The other day I was forwarded this article (http://armedforcesjournal.com/2012/02/8904030) written by a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army (Reserves I think). His name is Daniel Davis and I must say I am thoroughly encouraged to see someone with not only current Afghan experience but also several other war deployment experiences under his belt come out and tell the American people the real deal.
What we as a country (and via our leading of ISAF forces) have done, has made the people of Afghanistan into a huge dependent welfare state. I can say this is not surprising at all. These are a people who are used to having nothing. They live in dirt, their houses are made of dirt, and they have to claw, scratch or steal for just about anything. There are entire villages that walk the desert and pick up rocks in order to hand-carry them to a quarry and sell them for pennies in order for the rocks to be made into gravel. Poverty does not even begin to describe many of the Afghan people.
Much of what LTC Davis states in the article is what many of us who have blogged from there have tried to say multiple times. When I read things like this..
I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.
it reminds me of my time there in 2006-2007, so that was nothing new. However what was sad is that in 2012 it is still that way. I knew when I left Afghanistan that it would take a long time for things to turn around. I stated in 2007 that our forces would need to be there for at least another 10-15 years before the Afghans could handle it on their own. That was purely my assessment based on what I saw at the time. Since that time a lot has changed with a huge increase of US Forces on the ground compared to when I was there, and much more development in country. I was hoping that maybe the 10-15 year timeframe may have shrunk a bit, but it appears that is not the case.
On a patrol to the northernmost U.S. position in eastern Afghanistan, we arrived at an Afghan National Police (ANP) station that had reported being attacked by the Taliban 2½ hours earlier.
Through the interpreter, I asked the police captain where the attack had originated, and he pointed to the side of a nearby mountain.
“What are your normal procedures in situations like these?” I asked. “Do you form up a squad and go after them? Do you periodically send out harassing patrols? What do you do?”
As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.
“No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!”
According to the cavalry troopers, the Afghan policemen rarely leave the cover of the checkpoints. In that part of the province, the Taliban literally run free.
The article truly provides a cold splash of water in the face of Americans as to what is really happening. Something that needs to happen and by having a field-grade officer say it, speaks volumes more. In this day and age as military commands are doing all they can to shut down bloggers and those trying to give an honest view, a perspective like this is needed. I am afraid, however, that this LTC may have ended his military career. I am sure his higher command is not going to be happy with this and will make sure he never sees Colonel.
The Afghan people are not ready. They won’t be ready in mid-2013, 2014 and probably not for a couple of years after that. Does that mean we need to stay there? If we do, it needs to be under a completely different set of rules. COIN has essentially failed in Afghanistan. I am sorry to say that, but it is true.
“You can’t buy and Afghan, but you can rent one” is a common saying there. Over the last several years we have been renting their allegiance and kindness. As long as we are there, saturating the countryside with security, passing out millions in aid money, and giving them everything they need or want that their own government can’t provide then we are renting them.
It is beyond the Afghans NEEDING to take over and take control, they HAVE to. The Afghan Government and people owe it not only to their own countrymen, but also to the American and other coalition country people. The United States, along with many other nations have given the Afghans our sons, daughters and money to help the Afghans get a jumpstart on the development of their own country. Many times when asked about Afghans, I have told people to think of the worse welfare abuse they have ever heard of and multiply it by a thousand. Many Afghans act like they are on a permanent welfare systems (just like many Americans act), and they are not motivated to get off the welfare because since we have been there, they have acquired and achieved more than any other time in their lives. They have no loss of pride or any shame in taking the hand-outs.
But that is ending, and it will be here before they know it. However they are not getting that message. They are not reading blogs like this or stories like LTC Davis’s. They don’t have the access and quite frankly I don’t think they would understand it. Their cold splash of reality will happen by 2014 I guess, when they wake up and the Coalition is no longer there.
By then, it will be way too late to be a patriotic Afghan.
Please take a moment and go read http://armedforcesjournal.com/2012/02/8904030