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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Beyond Incompetent

Our government is so large, and so complex that I am by now convinced that it doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. Worse, it doesn’t seem to understand very much about what it does know. I will happily admit that “nation building” is complex in the extreme, and the truth of this helps us to understand why so many Americans are opposed to such policy. What follows is but one example of the pitfalls of nation building.

If you are an Afghan official charged with keeping the army fully manned, here are the first steps you must take in the initial interview with a potential candidate: confiscate the applicant’s cell phone, check to see if the ring tone is unique to members of the Taliban or their enablers, see if there is a picture of the Taliban flag stored inside the phone, and finally, check to see if there is a video of a beheading of infidels.

This does tell us a lot about the caliber of recruits in Afghanistan. At this stage, however, there is no need for an applicant to worry about the army turning him down for service. Now wait a minute: before you chuckle, or shake your head, recall that the United States Army promoted a Moslem extremist to major. If you remember Major Hasan, congratulations —most people do not.

New York Times writer Rod Nordland explains why the Afghan Army doesn’t exclude an enemy from recruitment: it is losing about one-third of its total strength each year due to desertions and expiring enlistments. Even a first year college student should know that this kind of attrition provides a major stumbling blog to US and NATO goals of achieving an independent, reliable, and efficient army, capable of taking over the war, stabilizing the country, and finally allowing the withdrawal of coalition forces.

Is our state department even aware of this problem? Is the commander in chief? The question could very well be rhetorical. It is possible that no one inside the beltway really cares. At least, they are acting that way. And yet, Afghan officials say that the only way they can sustain a viable army is through recruitment. They’re losing 66,000 soldiers every year, and some officials are saying that it doesn’t seem likely anyone will bring to an end these problems before the end of 2014, when US and NATO forces are scheduled to withdraw.

Why are there so many desertions? Why are so many young men returning home after their enlistments? According to one very candid Afghan official, it is because Afghan officers are poor leaders and corrupt; because the men are poorly fed, and poorly equipped; and because Taliban are able to approach and intimidate the families of soldiers.

Consequently, either Afghan officials accept Taliban insurgents into the army, and the drug traffickers, and the jailbirds who can’t find any other work, or in three years, there won’t be an Afghan army. Apparently, having an army poised to fall upon itself with daggers is preferable to not having an army at all. Recruiting officials are desperate; they will take almost anyone who can walk and chew gum simultaneously. But it is through these dimmed lights that we are able to discern two things: we know what is really going on, behind the scenes, and we are able to see the ultimate result of our nation-building efforts in Afghanistan.

In spite of the aforementioned difficulties, the army recruited 30,000 applicants in the past year. They granted waivers to Taliban affiliates, to incorrigibles, because they had no other options. And in a few years from now, whatever happens won’t be the fault of these bureaucrats; they will have already moved up the professional ladder, or migrated to new countries, or returned home as warlords, or died —whatever. Plausible deniability is a gift that keeps on giving.

The Afghan bureaucracy is every bit as lethargic as the one we have here in America, but its short-sightedness has deadly consequences. The US government continues to require that our troops conduct military operations alongside their Afghan counterparts, even in spite of Afghan treachery. And for those of our citizens who appear shocked by blue on green murder and assault, let me just say that this is what happens when four generations of Americans come out of public school dumber than on the date of their enrollment.

Rod Nordland helps us to understand why no one in the Afghan Army deserves our trust, why no American soldier or Marine should turn his or her back on any Afghan soldier, and why we should pull out of Afghanistan at the first opportunity. Nordland also illuminates why we should never have gone there to begin with. Our government is beyond incompetent.

[The Article]


  1. Why go through the trouble of setting up your own training facilities and schedules when the Americans will do it for you?

    We are so stupid we cant even grasp it.

    We should cease all training yesterday and remove ourselves from this trap.

  2. Zing! Jay Leno on the Obama administration.

    Of course, what the Obama administration has wrought is no joke. Among other things, we see that the Obama administration views American blood as cheap.

  3. AOW you had an older post about Europe$all and the COexist bumper stickers.

    The policy of Muslim extremists is to coexist in a society until they have enough supporters to overturn the government and establish Islamic law in that society.

    This works really well if you can get the people to think everything is the same and hearts and flowers.

    When they see one of those they laugh just as we laugh when we see an Obama bumper sticker.

  4. AOW

    I need an email address, there are some things, I have recently learned that I want to share and have you research further. I am not posting them here.

  5. Blogginator,
    My email addy is toward the top of the right sidebar. I check that email account at least once a day -- usually the first thing in the morning.

    Will be on the lookout for your email!

  6. This has become my #1 reason for refraining from nation building: We can't even get our own nation right.

    Afghanistan is a sinkhole. It would be more satisfying to simply make large flaming pyres of thousand dollar bills on the streets of our cities. At least the homeless could gather around them to keep warm.

  7. Seems this "nation building" idea has never been a success outside post WW II.

    Let's face it. Our military missions have been disasters for some time now. The missions have become so unsupportable that the propagandists have had to shift the meme to "support the troops".

    But when I think about the economy it becomes clear why we have to keep up with this insanity.

  8. Letting news cameras on the battle fields is what changed war. Prior to that, the people didn't turn away in droves like they do now. The front page picture of a Vietnamese man being shot by a South Vietnamese soldier was the beginning of the end. Now, if you go to war, it had better be over REAL quick, like yesterday.

  9. Since it's so difficult fort the Afghans to recruit and retain I'm surpirsed the Obama administration hasn't offered to pony up the bucks and manpower to do it for them--and unionize them in the process.

  10. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)charged today that Afghan forces aren't able to conduct operation and maintenance work because they have too few personnel to perform those duties and because many of the personnel they do have are unskilled -- and some can't even read. The group cited "undeveloped" budgeting, procurement, and logistics systems and said that only about 40 percent of critical ANSF sustainment jobs were filled. ~Foreign Policy Magazine

    Too few personnel, and rocks. Great job US foreign policy gurus inside the beltway. Idiots.

  11. Sam, have you seen this blog? Dr. Steve Pieczenik was a State Department insider for many years; he agrees with your criticisms. Check it out when you have time.

  12. I am sympathetic to the U.S. spreading principles of freedom but when the reception is cold after a number of years of trying to instill certain values to the people then its time to get the heck out of Afghanistan.

  13. As long as wars are fought by politicians and not the military they will always be doomed to failure. MacArthur is a case in point. Why did we stop at a line on the map in the Korean war? We were 39 miles from getting Mao.

  14. Same thing in Iraq the first time Bunkerville. Sadam could have met his maker(the devil) back in 1991, and the country might actually be a thriving Democracy by now.

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