COIN Colonel: Changing Religious Mindset Not a Realistic Goal in Afghanistan
by DIANA WEST
November 23, 2011
It happened again. There we were, going from one happy-dappy government account of COIN success in Sangin District at DVIDS --
With the use of counter insurgency operations, or COIN, the Marines are finding new ways to remove the insurgent networks from areas and assisting local villages in creating the peace the people of this area desire.
“We’re going to go out there and get with the people…the population is the objective,” said 3rd Recon Bn. Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Travis Homiak ....
-- to another happy-dappy government account of COIN success in Garmsir, Helmand Province, at DVIDS, which reports on a similar uptick in tips from locals that lead Marines to IEDS and weapons caches, when the dark side of reality intruded, for a brief moment, like a rain cloud passing the sun.
Even as Marines go above and beyond even the call of COIN -- helicoptering local elders to the Marine base to hold shuras for them??? ("There is only so much we can do for the people," said an Afghan partner-commander, a little incredulousness perhaps showing through) -- even as Recon Marines go Oprah for the cause (Afghans “just want somebody to talk to. Once you get them to open up and they get to tell you ... how bad their lives are, the Marines lend them an empathetic ear. So, we’ve gotten a lot out of being nice to people.”), there is doubt lurking ahead in a second DVIDS story.
Noting a dramatic decrease in violence and an improvement in the capabilities of Afghan forces around Garmsir, Lt. Col. Sean Riordan offers his COIN explanation, echoing that of his brother officer in Sangin (who is all about "going to go out there and get with the people…the population is the objective”).
“Instead of focusing on 400 IEDs, we focused on the Afghan people,” said Lt. Col. Sean Riordan, 1/3 battalion commander and a native of Montclair, Va.
And how. In discussing the overall wonderfulness of the Helmand locals in a by-now familiar account of how frequently Afghans are, once again, tipping off Marines to the locations of IEDs and weapons caches, we learn, once again, what that focus looks like.
Hold onto your wallet.
Garmsir’s infrastructure, compared to a year ago, is ‘night and day,’ according to battalion leaders, and that thought is echoed by local government officials. More than 40 schools are functional within the district and more than 10 are ready to move into permanent buildings. Thousands of kilometers of canals have been cleared and cleaned, improving the efficiency of irrigation throughout the district.
District Governor Mohammad Fahim visited Safar and Durzay for the first time, an area recently cleared during 2/1’s deployment. A government outreach center has been approved for construction in Safar, which will promote local resident’s involvement with their government and increase regular visits by government officials.
All major bazaars have received electric street lamps and road improvements. Multiple mosques have received refurbishments and more than five shura halls have been approved for construction.
More than five bridges have been constructed over major canals to connect rural communities to bazaars. Every week, thousands of local people flock to the bazaars from across Helmand province to participate in the growing commerce. ...
“I think the acceptance from the local communities is the most important thing,” Riordan said. “It comes from all the hard work and sacrifice of the Marines… it’s the number one thing that has helped progress move forward.”...
It's called baksheesh, Lt. Col. Payola. It's part of the massive national disgrace known as US foreign policy, which is no more than a criminally irresponsible and out-of-control campaign of bribery on a global scale to make them like us -- win COIN's hearts and minds -- and do what we want them to (function like Switzerland -- or maybe Swaziland).
“A year ago, I don’t think anyone expected the [ANA] to be holding down their own patrol bases and conducting unilateral operations that were planned by their company commanders and supported by their own battalion,” Riordan said. “Even seven months ago, I don’t think anybody would have told us that we would have more than 90 percent of the Afghan Uniformed Police allotted task force. That is a huge step forward.”
For the Marines of 1/3, this deployment held a number of unexpected turns, including deploying early. But the unexpected decrease of insurgent activity has allowed them to vastly improve the quality of ANSF and quality of life for local people in Garmsir.
Maybe these locals have figured out, as Hamid Karzai has, thepluses to American stupidity, I mean, occupation In arguing for continuing so-called partnership with the US this week, Karzai said,"We will benefit from this. Our soldiers will be trained. Our police will be trained. We will benefit from their money.”
“Continued mentorship is important because there has been a lot of blood and sweat poured into the district from British, Marine and Afghan forces,” Grace said. “There has been a lot of progress made and we can’t let the Afghans fail. We have to reinforce their success. Everything isn’t going to be squared away, right off the bat. But we will still be here to reinforce their successes, just like you would with anything when building from the bottom up.” ...
“Eliminating the insurgent threat requires change in a deeply rooted mindset of people who are religiously motivated,” Riordan said. “I don’t know if that is a realistic goal for Afghanistan. Afghanistan has to find a way to reintegrate the people who used to be [insurgents], bring them back in to the fold and make them part of society again. The religious community is an important part of the community in Garmsir that is never going to change.”
The light dawneth. Too bad the COIN orthodoxy always snuffs it out.