Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Fight for Khas Uruzgan District

Most observers of the Afghan conflict are focused on the security situation in Kabul and the press releases from Resolute Support HQs on "multi-corps operations" to "clear and hold" contested areas. RS HQs would have you believe that the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) are capable of defending key terrain, lines of communication, urban areas and the population based on their ability to conduct "cross-pillar operations". However, in a rural-based insurgency the fight is away from key terrain, LOCs, the large towns and cities, and where large concentrations of the ANDSF are located. It takes place in more isolated remote areas at the district level (there are about 400) in places like Khas Uruzgan.

In Afghanistan the insurgency fight is won or lost at the district level. There are many aspects to the fighting at district level. One is the inability of the Afghan National Army to operate out of all of the districts - there are just too many of them. Another is the dependence on the Afghan National Police for security within the district - however, the ANP are (currently) understaffed, ill-trained, and not resourced for a counterinsurgent fight. In addition, there is the ethnic makeup of the district, strength of the Taliban, presence of warlords, militias, Afghan Local Police, effectiveness of governance, and many other factors. Of course, when discussing the districts, one has to define security within a district. Does the government control the district or just the district center compound where the governmental offices are located? Martine van Bijlert, a long-time observer of the Afghan conflict, provides us a glimpse of the fight at the district level with all the varied factors accounted for. Read "Trouble in Khas Uruzgan: Insults, assaults, a siege and an airlift", Afghanistan Analysts Network, September 2, 2015.

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