“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Afghan National Army: 1 in 4 quit, 9% AWOL, 19% absentee rate.

POLITICS: Afghan Army Turnover Rate Threatens U.S. War Plans
By Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Nov 24 (IPS) - One in every four combat soldiers quit the Afghan National Army (ANA) during the year ending in September, published data by the U.S. Defence Department and the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan reveals.

That high rate of turnover in the ANA, driven by extremely high rates of desertion, spells trouble for the strategy that President Barack Obama has reportedly decided on, which is said to include the dispatch of thousands of additional U.S. military trainers in order to rapidly increase the size of the ANA.

The ANA has been touted by U.S. officials for years as a success story. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal called in his August 2009 strategy paper for increasing the ANA to 134,000 troops by October 2010 and eventually to 240,000.

But an administration source, who insisted on speaking without attribution because of the sensitivity of the subject, confirmed to IPS that 25 percent has been used as the turnover rate for the ANA in internal discussions, and that it is regarded by some officials as a serious problem.

The 35,000 troops recruited in the year ending Sep. 1 is the highest by the ANA in any year thus far, but the net increase of 19,000 troops for the year is 33 percent less than the 26,000 net increases during both of the previous two years.

Those figures indicate that the rate of turnover in the ANA is accelerating rather than slowing down. That acceleration could increase further, as the number of troops whose three-year enlistment contracts end rises rapidly in the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, the Defence Department sought to obscure the problem of the high ANA turnover rate in its reports to Congress on Afghanistan in January and June 2009, which avoided the issues of attrition and desertion entirely.

Instead they referred to what DOD calls the "AWOL" (Absent without Leave) rate in the ANA, which measures those unavailable for duty but still in the army. It claimed in June that the AWOL rate was nine percent through May 2009, compared with seven percent in 2008.

The reports also confused the question of turnover in the ANA by using questionable accounting methods in DOD's reporting on monthly changes in personnel. It provided figures for total ANA personnel in 2009 showing an increase from 66,000 in September 2008 to 94,000 in September 2009.

Those figures have made it appear that ANA manpower increased by 28,000 during the year. But nearly half the increase turns out to be accounted for by a decision on the part of the U.S. command responsible for tracking ANA manpower to change what was being measured.

Previously the total had included only those who had been trained and assigned to a military unit. But in late September 2008, CSTC-A started counting 12,000 men who had not previously been considered as part of the ANA.

In response to a query from IPS, Sgt. Grady L. Epperly, chief of media relations for CSTC-A, acknowledged that the U.S. command had abruptly changed what it included in its overall strength figures for the Afghan Army in late September 2008.

"The way numbers were reported was switched from reporting only Operational Forces to including all Soldiers, Officers and civilians, regardless of training status and command," Epperly wrote in an e-mail.

The graphs in the DOD reports of January and June 2009 are still identified as "Afghan National Army Trained and Assigned". But the text of the report reveals that the personnel totals shown on the graph were no longer for the Afghan National Army but for the Ministry of Defence.

That meant that the totals included for the first time those still in training, including even high school cadets, and others not assigned to any unit.

That deceptive accounting change obscured the fact that the total number of personnel assigned to ANA units in September 2009 was actually 82,000 rather than the 94,000 shown, and that the increase in ANA personnel over the year was only 16,000 rather than 28,000.

Using the corrected totals for changes in personnel during the year, the 25 percent turnover rate for ANA combat troops can be calculated from the available data on recruitment and the breakdown between combat and non-combat troops

Calculating the ANA Combat Troop Turnover Rate
The turnover rate in any organisation in a given time period is the total number of personnel who quit the organisation divided by the total number who belonged to the organisation during that period.

The ANA recruited 35,000 men from September 2008 through August 2009, according to quarterly reports issued by the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan and semi-annual DOD reports. With 66,000 as the personnel base for the year beginning September 2008, the total number of personnel in the organisation for the year was 101,000.

The difference of 19,000 between the 35,000 recruited and the 16,000 net increase in personnel during the period represents total turnover from a combination of attrition – soldiers who do not reenlist after their three-year contracts have expired – and desertion.

The 19,000 turnover is 19 percent of the total of 101,000 men who belonged to the ANA during the year ending September 2009.

However, the more meaningful measure of turnover is the percentage of combat troops who left the ANA.

The total number of combat troops increased only from 46,000 to 58,000 during the year ending in September for an increase of 12,000, according to the official published data.

Four thousand of the new 35,000 new recruits either went into non-combat units or were not assigned, leaving 31,000 recruits who were assigned to combat units.

The difference between the 31,000 recruits assigned to combat units and the 12,000 increase in combat troops, representing the turnover of ANA combat troops, is 19,000. That 19,000-man total turnover was 25 percent of the 77,000 total ANA troops assigned to combat units during the year (46,000 plus 31,000).

ANA turnover as a proportion of ANA combat troops is a more significant indicator of instability than turnover as a proportion of all personnel, because there is little or no desertion and far higher reenlistment rates in non-combat jobs. ANA non-combat personnel totals also include thousands of civilians.

The impact of the 25-percent combat troop turnover rate on the ANA is actually more acute than it would appear, because of the high absenteeism rate in the ANA. The GAO report revealed that, as of February 2008, out of 32,000 combat troops on the rolls, only 26,000 were available for duty – a 19 percent absenteeism rate.

Assuming that same rate of absenteeism remained during the past year, the number of ANA combat troops actually available for duty increased only by about 9,000 from 37,000 to 46,000.

As serious as the turnover rate was in 2009-2009, turnover in the first two or three years of the ANA was much worse. ANA recruitment and reenlistment figures show that 18,000 of the first 25,000 troops recruited from 2003 to 2005 deserted.

That desertion rate prompted analysts at the U.S. Army Center for Lessons Learned at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to conclude that the ANA would not be able to grow beyond 100,000, according to an article in the current issue of "Military Review", published at the same Army base.

The authors, Chris Mason and Thomas Johnson, both of whom have had extensive experience in Afghanistan, write that that the analysts at the Army Center concluded that by the time the ANA got to 100,000 troops, its annual losses from desertions and attrition would roughly equal its gains from recruitment.

The Center for Lessons Learned refused to confirm or deny those assertions. When asked about the assertion in the Military Review article, an official of the Center for Lessons Learned, operations officer Randy Cole, refused to comment except to refer IPS to the authors of the article.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.


  1. 350,000 plus 25% to factor for the dropouts, means we have to process at least 437,500 Afghan trainees through the training, to get the 350,000 men that Stan's Plan calls for.

    Meanwhile, the Defence Department sought to obscure the problem of the high ANA turnover rate in its reports to Congress on Afghanistan in January and June 2009

    As bad, if not worse than how the CIA worked for Mr Bush.

    The Department of Defense is lying by omission both to Congress and the President, if this report is accurate.

    Wonder if Mr Gates will be getting the Medal of Freedom, just as Mr George "Slam Dunk" Tenet of the CIA did, from Mr Bush.

  2. Sarah Palin in Coeur

    Sarah will be signing books at Fred Meyer in CDA on Thurs 12/10. I will be standing in line to get that book I promised you. You can come too.

    Holy Smokes!

    message from my wife via e-amil

    Sometimes she does this kind of thing. She could just have well walked into my room to tell me.

    We both have computers.

    Anybody want a book? I might be able to get if for you.

  3. I think the book will be mostly a disappointment. Most of these political books are, and I know it's been partly ghost written. She's admitted that. Least it hasn't been ghost written by Willian Ayers. You can't expect these politicians to write great literature themselves, unless maybe their name is Winston Churchill.

    I told my wife, forget about the book, I'll read it at the library, which she was getting me for our thirtieth.

    I'm goin' too. Put in an order, if you want one, I might be able to get it.

    I buy, you pay later, upon shipping.

  4. The US does not have enough time, enough money and enough support from the American people to build an Afghan army that will be self-sustaining without a political deal with the Taliban.

    Do not believe what I say, just do the math.

    DR's comment in on the mark. Where is the US media on this? Where is congress?

    Instead of pissing away borrowed money, and military power on a cause that at best will be marginally effective with a miniscule payback on the investment, we should be looking to our south.

    The future of the south of the Americas is being purloined by the Chinese, Russians and Iranians.

    This is insanity and incompressible to me.


    CARACAS, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday signed dozens of new agreements with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on the final stop of his three-nation tour to Latin America.

    During his tour, Ahmadinejad has already won the support of Brazil and Bolivia for Iran's right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

    Chavez met with his counterpart at the Miraflores Palace, saying he was satisfied with Ahmadinejad's tour to Latin America.

    The two countries signed 70 new agreements on agriculture, industry, trade and energy, adding to the 270 existing agreements of the last four years.

    It is Ahmadinejad's fourth visit to Venezuela. Chavez visited Iran in September, when the two nations sealed an agreement for Venezuela to export 20,000 barrels of gasoline per day to Iran."

  5. Think about this:

    If you were al-Qaeda and wanted to establish a fifth column to attack the US, are you going to make another run using Saudi Arabs?

    Would it not make sense to infiltrate the gangs and marxists of Latin America? Better yet use converts to militant Islam.

    Think not? Think again.


    "Allah is great. There is no other god and Mohammed is his emissary on earth," says Juan Tún, reciting from an Arabic text he has dutifully memorized and scrawled on a wall in his one-room mud-brick house. A few of his people are still being wooed by charismatic Christians and baptized on the shores of Lake Atitlán. Tún and many of his fellow Maya have heeded the call of a different doctrine hawked by newfangled crusaders, and are now seeking spiritual refuge in the very heart of Islam.

    The apostles, Spanish-speaking Iranians, Moroccans, Saudis, Syrians and Yemenis, hold British, French, German, Italian, and US passports. Their mission: To seek out the poor, the oppressed, the forgotten, and find among them willing converts.

    Many of the fresh disciples in Mexico's Chiapas region were forced off their lands in the wake of the Zapatista uprising in 1994, when Maya insurgents waged war against the Mexican government. Others are being recruited in Guatemala's Petén, and Honduras's desolate and poverty-stricken indigenous communities of Copán, Ocotepeque, Lempira, Intibucá and La Paz, where natives are still victims of de facto persecution.

    Allah's emissaries are also said to be gaining some converts in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica, held back in time by its remoteness and where Cobra Commando periodically sow panic in Indian villages. Conversions also take place in isolated areas inhabited by the Aymara Inca of Peru and Bolivia. These compliant proselytes are among the thousands of converts to various Protestant sects who were exiled for defecting from the state religion --- a brand of Roman Catholicism spiced up with a generous sprinkling of ancient native rituals.

    Conversions are also finding fertile ground in Brazil and Argentina, which have large Muslim populations --- descendants of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian immigrants --- many of whom, aroused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have since experienced a burst of atavistic self-identity and nationalism.

    It is the political turmoil, despair, bitterness, the economic downturns and quickly shifting geopolitical dynamics that the missionaries are said to be exploiting to establish a foothold for Islam in Latin America

    Panama News

  6. The US does not have enough time, enough money and enough support from the American people

    I think TIME does not enter into it. Money, maybe, but there's always more money.

    Support from the American people, that's really the question.

    I don't know where I stand on this question, but I hate to see Osama win.
    Which he will have done, if we leave.

    Bomb Iran, support Israel.

    You want a book, deuce, maybe signed by Sarah?

    I'll try to get it for you.

  7. Bomb the bastrards now, is the best I came up with.

  8. I don't know where I stand on this question, but I hate to see Osama win.
    Which he will have done, if we leave.

    I mean on staying in, or getting out of Afghanistan. Trying to do community building. It might work, I don't know.

    Bomb Iran.

    Nuke the bastards, if we have to.

    Don't let them get atomic weapons.

    Way I see it.

  9. "Allah is great. There is no other god and Mohammed is his emissary on earth," says Juan Tun.

    The gist of the argument.

    When in the last 14 hundred years has reason, rational thought, ever prevailed with these people?

    You can see it among the Christians, the Jews, the atheists, the agnosticts, but never among these people.

  10. The threat is not from Iran, has not been and will not be, to US.

    The Iranians have not attacked US in over 20 years. The Isreali have not attacked US in 40 years, the threat to US is about the same, from each.

    The threat to US is not from Islam, it is from the "birthers" and Glenn Beck, so says the Anti Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, They are the arbiters of threat assessment, to all that is good and intellectual in our American society.

    They've been "at it" since 1913.
    So they should know, aye.

  11. I've been thinking about a question I asked myself the other day, how would things have been different if the Etruscans/Romans/whatever hadn't gotten across the sea? And ruined Israel. Hell if I know, these questions are difficult, but I think a reasonalble answer might be, the Jews/ChristoJews or whatever would have put up a hell of a bigger fight, and we might not be facing this insanity of islam today. We might not even have Iran to worry about.

    They were much better off when Iran was zoro.

  12. If there is a threat from radical Islam, if our Government is wrong, then Deuce is right, the physical threat comes from the open borders and the drug and crime cartels that originated within the immigrant communities here in the US.

    MS-13 comes first to mind, but the Cowboys of Sinola would do the trick as well.

  13. I think we're screwed, as of now, as we have elected a nincompoop for President, the courts are incompetent, and cowardly, we might be facing Wretchard's three conjectures, Sarah at least has the right instincts.

  14. Time is always of the essence, when dealing with the US public. The actions must be short and decisive, not long drawn out affairs, or the public will sour on any foreign adventure.

    Our history is replete with examples of such, especially post WWII, when our foreign adventures multiplied, exponentially.

    Our success in the 'Nam stands tall, in that regard. But even Iraq and the advantage our involvement there provided to Obama sends a message that even the most feeble minded should recognize, concerning "time on target".

  15. the physical threat comes from the open borders and the drug and crime cartels that originated within the immigrant communities here in the US.

    Agree with that much, but tell it to the Israelis, and protect us from nuke car bombs, and whatever they call their missiles.

    These people are insane.

    They used knifecutters.

    We've taken one hell of a big hit from people that slit the throats of a few innocnce stewardesses on three airlines.

  16. Close the borders.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Rat.

    I really mean it.

    I gotta get some sleep, I have a sleep problem.

  17. The box cutter killers WERE NOT Iranians.

    They never were Iranians.

    That after all these years that fact has not "sunk in" leaves us to believe you are a tad "feeble".

    The box cutter killers were Wahabbist Muslims, sworn enemies of Iran. Wahabbists whom are currently US allies and listed as Friends of Isreal.

  18. That the US Government will not police its' borders, even after 9-11-01 and the 40,000 civilian deaths each year that can be attributed to those in the US without Government sanction, only exemplifies the importance placed upon North American unification by our governing elites.

  19. And the price they are willing to pay, in US blood, for the trends towards unification to continue, unimpeded.

  20. A sign of the times, the Secret Service is certainly slipping, wonder if heads will roll over this?

    Couple slips though security to crash state dinner
    The Associated Press

  21. From my friends at Forbes:

    The most recent bump in the road has been the scathing criticism of Geithner by Neil Barofsky, the TARP special inspector, over the funneling of taxpayer funds intended to bailout AIG ( AIG - news - people ) to its counterparties including Goldman Sachs ( GS - news - people ). As the report put it: "There is no question that the effect of the FRBNY's decisions--indeed, the very design of the federal assistance to AIG--was that tens of billions of Government money was funneled inexorably and directly to AIG's counterparties." And the report was particularly critical of the fact that there was no attempt to extract haircuts from the counterparties--they were all paid 100 cents on the dollar.

    As a result, the conspiracy theorists are having a field day. Consider their fuel:

    As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Geithner worked very closely with Henry Paulson--his predecessor as Treasury Secretary and before that head of Goldman Sachs--as was warranted by the situation.

    Geithner's primary deputy at the New York Fed was William Dudley, a former Goldman Sachs economist.

    The chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York until May 2009 was Stephen Friedman, former Chairman of Goldman Sachs, and a member of the Goldman's board at the time of his New York Fed service.

    Friedman also chaired the search committee that selected Geithner's replacement--William Dudley.

    At the time his former Goldman Sachs colleague Dudley was appointed--December 2008--Friedman purchased an additional $3 million of Goldman stock in violation of the rules.

    Now ask yourself, surrounded by this crowd of influences, how likely is it that Geithner would have asked Goldman Sachs to take a serious haircut on their AIG positions?

    You don't have to be a black helicopter fan to recognize that the proximity of the small world that is Wall Street to the very institutions and public servants who are meant to regulate them can seriously compromise their credibility. This proximity and the fact that Wall Street ran amok on Geithner's watch as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York--the top regulator--has damaged his credibility in his current role.

  22. It's Israel

    No matter how many times our resident liar rat says otherwise...

    Not isreal.

    Rat still can spell every other country in the world except Israel, thus shows what a piece of shit he is...

    Rat is only correct on one thing today and that PARt of the problem is Whabbist Islam, but rat is all to wrong in ignoring Iran

    IRan HAS attacked the USA INTERESTS on a daily basis...

    Iran still holds 3-7 Americans illegally

    Iran still creates, funds and supports arabs in Iraq to murder American GI's

    Iran STILL supports, funds and CREATED hezbollah and has rearmed them in violation on SC resolutions in lebanon.

    Iran may not be the entire islamic threat but it sure is a big one...

    the box cutters were arabian, the murderer of bobby kennedy was a palestinian, the killers of mumbai were pakis....

    shia and sunni islam BOTH share the title as "cocksuckers" in my book...

    Iran AND Arabia are lethal and to ignore either is perilous

    Arabia is funding schools all across the globe including in the USA, Iran is funding Hezbollah across the globe including the USA...

    How to fight the problem?

    1. Do something to minimize imported oil

    2. Stop funding Iran, Hezbollah & the PLO (Hamas)

    3. Deport all radical moslems from the Americas & Europe

  23. We should forget about nation building, let the Chinese and Indians do that. Our mission should be to kill Taliban and al-Qaeda, period. If that is no longer worth the COIN effort, we should withdraw and do it from 30K feet through the bomb bay doors of our old B-52's.

  24. One more thing:

    When we get to the point that we're prosecuting our soldiers for "roughing up" the bad guys like the Falluja "stich drech", it's time to take our guys out of harms way.

  25. Our mission in Afpakistan is to find moderate Taliban that can "work with US", whit.

    Definitely the mission is not to kill the Taliban. Stan the Man's Plan is for reconciliation, not combat.

    The US military is looking for another kingdom, for itself. It is going to build one in Afghanistan, as is the military's wont and standard.

    Running a conga line through the middle of Kabul. Where they can "Party all the time, like it's 1999".

  26. As for deporting "radicals", I agree.

    Any Jew that advocates US taxpayer support for a Zionist State should be declared a religious radical, and deported.

    Any Muslim that calls for the destruction, through violence, of the Zionist State should be declared a radical and deported.

    Any Christian that thinks and protests against abortion, as a form of murder, should be declared a radical and deported.

    We can handle all types of radicals with that deportation standard. I like it.

  27. Anyone that the Anti Defamation League of B'nai B'rith considers a danger to our social contract should be deported.

    We can start with Glenn Beck, and end with bob.

  28. Of course, I know 'they' weren't Iranian.

    In my mind sometimes all muslims are muslims are muslims are pretty much the damned same.

    Just pointing out the fact that Iranians with nukes led by fanatics may pose a real problem to any who value our western freedoms, sometime in the future.

    Maybe we ought to be trying to play their factions off against one another. I don't know for sure.

    Wish a man a Happy Thanksgiving, and offer to get him what may turn out to be an autographed book of some value, and you're told you should be deported.


  29. Here is another candidate for deportation, another figure that bob has oft quoted here.
    Beware, guilt by association will taint you all, and you too could become subject to deportation for the crime of advocating radical thoughts.

    Birther figure Orly Taitz to headline xenophobic group meeting – Garden Grove, California

    On November 25, Orly Taitz will be speaking at a meeting of the anti-Hispanic hate group, California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), led by racist Barbara Coe. Taitz, a California-based lawyer and dentist, has advanced anti-Obama conspiracy theories and filed numerous law suits against Obama alleging that he does not have a legal birth certificate and is therefore unable to serve as President. In a letter thanking Taitz for agreeing to speak at the CCIR meeting, Coe wrote, "We hope you will share with us…how we, as citizens can more effectively support YOUR efforts to insure the fraud Obama is removed from the office of President of the United States."

    Obviously a danger to the social order, the two of them, Ms Coe and Mr Taitz, must be deported, for our common security to be assured.

  30. If you conflate all Muslims, bob, then you really are a boobie.

    Muslims are our allies, across the globe. You support them every time you drive your car, you even support those that funneled your cash to aQ with financial contributions.

    Or you are supporting Hugo Chavez, another despot that the US sponsors through energy purchases.

    Come to grips with reality, man!

  31. Boy oh boy, I agree with wi"o", about deporting radicals, and bob takes offense.

    You'd think he'd be happy to see such radically divisive figures, like Glenn Beck and Orly Taitz, deported to further secure our "Western" freedoms.

    That is the wi"o" solution.

    Let's go for it!

  32. Or should we be deporting those that support the Anti Defamation League of B'nai B'rith?

    Are they religious radicals, as well?

  33. I'm not a big Orly fan, but I admire her in a way, too.

    She's tried.

    To have elected somebody prez when you don't know his bona fides....and he refuses to really provide them....

    But, it's not the birth certificate finally, but the issue of what's a natural born citizen.

    There's not going to be a legal resolution of this in the near future, doesn't look like anyway, but rather a political one, through the ballot box.

  34. In any or either case, wi"o" advocates more power to the Federals, who would be the real arbiters of who would be considered radical or extreme.

    Mr Holder would be the fellow that would wield that authority, if it were available, now.

    Think about the ramifications and unforeseen consequences of that.

  35. While what allen and wi"o" describe as anti-semitism, the Anti Defamation League of B'nai B'rith considers legitimate political discourse.

    "Criticism of particular Israeli actions or policies in and of itself does not constitute anti-Semitism. Certainly the sovereign State of Israel can be legitimately criticized just like any other country in the world."

  36. "Any Jew that advocates US taxpayer support for a Zionist State should be declared a religious radical, and deported."