Saturday, November 8, 2008

Under attack in Helmand:

Ben Anderson-BBC



Comment:

The Afghan National Army is pathetic. Watch episode 6 from 20:20 onwards which shows ANA soldiers getting high on opium during a break in the firefight - and the exit strategy of Nato depends on the same ANA holding the fort.

This is why the British Commander termed the war with Taliban 'unwinnable'.

They are just playing a cat & mouse game of attrition with Nato.

43 comments:

Zeemax said...

Pavo, what're your firsthand comments?

Majumdar said...

Meanwhile, sir, what are your comments on the brazen hijacking of the NATO vehicles near Khyber.

Regards

Zeemax said...

Majumdar,

You may be amused with this image:

http://express.com.pk/images/NP_LHE/20081111/Sub_Images/1100518502-1.jpg

Zeemax said...

... the link doesn't show properly. Anyway, you can find it on http://express.com.pk/

It is Taliban driving around in a Nato armored personnel carrier in Landi Kotal, with a banner draped around the front saying 'Caravan of Baitullah'.

I think it's just a matter of time till they get their hands on some ground to air capability, and that will be decisive.

Anonymous said...

zeemax, sorry if this is an ignorant question, but why do you think the militants don't have access to surface to air weapons? Is it because the CIA was successful in buying back all the Stinger missiles in the 90s?

Zeemax said...

Anonymous,

In fact this is a very good question. I can only guess what happened to all those stingers.

Remember Taliban were closely assisted and monitored by Pakistani military advisers during the anti-Soviet war. My best bet would be these were retrieved (either bought or otherwise) by Pakistani intelligence, and disappeared in the Ojhri Camp blast. Some say these were destroyed, others say the blast was to avoid handing these back to the Americans.

E.g Gen Hamid Gul says these were destroyed in the blast, while Gen Javed Nasir says they were removed before the blast.

If these still exist, they would be with Pakistani intelligence.

Majumdar said...

Zee sahib,

I am sure NATO and Pak Army will not be so lax with SAMs/Stingers and even at worst they can maybe get a few. Plus, I suppose both NATO and Pak planes/choppers wud have anti-Stinger measures (flares et al) already. There wud be a few casualties on the Allied side, but very doubtful if it could change the outcome. Real horror of course wud be if the Talibs used these Stingers against civilian planes in let's say around the Karachi airport for terror purpose.

Regards

Zeemax said...

Majumdar,

They will get surface to air capability only if someone gives it to them. They won't get it by raiding convoys.

Re "Real horror of course wud be if the Talibs used these Stingers against civilian planes ...", the distinctions between various groups within Taliban (good/bad Taliban if you like) are now becoming increasingly clear to the Pakistani public - going by the media commentaries and phone-ins.

Taliban do not target civilians. The sectarians do.

Did you know the suicide truck which blew up Islamabad Marriott came from Jhang?

Majumdar said...

Zee sahib,

only if someone gives it to them.

You are making an oblique hint here, I guess.

Who? NATO? Pak Army? Renegades from ISI? Indians-Iranians-Russians- one of the three?

Err, I wasnt aware of the Jhang link to Marriott, havent followed that story for some time. Btw, do you still put Baitullah as "good Taliban"?

Regards

Zeemax said...

Hello Majumdar,

Who? NATO? Pak Army? Renegades from ISI?

I don't know. Could be either Pak Army or some 3rd power - certainly not Nato and there're no renegades in ISI. Whatever they do is upon clear instructions.

I wasnt aware of the Jhang link to Marriott

There's a blog entry on this. Check this out.

do you still put Baitullah as "good Taliban"?

Yes I do. Particularly since when asked whether he was threatening Peshawar, his reply was "Peshawar is not Srinagar which we want to capture". :)

Can you read Urdu? I'm going to post a BBC Urdu report titled "Pakistani darhi wala ho ya clean shave, ander sey sab Taliban hain".

pavocavalry said...

the ANA is taking hashish not opium...which is OK , US soldiers are also taking hashish.....hashish is normal afghan passion.....however naturally many soldiers cannot reconcile with the fact that USA invaded afghanistan by force...this was a more naked aggression than USSR which entered Afghanistan to assist a regime ideologically allied to it,this contradiction will remain,when the time comes pastun soldiers will join hekmatryar or talibs and no pashtuns would remain what they are at heart ....jamiat of massoud or jumbish of dostam or the militia of mazari and khalili

pavocavalry said...

it must be noted that more than one state actor is assisting all anti US forces in afghanistan...china ...russia....even iran ( for some groups) cannot be ruled out....after all shindand,farah,zaranj and kandahar will be the main forward bases from where eastern iran will be attacked by USA in case of an attack on iran

pavocavalry said...

its a matter of time may be some months that the talibs may get SAMs as good as stingers...this is a possibility....if not 100 % then at least 50 %

islamabadobserver said...

Iran, Russia and Pakistan, all have improvised versions of Stingers.

Taliban would have got SAM's much earlier if any of the regional players was willing to go to such length.

Taliban will only get SAM's in case a US plan to attack Iran or Pakistan is actually implemented.

But then it might be some different Taliban as well.

Zeemax said...

pavocavalry,

Well ... opium or hashish, the point was what kind of a soldier gets stoned during a firefight? ANA doesn't have a hope in hell against Talibs with such an army.

I don't see any Pushtun soldier in these clips. They're all Northern Alliance Uzbeks/Tajiks.

"...when the time comes pastun soldiers will join hekmatryar or talibs and no pashtuns would remain what they are at heart ....jamiat of massoud or jumbish of dostam or the militia of mazari and khalili"

Can you clarify this? None of those you mention were Pushtuns, far as I know. Why would Pushtuns be Masoud, Dostum, Mazari, Khalili at heart?

Regards

Zeemax said...

islamabadobserver,

Iran, Russia and Pakistan, all have improvised versions of Stingers.


True. Pakistan's is Anza MK-1,MK-2, and MK-3 used at Kargill to shoot down the IAF Mi-8 Helicopter and a MiG-21. These are actually improved versions of Stinger.

But these are clearly identifiable as such. Maybe who ever gives the SAM capability would rather just hand over the couple of hundred unaccounted for Stingers from the Soviet/Afghan war.

Zeemax said...

... But then it might be some different Taliban as well.

Yes. There seems to be quite a cocktail there right now with different agendas.

pavocavalry said...

my dear zeemax, you are being subjective in this case,in serious discussion we have to be objective,how and on what ground can you say that there are no pashtuns in this video:--

appearance:-- appearance wise its difficult to distinguish a pashtun from non pashtun.all pashtuns speak good dari.

facts:--i have been researching on the afghan army since 1984.before 1992 some 60 % of the army were pashtuns.now after americans came some 35 to 38 % is pashtuns.there are some old pre 1992 officer also.i would say about 30 % ,officers are about 30 % pre 1992 PDPA or DRA cadre, 30 % mujahid cadre,30 % new entrants

hashish is a common afghan pastime.i know in pakistan army from 25 to 30 % officers smoke hashish or they did in zia era.i know at least four officers who became corps commander who smoke hashish.

now in strict military terms...an army acquires military virtue slowly...if the americans stay the afghan army will take about 5 to 10 years.if they go then the war will be fought with division of northern alliance and talibs+ hikmatyar....in this case this time the russians,indians and even iranians will physically aid the northern alliance.in military terms the northern alliance had good soldiers specially uzbeks...i would rate uzbeks as good as any pashtuns.....talibans were a new phenomenon with heavy aid from pakistan....note that in any future war the contest will be more tough with greater russian indian and iranian involvement and i think that russia will be the main gainer.

i am disappointed that you are stating my ideas as anti punjabi and anti pakistan whereas i have relied on strict historical evidence


note that emotional people like islamabad observer are not suitable for serious discussion....i did not publish this mans comments because he was levelling allegations and name calling rather than serious discussion.

my idea is that neither punjabis nor pashtuns are the chosen race and i have discussed this in great detail in my books.blogging is cheap but note that what i have on my blog is based on concrete references.since mr nadeem is using very under the belt language,unparliamentary language despite his claim that he is from a good family,i dont consider it appropriate to respond to his slanders,biased talk,polemical assertions and going down very low in dragging pashtuns daughters painting them as prostitutes...note that i am not linguistically a pashtun but my forefathers migrated from nimroz and ningrahar,the tragedy is that nadeem is missing the essential dimensions and resorting to very inappropriate language,unworthy of good background and education.rather disappointing since brigadier simon told me that this man is genuine.i have yet to see any genuine choice of words coming from our worthy associate islamabad observer.

pavocavalry said...

let me answer this anonymous man....the insurgents dont have SAMs...i have seen them under attack at least 20 times while working on my projects in helmand ( the area with heaviest fighting and in ghazni)....the talibs have no SAM capability.....where they downed helicopters it was either a mechanical failure or a direct RPG 7 hit very close range........all SAMS were bought back in between 1992 and 2000 and in between 2002 and 2006 under DRR program

pavocavalry said...

stingers are not kalshnikovs...this was a very specialised weapon and a very exact number were issued.however the issue is not SAM but infantry.NATO has little infantry so they cannot control ground.talibans have no SAMs so they cannot fight NATO in a pitched face to face battle.each NATO ground move is covered by air power in 5 minutes range.but NATO can patrol only and not occupy land permanently.talibans are getting aid from drug mafia,from UAE,from hongkong,from many places,i mean the money transfers.the situation can be understood after careful study.unsubstantiated allegations,name calling, calling peoples daughters prostitutes...brother this is not serious discussion.what i say is based on a study of military history spread over 33 years and five years stay in afghanistan.yes anybody who knows the net can become a self proclaimed strategist and OBSERVER in a night ,but it takes serious reflection,study,contemplation to see light of the day.when a man is young or is doing well he thinks he is aql i kul ....what he says is the divine gospel...thats not good...but then calling a man you dont agree with an american agent or working for dollars...thats very mediocre way of looking at things.I wish that all who discuss things on your blog can note these humble submissions for their future guidance.a vain hope.

pavocavalry said...

mr zeemax what i said was that if the USA withdraws pashtun soldiers would join hekmatyar or talibs and non pashtuns would go to jumbish (uzbek) , jamiat (tajik) , khalili (hazara) , a very simple assertion,however note that in an insurgency strange things can happen,loya;ties are divided,after all look at what happened to 7 baloch a good battalion of pakistan army in waziristan.....if you read brigadier ZA Khans book " the way it was" you will find that a very famous unit of punjab regiment bolted away from burki or bedian in 1965...here i must clarify for benefit of some self styled know alls on this site that the punjab regiment has pashtuns and punjabis both.

its all situational.but u must give credit to the ANA that its a new force raised just 5 years back.if seasoned armies like pakistan army ,US army,French can be rendered obsolete in guerrilla war as amply proved in waziristan,afghanistan etc then give some concession to the afghan army.i am not in favour of sweeping judgements but i fear that now your blog is getting infected with self styled know alls who have not studied or researched but resort to slander calumny and levelling very cheap allegations.

what i have tried is to present a factual analysis based on some humble research and observation.military history my dear sir is very complex.

Zeemax said...

Pavo,

... a very famous unit of punjab regiment bolted away from burki or bedian in 1965.

Haha pavo, even if this was true, please don't be so selective. It appears to be cherry-picking :)

The 13th century battles between Jalal ad-Din and the Gakhhar/Rajput tribes around Bahawalpur are legendary who could never occupy their lands. There's also a town near Bahawalpur (I forget the name) where it is said these tribes repelled Hulagu Khan as well when he came chasing after Jalal ad-Din. It may be a popular myth, but it is said the incidence of Hulagu's pushing his elephants off cliffs of Kashmir was in frustration over this very defeat.

You're very good at war history, so perhaps you could research these events. You tend to paint with a very wide brush :)

pavocavalry said...

mohtaram zeemax sahib

i must correct your facts with utmost respect.the gakhars fought ghauri in the area in between jhelum and indus and ghauri was assasinated by a gakhar and buried near gujjar khan.

if you have read my article on chillianwallah a famous british regiment 14th light dragoon bolted away.its all situational.this is not cherry picking sir.these are concrete histiorical examples cited to prove point.

i have stopped taking alchohol so last night also what i wrote was very serious discussion.

please note mohtaram that jalal uddin was from central asia and he did come to india.but the man who was following him was not hulagu but Genghis Khan.

Later the Mongols were repelled by Balbans policy of sett;ing turks near indus .

no disrespect was meant to you mohtaram.

please note that this man islamabad observer only knows name calling and labelling people " you are getting US Dollars" etc.This is not serious discussion.Granted that anyone can create a blog and become an expert ( sometimes self styled).

I am here for serious discussion.If someone can do it we can proceed.

with respect

agha

Zeemax said...

Mohtarim Pavo Sahib,

I can't find exact references on the event I mentioned. Who was the Mongol who pushed elephants off mountain passes of Kashmir? Helagu or Chingez? I mean that one.

Re "the gakhars fought ghauri in the area in between jhelum and indus and ghauri was assasinated by a gakhar and buried near gujjar khan.", that too perhaps, but do visit:

Mongol invasions of India

Quote:

Jalal ad-Din fought against the local rulers in the Punjab, who sported titles like Rana and Rai, and usually defeated them in the open but could not occupy their lands. At last he proposed an alliance with the Gakkhar chieftain of the Salt Range and married his daughter—the Gakkhar Rai’s son joined the Muslim army with his clansmen and received the title of Katlagh Khan.

Unquote.

Zeemax said...

Anyway, not to get tangled in back and forth over historical details, do you really believe, Sir Pavo, that Punjabis are cowards? It doesn't appear to be so at-least in case of the Gakhars, even though I think they're all from 'barani' lands :)

If you still maintain your view, then I'll need to dig out how many bravery awards Punjabis have in Pakistan Army and how many the other ethnic groups - even though you may dismiss those as well with charges of favoritism etc :)

Zeemax said...

Dear Pavo,

Your following contention is quite indefensible:

"... u must give credit to the ANA that its a new force raised just 5 years back.

5 years back? I thought they're next generation of the same Mujahideen of which Talibs too were a part. They have the same amount of combat tradition/experience as Talibs. It's just that the split occurred after Soviet withdrawal and one became Taliban and the other Northern Alliance - on purely ethnic and ideological grounds.

Do Talib's smoke Hashish during firefights? I don't think so.

I think Hazaras/Tajiks/Uzbek's are easily distinguishable by their central-Asian facial features - slitty eyes, flat face and so forth.

I have no doubt that none of the ANA soldiers in above particular clip is a Pushtoon.

pavocavalry said...

mr zeemax

this discussion is not about who is brave or about punjabis being the chosen race....i am not the google con man who googles and gets some facts and plays with them....my thesis is based on a careful study of history....do read my book mans role on history on the blog or pakistan army till 1965.....what we are doing now is what is called random discussion.......the jaangli kharrals of 1857 were numerically a very small minority..they were betrayed by the vast majority punjabi muslims, all local like fatianas , like lakhera kharrals of kamalia,like arains of sahiwal,like kianis rajas jats gujjars, so while ahmad khan kharral did well, his rebellion militarily smal in scale pacified by two battalions by the british ,the vast majority of punjabi muslims collaborated with british....now gallantry awards as a measure of gallantry..the vast majority of victoria cross were won by hindus and sikhs and not punjabi muslims or pathans or anyone although in second world war the punjabi muslims were in majority in fighting arms thanks to their loyalty to british....zee sahib this is serious historical discussion....i am not the google con man ....i have my facts well stated in research works and on record...what i write here is a fraction of that....with respects and regards

agha

Zeemax said...

Agha Sahib,

Let's not go back to 1857 or Victoria Crosses. Can we remain on commonly known recent history?

My question was - how many gallantry awards have Punjabis won in the Pakistan Army, and how many other ethnicities?

I know you're not a google (con?) man but a genuine military history buff with info not accessible even with google. Surely you would have this information readily at hand.

pavocavalry said...

gallantry awards in pakistan army have been awarded unfairly.this was the result of my research and discussion with various senior officers.

the gist for your benefit or anyone who is a serious reader (not people who have vulgar language and brand others as US agents or as selling their daughters to british ) is as following :--

1-Major Gen Tajammul who played key role at battle of lahore in 1965 is on record having stated that raja aziz bhatti did not deserve nishan i haidar.

2-in pakistan gallantry awards were awarded in a very parochial manner.no pashtun was awarded one till kargil.the system of citation writing by commanding officer and the preponderance of barani areas officers made the system very suspect.the brits were not from the barani areas and hence impartial.in pakistans case a great deal was party baazi.thus mian raza shah a pashtun despite great gallantry was not recommended since the commanding office abdul rehman was from chakwal...similar farooq afzal 0f 6 FF was not recommended at sulaimanke as his CO was non pashtun......having said that till 1971 all nishan i haidars were from north of chenab and west of indus...in 1971 one odd punjab minhas got a political nishan i haidar for morale boosting...again all nishan i haidars from 1971 were in between chenab and jhelum...not a single pashtun as all officers who recommended them at battalion and brigade levels were from in between chenab and jhelum......here there was interarm rivalry also and since most generals were from infantry most awards were given to infantry....the only pashtuns awarded NH were in musharraf era.....since musharraf was non punjabi and citation of karnal sher was given by indians not by javed hassan or mahmood ...and above all the very large number of soldiers at kargil were non punjabi from NLI being from northern areas....it is incomprehensible that no pashtun gets a NH in 1965 or 1971 despite the fact that they were in fighting arms in some 35 % ratio ?

we are 500 years behind europeans....we have the village clan mentality...this discussion can be very long and useful provided no vulgar google con man elements are allowed ....we have seen parochialism in the army my dear...very closely ...i am the fifth generation...father in army grandfather in ministry of defence his father in punjab police..his father in light cavalry and later punjab police and his father in the 8th light cavalry...this is a long story based on personal observations and research

just for your information my conclusions from history in brief were:--

1-there are not many differences in any race or religion.
2-there are no chosen people .any race or group or class can fight well or otherwise due to situational reasons.
3-in bravery its incorrect to say that any race or religion is more brave or less brave.its all situational.

pavocavalry said...

my dear mr zeemax...you dont understand military history is very specialised...please note dispassionately the following:--

1- an army is based on organisation.regiments , battalions,brigades,divisions.this was broken by the mujahids the hirelings of CIA,ISI,Saudi Intelligence with massive material and money.

2-afghan army as an organisation was destroyed.

3-this is a new army my dear sir.organisationally.it has the composition already stated.it will take some years to be on the road.

4-for your kind information my dear sir the talibs also smoke hasshish.its the national favourite of afghanistan.

pavocavalry said...

minhas was the only south of chenab punjabi who got nishan i haidar...here it was the law of the numbers...more nishan i haidars from areas where the soldiers were recruited ....nothing extra ordinary.....but not even the race in the army in 60 % strength gets 100 % nishan i haidar in 1965 and 1971 wars while pashtuns and ranghars about 35 % to 40 % get zero ? they only get these awards when there is hardly any punjabi unit in kargil and the army chief is non punjabi

Zeemax said...

Pavo,

So the gallantry awards were granted unfairly. Didn't I write you would say that in the earlier post? :)

Many people say Sarfaraz Rafiqui deserved a Nishan-e-Haider but was awarded an SJ. When I inquired into the reason, it seems he had disobeyed the command to return regardless of how gallant his action, so a Nishan-e-Haider citation could not be given.

I think there are many cases like that.

pavocavalry said...

in summing up since pakistan is educationally backward and the army dominated by the small village party baazi mentality gallantry awards in pakistan were awarded on defective basis..the indians were more intelligent...they awarded first two highest PVCs in 1965 to Havaldar Abdul Hameed and Colonel Tarapur a muslim and parsi.

having said that " its my conviction that gallantry awards are not necessarily a reflection of gallantry in entirety,there are other factors also"

Zeemax said...

Pavo,

... in bravery its incorrect to say that any race or religion is more brave or less brave.its all situational.

So the Martial Races theory is false? Are the Mehsuds/Wazirs the same as Bombay Memons in warfare?

pavocavalry said...

my dear sir zeemax,now this is discussion,good discussion.please note the fine distinctions now:--

1-In Indian Army since the officers writing recommendations were not from same village or district they were more fair.

2-since in pakistan army these were from same areas there were greater chances of favouring.

3-how is it that no punjabi except minhas from areas south of chenab was not awarded NH ?

4-no pashtun awarded NH in 1965 or 1971.

5-Rafiqui again was from south of chenab.

6-in any case till 1965 the country was army dominated so airforce had no chance.a case of inter service rivalry.

pavocavalry said...

by indian army i mean the british indian army.note that first indian VC was a punjabi muslim from jhelum.but then brits gave VCs to pashtuns also,to punjabis ,rajputs,marathas also.here in pakistan army we have a case of village district and caste parochialism.if you are a punjabi south of chenab u have less garains in the army and less chance of getting promoted unless the big boss is sindhi or non punjabi ! who selected zia the south of chenab punjabi? ZA Bhutto .Who selected Beg ? A Sindhi .Who selected Musahharaf? A Kashmiri.

pavocavalry said...

WHO SELECTED KARAMAT A SOUTH OF CHENAB PUNJABI ? BENAZIR !

WHO SELECTED KAKAR ?

A PASHTUN

ITS ALL VERY PAROCHIAL AND NAROW ?

pavocavalry said...

yes my dear zeemax sahib...here is what i have said and you missed understanding it....there is no martial race theory...its all situational...the wazir is more tough because he lives in bad terrain,in hard conditions...if u r born in bombay its a relaxed place....but in bombay the hill maratha is more tough.....the sikhs became tough because they were persecuted too much by mughals.....all SITUATIONAL ....circumstances my dear sir

pavocavalry said...

martial races theory was an imperial gimmick....the vietnamese...the tamils......the kashmiris ( initially branded as docile) all proved it wrong...look at bangladesh...its army is as good as any martial race army......

pavocavalry said...

now u talk of bombay memons....general mitha the founder of SSG Commandos was a bombay memon.....daud ibrahim is a memon.....a bold man certainly....and a big name in the underworld...all situational....circumstances...no chosen people.....no martial race.....all depends on various factors

Zeemax said...

Agha Sahib,

....no martial race....all depends on various factors.

Now we seem to be getting somewhere.

Why is it that Sikhs comprise of a vastly disproportionate number in Indian Army as compared to their share in India's population? And, why is it that the British empire's most elite regiments were of Gurkhas?

What other various factors would cause their preference in recruitment over all others? I'm really curious.

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