Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Commandos are not just really good infantry. They have special abilities that should be used for special missions that even really good infantry can't perform. Afghan Ranger-like special forces are being misused as really good infantry--because Afghanistan has a dearth of even adequate infantry.

This is not good:

The Afghan army, a force with inconsistent levels of competence and with nearly unsustainable casualty numbers, is increasingly relying on the commandos as stopgap cover in a campaign it — more often than not without external support — is losing. The reliance on the commandos risks both burning out the elite force and creating a sense of complacency within the regular army, according to U.S. advisers.

“It’s a concern,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the spokesman for the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan. “It’s not unique to Helmand or the 215th Corps, it happens in other corps as well to varying degrees.”

I don't think casualties are unsustainable in Afghan terms--where the Taliban suffer even more--although it would be for a Western force.

But if we stand by and let the Afghan government rely on these commandos to substitute for Afghan infantry that isn't up to the job, in time there will be no commandos and the infantry will be so used to relying on no-longer available commandos that they will collapse. And then it will get ugly.

We need to help the Afghan security forces preserve their special forces for special missions while pushing the regulars to hold their own without needing commandos to save the day.

What the Hell. It's not like it will go belly up before the end of January 2017, so who cares?

I'm so old I remember when this was the "good war."

UPDATE: Good Lord, this is a sign of poor troops:

Taliban militants ambushed and killed around 100 Afghan police and soldiers earlier this week as they tried to retreat, the heaviest losses suffered by government forces during months of fierce clashes near the capital of southern Helmand province.

On Tuesday, dozens of Afghan police and soldiers were cut down as they withdrew from their positions in Chah-e-Anjir, about 12 km outside the city of Lashkar Gah, having been surrounded and besieged for days.

Further, "Taliban gunmen seized at least 22 armored Humvees, dozens of trucks, and hundreds of rifles[.]"

Or perhaps more likely, poor leadership.

This is in the ugly and bad categories.

With a bonus mention of the need to rely on special forces to make up for the line troops.