U.S. Troops Heading For Helmand

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by David Jolly

New York Times

February 9, 2016

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States Army will deploy hundreds of soldiers to the southern Afghan province of Helmand, where government forces have been pushed to the brink by Taliban militants, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

It will be the largest deployment of American troops outside major bases in Afghanistan since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014. Though the military insists that the soldiers will not take active combat roles, American Special Operations forces have increasingly been drawn into the fighting in Helmand as one important district after another has fallen or been threatened by Taliban insurgents.

Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the new deployment would provide protection for the current Special Operations troops in Helmand and give extra support and training for the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army. Afghan forces in Helmand have taken heavy casualties in recent months and have been cut off by the Taliban in many places.

“Our mission,” Colonel Lawhorn said, “remains the same: to train, advise, and assist our Afghan counterparts, and not to participate in combat operations.”

He would not detail the number of troops or the unit involved in the deployment, citing Pentagon policy. But a senior American military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters, said the unit being sent to Helmand, the Second Battalion, 87th Infantry, was slightly smaller than the usual battalion size of 700 to 800 soldiers. On Monday, The Guardian reported that up to a battalion would be sent to Helmand.

The new troops will replace another unit that was already in Afghanistan, the official said, and will not add to the total number of American troops in the country, which stands at roughly 9,800.

The official could not say where the deployment would be based within Helmand but said that the problems in the province demanded the attention of American and Afghan commanders.

“Certainly Helmand is the diciest place in Afghanistan right now, the place where A.N.S.F. have had the most setbacks from without and within,” the official said, using the abbreviation for the Afghan National Security Forces, meaning the army and the police. “It’s part of what matters most right now for the future of the country.”

The additional American soldiers would be “doing some retraining, re-equipping and advising” for the troubled Afghan 215th Army Corps, the official added.

Alarm has risen in Kabul and Washington as a resurgent Taliban insurgency has pushed government forces to the edge. Faced with the possible collapse of the Afghan Army and police in Helmand, the Pentagon began ratcheting up the role of American Special Operations forces there last autumn, stepping up air attacks and putting more advisers on the ground. One American was killed and two were wounded there in early January as Afghan and American troops sought to break a Taliban encirclement of the Marja district.

Some Afghan officials have advocated a bigger role for American troops for months.

The numbers being discussed “aren’t enough; 700 or so troops cannot solve such a big problem,” as Helmand is a very big province, said Lt. Gen. Rahmatullah Raufi, a former Afghan Army general who now commands the Afghan Border Police.

He nonetheless welcomed the Americans’ decision to support the Afghan Army and police in the south, saying, “They’ll be equipped with advanced weaponry, they’ll have better air support and they can fight well alongside the A.N.S.F. They’ll inflict extensive pressure on the enemy.”

“If similar action were taken in other volatile provinces,” he said, “it would be a blow to the enemy and terrorists.”

Under the current security agreement with Afghanistan, American forces are mostly in the country to provide training and logistical support, and as part of a counterterrorism mission targeting Al Qaeda and a splinter group of Islamic State militants. But the American command has interpreted the rules broadly, joining the fight against Taliban insurgents when Afghan forces have broken down, as when the northern city of Kunduz was taken over by the militants last September.

“American forces in Afghanistan, and in this specific case in Helmand, are in the role of train, advise and assist,” said Sayed Zafar Hashemi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani. “The Afghan forces are on the lead, carrying out the combat mission.”

Helmand has been besieged by Taliban militants since the NATO and United States combat mission ended in 2014, and it has long been one of the most contested parts of the country. The Helmand opium fields are also among the most productive in the world, making the province an economic prize disputed by the insurgents, criminal gangs and corrupt government officials alike. It shares a porous border with Pakistan, where the Taliban’s leaders are based, adding to its strategic value.

The Helmand police and the 215th Army Corps have been ground down, with morale plummeting and desertions increasing as underfed, undertrained and underequipped units fight on without rest. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee last week, Gen. John F. Campbell, the outgoing chief of NATO and United States forces in Afghanistan, expressed concern about the Afghan military. “Ultimately,” he said, “Afghanistan has not achieved an enduring level of security and stability that justifies reduction in our support in 2016.”

The number of American troops in Afghanistan was supposed to fall to 5,500 by the end of 2016. That drawdown now appears to be in doubt, as Lt. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., who will replace General Campbell, told senators in January that he wanted to “re-look” at the military’s needs in the country, considering “what is necessary, what amount of capability is necessary given the current conditions.”

Aimal Faizi, who was a spokesman for former President Hamid Karzai, said that sending more American troops to Helmand again would be a return to an “ill-advised” military strategy that failed to “fight the roots of terrorism.”

Mr. Faizi added: “After 15 years of failed military operations, killings and destruction in Helmand, it is also right to worry that the local people in Helmand will no more see the Americans as a liberating force but an occupying force this time. It is all very unfortunate.”

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Matthew Rosenberg contributed reporting from Washington, and Jawad Sukhanyar from Kabul.

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The Colonel’s Teepee

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by Rawclyde!

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Col. Sheena Johnson

U.S. Army legend

Sets-up a teepee above Pluckame

High on the mountain ridge

~

Here she hones her arrowheads

& prays to St. Joan of Arizona

Her ex-Taliban husband Habibullah

Assists

~

Young enchantress Mamoodia

The other Sufi archer of Pluckame

Patrols

Her bow vibrant & arrows a quiver

~

Life in a Sufi bubble

Has it’s ups & downs

But mostly it floats

Miracles often occur

~

~

Sheena becomes so angelic

She sprouts wings

Every curve of her body

Softens

~

And Habibullah swears

He’s

Gone

To heaven 

~

Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II

~

American Spartan

THE PROMISE, THE MISSION, AND THE BETRAYAL

OF SPECIAL FORCES MAJOR JIM GANT

by Ann Scott Tyson

copyright 2014

( excerpts as book review )

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Jim fell hard for the desert civilization code and its ethos of Pashtunwali in 2003, while living with the Mohmand tribe and fighting the Taliban alongside them in Konar Province.  He related to their warrior creed as parallel to the life he’d embraced himself as a Green Beret and one he preached to lead his small band of men into battle.  It resonated with the ancient laws abided by the obedient three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae in 480 BCE.  Honor, strength, and loyalty were not empty platitudes to Afghanistan’s tribes; they were as important to tribal members as were water and wheat.  As important as they were to Jim.  As important as Jim assumed they were to the U.S. military establishment.

In 2010, as Jim prepared to return to Afghanistan, he increasingly realized that the only way to stabilize the country was to empower the desert civilizations, the Pashtuns still living in the rugged lands bordering and inside Pakistan.  It was the pursuit of this honor, through physical courage and battling a common enemy, that Jim believed would allow him to become close to the Pashtuns.  To ally with these proud fighters, to befriend them and help them recover their economies while also giving them the power to defend themselves, would not only take the fight to the Taiban but also draw disgruntled Taliban foot soldiers back to their villages…

~

Jim viewed the Taliban’s top leaders ~ Islamic extremists such as the one-eyed Mullah Omar ~ as championing a dogmatic, tyrannical movement that by its very nature threatened to dismantle the millennia-old rule by tribal elders.  If the U.S. military were to convincingly help village elders take back their clans, defend their honor and traditions, and return their tribes to the authority of these egalitarian peer councils, the Taliban would be hollowed out and ultimately destroyed.  The men who left the villages to join the Taliban in the turmoil of the civil wars would come back and take their rightful places inside their tribes.  With no foot soldiers, the Taliban would lose power.  The best way to empower the rough-hewn tribes, Jim believed, was with small teams of Special Forces such as his ODA 316, living among them one warrior to another.  Once one tribe was secure, the team would leave and knock on the qalat of the tribe next door and start all over.  It required little manpower or money, but could help Afghanistan begin to change from a war-torn terrorist haven to a more stable U.S. ally…

~

“Why are you Americans here in Afghanistan?” he asked.

“Our country was attacked.  We came here to fight the Taliban and others responsible for this,” Jim replied.  Then he pulled out a laptop and showed Noor Afzhal video footage of the Twin Towers crumbling to the ground on September 11.  “My men and I are warriors.  But we are not here to fight you,” Jim said.  “We want to help you.”

Noor Afzhal was visibly moved.  He was silent for a moment, and took a sip of tea.  Then he spoke again to the young American.  “If you can come all the way to Afghanistan from the United States to help us, then why should I not help you?” Noor Afzhal said.  “We don’t want the Taliban here.”  …

~

“If they were doing this all over Afghanistan, the war would be over,” said Drew, the machine gunner.  “This works.  It’s something you have to see to believe.  It’s a different kind of warfare.  Sometimes you use bombs and bullets, and sometimes you need another method ~ relationships.”  …

~

Petraeus had championed the initiative at the top levels of the U.S. and Afghan governments for the past year and a half.  The program had taken off rapidly since Petraeus and his subordinate commanders, Brig. Gen. Miller and Col. Bolduc, launched it in the summer of 2010.  With the U.S. military initially choosing the locations, distributing the weapons, and controlling the pay, U.S. Special Forces teams quickly recruited, armed, and trained thousands of local police around the country by early 2011…

~

Hard-core insurgent commander Maulawi Basir… was associated with the strict and violent Salafist strain of Islam…

~

The tribe’s influence on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border held major appeal for Jim.  One of the primary goals of his one-tribe-at-a-time strategy was to leverage the tribes to help uproot the insurgent safe havens in Pakistan that were vital to sustaining the Taliban’s war in Afghanistan.  The Mohmand, Safi, and Mushwani tribes all had large populations on either side of the border…

~

But his main message, driven home by his deepening ties with the Safi and Mushwani leaders, was that the tribes held the only key to victory.  He knew it, and the Taliban knew it…

~

Often families contained some adult males who were serving in the Taliban and others who worked for the government…

~

Afghans living in the high rugged valleys were isolated from the settled towns below.  With no forces to protect them, they had little choice but to provide Taliban fighters with food, water, shelter, and refuge if they needed it, or face beatings or other retribution, and Jalil’s family was no different…

~

“When I am up in the Shalay, they say I am working for the government.  When I am down here, they say I am Taliban!” Jalil fumed.  “I just want my family to live safely with no one bothering us.” …

~

Buried in the fine print was an abrupt change of mission for Jim’s team:  Tribe 33 was to close down its base in Mangwel no later than January 15, 2012…

~

It described the move as part of the overarching U.S. military transition to the Afghan government and security forces in preparation for the withdrawal of most American forces by 2014…

~

We agreed that as a strategy, pulling out of the Mohmand tribal area and leaving behind the Afghans who had most steadfastly supported the arbakai program from the very first ~ when the risk was greatest ~ made no sense.  It reflected a catastrophic misunderstanding of the importance of the hard-won relationship with the tribe and the advantages of maintaining that tie.  The Mohmands and Manqwel had set the example that other areas and tribes wanted to follow.  The arbakai in Mangwel and the rest of the district were the most powerful security force in the area.  Jim’s bond with the tribe was what created the potential for expanding the arbakai into other areas and winning over former Taliban.  Reaping those benefits required a long-term commitment.   He knew he could not remain in Mangwel forever, but his team had been in the village just ten months.

Jim and I worked together on a memo that urged Wilson to postpone shutting down the Mangwel base, arguing that it could undermine security in the area and pointing out that the district government was ineffective and corrupt…

~

The Safis had dominated the oft-contested Konar Province for centuries.  An uncompromising and war-driven tribe, they were at the center of the last major tribal uprising against the central government in 1947, the first to fight the Soviets in the Konar in the 1980s and the first to stand up to the Taliban there in the 1990s.  It had taken years, dating back to 2003, for Jim to build his relationship with the Safi elder, Haji Jan Dahd…

~

The U.S. command could not have devised a better way to sabotage the Chowkay mission and alliance with the Safi tribe than by pulling Jim out in this way…

~

“They can think whatever they want,” Dan said of his commanders.  “But you know, and I know, and the people we worked with know, we have been honest with our country and tried our level best to win this war that has gone on for eleven years…”

~

Linn advised Jim again of the allegations against him: alcohol and drug use, misappropriation of fuel, misuse of government funds, and an inapropriate relationship with me…

~

In April, Jim obtained a copy of Lt. Col. Kirila’s complete Article 15-6 investigation into the alleged misconduct by him, Dan, and the rest of his team…

~

The investigation contained facts but also many false or inaccurate statements.  It recognized the achievements of Jim and his team, but also created a sensationalized, tabloid picture of Jim’s misdeeds…

~

As charges mounted against Jim, Dan and others who had served under him were being drawn into a widening witch hunt by the command in Afghanistan…

~

1st Lt. Thomas Roberts… meanwhile, was hailed by the chain of command as a whistle-blower and paragon of moral courage…

~

We learned that the qalat in Chowkay had been abandoned by Capt. Fleming and his team about a month after Jim and Dan were pulled out.  After the team alienated the arbakai, who in turn stopped manning the observation points in the high ground, Taliban attacks intensified again on the qalat.  The team lost critical intelligence on the Taliban that Jim had gained through his relationships with arbakai commander Sadiq and others.  Fleming decided occupying the qalat was untenable, and blamed it on Jim by claiming it was in a poor location…

~

One of the documents, found in bin Laden’s quarters, was an English copy of Jim’s paper, “One Tribe at a Time,” with notes in the margins…

~

Another document uncovered was a directive from Osama bin Laden to his intelligence chief.  The directive mentioned Jim by name, and said he was an impediment to Al Qaeda’s operational objectives for eastern Afghanistan and needed to be removed from the battlefield…

~

editor

Rawclyde

!

Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention

Atalanta, a sidekick of Hercules

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As Written by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter
Washington, D.C.
April 02, 2015
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This April, the Department of Defense observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. While we must spread awareness and prevent these crimes each and every day, this is an important opportunity to remind ourselves why ridding our ranks of sexual assault and sexual harassment is so critical.

The values of honor and trust are the lifeblood of our military, and every act of sexual assault directly undermines those values. So too does every act of retaliation against those who report these crimes.

This year’s theme, “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know Your Part. Do Your Part.” reminds us that we all have a responsibility to prevent these crimes and support the survivors – not only to live our core values and protect one another, but also to ensure our people can focus on the mission. This is an issue our force, both of today and tomorrow, cares deeply about. When I spoke at my high school earlier this week, a young student asked me about the issue of sexual assault and wanted to know what we were doing to ensure our military is “a safe and welcome place.”

That is why it is the responsibility of every servicemember to help make our military the last place a sexual offender wants to be. Together, we must assure an environment where sexual assault is neither condoned nor ignored; we must reinforce a culture of prevention, accountability, dignity, and respect throughout our ranks; and we must advocate for and staunchly support all who courageously report this crime.

Our nation looks to us to lead boldly on this front – and to care for our fellow men and women who bravely serve. Every single one of us must know our part, do our part, and keep doing whatever it takes to eliminate sexual assault in the military.

~~~

Atalanta & her charioteer in the midst of battle

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http://www.defense.gov/Speeches/Speech.aspx?SpeechID=1928

~~~

Women In The Infantry

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Strategy Page

October 17, 2014

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October 17, 2014: After two years of trying to justify allowing women into the infantry, artillery and armor and special operations forces, the U.S. government has decided to just order the military to make it happen and without degrading the capabilities of these units. While the army is inclined the just say yes, find out what quotas the politicians want and go through the motions, the marines are refusing to play along. The marines are pointing out that the research does not support the political demands and that actually implementing the quotas could get people killed while degrading the effectiveness of the units involved. This is yet another reason why many politicians do not like the marines.

Back in 2012 the U.S. Army and Marine Corps were ordered to come up with procedures to select women capable of handling infantry and special operations assignments and then recruit some women for these jobs. This had become an obsession with many politicians. None of these proponents of women in the infantry have ever served in the infantry, but they understood that if they proceeded without proof that women could handle the job, that decision could mean getting a lot of American soldiers and marines killed. If it came to that, the military could be blamed for not implementing the new policy correctly.

So far the tests, overseen by monitors reporting back to civilian officials in Congress and the White House, have failed to find the needed proof that women can handle infantry combat. The main problem the military has is their inability to make these politicians understand how combat operations actually work and what role sheer muscle plays in success, or simply survival. But many politicians have become obsessed with the idea that women should serve in the infantry and are ignoring the evidence.

All this comes after decades of allowing women to take jobs that were more and more likely to result in women having to deal with combat. Not infantry combat, but definitely dangerous situations where you were under attack and had to fight back or die. The last such prohibition is the U.S. Department of Defense policy that forbids the use of female troops in direct (infantry type) combat. Despite the ban many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan found themselves in firefights and exposed to roadside bombs, something that’s normal for a combat zone. Meanwhile, women were allowed to serve in MP (military police) units and serve regularly on convoy duty. Those convoys often included other female troops who were trained to fight back, if necessary. It was usually the MPs who did the fighting and the female MPs performed well. Several of them received medals for exceptional performance in combat. Hundreds of these female MPs were regularly in combat since September 11, 2001. This was the largest and longest exposure of American female troops to direct combat. Yet women have often been exposed to a lot of indirect combat. As far back as World War II, 25 percent of all troops in the army found themselves under fire at one time or another, although only about 15 percent of soldiers had a “direct combat” job. In Iraq women made up about 14 percent of the military personnel but only two percent of the casualties (dead and wounded). Most women do not want to be in combat but those who did get the job proved that they could handle it. This experience, however, did provide proof that women could perform in infantry or special operations type combat.

All this is actually an ancient problem. The issue of women in combat has long been contentious. Throughout history women have performed well in combat but mainly in situations where pure physical force was not a major factor. For example, women often played a large, and often decisive, part of the defending force in sieges. Many women learned to use the light bow (for hunting). While not as lethal as the heavy bows (like the English longbow), when the situation got desperate the female archers made a difference, especially if it was shooting a guys coming over the wall with rape and general mayhem in mind.

Once lightweight firearms appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries women were even deadlier in combat. Again, this only occurred in combat situations where the superior physical strength and sturdiness of men was not a factor. Much of infantry operations are all about the grunts (as infantry are often called) just moving themselves and their heavy loads into position for a fight. Here the sturdiness angle was all about the fact that men have more muscle and thicker bones. This makes men much less likely to suffer stress fractures or musculoskeletal injuries than women. This phenomenon has been noted as women became more active in sports like basketball. Modern infantry combat is intensely physical, and most women remain at a disadvantage here. There are some exception for specialist tasks that do not involve sturdiness or strength, like sniping. Then there is the hormonal angle. Men generate a lot more testosterone, a hormone that makes men more decisive and faster to act in combat. Moreover testosterone does not, as the popular myth goes, make you more aggressive, it does make you more aware and decisive. That makes a difference in combat.

The main problem today is that the average load for a combat infantryman is over 40 kg (88 pounds) and men (in general) have always had more muscle, upper body strength and the ability to handle heavy loads better than women. But in situations like convoy escort, base security, or support jobs in the combat zone the combat load is lower and more manageable for women. At that point there’s plenty of recent evidence that women can handle themselves in combat. That said, women, more than men, prefer to avoid serving in combat units. During the last decade American recruiters found it easier to find young men for combat units than for support jobs. It’s mainly female officers who demand the right to try out for combat jobs. That’s because the most of the senior jobs in the military go only to those who have some experience in a combat unit. But when the marines allowed 14 female marines to take the infantry officer course, none could pass and all agreed that they were treated just like the male trainees. This was not a unique situation.

Because of the strenuous nature of combat jobs (armor, artillery, and engineers, as well as infantry) there are physical standards for these occupations. The U.S. military calls it a profile and if you do not have the physical profile for a job, you can’t have it. Thus while many men are not physically fit for the infantry, even fewer women are. For example, 55 percent of women cannot do the three pull-ups required in the physical fitness test, compared to only one percent of men. Some women could meet the physical standards and be eager to have the job. But Western nations (including Canada) that have sought to recruit physically qualified female candidates for the infantry found few volunteers and even fewer who could meet the profile and pass the training. So while it is theoretically possible that there are some women out there who could handle the physical requirements, none have so far come forward to volunteer for infantry duty. A recent survey of female soldiers in the U.S. Army found that over 92 percent would not be interested in having an infantry job. The last two years of American research into the matter concluded that about three percent of women could be trained to the point where they were at the low end of the physically “qualified” people (male or female) for infantry combat. What that bit of data ignores is how many of those physically strong women would want a career in the infantry or special operations. There would be a few, but for the politicians who want women represented in infantry units this would smack of tokenism. Moreover this comes at a time when physical standards for American infantry and special operations troops have been increasing, because this was found to produce more effective troops and lower American casualties.

One area where women are sometimes recruited for infantry combat is in commando and paramilitary intelligence organizations. This is kept secret but having a combat-qualified woman along on some missions can be the key to success. While these women usually cannot carry as much weight, they often have language, cultural, and other skills that make them an essential part of the team. Exceptions can be made for exceptional people and the exceptional missions where they can be decisive. Women have long served as spies, and this is apparently how women came to become part of some commando organizations.

When the U.S. used conscription the infantry ended up with a lot of less-muscular and enthusiastic men in the infantry. Allowances were made for this, but for elite units there were no corners cut and everyone had to volunteer and meet high physical standards. That made a very noticeable difference in the combat abilities of the elite unit. Now all infantry are recruited to those old elite standards and it would wreck morale and decrease the number of male volunteers if it was mandated that some less physically qualified women be able to join infantry units. This doesn’t bother a lot of politicians but it does bother the guys out there getting shot at.

Meanwhile over the last century women have been increasingly a part of the military. In most Western nations over ten percent of military personnel are female. In the U.S. military it’s now 15 percent. A century ago it was under one percent (and most of those were nurses and other medical personnel). More women are in uniform now because there aren’t enough qualified men, especially for many of the technical jobs armed forces now have to deal with. In the United States women became more of a presence in the armed forces after the military went all-volunteer in the 1970s. That led to more and more combat-support jobs being opened to women. This became popular within the military because the women were often better at these support jobs. This led to women being allowed to serve on American combat ships in 1994. In most NATO countries between 5-10 percent of sailors are women, while in Britain it is 10 percent, and in the United States 16 percent.

Once women were allowed to fly combat aircraft, it was only a matter of time before some of them rose to command positions. Currently, about ten percent of navy officers are female, as are nine percent of enlisted personnel. Only 4.2 percent of navy aviators (pilots) are women, as are 6.9 percent of flight officers (non-pilot aircrew). In the air force five percent of pilots are women. Women now command warships and air combat units (including fighter squadrons). Some women, and their political supporters, want to do the same thing in the infantry and special operations. If only the physical problems could be taken care of.

Advocates for women in combat also have to worry about combat casualties and the very well documented history of women in combat. During World War II over five million women served in the military, although they suffered fewer losses than the men, several hundred thousand did die. These women were often exposed to combat, especially when fighting as guerillas or operating anti-aircraft guns and early warning systems in Russia, Germany, and Britain. Russia also used women as traffic cops near the front line, as snipers, and as combat pilots. They tried using them as tank crews and regular infantry, but that didn’t work out. Women were most frequently employed in medical and other support jobs. The few who served as snipers or pilots were very good at it.

Most of the women who served in combat did so in guerilla units, especially in the Balkans and Russia. The women could not haul as heavy a load as the men but this was often not crucial, as many guerillas were only part-time fighters, living as civilians most of the time. Full time guerilla units often imposed the death penalty for pregnancy, although the women sometimes would not name the father. That said, guerilla organizations often imposed the death penalty for a number of offenses. The guerillas had few places to keep prisoners and sloppiness could get a lot of guerillas killed. The women tended to be more disciplined than the men and just as resolute in combat.

In the last century there have been several attempts to use women in combat units, and all have failed. When given a choice, far fewer women will choose combat jobs (infantry, armor, artillery). But duty as MPs does attract a lot of women, as do jobs like fighter, bomber, helicopter pilots and crews, and aboard warships. That works.

Meanwhile the casualty rate for women in Iraq was over ten times what it was in World War II, Vietnam, and the 1991 Gulf War (where 30,000 women served). A lot of the combat operations experienced by women in Iraq involved base security or guard duty. Female troops performed well in that. These were jobs that required alertness, attention to detail, and ability to quickly use your weapons when needed. Carrying a heavy load was not required. In convoy operations women have also done well, especially when it comes to spotting, and dealing with, IEDs (roadside bombs and ambushes). Going into the 21st century, warfare is becoming more automated and less dependent on muscle and testosterone. That gives women an edge, and they exploit it, just as they have done in so many other fields.

Meanwhile the military has been ordered to continue conducting experiments in order to find a way to justify allowing females in the infantry and special operations troops. After that comes the difficulty in finding women who are willing to volunteer and pass whatever standards survive.

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htmurph/20141017.aspx

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“One Step Closer” by Nigel Hendrickson

http://soulrebel.cgsociety.org

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American Units Adapt to New Missions

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By Jim Garamone

American Forces Press Service

May 2, 2014

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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan,  – As you walk into the headquarters for Regional Command East here, you see a photo of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Underneath the photo is an inscription: “Never again.”

“Our soldiers understand why they are here,” said Army Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of Regional Command East and of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. “International terrorists will never use this country to launch attacks on the United States or our allies again.”

Townsend spoke during a break in meetings with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is visiting here to confer with senior leaders.

But the mission American and coalition service members perform has changed from one in which Americans did the combat operations to one in which U.S. and coalition forces train, advise and assist Afghan forces.

When he does battlefield circulations, Townsend said, he tells the U.S. and coalition service members that the mission is to “get the Afghan national security forces stood up, so we can stand down.”

This, the general said, is the biggest change he has seen since his last deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, American and coalition forces conducted about 95 percent of the operations. A few Afghan soldiers accompanied them, he said.

“Now, it’s exactly the opposite, with 95 percent of the operations led by the Afghans,” he said. “In fact, between 80 and 85 percent of those operations are Afghan unilaterals. There’s nobody from the coalition with them at all.”

This does not mean that American and coalition forces are out of danger. Last week, two 10th Mountain Division soldiers were killed conducting force-protection patrols.

Veterans of multiple deployments understand what is happening, Townsend said. “They are very happy to advise the Afghans and help train them and encourage them as they leave the gate on a mission,” he said. “They stand by as part of a quick-reaction force if needed.”

But they understand that “victory has an Afghan face,” the general said.

The mantra now is to train the trainer. U.S. forces train Afghan officers and sergeants, who in turn train Afghan privates. “That’s the only way we can build an institution that can sustain itself,” Townsend said.

The effort also is transitioning from unit-based security force assistance to functionally based assistance. In the past, American soldiers have been covering down on Afghan kandaks, or brigades, to train all aspects of what that unit needed to function effectively. “Now we are shifting our lens to functions — critical functions,” he said.

Logistics and intelligence are two of these critical functions. Training now strives to connect kandaks through the chain of command to the Afghan Defense Ministry. “A lot of the Afghan units are functioning just fine,” Townsend said. But they do need things from outside the unit to perform best, he added.

Spare parts, replacements and intelligence sharing are examples of functions outside a unit that are critical to the unit’s success, he explained. “We’re trying to get the Afghans to push their intelligence down through channels to the unit that needs it,” he said. “We’re trying to make that pipe work.”

With logistics, the Afghans have no historical data to forecast what spares will be needed. As a result, they are still buying bulk parts. This is inefficient, the general said, because “you end up buying too many of one widget and too few of another.”

“They don’t have enough money to be inefficient and wasteful,” he added. “They have to be very efficient. We’re trying to help them maximize their bang for the buck.”

When Townsend speaks with U.S. and coalition troops, he said, they ask him about the status of the bilateral security agreement that would allow a continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan beyond this year. They also ask if the United States will leave a residual force in Afghanistan, and what it will do. “They may operate at the foxhole-and-rifle squad level, but they think at a national level,” he said.

The general said he believes Americans should know about the work his troopers are doing here.

“We lost a soldier, … and I read a post on the Internet from an American that said, ‘I thought we were out of there,'” Townsend said. “The American people need to know we are still here and doing the nation’s mission.”

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