Paula is now talking about the ALP:
Since mid-November, the commander of Combined Task Force 1-320th, LTC David S. Flynn, has worked to develop rapport with the local malik, or de facto village leader, from Charqolba in the Arghandab River Valley, known as “Ibrahim.” Charqolba has been uninhabited since June, when the Taliban conducted an intimidation campaign and drove the villagers out. Nearly 50 percent of the village had been destroyed in the crossfire between the Taliban and U.S. forces. Like the others who fled, the Charqolba malik had moved his family to Kandahar City, but he was interested in reclaiming his home and his village…
Flynn had to contend with the MOI constraint that it had to certify a site before weapons could be issued to the ALP. Weapons procurement is a sticky issue because of the potential to facilitate local militias, which, some fear, could lead to a decent into chaos. On a late December visit to 1-320th, GEN Petraeus had discussed the urgency of the ALP initiative with Flynn and others, and he explicitly reiterated that conventional forces could not provide weapons to the ALP until the site was certified by the MOI. Incidentally, the only site currently “certified” by MOI in Arghandab is Nagahan. The district is authorized up to 300 ALP personnel and has filled roughly 25% of that number in Nagahan. Recruiting efforts in Nagahan, however, seemed to have reached a saturation point, so other ALP sites in Arghandab will need to provide the additional personnel to achieve the critical mass envisioned by COMISAF.
Flynn knew that spring was approaching and along with it a possible resurgence of Taliban. His feeling was that there was no time to waste if he and his fellow battlespace owners were going to attract over 200 volunteers. Operating under the assumption that the site would eventually be certified, Flynn made the command decision to allow the small ALP cabal to practice with Alpha company’s M4 rifles until he could resolve the procurement issue and find a permanent solution for them. Since there is no connection between conventional forces and the MOI, Flynn’s companies will eventually receive weapons from a SOTF, which typically coordinates with GIRoA for weapons acquisition and distribution. SOTF detachment captains in the AO will provide oversight to his nascent ALP initiatives, including Charqolba and three others in the valley…
LTC Flynn was optimistic but pragmatic, “I have a keen understanding of the many pitfalls that exist with our way ahead. This is not the book solution on ALP if there is such a thing.” Inherent challenges remained: vetting the volunteers, providing rule-of-law ethics training to a group of men who thought beating “bad guys” was acceptable for a police force, acquiring weapons and other training materials, and recruiting a larger force. “I know we need to train them well enough to defend themselves and their village. And we need to protect them from any Taliban retribution that might upend the legitimacy of the ALP program in [our AO]. I’m not overly concerned with any of this because I know that my NCOs are capable of making these ALP smarter and more capable fighters than the TB,” said Aebischer.
Bolded bits mine, to highlight, again, the grade-A crap. This time, she’s much more understanding of people fleeing their village in horror, and doesn’t seem to feel the same need to burn it to the ground to make rebuilding easier. Weird.
Anyway, phrasing this excerpt differently (read the whole thing, if you have a military translator around, as it has much more detail), LTC Flynn decided to give one elder in a district the power to build his own militia, which that elder liked. The men he chose for that militia could not be vetted by the Ministry of the Interior quickly enough, so the LTC decided to abandon General Petraeus’ orders and the legal restrictions on arming militias and give them weapons and training anyway. LTC Flynn’s trainers are having a hard time convincing these men not to beat people in the street, but are hopeful they can be “smarter than the TB.”
Thanks to the “VSO-ALP Backburn,” whatever the hell that means, we’re now expanding a policy of building unaccountable militias across southern Afghanistan, and hoping they won’t sell their weapons to the Taliban like they have every single other time we’ve tried to do this. (Even Andrew Exum thinks we need to be much more cautious about this program.) It’s like we kept all the bad aspects of the AP3 program in Wardak, and chose to forget all the lessons we learned from it. Like the accounts other COIN cheerleaders, it seems to represent a rejection of evidence and experience, rather than a considered embrace of it.
In 2008, the Arghandab was not like this. We made it this way. And our continued refusal to think beyond six months from now—starting with General Petraeus demanding unrealistic results by the summer and moving down the chain of command—is creating bad decisions, inspiring LTCs to break the law and use short cuts to try to eke out progress for a good OER, and, ultimately, ruining any chance of a long-term success in this area. We are doing this deliberately, though perhaps not knowingly. And the people like Paula Broadwell, who are bragging of the tactical genius of it all, don’t seem to realize this sort of thing is the foundation of our eventual, humiliating defeat.
Paula’s writing on the Arghandab is not analysis, or reporting. It is hagiography—a particularly ignorant kind of hagiography. How foul.