I noticed last week that the Afghan Defense Minister, Ahdul Rahim Wardak, and the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, signed an accord to better integrate military planning in the war effort. It was unclear to me, though, where the cooperation would take place — way up at the ministerial/NATO level? Way down at the company level? — and so I asked McKiernan’s command for clarification. Here’s a response I got from Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan:
Coordination will take place from the Afghan government with General McKiernan’s staff and down throughout all levels involved in the planning and execution of operations. This especially includes the units involved. This coordination will help strengthen the ability of the combined forces to shape and clear areas of terrorist and militant concentration and enable opportunities to assist ANP [Afghan National Police] to protect the Afghan people and key infrastructure.
It’ll be interesting to see if this works as planned. I watched a mission go pear-shaped in Paktia Province in September when Afghan police withdrew support for a U.S.-backed raid on a Taliban operative’s house after U.S. troops wouldn’t let the Afghan policemen loot the place. Getting Afghan security-force buy-in to the plans is one thing, but unless the corruption of the frontline Afghan units gets dealt with, the plans may not survive first contact with something shiny, lucrative and pocketable.
Crossposted to The Streak.