Friday, August 10, 2018

When Do We Seize the Initiative?

An American general raises two military issues that I've worried about in our Afghanistan strategy:

We want to make sure we're taking actions to minimize vulnerabilities for the Afghan forces. So minimizing the remote checkpoints and things like that is an important aspect of this. And that may be something we -- we look at.

I think it's also important to make sure that we look at the proper utilization of some of their high-end capabilities, their Afghan special operations forces. These are very highly trained, highly relied upon forces and we have to be mindful that they are not overused and used in -- in places that are not necessarily appropriate for their use, and for which other forces could be -- could be applied. [emphasis added]

I remain worried about the checkpoint issue, and accept that in the short run we have to pull in to reduce their exposure to enemy attack.

But at some point we have to gain the initiative which will protect the checkpoints needed to control territory (and the people who live there) by atomizing the enemy and making them react far more to what our side does rather than have the freedom to mass and attack small units.

Because this is what happens when the enemy has the initiative to mass forces:

Heavily armed Taliban fighters attacked Ghazni city in central Afghanistan early on Friday, burning police checkpoints, shelling houses and business areas and seizing control of parts of the city before being beaten back, officials said.

Sure, the Taliban lost this battle. But they shouldn't even be able to attempt something like this.

And I remain worried about the emphasis on Afghan special forces, which are not and should not be used as a replacement for adequate infantry and paramilitary police.

We are aware of the problems. Do we have solutions?

UPDATE: The enemy took heavy losses in their assault but there are still remnants holding out inside the city. It is good that the enemy took heavy losses and were defeated. But the enemy should be atomized so they can't penetrate checkpoints around the city without drawing reserves and air power to defeat the attackers before they even reach the city.

UPDATE: Fighting continues for a third day. The article says the Taliban attack was "massive."

The enemy should not feel free to mass troops like that.

UPDATE: Fighting continues. And this highlights my worries about Afghan special forces:

“The fact that such an elite unit was overrun and took a high rate of casualties may be an indication that the [Afghan] Commandos and Special Forces may be overworked and are losing their effectiveness," the Long War Journal wrote. "These units run at a high operational pace, and have taken significant casualties as of late.”

Afghan special forces should not be holding defensive positions in a city. That is a waste of their capabilities.

Which leads me to ask why aren't Afghan police and troops good enough to defend Ghazni?