Showing posts with label lessons-learned. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lessons-learned. Show all posts

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Afghan Governance News

The two-year anniversary of the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) is approaching and many of the expected actions (political and electoral reforms, scheduling of parliamentary elections, convening of Loya Jirga, etc.) that were supposed to take place have been put on hold. This raises the question of the legitimacy of the NUG and may likely cause some increased political turmoil in Afghanistan. The constitutional crisis and political deadlock is being carefully watched by donor nations and those countries providing troops for the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. Read more in "The Coming Political Crisis In Afghanistan - Analysis", Eurasia Review, September 27, 2016.

SIGAR Report - Lessons Learned. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has issued a report entitled "Conference Report - Lessons from the Coalition: International Experiences from the Afghanistan Reconstruction", September 2016.

Fighting Corruption? Not so much. "Out of 83 senior officials in the past two Afghan governments, only one - the current president, Ashraf Ghani - fully complied with financial disclosure laws . . ." Read more in "U.S.-Backed Effort to Fight Afghan Corruption Is a Near-Total Failure, Audit Finds", The New York Times, September 27, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


India & China: Key Partners. Raffaello Pantucci writes on the importance of India and China in developing stability for Afghanistan. Both countries are increasing their involvement with Afghanistan in many ways - economically, diplomatically, and more. This is a great article to help one understand the complexities of Central and South Asia and how regional powers can help Afghanistan become stable once again. "India and China key partners in keeping Afghanistan stable", Reuters, February 15, 2016.

Not Getting Better. Joseph Blady writes a pessimistic article about the current situation in Afghanistan - "In Afghanistan, things aren't getting better", The Hill blog, February 15, 2016.
"The number of properly trained Afghan troops has been grossly overestimated. Afghan military and police leaders are collecting salaries for troops and police that don't exist. The government is doing the same for schools, teachers, clinics and doctors. Fraud and corruption are rampant. Contractors are being paid exorbitant amounts of money, but doing little. Intelligence is faulty. Oversight is being done from a distance and without effect. Afghanistan will not survive without help".
Obama's Failure in Afghanistan. Paul D. Miller writes how the President took a bad situation in  Afghanistan and made it even worse. Read "Obama's Failed Legacy in Afghanistan", The American Interest, February 15, 2016.

Civil-Military Divide . . . Does it Exist? Nate Cubra, a columnist, provides us with his thoughts on this topic in "A War Apart: Examining the American Civil-Military Divide", Georgetown Security Studies Review, February 17, 2016.

Drone Warfare. The use of  UAVs to carry out targeting against terrorist targets is an imperfect program that works. Michael V. Hayden, former CIA director, writes his thoughts about the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in "To Keep America Safe, Embrace Drone Warfare", The New York Times, February 19, 2016.

Enhancing SC Effectiveness. In times of defense spending austerity the use of 'security cooperation' to advance U.S. interests around the world needs further examination. Many programs designed to train and equip armies have been less effective than desired. Thomas W. Ross writes an essay entitled "Enhancing Security Cooperation Effectiveness: A Model for Capability Package Planning", National Defense University Press, January 1, 2016.

Lessons for ANDSF for 2016. Shawn Snow, a former Signals Intelligence Analyst for the U.S. Marine Corps, writes about lessons learned that the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) must remember if they are to be more successful in 2016 than they were in 2015. His analysis seems a bit optimistic but it focuses on the right areas for the most part. Read "Afghanistan: Lessons Learned for the 2016 Fighting Season", The Diplomat, February 15, 2016.

Lessons from Afghanistan - TFBSO

RAND Corporation has published a paper entitled Task Force for Business and Stability Operations: Lessons from Afghanistan, 2016. The TFBSO was a multi-year endeavor for the U.S. Department of Defense which sought to use private-sector strategies to create sustainable economies in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has come under a withering attack by the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR) yet it also has its supporters. This 139-page report from RAND should provide a good read for those who want to implement private-sector strategies into a conflict-ridden environment.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Afghan Nation-Building A Bust. Doug Bandow thinks its time for a departure from Afghanistan. "Afghanistan is a bust. The Taliban is expanding its control. The number of security incidents was up a fifth in the last months of 2015 over the previous year. Popular confidence is at its lowest level in a decade. . . ." And so on. Read more in "Bring America's Troops Home From Afghanistan: Nation-Building a Bust",, February 1, 2016.

Life Without War. A combat veteran of the Afghan War, Daniel Fisher, writes about life after his tour in Afghanistan in "#Essays on War: September Morning", The Strategy Bridge, February 2, 2016.

More Troops Not the Answer? General Campbell, Resolute Commander, testified before the House Armed Services Committee and said that the U.S. should continue to provide military assistance to Afghanistan for five more years. I guess this is the forever war! Some skeptics are convinced that the security situation gets worse each year. Read "Throwing More U.S. Troops at Afghanistan Isn't the Answer", National Interest, February 2, 2016.

RAND Report - COIN Update for Afghanistan. Christopher Paul and Colin P. Clarke have penned a 51-page report entitled Counterinsurgency Scorecard Update: Afghanistan in Early 2015 Relative to Insurgencies Since World War II, RAND Corporation, February 2016.

A "Plan Colombia" Needed for Afghanistan. Shawn Snow believes that in the fight to rid Afghanistan of violent extremism, the central government needs greater resources to gain a decisive advantage. Read "A Plan Colombia for Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, February 3, 2016.

Dividing Afghanistan? One commentator seems to think that a division of Afghanistan into two regions would help settle down the conflict. The western / northern portion would contain Heratis, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and others. The southern and eastern portion controlled by the Pashtuns. Hmmm. Not sure that would work. Read more in "Deteriorating Security Situation in Afghanistan", Indian Defence Review, February 4, 2016.

Open-Ended Conflict. Abdullah Sharif provides his thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan in "Quagmirestan: America's Open-Ended Involvement in Afghanistan", The World Post, February 3, 2016.

Pakistan's Hand. Carlotta Gall examines Pakistan's role in the rise of international jihadism. Read "Pakistan's Hand in the Rise of International Jihad", The New York Times, February 6, 2016.

Book - "The Envoy". A former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations has penned a memoir. Zalmay Khalilzad has wrote The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World available at Macmillan Publishers. Khalilzad was born in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan. Should be an informative read providing historical insight of the 'big picture'.

The War We Want and the War We Have. David Betz, a Reader in Warfare in the War Studies Department at King's College London, has penned a long essay on wars we want to fight and the wars we find ourselves involved with in "Carnage and Connectivity: How Our Pursuit of Fun Wars Brought the Wars Home", War on the Rocks, February 2, 2016.

Russia and a New Ally in Afghanistan? Some observers have made a lot of noise about Russia's supposed overtures to the Taliban in order to join forces against the rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Javid Ahmad writes about Moscow's new ally in "Russia and the Taliban Make Amends", Foreign Affairs, January 31, 2016.

Lessons Not Learned. The US Army has two missions - defeating a capable adversary in large-scale land operations and conducting effective stability operations in areas in which governance is weak or nonexistent. The newly released report by the National Commission on the Future of the Army (Jan 28, 2016, 208 pages, PDF) lacks insight on how to address stability operations or counterinsurgency. As if to say that (as in the post-Vietnam era) we are not going to fight an OEF or OIF-like conflict every again. Read a critique of the recent report by the NCFA in "Ignoring the Army's Recent Past Will Not Help It Win Future Wars", by Andrew Hill, War on the Rocks, February 2, 2016.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Article - What I Learned from ANSF

Carl Forsling, in an article about his time spent with a battalion of the Afghan Border Police (ABP), writes about what he learned from the Afghan security forces. In Everything I Really Need to Know I learned from Afghan Security Forces, Task & Purpose, March 31, 2015 he makes the following observations.

  • There is such a thing as too much planning
  • Risk is part of war
  • Speed and mobility can be force protection
  • Minimize logistical requirements
  • Aggressiveness can make up for a lack of skill
  • Don't be afraid to leave a subordinate in charge
  • Uneducated does not mean stupid
  • No better friend. No worse enemy
  • Always make time for tea

Monday, January 5, 2015

Afghan COIN Lessons Learned

With the conclusion of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, and a "responsible end to the Afghan War" pundits are commenting on lessons learned of waging a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. These lessons learned will inform the public and military for years to come in future counterinsurgency operations. Steve Metz is the director of research at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute and an author. He provides us with three lessons learned on the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan.

1. Political culture must shape any U.S. counterinsurgency campaign.
2. Success is not simply a matter of picking the right local leader.
3. A successful counterinsurgency is almost impossible when the insurgents have external sanctuary.

Read his complete article entitled "What are the real lessons of the Afghanistan War?", World Politics Review, January 2015.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Paper - Lessons Learned on Advising

Lt. Col. Remi Hajjar of the U.S. Army has published an article entitled "What Lessons Did We Learn (or Re-Learn) about Military Advising After 9/11?", Military Review, November-December 2014, pages 63-75. Hajjar is an academy professor at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point). His paper takes a look at the history of the U.S. military advising mission, recounts relevant lessons from the Korean and Vietnam Wars to the present, provides several major advisory lessons learned or re-learned since 9/11, lists conditions that characterize the U.S. military advising mission, defining military advisory success, and he provides a conclusion and recommendations for future advisory missions.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book - "Why We Lost"

Jeff Schogol, a staff writer for the Military Times, offers us his review of the book by retired Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, entitled Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Bolger argues that the U.S. lost the wars because it stayed in place after its initial victories in 2001 (Afghanistan) and 2003 (Iraq). Schogol says not many solutions are offered and a better title might be "What Went Wrong". Read Schogol's book review in "Why We Lost: offers few answers on Iraq and Afghanistan (November 20, 2014).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Article - "Winning Battles, Losing Wars"

A recent article in Army Magazine by Lt. Gen James M. Dubik (U.S. Army retired) points out that while the U.S. military is tactically proficient it is lacking in integrating the civilian aspects of war into to overall strategy. The author states ". . . that the U.S.'s war-waging capacity is suffering. American is too focused on winning battles. However it is losing the war. Read "Winning Battles, Losing Wars" (November 18, 2014).

Monday, November 17, 2014

More Afghan War News Snippets

The author, military commentator, and RAND senior international policy analyst Linda Robinson recently addressed the annual Army USA Conference in Washington, D.C. on October 14, 2014. Her presentation was about new research that distills lessons learned from the U.S. experience in the last decade of war. Read "7 Lessons from 13 Years of War", The RAND Blog, October 16, 2014.

Raytheon Company has been awarded a contract modification on the Warfighter Field Operations Customer Support (FOCUS) contract to add more pilots to the New Dawn training program. The change calls for an additional 24 fixed-wing and four rotary-wing Afghan Air Force pilots to be trained. The training will take place in the United Arab Emirates. Read more in "More Afghan pilots to receive Raytheon training", PR Newswire, November 10, 2014.

Photos of Afghanistan are an invaluable aid to the "fobbits" that inhabit the large Coalition FOBs in Afghanistan but who "never leave the wire". You can go online and visit Afghanistan and feel like you are actually in-country! Monique Jaques shares her photos with us on her website.

Warfare in mountainous operations sometimes means that pack animals are used to transport personnel, equipment, and supplies. There are remote outposts of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police that rely on pack animals (Kunar, Nuristan, etc.). U.S. Army Special Forces personnel receive training and instruction on the use of pack animals. A new publication on the topic has just been published. See ATP 3-18.13, Special Forces Use of Pack Animals, October 30, 2014.

There are many challenges in front of President Ghani and the resources at hand are diminishing with the reduction of ISAF combat troops and decrease in international aid. Read "Afghanistan: New President and Old Pitfalls", Eurasia Review, November 10, 2014.

The drug trade poses numerous problems for Afghanistan to include the harmful effects of illicit drugs on Afghan people, organized crime, and corruption of the government and security organizations of Afghanistan. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is working with Afghanistan to reduce the drug trade. Read more in "In Afghanistan, UN crime chief pledges support to combat disastrous drug trade, corruption", UN News Centre, November 10, 2014.

A short documentary film is available on YouTube about the copper mine at Mes Aynak (Logar province) and the ancient Buddhist site under excavation. See The Buddhas of Mes Aynak by Brent Huffman (9 mins).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

OEF Lessons Learned Ignored

The United States spent some 13 years in Afghanistan. Units deployed to and from Afghanistan on one-year rotations. Many personnel in those units served previously on Afghan tours; but some didn't. It is not readily apparent that the lessons learned were sufficiently captured and read by units and personnel during their pre-deployment training. Read more on this topic in "How the Limited Use of Lessons Learned Failed to Form a Cohesive Strategy in Operation Enduring Freedom", Small Wars Journal, by Joel Lawton, November 4, 2014.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Report - SFAAT AAR and Lessons Learned

Two Captains who recently completed a tour of duty in Regional Command East have wrote a paper about their time on their respective Security Force Assistance Advisory Team (SFAAT). Their report provides some lessons learned that future advisors to Afghanistan could find helpful. First Brigade of the 101st Airborne deployed to Kunar and Nangarhar provinces in late 2012 on a nine-month long deployment for the Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission. The SFA mission involved a transition from fighting and winning the counterinsurgency to a train, advise, and assist role. This caused the 1st Brigade to transform itself from a combat brigade to an advisory brigade. One of the SFAATs advised an ANA infantry kandak (battalion) and the other SFAAT advised an ANA Combat Support Kandak (CSK). The paper highlights some of the operational mechanics involved in the SFAAT mission and also provides key lessons. Read the report online or download at "Passing it On: Two SFAAT Teams in Afghanistan and Lessons Learned for Future Advisors", by Thomas McShea and Kyle Harnitchek, Small Wars Journal, October 27, 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Report - "Improving Strategic Competence"

RAND Corporation has released a new report entitled Improving Strategic Competence: Lessons from 13 Years of War. The report was released in October 2014 and has several well-known authors - Linda Robinson, Paul D. Miller, John Gordon IV, Jeffrey Decker, Michael Schwille, and Raphael S. Cohen. There are 170 pages in the document (Adobe Acrobat PDF). The report ". . . addresses a particular disconnect in the current debate on the future of national security strategy and the role of land-power caused by an inadequate examination of the national level of strategy made by the U.S. government".

The report has identified two trends from World War II to the Present -

1) "Land warfare has evolved from conventional combat against state actors and their standing forces to an increasing incidence of irregular warfare fought by joint forces against non-state actors. This has led to an increasing U.S. reliance on special operations forces".
2) "While the Army learns tactical and operational lessons from the wars it fights, it sometimes struggles to recognize the broader implications of its experience and adapt at a strategic level".

The report goes on to list "Seven Lessons from the Past 13 Years of War" and provides seven "Recommendations". You can read more about the report here and download it if interested.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Afghan War Lessons Learned and How to Fight ISIS

The news programs, print media and Internet is just bursting with analysis and recommendations about how to "degrade, defeat, and destroy" the Islamic State (or ISIS, or ISIL, etc.). While many of these reports, tracts and observations are presented by well-meaning academics, scholars and members of 'think tanks" - very few have an experience mix of the big picture and 'boots on the ground". One observer that does is Michael G. Waltz. With his experience as a Special Forces officer with two tours in Afghanistan and as an advisor to VP Cheney on South Asia and Counterterrorism, Waltz has first-hand experience at the ground and policy level. He is the author of a forthcoming book entitled Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret's Battles from Washington to Afghanistan available on Together with Alyssa Kelly, a national security analyst at Askari Associates, Waltz provides some lessons learned from Afghanistan and hopes that the current administration and his national security advisors (as well as senior military commanders) remember 10 impediments to success when dealing with ISIS (and with our allies).

1. National Caveats
2. Interagency Coordination
3. Lesser Capability
4. Different Doctrinal Approaches
5. Incompatibility
6. Intelligence Sharing
7. The "Maintaining the Coalition" Mentality
8. Command and Control
9. Unmet Expectations
10. The D-word: Detainees

The full article with an explanation of the ten impediments can be read in "Ten Lessons From the Afghan War About How to fight ISIS", The South Asia Channel, Foreign Policy, September 23, 2014.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

ISAF COIN Lessons Applicable to MONUSCO (DRC)

An instructor at the Peace Support Operations Training Centre (PSOTC) in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina provides us with an essay that stresses the lessons of counterinsurgency learned in Afghanistan not be forgotten and suggests that these lessons are applicable in future conflicts such as the one currently raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He believes that the Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Republique democratique du Congo (MONUSCO) could apply some of the best practices employed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. These best practices include applying the principles of "clear, hold, build" and providing enablers such as Female Engagement Teams (FETs), Human Terrain Teams (HTTs), CoISTs (that provided intelligence support to COIN), and more. Read his essay entitled "Why Counterinsurgency Matters for MONUSCO", Small Wars Journal, February 20, 2014.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lessons Observed vs Lessons Learned: How We Fail to Properly Train Advisers

Jason Fritz, a senior editor at War on the Rocks blog has published online an article about the difference between "lessons observed" and "lessons learned". The writer served as an adviser in Iraq a few years back and compares his preparation and training with those advisers from the Vietnam era. No lessons learned there; although there was plenty of lessons observed. Of course this adviser selection and training problem exists even today with the selection for the SFAATs for the Security Force Assistance mission in Afghanistan. Read more in "Lessons Observed on Lessons Observed: IEDs, Advising, and Armor", War on the Rocks, February 3, 2014.