Meanwhile in Afghanistan Posted by: McQ
on Friday, May 09, 2008
Interesting conversation with COL Michael McMahon who is the Director, CJ7 (Force integration and Training), Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A).
All of that means he's the guy charged with training and equipping both the Afghan Army and the Afghan police.
COL McMahon gave a short update on what their goals were and what their accomplishments have been to this point. Their goal, with the Afghan Army, is to build a force of 80,000 soldiers (78 battalions). It will include a commando brigade and a small air corps, along with the necessary sustainment capability.
To date, they've stood up about 52 battalions. As you might imagine, this is primarily an infantry based army. The air corps will mostly be focused on mobility and medical evacuation. It will have a small attack capability (light fixed wing and HIND attack helicopters). But again, it is a job much like Iraq, where you are converting from a Soviet based system which is highly centralized and almost devoid of NCOs, to a more western system which is decentralized and relies on NCOs to be the first line leaders.
They began the development of the NCO corps in 2002 with about 2,000. They presently have about 18,000 NCOs. The goal is 24,000. But there's also a mindset to change. Per COL McMahon, only about half the units are properly utilizing their NonCommissioned Officers. He said that one Afghan army leader told him privately that it would take about 12 or so years before this is accepted by all units. When asked why he thought that to be the case, he said, "that's when the last of the Soviet era officers will be gone".
But all in all, he's pleased with the army's progress. He says they have no problem recruiting and are very careful to ensure all the units are well integrated with representatives from all of the ethnic groups in Afghanistan.
The police, as we found in Iraq, are a different problem and a more difficult one. They're working both ends of that problem. Like Iraq, they've almost had to start over. Local police were, in the past, almost a warlord patronage job. So it isn't hard to imagine who their loyalty was toward. McMahon said that they are literally rebuilding the police district by district (there are 365 districts in Afghanistan as well as 64 precincts). They take a district and completely start over, hiring and checking out the police recruits and then sending them through 8 weeks of basic training. He said some of the recruits seem surprised to learn they aren't supposed to beat the citizens and/or collect taxes for the local warlords.
Anyway, he says, while it is a slow and methodical way to do this (they're looking at 2012 to finish), it seems to be paying off. As each districts police officers finish their training, a police mentor team is assigned to them to advise, monitor and further train them as necessary.
McMahon also said that a special police force, more of a national police force, is also being trained. About 10 battalions of ANCOPS are being formed and they undergo 16 weeks of training, get a little better pay and a little better equipment. They'll form an elite police force working for the Ministry of the Interior, and per McMahon, they've been getting rave reviews about the ANCOPS bns already deployed.
Of course the MoI is another area being worked. Structured as a Soviet era bureaucracy, it was highly centralized when they began working with it. That has changed and the decentralization has allowed local police commanders much more autonomy to address local situations the best way.
An interesting look into the development of these two entities in Afghanistan. McMahon also mentioned that some of our NATO allies are participating as well in the training of both forces.
Is this war for control of Natural Gas not over with, yet? Had we invested the time and resources committed to Irak to Afghanistan, we’d have Bin Laden’s head, assuming that Shrubya actually ever wanted it (More than likely the whole "Osama master-minded 9/11 is/was merely a ploy to distract the Sheeple from the dismal economic performance of the cabal, to solidify support for our Selected, not Elected leader, to provide a measure of Legitimacy to the Coup of 2000, and to justify a further erosion of our civil liberties.), and the Conoco Pipeline concessions. However, in a move typical of the incompetence of this cabal, the BFEE has only failed to produce...as usual. I believe that this regime is good only at: 1) Stealing elections; 2) Over-seeing terror-attacks (LIHOP or MIHOP-you decide) designed to solidify support for Our Dear Leader’s grandiose visions of Empire America; and 3) Killing People of Colour.
It’s time for us to come home from this civil war and to use the resources saved to devoting ourselves to: 1) Repairing our image, around the world; and 2) Providing: a) Free Universal Health Care; b) Universal Pre-K and Kindergarten; and c) Free Two-Year College/Trade School Post-Secondary Education.