Posts Tagged Taliban

Quotes: SIGAR’s John F Sopko On Government’s Inability To End Contracts With Al Qaeda And Taliban In Afghanistan

This is just appalling. If this doesn’t get your blood boiling, I don’t know what would. Pass this around and let your elected officials know that this is unacceptable. –Matt


In conclusion, I would also like to reiterate the concerns I raised in our last report about the Army’s refusal to act on SIGAR’s recommendations to prevent supporters of the insurgency, including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al-Qaeda, from receiving government contracts. SIGAR referred 43 such cases to the Army recommending suspension and debarment, based on detailed supporting information demonstrating that these individuals and companies are providing material support to the insurgency in Afghanistan. But the Army rejected all 43 cases. The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce. I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract. I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan. I continue to urge you to change this faulty policy and enforce the rule of common sense in the Army’s suspension and debarment program.” – John F. Sopko (SIGAR) in their latest report, July 30, 2013.


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Afghanistan: Potential For A Mining Boom Splits Factions, Attacks Scare Chinese From Anyak

“If you were to pick a country that involves high risk in developing a new mining sector, Afghanistan is it,” said Eleanor Nichol, campaign leader at Global Witness, a group that tries to break the link between natural resources, corruption and conflict. “But the genie is out of the bottle.”

The part of this article that struck me was the illegal chromite mining and smuggling going on, thanks to the Haqqani network. If they think it is lucrative enough to do illegally, then there must be some money in it.  So any effort of the government to move in and secure those mines would be good. They could get a private company in there to extract it, they would deny the Haqqani’s that revenue, and it would get people working and earning a living.

And really, earning a living is what Afghans need– as noted in this quote:

At a store in the dusty bazaar, Shir Ali, 38, a gangly man who drives a minibus, says that with a job as a day laborer or security guard or driver, he could buy uniforms and textbooks to send all of his 12 children to school.
Sitting at the counter behind open sacks of rice and beans, the storekeeper, Daoud, 38, cracks his bronzed face with a smile, sharing the optimism but also the trepidation about whether at last his country can really make something of itself.
“If the mine doesn’t come, we will be like those people who live on treasure,” he said, “but they cannot use it.”

It will also require the services of private security companies and professionals who know how to operate in Afghanistan and navigate it’s complex ways. Mining operations require everything, from good roads to electricity to infrastructure to house miners and engineers, etc. They also need a viable way of getting that stuff out of the country, and all of this needs to be protected. Of course Afghans will be protecting a majority of this, but expats will be involved as well– to protect foreign companies from these Afghan protectors and insurgent/criminal attacks.

I say this because of the large spike of insider attacks and the infiltration of bad guys. The criminal/Taliban networks will all want their cut, or they will be attacking everything to make the point. Don’t forget about the Islamic extremists, and they will attack foreign infidel companies just for common practice. Companies must have a protective buffer in the form of expats in order to work in such a dangerous and complex environment.

The Afghan government must also come to terms with this reality, and if they want the revenue necessary to fund their military and police and services to the people, then they will have to do business with these foreign companies and meet in the middle. If those companies cannot trust your APPF force, or the local guards they contract with, then the government must know that it is either you allow these companies to bring in their own security–or they don’t come at all.

And like Daoud said,  “If the mine doesn’t come, we will be like those people who live on treasure,”. They will also be a poor and pissed off people, who will find no use in a government that cannot produce the conditions necessary for this foreign investment and involvement. No jobs equals protests–please note the Arab Spring…. No revenue means you cannot pay your soldiers or police, or properly secure the country. Get the picture Afghanistan?

To make this point very apparent, I posted a second article about the Chinese pulling their people out of the Anyak copper mining project. The Taliban are definitely targeting this operation to scare off the Chinese and put the hurt to the Afghan government. Here is a quote:

“We had meetings with them (the Chinese investors) and assured them these rocket attacks happen anywhere and they are not the direct targets. We had repeatedly meetings with them but could not make them confident,” Sardar Mohammad Sultani, acting deputy Minister of the Interior, told Reuters in his office.
“They left before any harm (was done to them). This was their own idea… It’s up to them if want to return or not,” said Sultani, in charge of the security force protecting the mine.
A spokesman for the consortium running Aynak, China Metallurgical Group (MCC) and Jiangxi Copper, confirmed some workers had been sent home indefinitely. It said unspecified “conditions” promised by the Afghan government in their contract had not been met…The threat is so severe that villages have warned the Afghan rights and anti-corruption monitor Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) to stay away as they can no longer guarantee their safety.
IWA reported there are four armed groups operating in the Aynak area, some aiming to stop the project.
And the attacks are becoming more deadly. At the start of September, an assault on the protection unit killed 15 Afghan policemen, spreading fear among local and visiting workers…

 On another note, it looks like the Chinese will be getting into the game of training/funding/equipping Afghans. Enter the Private Security Dragon. lol

In a rare visit to Kabul this month by a top Chinese leader, bilateral deals on security were signed, including an agreement for police to be trained, funded and equipped with help from Beijing.
The government did not say whether the Chinese programme was aimed at boosting security around China’s oil and mining assets.

Interesting stuff, but Afghanistan can navigate this if they pull together and get serious about securing and controlling this stuff. They must secure this revenue source for the people, and do all they can to break this ‘resource curse’. –Matt



Potential for a Mining Boom Splits Factions in Afghanistan
September 8, 2012
If there is a road to a happy ending in Afghanistan, much of the path may run underground: in the trillion-dollar reservoir of natural resources — oil, gold, iron ore, copper, lithium and other minerals — that has brought hopes of a more self-sufficient country, if only the wealth can be wrested from blood-soaked soil.
But the wealth has inspired darker dreams as well. Officials and industry experts say the potential resource boom seems increasingly imperiled by corruption, violence and intrigue, and has put the Afghan government’s vulnerabilities on display.
It all comes at what is already a critically uncertain time here, with the impending departure of NATO troops in 2014 and old regional and ethnic rivalries resurfacing, raising concerns that the mineral wealth could become the fuel for civil conflict.
Powerful regional warlords and militant leaders are jockeying to widen their turf to include areas with mineral wealth, and the Taliban have begun to make murderous incursions into territory where development is planned. In the capital, Kabul, factional maneuvering is in full swing, including disputes over lucrative side contracts awarded to relatives of President Hamid Karzai.

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Building Snowmobiles: How A Cabling-Installation Tool Is Being Used To Disable IED’s In Afghanistan

This is a neat little deal that I wanted to put up as a Building Snowmobiles post. Partly because it is an innovation, and partly because it is a cheap solution used to defeat a cheap weapon. I also wanted to give some kudos to the troops who are out there and innovating and creating their own ‘snowmobiles’ to defeat the enemy.

With this tool, they can probe for wires in the ground from 26 ft away with a telescoping rod and a hook attached to the end.  So for those scenarios where an IED emplacement is possible because the area is suspicious, an EOD specialist could probe for wires. When wires are found, he could cut them, and then the squad could follow both ends to the bomb and then to the IED team location. (please consult EOD or ‘those in the field’ first before using this tool, just so you know exactly how things are done!)

Now what would really be cool is for the innovator that thought this thing up, to come forward and claim some credit. Or at least give their invention a catchy name?

I also wanted to point out that innovations like this is something that happens out in the field due to analysis and synthesis, trial and error, and just plain old luck. This was not a solution that came from thousands of miles away, developed in some office by a company paid millions of dollars or by some government think tank. Nor was this innovation ‘ordered’ by some officer or higher command. Nope. Innovations like this come from individuals who are trying to survive and gain an edge on the battlefield. Their lives depend upon ‘finding the better way’, all so they can defeat the enemy and get back home alive. And this solution was cheap, simple, and effective…..perfect.

This is also the kind of thing that should be encouraged and rewarded by command and by today’s military. It should also be something that squad leaders and small unit leadership should encourage and seek out. The problem solvers of a squad should not be shut out, and a leader should do all they can to encourage innovations and discussions about innovations. A solution could come at any time, and from anybody, and leaders should be quick to jump on that gold and give that individual credit.

Ego or whatever you want to call it, has no place in this process (doom on those leaders that shut everyone out and propose that only ‘their’ ideas are the best) Use the creative juices of the entire team, include everyone in the process, and cheer that on as a leader. That is if you want to win, and in some cases, keep everyone alive and in one piece.

This particular innovation is just one example of how important ‘building snowmobiles’ can be to individuals who risk life and limb out there. Find the solution, no matter how crazy, how ridiculous, how radical, how funny, or whatever. Open your mind to the problem, and saturate/incubate/illuminate to find a solution. Get feedback and borrow brilliance. Avoid group think and confirmation bias. Question authority and the status quo. Use mimicry strategy. Stay focused and work on your Kaizen. Seek to destroy dogma and create a better plan/idea. (destruction and creation a la Boyd) Etc….

Pretty cool and bravo to the guy(s) who thought up this battlefield innovation. –Matt



Pikes Defeat Bombs
July 6, 2012: Given the incentives (life or death) it should come as no surprise that combat troops are very innovative in coming up with new battlefield tools.. One recent example was the development of an improvised “spear” for exposing and cutting wires the Taliban would use to set off roadside bombs. Three years ago, some soldier or marine (most likely the latter) figured out that one could take long (up to 8.4 meter/26 foot) fiberglass poles (normally used to help install communications or electrical wires), tape a sharp, curved blade to them and then use it to poke around an area possibly containing a roadside bomb detonating wire, without getting shot by the Taliban team waiting to set off the bomb. Once you found the wire, and cut it, you could find and disable the bomb itself. The Taliban detonation team would, by then either have run away, been captured or killed.
The manufacturer of the fiberglass poles, which come in three sections, became curious after more and more orders for the poles came from army and marine combat units in Afghanistan. These outfits normally did not do a lot of cable installation, and when asked what they were doing, the troops explained their innovative use of the poles.
As a bonus, the captured Taliban expressed great anger at their cleverly concealed bombs having been defeated by some poles with knives taped to one end. They expect more high tech from the American and don’t like being defeated by weapons any Afghan tribesman could build.
Story here.
US troops score win against IEDs in Afghanistan
July 6, 2012
Almost afraid to say it out loud, lest they jinx their record, U.S. troops in Afghanistan achieved one small but important victory over the past year: They found and avoided more homemade bombs meant to kill and maim them than a year ago, thanks to a surge in training, equipment and intelligence.

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Strategy: William Lind On How The Taliban Mastered The Operational Art Of Modern Warfare

Excellent little article and it is always cool to check out what William Lind has to say. If you are familiar with the term ‘4th Generation Warfare‘, then you would know that Lind was one of the originators of the concept. So in the world of strategy and warfare, I tend to listen to what guys like this have to say. (read the paper here)

As far as I can tell, the reception of this article is kind of luke warm. Meaning it is debatable, and the guys over at Zen Pundit did a pretty good job of pointing out where Lind was short.

However, I think Lind errs in ascribing too much credit to the Taliban here. A much simpler explanation is that the usually illiterate ANA soldier is a product of the same xenophobic cultural and religious environment that created the Taliban, the Haqqanis, vicious Islamist goons like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or the Afghan tribesmen who slaughtered the retreating garrison of Lord Elphinstone in 1841.

While the Taliban have infiltrators, it remains that many of the “Green on Blue” killings are just as easily explained by personal grievances, zealous religious bigotry, indiscipline, mistreatment by American advisers or Afghan superiors and sudden jihad syndrome. While it is impolitic to emphasize it, Afghan betrayal and murder of foreign allies (generally seen as “occupiers”) is something of a longstanding historical pattern. The Taliban capitalize on it politically but they are not responsible for all of it.

Although I must say that the Taliban have still held out the last ten years, and they are still fighting.  They are also doing all they can to exert influence on the people, hanging out in the shadows and dropping violent hints that as soon as the foreigners are gone that all of those that supported them will be paying the price. That, and the Taliban are doing all they can to show how inept the Afghan government is.(and the government is doing a great job on it’s own of doing that-lol)

But back to this tactic of green on blue. It is a good tactic if the Taliban are able to get individuals into those positions. They either have to ‘turn’ a police or military officer or infiltrate the unit with one of their own. That can be difficult but it is possible.

You also have moles or use pseudo operators to create chaos as well. They can gain valuable intelligence on the enemy or the supporters of the enemy, and give plenty of information to Taliban planners.

The Taliban are also conducting suicide assaults wearing police and military uniforms.  Anything that would create a hesitation amongst the responding forces, or create chaos and confusion during the attack. The end result is very visual and has impact, even if they are not successful. Those attacks show their dedication to the cause (willing to die for it), it shows that they can strike anywhere and the police and military are not able to protect everyone, and it is a reminder to all for when the ‘foreigners’ leave that this is what is in store for everyone.

So maybe Lind should have expanded on all of the little things that the Taliban are doing and have done over the years, that have contributed to their survivability against such a formidable western foe?  They are today’s fourth generation warfare ‘fighters’, much like Al Qaeda or even the cartels in Mexico are. They are small forces that have found ways to combat large forces in the modern era, and survive. In some cases flourish…. So how do you defeat these guys?

Personally, I always default to mimicry strategy for this stuff, just because in the history of warfare, that seems to be what has worked. That you copy what your enemy is doing or what the competition is doing, and add that one little thing to give you the edge over your opponent.

To apply Kaizen to that strategy, and constantly attempt to find weakness in your strategy and plans before the enemy, all so you can modify it and make it better. (destruction and creation–fight dogma Boyd style) You are also looking for weaknesses in your enemy and their strategy, and constantly looking for advantage.

It also takes innovation, and not just adaptation to find that novelty that will give you the edge in the fight. I know many smart folks out there are seeking just that, and I know I am constantly exploring ideas in regards to this interesting and complex problem. I highly depend upon the feedback of the readership here and the knowledge that is out there to help me ‘build my own snowmobiles’, and I am optimistic about the process. It is also a fun thought experiment, to put yourself in the strategist’ or general’s chair, and find your own solutions to defeating these enemies. Check it out and let me know what you think? –Matt


Unfriendly Fire
Posted By William S. Lind
June 27, 2012
The greatest intellectual challenge in Fourth Generation war—war against opponents that are not states—is how to fight it at the operational level. NATO in Afghanistan, like the Soviets three decades ago, has been unable to solve that riddle. But the Taliban appears to have done so.
The operational level of war lies between strategy and tactics. While great commanders have always thought and fought at the operational level, the concept was not formally recognized until the 19th century. As usual, it was the Prussian army that led the way. Some historians think the operational level may have been formalized by Field Marshal von Moltke himself in the Franco-Prussian war as a way to keep Bismarck out of his business. (“Yes, my dear Bismarck, you are in charge of strategy, but you simply must not interfere in operational matters.”)
The U.S. Army did not officially recognize the operational level of war until 1982, but the tsarist Russian army and later the Soviets picked up on it. By 1944-45, the Red Army was as competent at what they called “operational art” as the Wehrmacht. That was never true of the Western allies.

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Funny Stuff: Taliban Using The Old ‘Bearded Woman’ Infiltration Tactic

This one is funny, just because these guys were caught and then paraded around wearing this stuff. It ranks right up there with the Taliban commander wanting to collect the bounty on his head. lol  –Matt


Meet the Taliban transvestites: Rebels are captured dressed in drag

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Technology: Thermal Matrix ACT 2

Wow, this is some cool technology. Thermal cameras are not new, but it’s still technology that is being played around with by various vendors and modified to be useful. I like this system because it gives you the ability to scan folks from a distance and it is very sensitive and tuned in for this specific task of finding things on people. That is great for Entry Control Points in war zones, where doing a preliminary screen of individuals before they enter your search area or holding area is essential.

I mentioned the Taliban’s efforts to attack contractors and others during this spring offensive, and tools like this could help to see what guys are hiding under their clothes. Things like pistols in their shoes or suicide vests/weapons could be detected from a distance with this camera system. I emphasize ‘from a distance’, because this gives you more time for your OODA.

You could also use this to scan high traffic areas of cities, and identify those locals that are carrying weapons on their person. Once you find someone like that, and they are not soldiers or police, then that might be a person to watch and see where they go.

If you would like to investigate this system and see what it is all about, here is a link. –Matt



ACT System by Thermal MatrixThe ACT (Access Counter IED Technology) System by Thermal Matrix is a concealed object threat detection system, using sensors combined with sophisticated computer technology.

The system electronically analyzes situations and identifies multiple threats including explosives, concealed guns, knives and other weapons. In addition, ACT detects threats a metal detector cannot reveal. They include plastic, liquid, and gel explosives, weapons made with non-ferrous metals, and contraband including illegal drugs.

Because it is portable and easy to operate, the ACT System is ideal for both commercial applications as well as domestic law enforcement security. The system is lightweight, and only requires a single operator. The hardware consists of a thermal sensor mounted on a tripod, connected to a laptop computer. Altogether it weighs less than 20 pounds, and can be set-up and operational within 15 minutes
The ACT System is excellent for use in a number of situations, including: ACT System uses for Law Enforcement

Event Security

Check Points

Entry Control

Perimeter Security

Crowd Surveillance

Loss Prevention/Theft

The heart of the ACT System is exclusive Thermal Matrix software, which uses advanced algorithms to analyze the thermal signature of a scene. The software automatically detects subjects and isolates them from the background. Subjects are then tracked using target recognition software. Advanced filtering enhances the image of the subject, allowing for greater detection by the operator.

The software also employs touch-screen, Graphical User Interface (GUI) controls, so the operator can analyze a scene just like using a DVD player. The operator can easily pause, rewind, zoom-in, and enhance the picture using multiple filter

Much like a digital video recorder (DVR), the computer continuously records the most recent 10 minutes of every scene. When the operator finds something suspicious, one push of a button will automatically archive that scene on the hard drive.

The ACT System is the most advanced, portable, easy-to-use concealed object detection system in the security industry.

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