Analysis Military

Afghanistan: Repairing the Unrepairable

The news out of Afghanistan is that there will no longer be news out of Afghanistan. In an article published on 1 May, the AP announced “The U.S. military stops releasing Afghan War information“. The title was misleading (and they wonder why they are called fake news). The military will stop producing “district control” data in an effort to prevent reporting news that aids the enemy. Having spent years living in various Afghan districts, I have always suspected the Pentagon’s reporting of who controls which district was more a SWAG (Sh**y Wild-Ass Guess) then legitimate analysis. So that news is no news — just another data point to insert in the blockchain documenting the death of a trustworthy independent media.

Another (legitimate) media story highlights the futility of our current approach in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar) John Sopko, issued a report titled: Afghan National Defense and Security Forces Facilities: Action needed to Address Confiscation of Contractor-Owned Property and Contractor Mistreatment. The report highlights stealing contractors’ parts and equipment, demands for repairs outside the scope of contract, and the arrest, detention and abuse, and shaving the heads (a grievous insult for Afghan men) of contractor mechanics.

There is nothing in this report that surprises anyone who has spent time with Afghan Security Forces. This is typical behavior for them that can be mitigated by the insertion of western trainers down to the kandak (battalion) level. Absent that level of military commitment, one has to (quoting former SecDef Rumsfeld) “go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

This is a picture from September, 2010 of deadlined Ford ANP trucks in Nimroz province. Not one of these trucks ran and none of them were scheduled to be fixed anytime soon.

In Afghanistan, the “army we had” drove around in Toyota trucks and used dated Soviet era armor. We gave them American trucks that require diagnostic computers to maintain and repair. We also gave them American armor, MRAPs, and HUMVEE’s — American rifles too. Why? Why would we not provide the Afghan army with vehicles and weapons they already knew how to not maintain? Toyotas and old Soviet weapons function acceptably when not properly maintained, and when they do break there are thousands of locals who can fix them. Why we never think things like this through is a mystery.

I took this picture just north of the Salang pass in 2005. It won’t be long before you see gas stations built on top of smashed American armor.

Wasting foreign aid on programs to benefit American businesses is old news. The modern twist is how the aid dollars are spent to maintain the equipment we gave the Afghans. In July 2010, ITT/Exelis Systems Corporation was awarded two firm-fixed-price indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity service contracts to provide O&M services for ANDSF facilities throughout Afghanistan. ITT/Exelis Systems Corporation is a global aerospace, defense, information, and services company headquartered in Washington DC. What do they know about Afghanistan, fixing ford trucks, and operating machine shops in one of the most primitive environments on the planet? Not one damn thing, because knowing what you are doing isn’t the requirement, the requirement is having the corporate infrastructure to handle the multi-million dollar contract.

The contract to maintain Afghan equipment has to pay for the giant overhead that comes with employing a giant international company. When you see the amount of money spent on Afghan aid, remember the vast majority of those dollars never leaves America. If we had just given them Afghan Toyotas, we could have told them they had to fix them themselves. This is a lesson the Untied States seems determined to never learn.


By request I’m including a picture of Maximus Lynch, Attack Yorkie.

Max is a known nemesis of the local opossum population, but what makes him an Attack Yorkie is attitude. When placed in a silly costume, as he was above for the Free Range International Christmas Party, he will not move a muscle until you take it off. And you better be quick too, or he’ll pee on the Afghan rug and look at you like it’s your fault. He’s a great listener, sub par editor, and, if it is true that dogs make the best people sometimes, then Max is a good dude to have around.

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yankeepapausmc
yankeepapausmc
1 year ago

Baba Tim, Half the small arms given to Afghan government can’t seem to be accounted for. Not to worry… we decided to issue them more. Couple of years ago plan to send them another C-130, though they can’t maintain what they have. Won’t even address money that they’ve been given. Scene in the film “Go Tell The Spartans” where American major (ca 1964) tries to get corrupt Vietnamese official to allow some of his forces to provide artillery support for a small outpost swinging in the wind. The official intent on keeping every shell for a time when he might… Read more »

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  yankeepapausmc

I’ve seen that film, YP. A very dear friend recommended it and I enjoyed it.

geo
geo
1 year ago
Reply to  yankeepapausmc

U.S. Military officers kill more U.S troops than the enemies do.
geo sends

LPD256
1 year ago

I give my grandson $5 for a coke at the convenience store. It cost $2. The change goes into his pocket. I really have no expectation of ever seeing it. There. I just explained our attitude about most forms of USAID. We give away cash with no accountability, knowing it will never accomplish more than filling the pockets of some third world politician, and then do it again next year. Ford selling a few trucks to the Afghan forces is a Sideshow.

Mason
Mason
1 year ago

Tim, I have copies of SIGAR reports dating back about 4 years. Always makes me blink with frustration. We have a government entity, that lays out all the problems, well documented, thoroughly researched. Freely available, and yet, the beat goes on.

Max is fearsome, I can see the defiance in his eyes.

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  Mason

Max is awesome! Attack dog is right!

Miche
Miche
1 year ago

“And they wonder why they are called fake news” hahaha…. and take great umbrage at the hint that they aren’t acting 100% on behalf of the people with a right to know. I love the image of all the trucks lined up with no hope of ever being fixed; that says SOOO much about how we do things. It never occurred to me, though, that much of our foreign aid dollars go to American contractors providing top-dollar services. I’ve seen the Civil Works side of the Army here in the U.S., and they can’t get anything done because their way… Read more »

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  Miche

Max is awesome AND smart!

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  Baba Tim

Thank you, Tim. Max is a star!

geo
geo
1 year ago
Reply to  Miche

I had a Terrier once. He ran out into the street and a car turned him into Yorkshire pudding.

geo

Mason
Mason
1 year ago
Reply to  geo

BWAAAA ha ha ha ha

yankeepapausmc
yankeepapausmc
1 year ago
Reply to  geo

George,

At least one of the other members here has heard about my first pet. Near Frankfurt Germany 1955. Toy terrier. Wanted to attack entire family. Outside on post would charge in front of cars and bark at them. Couple of weeks of that and armored vehicles heading to firing range. Never saw him. “Like, totally unmourned…”

Best,

-YP-

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  yankeepapausmc

YP, maybe your little terror… er terrier, had “short dog syndrome”. Were they tracked vehicles? Imagine trying to clean terrier goo out of the tracks… Blech.

yankeepapausmc
yankeepapausmc
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Hannigan

Susan,

Tracked. They never saw him. Couple guys in a jeep saw it. Eventually my mother told. My (otherwise kindly and saintly) mother told them that the family wouldn’t lose any sleep over it… My first introduction to the concept of “too stupid to live…”

-YP-

susanh
susanh
1 year ago
Reply to  yankeepapausmc

Oh dear. He must have really been a terror if even your dear mother didn’t mourn him…

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  geo

Oh no! That’s awful! Poor little fella.

geo
geo
1 year ago
Reply to  Miche

Michouette is trying to splash us with anachronistic umbrage. And frankly, I take… uhhh… something… something offensive at that; just not sure when!

geo

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago
Reply to  geo

Glad you weren’t “taking umbrage” Geo, ’cause that “umbrage” coulda belonged to someone else and then you’d be stealing!

Mic-Mac
Mic-Mac
1 year ago

It is amazing the waste of money and resources when it could be used in ways that may have really made an impact. It never changes.

homanj1
homanj1
1 year ago

Max does look like the leader of the pack. Yorkies are smart as hell too.

homanj1
homanj1
1 year ago
Reply to  Baba Tim

I think Max needs some dress blues to celebrate on 10 November every year……

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
1 year ago

Tim! You remembered! Thank you so much for posting the photo & info of Maximus Lynch. He is just adorable! What a cutie. How hilarious that he won’t move when he’s been put into a costume. His name may not suit his modest stature but it sure suits his attitude! Please feel free to post more photos of Max at the bottom of future articles 🙂

Oh, and great article, by the way. 🙂

geo
geo
1 year ago

Ba-Ba-BAM!! Another superior piece. Your perspective is keen as hell. Holy Christ what, a sucking ass-wound the Stan is. I can hear the sucking sound from here in Albuquerque… and what a monumental boob the U.S. is in its approach to managing that crisis. Hey… there’s no “I” in U.S.

geo begrudgingly sends

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