To use the term “anarchy” to describe the political situation in Afghanistan is dishonest. The “preferred” government that had been in charge failed, giving in to the temptation to not run their country and expecting their long term benefactor (US) to bail them out. When the “preferred” government failed, the vacuum was filled by the one party that actually put together a semblance of effort in the past. You call those folks “The Taliban”.
I didn’t want to specifically talk about the government’s collapse today, but to bring up the only other option outside of the Taliban run government; the military.
The military flopped. I have read several tidbits worth of note that I wanted to share.
- Our military leaders either miscalculated the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) abilities or blatantly lied to the American people about it.
Everyone is sunny side up when watching a division in boot camp march or do drills, but when they are thrown into actual conflict, it is a different story. The ANA always had either a NATO/ISAF adviser around the corner or a convenient airstrike when things got hairy. (Or even embedded with US military led operations). The sunk cost/time element skewed our ability to be honest…”after 20 years, I figured you could handle it…”.
(Also ignore the fact that there might have been only 60,000 troops that operated on a level that Afghanistan actually needed but we heard the 300,000 figure thrown around)
- The people involved with the military had no faith in their corrupt leaders.
Yeah, government people eating up funding, not sending out troops, lack of supplies, ghost jobs, etc. Insert South Vietnam joke here. I don’t blame them for not wanting to fight when someone is blatantly fighting you behind your back.
I have to quote some von Clausewitz here:
“War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means”.
- The people had no buy in or desire to fight.
I was pondering some ideas from Dave Grossman’s work On Killing. In combat, a few of your options were to “fight”, “posture”, or “surrender”. The ANA did a little fighting while supported, gaining experience and some confidence. But when the actual trained and formed up unkts were left with the challenge alone; they never didn’t do much fighting. It served them well to surrender early in the ball game. It wasn’t worth posturing, considering the Taliban had people embedded in their ranks that have had a mix of experience from battle hardened experiences, including surviving torture and imprisonment.
It was also noted that even when the ISAF/NATO forces were around, people wouldn’t show up for musters or movements. Many would disappear after a short period, just to re-appear when they needed money. The appeal of the jobs program was more appealing than fighting for the community, or any sense of “patriotism”/esprit de corps.
I feel like my critique is justified, considering the numbers of fighting age men showing up in droves at the airport in Afghanistan. No one seemed to be fighting the Taliban, just waiting for them to show up and take charge. There wasn’t a need to posture.
I observe that, outside of people who were employed by the government/money, no one really cared enough to do anything. This is during a period of relative calm, following a civil war. I think that the people are willing to deal with the Taliban now.
It wasn’t bad enough before when the Taliban had nearly ¾’s of the territory under their control. People make emotional ploys (women, children, civil rights, culture) to sway us but it wasn’t enough to sway the people there. (Life sucks for many around the world, but it is up to the self determination of those people to do something, minus the interloping of cross world strangers.
Time to wash my hands of the last twenty years and focus on what is more pertinent in our lives.