Thursday, July 24, 2008

Afghanistan More Dire Than We know

If Bush McCain hadn't been so eager to trample on another country, and we would've done the job right in Afghanistan -- building it back up -- we wouldn't have to be arguing right now if the "surge worked" in Iraq or not.
I have confidence that Obama, while running for president, is hashing out these issues behind the scenes so that he'll be prepared come Day One. I think McCain is just trying to keep up.
Swamp: Both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have recently talked of surging U.S. troops to Afghanistan in order to beat back the Taliban and al Qaeda.

But adding more troops is the least of what the U.S. needs to do in Afghanistan, according to Anthony Cordesman, a national-security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

After reading Cordesman's latest analysis, it's easy to come away wondering if it won't actually be a much longer and more difficult problem for the U.S. to solve than Iraq.

Working with the ANA and ANP (the Afghan national army and police) is different enough from working with the Iraqi forces so that special training is needed, and more fully qualified US advisors are even more important than more US combat troops. Recent GAO and DoD reports show that the combined NATO/ISAF/US force only has 30-40% of the qualified trainers and embeds needed for the Afghan Army, and the police effort is experiencing so many problems it has recently been zero-based and is now focused on a district by direct (sic. should be district by district) effort to reform the over 350 police districts at a rate of one critical district per month.

More significantly, the shortage of qualified civilians and aid workers, and flexible and readily usable economic aid funds is even more critical than the shortage of troops. The latest DoD report on Afghanistan has a table showing that some 2,021 soldiers are assigned forward to PRTs, and there are all of 25 qualified civilians. The quality of Afghan provincial, district, and local governance, development activity, and rule of law is much weaker than even the limited efforts in Iraq, and Afghanistan has virtually no disposable assets of its own and is even more ineffective and corrupt in using them.