Update from ISAF HQ

Our Man “91” on the ISAF staff in Kabul just sent me a note.

Things are going reasonably well here (At HQ I mean). A few days ago, I gave a brief to the NATO Military Committee. They are the senior national military advisors to NATO. Mostly two and three stars. I talked about the future of the PRTs, but the most interesting comment came from the J2. I can’t get in to everything that he said, but the first comment he made was regarding the status of the war. As to who is winning and/or losing, he said that the insurgents are not winning. Someone in the Pentagon asked me the same question a few weeks ago. In my opinion, we are not losing, but to evaluate who is winning or losing is one of thethings that makes a counter-insurgency so difficult to gauge. There is no front line to track, so how do you decide if you’re winning? We are killing the enemy by the hundreds when they openly engage us, but we can not be in every village in Afghanistan. So, what happens at night when we are not there? The part time Taliban come out and do their evil and we are seen to be unable to stop that kind of activity. Some places are doing very well – Bamian and Panjshir provinces for example. But there are a lot more that are not. Almost all of RC South and a lot of RC East.

On a positive note, Germany has agreed to extend their mission in Afghanistan. In an interview I did with a group of German reporters [91 is fluent in German] a few weeks ago, they asked if I thought that the German forces should be in southern Afghanistan. While additional forces could do nothing but help,especially in the South, if the Germans leave northern Afghanistan, who will take their place? We, the US, do not have enough forces to takeover the mission in northern Afghanistan, and I would be stunned if anyone else in ISAF was willing to deploy an additional 3000 people to Afghanistan… Even more importantly than the tactical placement of the troops is the strategic impact the German extention will have on the alliance. There are more than a few countries who would leave Afghanistan in a heartbeat if they could come up with a reason. A major coalition partner like Germany withdrawing their forces would provide just such a reason. So, the German decision to stay will hopefully influence the other members of ISAF to stay as well. If Germany, with a population that is ever more opposed to involvement in Afghanistan will stay, then why shouldn’t everyone else?

Why not, indeed? I’ve been pretty hard on the allies that look like they’re starting to weasel, but let’s be honest. The Germans rucked up on this one. We should all be very very pleased and relieved.

The Torch looks at the same issue from the Canadian point of view.

To our NATO allies I say, stay on target. Remember what Margaret Thatcher told President Bush in 91– THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO GO WOBBLY.

And good work, 91. Keep your head down, and keep the updates coming.


  1. John says:

    great stuff, as usual. Glad the Krauts are going to gut it out. Any chance of the French getting involved? Or, more involved…I should say.

  2. Agent 91 says:


    That is a very good question that I will try to address in the next post

  3. C-Low says:

    At one time in history the fact that you are standing in another's living room with his wifes and kids so to speak and X man is incapable of removing you, that in itself would be considered victory.

    But today in the new soft squishy LLL world with bars set by the ME say that, if you fight and get hit once you are losing and it doesn't matter you ate the blow?

    The back door form of making Pacifism national policy is setting bars so unrealistic that any and all war is considered a failure.

  4. Solomon2 says:

    Why aren't we in the villages at night? Sounds like a great way to ambush some Taliban.

  5. Rykehaven says:

    Let me get this straight:

    I'm supposed to be relieved that these guys are going to be squatting in Afghanistan feeding off our logistical lines — and for what?

    Oh, ok. I get it.

    The US Military should be singing the praises of these German soldiers' dauntless courage.

    My buddies should fall on their knees and thank their lucky stars just like every American soldier, sailor and airman that should have raised their hands in worship to all the "brave" allies who have squatted and lectured us in Kurdistan. We have been saved by the Germans who have caused the Taliban to flee before them this past year.

    Sorry – No Sale.

    Do Not Pass Go.

    Do Not Collect 200 propaganda points.

    There'll be another "offensive" next year when it gets warmer. Are you telling me that the Germans are volunteering to go?

    Don't make me laugh. Which units do you think are going to be sent into those valleys with a high probability of contact and ROEs that imply prosecution with extreme prejudice?

    For that matter:

    1) which units do you think are going to sit on their hands or fecklessly brandish their props – I mean "weapons".

    2) which units do you think are going to stay well outside of any SUSPECTED mortar range on the one hand, then claim credit for "being in combat" because they were technically assigned to the op.

    3) Next Spring, IF any Taliban get past the US offensive – oops, I mean "coalition effort" – which units are going to cry BLOODY-MURDER when and if one of their guys get killed (which, of course, wasn't part of the propaganda deal).

    4) Who do you think these pansies are going cry to and who do you think they're going to blame?

    Somebody tell 32nd/3rd BCT – who obviously had nothing on Germany's heroic warriors – that they should be ashamed for watching the Krauts fight off the Taliban from NORTHERN Afghanistan. I had no idea that German soldiers could just "show-up" anywhere on the continent and then, magically, cause the Taliban to turn tail.

    But apparently, things like that happen alot.

    Canucks, for example, can kill Afghan terrorists with gunships they didn't operate, from a distance that even a 16 inch gun can't reach. Brits are experts when it comes to defeating the Taliban around Northern Waziristan – from their remote base in Helmand.

    I am impressed.


  6. Anonymous says:

    "great stuff, as usual. Glad the Krauts are going to gut it out. Any chance of the French getting involved? Or, more involved…I should say.

    John · October 15, 2007 06:35 PM"

    No words. None are Necessary.

    Except that this bone-headed statement is the logical conclusion when one actually believes in the cannard of "allies".

  7. John says:

    wasn't a statement, it was a question. Simmer down, Cletus.

  8. Scott says:

    QUOTE: Canucks, for example, can kill Afghan terrorists with gunships they didn't operate, from a distance that even a 16 inch gun can't reach.

    RESPONSE: I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not here.

    While Canada doesn't have all the hardware, we've had boots on the ground in a very dangerous part of Afghanistan, and during last summer our infantry were in the middle of heavy fighting. Our casualties are third, behind the US and UK.

    There are other NATO allies to pick on before Canada.

  9. LtCol P says:

    Amen, Scott. Canada is knee-deep in the fight, and has paid a heavy price. Canadian soldiers on the ground are worth far far more than the numbers imply. Rykehaven, your comments are off the mark. Go into an immediate check-fire and re-compute your data.

  10. Agent 91 says:

    That's the problem with being 8.5 hours ahead of everyone else. I miss all the replys to this post.

    First – Why are we not in villages at night? Because we do not have enough people to cover every village ina single provinve, let alone the whole country.

    Second – Rykehaven: I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say. No, the Germans ar enot involved in the heaviest fighting. But, if they were not in Northern Afghanistan, who would be?

    Third – The Canadians are carrying more than their fair share of the fighting. I work with them every day. If you want to vent on some Canadians, why not go to Khandahar province and vent on some of them down there? I am sure they would love to hear what you have to say…

  11. Jiminez says:

    Scott and Agent21,

    "Boots on the ground" and "heavy fighting" is language used in the media (and by PA officers), not the military.

    It's not about "boots on the ground". You can have all the boots on the ground in Qandahar and it won't make a slip of difference; just ask the Brits in Helmand, or the US/Afghan forces who had to clean up – after the Brits left entrenched Taliban forces when they holed themselves up in their bases.

    You're right on one point though; this isn't about numbers. It's about operating tempo and applied pressure. It's about going into areas you know are sympathetic to the Taliban and building a network.

    It's about taking tips in urban population centers, conducting raid and snatch operations to kill or capture terrorists and their sympathizers.

    It's about scouring the bodies, safe-houses and electronics intercepts for intel which will lead to more personalities of interest which will lead to MORE tips.

    And FINALLY. It's about follow-through, after taking all the risks (political and physical) to get this far, to ACT on that intel (which has a VERY short shelf-life) with kinetic force.

    Are Canadian troops doing any of this.

    No, Canadian troops don't this, and it's no secret in the US military. I'm not saying it's their fault; Canadians in Qandahar DO have to deal with IEDs.

    However, EVERY US unit has dealt with the cost of IEDs; in fact many have seen more IEDs in a week's worth of urban combat than the Canadians will see in all their years in Afghanistan. Extreme cases can be found with the 3/1 Marines, the Rakassans and the US Navy (and now inter-service) EODs.

    Are you trying to place "Canadian Forces" on a pedestal beside the outfits I mentioned above? And are you still going to proclaim that Canadians have been involved in "heavy fighting"? Many US soldiers, who don't have those kinds of combat records, would be taken aback at this kind of arrogance, and would probably challenge you in defense of their senior brothers in arms.

    The word around the US military is that Canadian and British forces (never mind the others) do not "close with the enemy"; ie they do not risk getting into rifle-range, going into cities, going into Taliban-infested enclaves; their patrols have already been "cleared" with local tribesman, many of whom are Taliban. In fact they operate like the British did in Helmand. Of course, "no-go" zones are where insurgencies are made, or made to be broken.

    The latest word from Qandahar Province was the recent assualt on districts in Qandahar City. Did your forces take part in these operations? The biggest city in your province? The second largest in all of Afghanistan?


    It was taken by Afghan and "coaltion troops and aircraft". Would you care to investigate which troops, advisors and aircraft provided the firepower behind the mask of "coalition forces"?

    Not that it matters.

    It's a given that Canadians will receive credit for the op and the aftermath because Canada had "Boots on the Ground" in Qandahar. And no media mentions the US component beyond the pathetic attempts to smother it. In fact, this is an old song.

    In the US military, this is called "Stolen Valor". There is a deep-seated cultural stigma in the US military attached to those who are acclaimed for heroism but actually never achieved it. It is not about "Boots on the Gound" or "being in Kandahar".

  12. Jiminez says:

    Also, I think it is a valid question:

    Will the Canadians be taking part in any offensives near the outliers of Bajaur (nobody knows where the border actually is if you ask them) or scouring any hostile population centers like Musa Qala.

  13. Jiminez says:

    Also, I think it is a valid question:

    Will the Canadians be taking part in any offensives near the outliers of Bajaur (nobody knows where the border actually is if you ask them) or scouring any hostile population centers like Musa Qala?

  14. Scott says:

    I am not in the military or a military expert. However, after living in the US for a year, I was surprised at how little the battles fought by Canadians, in Panjawi, were covered in the US.

    NOT because I wanted credit for my country, but because I figured that at least Fox News would advertise the fact that you, the US, do in fact have allies.

    I'd defer to a military expert, maybe someone who runs the board, but weren't the battles of last summer the largest since the initial invasion of 01? Is it known that Canada has since sent Leopard 2's to Afghanistan, the first tanks to arrive?

    Yes, the US provided much needed, probably decisive fire support. But what is needed is infantry to fix the enemy in place, and as far as I know, the coalition can never have enough infantry.

    Canada, like the UK and the Dutch, are the only NATO members (non US) who are in the dangerous south fighting. You can lament that their defense budgets don't allow for more (and Canada's has gone up lately) but again, there are others to pick on.