Afghan Roundup

Last week was not a good week in Afghanistan…

First, the ‘high ranking’ Taliban member that had been negotiating with Karzai?  Yeah, not so much.

They now believe he was nothing more than a shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta.
Let the ass covering begin!
American officials say they were skeptical from the start about the identity of the man who claimed to be Mullah Mansour — who by some accounts is the second-ranking official in the Taliban, behind only the founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar.
Interesting to note how Fox news titled the story:  ‘Team Obama Duped by Taliban Impostor‘  Reading that blurb, I’m not sure you’d even know there were any U.S. military personnel involved.  Certainly not Gen. Petraeus.
Senior American officials, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, said the talks indicated that Taliban leaders, whose rank-and-file fighters are under extraordinary pressure from the American-led offensive, were at least willing to discuss an end to the war.
One wonders how they’d title a victory in Afghanistan (or anywhere else) without giving Obama credit.  Look guys, if you’re going to claim Pertaeus ‘saved’ Iraq then he’s got to take the hits too (No, they don’t.  eds.).  Really, how do these guys merit press credentials?
There was a bit of a dust up about the decision to send some tanks to Afghanistan.  There’s some back and forth about how we’ll finally be able to kick some ass or that it’s counterproductive to COIN but I think they aren’t that big a deal since there’s only going to be 16 of them.
It also assumes that Afghans see a significant difference between a tank and our other armored vehicles, which I doubt (and I mean from a messaging point of view here, not a firepower one).
I agree with Waltz:
To be clear, fault does not lie with the MRAP, MATV, or any other armored vehicle.  It lies with how commanders are using the vehicles due to their aversion to risk and their attempts to minimize coalition injuries at the expense of the broader counterinsurgency mission.
We’re buttoning up again.  Force protection is king and everything else is secondary.  So, instead of getting out into the villages, immersing with the population and sharing risks and rewards with our partners, we buzz through villages “we are trying to win over as we peer at them through 6 inches of plate glass and armor.”
Waltz again:
Ultimately, the IEDs prevent us from going where the insurgents do not want us to go. Many people fail to realize that causing casualties is only a side benefit of the IED. The true prize for the insurgent commander is separating the coalition and Afghan security forces from the populace. Every time we add another layer of armor in response to casualties, we are playing right into their hands.
It’s just another manifestation of the ‘tyranny of fires‘.
I find the timing interesting, therefore, that the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team has just released a report on the importance of partnering with local populations and security forces (even more interesting since the report was written in September and just released -or re-released this week).
I wonder if this reflects some sort of ideological battle within the DoD about how to proceed or just another example of the left and right hands not speaking to each other again.

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