The exit strategy for all coalition troops in Afghanistan hinges on being able to train Afghan security forces to take over. The Poles work hard to train Afghan policemen, soldiers, and intelligence officers so that they can one day (soon, hopefully) take the security situation of their country into their own hands. Here’s a clip:
“There are Polish operational mentoring liaison teams working with every brigade in the Afghan National Army’s 203rd Corps,” said Polish Liaison Team Chief, Lt. Col. Przemyslow Zietalak of Zielona Gora, Poland.
Polish forces served alongside U.S. service members in both Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly ten years, developing a great deal of experience in the Middle East. Many Polish Soldiers also served in Lebanon with the United Nations.
Polish liaison teams help Afghan National Security Forces improve their ability to conduct combat training and to bridge the gap between Polish and other coalition forces.
Members of the liaison team are chosen due to their experience and language skills. All Polish Liaison officers must pass an intensive English examination and take courses in either Dari or Pashto.
Read the rest here.
When the Poles took over Ghazni in the fall of 2008, this news story appeared in Reuters describing the situation at the time (October 30, 2008):
Polish troops took command of security in Ghazni on Thursday, a volatile area just two hour’s drive southwest of Kabul where Taliban militants are gaining influence.
According to icasualties.org, 2005 was actually the most dangerous year in Ghazni, in terms of number of coalition deaths. Here are more details from the Reuters story, which shows the Polish troops took over a dangerous and deteriorating area in 2008.
Some 1,200 troops moved into Ghazni four months ago under U.S. command and have repeatedly come under fire since then. In the last six months of their tour, which began in another eastern province, Polish troops have been in combat 600 times and have been hit by more than 100 improvised explosive devices. Six Polish soldiers have been killed and 20 wounded, their outgoing commander said.
The article reveals that Ghazni started deteriorating in tandem with the general decline in all of Afghanistan in 2006:
Two years ago, Ghazni was seen as largely secure but since 2006 Taliban militants have moved into the region from the south and east, attacking traffic on the highway, burning schools and kidnapping foreign civilians.
Afghans from Ghazni say it is no longer safe for them to visit villages even close to the provincial capital and local journalists say Taliban fighters can now be seen on the streets of the city after dark.
This story provides a narrative counter to the one often repeated in American media that Ghazni was a safe and peaceful district when the Poles took it over in 2008.
The Polish Air Force made the decision to buy American F-16s over several European models in 2002. While these are older airframes, they are equipped with new avionics, putting Poland on track to have the most advanced Air Force in Europe within the next 10 years. In addition, here’s an interesting story about the direction of combat aviation and about the end of fighter planes as we know them:
More and more, it looks like the new 36 ton F-22 and 27 ton F-35 are the end of the road for manned fighter-bombers. Not just because the F-22 and F-35 cost so much to develop, but because so much new tech has arrived on the scene that it simply makes more military, and economic, sense to go with unmanned aircraft. Meanwhile, the existing F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, A-10s and all American heavy bombers are being equipped with new targeting pods and combat Internet connections, along with new radars and all sorts of electronics. Older aircraft are having worn out structural components rebuilt or replaced. This buys time until the unmanned aircraft are ready. F-35s will also fill the gap, which may be a very small one.
Many UAV engineers, and some fighter pilots, believe that combat UAVs could revolutionize air warfare. Combat UAVs can perform maneuvers that a manned aircraft cannot (because there are limits to the g-forces a human body can tolerate.) In theory, software and sensors would make a combat UAV much quicker to sort out a combat situation, and make the right move. For the moment, this aspect of UAV development is officially off the table. But once combat UAVs start operating, and that will be by the end of the decade, there will be much pressure to let combat UAVs rule the skies, in addition to scouting and bombing. The senior Pentagon leadership have seen this future, and believe it is the real one. Many European, and Indian, aviation commanders agree.
Read the rest here.
Here’s an unusual image. Ghazni’s mountainous terrain in Giro district looks like the surface of the moon.
Thanks to the Polish contingent’s ISAF website.
In case you missed it, while Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski was visiting the U.S. earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that the U.S. and Poland were moving ahead with missile defense plans and a permanent U.S. military presence to be stationed in Poland.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed Washington’s plans to deploy missile defenses and Air Force units in Poland.
“As was announced by our two presidents in December, we plan to establish a new permanent U.S. air detachment in Poland, build missile defenses in Poland, and as agreed at the NATO summit, develop a contingency plan in the region,” Clinton told journalists ahead of talks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Washington.
Wikileaks published U.S. cables in late 2010 showing that NATO was drawing up a plan on the protection of Estonia, Lithuania and Poland from external threats on a request from the United States and Germany.
Read the full story here.