Totally insane!  WHAT are we thinking?  The New York Times exposé of Afghan contractors guarding our military bases is beyond anything stupid.  We are wasting billions of dollars a year in a war that has no goals and we have given the fox the keys to the hen house. 

According to the New York Times:

Afghan private security forces with ties to the Taliban, criminal networks and Iranian intelligence have been hired to guard American military bases in Afghanistan, exposing United States soldiers to surprise attack and confounding the fight against insurgents, according to a Senate investigation.

The Pentagon’s oversight of the Afghan guards is virtually nonexistent, allowing local security deals among American military commanders, Western contracting companies and Afghan warlords who are closely connected to the violent insurgency, according to the report by investigators on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The United States military has almost no independent information on the Afghans guarding the bases, who are employees of Afghan groups hired as subcontractors by Western firms awarded security contracts by the Pentagon. At one large American airbase in western Afghanistan, military personnel did not even know the names of the leaders of the Afghan groups providing base security, the investigators found. So they used the nicknames that the contractor was using — Mr. White and Mr. Pink from “Reservoir Dogs,” the 1992 gangster movie by Quentin Tarantino. Mr. Pink was later determined to be a “known Taliban” figure, they reported.

In another incident, the United States military bombed a house where it was believed that a Taliban leader was holding a meeting, only to discover later that the house was owned by an Afghan security contractor to the American military, who was meeting with his nephew — the Taliban leader.


Enough.  Every American must read this article for his or her self.  I don’t like knee jerk reactions but this story reveals a mismanagement beyond the pale.  I don’t even know who to be angry at. 

Why are we in Afghanistan?  I asked this question with a group of like minded friends yesterday, before I knew this article existed.  They all sort of looked at me with a blank stare on their respective faces.   We never got past going over there to kill Bin Laden.  Ten years later, Bin Laden is still alive and kicking and probably not in Afghanistan.  And 5 reasonably intelligent adults did not know why we were in Afghanistan. 

This bit of trivia ought to curdle your blood:

There are more than 26,000 private security employees in Afghanistan, and 90 percent of them are working under United States government contracts or subcontracts. Almost all are tied to the militias of local warlords and other powerful Afghan figures outside the control of the American military or the Afghan government, the report found.

The contracting firms are now hiring active-duty members of the Afghan military and security forces, the investigators found, further undermining the efforts by the United States to help Afghanistan build a stronger military that can take on the Taliban insurgency on its own.

Didn’t we learn from the Soviet experience?  Why do we want to nation build in an inhospitable country that has centuries upon century of backwardness and tribal conditioning in its history?  It won’t work.  For the billions that are being spent there, we would be better off beefing up security here.  This entire story sickens me.  The fat cats are getting fatter and the American people are chumps.  Patrtiotism my ass.  Get out of Afghanistan.  Not one more American life needs to be lost.  This article truly sickens me.  The Fox really is guarding the hen house.


14 Thoughts to “WHAT are we thinking? The Fox Guards the Hen House in Afghanistan”

  1. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Dude, the whole Afghanistan/Pakistan/Diarrheastan thing has gotten so bad lately…..I mean so god-awful bad, that I don’t see what’s wrong with just getting the heck out of there. All we had to do was go in, waste everyone, and come home. But NOOOOO, we had to stick around and try to prove we could succeed where everyone has failed for the last couple thousand years. Well, here we are. Real pretty, isn’t it?

  2. What is the stated objective?

    I cannot imagine turning overe the security of the bases to the locals. Those are the ones trying to blow up our troops.

    What I missed in the article is who the policy maker has been in all this.

  3. The bad guys are winning because the locals know that we’ve surrendered. That is why Karzai is attempting to negotiate with the Taliban. Obama’s need to leave as soon as possible because he has no intention of winning is a self-fulfilling prophecy of loss.

    I would have respected Obama more if he had been honest and said, “I think this war is misguided and we’re leaving. Now.” I still would have hammered him, but at least our men would have been pulled out, instead of this charade that he is conducting with our soldier’s lives. HE was the one that called Afghanistan the necessary war, all the while he was intending to cut and run.

    Either fight to win or get out.

  4. I don’t think Obama is a bit worse than Bush. He might even be tougher. He just doesn’t run his mouth as much. Bush was all in to the heart and mind. He lacked what it took to be a war president. He had compassion. I don’t think compassion and war are compatible.

    Cargo, I think you are letting your dislike of Obama color your objectivity here. I don’t think he has cut and run. Not even close.

  5. George S. Harris

    Moon, I have been saying for a looonnngg time now that we should be out of Afghanistan. This statement form the trivia piece says a lot:

    “Almost all are tied to the militias of local warlords and other powerful Afghan figures outside the control of the American military or the Afghan government, the report found.”

    What we still don’t understand after nearly 10 years is that Afghanistan is a tribal nation and has been for at least 5,000 years. While it might no be fair to say that eveyone in Afghanistan owes fealty so someone more lpowerful, it is not far off the mark. Read any book or article about Afghanistan and this becomes readily apparent. And that is only the beginning. Here is an article from WaPo about a “colonel” is the Afghan Border Patrol who is “The Boss” in Spin Boldak and in order to keep the peace in the area we are forced to accept his way of doing business although we say we are trying to reform him:

    The article is very telling. The “colonel” is 32 years old and illiterate. Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. At least 50% of the men and 90% of the women are illiterate. Although I can no longer find the article, another writer noted that perhaps half of the Afghan officers are illiterate and almost all of the enlisted men are. Chances are that a policeman who stops you and asks for your papers cannot read them. Although the Quran is their most revered religious document, almost no one can read it!

    Illiteracy is one of the many things that makes training an Afghan army extremely difficult. The other primary issue is “squeeze”. What is “squeeze”? It is as old as mankind–you want a favor? I can get itfor you–for a price. You need help negotiating with someone or help settling a dispute? I can help you–for a price. You need security guards for your base? I will hire them for you but they will pay me for the privilege of getting a job–you just won’t know it.

    Fighting in Afghanistan is not how we build security here at home–ETERNAL VIGILANCE is how we build security. Fighting in Afghanistan is only bleeding us to death–literally and figuratively. A billion dollars a month, and roughly a million dollars per service person per year to keep our folks there. And in the meantime over in Iraq, our non-combatant folks are being killed and wounded by non-combatant bombs and bullets.

    Hello America! Is there anybody home? Why are we not outraged? Why are we not marching on Washington? These are invisible wars–except, of course, to someone who loses a loved one to the wars.

  6. e

    we are not outraged because there is a democrat in the white house. the hypocrisy of the left is blatant

  7. Wolverine

    Unfortunately, “eternal vigilance” at home keeps running into disputed interpretations of our constitutional rights versus the need to keep safe. Tyrannies have the potential capability to build nearly seamless internal security. Unfortunately, democracies, whether a republic or direct, are very vulnerable, often made so by the very concepts of personal freedom which they hold so dear, not to mention that we as a people can get very uncomfortable when called upon to do the difficult things which are required for top-notch internal security. Just on this blog I have seen Emma rail against the security measures imposed at our airports and Marinm tell us that he would tell any police officer who asked for identification to go pound constitutional sand. Moe Davis had the guts to leave a top military prosecution job (some opine even getting a star on his collar) because he felt, apparently, that the process in Gitmo was being slanted away for absolute judicial fairness. This is not criticism. It is just the way of a people who hold constitutional freedom as one of the most important parts of their existence. In my opinion, our freedom is often at one and the same time our greatest strength and our greatest defensive weakness.

    There is little I can say to dispute what George Harris presented concerning the conflict in Afghanistan. I am getting as weary of the negatives as George has become. And I fear that our troops on the ground are going to find themselves in the same psychological wilderness in which I found myself in Vietnam prior to medevac. One of my duties was to patrol periodically by small boat the LST landing basin and adjoining river mouth areas at Cua Viet. Cua Viet was a small Marine base and an absolute hell hole of a place to draw duty. On one side of the river were Marines dug into the sand. On the other was the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ between North and South Vietnam. The DMZ was a joke. It was there from whence came the North Vietnamese sappers trying to attack our ships and boats and the RPG gunners and mortar teams zeroing in on the Marines in their little base (the Marine mess hall was destroyed three times by incoming rockets). The DMZ was nothing to them — and sometimes we also violated it to strike back at specific targets harassing our troops.

    There was a day on river patrol when the Marine base at Khe San was undergoing one its periodic assaults by North Vietnamese troops. We had all the tac radios on in the heavily armed patrol boat. The big guns of the 7th Fleet crusiers were blasting away in the direction of Khe San, and you could hear the shells zipping inland. Choppers carrying the Marine wounded were criss-crossing overhead, taking casualties out to the hospital ship Repose. Over one of our tac radios came the gruff voice of what could only have been a grizzled Marine sergeant at Khe San. He then broke into a long sob of agony when someone on the the Repose answered his anxious query by telling him that his wounded buddy had not made it.

    I was the only officer in that boat. At hearing that Marine break into sobs, some of those sailors with me, armed with Thompson submachine guns and grenades and manning a .30 cal on the bow, looked over at me with curious expressions. They said nothing. But the thoughts which went through my mind startled me. We were citizens of one of the world’s greatest superpowers. We had the sheer power to destroy a nation like North Vietnam ten times over, but we held back and fought the war on a lesser but still bloody scale. I am in a small patrol boat between the Marines and the DMZ and wondering if a sniper in the shore might at that moment be taking a bead on me. At that very minute I felt like the politicians in Washington cared not a wit about us or the Marines or anyone else out there. We were fodder for their crazy plans for fighting a war without really fighting a war to win. One by one we could become bloody sacrifices to geopolitical aims and strategy. And at that moment, I (and probably those sailors also) decided that the only thing to do was to try to survive this individually in one piece and go home.

    I just pray to God that we do not do this to our men and women in Afghanistan. I hope that they do not come to believe that we have put them out there as fodder and that, once again, we are not fully intent on using every means we have to win.

    As a former counterterrorist operative, I know how vulnerable our democracy is if we depend only on internal security. No defense is impermeable. We are fallible men, not infallible gods. The enemy will have his moments when he slips through our defenses and kills a great number us, mostly the innocents, no matter how good we get. We were lucky, purely lucky, on Christmas Day 2009 and in Times Square this year. We will not always be so lucky. Fort Hood showed us that in the starkest of terms.

    In Afghanistan andf Pakistan, as well as in Yemen, Somaliia, the Mahgreb, and elsewhere, we have an implacable foe. To my way of thinking, we cannot depend only on our defenses. We have to go into the central lair of the serpents and slay them, or this battle may never end. But, as George has quite accurately put it, we have in Afghanistan a very difficult battle scene and one which tends to lead you toward despair. Yet, we have to go through that scene to finally reach the lair of the serpent-in-chief. Quite frankly, I don’t know how to do that right now, unless we could send a massive wave of military to overrun the place and give us at least for a time unimpeded access to do the necessary in the serpent-in-chief’s lair. But, alas, we have neither the military numbers nor, it would seem to me once again, the political will to do this and do it conclusively. And now it appears to me that we may decide to leave that place and just sit back and wait for the enemy to strike again at home…and hope we are good enough and lucky enough — time after time after time after time.

  8. George S. Harris

    We weren’t outraged when George Bush was in the White House–duh! So all of a suddent it is President Obama’s fault? What planet did you come from? According to Bush, if you didn’t support his screwball idea, you were the enemy right along with ObL.

  9. George S. Harris

    Thanks Wolverine–perhaps some more tomorrow bur right now, this old phart is tired.

  10. George S. Harris


    Wolverine—I have picked out some things to comment on. I really appreciate the story you told about your experience in Vietnam—I hope readers appreciate this sharing of such a deep personal experience.

    At that very minute I felt like the politicians in Washington cared not a wit about us or the Marines or anyone else out there. We were fodder for their crazy plans for fighting a war without really fighting a war to win. One by one we could become bloody sacrifices to geopolitical aims and strategy. And at that moment, I (and probably those sailors also) decided that the only thing to do was to try to survive this individually in one piece and go home.

    I just pray to God that we do not do this to our men and women in Afghanistan. I hope that they do not come to believe that we have put them out there as fodder and that, once again, we are not fully intent on using every means we have to win.”

    Aren’t we already doing this to our troops? Some of them are on their fourth or fifth rotation. The rate of suicides keeps climbing despite the best efforts of the services and the same can be said for PTSD. The Soviets lost 14,453 killed and 53,753 were wounded, injured, or sustained concussion and 415,932 were felled by illness and disease (what we call DNBI-Disease/Non-battle Injury). In 1841, 690 British soldiers, 2,840 Indian soldiers and 12,000 followers were killed or in a few cases taken prisoner. The 44th Foot lost 22 officers and 645 soldiers, mostly killed. So far we have had 1,323 killed, including 307 IED deaths. As of June 2010, 7,266 had been wounded. And still no one is up in arms.

    If you haven’t read Sebastian Junger’s “War”, I recommend it—you will see the seamy side of the war from the infantry point of view. As you know, Junger is a highly respected war correspondent.

    In Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in Yemen, Somalia, the Mahgreb, and elsewhere, we have an implacable foe.

    Yes, we do but the part that we have failed to recognize on a larger scale is that we are part of the enemy. The peoples of this part of the world are extremely tribal and have no trust whatsoever of outsiders. Top that off with the religious factor that rails about our “occupation” of their holy land and the longer we are there, the more we solidify that feeling. Pogo said it best, “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

    The one country not mentioned is Saudi Arabia. These duplicitous bastards must have as many arms as an octopus—they shake our hand with one hand, pick our pockets with another, transfer money to insurgents with another and all they time they smile—but they don’t show us the soles of their shoes.

    Quite frankly, I don’t know how to do that right now, unless we could send a massive wave of military to overrun the place and give us at least for a time unimpeded access to do the necessary in the serpent-in-chief’s lair. But, alas, we have neither the military numbers nor, it would seem to me once again, the political will to do this and do it conclusively.

    If by the “serpent-in-chief”, you mean Osama bin Laden, I don’t believe we will ever find him. And as to “political will”, we don’t have a Congress who knows the meaning of the term and neither does President Obama nor did George Bush. Dick Cheney may have but his tactics were abhorable. The Soviets proved there are not enough soldiers—they had roughly 106,000 there at any one time and more than 620,000 there over the 10 years they tried to bring Afghanistan to its knees. Between the British, and us we have more than 109,000 troops there and I am not so certain we can say we are winning. As long as Pakistan has a porous border and allows the Taliban and al Qaeda to seek refuge there, we cannot subdue them. I don’t know why we haven’t declared Pakistan to be a rogue state, except they have nuclear weapons and some nut might just be more than willing to use them against us. Short of the disciplined use of some tactical nuclear weapons I don’t think there is any military way to win. If we know where Iraq’s nuclear facilities are, perhaps a well-placed tactical weapon would show them the error of their ways. I am reading, “The Last Train from Hiroshima”, which brings this idea to mind. It took this kind of action to stop Japan—perhaps it would work in Iran. In addition, perhaps we should consider the same action in Tehran and maybe even Islamabad. I’ve played war games like this, but it was a long time ago.

    Somewhere along the way, beginning with Korea, we lost the will to win. Perhaps it was the effects of all that happened in World War II that took the steel out of our spine. Or perhaps it is rapid communications that allows everyone from the Commander-in-Chief on down to communicate directly with the troops in the field that has made them believe they know how to prosecute a war. Look at what our generals must go through today—testify before Congress at every little whim, meet with the President on the same kinds of whims and kowtow to just about anyone who insists on it. Our generals have been emasculated by the President, Congress and the American public. They are eunuchs serving in a five-sided harem.

    So we will limp along, let our men and women be killed until have sufficient numbers to justify another memorial on the National Mall and we will live with the social and economical consequences for decades to come.

  11. Wolverine

    George, #10 is a most thought-provoking post. I’m beginning to think that you may be right and I may be wrong when you speak of the current state of play amongst our troops in Afghanistan. And, I am telling you, my friend, that really depresses me. For one thing, I just cannot get that upward spike in troop suicides out of my mind.

    Your post immediately brought to mind a couple of pieces I’ve seen recently about troop disgruntlement over the very difficult (possibly even suicidal) rules of engagement under which our people have had to fight during the past year. Can I ever relate to that. We spent some time in operational control of a fleet of Swift Boats trying to prevent an influx of Soviet and Chinese weapons by sea to the Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta. I got a radio call from a Swift skipper telling me he had spotted a unit of heavily armed VC on the beach and requesting permission to go on the attack. We had to go by radio to the Swift control base and then to Saigon and back out to the regional and then district and sub-district land-based units for verification that the Swift skipper was actually looking at VC on the beach. We finally got confirmation of what the Swift guys were looking at and official permission to launch an attack. The only problem was that the permission arrived a week later. When I radioed that message to the Swift skipper, I think we both had the same reaction, which can only be described as: WTF!! Is this any kind of way to win a war?

    I was glad to see that you included Korea in that paragraph about the lack of a will to win. To tell you the truth, when I was writing my piece I had you in mind, not just in Chu Lai but also in Korea as a corpsman with the Marines. I had just finished genealogical research on a relative of mine who may well have been with you in Korea in a sense. He was a young lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, a fighter/bomber pilot in the 8th Fighter Bomber Group of the 80th Fighter Bomber Squadron . On a cold day in February 1951, he lifted off in his F-80C Shooting Star for a bombing run against enemy forces at Hongchon. As he started his bombing run, his F-80C took a direct hit from an AA shell and exploded. He was listed as MIA until August, when they finally found his body. He now rests with so many others in Arlington. He left behind a young wife, a small son, and another son about to be born. I thought back to that war and was struck by the fact that, after all the death and grief and sorrow and disrupted lives of those left behind, we all wound up just about right back at the point where the whole thing had started. Damn it, George. You are right again. It does go back that far.

  12. Wolverine

    Oops — correction: “80th Fighter Bomber Squadron of the 8th Fighter Bomber Group”

  13. e

    the loss of will to win occured when america lost the will to spill blood of the adversary in sufficient numbers to force “the enemy” to totally capitulate. this is understandable, the spilling of blood is a horrible thing. if patton had marched to moscow, perhaps the whole cold war would have been avoided and america today would be the sole depository of nuclear weapons. macarthur wanted to nuke 50 million chinese, but truman refused and so 50,000 american men died and the korean conflict festers. the list goes on. well, it’s too late now, soon dozens of nations, rouge states and knucklehead jehadists will have access to weapons of mass destruction

  14. George S. Harris

    I don’t know if I am right Wolverine, I just have lived a long time and seen a lot of historical water flow under the bridge. While I understand somewhere in the deep recesses of what is left of my mind, I too have trouble with the present rules of engagement. It makes sense in a wierd way that if you can protect the local citizenry, you can win them over to your side, but the other guys don’t want to play by those rules. For years we have said, “If you have them by the cajones, their hearts and minds will follow.” But as we have seen, that doesn’t seem to work any more. It might, but we can’t seem to muster up the chutzpa to go there. Our problem is further complicated by the fact that these tribal people do not trust strangers–and haven’t for perhaps five milennia. In many ways, we are the enemy just by being there. And the closer we are to Mecca and the longer we stay, the more we look like those who came eight or nine hundred years ago. And these folks have very long memories–even though most of them are illiterate. Amazing isn’t it? But as history has shown us, wars with and by religious zealots seem to be endless. The Crusades went on in the holy land for 200 years and look what it got us–nothing. There were something like nine crusades in the holy land and smaller ones further north.

    As Junger points out in “War”, the Taliban and al Qaeda pay young kids $5 a day to fill foreigners and apparently the supply of young people is inexhaustible. We spend a million dollars a year for one service person to be in Afghanistan/Iraq and our supply is getting thin. There is something wrong with this picture.

    Yesterday was the 235th anniversary of the Navy and in another month we will remember the 235th anniversary of the Marine Corps. I hope that by the 236th we are home. And on the 11th hour of the 11th month it will be 92 years since the Great War–the War to end all wars– officially ended.

    God bless all who have served and God bless America.

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