Monday, October 26, 2009

Does this confuse anybody else?

Or am I just too dense to understand what the hell is going on here? From the Jaffe/DeYoung piece about wargaming various Afghanistan escalation options in today's Post:

McChrystal's analysis suggests that 44,000 troops would be needed to drive Taliban forces from populated areas and to hold them until Afghan troops and government officials can take the place of U.S. and NATO forces. The extra troops would allow U.S. commanders to essentially triple the size of the American forces in the southern part of the country, where the Taliban movement originated and where the insurgents have their strongest base of support.

McChrystal would also use the additional troops to bolster the effort in eastern Afghanistan, which has long been a focus of the U.S. military, and push additional troops into western Afghanistan, where the military has maintained a tiny presence and where the Taliban has made inroads, U.S. officials said. A surge of 44,000 soldiers and Marines would also allow McChrystal to designate a brigade of about 5,000 soldiers to train and advise the Afghan army and police forces, accelerating their growth.

The increase of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers would give McChrystal one U.S.
advisory brigade of about 5,000 troops to speed the development of Afghan forces
and a large number of support forces to include engineers, route-clearance teams and helicopters. McChrystal's analysis also suggested the option of increasing the number of troops by 80,000, but that isn't drawing serious consideration. [emphasis added]

We've already got a dedicated "train and advise" brigade; it's called a modular brigade augmented for security force assistance (or in Iraq, an Advise and Assist Brigade), and the 4th Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division is currently executing that mission in Afghanistan. 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Carson has already been tapped as 4/82's replacement; they'll go over next summer.

So what the heck are they talking about here? A troop increase would mean more SFA brigades, or what? What would escalation do to impact the rotational cycle that these units are already on? As far as I can tell, so long as we're only talking about having one brigade perform this mission at a time in-country, we're set for SFA brigades through late spring 2011.

Any ideas what this means?

13 comments:

  1. I assumed they meant it would allow MORE advisory brigades. What I found confusing was that the smaller troop option would allow 1 extra advisory brigade, and the much larger troop option would also only allow 1. That makes no sense.

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  2. That's actually a good point. It seems like what they're saying is that whether the increase is 15K or 44K, there will be another SFA brigade. Apparently the delta between those two options consists wholly of what the media likes to refer to as "combat troops" (while the smaller number includes only enablers and SFA troops).

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  3. I'm guessing the need for advisory brigades is limited by the number of ANSF available for training, rather than the number of Americans available to train them.

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  4. I doubt anyone has the answer, but would these additional training troops go towards training ANA or ANP/ABP? Frankly, I don't even get why we would conduct a surge if we couldn't get more training brigades on the ground. Also, if we could get an entire training brigade for just the ANP it would go a long way towards making that a legitimate police force.

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  5. Michael -- I'm gonna deal with your last point first:

    Also, if we could get an entire training brigade for just the ANP it would go a long way towards making that a legitimate police force.

    There were media reports back in the late summer that 4/82 would be undertaking a police-focused training mission. I don't know where that information came from, because as far as I know they're working with both ANA and ANP. Tintin has a little more on this, I think, so hopefully he'll chime in.

    I doubt anyone has the answer, but would these additional training troops go towards training ANA or ANP/ABP? Frankly, I don't even get why we would conduct a surge if we couldn't get more training brigades on the ground.

    I think there's a case to be made for the fact that more infantry brigades are required just to clear and hold ground.

    That said, we should also emphasize that SFA brigades/AABs aren't the only U.S. units that work with HN units, but rather that they're the only ones that are specifically optimized for doing so. U.S. Army units (and Marines, for that matter) -- regular ol' "combat troops" in BCTs -- still partner with Afghan forces where possible. When we talk about more "training troops" what we're really talking about is an SFA brigade, which is basically just a brigade that serves as a full-time force provider for training teams.

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  6. Gulliver, you just got an e-mail from me about an MG Formica interview that discusses some of the ANSF force generation and advisor issues.

    I don't want to be too insulting, but Jaffe/DeYoung don't know what they are talking about. I really wouldn't pay too much attention to this "detail" in their article.

    "I'm guessing the need for advisory brigades is limited by the number of ANSF available for training, rather than the number of Americans available to train them." No. Many ANSF need more mentors than they currently have. Many ANSF units are completely unmentored. CSTC-A/NTM-A is also significantly under resourced.

    McChrystal seems to favor paired unit partnering with co-located Command and Control facilities, joint operational planning, where the ISAF and ANSF share a Common Operating Picture and Situational and Positional Awareness. While McChrystal wants ISAF partnered units to focus more on ANSF capacity building than putting an "Afghan face" on ISAF operations, he seems to be meeting a lot of resistance.

    McChrystal also probably favors delaying the formation of CSS and CS, versus forming new combat maneuver ANA battalions. McChrystal seems to favor ISAF providing combat enablers to the ANSF for the next several years.

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  7. Anand,

    Your response to my guess: "No. Many ANSF need more mentors than they currently have."

    I don't doubt it. But even if we deployed a sufficient number of personnel (say, 3 Brigades or so?), could the mentoring begin right away? I suspect that the rate-limiting factor is logistical in nature. In Iraq we needed to train more Iraqis. It took us a month to establish a team house and training facility for one ODA and recruit a force from the local area. Ideally, we would have had 5 ODAs training locals in that area. But that would have taken even longer because there were no facilities and no locals just sitting around with uniforms and weapons, waiting for an American to come along and train him.

    Are there facilities and idle ANSF personnel for the extra Brigade(s) to fall in on? Even a Brigade seems like a big increase in a short amount of time.

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  8. "I don't doubt it. But even if we deployed a sufficient number of personnel (say, 3 Brigades or so?), could the mentoring begin right away?" Yes. Existing ANSF training facilities need more ISAF trainers. Existing ANSF units need more advisors, or barring that, embedded ISAF augmented advisory units (say an advisory ISAF battalion in every ANA brigade; in some case McChrystal might want to partner an ANA brigade with an ISAF brigade)

    "I suspect that the rate-limiting factor is logistical in nature."
    I think the rate-limiting factors are:
    -Afghan language, Afghan culture skills on the part of ISAF
    -Training on how to be a better advisor. I think this is much less important that local language and culture skills.

    "In Iraq we needed to train more Iraqis. It took us a month to establish a team house and training facility for one ODA and recruit a force from the local area. Ideally, we would have had 5 ODAs training locals in that area. But that would have taken even longer because there were no facilities and no locals just sitting around with uniforms and weapons, waiting for an American to come along and train him." The training trough put of the ISF in 2007 and early 2008 was astounding. They were creating more than one IA brigade a month, plus augmenting existing brigades, building Division, Corps and Army troops, training officers, training NCOs. Even more impressive than the IA was the IP.

    "Are there facilities and idle ANSF personnel for the extra Brigade(s) to fall in on? Even a Brigade seems like a big increase in a short amount of time." This has been discussed extensively. MoD minister Wardek wants to use tents in lieu of constructed billeting until facility construction is complete. This process is already underway. MG Formica has said that they hit 134,000 ANA by October, 2010.

    My strongly held view is that creating new brigades (as is currently planned) would be a mistake. I would overstrenght (assigned/authorized ratio)existing ANA companies and battalion first. After this, I would increase the size of existing brigades to 5 combat line battalions each.

    Only then, when the ANA cadre has matured and grown, would I create new IA brigades.

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  9. Well, that's all of the guesses that I could come up with.

    Add me to the list of the confused.

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  10. Regarding advisors for ANA versus advisors for ANP:

    The issue is a confusing one, because there are two separate forces providing advisory teams: non-U.S. OMLTs, and U.S. ETTs/PMTs. (As of this month the two commands are now dual-hatted, but really they are still two separate forces.) In different areas, the police and army are mentored by different combinations of OMLTs and ETTs/PMTs, a function basically of what the local ground-owning command can spare, be it American or European.

    In some American-owned areas (i.e. where the ground-owning brigade or battalion is American), such as Kunar, other parts of the east, and parts of Helmand, both the army and police advisors are also American (either from the two Army advisory brigades, 48th BCT and 4/82 Abn, or from a smaller pool of Marine teams).

    In a much smaller number American-owned areas, the ANA training is done not by American ETTs but by allied OMLTs. This is the case in parts of Wardak and a few other places.

    There are also non-U.S. areas where the ground-owning country has the resources to supply both OMLTs for the ANA and police OMLTs for the ANP. This is the case in parts of the Canadian sector in Kandahar and parts of the UK sector in Helmand; both of these countries have devoted teams to both police and army advising, lessening the need for U.S. teams. (The UK has devoted a battalion-plus to OMLTs, similar to the proportion of U.S. battalions devoted to ETTs/PMTs.)

    In other non-U.S. areas, the local ground-owner has the resources to supply army OMLTs, but not police ones. For example, there are parts of British Helmand where this is the case, and I believe also parts of Canadian Kandahar and much of Dutch-Australian Uruzgan.

    Finally, there are cases where the local ground-owner is so thin-stretched or averse to combat that it supplies no advisor teams at all, or not enough to make much difference. In Zabul, for example, the Romanians don't have a lot to spare so the U.S. provides both ETTs and PMTs.

    It's a confusing mess, but hopefully a little less so now that NTM-A and CSTC-A have the same commander.

    Either way, the U.S. does now have essentially a full brigade devoted to ANP advising and a full brigade devoted to ANA advising - they are just divided regionally rather than along ANA-ANP lines, which makes a whole lot more sense. (Think of it this way: if you're the ground-owner, or the PRT guy, or anyone else, and you have to deal with both ETTs and PMTs, wouldn't you prefer that both teams come from one nearby 4/82 ABN advisor battalion? Rather than, say, having an ETT from 48th BCT and a PMT from 4/82?)

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  11. Tintin -- Really good stuff, thanks.

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  12. Tintin, what is your perception on the Romanian performance in Zabul? Matthew Hoh apparently didn't think too much of them and the ISAF mission in Zabul.

    Some US troops are under Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan, and others are under ISAF (mostly under ISAF.) Are any of the ISAF/NATO US forces advisers called OMLTs?

    The OEF-Afghanistan advisors are called ETTs/PMTs as you mentioned.

    "In a much smaller number American-owned areas, the ANA training is done not by American ETTs but by allied OMLTs. This is the case in parts of Wardak and a few other places." There are many areas like this. Many smaller countries prefer their advisors deployed in US areas. I wonder how useful some of the small country OMLTs really are.

    Are there any non US ETT/PMTs? (Some countries contribute towards OEF-Afghanistan rather than the ISAF.) I don't think there are any.

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  13. 1. I have never been to Zabul and don't really have any idea. But I have heard negative remarks about the Romanians from U.S. personnel - not so much that they are risk-averse as that they are under-equipped and not as capable as other national contingents in RC-South. Last June I spoke to a senior officer at ARSIC-S who was unaware that the Romanians had a battle group, rather than just a PRT.

    2. No, as far as I know there are no non-U.S. ETTs/PMTs, and likewise no U.S. OMLTs. I could be wrong though. And I also don't know if the 4/82 advisor detachments are even organized like ETTs/PMTs (or called that). They may be much bigger teams.

    3. In Wardak, U.S. troops seemed very skeptical of the French OMLT that worked in their AO, since they had to basically support them a lot and felt that they were risk-averse. (In the reverse situation, though, when I visited a U.S. PMT operating in a British AO, the British felt that they were always having to bail out the little U.S. team and give them stuff - and they also felt that they were risk-averse. Compared to the Gurkha POMLT that worked in the same area, they may have been right - but I was only in the AO for a very brief time.)

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