Daily Archives: October 8, 2011

Lessons Ignored

The Counterinsurgency Field Manual, written by Generals Petraeus and Amos, contains lessons learned from past counterinsurgencies.  One such lesson is cited below in its entirety:

Building a Military: Sustainment Failure

By 1969, pressure was on for U.S. forces in Vietnam to turn the war over to the host nation in a process now known as Vietnamization.  While assisting South Vietnamese military forces, the United States armed and equipped them with modern small arms, communications, and transportation equipment—all items produced by and sustained from the U.S. industrial base.  This modern equipment required an equally sophisticated maintenance and supply system to sustain it.  Sustaining this equipment challenged the South Vietnamese economically and culturally, despite the training of several thousand South Vietnamese in American supply and maintenance practices.  In short, the American way of war was not indigenously sustainable and was incompatible with the Vietnamese material culture and economic capabilities.  South Vietnam’s predominately agrarian-based economy could not sustain the high-technology equipment and computer based systems established by U.S. forces and contractors.  Consequently, the South military transformation was artificial and superficial.  Many South Vietnamese involved in running the sustainment systems had little faith in them.  Such attitudes encouraged poor administration and rampant corruption.  After U.S. forces left and most U.S. support ended, the logistic shortcomings of the supposedly modern South Vietnamese military contributed to its rapid disintegration when the North Vietnamese advanced in 1975.

From:  U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual, 3-24, p. 8-10 (176/282), Univ. Chicago (2007). 

Courtesy of RJR.

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The once and future Afghan Air Force, Part II

A new apron has been completed at Shindand Air Base, the training hub for the Afghan Air Force (AAF).   Other than providing another great photo of the Soviet-built AAF aircraft graveyard, the article adds some confusion to the Shindand picture. 

The Soviet lawn-darts at Shindand: The "Crown Jewel" of the Soviet-built AAF.

Shindand Air Base is divided into east and west sides, the west side being the AAF side and the East side being the Coalition (predominantly US) side of the base. 

Clarity through the haze at Shindand Air Base

According the the NTM-A blog’s post, “New rotary wing apron helps make Shindand the “crown jewel” of the Afghan Air Force,” “The apron, approximately 112,000 [square] meters in size, has the ability to park 18 UH-60 Blackhawks, 14 CH-47 Chinooks and 10 AH-64 Apache helicopters. The apron will be used as a staging and servicing area for units belonging to Task Force Spearhead which also operates out of Shindand.”

The AAF doesn’t have any Blackhawks, Chinooks, or Apaches and Task Force Spearhead a unit of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade of the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.  In addition to being on the coalition side of the airfield, the apron is also inaccessible to the newly arrived (fixed-wing) aircraft.  So it is tough to see how this will be of any immediate benefit to the AAF.  

Bottom line:  The new apron may be the crown jewel of U.S. aviation at Shindand, but until the AAF can park their lawn darts on it, it won’t be much use to them.