Saturday, September 04, 2021

More "Afghan Allies": Who were they again?

So, now there's this:

The Air Force recognizes the immediate need at OCONUS and CONUS locations for language capabilities in Afghan primary languages . . . . The Language Volunteer Self-Assessment is an opportunity for DAF Airmen and Guardians* to self-identify as proficient in theses specific regional languages. Although not guaranteed, please be aware that once self-identified, you may be recruited for available opportunities to use the indentified language skills in support of various organizations outside your primary mission.

A couple of obvious questions that should be asked (and of course never will be answered):

1. If the armed services had spare Afghan linguist capacity sitting around unused, why weren't they deployed in the AOR instead of having us incur untold liability for thousands of local interpreters?

2. Seeing as how the nominal primary beneficiaries of the evacuation we just conducted were said local interpreters, it would seem we should have ample linguist capacity among the 122K we just took in. So why are we are trying to draft service members into what is now just social work?

* "Guardians" being members of the new Space Force.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

"Afghan Allies": Coming to a small town near you . . .

2010: Gunfight Kills 2 Americans Who Trained Afghan Army

KABUL, Afghanistan A seemingly routine training practice in marksmanship went fatally wrong on Tuesday when an Afghan Army sergeant turned his weapon on an American trainer and a gunfight began. When it was over, the sergeant, two American trainers and an Afghan soldier who had been standing nearby lay dead.

2012: Troops Shot After Taliban Leader's Call

KABUL—Two U.S. Special Operations troops were killed by a man in Afghan police uniform on Thursday, a day after Taliban leader Mullah Omar called on more Afghan soldiers and policemen to kill Americans.

Two NATO soldiers killed in Afghan ‘insider attack’

Kabul: Gunmen wearing Afghan military uniforms shot dead two NATO soldiers on a base in the country´s south on Wednesday, the coalition said, in the latest insider attack on foreign troops. So-called "green-on-blue" attacks -- when Afghan soldiers or police turn their guns on international troops -- have been a major problem during NATO´s long years fighting alongside Afghan forces. Wednesday´s attack in the volatile province of Helmand is the first such incident since April, highlighting long-simmering tensions between Afghan and foreign forces.

2013: Afghan special forces commander defects with guns to insurgents

KUNAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - An Afghan army special forces commander has defected to an insurgent group allied with the Taliban in a Humvee truck packed with his team’s guns and high-tech equipment, officials in the eastern Kunar province said on Sunday. Monsif Khan, who raided the supplies of his 20-man team in Kunar’s capital Asadabad over the Eid al-Adha religious holiday, is the first special forces commander to switch sides, joining the Hezb-e-Islami organisation.

Afghanistan 'plans to reintroduce public stoning as punishmentn for adultery'

Afghan teen fatally stabs US soldier in the neck, military officials say

2014: Afghanistan Hangs Five for 'Extramarital Sex' After Gang Rape

2015: U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

2016: Taliban use 'honey trap' boys to kill Afghan police

The Taliban are using child sex slaves to mount crippling insider attacks on police in southern Afghanistan, exploiting the pervasive practice of "bacha bazi" -- paedophilic boy play -- to infiltrate security ranks, multiple officials and survivors of such assaults told AFP. The ancient custom is prevalent across Afghanistan, but nowhere does it seem as entrenched as in the province of Uruzgan, where "bacha bereesh" -- or boys without beards -- widely become objects of lustful attraction for powerful police commanders.

US Troop Killed, Another Injured in Insider Attack in Afghanistan

A U.S. service member was killed and another was injured in an insider attack on Wednesday in Kabul, according to NATO. A U.S. civilian was also killed and two more American civilians were wounded in the incident in the capital of Afghanistan, according to a release Wednesday from NATO's Operation Resolute Support mission in the country. The unidentified assailant was killed, the release states. The individual was wearing an Afghan army uniform when he opened fire on the coalition forces around 11 a.m. local time, the website al-Jazeera reported.

Bacha bazi: Afghan subculture of child sex slaves

The ancient custom, banned under the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule, has seen a resurgence in recent years. It is said to be widespread across southern and eastern Afghanistan's rural Pashtun heartland, and with ethnic Tajiks across the northern countryside.

Hopeless Afghan struggle to save boy sex slaves

Quivering with quiet rage, Shirin holds a photo of his teenage brother-in-law, who now lives as the plaything of policemen, just one victim of a hidden epidemic of kidnappings of young boys for institutionalised sexual slavery in Afghanistan.

2017: America's Enduring Bacha Bazi Problem in Afghanistan

2018: Killing of Utah mayor in Afghanistan was planned, according to Army investigation

OGDEN, Utah — An Afghan commando who fatally shot a Utah mayor serving in the National Guard in 2018 had planned the killing for weeks, according to an Army investigative report. U.S. Intelligence screeners failed to act swiftly enough on signs of the radicalization of the commando who was being trained by Maj. Brent Taylor, according to the report that was obtained through a public records request by the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. Taylor, 39, had taken a yearlong leave of absence as mayor of North Ogden for his deployment to Afghanistan. The killing occurred while Brent Taylor and the trainees were on a weekly training hike, the report said. They were making a final turn back to camp when Sgt. Asfar Khan of the Afghan special forces Taylor was helping train fired two to three shots, hitting Taylor in the back of the head, officials said.

2019: Three US Troops Wounded in Apparent Insider Attack in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON -- Three American troops were wounded Monday when an Afghan police officer opened fire at their convoy in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province, a defense official said.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Afghanistan Hot Takes II: Φ's Thoughts

The Afghanistan mission was a spin factory*. As has been amply documented, the entire narrative of our presence there was an edifice of lies. In 2011, I had a front row seat in the maintenance of these lies; indeed, I had a small hand in constructing them. These lies continued to the very end, e.g. this hilarious headline from 12 August.

If we actually had a culture of accountability, Congress would have already scheduled hearings. Every general, CIA weenie, and deputy-assistant-undersecretary-for-stoopid would be called to account for whatever combination of incompetence and duplicity led to 20 years of effort coming acropper this dramatically.

Obviously we don't have that culture. We have the opposite culture, and it runs straight through the armed services to every level of command. We have done nothing for the last year but #blacklivesmatter and searching under the bed for "extremists". But this is only a change in degree; the military has been colonized by cultural Marxists since the 1980s. They gained power in 1991 with respect to feminism in the wake of Tailhook, and more power yet in 2004. Their dominance is now complete. Literally every level of command swears allegiance to the Big Lie, and all the smaller lies, including those about Afghanistan, flow from that. We are now seeing the consequences.

We were not the Good Guys in Afghanistan. We propped up a puppet government of thieves and pederasts, who however much may have been willing to take our money, never merited that support. It was an unfortunate accident that we ever came to cross purposes with the Taliban, who are infinitely more deserving of more respect than our supposed "allies".

Many servicemembers are grappling with the meaning of their time in that country, the wounds they suffered, the deaths of friends they witnessed. This is understandable. Many of them can say, as any Russian, British, or Alexandrian soldier said before them, that, in the moment, they supported their teammates and saved each others' lives. That may not sound like much, but for a soldier it must be enough.

I can say none of it. My tour saved no one's life, and I supported nothing worth supporting. My presence there was pointless (as MG Hood told me to my face on my first day). I may speak more truth than average, but only because my stakes are lower: every possible injury to my self-worth has long since been inflicted. Don't cry for me. Cry for those who are just now realizing the truth.

We now enter the battle of narratives. The Left and its organs will say what it wills, and those that would believe are surely beyond reason. My concern is for the battle on the Right. As my earlier post indicated, there is much good analysis. There is also some dumbassery:

So here’s my dream: let our SEALs, Rangers, Marines, and any members of our toughest units shred these goat fuckers to smithereens.

For pete's sake, why? What purpose would it serve? It wouldn't bring back the non-Taliban government, not that we should even want that. It would not aid the repatriation of our citizens, who in any case seem as of this writing mostly unmolested by the Taliban and appear to be free to remain in Afghanistan or depart as they will. It might serve as a temporary salve to our wounded egos, but that would only be a distraction from what we should really be after: a full accounting for two decades of lies and waste.

I read that Glenn Beck has raised $22M to "rescue Christians" from that country. It comes as something of a surprise to find out that there are $22M worth of Christians in Afghanistan, but reading the story closely, I'm not seeing that Beck's proposed airlift will be limited to Christians, nor how he would verify Christian identity if it were, nor what safe haven has agreed to take them. My suspicion generally is that although the initial rush to NKAIA** was in fear of the Taliban, the hordes lining up now are there for the same reason we have a southern border crisis: they sense free entry to the United States, the land of endless welfare payments.

My primary concern is an attempted retread of the Vietnam narrative: "Our mission was betrayed by the politicians!" I've been thinking about that narrative a lot: it was the story I grew up on in the 1980s. I'll admit to having something of a reappraisal in light of the past week, but for now, the Vietnam narrative looks far more defensible than it does when applied to Afghanistan.

For all we might quibble about the details in his speech, former VP Biden told a singular truth on Monday:

We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, and make sure Al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that. We severely degraded Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We never gave up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and we got him.

That was a decade ago. Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland.

. . . So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.

President Trump deserves credit (and Biden appears to give him credit, if that is what it was) for negotiating our withdrawal -- up to a point. The fact is that Trump, as Bush and 0bama before him, set the withdrawal date after his term expired. Biden, to his credit, is the one to see this through, assuming; as of this writing, we have only increased our troop levels, but the circumstances make it difficult to imagine a continued long-term presence. Perhaps the withdrawal was bungled -- that too should be part of the full accounting -- but better it be done badly than not done at all.

* Not original with me; I know I read "spin factory" somewhere this past week, although as of this writing I can't find it.

** As it was called when I was there.

Afghanistan Hot Takes I

First some links.

Ben Domenech:

In a responsible military situation, the entire brass would be out on their asses after a level of mismanagement this dire. The insulation from consequences is absurd. Whatever happened to resigning in failure? Nowadays people are only expected to resign in protest - that is, for other people’s mistakes, but never for their own. Is it time for a BRAC for generals?

Whoever Biden doesn’t fire, their performance Biden believes is acceptable. If this is acceptable, how can the American people possibly trust the NSA, CIA, or the Pentagon? Even their most recent predictions were completely off. Once again, intel community and expert class totally failed us, predicting this would take months and the Afghan army would fight - now they're "revising" their predictions on terrorist formation according to Milley today. Why should we believe anything they say?

Mark Steyn:

Indeed, what difference would it make if [the U.S.] closed down its military? Obviously, it would present a few mid-life challenges for its corrupt Pentagon bureaucracy, since that many generals on the market for defense lobbyist gigs and board directorships all at once would likely depress the going rate. But, other than that, a military that accounts for 40 per cent of the planet's military spending can't perform either of the functions for which one has an army: it can't defeat overseas enemies, and it's not permitted to defend the country, as we see on the Rio Grande. So what's the point?

. . . America is not "too big to fail": It's failing by almost every metric right now. The world-record brokey-brokey-brokeness manifested by the current spending bills is only possible because the US dollar is the global currency. When that ends, we're Weimar with smartphones.

"Hobbes" at Scragged:

[Any] decent administration would summarily sack the Pentagon leadership that executed such a disastrous "plan", if it even deserves that word. Once again, neither are even being discussed, thus demonstrating what we've been quickly coming to fear - our entire institutional infrastructure is utterly corrupt and rotten down as far as we can see. The serving soldiers at the bottom may well be the lions they've always been, but they're led by jackasses if not something worse.

If we ever again are blessed with a reformist administration that actually loves this country, a Day 1 job must be the immediate sacking and forcible retirement of every single military officer of three or more stars or the equivalent, and a deep-dive investigation into the rest of the military leadership with an emphasis on successful field-command experience, with desk-jockey and political years being a powerful negative.

J.D. Vance for Senate!

But this is not merely the consequence of seven months of disastrous Biden policy, it is the failure of the entire American regime. Every major institution in our country revealed itself as a farce.

Let’s start with U.S. generals. Over 20 years, we have spent $1 trillion and lost nearly 3,000 Americans. Our leaders told the American people that Afghanistan was slowly becoming a more peaceful, stable country. In June, Mark Milley, our nation’s highest-ranking military officer, warned of “white rage” in the U.S. military. In July, he assured our nation that Afghan security forces had the “capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their country."

In reality, it turned out that the Afghan national army couldn’t withstand four weeks of Taliban assault. Why was Milley focused on fake problems like white rage as he failed to do the job we pay him for? And why won’t Milley face an ounce of consequence for so clearly failing at the job he was given?

For a bit of history:

"The Afghan army is increasingly effective," Gen. James Mattis told Congress in July 2010 at his confirmation hearing when he was nominated for commander of U.S. Central Command. He added that the Afghan military – alongside U.S. forces – were "the worst nightmare for the Taliban."

In December of that year, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that Afghan troops were "responsible for security in Kabul," "performing well" and would "continue to improve."

Cut to 2012, and Gen. John Allen, then the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, told the House Armed Services Committee, "We remain on track to ensure that Afghanistan will no longer be a safe haven for Al Qaida and will no longer be terrorized by the Taliban."

Allen went on to say that "as the potential unifying influence in Afghanistan, the Afghan forces are better than we thought they were, and they're better than they thought they were when tried in combat."

In November 2014, Gen. John Campbell told NPR, when asked if Afghan forces could fight with assistance, that "whenever the [Afghan security forces] get involved with the Taliban, the Taliban cannot hold ground, they can't hold terrain."

"I'm telling you what I've seen," Campbell continued, "the change from a couple of years ago to today. They do have the capability to protect themselves. They are the strongest institution in Afghanistan."

That same month, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson touted the success and capability of the Afghan military.

"The Afghan National Security forces are winning, and this is a hugely capable fighting force who have been holding their ground against the enemy," he said during a press briefing.

It's not all just hindsight. Here is WaPo in 2019 on the "Afghanistan Papers".

I will follow this up with my own thoughts in a subsequent post.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Raise you hand if you trust a commander?

Regarding the "Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act", which would "remove the decision to prosecute serious crimes in the military from the chain of command", CJCS Milley said this:

It is my professional opinion that removing commanders from prosecution decisions, process and accountability may have an adverse effect on readiness, mission accomplishment, good order and discipline, justice, unit cohesion, trust and loyalty between commanders and those they lead.

Which is pretty much the extent of every defense I've seen recounted in the media. If anyone has written a book, essay, or academic paper explaining why any of these things depend on a commander's prosecution power, I haven't seen it.

I suppose I could construct an argument for "mission accomplishment" that went something like this: combat operations won't stop for us to adjudicate every intra-unit conflict by standards of individual justice. Commanders must have the latitude to subordinate every other consideration, including due process and victims' rights, to defeating the enemy.

But I've never seen that argument spelled out, and in any case I have seen no evidence that any commander would actually do this. Not once in 30 years have I heard a commander, in explaining "his" policy on sexual assault and harassment, say: "I intend to be judicious. I will take into account full context, be proportional in my response, and apply a balancing test." Commanders only ever say one thing: zero tolerance. I can't cite an AFI, but I'm pretty sure no deviation from ZT would be honored by higher echelons of command even if one level did try to articulate it.

The the claim for "trust" is laughable. I personally haven't trusted a commander since 2003, and after what we've just seen in Afghanistan, I wouldn't recommend that anyone would take a commander's word for so much as the spelling of his own name. Can today's recruit survive so much as Basic Training, let alone a deployment, without learning complete cynicism about the lot of them and their integrity and competence?

So if the stated reasons are nonsense, then what's the hidden reason? The question bears answering. The uniformed "leadership" of the "armed" "services" has been more unified on this issue in the teeth of Congressional and now Presidential pressure than I would have thought possible.

My best guess (because it's the only consideration that ever matters nowadays) is that centralizing this power would make it obvious that NAMs generally and blacks particularly are vastly overrepresentative among perpetrators of these kinds of offenses, that the brass knows this, and that they desperately want to hide it.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Fat Lady Sings

As we knew she would.

I don't claim to be a seer -- even I am suprised at the speed of the Afghan government's collapse this weekend. But for any readers interested in reviewing my 2011 impressions, you can start here and work your way forward (and one month backward, if you are interested in the training I received prior to departure).

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Sliding Down the Slippery Slope

In an article worth a full reading, Nathan Winograd gives chapter-and-verse on the lengthy BLM/CRT support for, not just bestiality/"zoophilia", but all manner of animal abuse (at least when committed by BIPOCs). He writes:

In addition to trying to normalize bestiality by controlling the language we use to discuss it, [North Dakota State University professor Anastassiya] Andrianova, like [Duke University professor Kathy] Rudy before her, is trying to coopt the social movement for marriage equality, even though the latter represents a difference of kind, not degree. Andrianova and Rudy, as well as [Ph.D. candidate Jess] Ison, conflate criticism of bestiality with homophobia and patriarchy, with Ison claiming in The Zoo Closet: On Whether Bestiality is a Queer Liberation Ethic, that “fears about bestiality arose from controlling both women’s sex and same-sex relations” and Andrianova complaining that laws against bestiality were passed at the same time and for the same reasons as those proscribing “non-procreative sex” between consenting adult humans.

Given that “the vast majority of discussions around bestiality existed [historically] in the twinned realms of moral theology and juridical practices” that had their roots in “the book of Leviticus,” Rudy further wonders why,

Humans can kill animals, force them to breed with each other, eat them… hunt them, nail them down and cut them open for science, and for the most part, the humans who perform those acts can be thought of as normal, functioning members of society. Yet having sex with animals remains an almost unspeakable anathema.

. . . But offering countervailing arguments about when and why animals go into heat or their level of sentience does not feel commensurate with what is being advocated. It puts me at a loss. Responding with incredulity and denouncing the claims without the restraint of civility seems more appropriate, but doing so runs the risk of embracing a logical fallacy, such as an appeal to force or ad hominem. Responding dispassionately and measuredly, however, risks reducing the rape of animals to an academic exercise that (falsely) suggests reasonable people can differ. They cannot and it pains me that anyone would need to be convinced of this.

Quite simply, there is no atrocity against animals that CRT/queer theory professors will not defend. And not only do they embrace abuse, they do so by disparaging gay people and people of color, turning the fight for equality into the promotion of disparity and the struggle for the right to live with dignity into an appeal to depravity.

Indeed, without pre-existing theological commitments, I too would view the issue as an academic exercise. And in the politics of the day, the conflict between the interests of zoophiles/pedophiles on the one hand and animals/children on the other will be decided in the same way that the conflict between interests of pregnant women and their unwanted fetuses has been resolved: only one side of these conflicts can vote Democrat.

As it happens, I do have pre-existing theological commitments, and they do come straight from Leviticus (and every other part of the Bible, while we're at it). As he makes clear, Winograd is happy to abandon Leviticus as a source of moral instruction, understanding it correctly as inconvenient to his and the Left's other political commitments. He is now having to grapple how thin his remaining defenses actually are now that the Left is coming for Fido. His remaining choices are to either go on about "sentience" or point-and-sputter. The future does not bode well for Fido.