure he saw a smoke. He also added that
he saw ANP arriving at the scene. Police forced attackers to escape. Second
driver named Sameulah said that he also escaped from the scene by his truck.
He said that he saw about 7 attackers wearing military jackets. They were
armed with AKs. PKM, RPGs. They tried to stop the convoy by shooting. Analysts
Comments: It seems that villagers of Baz Kala are involved in the attack.
The question is if they were coerced or willingly cooperated with the attackers.
The attackers seem to be the criminals who attacked the convoy to seize goods,
taking advantage of unarmed drivers and unsecured convoys. PBG Patrol including
THT will go to Baz Kala with ANP to investigate and determine the villagers
opinion and knowledge about event. A search of the houses may be possible
if locals wont cooperate with ANP and PBG.
While completing an IED Recovery Operation, IVO 42S XC 44131 7700, CIED JAF
was notified of an IED along Route Orlando, Kot District, Nangarhar Province,
IVO 42S XC 47449 79199. CIED JAF was notified by CSE JAF, that WRA had contacted
them and stated that they had come across an IED while leaving the previous
IED scene, IVO 42S XC 44131 77000. WRA stated that there was a crowd of children
around the scene who had departed when they arrived. The children had pulled
up the wires and wrote "Bomb" on several rocks around the IED. WRA located
the wires protruding from the ground and proceeded to uncover the IED. CIED
JAF arrived on scene and conducted IED operations. Due to WRA procedures,
741/4 donned bomb suit and semi-remotely removed the main charge from its
emplacement. The main charge consisted of a TC-6 anti-tank landmine with 2x
82mm mortars tied together with det cord. The mortar fuze wells were filled
with soap. This is a TTP of an IED builder in the Kot/Bati Kot area who actively
built IEDs until he was entered into the HIIDE system in JAN09. No power source
or means of initiation were recovered. 741/4 believes that the LN children
had taken the items for the batteries. All evidence was collected and turned
over to CEXC JAF.
1PPCLI BG was conducting an independent patrol. FF reported an IED STRIKE
from a small detonation. FF conducting a search for a possible secondary device.
FF performed 5-25s and will pull back. No injuries reported, but blown third
tire on left side of VEH. UPDATE 191009Z FF have located a secondary device
at GR 41R QQ 46834 87030 in a Wadi at a crossing site. No INS activity ATT.
EOD will exploit at a later time. Vehicle has been self-recovered. UPD2 191603Z
FF DETAINED 2 X INS TRYING TO GET EYES ON A POSSIBLE RCIED DURING THE IED
STRIKE, C/S BELIEVE THEY WERE TRYING TO DETONATE A DEVICE WHILE INTEL REPORTS
WERE BEING REPORTED TO C/S OF SIMILAR ACTIVITIES. DETAINEE #2 (NNOR AHMED)
WAS SEEN TALKING TO HIS CELL PHONE WHILE PUSHING A BUTTON ON THE PHONE FURIOUSLY,
HE WAS OBVIOUSLY FRUSTRATED, THEY WERE BOTH TALKING TO THEIR CELL PHONES.
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE SCREENING THEIR STORIES CONTINUALLY CHANGED. AT
FIRST DETAINEE # 1 (MUSAN JAN) CLAIMED TO KNOW DETAINEE # 2 WHILE DETAINEE
#2 SAID HE DID NOT KNOW DETAINEE #1. THAT STORY CHANGED NUMEROUS TIMES. DETAINEE
#1 CLAIMED HE WAS FARMING TOBACCO WHILE DETAINEE #2 SAID HE WAS FARMING WHEAT.
BOTH THE DETAINEES TESTED POSITIVE WITH EXSPRAY. DETAINEE #2 HAD A VERY HIGH
CONCENTRATION AND THE TEST TURNED OUT COMPLETELY PINK. THE DETAINEES WERE
CARRYING 1 X RADIO, 2 X CELL PHONES, AND 1 X GARAGE DOOR OPENER. THEY WERE
BOTH ESTIMATED TO BE 22 YEARS OLD, AND ARE IN GOOD CONDITION. BDA: 1 x VEH
damage. **EVENT CLOSED**
After nine years
of those conditions and no end in sight it is justified to ask what the real
purpose of the exercise is supposed to be.
Is it to protect
some idealised version of Islam from its own especially demonised self; or
is it to play evolution in fat-forward mode on a people who obviously haven't
read the script; or is it nothing more than the acting-out of a dreamy vision
held by a bunch of naked emperors who miss no opportunity to parade themselves
before the masses?
PS: A Pentagon
assessment - obtained by the media only recently - concluded that the
announced damage to US soldiers in Afghanistan by the above leaked material
did not materialise after all. It seemed all along that the type of information
gleaned from those reports was nothing that people over there would not have
known already. If there is any damage it concerns the reputation of the decision
makers back home who sent the troops there in the first place.
18 Jul 2010