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New tactic aims to create ‘model' Afghan villages

Canadian Press

Canada's reconstruction mission in southern Afghanistan will soon launch a new bid to win over locals, one village at a time ...Read the full article

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  1. Nick Wright from Halifax, Canada writes: "Confidence in the (police) force, one of the high-profile casualties of the Taliban insurgency, remains low among Afghans, who view the officers as corrupt, ill-equipped, poorly trained and ineffective."

    The first part of this statement is nonsense; there was no national Afghan police force after the Afghan communist regime collapsed in 1992. After that the "police" were just members of the local warlord's militias, and they raped, stole, kidnapped and murdered at will, while the warlords fought a vicious civil war over control of the country.

    The Taliban, contrary to what the article implies, quelled the warlords' factional fighting and imposed law and order where there was none. Afghans were able to go about their business in relative safety for the first time in years. This was especially true for women, who although required to wear the burqa and be accompanied by a male relative (an ancient custom), were able to go out without fear of being abducted and/or raped.

    The police forces now are still largely made up of local strongmen's militias, and they are almost as bad a problem today with their lawlessness, incompetence and arbitrary behaviour as they were pre-Taliban. The behaviour of the police is one of the major reasons the insurgency is spreading. Pashtun Afghans have increasingly been asking the Taliban to come into their regions to impose law and order and justice, despite their distaste for Taliban social strictures.
  2. Richard Roskell from Canada writes:

    Mr. Anderson's self-assessment of his team's success as mentors to the Afghan police: an "off-the-chart improvement" in the quality of the ANP's police work.

    A bold claim, to be sure. I hope Mr. Anderson isn't too disappointed if that success is temporary; time will tell, of course.
  3. Ron MacGillivray from Flatbush, ab, Canada writes: May I suggest that a big part of this "model village" strategy is to set up Tim Hortons outlets. Besides providing a place for the Afghan police and their RCMP trainers to r&r, this could be a good way for our Afghan allies who are heavily involved in the heroin trade to launder their profits.
  4. Just Visiting from Canada writes: Great new plan. Sounds like we're setting up Potemkin villages for future ministerial photo ops. That's something Canadians are good at.

    Too bad about the more than a hundred Canadian troops killed in recent years setting up now-abandoned outposts in the Afghan countryside.

    Tough break for them. And their families.

    Onward and upward, for sure.

    - JV
  5. winston freeman from Canada writes: " Model Village " sounds familiar ...

    trying to remember the term in Vietnamese .

    " Potemkin Village " also sounds familiar .

    " Sitting duck " also comes to mind .

    When " they " are among civilians , it's terrible and cowardly .

    But when NATO does it , it's liberation , whatever the locals think !
  6. Maria Stewart from Victoria, Canada writes: Nick Wright, you sound like you've actually been there. How do you know these kinds of details? What have you been reading?
  7. Nick Wright from Halifax, Canada writes: winston freeman: In Vietnam they were called "strategic hamlets," as part of South Vietnam President Diem's Strategic Hamlet Program. The program failed in its purpose, but ended up as a recruiting tool for the Vietcong, as the villagers came to resent their treatment under the program.

    President Obama's stated strategy of "clear, hold and build" is reminiscent of the U.S. plan for Vietnam beginning in 1961. It was called the "Geographically Phased National Level Plan for Counterinsurgency."

    Phase one consisted of intelligence-gathering and social surveys. In phase two, regular military forces cleared the area of insurgents and handed it over to the Civil Guard. In the third phase, the Self Defense Corps took over providing security, and economic and social programs were put in place to consolidate government control.

    The major problem was that the plans weren't Vietnamese plans, and came along with foreign demands for social and polictical reforms. I have a funny feeling that the "model Afghan village" plan won't be an Afghan plan either.
  8. Nick Wright from Halifax, Canada writes: Sorry, I forgot to cite my source for the Strategic Hamlet Program: It is an essay, "Why Did the Strategic Hamlet Project Fail?" from the Ohio State University's "eHistory" website. The parts I included on Vietnam are pretty much word for word, edited for brevity.
  9. Ron MacGillivray from Flatbush, ab, Canada writes: Nick Wright...."young, charistmatic president..." The similarities between JFK and Vietnam in 1961 and BHO and A'stan in 2009 are amazing.
  10. Neo Cynic from Bahamas writes:
    Canada's "reconstruction mission" is pure myth, a public relations talking point made in distraction from our murderous air strikes, to allow us to feel better about such now routine occurrences like the killing of 98 children last week, or what Mr. Anderson would describe as yet another "spectacular attack". We spend billions deconstructing the country, and a few paltry millions reconstructing it.

    The fact that "the reach" of the Afghan government of the President of Kabul, after 7 years, hundreds of thousands killed, and hundreds of billion wasted dollars, is not felt now anywhere outside our military bases is a confession of both Taliban success and of course, our abject failure. If anything has become "irrelevant", it is certainly not the insurgency, but rather our pathetic little puffs of gunpowder. How else explain the bizarre and sad banality of one of our "civilian" bureaucrats remarking that yes, indeed, in war, people are indeed "pivotal".

    It is amusing that for less jaded and objective observers, dismantling outposts, and "no longer holdings swaths of land", appears to be what in popular parlance, we would call a "retreat".

    Most do agree that "improvement" in the competence of the ANP is "off-the-chart". In fact, it's not on any chart produced by any credible agency. If anything, when the bullets fly, these stooges are off-the-field.

    As so too should be our troops from this despicable and outrageously wasteful and ultimately fruitless fool's errand for the American Neocon Mafia.
  11. Misery No one from Toronto, Canada writes: It's unbelievable the mindset of the white man. He thinks he can invade a country and change their ways after thousands of years.

    What is the white man smoking? Reminds one of the Missionaries and all the destruction they wreaked on the poor natives.

    Thank goodness for the internet where anyone can probe all these stupid ideas and have their eyes opened.
  12. Scott Gartner from Canada writes: Neo

    Actually he was referring to the Taliban when talking about them conducting spectacular attacks, not ISAF.

    I'd be interested Neo if you could just give us a bit of your background with regards to any military training or experience or perhaps your background in counter insurgency. The average poster on here doesn't really need it but seeing how you feel compelled to to comment on tactics, techniques and procedures of Cdn troops you must draw this insightful information from somewhere other than the G&M, right Neo ?
  13. Earl Street from Petawawa, Canada writes: Scott,
    Neo Cynic knows nothing more than what his American anti war friends tell him.

    Heck, he isn't even living in Canada, but resides south of the border.
  14. Solving Worlds Problems from Vernon BC, Canada writes: What a great idea. After this has been shown to work in Afghanistan, we can set up "model villages" in the First Nations Reserves in Canada. Bring those people up to the standard of living that we all enjoy, and get rid of the drug and alcohol problems on the Reserves. Its about time we solved the local problems.
  15. L.B. MURRAY from !! from Canada writes: Today, in the German Der Spiegel, more bad news regarding reconstruction in Afghanistan...

    ''The schools received letters threatening acid and gas attacks, and teachers and pupils responded by staying home. The Afghan authorities finally decided to shut the schools altogether.

    The affected district of Chahar Darreh in the province of Kunduz is largely under the Taliban's control -- some of the Pashtun people who live in the area support them.

    The German army, which has led a reconstruction team in Kunduz since 2003, doesn't feel able to protect the schools, and the German government doesn't know how to respond to the threats. ''- = =
  16. LJ Brody from Canada writes: That sounds like the same strategy the yanks tried in Vietnam in the late 60's....obviously it worked out pretty good there....good luck CF, glad I'm not you.
  17. Winston Churchill from London, Canada writes: Nick Wright: strategic hamlets worked in Malaya. The Americans were misapplying a British model, taken from a different case.

    This can work, or go so very wrong.
  18. Merely an Observer from Canada writes: LJ Brody from Canada writes: "....good luck CF, glad I'm not you."

    I would imagine most CF members would be glad about that as well.
    So, still longing to see any more Canadian soldiers "gutted like a fish" (as you put it), there LJ?
  19. Nick Wright from Halifax, Canada writes: True. We also have to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt on how it's applied. A lot of people are dumping on him because he is continuing the war effort in Afghanistan. I don't know what else he could be expected to do with a situation he inherited. His other option is to call it quits, but the same people would dump on him even harder for that.

    One interesting recent development is Karzai making deals with all his potential rivals in the upcoming election, and them withdrawing from the running. It looks like traditional Afghan coaltion politics to me: everyone gets their share of power (and gets to keep their well-armed militias and their drug and customs businesses--all low-key and discreet of course), and Karzai becomes the public face of the arrangement. He is sophisticated and educated, and is still very palatable to most foreign governments and publics.

    What makes it even more interesting is a story in the Washington Post tonight about how one of Karzai's most credible rivals, former U.S. Afghan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American, is in talks with Karzai about becoming his close advisor--or even some kind of unelected executive officer running the government (his dual citizenship prevents him from running). That would make a clean sweep for Karzai, and most importantly make would him a real Afghan government leader after the election that the U.S. would have to deal with in a real way.

    Most Canadians aren't aware that the U.S. installed Karzai as a figurehead in 2001 and has deliberately kept him weak ever since while it pursues its war on terror. Now the U.S. is coming very late to the nation-building game. Perhaps too late. It will be interesting to see what the Afghans come up with in terms of an Afghan government. I'm sure the U.S. is very nervous about these developments.
  20. The Iconoclast from Canada writes: It is preposterous that we keep imposing our value and culture on others.
  21. The Angry Left from Canada writes: I was going to say that this seems reminiscent of Vietnam and the village pacification programs that were a complete and utter failure, achieving nothing more than destroying the lives of the people on the ground and driving them needlessly into the clutches of the Vietcong, but it seems others beat me to it. These are the hazards of making policy from 30,000 feet in the air or by looking at a map from half a world away. One would hope that people will recognize the parallels and that saner minds will prevail.
  22. DAVID DIVER from Comox, Canada writes: Oh boy, now we have urban planners on the scene - a miniature version of London and the satellite towns ringing the urban centre and linked by a highway system. Then we get the lofty announcement "the approach would render the insurgency irrelevant ." At least the LT. Colonel referred to the insurgency not the terrorists. As for his optimism for the shop worn plan, the Colonel is day dreaming. One unknown factor is the presence of new US troops eager to show their mettle on how to catch/kill a Taleban and consign him to the nether regions. And don't forget those air strikes -who wants to build anything that can be razed to the ground at the whim of the US air force?

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