Friday, October 31, 2014

ISAF Now Classifying ANSF Assessments

According to recent news reports the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is now classifying assessments of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). ISAF uses the Regional ANSF Status Report (RASR) to rate the various elements of the Afghan National Security Forces. The RASR is a monthly report that provides an update on the readiness, long-term sustainability, and associated shortfalls of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan Local Police (ANP). The RASR executive summary provides a high-level overview of the ANSF corps-level units across several operational effectiveness pillars and up until now has been unclassified. The bulk of the RASR that deals with units at the operational and tactical level was always classified.

The ANSF has some serious capability gaps (intelligence, close air support, logistics, aviation, MEDEVAC, aerial ISR, etc.). ISAF feels that sharing information about those capability gaps and vulnerabilities could harm the operational effort. Of course, the classification of the reports (capability ratings of the ANSF) denies the United States public an accurate picture of what is really going on with the development of the ANSF. There are many ongoing assessments of the ANSF that are available, but the ISAF assessments generally are more revealing and accurate.

Whether the classification of the general high-level overview is truly warranted is hard to determine. It seems that the general shortfalls of the ANSF are well-known so what "classified" information is ISAF really trying to protect? Sometimes the protection of information is truly warranted on an intelligence and operational basis and sometimes it is part of the "information operations" campaign of ISAF. Hard telling not knowing.

Read more in "U.S. Military Classifying Assessments of Afghan Military", Bloomberg Businessweek, October 30, 2014. See also "The Capabilities of the Afghan Military are Suddenly a Secret",, October 30, 2014.

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