Islam is practiced differently in Afghanistan than in any other part of the world. For operations in Afghanistan, it is significant to know the origins of existing cultural influences come from pre-Islamic Central Asian beliefs. This knowledge is necessary for two key reasons. First, understanding the specific cultural-religious mindset of local Afghans is essential to successful operations within the population. Secondly, Afghan cultural Islam conflicts with the fundamentalist Islamic movements that influence the current insurgency. Knowing and exploiting these differences can be beneficial to counteracting insurgent IO campaigns and to discourage local Afghans from identifying with insurgent groups vying for control of the population.
A 2011 version of the International Security Assistance Force Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) Advisor Guide.
Two reports from the U.S. TRADOC Intelligence Support Activity (TRISA) regarding suicide attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan going back as far as 2007.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2011 Annual Report
A decade after it began, the armed conflict in Afghanistan again incurred a greater human cost in 2011 than in previous years. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented 3,021 civilian deaths in 2011, an increase of eight percent over 2010 (2,790 civilian deaths) and a 25 percent increase from 2009 (2,412 civilian deaths). In 2012, UNAMA re-asserts the imperative for all parties to the conflict – Anti-Government Elements, and Afghan national and international military forces – to increase their commitment and efforts to protect civilians, and to comply fully with their legal obligations to minimize loss of life and injury among civilians.
Most US personnel that are serving in Afghanistan have already served a tour in Iraq and are accustomed to doing things “the Iraq way”. Many people are trying to apply the lessons learned in Iraq to Afghanistan, which in many cases is inappropriate. AF2 wants to provide a product to US units to compare and contrast Iraqi tribal structure and Pashtun tribal structure to prevent future missteps by US forces.
Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan. It has likely cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars Congress might not otherwise have appropriated had it known the truth, and our senior leaders’ behavior has almost certainly extended the duration of this war. The single greatest penalty our Nation has suffered, however, has been that we have lost the blood, limbs and lives of tens of thousands of American Service Members with little to no gain to our country as a consequence of this deception.
NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A/CSTC-A) Organizational Chart from January 17, 2012.
The Marine Corps has a long and storied history of partnering, mentoring, and advising foreign militaries. Marines served as the officer corps of the Gendarmerie d’Haiti and integrated at platoon-level with South Vietnamese Popular Forces. These are only two of many possible examples, but they suffice to illustrate the diversity of relevant Marine Corps experience. This enduring legacy influences Marine counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan as well as theater security cooperation exercises throughout the world.
The level of partnership with ANSF units largely depends on the individual coalition commander’s discretion whether it is a partnered unit or an advisor team. Although this discretion is important to empower leaders on the ground, the current parameters in partnering guidance are very broad which leads to varying levels of effectiveness and consistency. Standardized guidelines would provide specific tasks (e.g. develop and conduct all planning and operations from a Joint TOC) to units designated as ANSF partners. Additionally, true embedded partnership improves ANSF development, mission accomplishment and force protection. The recommendations in this paper offer uniformed standards throughout diverse allied forces, assistance during RIP/TOA, improvement in the development of the Afghan forces, and a path to effective transition.
Local governance in rural Afghanistan is not simple. Older customary local assemblies operate alongside GIRoA officials, Community Development Councils (CDC’s), and insurgent groups. Although we speak of insurgent governments as “shadow governments,” they rarely exist in the shadows for those over whom they wield power. In villages where insurgents continue to exercise control, the insurgents and not GIRoA perform traditional governmental functions; they levy taxes, resolve disputes (they are, in many villages the only law in town), and maintain local defense forces. Western Powers have invested their hope and their treasure in inventing a new form of local control: Community District Councils that come out of the National Solidarity Program (NSP). Managed by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) with funds from NGO’s and from the World Bank, these organizations set priorities for the expenditure of donor money and oversee contracts. Although they offer an alternative to the indiscriminate funding of the past that encouraged favoritism and corruption, these organizations have little authority except when it comes to the stewardship of outside money. As those development funds begin to dry up, will CDC’s vanish? Can they be further empowered?
The level of corruption across Afghanistan’s public and private sectors represents a threat to the success of ISAF’s mission and the viability of the Afghan state. Corruption undermines the legitimacy and effectiveness of Afghanistan’s government, fuels discontent among the population, and generates active and passive support for the insurgency. Corruption and organized crime also serve as a barrier to Afghanistan’s economic growth by robbing the state of revenue and preventing the development of a strong licit economy, thus perpetuating Afghan dependence on international assistance. Corruption also threatens the process of security transition, as institutions weakened by criminality will be unable to accept the transfer of responsibility for security and governance.
Media Operations is responsible for the Command’s media relations activities, including identifying media to engage with to disseminate information, responding to queries, arranging interviews, and advising senior leaders and IJC members on media issues. Media Operations works with local and international media. The staff also manages the IJC media accreditation and embed programs, and works closely with Regional Commands and NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) Public Affairs staffs. IJC Media Operations distributes, under its letter head, releases from special operations units.
Studying past combat helps gain insight into how insurgents may operate in the future. This guide uses short, simple vignettes to highlight common Afghan insurgent tactics. Each vignette focuses on a particular mission profile, such as raids, ambushes, and defending against a cordon and search. While tactics are continually evolving, the Afghans have a well documented history of using similar techniques against foreign militaries. Most of the vignettes in this guide are from the 1980s when Afghan insurgents fought the Soviet Union. Despite being more than 20 years old, many of the tactics remain in use today. For a more complete description of Afghan insurgent tactics against the Soviets, MCIA strongly recommends reading The Other Side of the Mountain by Ali Jalali and Les Grau, which this guide is based on. The final three vignettes in this guide are from recent operations in Afghanistan and demonstrate the evolution of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) by Afghan insurgents.
A body of open-source reporting suggests that fighters leaving the Afghan insurgency are doing so in greater numbers this winter (1,865 fighters) than last winter (443 fighters). As with the winter of 2009-2010, the majority of defecting fighters have continued to reintegrate into Afghan Government entities in the comparatively peaceful northern and western provinces of Afghanistan. The Taliban have rejected these reports, claiming that those joining the government are not Taliban fighters. Because of variations in the level of detail provided in media reports, this compilation could understate the number of reported militants leaving the battlefield. However, even 2,000 defections over six months would not appear to represent a major blow to an insurgency estimated to have 25,000 to 36,000 current fighters,12 and it is likely that at least some of those taking advantage of government reintegration programs were not committed fighters.
Several basic training manuals used by U.S. forces to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) from 2007-2009.
U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Activity Micro Mission Guide for Afghanistan published in October 2008.
The Smart Book contains information designed to enhance Soldier’s knowledge of Afghanistan, including history, politics, country data and statistics, and the military operational environment. The Smart Book concludes with an overview of the culture of Afghanistan including religion, identity, behavior, communication and negotiation techniques, an overview of ethnic groups, a regional breakdown outlining each province, a language guide, and cultural proverbs, expressions and superstitions.
U.S. Army report on “Taliban Top 5 Most Deadly Tactics Techniques and Procedures” from June 2010.
Restricted U.S. Army training presentation on “Taliban Insurgent Syndicate Intelligence Operations” from October 2009.
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Standard Operating Procedures for Detention of Non-ISAF Personnel from August 2006.
(U//FOUO) NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A) Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) Status Update
An October 18, 2011 update prepared by NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A) to COMISAF regarding the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) current status and way-ahead as the Afghans prepare to take the lead.
An October 18, 2011 update prepared by NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A) to COMISAF regarding the Afghan National Police (ANP) current status and way-ahead as the Afghans prepare to take the lead.
Route clearance (RC) operations for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan are much different from RC operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom in terms of the terrain, seasonal weather, level of infrastructure, volume of insurgent threats, sources of improvised explosive device (IED) components, and motivation for IED emplacement. The purpose of this supplement is to focus on RC in Afghanistan.
Afghan National Army Base and Incentive Pay Chart via NATO Training Mission Afghanistan from April 2011.
U.S. House of Representatives Report: Warlords Provide Security for U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan
Security for the U.S. Supply Chain Is Principally Provided by Warlords. The principal private security subcontractors on the HNT contract are warlords, strongmen, commanders, and militia leaders who compete with the Afghan central government for power and authority. Providing “protection” services for the U.S. supply chain empowers these warlords with money, legitimacy, and a raison d’etre for their private armies. Although many of these warlords nominally operate under private security companies licensed by the Afghan Ministry of Interior, they thrive in a vacuum of government authority and their interests are in fundamental conflict with U.S. aims to build a strong Afghan government.