And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

>>Military Analysis – Marines Do Heavy Lifting as Afghan Army Lags in Battle – NYTimes.com

Posted on: February 21, 2010

Military Analysis – Marines Do Heavy Lifting as Afghan Army Lags in Battle – NYTimes.com

The United States has discovered when they have tried to help develop any of the Muslim countries armies that it was just not possible.  It didn’t happen in Iraq.  Remember the “Mother of all Armies”  and how they threw down their weapons and ran at the first site of  an American?   Remember our on going efforts to develop an Iraqi army and police force?  It is failing and the country will fall into chaos as soon as we leave.  This chaos will  end only when one strong man emerges who is a bigger thug than the rest.  The so called “legitimate government” will fall.  Our officials know this, our army commanders know this and actually the world knows this.   These Muslim armies simply can not operate as a unit and in a stand up army to army battle.   There are too many factions  to ever get a combined loyal force willing to trust each other soldier to soldier, or the brotherhood of warriors which is an essential component in any army.

We are finding this again in trying to form an army in Afghanistan.  These men simply will not  or can not fight as a united force.  So, again the United States will find itself bogged down and with our troops dying in a lost cause with our troops leading and fighting the battle having the burden of trying to “pretend” that the Afghan troops are really in charge and leading.  Also having the worry of having these Afghan troops at their backs so our troops are caught between two enemies: the Taliban in front and the unknown in back.

The solution is for the United States to get out of Iraq and the Afghanistan/Pakistan areas altogether and let the chips fall.  Nothing dire will happen and the world will continue to turn on its axis and in a decade or so the situation will normalize, or “fall out” with the strongest thugs on top.  Vietnam is the past we keep forgetting!

Scenes from this corner of the battlefield, observed over eight days by two New York Times journalists, suggest that the day when the Afghan Army will be well led and able to perform complex operations independently, rather than merely assist American missions, remains far off.

The effort to train the Afghan Army has long been troubled, with soldiers and officers repeatedly falling short. And yet after nearly a decade of American and European mentorship and many billions of dollars of American taxpayer investment, American and Afghan officials have portrayed the Afghan Army as the force out front in this important offensive against the Taliban.

In every engagement between the Taliban and one front-line American Marine unit, the operation has been led in almost every significant sense by American officers and troops. They organized the forces for battle, transported them in American vehicles and helicopters from Western-run bases into Taliban-held ground, and have been the primary fighting force each day.The Afghan National Army, or A.N.A., has participated. At the squad level it has been a source of effective, if modestly skilled, manpower. Its soldiers have shown courage and a willingness to fight. Afghan soldiers have also proved, as they have for years, to be more proficient than Americans at searching Afghan homes and identifying potential Taliban members — two tasks difficult for outsiders to perform.

By all other important measures, though — from transporting troops, directing them in battle and coordinating fire support to arranging modern communications, logistics, aviation and medical support — the mission in Marja has been a Marine operation conducted in the presence of fledgling Afghan Army units, whose officers and soldiers follow behind the Americans and do what they are told.

There have been ample examples in the offensive of weak Afghan leadership and poor discipline to boot.

In northern Marja, a platoon of Afghan soldiers landed with a reinforced Marine rifle company, Company K, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, which was inserted by American Army helicopters. The Marine officers and noncommissioned officers here quickly developed a mixed impression of the Afghan platoon, whose soldiers were distributed through their ranks.

After several days, no Marine officer had seen an Afghan use a map or plan a complicated patrol. In another indicator of marginal military readiness, the Afghan platoon had no weapons heavier than a machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade.

Afghan officers organized no indirect fire support whatsoever in the week of fighting. All supporting fire for Company K — airstrikes, rockets, artillery and mortars — was coordinated by Marines. The Afghans also relied entirely on the American military for battlefield resupply.

Moreover, in multiple firefights in which Times journalists were present, many Afghan soldiers did not aim — they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high.

Shouts from the Marines were common. “What you shooting at, Hoss?” one yelled during a long battle on the second day, as an Afghan pulled the trigger repeatedly and nonchalantly at nothing that was visible to anyone else.

I recall seeing a TV interview of one American soldier in Iraq and during the interview an Iranian soldier aimed his rifle at the sky and started shooting.  The American soldier  looked at the Iraqi soldier in disgust and made the statement,”I wish they would stop doing that.  Those shells are going to come down somewhere.”

Shortfalls in the Afghan junior officer corps were starkly visible at times. On the third day of fighting, when Company K was short of water and food, the company command group walked to the eastern limit of its operations area to supervise two Marine platoons as they seized a bridge, and to arrange fire support. The group was ambushed twice en route, coming under small-arms fire from Taliban fighters hiding on the far side of a canal.

After the bridge was seized, Captain Biggers prepared his group for the walk back. Helicopters had dropped food and water near the bridge. He ordered his Marines and the Afghans to fill their packs with it and carry it to another platoon to the west that was nearly out of supplies.

The Marines loaded up. They would walk across the danger area again, this time laden with all the water and food they could carry. Captain Biggers asked the Afghan platoon commander, Capt. Amanullah, to have his men pack their share. He refused, though his own soldiers to the west were out of food, too.

Captain Biggers told the interpreter to put his position in more clear terms. “Tell him that if he doesn’t carry water and chow, he and his soldiers can’t have any of ours,” he said, his voice rising.

Captain Amanullah at last directed one or two of his soldiers to carry a sleeve of bottled water or a carton of rations — a small concession. The next day, the Afghan soldiers to the west complained that they had no more food and were hungry.

It was not the first time that Captain Amanullah’s sense of entitlement, and indifference toward his troops’ well-being, had manifested itself. The day before the helicopter assault, at Camp Leatherneck, the largest Marine base in Helmand Province, a Marine offered a can of Red Bull energy drink to an Afghan soldier in exchange for one of the patches on the soldier’s uniform.

Captain Amanullah, reclining on his cot, saw the deal struck. After the Afghan soldier had taken possession of his Red Bull, the captain ordered him to hand him the can. The captain opened it and took a long drink, then gave what was left to his lieutenant and sergeants, who each had a sip. The last sergeant handed the empty can back to the soldier, and ordered him to throw it away.

The Marines watched with mixed amusement and disgust. In their culture, the officers and senior enlisted Marines eat last. “So much for troop welfare,” one of them said.

Lackluster leadership took other forms. On Friday night, a week into the operation, Captain Biggers told the Afghan soldiers that they would accompany him the next day to a large meeting with local elders. In the morning, the Afghans were not ready.

The Marines stood impatiently, waiting while the forces that were said by the officials in Kabul to be leading the operation slowly mustered. Captain Biggers, by now used to the delays, muttered an acronym that might sum up a war now deep into its ninth year.

“W.O.A.,” he said. “Waiting on the A.N.A.”

This is life for American soldiers in Muslim countries.  Our troops are dying for this!  Our government and State Department don’t want the American people to know about these failures and cultural deficiencies.  Our government panders to the false and disgusting  “pride” of these so-called leaders.

It’s way past time to bring our soldiers home and let these people continue rotting in their part of the world.  Our army should be used to secure our own borders and protect our own people.  BB

2 Responses to ">>Military Analysis – Marines Do Heavy Lifting as Afghan Army Lags in Battle – NYTimes.com"

I could make this a very long comment because there is just so much to say about the Iraqi, Afghan/Pakistan war, and too much hidden from the American public. Now, I have to say that from day one, and I do mean day one, I was totally against going to war with Iraq. I had many reasons, but the one I hold in the number one spot is that America and the Western countries do not, cannot and will not understand the culture of the Middle East. Their thinking is still back in the Middle Ages. I’m not being insulting here at all; it’s just the way it is. It actually goes back farther than that, I would say it goes all the way back to Bible times. Over the centuries they have not advanced their thinking in a changing world.

The decision about going to war in Iraq was based on Intel, from English speaking Arabs. My contention is that the Intel we were getting was from people who lived in the Middle East even in America and elsewhere; Arabs, Iraqis and Muslims who had something to gain from telling America what it wanted to hear; like business deals, American citizenship for them and their family or just plain money.

We as Americans are too willing to believe what we are told, especially if it is what we want to hear. We are naïve at best and at worst too willing to believe what we hear from those claiming to be our friends, yet underneath it all are our enemies. We keep believing they will change what is in their “hearts and minds” and see the light. They keep thinking, “how long can we fool these guys”? They do it time and again. We are too willing to give second chances.

Weren’t the Iraqi’s supposed to line the streets and throw flowers at our soldiers and praise them for freeing them from Sadam Hussein? I don’t know about you but I didn’t see that Show on TV.

The Sunni’s the Shiites, hey; they don’t trust one another, yet we expect them to trust us. They are true enemies, yet if we should chose to go after one group see how fast the other one comes to their aid. Why is this, well maybe long ago they were from the same village, where inter-marriage is part of everyday life. Bottom line, blood is thicker than water. They believe that “the enemy of my enemy is my enemy”. To both of them we are still the Infidels, the enemy of both groups.

Nothing has changed for these people. Why, I don’t know. Could it be that from the time they are born they are taught that we are the enemy, they get a lifetime of indoctrination on this subject. Those who are fortunate to get an education, mostly males, also have this thinking reinforced in school. They are taught to embrace Socialism, Marxism and Communism in school, and to hate the Western world, the Infidels. And we think that we can change their thinking somehow?

Even after coming to America to live, or even after becoming American citizens there are some who still have an undying loyalty to the homeland over their new country, America.

So, when our government implied that “we have information” that tells us Sadam Hussien had something to do with 911, when 15 terrorist came from Saudi Arabia, 2 from Jordan, 1 from Lebanon and 1 from Yemen, I questioned why are we going to Iraq then?
When Osama Bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia we are going to war with Iraq? When we were given Intel that said we have information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. I always wanted to know if their source was trustworthy. To our detriment we are too willing to believe what it is we want to hear. In the meantime, many innocent people on both sides have died, are injured for life and Iraqs country is in ruins.

Iraqs people do not have the determination, the drive nor the guts to learn how to defend themselves even after we have spent millions of dollars to train them. And why? Because most of the time the people they are shooting at, their enemy for the time being, is someone who is from their Tribe, their Village, somewhere back in time. They still feel this sense of “Blood is Blood”. They cannot whole-heartedly kill their own people, no matter what they have done, in the name of Allah.

We are fighting a losing battle, really. Our young have sacrificed everything to do what they believed to be right, to be Patriotic Americans. Lives have been lost and destroyed. Soldier’s families have lived on Food Stamps, and very little money, while their spouses risk their lives to free people who do not know what to do with Freedom.

We will leave their country, at some time in the future and some Military Dictator will come along and take over again, then they will wish we were still there, but by that time we will probably be out trying to save someone else who doesn’t really want to be saved.

“We will leave their country, at some time in the future and some Military Dictator will come along and take over again, then they will wish we were still there, but by that time we will probably be out trying to save someone else who doesn’t really want to be saved.” That says it all Snappy.

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