Pentagon Decides That Counterinsurgencies Are No Fun

Pentagon rethinking value of major counterinsurgencies

By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Nearly a decade after the United States began to focus its military training and equipment purchases almost exclusively on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military strategists are quietly shifting gears, saying that large-scale counterinsurgency efforts cost too much and last too long.

The domestic economic crisis and the Obama administration’s commitment to withdraw from Iraq and begin drawing down in Afghanistan next year are factors in the change. The biggest spur, however, is a growing recognition that large-scale counterinsurgency battles have high casualty rates for troops and civilians, eat up equipment that must be replaced and rarely end in clear victory or defeat.

In addition, military thinkers say such wars have put the U.S.’s technologically advanced ground forces on the defensive while less sophisticated insurgent forces are able to remain on the offensive.

Counterinsurgency “is a good way to get out of a situation gone bad,” but it’s not the best way to use combat forces, said Andrew Exum, a fellow with the Washington-based Center for a New American Security. “I think everyone realizes counterinsurgency is a losing proposition for U.S. combat troops. I can’t imagine anyone would opt for this option.”

Many Pentagon strategists think that future counterinsurgencies should involve fewer American ground troops and more military trainers, special forces and airstrikes. Instead of “fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here,” as former President George W. Bush once defined the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Pentagon thinks it must train local populations to fight local insurgents.

The military calls it “foreign internal defense,” although some have a pithier name: counterinsurgency light.

The new kind of counterinsurgency is “for the indigenous people and a handful of Americans,” said Joseph Collins, a professor at the National Defense University, a Pentagon-funded institution that trains officers and civilians.

The newer approach is on display in Yemen and Pakistan, countries in which the U.S. faces entrenched extremist organizations with ties to al Qaida.

In Yemen, where leaders have distanced themselves publicly from the United States, the U.S. has quietly dispatched military trainers to work with Yemeni government forces and has provided air support, largely for observation. In addition, the U.S. sent Yemen $70 million in military aid.

In Pakistan, the Obama administration has authorized a record number of unmanned airstrikes along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and promised $7.5 billion in aid over five years. In addition, defense officials said roughly 100 special forces trainers were working with the Pakistani military.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recognized the changed thinking in an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

“The United States is unlikely to repeat a mission on the scale of those in Afghanistan and Iraq anytime soon — that is, forced regime change followed by nation building under fire,” he wrote. More likely, he said, are “scenarios requiring a familiar tool kit of capabilities, albeit on a smaller scale.”

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently ordered a review of how the military should train and equipment itself in the future, acknowledging that it’s shifting course.

“The chairman wants to look at the capability and size of the military” after Iraq and Afghanistan, spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby said. “No one has codified the requirements.”

The economic downturn is driving much of the change within the Pentagon. Military spending has risen steadily since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

When former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld arrived at the Pentagon in 2001, the Defense Department budget was $291.1 billion, or $357.72 billion in today’s dollars. The current budget is $708 billion for defense costs and funding the wars.

Pentagon planners say budget cuts are inevitable, and that the change in strategy will help make them.

“We now have to figure out what works. We used to have a practically unlimited budget. Not anymore,” said a senior military officer, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity in order to talk candidly. “There is no more room to experiment.”

After most major conflicts in U.S. history, defense spending has dropped to prewar levels within two years, accounting for inflation, said James Quinlivan, a military analyst at the RAND Corp. The ends of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t likely to make spending drop that quickly, Quinlivan said.

With no clear defeat of groups such as al Qaida, defense spending is likely to remain higher than it was before 9/11, he said.

Moreover, because of Afghanistan’s rugged terrain, it will cost the U.S. more to send troops there, and to get them out, than it did in Iraq, he said.

The wars now account for $159 billion of the Defense Department’s budget. There are 96,000 troops in Iraq and 87,000 in Afghanistan.

The shift to a lighter form of counterinsurgency also incorporates the Obama administration’s national security view, which calls for getting troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. forces are set to begin leaving Afghanistan in July 2011, and a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is to be complete by the end of that year.

It also, military strategists said, allows the United States to prepare better for a future war that would be fought against another country, not against relatively amorphous terrorist groups.

U.S. officials acknowledge that since 9/11 there’s been little training for the kind of coordinated land, sea and air battles that have characterized most of the United States’ previous conflicts. While no one wants to predict where such a war might be fought, military strategists say that U.S. troops could be involved in battles between India and Pakistan, North and South Korea, and China and Taiwan.

The last time the military discussed a major strategy shift was during the first months of Rumsfeld’s tenure, when he proposed streamlining the military to use less manpower and more technology. That discussion of shrinking the military ended in the months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, when it became clear that technology alone couldn’t defeat the burgeoning insurgency there. The order by Bush to increase the number of troops in Iraq, the so-called surge, ended that approach.

Revamping the military itself won’t come cheaply. Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army, told Congress earlier this month that he thinks it will cost the Army as much as $36 billion to reset itself to be fully prepared for other kinds of warfare. He estimated the job wouldn’t be done until 2013.

Still, there are doubts that a change in strategy will defeat armed groups that threaten to take over “failed states” such as Somalia and Yemen. Using trainers and airstrikes requires a strong local government that can lead such trained forces, said Collins, the NDU professor. That’s hard to find in the countries that are most susceptible to groups such as al Qaida.

The Pentagon’s new strategy also could founder if there were another major attack on the United States.

Still, officials point out that the attempted Christmas Day attack, allegedly by a Nigerian man, on a flight bound for Detroit pointed up how limited U.S. options are to respond to a terrorist action.

“Could we have attacked his little Nigerian village or the town in Yemen where he was training?” said one senior Pentagon official, who spoke only anonymously because he wasn’t authorized to speak to reporters. “That would not have done anything. We have to be smarter. There are more cases like this than Iraq and Afghanistan.”

A huge military response may not have any better results than a smaller undertaking would. Nearly nine years after the U.S. invested thousands of troops and billions of dollars in counterinsurgency, Osama bin Laden remains at large.


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Obama Can’t Resist Scolding Pakistan for Afghan Situation

Washington, May 13 (ANI): Noting Pakistan’s ‘obsession’ with India, US President Barack Obama has said that Islamabad must shun the ‘bad’ custom of viewing its neighbouring nation as a primary threat and realise that it was extremists emanating from its own soil that are threatening the country’s very existence.
Speaking during a joint press conference with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Obama pointed out that his administration was working both with the Pakistani and Afghan leadership to help them do away with some of their ‘bad habits’ and old suspicions.

While describing Pakistan’s obsession with India as one of its ‘bad habits’, he acknowledged that Islamabad is now slowly overcoming the practice.

“I think there has been in the past a view on the part of Pakistan that their primary rival, India, was their only concern,” The Dawn quoted Obama, as saying.

“What you’ve seen over the last several months is a growing recognition that they have a cancer in their midst; that the extremist organisations that have been allowed to congregate and use as a base the frontier areas to then go into Afghanistan, that now threatens Pakistan’s sovereignty,” he added.

Responding to a comment of an Afghan journalist that Pakistan was the “the only reason that Afghanistan was not civilised today”, the US President said Washington was determined to help improve relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

“Our goal is to break down some of the old suspicions and the old bad habits and continue to work with the Pakistani government to see their interest in a stable Afghanistan which is free from foreign meddling,” he said.

During the briefing, Karzai was asked about reconciliation with the Taliban, to which he replied that there are “thousands of Taliban who are not against Afghanistan or against the Afghan people or their country; who are not against America either or the rest of the world”.

Karzai said there are many Afghan Taliban who wanted to come back if provided an opportunity and political means to do so.

“It’s this group of the Taliban that you’re addressing in the peace Jirga. It is this group that is our intention,” he said.

Without mentioning Pakistan, the Afghan President said that the Taliban being controlled from ‘outside’ were increasing troubles for his country. (ANI)

Turning North Afghanistan Into the Next South

[American forces apply their “leadership kill” policies against northern Afghan militants.  First they killed the Taliban commander for the northern region two weeks ago (see article below), then follow-up attacks are launched upon the same headquarters after mourners begin to gather plotting revenge attacks.  This is the same area that was formerly clear of most Taliban, until the influx of militants from Central Asia and Pakistan began and then mysterious helicopters began to appear (allegedly British Chinooks), where they were witnessed dropping militants:

“Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency reported that “US ambassador scotched speculation that his country was helping terrorists in the north, saying America had nothing to do with the air-dropping of armed men from helicopters in Samangan, Baghlan and Kunduz provinces.” At an October 11 news conference in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai had himself claimed that ‘some unidentified helicopters dropped armed men in the northern provinces at night.’” ]

35 Taliban Militants Killed In Afghanistan

(RTTNews) –

Thirty five Taliban militants, including three commanders, were killed in a special operation by U.S. forces in northern Afghanistan.

Those killed include foreigners, a term used by local people referring to al-Qaeda-linked militants of Arab and Central Asian origin.

The U.S. forces on Wednesday night raided a Taliban hideout in Ghor Tapa, north-west of the provincial capital of Kunduz, after receiving intelligence report that the militant group was staging for a large attack, NATO said in a statement.

Militants hiding in the compound tried to resist by shooting at the troops from different directions. More than two dozen insurgents were killed and several others captured in the encounter.

They carried out the attack with the support of Afghan forces.

Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar said at least three of the dead militants were trained to carry out suicide-attacks in the region.

Relatively peaceful until three years ago, the northern provinces of Baghlan and Kunduz are currently infested with Taliban and other insurgents.

Afghan government had warned of much larger security operations in these regions unless the Taliban fighters lay down their arms.

An additional 500 German soldiers and 4,000 U.S. forces were expected to be deployed in the region by summer, raising the strength of ISAF troops in the north to 12,000.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com

Afghan governor: Taliban commander, bodyguard killed in Kunduz

DPA, Thursday, 29 Apr 2010 08:41:29 GMT

Kunduz, Afghanistan –

Afghan troops and US special forces killed a Taliban commander and his bodyguard Thursday in northern Afghanistan, a provincial governor said.

Mullah Daoud and one of his men were killed in a pre-dawn operation in Ghor Tapa, an area in Kunduz city, the capital of the province of the same name, Governor Mohammad Omar said.

“He was the main Taliban commander in the area,” Omar said, adding that four other suspected militants were detained by the soldiers.

Daoud was appointed Taliban commander for Kunduz city and the province’s Chardarah district after his predecessor Mullah Selaab was killed in a similar operation on the weekend.

Afghan troops and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have recently stepped up their operations against militants in Kunduz and neighbouring Baghlan, the most turbulent provinces in the region.

Afghan and ISAF forces killed Mullah Noor Mohammad, the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kunduz province, Monday.

FBI Arrests 2 Friends of Faisal Shahzad In Long Island and N.J.

FBI agents survey the scene in Times Square earlier this month in the aftermath of a botched car bomb attempt.

Nicastro for News

FBI agents survey the scene in Times Square earlier this month in the aftermath of a botched car bomb attempt.

Two people were arrested Thursday morning as FBI agents raided homes in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Long Island in connection with the botched terrorist car bombing in Times Square.

The raids on a gas station and a home outside Boston were linked to friends of accused terrorist Faisal Shahzad, arrested two days after the failed plot, sources told the Daily News.

Agents also targeted homes in Shirley and Centereach on Long Island, and another in Camden, N.J., sources said.

The FBI cordoned off a home in Watertown, Mass., a suburb of Boston, with sources indicating friends of Shahzad had stayed at that address.

The agents also raided a Mobil gas station on Harvard Street in Brookline, Mass., where they recovered a 2000 Honda Accord, officials said.

The vehicle was from the Watertown home surrounded by the FBI. A neighbor said the agents arrived around 6 a.m. and took one person out of the house in handcuffs.

Vinny Lacerra, 50, who lives across the street, said 15 to 20 FBI agents with guns drawn flanked the house. “FBI! Put your hands up!” he said they shouted.

The agents went inside, and came out 15 minutes later with a man in handcuffs.

“I was surprised to see this because this is what you see on TV,” Lacerra said.

Last week, sources said the FBI was searching for a courier who provided Shahzad with money for his May 1 plot to blow up an SUV in the Crossroads of the World.

The search for that suspect was continuing, a source told the News.

The coordinated raids also targeted at least one location on Long Island, the FBI said.

“There’s no known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States,” said FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz.
Marcinkiewicz said search warrants had been executed at “several locations in the Northeast,” including the Boston suburb and New Jersey.

While details were scarce, bombing suspect Shahzad cooperated with federal investigators after his arrest while trying to flee the country.

It was unclear if the raids were linked to information provided by the talkative terror suspect.

Shahzad, a 30-year-old Connecticut man with ties to the Pakistani
Taliban, was arrested two weeks ago after leaving his explosives-laden car in the middle of Times Square.

The raids come a day after the Obama administration slashed $53 million from New York City’s terror-fighting budget.

sgaskell@nydailynews.com

Bakiyev supporters seize regional Kyrgyzstan offices

Kyrgyzstan's ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev at a press conference in Minsk, Belarus, on 23/04/2010

Kurmanbek Bakiyev is now in Belarus

Supporters of Kyrgyzstan’s ousted president have stormed regional government buildings in the south of the country.

Hundreds of Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s supporters took over buildings in the cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken.

They were demanding the reinstatement of regional governors who were fired by the new interim government.

Mr Bakiyev was ousted in a bloody uprising last month, which left at least 80 people dead.

The new government has launched several criminal proceedings against the former president, who is now in Belarus with his family.

But tensions remain high nationwide, as the government attempts to assert its authority on the country.

‘Uncertainty reigns’

The government buildings in Osh were stormed by some 250 Bakiyev supporters on Thursday morning.

There was a brief scuffle with supporters of the new government before they smashed their way through the glass doors and entered the building, but the police did not intervene.

Map

They are demanding the reinstatement of the former regional governor, Mamsadyk Bakirov, who was fired after the collapse of Mr Bakiyev’s government.

Mr Bakirov told journalists: “It’s the people who support us. The people are against the interim government and their chaotic changes.”

A few hours later, reports from Jalalabad – the home city of Mr Bakiyev – said around 100 of his supporters had broken into and occupied local government buildings there.

They too were said to be demanding the reinstatement of the local governor there.

Before the end of the day they had also seized similar buildings in Batken, the interim government confirmed to Reuters news agency.

There were also unconfirmed reports that other Bakiyev supporters had also seized an airport in Osh.

On Wednesday, a protest was held in the capital Bishkek in which supporters of the former mayor demanded his return.

Kyrgyzstan’s interim government insists it is in control, reports the BBC’s Rayhan Demytrie.

But uncertainty still reigns in the country following the uprising in early April in which 85 people died and which led to the ousting of Mr Bakiyev, our correspondent adds.

Religious “opium” for the Kyrgyz people–(bad Google Translation)

[This hard to read article tells the tale of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Kyrgyzstan and its spread through desperate “black widow” types, who urge men to work for the Caliphate.  Hiz-b is the doorway to Wahhabi subversion, which is the CIA entry point.]

Religious “opium” for the Kyrgyz people

M. Acker

in terms of the current political instability in one of the greatest threats to Kyrgyzstan is rampant religious extremist movements in the country.
Today, significant financial investments from abroad are used for construction in the country, places of worship and theological education. Confirmation of this is the statistics – in the rural areas alone, the Osh region were constructed and are 560 mosques in the Jalal-Abad – 603, in the Batken – 410. Only in a particular area Kadamdzhayskom Batken region has more than 123 village mosques to 158 thousand people.
It is said that the quality of many of the clergy left much to be desired – some figures and does intertwined with the criminal world.

The leader of the Kara-Suu cell REO Hizb ut-Tahrir Ayubhon Mashrapov directs the construction of a new mosque in g.Kara-Suu. Through the imam of a mosque of the same city “Al Sarahs” Rashoda Kamalov, he organized a fundraising campaign on the scene among the parishioners.
Kamalov, the imam himself accused of organizing a criminal group and the activities that led to the death. Thus, in early January of this year into the murder of one of the representatives of the local investigative office OPG Kara-Suu district police department initiated a criminal case against a group of individuals, including R. Kamalov.
was caused by the divorce of religious leaders with his first wife, and then between the former spouses now and then there were constant squabbles and disassembly for the division of property.

The subject of the dispute were containers on the market “Turataly. To address these issues “on the concepts of” Imam has hired three members of the group, one of whom died in the regular disassembly. In this regard, the servant of the dark cult is not limited to – the third wife of R. Kamalov – Gulpashsha Karimov’s daughter had one of the leaders of the local cell “Hizb ut-Tahrir Abubakirov Karimov.

More and more women in Kyrgyzstan have become ardent campaigners for various extremist ideas and actively urge to build an Islamic caliphate. Thus, in the village Uchkurgan Kadamdzhayskogo districts, many small “hudzhr. In the organized “hudzhrah” right at home the leaders of the women’s wing of Hizb ut-Tahrir and Nafisa Teshabaeva Munojat Tashtanova promote the idea of his extremist organization for girls.

However, much of the Kyrgyz society has lived the ideas of radical Islam. This affected, above all, the common people. For example, in the market “Shaftalizar” in Jalal-Abad, representatives of the religious extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir is actively survive Sellers, who walk not according to Sharia. Of course, such harassment is in no way inconsistent with the Constitution, but to that “little things” already do not pay attention.
In addition, the situation is compounded by the fact that the leadership of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims (SDMK) relies only on close contacts with international centers and clerical their financial investments, which have become for members of the clergy a good trough.

In general, for the introduction of import trends in the territory of Kyrgyzstan are used the most unexpected methods. Here’s one way – with the state Medical Academy in Bishkek organized elective courses on Turkish language students. In this regard, here were invited teachers from Turkey. Among those invited are the supporters of the religious currents “Nurchisty” that the propagation of opinions Seyed Nursi and distribute relevant literature. One of the teachers involved in the involvement of students in the ranks of “Nurchistov” is a Turkish citizen Ablahazhi Nasimov.

With Turkey “friends” not only the followers of “nurchistov”, but also members of “Hizb ut-Tahrir. One member of the Kara-Suu cells of this organization Murot Madaminov in early January with his family went to Turkey for permanent residence. In addition to the baggage emigrant carried with him … 10 young people from among the residents of Kara-Suu district. The fact that M. Madaminov recently worked as the Imam Mosque Madamin Cory “Bishkek, which came under the influence of representatives of this religious movement. To continue its work and he went to Turkey, taking the faithful followers. However, Murot took care of that case in his absence flourished – he left behind a “governor” – his own brother Bakhtiyor, which is considered one of the leaders in Kara-Suu cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir. ”
In Kyrgyzstan, religious extremism, spreading their corrupting influence continues to be involved in its ranks all the great masses.

Mairambek Acequia
a-mayram@mail.ru