Tag Archives: Logistics

Afghan Right Data Storage

Maybe this is Ali Mohd Kamil’s* idea of a filing system.  Since sinks are the prefered bathing venue (on the rare occasion when a bath is desired), the shower is a huge waste of space. . . until now.

Plenty of surplus space. . .

According to a U.S. official that may or may not desire to remain anonymous, this is “[Afghan] Government records storage at the Ministry of Interior.”  Continuing, he says:

Yes, these are showers;
No, the water has not been turned off; and
Yes, water drips from the shower heads.

Perhaps the record of U.S. involvement can be washed from the Afghan records if not the collective memory of the residents and our economy. 

. . . but it may be tough to find that “one” document.

The U.S. has thought of other document storage options.  But for $12 Billion, you would think someone would have thought of buying a file cabinet.

*Ali Mohd Kamil is an apparent Afghan entrepreneur that has posted a couple of shameless requests for work on other pages of this site.

Lessons Ignored, Part II: Who needs doctrine?

Maybe I’ve overreached concerning the importance of doctrine.  Apparently the success of the United States’ military is not because of a well understood core of doctrine but because of our disregard for it:

One of the serious problems in planning the fight against American doctrine, is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.

–From a Soviet Junior Officer’s Notebook

NTM-A is following this doctrinal anarchy to the letter.  Some years ago, doctrine was written for the ANSF.  Since that time, hoards of Americans, Europeans, and other supporters have flooded the country (6-12 months at a time) and not only disregarded that doctrine but layered their own view of how an Army (or Police) ought to run.  Given the disdain the average soldier has for doctrine, their view of how things run is unlikely to be anything similar to anyone else, even if from the same background!

So instead of following any doctrine (good, bad, or indifferent), we train them from the beginning to disregard it and “fight on the fly.”  This probably works satisfactorily for the Taliban, Mujahideen, Hakkani Network, and warlords. 

Given the precedent  for new militaries, the entire U.S. effort will collapse under its own weight without a well established and understood doctrine forming the principles and common language from which all forces can operate (see FM 3.0, Appendix D).

Ranger graveyards swelling in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is taking it to the Rangers.  Not the U.S. Army Rangers or the Texas Rangers but the Ford Ranger.  Unfortunately, many of them are ending up in vehicle graveyards.  Maybe this is a method for improving the mineral wealth of Afghanistan:
Any redneck would be proud of this boneyard.  If your Ford ever needs a part, you’ll probably be able to find it in Afghanistan.

If you ever wondered how Ford Motor Company survived without the bail-outs given to GM and Chrysler, it may have had something to do with the sky-rocketing demand.  At $50,000 for a crewcab and $30,000 for a 2-door, it doesn’t take much uptick in business to keep the balance sheet in the black–even if the product was built in Thailand.

According to BG Tim Ray, the Afghans have suitable “stick and rudder” skills.  Unfortunately, their ‘wheel and brake’ skills aren’t quite as advanced.

Bubba could retrofit this for his parts hauler. . . too late

Not to be left out, the Afghans haven’t had much success driving International Harvesters either.  But there aren’t quite as many to wreck, so their numbers are a little lower. 

Of course, every boneyard must be colocated with a bar–it keeps supply AND demand booming.

Honky-tonk on a box:  Just add neon

Southern Afghanistan Economics:  Combine a drinking establishment with a boneyard and Class IV yard and you have a recession-proof business.

How do you say “Bubba” in Dari?

Bureaucracy successfully implemented in Afghanistan

As inconceivable as it may be, Afghans could teach our politicians (and military) a thing or two about bureaucracy.  Imagine requiring the Secretary of Defense’s signature to purchase this truckload of supplies. 

The $2,000 of building materials required 26 signatures and was ultimately bottom-lined by the Afghan Minister of Defense.  A similar amount of supplies purchased by the U.S. government is regarded as a micro-purchase and could be signed-off by an E-5 with a government-issued credit card!

NTM-A and IJC may struggle getting the ANSF to build terrain models and use Port-o-lets and HMMWV‘s properly, but there is no problem developing multi-layered hierarchies and worthless flow-charts that inhibit real work while promoting ample opportunities for corruption.

Professionals talk logistics, Part II

In what has become a recurring theme, fielding the logistics and support units (the ones that take the longest to train) after the combat troops goes against lessons learned from Vietnam and beyond.  So it doesn’t take a genius to predict that building these vital enablers for the Afghan National Army will be a challenge.

NTM-A dubbed 2011 “The Year of the Enabler”  which is reflected in the “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan April 2011.” Page 14 of the report states that the priorities for 2011 include, “the development of key enablers, such as intelligence, logistics, fire support,
airlift, and engineer units.”

When the combat troops are fielded before the support, it would only be natural that they become reliant on ad hoc methods of self-support and will inherently not trust other sources.  Page 27 of the same report states,

The ANA logistics system remains heavily reliant on coalition support. Because of this, ANA logistics capability is a major focus for 2011.  NTM-A/CSTC-A and MoD are working on a logistics strategy that addresses structure, policy, training, acquisition/procurement, supply, maintenance, distribution, and logistics automation.

With the coalition providing nearly all support, there is minimal motivation to exercise and use a new system that will undoubtedly trip and stumble during the early stages of development.

Still “working on a logistics strategy?”  Combine that with “. . . MoD continu[ing] to implement new policies and processes in personnel and logistics systems” (p. 21), establishing a self-sufficient Afghan National Army will be elusive.

Professionals talk logistics

Having ordered an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in December 2009, President Obama has now ordered the “Surge Recovery,”  the first 10,000 troops home by the end of December and another 20,000 home by the end of September 2012. 

This follows the plan to end the combat mission by 2014 while shifting to an advisor-only mission.  Recently though, there has been talk of even moving-up the mission-shift to 2012.

Amateurs talk tactics; Professionals talk logistics.  –GEN Omar Bradley

And there is the recent discovery by the media that we need to get logistics right for the Afghan Army (and Afghan National Security Forces at large):  Afghan Army’s next hurdle: logistics.  This is no surprise to anyone familiar with the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, FM 3-24.  A significant lesson learned in Vietnam was that logistics are should be among the first things established in a COIN environment. 

Disregarding the FM 3-24, our military leaders consciously decided to field Afghan combat units first choosing to delay the logistics support elements.  A post on the NTM-A website from November, 2010 states, “For the past year, the focus was on increasing the number of ANA infantry-centric soldiers. Having exceeded this year’s goal, the mission now includes fielding the enablers and professionalizing the force.”  

I think that in the 2007-2008 period, the U.S. political pressure was mounting that there “weren’t enough Afghans dying for their country” or something to that effect.  The “United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan National Security Forces” report to Congress for FY2008 states on page 88:

The ANA is continuing to grow at an accelerated rate, focusing on infantry-centric forces to provide immediate security-capable boots-on-the-ground, while consciously delaying development of many of the combat support and combat service support enabler units until a later date.

So, the logistics are just getting up and running and we are leaving–sounds about right.  No need to look for intelligent life here.

Slaughterhouse Five

What is a war without a slaughterhouse?  There happens to be an active Afghan National Army (ANA) slaughterhouse in Kabul (and a new one planned) in contrast to the slaughterhouse that sets the stage for the Kurt Vonnegut novel.  The stories do, however, converge around the out-of-this-world plots and characters. 

The Washington Post highlights the need for improving ANA logistics with a focus on the ANA slaughterhouse in the article ‘Slaughterhouse dude’ Chris Hart reflects changing U.S. role in Afghanistan.   A couple questions:

  1. Since the ANA is mostly fielded, why is demand growing?
  2. With “dudes” like this in the war-zone, who needs troops?
  3. Why are we doing this now?

The WaPo article cites this as a necessary step in making the ANA self-sufficient: “[T]he ability of these forces to master the logistics of supplying and sustaining themselves — to keep, for example, the water buffaloes flowing — is perhaps their biggest obstacle to self-sufficiency.”  But the ANA doesn’t raise the livestock, they buy it off the street like the countless other butcher shops in Kabul and everywhere else in Afghanistan.  And are plastic-handled boning knives and band saws more sustainable than hatchets and tree-trunk chopping blocks (or even dwarves climbing into water buffalo cavities)?

According to GEN Petraeus’ own FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency Field Manual, logistics should be among the first things established.  We’ve now established an army (and a police for that matter) that has minimal logistics capability, relies nearly completely on U.S. support, and we are now pulling out of the country. 

 Sounds like novels filled with lessons to re-learn.