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Edited Transcript of a conference by the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU Old Parliament House, 5 March 2009 Morning Session: Coalition Strategic Objectives in Afghanistan Graeme Dobell: All right well you’re all here to have fun, the man who has actually done all the work is Stephan, who is about to kick it off; Stephan. Stephan Frühling: Members of the diplomatic community, Senator Johnston, ladies and gentlemen, let me welcome you on behalf of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the ANU to today’s conference on Australian interests and operational strategy in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is now in its eighth year, and coalition combat units are now deployed in Afghanistan as long as US combat troops were deployed in South Vietnam, and yet the war isn’t coming to an end yet. This is two years longer than the Second World War and soon twice as long as the First World War. For many of these years, Afghanistan was a holding action as the Coalition concentrated its efforts on Iraq, although that is now changing. But that doesn’t change the fact that Afghanistan is a long war by any standards, and certainly by the standards of Western post-cold war societies and militaries. No one leaves a long war the way they entered it, be it governments, militaries, or societies at large, and nothing concentrates the mind like the imminent prospect of defeat; which the United States, and Britain, and the rest of the Coalition members faced in Iraq in 2006. So if we think back eight years, theories that were fashionable in 2001 such as Rapid Decisive Operations have long gone out of the window, and the long war is confronting policy makers and commanders with some basic aspects of the Clausewitzian nature of war. And one of these aspects is that ‘war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means’. So policy changes war, but war also changes policy, and rarely does a country enter a long war with the same goals as it ends it in the end. And this is where the first half of today’s program is going to pick up. In a moment, Geoffrey Garrett, Klaus-Peter Klaiber, and Andrew Shearer will review and discuss the Coalition strategic objectives from a US, from a NATO, and from an Australian perspective. After morning tea, Frank Lewincamp will introduce a wider discussion of what exactly Australia should today be seeking in Afghanistan in the eighth year of the war. But long wars also highlight the importance of strategy as ‘the use of engagements for the object of the war’, because tactical excellence is simply not enough to win a long war, and certainly not a war in which Western force levels are always going to be much below what traditional metrics suggest are necessary. So in the US and British militaries, the experience in Iraq in particular has led in recent years to a deep and sometimes remarkably self-critical introspection in terms of their operational and strategic approach to these kinds of conflicts. The result is the revival of the study of counterinsurgency as an operational strategy in both countries, which has informed the surge in Iraq, and is now informing the revision of Coalition strategy in Afghanistan. This context raises some important questions for Australia, in particular, how the ADF deployment in Afghanistan, and especially the deployment to Orūzgān province, fit into this wider developing operational level strategy. After the lunch break that operational aspect will be the focus of the 1
second half of today’s session. Unfortunately there has been a change in the program in that session. The Australian Army has informed us that no serving Army member will be given approval to attend today’s event, because the policy response to a surge in Afghanistan is under consideration by government. Therefore, my colleague Daniel Marston will present on the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan as it is developing in US and UK thinking, before we move on to a wider round-table discussion introduced by Admiral Chris Barrie. Before we begin with that program though, let me make a few remarks on the somewhat idiosyncratic setup of this room. In order to allow an in-depth debate and to bring out the different opinions as they exist on these quite important questions, we have invited this inner table of participants. At specific times, our able and very disciplined moderator Graeme Dobell will ask them to give their opinion on some issue or another. For the wider audience there will be the opportunity to participate but no requirement to do so, both during the panel Q & As and the wider round-table discussions. And finally we will produce an edited transcript of today’s discussions and I would like to ask everybody who wants to receive it by email, probably by early next week, to drop their business cards in the box provided at the end of the room. And with that, it’s my pleasure to hand over to Graeme. Graeme Dobell: Alright, if the first three could come and join us please; and I think Professor Garrett is going first. Geoffrey Garrett: It’s a real pleasure for me to be here today but I should make an important observation at the beginning. Unlike many people in this room I’m not an expert in national security matters, especially not in an operational sense. So there are two ways I can try to add some value to this session – the first is to say some things at essentially the 10,000ft level about the US and Afghanistan; and the second thing is to be as brief as possible to leave more space for the rest of the conversations, so let me see if I can achieve that. Let me start at the very highest level, maybe now its 10,000 meters rather than 10,000ft. I think there are some profound ironies in the election of Barack Obama, but to my mind the biggest irony concerns the mismatch between the forces and expectations that got Obama elected and the way he is, and is likely to, govern, Obama rose to prominence as a result of his pristine anti-Iraq credentials plus the fact that he gave a great speech in 2004 at the democratic national convention. He quickly then became a global messiah , with the high-point being the quarter of a million Germans who came to hear him speak in Berlin in July 2008. This is ironic because most of what we know about the Obama presidency now, as opposed to the Obama candidacy, is that it is going to be much more domestically oriented than anyone would have expected and the world wanted, and that the division of time and effort between economics and national security has tilted much more heavily on the economic side than anyone would have thought. So here is a person that the world was looking to for a new kind of global leadership. But my sense about the kind of leadership that Barack Obama wants to show the world is a leadership that says ‘I’m going to lead by example at home, fixing my own house’, rather than being out there on the world stage building new global coalitions to do new global things. Irrespective of how hard one wants to push that line, it’s just clear that the US’s focus at the moment, and the president’s focus, is obsessively concentrated on domestic economic issues. I was just reading an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning, the headline of which is there is a 20% chance that the US is about to enter a depression, not just a recession. My sense is that will focus many minds.
So that was my first point. My second point is that if Obama himself is going to be focused more domestically than we might have expected, he knew he had to put together a very experienced international team. I wouldn’t suggest that Obama in any sense is out-sourcing foreign policy, but certainly if you look at his team the thing that one immediately notes is that there aren’t many Obama-maniacs in the Obama foreign policy team. In fact, the only one who was with Obama from the beginning, who made it to the end, is Susan Rice, Ambassador to the UN. The Obama foreign policy team is an all-star Clinton plus Republican team. What are they going to do? Well, it seems to me that Obama’s Afghanistan policy has more to do with winning an election than with what is the right policy in Afghanistan. Last northern summer, Obama was really facing a challenge: ‘I rode to the democratic nomination on the back of my pristine anti-Iraq credentials but now I’ve got to convince the establishment and swing voters that I’m tough about national security’, So how did he do that? ”Less Iraq more Afghanistan”. It was the perfect political stratagem. It was the combination of that move plus McCain’s problems over ‘the fundamentally sound American economy’ followed by the subsequent Lehmann Brothers collapse that ultimately tipped the balance in Obama’s favour. So less Iraq, more Afghanistan made good political sense. The question is – is it good policy? It seems to me that the key question that is now being asked more overtly in the US debate than it has been for a while is -- what is the mission in Afghanistan? And the mission as it is being re-defined doesn’t look like the same mission that the US and the allies had in 2001, which had a sort of visceral personal ‘lets get Osama’ flavour to it, but against a sort of pretty traditional ‘bad behaviour that isn’t punished is rewarded, therefore we must punish bad behaviour’ backdrop. The bad behaviour was state sponsorship of terrorism in Afghanistan, so the US and the allies had to retaliate against Afghanistan’. The problem with that seven years later is, well, you’ve retaliated, so what are you doing now? The best place to look is the words at Robert Gates and Obama because the comprehensive policy review is apparently ongoing but we don’t know what the result of that will be. So what have Gates and Obama said? I was struck by Secretary of Defense Gates’ essay in Foreign Affairs January/February 2009. Here are a couple of quotations from Secretary Gates that I think are interesting and instructive. “The United States’ ability to deal with future threats will depend on its performance in current conflicts. To be blunt, to fail – or to be seen to fail – in either Iraq or Afghanistan, would be a disastrous blow to US credibility both among friends and our allies and among potential enemies.” That’s the first line in this Gates essay, it’s about credibility, not about winning on the ground, it’s about how the world will view how we do. Then Gate’s had something to say about Afghanistan, and the first thing he wanted to say was that in Afghanistan as president Bush announced last September, US troop levels are rising, with the likelihood of more increases in the years ahead. So Obama Afghanistan policy is an extension of Busy policy and of course that in an important sense is personified by the continuation of Gates in his role. But then Gates says because of its terrain, poverty, neighbourhood and tragic history, Afghanistan in many ways poses a more difficult challenge than Iraq. Now Obama has handed the Afghanistan baton to Richard Holbrooke, and what did he say? Holbrooke said this is much harder than Iraq and we have a big problem which is that we’re not so sure we can rely on the Afghani government, in particular Karzai to help us through.
So now we’ve had the surge announcement by the President. What should we make of that? My sense is that both the President and Secretary Gates have been redefining the mission and reducing expectations about what the goal is, probably with a view to making it easier ultimately for the US to get out of the Afghanistan business. On NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ last Sunday, Gates said that the goal in Afghanistan was a level of stability which at least prevents it from being a safe haven from which plots against the US, the Europeans and other can be put together. I don’t know what makes something a safe haven against terrorism but it certainly doesn’t sound like victory. A couple of days later, President Obama was on the PBS Jim Lehrer News Hour and he said that he agreed with what Secretary Gates said on Sunday. But he added that this goal requires the entire arsenal of American power: ‘we’ve been thinking very militarily but we haven’t been as effective thinking diplomatically, we haven’t been thinking very effectively about the development side of the equation’. That reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearings, where she wanted to sell more Joe Nye books by referring to ‘smart power’ as often as she could. If you are a US Democrat trying to sure up your national security credentials, you can’t embrace ‘soft power’ but you can certainly have ‘smart power’. What is smart re: Afghanistan policy? The first element seems to be putting more heat on Karzai. But I’m not sure that’s so smart unless you know what the alternative to Karzai is, and I don’t know whether anyone knows what the alternative is. Second what’s smart in Afghanistan is to say that since all the allies agreed that this was a ‘right war’, its time for the US to ask the allies to deliver on their commitment that Afghanistan is the right war. The third thing that’s smart is probably to say that the surge is a temporary thing, not a permanent thing. We’re doing the surge to try and create some stability that will allow us to do a serious policy rethink about Afghanistan – and that’s the way that the surge is being spun. If you put all this together, what do you think about the future? I wouldn’t presume to get inside the President’s head in terms of what his gut instinct is on Afghanistan. But I would make three structural observations about the US that have obtained in Iraq and will obtain with respect to Afghanistan it seems to me. The US people are sick and tired of war. The military is over-stretched. The country is going bankrupt. Those three were the pressure points that led to a get out of Iraq policy being the winning policy n the US. This is what happened re Iraq. People reasoned, we’ve got to figure out a way to get out of Iraq that doesn’t look like a Vietnam from the rooftops exit, and the fact that things have stabilised on the ground in Iraq is fantastic. The American public hasn’t been thinking about Afghanistan at all. It was all Iraq all the time for several years. And now it has been followed by myopic focus on the economy. I think you have to expect in political terms that as the American public comes to understand what a real sustained commitment in Afghanistan would be, political support for that sustained commitment will only go down,. So if you think that’s right, if you think President Obama needs to execute his exit from Iraq deftly, if he needs to deal with economic problems at home and abroad and he is committed to a surge in Afghanistan, how would you execute all of that ? Well, it comes to the point of this meeting. Obama will say to his friends and allies abrorad, this is the right policy, but we’re going to need a lot of help.
I wouldn’t presume to speak for the NATO allies. But I would just make a couple of observations about the northern hemisphere. The first one is that my understanding is that Canadian politics has been torn apart by the Afghanistan war for many years. And that there is a wing of the Prime Minister’s party that says foreign entanglements are bad and that we should certainly be out. So my reading of the tea-leaves is that asking for more heavy lifting from Canada in Afghanistan is a tall order. Second, and I think this was true before the economic crisis, but it’s surely more true today -even if Angela Merkel and her side of the government in Germany would like to be committed to do more in Afghanistan German politics just won’t sustain that. I was in Berlin less than twelve months ago as part of an American delegation. The view coming from the Germans was please don’t ask us to do more in Afghanistan, because there are only two outcomes: either we don’t do it and we get embarrassed publically, or we do it and we lose power domestically. That’s not an attractive pair of options. Gordon Brown isn’t Tony Blair when it comes to the war on terrorism. But in addition, Gordon Brown has now staked his political future on the G20 and solving the economic crisis. It is hard to imagine Gordon Brown playing a Tony Blair like role in saying Afghanistan is the right thing to do even if the British people are opposed. I’d be happy to be pleasantly surprised about the northern hemisphere. But you go through the list and you get to Australia pretty quickly it seems to me. I’m going to end my remarks right there. Graeme Dobell: Well on the don’t ask, don’t tell note, we might turn to Klaus. Klaus-Peter Klaiber: I thank you very much. NATO in Afghanistan. After the events in 2001 United States correctly assessed that this attack on the United States had been masterminded by the AlQaeda network which had established itself in Afghanistan with the help of the radical Taliban government. A military coalition led by the United States removed the Taliban government in a few months, NATO was not involved in this military campaign, NATO could not be involved because at the time a consensus existed among member countries that NATO was a regional organisation responsible for the safety and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area, since there seemed to be no security threat for the alliance countries NATO could not be invoked for the campaign in Afghanistan, but two years later, however, at the NATO summit in Prague this regional limitation was not upheld, realising that the threat of terrorism threatened the security of all allies. In Afghanistan it became apparent very quickly that the security situation in the country did not improve satisfactorily after the establishment of the transitional government in Kabul. Mandated by the United Nations an international stabilisation force for Afghanistan ISAF was dispatched to the country to provide security and stability for the new transitional government and help Afghanistan to get back on its feet after more than thirty years of continued strife and war. The reasons for this unfortunate situation were three-fold; firstly, the mandate of ISAF was limited in scope, the troops were deployed only in and around Kabul to provide security for the transitional government, and major parts of the country were without international military presence, and due to a lack of security much needed development projects in the regions could not be started, this also led to the re-emergence of regional warlords. Secondly, the forces were very limited in size, contrary to the military truism (which, by the way, was developed by the Chinese about 700 before Christ) that is you want to be successful you have to go in with overwhelming forces. Thirdly, command structure which foresaw change of command in six month intervals, did not provide the much needed continuity of leadership needed in these uncertain circumstances. I think it was upon suggestions of the Netherlands and Germany, I think, that NATO decided to take over the command of ISAF, since then not only the number of troops has grown exponentially but their responsibility has been extended to the whole of the country. As we speak, 56,000 ISAF troops are deployed in Afghanistan with particular emphasis in the south of the country where resurgent Taliban and Al-
Qaeda fighters are most active and try to unsettle the democratic elected government and to prevent a successful economic restructuring. Despite the considerable surge in numbers ISAF has not been able, so far, to create the peaceful environment the Afghans themselves and the international community want to ascertain the new US administration has pledged to dispatch another 17,000 troops, at the recent NATO defense ministers meeting a number of European nations, among others Italy and Germany, have announced to also upgrade their military presence in the country. What is the purpose of NATO’s presence in Afghanistan? The alliance has tried to answer this question in a vision statement which was issued at the Bucharest summit in April 2008, and this vision statement contains four main elements: first, NATO will be engaged in the long term, there is no pre-defined end date of the mission, only an end state, namely, Afghan national security forces [ANSF] are able to provide security and sustainability in Afghanistan; secondly, increased responsibility of Afghan security forces; thirdly, apply a comprehensive civil-military approach; and fourthly, a stronger involvement of neighbouring counties. How does NATO now intend to reach these objectives? At the moment, there are 70,000 Afghan troops that have been trained in the last couple of years, mainly by United States’ experts, these troops support the operations of ISAF, and since September 2008, interesting, the responsibility of the security of Kabul city lies with the Afghan forces, not with ISAF. And it is important to note that the national forces of Afghanistan are involved today in about 80% of all ISAF operations, and that demonstrates very clearly the close co-operation and co-ordination between the NATO troops and Afghani forces, and the objective of NATO is that the Afghani forces will have 80,000 trained troops in 2010 and around 134,000 two years later. NATO has decided to increase its support for the training of these forces, at present the alliance develops a comprehensive concept for training and equipment support to the Afghani forces, at present, NATO entertains 49 operational mentor and liaison teams, and to achieve the objectives of 134,000 troops in 2010 91 of these teams will have to be sourced, and independently the US entertains 40 training teams in Afghanistan and it’s clear that each support for the Afghan military is, and remains, the clear objective of NATO and is the pre-condition of an exit strategy. In the same vein, the training of adequate police forces is another priority. Police reform is one of the most critical issues for Afghanistan’s security and stability, even greater efforts are needed in this area, and law enforcement is a supporting task also for ISAF. The Afghani national police have a key role to play in demonstrating the authority and capability of the government to exercise effective control over the national territory, and according to a spokesman of the Afghani government, the high number of casualties of Afghani policy underlines the urgent need for better training, equipment and tactical employment; and as you all know, the European Union is in charge of the training effort, 400 experts are envisaged to help with the training, at the moment there are around 76,000 Afghan police in the country and the objective put forward by the Afghan government is a number of 82,000. NATO’s vision statement also pleads for a comprehensive integrated civil-military approach. The idea is to bring together the lines of operation security, governance, and development. While ISAF, as NATO sees it, plays the lead role in security, it has a supporting function in governance and development. Let me give you one example there is a concrete NATO ISAF support for all counter-narcotics activities of the Afghani government. There is a clear nexus of the narcotics trade and the financing of the insurgents. Each year the insurgency benefits from an estimated 100-200 million US dollars from this trade, according to NATO the nexus between narcotics trafficking and the insurgency is a security and force protection threat, and therefore, a legitimate target, which means that ISAF is prepared to support the Afghan government in taking action against drug labs and traffickers supporting insurgents when asked to do so. By the way, the number of poppy free provinces in Afghanistan has
increased lately from 13 in 2007 to 18 provinces in 2008; of course, there are altogether 34 provinces in Afghanistan so there is a lot of work to do. The clear objective of NATO’s integrated approach is the close co-operation with the Afghan government, and the Afghan government itself has agreed on a Afghan national development strategy [ANDS] in its preamble it reads, and I quote, “there can be no government without an army, no army without money, no money without prosperity, and no prosperity without justice and good administration”. This sounds terrific; a joint planning and co-ordination framework among key stakeholders has been developed in order to achieve a combined and concerted security in critical districts, in the provincial teams and in ISAF headquarters development experts have been dispatched to help implement this integrated approach. In this respect, the provincial reconstruction teams as they are called [PRTs] are a key feature of the NATO ISAF operation and they play a pivotal role in support the implementation of this development strategy, these provincial reconstruction teams provide support to ministries, NGOs, and they carry out their respective endeavours for the promotion of stability, economic development, and good governance, at present there are 26 PRTs active in Afghanistan, however, I don’t want to hide the problem led by several different nations with different priorities there is no real co-ordinated strategy of the PRTs and I recall a debate of the Armed Services Committee of the US recently where Ambassador Dobbins, who is now with the RAND corporation, argued that there has to be a complied and clear strategy of all participating nations in these PRTs, and I couldn’t agree more with this assessment. Now NATO, of course I must mention this, is fully aware that civilian casualties arising from action by ISAF do have a very detrimental effect on the reputation of foreign troops in Afghanistan and this is well known by all 44 contributing nations, ISAF makes every possible effort to minimise the risk of any damage to property, injury, or loss of life to civilians, the soldiers operate under agreed rules of engagement, to minimise these risks, and ISAF is constantly reviewing its tactics, its techniques, and its procedures to prevent casualties and demonstrate respect to Afghan culture without undermining the operational effectiveness or diminishing the right to self-defence. When ISAF does cause civilian casualties or property damage NATO accepts responsibility, but the problem of course, is militants deliberately target innocent civilians for suicide attacks and militants launch attacks from civilian areas using civilians as human shields. Learning lessons from every investigation into incidents, commander ISAF have revised its tactical directive. ISAF is to partner with Afghan forces in all operations, it does so already with 80% of them and will increase this participation, and there will be no uninvited entry into Afghan houses, mosques, historical or religious sites, unless there is a clear danger. Now some words on lines of communications. Recent attacks on convoys transporting equipment through Pakistan in support of NATO ISAF missions have been highlighted in the media, and they are indeed of concern to NATO, but as I learned, they do not present a strategic threat to the mission, there are a number of other means available to re-supply ISAF forces in Afghanistan and at present NATO are negotiating with other nations, namely Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to get additional transit arrangements. Now some words on force generation, I think it is very interesting to state that in the last two years the combined joint statement on requirements for the ISAF mission has been updated four times to meet the evolving and changing operational demands, at present, projection stands at a requirement of 74,000 troops in 2009, with a peak increase during the election timeframe, and with the dispatch of additional 17,000 American troops and a number of additional European forces I think this requirement will be meet. Now a word on Pakistan; in the strategic vision statement for ISAF mission as agreed at the summit in 2008, one of the guiding principle was the increased co-operation and engagement in the neighbours of Afghanistan, especially Pakistan. There exists, which I learned only by going into the
internet, a tripartite commission comprising military representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan and NATO ISAF to share information, to exchange intelligence with respect to border security. In addition, there is a joint-intelligence operation centre in Kabul, in ISAF headquarters, staffed jointly by officers from the Afghanistan national army, from the Pakistan army, and from ISAF. At the moment, several joint border co-ordination centres are being established, and at present, ISAF forces are frequently fired upon from inside Pakistan. In some cases ISAF employs defensive fire in self-defence but ISAF forces do not enter Pakistan territory. The efforts of the new Obama, not to confound with Osama, the new Obama administration in intensifying this co-operation between the two countries in every respect can only be beneficial to both, the US, in my view, will have to play a crucial role in this endeavour. So I’d like to sum up now, and say that NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan is the alliances single most important operation, this operation demonstrates the transformation of the alliance from a relatively static cold-war orientation to an organisation capable of dynamic and flexible response and geared to meet modern security challenges, all 26 allies participate with troops on the ground, in addition, ten partner counties plus three contact nations, among them Australia and two Arab nations, provide support. As I mentioned before, there is no pre-defined end date for the mission, only an end state, when the Afghan national security forces will be able to provide security and sustainability without ISAF support. Thank you very much. Andrew Shearer: Thanks Graeme, well as the third speaker on a panel there are advantages and disadvantages, among the disadvantages are that following two very good speakers you have to scramble to think of new interesting things to say. What I’ve been asked to talk about is Australia Afghanistan and our alliance with the United States, and I think it’s interesting in that when we get together this morning to start talking about Afghanistan we actually start talking about Washington, our conversation starts with Washington, and that tells you something obvious it tells you that the alliance has been at the forefront of our involvement in Afghanistan since October 2001 when the former Prime Minister announced our commitment and when historically Australia invoked the ANZUS treaty, the first time that has ever happened, and it was invoked in circumstances its fair to say its drafters would never have contemplated. I think it’s also fair to say that the unprecedented closeness, breadth and depth of the alliance today owes much to our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I think that’s the fascinating backdrop that faces Prime Minister Rudd as he packs his bags to go to Washington on the 24th of March because it seems to me that the Prime Minister faces a rather exquisite dilemma, and what I want to do today is just take you through some of the things I think he’ll have on his mind as he navigates that dilemma. Going back to the quality of the alliance, my starting point is that Australia’s alliance with the US survived the withdrawal of our combat forces from Iraq and it would survive the withdrawal of our combat forces from Afghanistan, but the whole point of the alliance is not whether it survives or not, the point of the alliance is what’s the quality, what’s the enduring value of it to both sides, how does it adapt to contemporary circumstance, and that’s where I think the dilemma comes in. I think there a quite a few factors pointing to an increased Australian contribution in Afghanistan and I would expect to see announcements come from that meeting in Washington later this month front and centre US expectations I think we all know that the Obama administration has many suitors, I think getting the attention of the Obama administration is going to be a huge challenge for Australia and its other allies for all the reasons that Geoff outlined so eloquently and I think that will be front and centre for the Prime Minister when he is there. The demand for coalition forces I think is another factor we’re hearing about the increase in US forces in Afghanistan as a surge, I actually think that’s an error, I don’t think it’s a surge, I don’t think this is a temporary increase of the type that we saw in Iraq, and I think that the US military
planners, if you read carefully what they’re saying in testimony and so on are talking about a sustained increase in US force levels so if we are to increase our forces it seems to me we need to do so planning that it will be a long term commitment. I think strategic consistency is a factor, and Geoff touched on this, but if I could be a little bit controversial both the Obama administration and the Rudd government when they were in opposition chose to benefit politically from the unpopularity of the war in Iraq and the way they did that was to highlight the importance of the war in Afghanistan that’s an acceptable political strategy but it means that once you get in to government you have to live with the reality you’ve created. I think another factor for Australia in this is that we have capacity. The excuse that we might have had four or five years ago of concurrency pressure elsewhere in our own region; in East Timor and Solomon Islands and of course in Iraq is pretty much gone, so the argument that the cupboard’s bare we’d love to step up and send more troops but we can’t really won’t fly and I think people know that. Another key decision point is military necessity, now I’m not right up to date with this, but it seems to me the Dutch are pretty much set on departing Orūzgān which is the province we’re pretty much operating in 2010, that’s next year in military planning terms that’s kind of like tomorrow. I guess it is possible the US is going to step in to that role, but I’m also guessing that the US preference would be that another country do that, an the obvious country is the country that has been operating there for some time now, and that’s a very sizable commitment if we do take it on, and I’ll leave much more expert military commentators to talk about what it would mean. I think there is another couple of factors driving a bigger Australian contribution, one is – and Geoff touched on this – credibility is key to this whole Afghan operation it seems to me and wider international credibility is a factor here, seems to me we can’t really keep flaying Europe’s NATO members for not doing more while saying that we’re very comfortable, thank you very much, with our existing commitment even though it is a reasonable one. And I think that’s particularly the case given the inadequacy of Australia’s civilian response in Afghanistan. Klaus talked about the need for an integrated civil-military approach in the country and the government has talked about that but around the time I finished working in the government we had, I think, two diplomats in Kabul operating on a fly-in fly-out basis in a temporary embassy accommodation, we’ve got, I think, twelve AFP officers in the whole of Afghanistan, and we have – as far as I’m aware – no aid workers operation on the ground in Afghanistan, we have people going in and out reasons for that are obvious, it’s to do with security, it’s to do with complicated conditions of service issues, insurance issues, et cetera which make it very hard for Australia to deploy civilians but frankly it’s not a very strong effort. What are the factors on the other side, because that would seem to be a pretty strong argument for Australia stepping-up. The most obvious one is that the wars not going well, Geoff mentioned it, the Obama team is talking down expectations, we’re seeing an increasingly sophisticated and lethal range of methods employed by the enemy in Afghanistan we’re seeing a government palpably struggling at the national level unable to deliver services, unable to provide basic security for its people, including in Kabul the capital, there is a lot of evidence, I think, that we’re – as a coalition – starting to lose the battle for hearts-and-minds, we’re being outplayed in information warfare, and to make matters worse the situation in Pakistan, which for a long time I think we thought was kind of the secondary front to the war in Afghanistan maybe turns out the be the primary front, and as we saw in the attack on the cricket team the other day, that situation just gets worse and worse. I think too there is an open question as to whether this new coalition strategy will work, it may help the causation is contested by the experts but I think there is broad agreement that the surge worked in Iraq but circumstances in Afghanistan it seems to me, are very very different, it’s not clear to me that there is a viable political accommodation to be had in the war in Afghanistan and the way that perhaps there is now emerging one in Iraq.
I think it’s pretty clear that despite a couple of increased European contributions announced recently, we’re not going to see a major stepping up of European forces to help with this sustained increase of coalition forces. It seems to me that the traffic is rather going to be the other way over the next couple of years I think as the nature of the war has changed coalition government have really failed to develop a compelling strategic rationale for being there, why are we there, what are we trying to do, how are we going to measure progress is the cost worth it? And I think a lot of our societies are struggling with casualties which might be acceptable and worn by the public if they had a clearer sense of what the end point was and that we were moving toward it, and again I think that Iraq is a salient example there. Once there was a sense that the security situation there was improving and that it was worthwhile a lot of the heat went out of the debate, and I think related to that has been a collapse of public support for the war in Afghanistan; our polling at the Lowy Institute last year showed, for the first time, a majority of Australian’s opposed to being in Afghanistan and I found that a bit surprising I mean I thought the debate on Iraq would have sated the public’s desire to see forces come home but it seems that once that trajectory was resolved they just moved on to the next thing and that polling was done in July last year and I find it very hard to believe that that has not got worse, that picture. Two more things that I think militate against stepping up are military concerns, and again I’ll defer to the experts in the room but I’ve never detected a big appetite in defence or in the ADF for a large brigade sized ongoing contribution in Orūzgān, it’s a very very large undertaking there are lots of enablers required to do it and as I’ve said the duration is completely uncertain. Lastly, we’re very constrained in terms of what we can do in terms of stepping up with civilian assets, so I think it’s a genuinely very difficult situation we are it seems to me approach something like a moment of truth in our national commitment in Afghanistan and what’s needed I think is a serious cold eye strategic appraisal of our national interests and our goals, we’ve got a lot of interests invested there and I’ve talked about the alliance I personally believe that the global security paradigm has shifted and an example I like to use is the attacks on the British, American, and Australian missions in Singapore that were disrupted off the back of intelligence gained in caves in Afghanistan from coalition military operations I think the point that the reach of these networks is global is genuine and for that reason I think the threat has changed and that we do need to take a more geographically and thematically expansive view of Australia’s security. We’ve invested blood and treasure in Afghanistan as a nation and I think it’s important not to lose sight of that, particularly in terms of the very real commitment of the military and their families. Western failure in Afghanistan would be a major symbolic victory for terrorists and a major strategic defeat for the West and lastly the nature of the conflict has changed so that it’s a very difficult set of decisions, the rest of today is really about the solutions, but I might take the advantage of having the floor to throw a few out there, seems to me on the military side the key question is whether we step-up in Orūzgān or not, and that’s very difficult, who would partner us, where would be get the helicopters, the artillery, the life to stay there how long could we keep a force like that there, what arr ether implications for our reserve capabilities if something else happens unexpectedly, what would the objective be, does the coalition really have a strategy that can succeed at the national level in Afghanistan, how would we measure progress, can we really win? And it’s not clear to me that government’s really preparing the Australian people to wrestle with those questions right now. Either way I think we need to step up our commitment to training both of the military and police, Klaus talked about the sort of targets that NATO has for training, I personally think that the size of the military that’s envisaged is probably too small, and I think Australia can do more on training, we can send a larger army training team there and we can do more on the police. I think it’s imperative that we make a serious civilian contribution there’s not been much scrutiny of it but our
level of civilian involvement really is pretty inadequate, we really should have a proper embassy in Kabul and it should be properly staffed and we should be able to – after now nearly two decades of deploying people on stabilisation operations – it shouldn’t be beyond our wit to find ways to deploy civilians, even where security is a problem, I think we need to refocus our efforts and the provincial level and get more of those diplomats and aid workers into Orūzgān, and I think that lastly we need to develop a clearer regional strategy, we need to take the problem in Pakistan more seriously than we have and above all the government needs to develop, I think, a clear public case for our commitment there, what we’re doing and a way of keeping the Australian public better informed than they are. Thank you. Graeme Dobell: Alright now, the moment of truth is not coming for the rest of you in the room just yet. What I’d like to do now, you’ve had three really excellent presentations laying out the terrain, you’ve got a chance now to throw some darts and ask some questions; so I’ll throw the floor open and let’s put these guys through their paces for a while. Who wants to go first? Richard Brabin-Smith: Could I pick up Andrew’s final point. You talked about the need for a regional strategy including a contribution with respect to Pakistan. Do you have any views on how Australia might interact more and more profitably, as is the saying with more benefit, with Pakistan? Andrew Shearer: It’s a good question Brab, I mean the first thing to say is that my view is that – and I’ve said this to a table of Indians a couple of months ago and it didn’t go down very well – but it’s Pakistan’s weakness which is the threat to us all, and it seems to me that in a way what is required is almost a kind of Marshall Plan for Pakistan, you have to start building institutions that are credible, you have to start building an economy, you have to start getting the grass roots level issues that are driving this alienation fixed, because at the moment it seems to me, what we’re doing in Afghanistan is kind of swatting flies as these guys come over the border for $20 a day, give them an AK-47 and a few grenades and they’re just going to keep coming, and we hear a lot about addressing the root causes of terrorism but it seems to me until we all take those causes in Pakistan more seriously then we have a problem. Now I don’t want to exaggerate Australia’s role, we’ve got limited resources – and indeed now everyone’s got fewer resources than the had six months ago – but we don’t do a huge amount in terms of aid in Pakistan, we don’t do a huge amount in terms of help for their security forces training, and so forth and I think there are probably some niche areas there where we could target fruitfully in a well co-ordinated way with other donors. Graeme Dobell: Dr. Klaiber, have you any thoughts on NATO and Pakistan? Klaus-Peter Klaiber: I think NATO and Pakistan is not so much the issue apart from these specific regional efforts to stabilise the frontier as such, but in reality I would personally agree with what Andrew said, that the key issue of stabilisation of Afghanistan lies today within Pakistan, but there I feel that the strategic efforts of the United States is of crucial importance and it has to be led by the United States to convince the Pakistani government to change their tact to maybe accept much more foreign assistance, also military assistance, but this is going to be very difficult indeed, but it’s essential and I feel if the international community and especially the United States and maybe some of the coalition partners cannot put enormous pressure on Pakistan it will be very difficult as well to stabilise Afghanistan if you had listened to a report by an Australian journalist who recently visited these remote areas in Pakistan, I think he came to the conclusion that at the end of the transmit that he fears that if things go on unchanged the Pakistan state could fall apart, and very soon. I think this is a frightening, very frightening, prospect for any involvement in Afghanistan.
Tom Gregg: Thanks, just to the panel generally, we’ve seen the appointment of Karl Eikenberry as US ambassador to Kabul – which I think is a good appointment – but we now have Holbrooke as the Special Envoy. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on these appointments by Washington. You now have Holbrooke with a direct link to Obama, to work in Kabul and he has been very outspoken on Karzai, and you have Eikenberry, who has one of the closest relationships to Karzai of any of the ambassador’s, I’m just interested in how you see that playing out? Geoffrey Garrett: On this one I don’t know. This is a bigger question about the Obama administration, isn’t it? You’ve got a lot of power in the Whitehouse, you’ve got a lot of power out in the departments, you’ve got a lot of overlapping jurisdictions all over the place. My sense about Obama’s overall view on how this should work is ‘I want lots of robust discussion behind closed doors, but as soon as we decide I want the iron clad discipline to obtain in terms of message and execution’. So turning on Karzai must have been a thought through position on the Obama side, and that begs the question what were they thinking about, what’s the end game there? I don’t know if anyone in this room has a view on this end game; maybe Bill Maley does. William Maley: Just on that particular point, I think one of the little-noticed features of internal politics within Afghanistan in the moment is how many of the potential contestants for the approaching presidential election actually have power bases in Washington rather than in Afghanistan alone. People like Ali Jalali, Ashraf Ghani, (and even Zalmay Khalilzad’s name been mentioned although that seems unlikely to me). Some of these are émigrés who have been living away from Afghanistan for many years but are excellently connected to various circles in Washington. And it may well be the case that a number have come to the conclusion that a way in which to position themselves optimally as competitors in the Afghan election is to try to trash Karzai and his immediate associates in Washington, because if the view then spreads in Afghanistan that Karzai is on the nose with the new US administration that may be to his disadvantage. So there is that complexity which comes into play here as well, and Karzai, of course, doesn’t have that kind of base, because he is dependent of the Afghan embassy in Washington, which is not just representing him individually but the state of Afghanistan, and is an exceptionally weak embassy anyway. Andrew Shearer: Just an observation about Karzai, I mean I’m not here with a brief for him today, but I think it’s salutary to remind ourselves that around about seven or eight months ago there was a big public push to get rid of Maliki in Iraq and the bloke staged a kind of what everyone thought was a clumsy kind of sortie down in Basra which, in hindsight, turns out to have been one of the political and military turning points of the situation in Iraq, so I’m always a little cautious about ditching people who we know and throwing our fortunes on the breeze. William Maley: Just on that point, obviously of course it is for the Afghans to determine who their president will be, and David Kilcullen, an Australian, in congressional testimony the week before last, pointed rather effectively to the case of Diem in South Vietnam in 1963 as a negative example of what can happen if outside powers begin to become excessively entangled in trying to pick winners. I think there is, however, a deeper question with which the US administration is yet to come to terms, which is that the Afghan constitution, by creating a strong presidential system, has actually set up the state for failure. The office of President of Afghanistan is actually one which is too exacting in its job description for anyone to do well. Symbolic head of state, executive head of government, mediator between multiple competing interests, many of which have international backers to promote them, it’s very naive I think to think that changing the person at the top of the Afghan government is going to make much difference at all if these structural problems are not addressed.
Klaus-Peter Klaiber: Well just one other reflection in this respect, I mean everybody knows that within Afghanistan nowadays the Karzai administration is not considered to be very effective, it’s corrupt, it’s not doing the job properly and it’s considered to be a puppet of the United States, and that is the danger if the American government in the forthcoming election would take sides for one or the other candidates, so if I would have to give advice to the American administration I would not take sides in this election campaign at all. Graeme Dobell: I suppose I’d only say having been around a lot of politicians that I wouldn’t necessarily expect that Richard Holbrooke knew what the message of the day was, and even if he did you wouldn’t necessarily be relying upon him to, so yes, there is always a danger to ascribed well planned strategies to governments on the go, I find. Peter Leahy: Thanks Graeme, I was taught a long time ago that the task of a General, and I’d say in this state it’s the task of the statesman, is to define the nature of the conflict, what I’ve heard this morning from the panel – and I apologise I was a little bit late – I see as mission confusion, the confusion between the political change and policy change, the confusion between what we went out to achieve in 2001 and then again in later events, it was about Al-Qaeda, it was about the Taliban and the nexus that was there and I think there was tacked on to it ‘we better have some stability and security because that’s a wonderful thing to achieve’. If you look at Afghanistan largely Al-Qaeda has gone, the Taliban have a different task they have a different approach, but they may have gone to Pakistan which presents a real problem; is that where the task is now? And the security and stability seems to be there, but this mission confusion is, to my mind, statements like ‘we’re not looking for a Switzerland’, ‘we’re not looking for a democracy like ours’ and Angus Houston said last week I think he’d prefer to form planning documents and he talked about something that is more akin to the tribal origins, I wonder if the panel, because as a General I like to have a mission, I wonder if the panel have a clear view of what our strategy and our mission should be, because I’m not seeing it at the moment. Graeme Dobell: Well, you’re just about throwing us to the next session, but given that these guys have done all the hard work they get two bites at the cherry, so let’s do ‘what is our mission’ very shortly now, then we’ll go coffee, then we might really get into it next session; so, final words please. Geoffrey Garrett: I actually won’t go with what the mission is, but I’ll just underscore what you said in terms of my sense of the American political and policy debate. There has been no discussion Afghanistan for a long time. Iraq was the only question. Everything in the US was about Iraq, even when the rest of the world didn’t care about Iraq any more. Then you flipped to the financial crisis, so there hasn’t been, in my judgement, a serious discussion yet of Afghanistan. And of course mission confusion and mission creep are a consequence of that. Andrew Shearer: Peter you’re absolutely right I think, while I was putting my remarks together I was trying to conceive what is the mission, I mean it keeps shifting, it seems to me we need to go back to why we went there, we know why we went, Al-Qaeda were there, the Taliban were there, we needed to get rid of the Taliban so we could get rid of the Al-Qaeda presence, it seems to me the mission now has to be partly grounded in that and that is to present, it’s kind of a negative mission in a way, but it’s to prevent Afghanistan again becoming that sort of safe-haven, and it seems to me that to do that you need to achieve some other things and they are Klaus’s thought about credible security forces that can stop people coming over the border and so forth, reasonable delivery of services and so forth, so that there is legitimacy of the operation of those security forces.
But what we’re seeing so far in Washington is a very rapid back-peddling on what the end state looks like and it just seems to me this looks more and more like, this seems very unfashionable to say but, it seems more like a border policing operation that previous empires have conducted and the problem of course is they conducted them in a world that wasn’t about the 24/7 instantaneous media cycle and you know guys with mobile phones photographing civilian casualties and so forth, it’s hard, and it’s going to be very hard for our societies to sustain casualties for that sort of very opaque objective. Klaus-Peter Klaiber: Well thank you very much, I would like to be an advocate of the devil and argue that Australia is part of a NATO operation and NATO has a clear vision and strategy and it has been developed in 2008 so I sometimes ask myself whether the solution of our problems is really to develop a completely new strategy there is not much we can really do to change but there is one clear objective of course and I think we all agree with that, if we leave the Afghanistan what will happen then we will have a terrorist sanctuary in this part of the world and that would be terrible for all of us. Therefore I think the vision statement which had been developed last year by the NATO alliance and all member countries plus other participating nations including Australia were in agreement with that, so I’m personally very surprised if something extraordinarily new will come out of the strategic discussion in Washington. Graeme Dobell: That is an excellent spot to lead us into the next session, and we’re now going to have coffee. INTERMISSION Graeme Dobell: Just to give you the rules of engagement for this session. As Dante said, the inner circle of hell is reserved for prophets and seers, and so the inner circle of hell today I am urging to enjoy life on this Earth because the next life will be much more difficult, so we’re going to urge you to enjoy yourself this morning. And the way it’s going to work is Frank is going to kick it off, and when he is finished we’re then going to descend to the seventh ring of hell starting on my right with Hugh White and we’re going to work around the inner circle and each of you is going to be given about 90 seconds to answer a question that Frank is going to set up for us, and that question is: “What is Australia trying to achieve in Afghanistan; what is our strategic objective?” A simple question I’m sure you’ll agree, which you can all deal with in 90 seconds. Frank Lewincamp: That question was a surprise to me too; I’ve just heard that for the first time. As I understand my role in leading this discussion it is to be a bit of a spruiker or provocateur. I suspect not much will be needed on this particular subject. Can I just take a slight exception to where we ended the last session, where we said the issue now for discussion was the mission. No, the issue firstly for discussion is policy - mission presumes a particular policy outcome so let’s just go back to the policy questions first. I like Graeme’s formulation about talking about what Australia’s strategic interests are, with the afternoon session about the mission itself and its implementation. But I could say that if we do our job well this morning and we clarify the policies such that Australia should depart from Afghanistan, then we can all take an early mark and take the afternoon off. I’ll make a few comments and they’ll be largely declaratory or assertive because I don’t have the time to justify all that I might say to you now. Three brief observations about how we’ve got to where we are now. Firstly, I think the initial decision to invade Afghanistan in 2001 merited much more careful consideration at that time. You’ll recall that Bush’s speech to Congress in 2001 issued an ultimatum to the Taliban as harbourers of Al-Qaeda. That was a unilateralist approach which
committed everybody else without any consultation. Now it may well be that in the end we would have had no other option but I think that certainly merited further consideration at that stage. Secondly, I don’t think the cause of Afghanistan was assisted at all by the diversion of effort into Iraq in pursuit of the furtherance of the so-called war on terror. Thirdly, I was interested in the discussion in the end of the period before - the effort in Afghanistan has not been aided by the handling of Pakistan. We’ve consistently failed to deal with urgent issues in that country. But we are where we are, so we must move forward from there. I was heartened to hear in Obama’s speech to Congress last week, and I’ll just quote it, that he said “a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al-Qaeda and combat terrorism”. I don’t think the combination of those two was accidental in the speech. Let me pose a tough question - is cooperation with Pakistan still the answer, or is a more forceful strategy required in relation to that country? I was a little surprised in the outline of the conference today that there was no mention of Afghani national interests. There has been no discussion of that, nor has there been any of Pakistan’s and that may warrant a little bit of consideration during the discussion. The focus of this conference is to clarify Australia’s interests and therefore our future policy operational strategy. I’ll make the first obvious point about Australia’s policy options - there are no clear, compelling or appealing policy choices available. What is the real issue for Australia? I don’t think it is terrorism or the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The real issue is the US alliance relationship, which Andrew covered. I don’t think the humanitarian or terrorism issues by themselves are sufficient to justify Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan. Australia, I don’t think, has a separate policy position; it certainly doesn’t have a clear, coherent exposition of Australia’s strategic interests in Afghanistan, or at least not that I’m aware of. If there is a classified version around in government, it’s been written after I left. What are the options for the US alliance in Afghanistan? There are three, I think; firstly, the status quo; secondly, a revised military strategy, including a surge or increased forces; and thirdly, withdrawal, partial or complete. The key issues about the revised military strategy are what are the prospects, what is the achievability of the end state, and what would success look like? I’ll have a shot here at defining four things where minimal levels are required on an ongoing basis; firstly, internal political stability; secondly internal security; thirdly, cross-border security; and fourthly, some sort of reconstruction and economic restoration. These constitute broadly the end state that we’re looking for. We might quibble about the extent to which these are achieved, but minimal levels in those four, I think, need to be achieved. What are the implications or the options then for Australia? I think there are only two, each of them broken into two further options. The first is continued participation; the second is withdrawal. So on the first, ‘continued participation’, we can do that in two ways: one is the status quo levels, and that’s tolerable from our point of view but trying to adopt a General’s perspective this doesn’t meet the stated criteria for our military engagement elsewhere - there are no clear strategy or objectives, no clear end point and it’ll be very difficult to decide when such an engagement would end. The second option under continued participation is to participate in the surge. I think for Australia that will be challenging – both militarily and politically. The second option is withdrawal. We could do that in one of two ways; firstly, without the US; and secondly, with the US. Firstly, without the US, the Australian dilemma then, as Andrew put so clearly, is at what cost to the strength and the breadth of the alliance. Secondly, with the US - I think it would be a very welcome outcome. But what is our capacity to persuade the US to go down that path?
I’ll make a final point. Withdrawal may be a strategic defeat - I think a number of people spoke about that - but it may be far better to accept that defeat now than do it in two or three years’ time. I trust that is sufficiently provocative. Graeme Dobell: Well I Think that sets it up perfectly, and for a man who didn’t know what his brief was I think he did that extremely well. No wonder you did so well in defence. Alright well, you know the question, and to give you an example of how this is going to work, Hugh White your 90 seconds starts now. Hugh White: Thanks mate, okay there are three ways you can approach Australia’s objectives: that we care about the Afghans, forget about that; that we care about terrorism; and we care about the alliance. On terrorism there are two questions, first of all, is the kind of strategic approach which we have seen before – and whatever it might evolve into – credible, that is, if you succeed to you fix the problem? If we succeed, for example, in Klaus-Peter’s account of the NATO definition, if we succeed in building viable Afghan security forces do we succeed in limiting significantly the risk that Afghanistan will become a haven for terrorism? I think the answer is almost certainly no. Even if it wasn’t for the problem of Pakistan, and the people who somehow seem to see the linkage between Afghanistan and Pakistan as good news, ‘oh that’s a relief, now we understand the problem we’ve discovered we can’t do anything with a state of 30 million people, and we’re starting to think we’re going to do something with a state of 180 million people, and nukes’. That makes it harder, not easier. The second question about terrorism is, ‘is it achievable?’, even if I thought that first objective was credible, ones chances oh achieving, even in Afghanistan, the level of security forces adequate to deliver the kind of outcome we’re after is very low and I just make this observation, there has never been in history an armed force or security force that was better than the government it served, and the idea that we can build a stable Afghanistan by building a strong security force is I think to put it precisely the cart before the horse. You have to have a strong government before the security forces can do anything for you, so that takes us to the alliance. I agree that what we decide in response to the kind of request we’re likely to get from Barack Obama is not in itself an alliance buster. We can say no to increased forces without destroying the alliance, what it will do is affect the way the alliance works, and I, like others, think the alliance has always been the question. If our aim, and I use that plural pronoun a bit loosely, if our aim is to build with Barack Obama the kind of relationship which John Howard had with George Bush then saying yes is extremely important, this will be the most important question Barack Obama puts to Kevin Rudd in his first term and if Rudd wants that kind of intimacy he’d better say yes and say yes in a pretty big way. But that’s Rudd’s interest, not ours. We don’t need to have that kind of intimacy with a President, Bob Hawke didn’t have it with Ronald Reagan for example, and the alliance flourished very nicely under Hawke, so I think we need to ask ourselves a deeper question, where – more broadly – do we want the alliance to go? And in my opinion, the most important issue in the future of the alliance is how we can discuss with the United States the evolution of strategic issues in Asia, so the question is how does our position on Afghanistan affect that, which is a really big question for Australia, and my argument would tend to be that pulling out would do damage to our credentials in discussing the future of Asia with the United States but surging is not necessary so my answer is we’ll stick with a thousand. Graeme Dobell: Patrick Walters what is Australia’s strategic objective in Afghanistan; your time starts now. Patrick Walters: I think it’ll be very difficult for Kevin Rudd to contemplate any kind of drawdown in our forces in Afghanistan. You’ve only got to look at what he’s said in the year or so before he took government, and what he’s said since, I don’t think that while there has been some stepping
back from the notion that Afghanistan is terror central, the way the PM views the alliance will mean that we will be there, we will be there for a long time. I think we can talk about later on the prospects in terms of our military involvement, what that might mean, but just in terms of the alliance I think there really is an expectation on the American side that we will do more. That is certainly based on my discussions I’ve had with senior American officers recently. Now of course it is a political question, but I think there really is an issue of alliance management here. Should we seek to limit our involvement or indeed draw down our involvement. I think that is not something that Rudd can contemplate with any degree of confidence in terms of the way that would be viewed in Washington. But in terms of Orūzgān, there are some real issues there; perhaps we could talk about those later Andrew Shearer: Thanks, I don’t think I’ve got a whole lot to add to what I said before. Hugh’s comment about what sort of alliance we want, what is the quality of the alliance that we want, I think is key here. The benefits of intimacy that was present in the alliance over the last ten years or so Hugh and I might differ on slightly, but I think you can point to very substantive set of institutional gains from that, seems to me, Rudd faces a choice, are we happy with banking those institutional gains and then dropping to the second tier, back to where we were – frankly, the second tier of US allies. I think the problem for Rudd in choosing to do that is that he has got a very ambitious declaratory foreign policy; he wants to influence post-Kyoto climate-change framework for the world, he wants to influence the post-September 15 financial institutions for the world, I don’t see how he does that without having a pretty intimate relationship with Barack Obama, unless you make a different judgement that is, that Obama really not going to deliver so as I said before I think Rudd’s dilemma is exquisite, if I had to guess I’d say he’d do something bigger than stick with the status quo. Lesley Seebeck: Thank you. I tend to agree with Andrew that this is a difficult problem it’s getting worse and it’s going to challenge the government. We’ve had it fairly easy so far. I don’t think our interests in the region have changed; I think they have adapted and morphed as one would expect when you confronting an adaptive intelligent enemy. We still have a clear interest in stability in that region, not least because we’re dealing with the imminent collapse of a state that has nuclear weapons and we’re seeing a revitalised Jihadist insurgency and one which is proving that it can pull apart established nation-states. Therefore, I think we have an ongoing strategic interest in participating in that area, we share interests with the United States in that, and we act in Afghanistan within the alliance in that framework. Therefore, in terms of the specific policy question about do we do more do we do less, I agree with Andrew. I think we’re going to be doing more, but I also think we’re going to have to be smarter about how we do more. At the moment we’re still utilising what are essentially conventional state forces and putting them into a situation where we then attempt to engage in counter insurgency operations. We don’t have sufficient civilian capacity, we haven’t adapted to many of the new innovations that are evident in the British and US forces, and we therefore are also confronted with a transformation issue of our own as well. In terms of how we operate with the US I think that we’re going to operate more closely. If we don’t we’re not actually going to be able to fulfil even the tactical measures of success we set ourselves. I have to admit one of the things that struck me in the discussion this morning was that we kept talking about how we’re going to ‘win’ this war. We have to get away from that sort of language: this is a long war—and even simply labelling this as a ‘long war’ provides the psychological understanding that you looking at a new future, you have to adapt, and you have to change. Simply attempting to continually measure success invariably lends itself to a tactical and operational level of understanding and doing so risks continually ‘failing’ because conditions change. Thank you.
Jim Molan: I think there are four reasons why Australia should do something, and they’ve all been mentioned before; humanitarian, self interest, and the alliance in any way that you want to put a weighting on those. The last one I would add is political integrity, and that’s just a cheap shot, really, if you say you’re going to do something then you ought to do something. But there is absolutely no point in getting the strategy right, even generally right, unless you match it and alight it down so that you have an operational outcome that matches your strategy, we have got our strategic guidance in Australia right for many many years, but we’ve never done anything to actually realise it at the level, so at the moment we have a declared strategy which I think is as Dr. Klaiber described it, we’ve got an actual strategy, which I believe is a holding strategy in Iraq and this is not Australia, this is the big broad picture, it’s a holding strategy until we can figure out what our strategy is and until we can get some resources together, then somewhere in there, and we might discover it here, is a best strategy, and I believe that that is a strategy to win, and I understand what Lesley says, but it just depends how you define win, and I’d love to define win later on, that would be matched by an operation strategy or plan which is really to achieve security and then to get into the clever parts of counterinsurgency, and then to hand over to the Afghans and the tactics is all about the kind of sayings people have like clear, hold, build, all those clever tactical things that you do at the bottom level, but the mission, really in – in my view, regardless of how we want to put it, regardless of whether its declared – is control of Afghanistan, who in the end, controls Afghanistan, is it the warlords, is it going to be the Taliban, is it going to be some form of imperfect democratic government and therefore the people? Daniel Marston: I’m just going to talk quickly I put in quickly because I’m going to be touching upon quite a few of these issues later in the afternoon, the first point I’d raise is yes, it is an alliance issue. I’m an American who works with the Brits as well, we do look at Australia and I can see that it is an alliance issue. It is a question I think that Australian has to figure out if its going be a team A or team B alliance partner, and some of the European partners are definitely team B now, but quite a few Australian officers and senior politicians have stated that they want to be on team A with us. This was the good war for Rudd, this was the good war for Gordon Brown, this was the good war for Obama. Now people are saying we have to see it through and try to change the strategy, there is a changing strategy and I’ll cover some of this later this afternoon. It has been a holding action, exactly what General Molan has said but it is developing a strategy bottom-up and Australia needs to figure out whether it wants to be team A or team B. William Maley: Thank you, I think the ‘holding action’ line is a useful one because it drives home the point that looking for an immediate route to a particularly-defined notion of victory is not always fruitful. This was the fatal mistake that Basil Liddell Hart made in the first half of 1940, when he could not see any way of defeating Germany and therefore advocated that one should try to cut a deal, whereas Churchill had a wider vision, which was that the wider political situation might reconfigure in such a way as would change the relevant balances. Here I think the equivalent is dealing with the problem of sanctuaries in Pakistan: the further one gets from the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan the quieter the country becomes. There is bad governance and corruption in the north of Afghanistan but there is not an insurgency, and part of the problem here is that very few governments have been able to work out how to deal with a particularly difficult elephant in the room, namely a failing, roguish, nuclear armed state, which will eat alive the civilian politicians who make up the weak part of the Pakistani state, but not necessarily address the problem of the strong part of the Pakistani state, namely the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate which is not a weak organisation at all, and which is up to no good. David Sanger in his recent book, recounts from an American intercept the army chief in Pakistan in conversation with President Musharraf in May 2008 referring to the Haqqani network as a ‘strategic asset’. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be confronted. In terms of Australian forces, very
briefly, Frank has outline a sort of continuation scenario and a withdrawal scenario, I think we should also put a reconfiguration scenario on the table, namely, asking the question of whether we should be putting all our resources into Uruzgan, or whether it might actually be possible to achieve greater political capital by investing in some activities in some of the areas of Afghanistan which are less threatened - because at the moment in Afghanistan there is a great deal of anger on the part of people in the quieter parts of the country who see that although they have made an effort to get their act together and deliver better governance, all the resources are flowing to the rougher areas, which is not a good signal to send in the long run. Rod Lyon: I’d like to go back to grand strategy just for a second to ask why was it that we went into Afghanistan at all. And it seems to me that the reason we did was that we agreed with the assessment that was being made in Washington that said we have a direct strategic interest in stopping global range strategic threats emanating from the ungoverned spaces of southwest Asia. Now I think that’s the problem we have to focus on, and conflating it with the possible collapse of a nuclear armed Pakistan and a whole set of other problems in the region, we have to beware of rolling too much together here. The US still judges that interest as being amongst its vital interests, so our key ally judges that grand strategic problem as still being a very important one for it. How do Australians think about it? I don’t think we’ve honestly had the debate much, we tend to focus naturally a little bit on our region and on the shifting power balance in Asia, but it’s wrong to think that all strategic problems boil down to classic Napoleonic great power balance ones. I think we do share with the US that strategic interest at the grand strategy level about handling a new class of strategic threat, and I think we ought to prepare ourselves for the long haul of finding mechanisms for dealing with it. Peter Leahy: The quandary here is that as a middle power, or an aspiring middle power, it is difficult to maintain an independent strategy or mission. In some ways our strategy is do we participate or not, in someone else’s conflict, and that is really what Australia has done, I think, in much of our history, so to me the issue is, do we like what somebody else has said we’re going to be doing, if we don’t how do we influence it to get it to a stage where we can accept it, or do we not participate? Well, what would we like to see that broader strategy, I think the first thing is deny Afghanistan to the terrorists, that was the original mission and I think that has to stand, to do that needs to be the development of the Afghan security forces, but I don’t think that to have a nation you have to have an army and that prescription we heard out of the Afghan constitution, I’m not sure I agree with that, so the sequence isn’t quite have a nation have an army, but you need security forces because that’s part of the exit strategy. But it’s then, very importantly, the humanitarian mission that Jim has mentioned, people there need help, we are a country who are generous, we’re open, and I think we can help people, but it’s to provide a platform for development, then we need to figure out what are the metrics for development, and therefore when can we decide when it’s time to leave? But before we do all of that, I think we’ve got to do a few things; firstly, understand what is the Afghan nation, I don’t know that, I’m not sure they do; we need to understand what will work for them as a government; we need to decided whether the Taliban are part of the government, or whether they’re part of the solution; I think the issue of the Taliban perhaps in 2001 that bit was solved but aren’t we distracted by the Taliban now, and I agree entirely with some of the earlier comments, we need to get civil agencies involved in this, it is a civil problem as much as it is a security problem. So first point; we don’t control the strategy, we have to be able to influence it, and my conclusion is we should be helping, we should partcicpate. Klaus-Peter Klaiber: Well, as a non-Australian I’d want to make two comments in addition to what I said already, I just wanted to state the fact that there are only, apart from the United States, there
are only seven other countries who are putting in more forces into Afghanistan than Australia, and therefore, I think the Australian military presence is quite respectable; secondly, I would totally agree with previous speaker who said that if we accept a kind of comprehensive civil-military approach to possibly getting closer to a solution of our problem then it would be advisable, in my humble view, that Kevin Rudd is travelling to Washington and proposes some additional assistance providing economic help, human rights issues, and these are the issues where Australia has been very strong in the past, and why not put the emphasis on this, and by the way there was one retired American General, who in the committee meeting of the Armed Services Committee recently mentioned, ‘well if the other nations cannot put more troops on the ground then I think they could help financially or with development assistance’, and I think this is the message I would leave with you Australians here. David Johnston: Whatever our strategic regional objectives were when we undertook this operation, we all accepted them as legitimate, valid, and worthy; and accordingly we committed to them, and I think that is a very important point, that we are now committed. As I see it the three principal motivators were; firstly, Afghanistan itself, but more broadly Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran – a region that potentially is a very problematic for all of the players on our side; we also saw it as vitally important to be a part of the ANZUS team, if you like, and to maintain our standing with the United States; and lastly, I think we also saw some potential standing positives in our local region here in Asia. The question that now confronts us is, ‘what will the end result look like?’, and I think this is a very important question, and I venture the proposition that it will look something like Iraq is starting to look like, there are massive differences between the two countries, but I think t here will be, over some long time, much probably longer than Iraq, a governance issue, and we better set about looking at governance issues in a much bigger way than we do, a governance, propriety, and integrity that states to emerge flowing from the level of security that we can all provide. Neil James: I suppose I begin with an advertisement, I mean the ADA first started talking about what Australia should do when the Dutch go 18 months ago, so our normal lead on public debate is well ahead. People are forgetting the wider moral vision here, we’ve been bludging on the Americans for too long and we’re going to have to soon starting to deliver, but you’ve also go to look at it from the point of view of the Afghans and I actually reject the argument that the Afghans don’t come into this, and I’ve lived for a fairly long time in Pakistan and I know Afghanistan fairly well, it’s in Australia’s interest to take over from the Dutch in Orūzgān, for the simple reason that we don’t want the American’s to be the senior partners in the province: we’re better at counterinsurgency than they are, it’ll help the Afghans better if we’re the senior partner, not the Yanks. It will also mean that we will finally start to deliver more than rhetoric to the Americans, we will no longer have a niche force or a token contribution, we’ll have an actually contribution; because you don’t fight wars unless you intent to win them, all wars are a contest of will, and all wars end when one side gives up, and this is why I’d reject Frank’s broad assumption that it was a unilateralist operation in Afghanistan, this was a United Nations endorsed operation, the front page of Liberation the communist-newspaper in Paris said “we are all Americans now”, after 9/11, the wider political and moral vision here is that if we don’t tackle the problem in Afghanistan it will eventually bite us on the bum as it already has to an extent in Bali and in Jakarta and Singapore, and to some extent in southern Thailand and the southern Philippines. We live next door to the largest Muslim country on Earth, luck they’re not all Islamists, however, if the problem of Islamist terrorism isn’t tackled in its nest it will eventually come and affect us here, or the risk of it affecting us here. You can’t be unilateralist and regard the Arafura Sea as a mote, globalisation is total, you can’t have economic globalisation and communications globalisation without looking at the globalisation of strategy, we can’t hide in Australia any more and we have to get in there and win this war, and continuing to talk about ‘aw gees we might not win’ is not the
answer, because the people watching us, the enemy watching us, know that our Achilles heel is our will, and it’s our will we have to strengthen. You know the counterinsurgency war in Northern Ireland took 30 years to defeat the IRA but they were convincingly beaten in the end because the will of the British never faltered and why our will should not, must not, falter in Afghanistan and we should increase the contingent with a re-enforced battalion group with artillery and tanks, and we’ll have to borrow some attack helicopters off the Americans because ours won’t be ready yet. Tom Gregg: Thankyou, if Australia’s strategic objective in Afghanistan is the US alliance, then for the sustainability of Australia’s effort I think we need to be pretty sure that the US has a coherent strategy and clear objectives. And I think that right now they’re trying to define what their strategic objectives are. If our strategic objective is more closely aligned with the Afghan national interest, which would be stabilisation, economic development, reduced narcotics, this kind of thing, the only way we’re going to achieve that is by the strengthening of the Afghan state. Right now – as we’ve heard this morning – the Karzai government lacks capacity, it’s not just capacity however, it’s an issue of political will, which is lacking greatly. Afghanistan needs to define itself, or address its relationship, not just with Pakistan but in the region more generally, on counter-narcotics and refugees with Iran, on counter-narcotics again and energy and other issues with its northern neighbours, after three decades of war, Afghanistan needs to establish itself in the region again and it hasn’t done so, so I think I’d agree with Bill and Andrew that in order to achieve stability it’s not really going to be a military effort alone, it will be a military effort as part of a much greater political strategy which will require an enormous civilian effort. Geoffrey Garrett: What a fascinating discussion, I’m really glad to be here to be listening to it. I’ve been struck, since I’ve been back in Australia, by the slogan of alliance management, as an end in and of itself for Australian foreign policy. I guess my conclusion it is that it would make sense for Australia to think about Afghanistan on its own terms, rather than about alliance management. There was talk about slipping from the A team to the B team, and I wonder if that’s just about prestige or about things Australia might want to get done. If it’s about what Australia might want to get done, my sense about what most of the things that Prime Minister Rudd wants to get done with Barack Obama’s help are probably not going to get done anyway. So what are those things? G20, Doha, Copenhagen are all ones I think where the broad Australian strategy would be ‘we need some global solutions and we need the US to take a leadership role’. I think it’s unlikely that that will happen this year on any of those things. Can Prime Minister Rudd and Australia be the China go-between for the US? The Chinese want to have bilateral relations with the US, as does the US with China. Can Australia convince the US and Asian countries that the US should be part of the East Asian Summit? I don’t see that. Is Australia positioned to become the new Japan for Asia? I don’t see that either in the short term. So, if the reason you want to be on the A team is because it’ll get the US to do heavy lifting for Australia based on the objectives that Prime Minister Rudd has stated, I don’t see that that’s a good reason to be on the A team. Stephan Frühling: I have a lot of sympathy for the plight of the Afghan people; but I think that if the prime motivation is humanitarian and you want to improve the lot of mankind, Afghanistan is not the place to start. The second point is that terrorism was a good reason to go into Afghanistan in 2001, but I don’t think it was a good reason to stay. I think certainly we’re now in a much better position in terms of domestic counter-terrorism and in terms of international counter-terrorism capabilities that we could manage the problem - and I guess that’s all that we’re trying to achieve anyway - even if we’re not in Afghanistan. So I think that the main Australian objective in Afghanistan doesn’t actually lie in Afghanistan, but it lies in the US once the war is over. I think Australia’s main objective is for Washington to find a way of getting out of Afghanistan, whether it is now or in the future, in a way that is not going to be followed by another two decades of self-
introspection similar to the post-Vietnam period, and a retreat from external commitments. Vietnam was primarily just a US operation, but certainly all allies have pledged that they will participate in Afghanistan, and if the US gets out of Afghanistan we have to make sure it doesn’t get out with a sense of betrayal by its allies. I don’t think Australia can afford to have a US who feels betrayed by its allies and is reluctant to take up external commitments over the next few decades. That can mean withdrawing from Afghanistan with the US now, or it can mean participating in the surge, but that depends on events in Washington and not in Kabul. Michael Evans: Well, all things are possible in strategy with the exceptions of incest and Morris dancing. I think this is a very very tough one, this is a failed state threat, it’s a war of international necessity, it’ll take a generation to resolve, if it’s resolved at all, and we should see our role there as a security contributor, rather than a security leader – part of an international mandate, part of a multilateral push. Our aim should be reasonably simple, we want to try and end, or help end, the cycle of under-development and insecurity, that’s produced a terrorist state. You cannot leave this place to fester because it will simply metastasise and spread. How should we proceed? I think we should have a more focused regional strategy, I think we need to work more closely with the Pakistani’s, particularly in training their forces in counterinsurgency, that’s one thing we can do rather modestly. I think we also need to work very hard on local capacity building, because in the end the Afghans need to own this problem. So for Australia we should put a great deal of effort into police training, which is something which is often neglected in this kind of nation building, and army training too, I mean we trained 16,500 Iraqis – there is no reason why we can’t train 16,500 or even 20,000 Afghans. As for raising forces in Orūzgān I think we should be very cautious here, I think we should proceed incrementally, I’d like to be convinced the strategy that’s going to be developed over the next 18 months has a good prospect of delivering area control, reconstruction, human security, and governance. If we have to contribute some small increase in combat troops for that; so be it. Richard Brabin-Smith: I find myself thinking that a bit more context would be useful; and I ask myself what does the history of Afghanistan tell us, what does it tell us about what might be possible? I don’t find this a particularly encouraging line of thought to go down; you can argue that Afghanistan never has been a modern trouble-free state. Peter referred to it’s not going to be a Switzerland; Kabul isn’t going to be a khaki-coloured version of Canberra. It’s a very artificial country in many ways, something that we often lose sight of. There was, arguably, a period of about 100 years of relative stability when Afghanistan was not much of a problem to its neighbours, and not much of a problem to itself; that was achieved through, yes, military force, but more importantly, political negotiation. This gets to the heart of the matter: one way or another, where Afghanistan gets to is going to be through negotiation, negotiation with the disaffected tribal groups in the eastern part of the country in particular. I don’t think it’s helpful to use the term ‘winning’ because I don’t know what ‘winning’ would look like. If you want to regard this as a civil war in Afghanistan, which is tempting to some extent, again we need to ask ourselves, well, what does a realistic end-state look like, I don’t even like the term ‘end-state’, but some kind of modus vivendi between the various components of today’s Afghanistan. So we need to be realistic, it seems to me, about what some kind of equilibrium state would look like, one which would then allow responsibly-minded nations to decide they can take their troops away. This is the context in which I conclude, yes, on the one hand, there are good reasons for us to continue having elements of the defence force there; I’m happy for Australia to play its part as a (I always used to choke on the phrase, but I’ll use it now) good international citizen. It is important that we do this to the extent that we can, to the extent that our priorities allow. Yes, we should be there with at least half an eye on the alliance with the United States. But let me emphasise that
there is much more to the alliance and its management than sending troops to central Asia. It seems to me that my particular conclusion is, once we have a clarification of the context, you’ll be able to decide with much more confidence whether our contribution is more guns, or rather to focus – as many others have said around this table – on a greater civil effort. For example, which is one of the areas in which we lead the world? Dry-climate farming. What’s Afghanistan like? It’s a bloody dry country; maybe we should send a few more farmers there. Chris Barrie: I’ve just got a few remarks to make. I guess in hindsight and reflecting on where we’ve been, I think we should adhere to first principle of any military operation: you should never start anything unless you’re prepared to finish it. And my look at what we’ve been through in Afghanistan is because we took our eye off the ball when Iraq came along very seriously, and we actually gave our opponents and adversaries an opportunity to regroup, reorganise, and rearm; which has made the job we set out to do way back when a lot more difficult. My second comment, I’d just like to talk about what it means to go from team A to team B, in terms of the alliance. Those of us that have been around long enough know that when you slip from team A to team B there are very serious consequences for dealing across a whole range of issues with the US. I think we have long regarded ourselves as being in team A, but nonetheless about two years ago Prime Minister Howard had to ring President Bush in order to clear up a little security matter of getting certain security access – and we’re in team A. And if you ask the sugar farmers of Australia if the FTA has delivered to them you would also weep, so people from countries like New Zealand who slip from being on team A to team B will tell you what it means not to be taken seriously in Washington. My first point, it’s going to take a generation to solve this problem; now either the problem we’re confronting is intractable or impossible, and if we’re prepared to admit to that in these tough times then maybe it’s time to get out, but if we decide that’s not the case then I think there are a few things that follow. The first one is that we shouldn’t try to cherry-pick what it is we do. That is very damaging to our reputation and I think most of us that have worn uniforms or wear uniforms know that it just crops up that we are pretty good at being cherry-pickers. Years ago I had the wonderful opportunity of accusing the United States of being cherry-pickers when we were going to East Timor, so that was the only time I’ve had the chance to lecture my US colleagues on that. Secondly, I think Australia does have a record of being a great exemplar, and it does seem to me that there ought to be a lot more we can do, if we want to. And in this connection I was very interested to read Kevin Rudd’s speech in October last year, where he talked about Orūzgān province and demonstrating the importance of having a coherent military and civilian strategy, something Australia has pushed for in discussions with NATO. It’s not a matter of either/or, nor a matter of first and then the other: the civilian and the military effort are two parts of one strategy. Well, Prime Minister where the hell are we on this civilian and military strategy because I don’t see it. So we’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re going to be taken seriously. Thirdly, it does mean to me if we’re serious about the work we think we want to do in Afghanistan we’ve got to bring our resources to bear; and finally, work in the Australian community. I don’t think we should underestimate the job that needs to be undertaken to sell a generational war to the Australian community, after all, we’re going to need young Australians to help us solve this problem, and if over time this becomes yet another political football we’re embarked on a very bad strategy. It needs to make sense in the Australian community, so the cost – it seems to me – is not about our treasure; it is about our will and our ideas.
Frank Lewincamp: Just one concluding comment. I’ve tried to score that discussion as we went around the table. I count that as unanimous for continued participation: one for the status-quo – Hugh, on your own; one for re-configuration – Bill, I’m not quite sure whether that meant an increase in our military presence or not; quite a bit of discussion about an increased civil effort, but scored six for an increase in military effort and nine for staying with the level of military effort undefined. So it seems to me unanimous around this table that we’re in this for the long haul. Although there are quite different views expressed around the table about what precisely Australian strategic interests and objectives might be, there seems to be unanimity that we stay there - only one person status quo but a number of you actually not defining the level of military presence that you’d commit to, but seemingly in agreement that there ought to be more effort expressed in civil terms, increased civil effort. Graeme Dobell: I think what we’ll do now is open it up a bit more so that we’ll bring in the outercircle of hell as well as the inner-circle, but Patrick wants to have a go first. Patrick Walters: One quick comment about Orūzgān, where I’ve been twice in the last six months, it really strikes me – we’ve been there for three-and-a-half-years – with a slight increment over the last year or so. But when you go to Tarin Kowt what you notice is that really we aren’t actually advancing the mission. Three-and-a-half-years since we’ve been there we still have no NGOs in the town, we have no Australian Federal Police in the town, we have no real civil presence at all. It’s our military who are doing some rebuilding, but as a military operation – and as a counterinsurgency operation – I think frankly we’re just treading water. And when everyone talks about upping the civil effort, I couldn’t agree more. But when your AusAID person is reluctant to go outside the military camp, we really have to think about our foot-print on the ground from a military perspective and we have to get that right. Because there is no way that AusAID or the AFP or any NGOs are going to go in there, and stay there, and work there, feeling that one night they’re going to end up with a bullet in the head. William Maley: Just one point I’d like to make in light of Frank’s summation, which was very useful, I think. We shouldn’t underestimate the significance in Afghanistan of the symbolism of deployments and statements about them. Afghanistan is not like the 19th century: it is a very connected society, seven-million people own mobile phones, 70% of the population listen to international short-wave radio on a daily basis, and they are watching all the time for indications about the directions from which the wind is blowing. It’s not at all implausible that reports of what is being discussed today will be heard in a couple of day’s time within Afghanistan itself. One of the implications of this is that it is imperative that Western government, when they are discussing the Afghan issue, be extremely alert to ways in which what they have to say will be received, because you can lose momentum very easily. One of the reasons we’re in trouble in Afghanistan is not recent problems with the government but the loss of momentum back in March 2002 when the expansion beyond Kabul was blocked by the Bush administrations, very publically with a news headline in the Washington Post which said, “Peacekeepers won’t go beyond Kabul: Cheney says”. That was immediately picked up and read in Afghanistan as a signal that the international commitment was not what it cracked up to be, and of course in neighbouring countries that it would not be a bad idea to keep some power dry. So, as much as thinking about the numbers of troops and the role of troops, we also need to think about what kind of signal our discussion of troop deployments will send to ordinary people, who will then decide whether to throw their weight behind the government, or do what many people think is wise and sit on the fence.
Graeme Dobell: Call on John McFarlane, he doesn’t speak for the AFP but he is even more dangerous than that, he actually knows how they think, John. John McFarlane: Thankyou, the focal of this morning’s discussion has been on the military aspects of Afghanistan, and I think that I just need to make the point that this is also the focal point of two coincident, what the American’s call, ‘wars’, the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, and we certainly can’t ignore the narcotics problem. There are far more deaths globally from narcotics than there are from terrorism, and the diversion of resources and the impact on society of almost every country globally is substantially effected by the global narcotics problem. So I thought it might be useful to make four brief points, based not on my own experience or that of the AFP, but based on the UN office of drugs and crime annual formal report. In Afghanistan the opium population covers 193,000 hectares and in addition to that 70,000 hectares accounted for cannabis, the potential production per annum at the moment is about 8,200 tonnes, which refines downs to 800 tonnes of pure heroin, if you divide that by the amount of heroin and speed that you need for one shot, you can see that the enormity of the…just under 2,000 tonnes, this represents, as far as the global production of heroin is concerned 92% of the world’s problem, and on the cannabis side, which is the more dangerous, about 32% of the world’s. The export value of opiates from Afghanistan is approximately four-billion dollars which potentially represents, and I don’t quite understand the economics of this, but it represents 53% of the Afghan GDP. So we’re talking about an issue which is, from an economic point of view, is very substantial. The number of households involved in Afghanistan in opiate production is 508,000, so the number of people directly involved is 3.3million, which makes the problem of crop destruction and crop diversion a substantial problem without an answer to which you can’t answer the opium threat. To pick up, loosely, my second point, if approximately 100-200million dollars of profits of opiate production each year go to the Taliban, this represents the biggest single…to the capacity of the Taliban to operate. We have a government, in the Karzai government, with all respect to them, which suffers from endemic corruption at all levels, and many of Karzai’s allies are involved in this problem. We have a resurgence of the Taliban, facilitated by poppy employment, which is at least 40%. So if you take the simplistic view of ‘get the army, get the police, to go and destroy these crops’ all you’re doing to pushing more people into the arms of the Taliban. So, to get to my third point, this question that has come up today about police training is absolutely critical. In any civil society going right the way back to Hedley Bull’s kind of most basic philosophy, in any civilised society you’ve got the right not to be killed or injured, you’ve got the right to expect that your property will be respected and you’ve got the right to expect that any agreements entered into will be carried out. Now that the fundamental nature of any state or civilised community and in order to provide the underpinnings of that, or the enforcement of that, it’s essential to have a good quality criminal justice system; which means not only the police but the courts and the whole canopy of law enforcement. So training policy is a critical element, but one of the problems of police training is that they’re often trained by the military, in fact, I think the US Marine core – for which I’ve got a huge respect – is actually spending considerable amount of resources to train the Afghan police; but what are they going to train them in? Are they going to train them to become proficient soldiers, or are they going to train them on how to be efficient when enforcing the law, in an impartial and professional way in Afghanistan (without which there is no hope of a sustainable government in Afghanistan)? The last point I want to make is the confusion between two strategies, a former mayor of Kandahar and before 9/11 under the Taliban, following 9/11 he switched sides and in 2002 he handed over something like 15tonnes of weapons including 400 ‘Stinger’ missiles to the US, so as far as they were concerned he was regarded not only as a supported of great value, but he also provided
valuable intelligence. In 2004 another element of the United States government, the Drug Enforcement Agency, convinced the White House that this character was one of the ten most prominent king-pins in international narcotics industry, he is regarded as the Pablo Escobar of Afghanistan, so we get the complication in 2005, he was brought to the Pentagon for a de-briefing, and as soon as he left he was arrested by the DEA and is not languishing, and will do for a long time, in a federal prison, because of the lack of consistency in the application of two completely different policies, the war on drugs on one side, and the war on terror on the other. And the implication of this, of course, when you get back to the Afghan people, what sort of confidence can an Afghan leader have of support for a military regime that can’t get their act together, and is confused over what the mission is in Afghanistan, is it terrorism? Is it the global drug problem? How do they coincide and what is the best strategy to deal with it. High Commissioner H.E. Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani: Thank you very much; I am the High Commissioner for Pakistan. This was a fascinating discussion that I am glad that I was a part of that. Since we are talking on the surge, I thought I should also share Pakistan’s perspective as regards a number of issues regarding Pakistan. Surge in our view is important because it would create an effective deterrence in Afghanistan which is of paramount importance but we feel that unless surge is accompanied by a comprehensive strategy, a strategy which also includes development and dialogue, I’m basically talking about three D’s: deterrence, dialogue, and development; because these are very important factors. One thing which is of paramount importance is that along with the surge we’ll have to educate the people of Afghanistan, Bill Maley already mentioned about Afghans being a very well informed society, to be very honest we don’t share this perspective because in our view most of the Afghans are ignorant about what is going on in most of the areas of Afghanistan it is the Taliban and Al-Qaeda propaganda that is working more rapidly. When I say that the surge strategy in Afghanistan should be accompanied by another strategy to educate people, it is important because at the moment most of the people in Afghanistan will feel the outside forces, NATO and ISAF forces, as the occupying forces, and this is a perception which needs to be addressed at the beginning. The other facts which are also very very important is that along with this surge we have to break this nexus which has been developing between the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and the drug barons, and also the warlords, and many elements involved in this nexus are also involved in the government in Afghanistan, across border terrorism and movement of Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements, reconstruction activity, and Taliban and Al-Qaeda propaganda are all very important issues; another important issue that we thought that we should be discussing at some stage is the foreign interference in Afghanistan, because Afghanistan in 2003 there was an agreement between the neighbouring counties along with the other counties involved in Afghanistan, whereby all the counties had agreed that they would not go beyond their mandate in Afghanistan but over the year we’ve witnessed that a number of neighbouring countries of Afghanistan have began to go beyond their mandate unless we begin to address these issues perhaps a surge only strategy will not have the desired effects. One last observation that I would like to make with regard to the remarks made by Bill Maley regarding David Sanger’s article in the Ney York Times, in which he claimed to have heard the conversation of General Kayani, the Army Chief of Pakistan, I would like to quote a more credible source, which is the former director of CIA George Tennant, in his famous book ‘In the Eye of the Storm’, he mentioned that whatever successes the US was able to achieve in Afghanistan were because of the comprehensive and fullest cooperation extended by the government of Pakistan, and Pakistan security. Thank you. William Maley: Just a couple of quick points following from that; I think that may tell us more about George Tenet than about Pakistan, but I thought I would actually share some evidence about opinion within Afghanistan because a lot gets said about what the Afghans think and some of it is
without any evidence to support it and some of it is based on Vox Pops in the street. However, there is a certain about of serious polling that is done in Afghanistan, by the Asia Foundation which has conducted surveys regularly since 2004, and also by the BBC. The BBC released on the 17th of February this year its latest poll which involves sampling in all 34 provinces in Afghanistan, and some elements were quite instructive. It was quite clear that the bulk of the population found airstrikes used by the US and NATO to be unacceptable because of the civilian costs, 77% of people holding that opinion. On the other hand, when people were asked about their attitudes to the United States and to other countries which were involved the attitude was somewhat different; a clear majority of the population supported the ongoing presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan: 59% of respondents supported the presence of NATO forces, 63% supported the presence of US forces. Alas, the actor which was most negatively viewed by the respondents was Pakistan. They were asked whether they thought Pakistan was playing a positive, neutral, or negative role in Afghanistan and 86% said negative; this compared with 36% saying the United States was playing a negative role in Afghanistan. The lesson here, I think, is that Afghans have much more nuanced opinions about the situation which confronts them than some of the popular reporting would often suggest. They are quite capable of, on the one hand, being very wary of the negative effects of aerial bombing, and yet at the same time recognising that the withdrawal of foreign forces would simply leave them lethally exposed to their neighbours, in a way which they experienced very negatively between 1992 and 1996; and perhaps some would say from 1996 to 2001 as well. Graeme Dobell: Clive. Clive Williams: I just wanted to make the point that I don’t think that necessarily its natural terrorism will flourish in Afghanistan if there is a reduced military presence there. We have to remember that Al-Qaeda flourished under the old Taliban because of the old Taliban’s isolation from the world and because, of course, Al-Qaeda was providing what the Taliban needed at that point. So just generally speaking the old Taliban won’t reach the scope, the new Taliban is a different institute, but after all there are significant differences between the elements in the Taliban; for example, there are reported to be tensions between the Taliban in some areas and the Warlords, and of course, between the Taliban and Pakistan. I think that we could actually adopt an approach where we exploit some of those differences. Also I think that the … [inaudible] approach that worked quite well in Iraq could also be utilised to a much greater extent in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Finally, I think we to adopt a coherent and integrated approach, I think that in particular the aid issued, from what I see happening is that the civilian aid side of things is letting down the military. I think importantly also we do need to sell our policies at home; as was mentioned, we can be seen as an occupying force we need to bear in mind that the possibility of some blowback in Australia of group identity becoming alienated from the mainstream and posing a danger of terrorist attack. Klaus-Peter Klaiber: I would like to strengthen the argument which Bill Maley put forward about the media presence, let’s face it, there are now – you mentioned the five million of mobile phones – there are (and these are statistics I almost forgot) there are 300 newspapers in the country, 90 radio stations, and 14 TV stations country wide, I think that is quite impressive, this would not be possible without international forces. 83% of the Afghans have basic health care, up from 8% in 2002, and then one of the most important things, and there I refer to what the Pakistani ambassador said, how much education and things is relevant; I mean there are over 2,000 schools in the country that have been built or refurbished, there are three state universities, eight other state institutions of higher-learning, and a dozen private universities with altogether eight thousand students countrywide, and 20% of the students are female; during the Taliban no female was allowed to go
to school or to go to university, and sort of, the school year 2008 started with roughly 44,000 trained personnel teaching 6.2 million children, I think this is a kind of success story which nobody talks about, and we also don’t talk about the fact that Afghanistan, since 2002, had an economic growth of almost 100%, I mean it came from a very low level but still there is progress in the country, and therefore the international efforts are not in vein. Stephan Frühling: I’d like to get back to what other people have mentioned, the element of perceptions. I personally think that it is possible to put Afghanistan on a much improved footing, but it’s going to require a lot of time, a lot more effort, and a lot more casualties. It can be done but it’s going to require a lot more commitment than we’ve shown in the last few years. But, to be honest, no one can really say now when it’s going to end, or under what conditions it’s going to end and I think that presents a very challenging problem of selling the policy to the wider population, but selling this effort to the wider population is going to be central. So we have the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan which are serious enough, but selling any solution, even if we perceive one, to the Western population is going to be a very significant problem in its own right, and I don’t see a lot of focus on this. The US is starting to prepare the ground, but I don’t see a coherent strategy coming out for that problem yet, and I think that is quite significant problem for Australia as well, because Australia doesn’t only deal with failed states in Afghanistan but also on its doorstep which are in a lot of ways even more important to Australia than Afghanistan. But if you look at the generational cohort that is now becoming the main recruiting focus for the ADF for example, we’re soon going to have a generation that probably doesn’t consciously remember a world where the US and Australia were not fighting in Afghanistan, and I think how Australia and the US, but especially Australia gets out of that long term effort, whether it is seen as a success by the people in that generation or not, is going to have a lot of influence for the way that people in Australia are going to be willing to engage in other open-ended commitments in Timor and the Solomons. How Australia is going to deal with that could have quite important repercussions for the perception of what Australia can do closer to come as well, even without the US. So I think that managing the perception of the population about what is achievable, what Australia is trying to do is going to require a lot more honesty and a lot more upfront discussion, and in a sense education, and a much broader approach because otherwise we might end up with a very different approach to foreign policy in general than we have been used to in the last ten years. Tom Gregg: First of all, on this idea of civilians letting down the military; I think this is a bit of a misnomer, wherever civilians (the NGOs or the UN) can go, I think they’re basically there. By way of background, five years ago when I arrived in Afghanistan in the Southeast of the country we had 95% access to that Southeast region, along the border of Pakistan to the border of Orūzgān, which was my region; today we’re limited to helicopter transport within that region, five years ago we had full access to Orūzgān and Zabul, today we don’t have access there. Where the civilians can go, and the NGOs, can go they generally do. A problem with this idea of civ-mil co-ordination or an integrated approach is somehow the military can plan an operation with its strategy of Shape, Clear, Hold and when it comes to the build section they say ‘where are the NGOs where is the UN’, it’s not quite as neat as that. And furthermore, if you’re not aware – in the coming weeks UNAMA is opening a provincial office in Orūzgān, which is good news for everyone. The second comment on the surge, the bulk of the discussion has been on the surge. In my mind there is only three areas where the military surge should be utilised; one, is to secure the upcoming elections and for the logistics of those elections; two, would be training the ANA, and we’ve heard that today; and three, is a greater deployment, but only on the border areas where they are required. And I think it’s a real mistake, and I’ve heard and read that some of these additional troops will be going into Logar, Wardak, the areas around Kabul and elsewhere, one of the most striking things I
think about the increase in troops in the east of the country and the south, is that the military alone despite their billions of dollars of investment have failed to provide a peace dividend, and I think that’s why we need to be looking at a much broader political strategy and the military surge is an element of that strategy. The High Commissioner also mentioned that deterrence is an element of the surge, and the other two that you mentioned: dialogue and development; have to be left up to the civilian side, you can’t leave that up to the military. Finally, just to make a comment on this ‘bush-telegraph’ as we’d call it here, or the ‘tribaltelegraph’ there, one of the most striking things for me was you can go to provinces where the majority of the people are illiterate and have no formal education, but the level of information flow is great and one quick anecdote. I was in my office one day and on the internet came this latest US National Intelligence Estimate, with some interesting information, and within three hours there were tribal councils that were referring to this intelligence estimate. So I don’t think the newspapers are particularly relevant outside of Kabul, and Herat but radio and the way the tribal systems works, it’s an oral culture and very strong. Graeme Dobell: Neil James first, then Michael Evans, and then Bill Maley third, and then Jim, don’t worry Jim. Neil James: Just to take up something Stephan said, we’ve had some very long wars in the past, we were in the Malay emergency for twelve years, we were in Vietnam for ten, you know the idea that the Australian population isn’t accustomed to fighting long wars is a bit of a misnomer, and in fact culturally until recently, was one of the main differences between Australia and the United States, we were accustomed to fighting long wars and they weren’t – and I mean that in all honesty, I’m not having a go at the Americans. We’ve been pretty critical of the Howard government, and we’ve continued to be pretty critical of the Rudd government for not selling the war in Afghanistan better, but when you’re fighting people who spurt battery acid into the faces of schoolgirls to stop them going to school, I don’t think you’ll have too much of a problem selling that to the Australian people in the long run. Michael Evans: I think the problem we are facing to a large extent is that we are suffering from the unbearable consequences of lightness, a light footprint. There are a lot of numbers of troops and aid organisations in Afghanistan, but a much depends on what you do with them, and this is part of the problem. We need a comprehensive approach so I think the surge, when it comes, will be very different from Iraq, it’ll have to be: it’s a completely different set of circumstances. So that’s the first point, I think on the idea of perceptions, we need to sell the commitment to the Australian public as part of a nation-building exercise, this is not a ‘shock-and-awe’ operation, this is a ‘time, space, and will’ conflict in which vital interests are engaged, and therefore we need to send the message that we will be as ‘civilian as possible, but as military as necessary’. It’s got to be done in a sophisticated way, we cannot talk in simple terms of winning, losing, fighting and so on, we must avoid, I think, a lot of the military language, start using the language of engagement, nationbuilding, failed-states, these are the new threats, we haven’t disseminated this level of education it’s limited now to specialised organisations like the military, like the intelligence agencies, it’s not part of the discourse in the press, in the media, on TV, it needs to become, and therefore I think the defence force and the defence department, and the strategic studies community have an obligation to educate in these areas, we seem to be too fixated on the rise of the great Asian powers, sure that’s a major effect, however, we have another compelling problem, which is causing us to deploy and that is something we have to educate in. Finally, I think everybody in this room has to get use to one thing, as the British put it, we’re going to have to campaign without timelines, exit strategies are a thing of the past, we have to think now
in terms of end-states which was said earlier, and force can only shape, and therefore politics will be an absolute key, and everything you do in stability operations and counterinsurgency in the future. So the challenge is both political, it is a media challenge, it is a psychological challenge, it’s an educational challenge, and I wonder about the strategic studies community in this country, seems to me that it’s ten years behind that of the United States and parts of Europe. William Maley: Given that it took Afghanistan about 25 years to get into the rut in which it found itself in 2001, it is utterly naive to think that in a period of six to seven years one would be able to rectify the extraordinarily severe problems of state collapse which that country confronted, and a great deal of Afghanistan’s problems at the moment don’t relate to the legitimacy of the Afghan state, or its supporters, but simply to its capacities. Afghanistan’s supporters bear some responsibility there, because some 75% of the state expenditure has been carried out by agents other than the state through direct transfer of funds from the donors to NGOs, the UN system, or private commercial contractors, so there has been relatively little done that has actually put the state’s banner up on walls around the country to suggest that it is meeting people’s needs. There is a lesson there politically, I think, for people involved in these sorts of exercises, but I wanted to make one comment about access, because again there tends to be an impression that Afghanistan has become a black-hole. The UN compiles statistics which are updated every three months on the access within individual Afghan districts to unarmed officers of the Afghan bureaucracy: there was a negative trend between March 2007 when it was 79% and December 2008 when it was 73%. On the other hand, this figure has been dragged down by poor performance in what are seen to be a limited number of Taliban strongholds, either near the border with Pakistan or in a couple of cases amongst Pashtun communities in the north, where the Taliban have been able to tap into the concerns of groups whose ancestors were relocated in the north of Afghanistan by Abdur Rahman Khan in the late nineteenth century; but in fact the majority of districts in Afghanistan actually enjoy access between 81% and 100% to unarmed officials of the Afghan government, and I think it is important to put that on the record in order to dispel the sense that sometimes prevails that the country is just sliding from all directions down a hopeless whirlpool; it’s not like that. Jim Molan: Thank you. I absolutely agree with that; Afghanistan is not a disaster, but it may become a disaster. It’s not a disaster in terms of the levels of violence that we overcame ultimately in Iraq; but it could get to that position very very quickly, and if a momentum is built up in the few provinces that do have good access, and where there is a stable situation it can spread very fast, and we’ve seen that in other wars, the trends are certainly negative, but we’re not going to lose tomorrow, there are no two ways about it. I just wonder how more difficult it is to sell to the Australian population, because I don’t think we’re going to withdraw, I wonder how much more difficult it is to sell to the Australian population the maintenance of the status quo where seven soldiers get killed per one of two years, and that goes on inevitably for all the good reasons we’ve mentioned here, or whether we increase to a level of troop commitment which is somehow meaningful, now we can talk after lunch about what is meaningful, I believe that that can be described and it can be ultimately solved. The deterioration in the situation, I think Tom mentioned an example of it where you had good access immediately then it went very much down hill, and we’ve knocked the civilians but it’s not the civilians job to go into areas where they’re going to get killed, it’s the military’s job to do that, and to me, the single most important lesson from the statement Tom made about civilians ability to get in there and build is that you’ve got to create the security; the way to create the security is by military and police forces, I’m not asking for more, I’m just asking for the right number, 99.9% of the times in the wars we’ve been in in the past, it’s more – because societies never like to send adequate troops in any of these situations. So if we’re talking about only putting in the right number of troops for the elections, it took 175,000 24 hours a day for six months to create the first
successful Iraqi election; if we’re going to train the ANA we’ve said we’ve got 42 mentoring/training team and we need 90, I think we’re going to need 150-200 ultimately, that’s a lot more troops, if we’re only going to put them in the border area that’s an incredible number of troops, and I think it follows that if you’re going to do something, do something that’s meaningful, to do something that’s meaningful to allow to do the clever parts of counterinsurgency, which ultimately we’re going to have to do, we need to establish security which requires police and military forces, in the initial case it’s going to have to be non-ANA forces; and at the moment we are no where near anything like adequacy, people can talk about police training, they can talk about farmers, they can talk about reconstruction, they can talk about a criminal justice system, and aid; but you cannot to any of that until you establish security, and the only way build an Afghan national army or policy is with, in the first instance, foreign troops, and we ain’t got anything like enough foreign troops in Afghanistan at the moment. Graeme Dobell: Hugh. Hugh White: Thanks. I just wanted to make an observation that was prompted by Michael Evens’ point but I just can’t help also saying how important the point that Jim has just made is; that is, those who thing Afghanistan is critical to our security and think that there are objectives which we must achieve there, they do have to weigh that against what genuinely would be required, and what Jim’s just said is, we’re talking about a military effort which is not just quantitatively but qualitatively different from what we’ve done before. So those people who think this is really important have got to ask themselves whether they still think it’s important at a scale of military effort world-wide that we haven’t seen recently except in Iraq, and a scale of military effort for Australia, if we’re really serious about this, which is not comparable with anything we’ve done probably since the Second World War. I just want to come back to Michael’s point, because it’s a terribly important issue, and that is that Afghanistan does not exist in a strategic vacuum, from an Australian point of view it must be assessed with our broader strategic situation, I think you’re absolutely right to put this on the table, because I disagree with you – at least with the implication of what you said – about how Australians should view our strategic situation. Those of us who think we can continue to view our strategic situation on the basis of the order of Asia which fundamentally shapes our environment, is cast in reinforced concrete which will never change, I think are themselves – if I can use your noun – in need of some education; that’s simply not a proposition, to me, that look sustainable and one of the reasons why I think it’s so important that we be very careful about the extent to which we commit to operations like Afghanistan, is I think there are bigger strategic risks, possibilities not certainties, possibilities out there which pose much more substantive risks to Australia’s future security than even quite bad outcomes in Afghanistan, and we have to at least measure the priority we give to that against the priority we give to situations like Afghanistan, particularly bearing in mind the point that Jim has made. Brigadier Babar Mansoor Virk: [due to the poor sound recording, elements of this comment have been paraphrased] Hello, my name is Babar Mansoor Virk, Defence Advisor at the High Commission for Pakistan. I am not an academic so please forgive me if I do not follow the norms. I have a few observations on the strategy which I hope you will take on board. First thing it is good that Pakistan has come to the primary focus of the new strategy but it should have a different perception of the new focus. What I would like to highlight operations which the Pakistani Government has conducted in the last 6-7
years, especially last year. In the last year we conducted operations in North and South Waziristan, last year in Swot Valley and Bajaur. In this last operation in Bajaur, there were 1600 militants killed, 200 of them from foreign militants… … what I’m highlighting is that is there is no will to conduct these operations in the army, then how come these militants are being killed and their strongholds destroyed, and the Al-Qaeda network in FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] has been destroyed? Similarly the only operations in FATA are the self-evidence of the will of our population. The capacity of the armed forces is there, we can undertake such counterinsurgency operations, we are well trained; where we are lacking is the modern technology, so if you want to support Pakistan give us more technologies to monitor these militants, give us night-fighting capabilities if you want to support Pakistan policy, give us the ability to look beyond the human eye during night, so these are the kind of problems which we are facing; but let me assure you, being from the army, there is no confusion, there is nothing like that, you cannot find a division in opinion to fight against the Taliban; this is our war we are fighting it, and we will continue to fight and for this we are looking for the international support to build up our technology. Frank Lewincamp: Just a couple of concluding comments. We haven’t added much to the definition of Australia’s strategic interests that we got from the roundtable before. I counted five elements: a moral obligation - political integrity I think Jim called it – we broke it we must fix it’; second was humanitarian; third, terrorism; fourth, regional stability; and fifth, alliance relationships. But there endured, throughout that discussion, a consensus here that we should maintain ongoing engagement in military terms but also in terms of a civil effort, and that’s despite some strong differences around the group about exits, end-states, and whether a war there is winnable – in fact whether it’s even meaningful to talk about ‘winning’ – and also despite some concerns about the overall strategy and its effectiveness. So I guess the bad news from that is you’re now committed to the afternoon and you have to return after lunch, when we’ll look at the operational strategy for the military. Can I just pose some questions to help focus that; first, how best to make a contribution, and at what levels; how to influence the coalition strategy, and perhaps to make it more effective; a clear consensus which emerged this morning about a civil effort needing to complement the military effort, and whilst the structure of the conference today didn’t focus so much on the civil effort I guess that will come up again this afternoon and there may be options to enhance the Australian contribution there rather than in a military side. And from a personal point of view I still don’t think we’ve dealt effectively with the issue of Pakistan, because the nexus with Pakistan remains and I think some of the discussion about military strategies and civil strategies ought to encompass Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. I can’t resist one final extension of Neil’s analogy about acid what do we do about the treatment of woman and girls in the Swat Valley? Graeme Dobell: And on that note I want to call lunch; where I’ll talk to one of our panellists about why Morris dances can’t do strategic studies, thank you. INTERMISSION Afternoon Session: Coalition Operations in Afghanistan Graeme Dobell: Okay, we’re up and away, now, Daniel is going to explain to you the joys and choices involved in being on the A team or the B team, and to explain why Daniel can do this for you and to you, he is going to be introduced by Hugh White.
Hugh White: Thanks Graeme, most of us in this room know each other pretty well, so to speak, but Daniel is a little bit of a new comer. Daniel has recently joined us as a research fellow, courtesy, I should say, of the Department of Defence by way of funding, and he is – as you’ll notice – an American, and in fact a Bostonian, studied in England with Bob O’Neill, who, of course, known to many people in this room and has been studying primarily from a historian’s perspective a set of issues about how counterinsurgency operations work, particularly in that part of the world, for quite a long time; but recently he’s put quite a lot of work into studying both what the British and the Americans have been doing by way of developing counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and evolving them, learning some of the lessons which have become clear since the initial interventions in those two countries and has been working quite closely with both of those militaries about where their future thinking is going. So we’re very fortunate to have him with us in SDSC to contribute to the way these debates evolve in Australia. Thanks. Daniel Marston: Right, I’d like to just say one quick point; I do think that the narrative of counterinsurgency is something that needs to be discussed. I’m talking about the US and UK approaches since 2001 in Afghanistan, but also the way we might refocus ourselves, at no time are any American or British commanders thinking just in military terms. They do understand counterinsurgency to a much higher level than they did previously, they’re looking for all the other civilian enablers to be part of the team, the way that we brief division down to battalions we constantly have outsiders with different viewpoints come in to try to explain the conditions on the ground, in some ways – sadly – I would say that the militaries probably had a better reform effort in the last eight years than the civilian agencies; this is something civilian agencies are trying to catch up with. A few points: the following presentation stems from research, interviews, visits and debates with members of the US, UK and Afghan militaries and governments both inside and outside Afghanistan over the last eight years. I’m a historian by trade, as Hugh stated, but I’m speaking as an individual today – outside of SDSC I guess – but I do not represent any military or government agency, just for any media in the room; I’ve been sadly misquoted at times. Many themes will be covered and are currently being debated inside and outside Afghanistan to develop a more coherent strategy, and we have to be clear about that. The war itself is entering a key phase, as Jim quite rightly said, and I completely agree, this has been a holding action in Afghanistan, this has not been a true counter-insurgency campaign; this has not been a true effort for a variety of reasons. One that has been highlighted quite heavily of course is Iraq; that was our main effort, and until the Yanks came to Afghanistan in more numbers and resources nothing was going to change. Doesn’t matter what you do in Orūzgān, it doesn’t matter what the Brits were doing in Helmand, until the Americans refocused nothing was going to change in Afghanistan, sadly. Many mistakes have been made by the coalition and the northern hemisphere; we know we made mistakes, going way back to 2001 and 2002, and there is a whole re-evaluation of those issues that have been raised since. Lack of historical understanding has been key to some major problems that we have in Afghanistan; even today you still, sometimes, hear about the issues of the British and the Soviets in Afghanistan, without a real description of what actually happened to these individuals, and I’d like to put it out there that the second and third Afghan wars were not defeats for the British: draws maybe, but not defeats. Lack of understanding regarding the ethnic dimensions; lots of work still needs to be done; but we failed in 2001-2002 to look at the ethnic dimensions of the previous ten years in Afghanistan. There had been a civil war and sadly it was drawn along ethnic lines. We as Americans, some people have pointed it out, like quick, fast wars sometimes; I think that mindset has changed, just so you’re aware. But in 2001-2002 we did want a quick and decisive war; hence we made some decisions on the day, you could say, with the Northern Alliance, to look for those quick solutions and we’re now reaping the ‘rewards’ of that strategy. Western metrics were applied, top-down government, not just by us but by the UN, NATO, and everybody else; everybody signed up to this. We all thought it’d be a great experience if
Afghanistan could have a strong central government, all will be well. Forgetting our own history: no country – as far as I know – was ever done top-down, everybody else was done bottom-up, and even in this room Americans, British, Canadians and Australians have differing views on this role of central power in its own government. So to try to have a cookie-cutter solution for Afghanistan was a bit of a mistake, and some of us have been saying that since 2001. It’s starting to percolate to the higher levels of the Obama administration and I’d say potentially even into the UK administration. There are also issues with top-down security, there’s a major debate that we’re looking at, just as we speak about potential issues between the Afghan National Army, possible auxiliaries, and the Afghan National Police. New thinking, I’ll go into these in greater detail later, but just to give you an approach, we’re talking about population-centric national security, and it must be remembered that this war is pretty much only occurring in one section of the country, regional command east, and south: the Pashtun belt. It is not occurring in the north or the west, and we have to remember that this is not a full-blown insurgency as we saw in Iraq; this is a limited insurgency inside a region that tends to be 95% ethnically based, so there are issues within that ethnic group that need to be dealt with. COIN education and training have been reformed, first in US and UK militaries, and to some extent even with the Canadians, I remember [at] a conference in 2004 we were having huge debates between the Americans and the Brits about what the term counter-insurgency meant. The Americans didn’t want to talk about it, the Brits were pushing COIN, and the Canadians looked across the table and said (bad language), ‘What the fuck is COIN?’ The Canadians have come a long way forward in trying to understand the impact of that, but it’s not just a military approach. We have to be serious, and some of us have been pushing this heavily, we do need NATO. NATO is a very important element to this war, we do need the UN in this campaign, but let’s be straightforward about what the campaign looks like, and our regional command east and south, and to some extent central.; it is a counter-insurgency campaign. It’s not a military only campaign, it is trying to join up all the elements to be a true counter-insurgency campaign. Our north and west, where the Germans, the Spanish, and the Italians, and other European partners are engaged, is a stability operation, and that’s equally important to the fight, because [inaudible] move towards reconciliation amongst the Pashtuns, and then the Pashtuns with the Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras we’re going to need the people who have been working with these groups to give us intelligence on who the players are, and everything else. There is a need for more forces, but it’s not just coalition, it’s Afghan forces as well. But as I said, there is a debate about ‘is it more Afghan National Army, or is local auxiliaries, who are potentially trained by us and led by us, or is it going to be tribal militias?’ There is a huge debate going on about that, but in some ways the fact, most commanders are thinking that we’re going to embed ourselves with either Afghan National Army or Afghan auxiliaries to have better cultural awareness in working in those populations centres. There are still questions about the ethnic dynamic of the ANA. The other controversial thing, and this is a point the UN individual mentioned that, ‘don’t leave it up to military commanders—I think, I might be paraphrasing him here—with this sort of political process of understanding these dimensions; I’d actually disagree strongly with that. There are many military commanders in both Iraq and Afghanistan who actually have figured out the tribal structures in their area, they’ve figured out who the players are, what the tension is, they’ve been pushing for different mindset. They say ‘this is the individual we should be working with, and the future of this province, or district, or even village’, but sadly top-down metrics from our State Department, at times FCO, your DFAT I’m sure – if the two-and-a-half guys out there – will potentially contradict that because they’re looking for Karzai’s legitimacy and Karzai’s appointments of provincial leaders and others. That has been causing many issues within the Pashtun belt. So quite a few commanders actually feel that they have to work with the Pashtunwali, the Pashtun sense of [honour] which is very different than what we were talking about in 2001-2002.
In trying to understand how the Pashtuns work with each other and deal with these very violent situations in their society, that’s something that has to be debated at the highest levels. The indigenous view and customs will probably be best suited to the area, Western mindsets and metrics don’t work – it’s been proven. I’m going to give you a few quotes from some key people, from practitioners as well as some historical people; why? Because there is a lot of lip-service out there to counter-insurgency theory and history. Some of the most important writers, Frank Kitson, David Galula, Sir Robert Thompson, were dismissed by many in the Pentagon from 2001-2005, saying that they wrote 30-40 years ago and they don’t apply anymore; guess what, they do apply, because that’s what commanders are taking with them to the field along with other materials, and they have adapted them. At no time were they textbooks to be used as A+B=C, wars are not [like that], you need a building block to work from, these theorists still apply. We’re trying to get the other government departments and even some of the presidents and prime ministers to read them – but we know they’re quite busy. “The first thing that must be apparent when contemplating the sort of action a government facing insurgency should take is there can be no such thing as a purely military solution, because insurgency is not primarily a military activity, at the same time there is no such thing as a wholly political solution either, short of surrender, because the very fact that a state of insurgency exists implies that violence in involved, which will have to be countered, by some extent at least, with the use of force.” This is an ongoing debate; certain countries had the mission of stability and reconstruction and trying to steer clear of combat. Then there are accusations, of course the Americans – and it’s true, for the early years – were too kinetically orientated; that issue has changed quite dramatically in the last few years. David Galula, a French specialist who served in Algeria, the big tenet within the US military, explained the population in insurgency and I think it’s very apt to think about this, and Bill Maley mentioned it, people are sitting on the fence in Afghanistan waiting to see what happens, quote: “The population’s attitude is dictated, not so much by the relative popularity [inaudible] more primitive concern for safety, which sides gives the best protection, which side is more likely to win, these are the criteria [inaudible] stand, in any situation, whatever the cause, there will be an active minority for the cause, a neutral majority, and an active minority against the cause, to find the favourable minority, to organise it in order to mobilise the population against the unfavourable minority, every operation – within the military field, or the political, social, or economic, or psychological fields must be geared to that end.” We estimate that 80-90% of the people we are fighting in RC East and South are ‘small T’ [tier 2 or 3], small Taliban, people who are fighting for time-honoured issues: blood feuds; we killed their brother, we killed their sister; two, economic issues; wrongdoing, lack of stake within the government, the fact that the Taliban come into a family [inaudible] a father who has five children and they’re starving and says ‘I will give you $50 a day to drop a mortar round and hit the British base’, very simple things. But it’s about separating those individuals and trying to convince the community that you’re there for the long haul, and you’re there to protect them, and try to change the environment. When the US and allied forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime in 2001-2002, they fundamentally misunderstood the implications of occupying a war-torn and partially governed country; in particular they failed to recognise the scope of local support for the Taliban, especially within the Pashtun areas, and the root causes for that support. The desire for quick solutions led to actions that encouraged an insurgency in southern and eastern Afghanistan; ignoring the lessons of history the US and to a lesser extent Great Britain and other NATO allies did nothing to create a viable counter-insurgency strategy or to train, educate, and equip soldiers and civilian advisors for a number of years.
So I’ll go quickly through the three or four phases of the ‘muddling through’ period, then I’ll leave you with what has been happening since. 2001-2002, we as Americans were there to do counterterrorism; track down Al-Qaeda, track down the Taliban; nation building is not for us: this caused problems in the Pashtun belt, and a lot of our special forces, even some of our Special Forces were not trained in counter-insurgency. It’s something that doesn’t come overnight, it’s not about waking up one day thinking that you can be a counter-insurgency expert, and we created many problems, we killed quite a few innocent people, we dishonoured people; honour is incredibly important in this society as it was in Iraq, and we dishonoured many people, and many people flocked to the colours of the Taliban; if you want to call them that, [inaudible] because they had been dishonoured. What is the campaign? The Bonn agreement of course, was to bring stability and governance to Afghanistan, try to create stability in a war-torn country, but again, we’re all looking for quick solutions, we weren’t trying to really figure out the metrics of that situation, and why there had been a civil war, why ethnic divisions had occurred in the 1990s. So lack of understanding again, of the local communities, lack of security in the Pashtun belt, that’s where the enemy was, and you’re not going to send any civilians there to help with development unless that area is pacified, but our number of forces in that area were quite small. But this is key, perceived wrongdoing by many Pashtuns, in lack of aid, role within the government and the security forces, and that is still a grievance that exists today, but now people feel that that grievance is on the other side of the border as well, within Pakistan, and the Pashtun belt of the FATA. The other problem is that the Pashtuns were seen as the enemy by some within the coalition as well as within the interim government, and it’s only acceptable that some within the Afghan government, especially from the Northern Alliance would see, potentially, the Pastuns as the enemy – since they had been fighting a civil war against them. Lack of COIN training and education for the coalition was throughout. Issues post-2001, quote: “The destruction of the Taliban generated instability and insecurity; Hamid Karzai, the interim leader, was to maintain law and order in Kabul, however, at the periphery local thugs and private armies were able to dominate local politics; many of these had fought along side the US to defeat the Taliban, many were also appointed by Karzai to govern various provinces, for some Afghans the harshness of the Taliban was preferred over the lawlessness that resulted from their fall from power.” General Barno was commander in 2003-2005, but I’m going to give you what he actually saw when he arrived in the beginning of 2003. He commanded the OEF, the Operation Enduring Freedom, which is still a separate operation to ISAF: “At the beginning of 2003, the US military had not published COIN doctrine since Vietnam, and units had relatively little training in COIN before their arrival in country. There was much learning by doing, and even disagreement as to whether the fight in Afghanistan was a COIN campaign at all; in fact, unit commanders were forbidden from using the word ‘COIN’ in describing their missions, they were executing a ‘counterterrorist’ mission in keeping with US strategic guidance and an operational focus on the enemy, hence many mistakes were made”. But that is true of the Americans, that was true of the British, of the Australians and others; there was a lack of understanding of counter-insurgency and the role of the population-centric solutions and long-term planning, and sadly at the highest levels there weren’t any strategies being developed for what that meant. 2003-2005 is a different phase, COIN reform does begin within Operation Enduring Freedom, a lot of it was down to British staff officers as well as American commanders, looking at the old books, Galula, Kitson and others, ‘what did doctrine say?’ Haven’t read it yet, but let me get back to you on that. Insurgency grew as well though, the Pashtuns were still feeling more and more disenfranchised, they felt that somebody on the ground – somebody mentioned the ‘bush-telegram’ – felt that even though Karzai was a Pashtun that he was a sell-out. There were tensions between the Durrani tribe, where Karzai comes from, the Ghilzai in RC East, time-honoured issues with the Pashtuns that have been going on for hundreds of years, and their identity issues and crisis were
coming to the fore at that time. Iraq, that was our main effort; we pulled the eyes off Afghanistan, the Brits did as well, and we all focused on Iraq, and that was a major mistake we all know. There is still top-down government, we’re looking for Western metrics. Let’s look at the elections: this is how we actually see if democracy is expanding, forgetting, of course, looking at their own local traditions, potentially, a lot of local traditions are quite democratic, but we dispel them and said ‘they’re not quite exactly what we like’, so we can’t really figure out the metrics if we’re succeeding. A lot of that happened within the Pashtun belt, ISAF is taking [inaudible] I won’t go into too much detail as it was stated earlier, but they started to take over RC north and west, because those areas with the Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara areas which were a lot quieter than the Pashtun belt so it was easier for the Germans to take over in the north and later the Italians in the west. General Barno, though, tried to create a counter-insurgency plan for OEF in RC East. All his will and effort were commendable, the problem was he had one brigade combat team to impose a population centric approach which was never going to work because the main effort was Iraq. The advisory mission, everybody goes on about the ANA and the need for a national identity. The Americans pushed the need to create the army according to the ethnic dimensions of Afghanistan, not that we do that back home, or anybody else for that matter, but we were set on that course, but even our advisory mission was second and third rate, we did not provide the regular forces that were needed. We brought in our National Guard, we put in contractors and other things, the focus of effort, even the advisory mission is still to this day a work in progress. 2006-2008. It gets even more difficult, ISAF moves to RC South in 2006, this is where the British go into Helmand and the Canadians move to Kandahar, everybody is now focusing on the Pashtun belt, that is the focus of effort, well it’s 2006 now, but we’re trying to get there. Lack of unity, the command and control arrangements multiplied, you had Americans in the OEF you had ISAF forces serving all over the country but only certain countries can serve in the South and later in RC East, unity of effort in any war is very important, but if you actually look at a chain of command structure for 2006, how anybody even moved in Afghanistan is a big question, it was pretty odd that all these caveats were brought in and red-cards and other things. Complexity of the mission itself, sadly, just as George Bush hasn’t helped the cause at different times, for Helmand, the British were going into Helmand to do reconstruction and counter-narcotics, that is not what actually happened. The commanders on the ground knew they were going to do a counterinsurgency mission, there was going to be a lot of clearing, and a lot of fighting, and potentially a lot of dying. But until the mission is actually worked out and stated to the people, people will question the war. Lots of people in Britain in the summer of 2006 were wondering why the Paras [3 PARA] were fighting quite heavily in Sangin and Nawsad and Musa Qala. We talk about lack of strategy, there were plans, but Karzai got involved with that deployment as well, and the district centres became the focus of effort; so the British spread one-and-a-half battalions throughout the district centres of Helmand and they sustained some of the worst combat since Korea. Lack of unity and balanced approach with development and reconstruction within NATO was another issue. If you look at RC South it’s a bit interesting to watch, Helmandshire, the province of Kandahar they’re all Canadian, Orūzgān, Dutch and Australian, but the actual south divisional headquarters, at times, has to negotiate with task force commanders from each sector instead of giving orders, as a two-star divisional headquarters, that is not unity of effort. It’s getting better, the British 6th division will go out later this year and task force Helmand will have to report to a British two-star, but there is talk the Americans might be needed to unify strategy for RC East and South that is completely linked and speaking the same language. The Brits appear to be on side with that, the Canadians are a little bit hesitant, and I’m not sure what the Dutch will do but may be gone by then, and we’re waiting to see if Australia is going to speak the same language, and do the same thing.
A population centric approach, not due to the lack of what the commanders on the ground wanted, the commanders understood the population was the centre of gravity, but they didn’t have the force ratio to do it. Iraq continued to be the main effort, [inaudible] too many air-strikes, yes too many air-strikes. The problem was we didn’t have the density, number of clearing operations, clearing the same valley over and over again, yes those are the orders, clear the valley. It is very difficult that civilians die, and that’s true, but a lot of military commanders didn’t want to see a British platoon or a Canadian platoon, or an American platoon wiped out, for the world to see; there is a balance of course, and it’s a difficult balance. There have been attempts to deal with the air-strikes in the sense that military commanders have tried to approach the locals to say ‘we’re going to pay you the blood money for the death of your son, the death of your child. But due to lack of funding and other government department interaction, except in the American sector and some efforts in the UK sector, things have been stalling. Military commanders in the south don’t have the money the Americans have, to be able to pay off the blood feud right away. So that’s being looked into, to be fair to the British that’s changing dramatically, they’re recognising they need to get money to the commanders a lot faster. Advisory mission is still a work in progress; we’re looking at a 22% shortfall with ETTS and OMLTs but as I said major problems with quality with some of those advisors. Some forces such as the French have provided first-class advisors because they’re not stretched. The Americans are stretched, the Brits are stretched to some extent, so a lot of people looking into that advisory mission; is it about ETT’s, is it about OMLTS. Or is it about just embedding battalions when they arrive, with the ANA or local security forces, to spread the ability to deploy properly. As I said, lots of commanders since 2006 were looking at the Pashtunwali, were looking at this as a Pashtun issue were looking at grievances within the Pashtun belt. We need to deal with these grievances. We need to deal with reconciliation. We need to renegotiate potentially with Karzai, that his top-down government is not having an impact, that maybe we need to develop different ways. Bottom up has finally percolated to the Obama administration and you’ll hear statements from Gates and others on this issue. But to give you some quotes from that period, General Richards who was ISAF commander in 2006, quote: “Our force levels in 2006 were just sufficient to contain the insurgency, significant capability gaps remain, that restricted my ability to reinforce where the situation dictated, as a result of too few forces we have found it difficult to maintain security where we had gained it, and we’re using the Afghan national security forces more than is idea, for development and growth. Given the nature of the insurgency we’re not fighting, we should look again at force requirements and adjust as necessary.” So all the discussions here about more troop numbers, these have been going on for a long time, especially within the military community. General Barno – putting the knife in a bit – in a 2007, quote: “Continued turnover of US senior leaders has made continuity of effort a recurrent challenge in this very complex fight. Since 2005 the comprehensive US counterinsurgency strategy has been significantly altered by subsequent military and civilian leaders who held different views with the advent of NATO military leadership there stay no single comprehensive strategy to guide the US, NATO, or international effort. Unity of purpose, both interagency and international has suffered.” Unity of command is more fragmented, and although – to be fair – there have been many statements going back to NATO meetings in Bucharest in places, even Riga, that talk about the need for unity of effort in approach; it is seen by many commanders as still lip-service. That’s why there has been a push to regionalise the fight in RC East and south with an American lead, potentially. Everybody is doing a job in Afghanistan; we have to understand who has assets for what kind of campaign and place them in that area to carry out the campaign.”
So where do we stand at the end of 2008, as of 2008 it appeared that the principle members, the US, the UK, and Canada, and Afghanistan, had developed a better understanding of counterinsurgency theory, but applying many of its key practices; unity of effort, understanding of the locals, protection of the populations, and the training of a viable indigenous security force remains a challenge. So that’s the ‘muddling through’ bit, and that’s where we stood at the end of 2008, but as Afghanistan became a major focus in the American elections a lot of people began to refocus on Afghanistan. There is a changing narrative in the northern hemisphere, it is more realistic – I feel – fewer Western metrics are being imposed. Coming back to the statements made earlier about Holbrooke’s attack potentially on Karzai, I think it has less to do with President Diem in Vietnam; we’re not looking to replace Karzai as far as I can tell, what we’re looking to do is look back on 2001-2002 and realise that wasn’t the best approach. To take some power away from Karzai to work with the local village, district, provincial, and start working up the food chain, and try and renegotiate the power of the central government with the local areas, and that’s just not for the Pashtun belt, but also for the Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara areas as well. That, I think, was the aim; so it’s looking back, and if you want to use the Vietnam analogy, President Thi u, when the CORDS program finally came in; we forced Thi u to give up some of his power from Saigon, to force it down to the most basic village level. We lost the war, yes, but we didn’t lose the village war everywhere in Vietnam. That is what we’re looking for, we’re not looking to topple Karzai, but Karzai I think, and some of his ministers need to recognise that the way that they’ve been holding power might have the be devolved to others. The command arrangements are getting better. McKiernan commands all American forces in OEF and ISAF, but there are still issues with ISAF itself. Many of us are pushing the fact that RC East, and South is a COIN campaign and support for that herein, less red-cards, let’s go on with the COIN mission, we all speak the same language. RC West and North, equally important, that’s a stability front, so stability will be the lead there. US and UK appear to be thinking along the same lines as far as COIN, this is not Iraq of 2003 or 2004. There were difficult issues for both countries about what has happened in Iraq, but lets just say that the military commanders have come to an agreement that mistakes have been made, and that we’re all moving forward together in the same way. Need for more troops, yes, but there is also talk of redistribution of those bases, we do have a lot of combat outposts, but they’re not necessarily embedded in the community, and we have to figure out if it makes sense to embed them with every single community. Every valley will be different, the metrics within any given area, the intelligence and what the tribal elders might want, could be very different. So there is no cookie-cutter solution here, so the idea is we might need to redeploy ourselves to focus on certain places like Kandahar. If Kandahar falls tomorrow it doesn’t matter what we’re doing in Helmand, Orūzgān and RC East. Kandahar is a centre of gravity for many people. Bottom-up government initiatives, all politics are local, it’s true in the United States, it’s true almost everywhere else in the world. Local security is key. Major debate about ANA expansion versus what these auxiliary forces might look like. Some of us are not looking for the ‘Sons of Iraq’, that was okay, but there were problems with it, we’re looking for a true auxiliary force that can be seen as legitimate in the eyes of many people. It brings izzat, honour, or nang, honour to the community and brings economic benefits to the community as well. For a potential period of time we may have to lead and fight alongside these people in battle and we’ll hand them over to the Afghanistan national security forces later. This need has always been true in counterinsurgency. At no time have you only had a regular indigenous force winning the war on its own, it always had auxiliaries. Even in the great Malayan experience, the Chinese didn’t join the Malaya regiment, they joined their home guards. Even in Vietnam, the ‘Ruffs and Puffs’, the regional popular forces, did more damage
to the NVA in 1972 Easter Offensive then ARVN did. So these are key things that are coming back to the discussion points, for these discussions on regular versus auxiliary forces. Embedded across many lines and this isn’t just the military this is civilian, but it’s getting those numbers. To give you an example about how bad we are with numbers, we had more USAID people deployed to Vietnam, than we have in the whole world today. We have a shortfall in the civilian service that is needs to be addressed. One possible solution, retired military officers and others, who know how to take care of themselves and employ them in those other government departments and give them the same rank that they had, potentially, in the military. This is a discussion that is going on in the northern hemisphere. It doesn’t matter that you have an interagency counterinsurgency manual, but if you don’t apply it and you don’t have the numbers, it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s great we build these schools in Afghanistan, and it’s great we build these hospitals, but do we have those school-teachers and do we have those doctors? I think there is a huge shortfall there. So the reconstruction, and this is what many commanders have said, the reconstruction isn’t about spending money and about having that metric. I mean, we build 15 schools, are they functioning? Isn’t it better to build one school that’s functioning instead of having 14 that are now burnt to the ground? Those sorts of metrics and debate [inaudible] discussed, because money has been thrown at the problem in Afghanistan, we have thrown more money in Afghanistan than we have in Iraq, and there is something to show for it, but there are lots of question marks being made right now about actual progress. I’m throwing up CORDS, the civil operations revolutionary development strategy, you know we didn’t do a lot of good things in Vietnam but we did do that well. That was a unified pacification program where we had a four-star civilian general under the command of Westmorland and later Abrams and they worked side-by-side. They smashed the rice-bowls of all the other government departments but it took a Presidential decree to do that, and many of us are waiting for Obama to appoint somebody higher than Holbrooke. Holbrooke still reports to Clinton, so he is State Department. We’re looking for someone who has the power to tell State Department, USAID as well as the military, ‘we are not achieving success’. Reconciliation within the Pashtun areas; there are major grievances in that area, we don’t quite understand all of them, we have to find out what they are, and it’s more complicated than human terrain teams. It’s actually getting the right people on the ground – who will serve a lot of years there – to build up those personal relationships. There is also reconciliation needed at the higher level. If you start reconciling with the Pashtuns you’re going to have to start reconciling with the Uzbeks, Tajiks and the Hazaras. This is where my cynical side comes in. I do think that potentially we can start reconciling within the Pashtun belt, because the lengths of tours need to be revaluated for most countries. There is talk now of British forces being deployed longer. They can build those relationships up, but I’m not sure we have the capability, at the higher civilian levels yet, to negotiate across all those other areas; so, that is something in terms of long term thinking we need to deal with. There are going to be knock-on effects to building up local governance, local security and other things that’ll have an impact even in Mazār-e Sharīf and Herāt. Working within Pashtunwali customs and laws is key. I was in the FATA in 2000 and I’ve been back to Afghanistan, and that’s the way they are, that’s the way they live, there is nothing wrong with it, that’s their life; stop imposing our own metrics on it. We in the United States have the death penalty, you don’t. We all operate differently. We all feel that we have righteousness on our side at some times but to go into a country and try to tell what is best for the Afghan is a bit presumptuous. Especially for a group of people such as the Pashtuns who are
extremely xenophobic at times, and very proud of themselves. We were a bit presumptuous to think we could tell all is well within our own society. We learnt that lesson in Iraq quite heavily, we paid 4,500 lives to get there, I don’t want to see us lose another 4,500 lives this time. Things are going to get worse before they get better. We’re going to have to accept it, we’re going to take casualties. The Brits know they’re going to take casualties, and this is a debate for the Australians if they want to take casualties. Let’s get some thoughts on current thinking. Petraeus’ thoughts last month, quote: “First and foremost our forces and those of our Afghan partners have to strive to secure and serve the population. We have to recognise that the Afghan people are the decisive terrain, and together with our Afghan partners we have to work to provide the people security, to give them respect, (and I’d say honour,) to gain their support and to facilitate the provision of basic services. The development of the Afghan national security forces in the area, promotion of local economic development and governance that provides links to the traditional leaders in society, and is viewed as legitimate in the eyes of the people.” The point about embedding within the community was stated quite heavily by a British General from a number of years ago, and something that the British learned very hard in the ‘Charge of the Knights’, quote: “It is crucial to have a base in a city, town, or village, right in the middle of it; and you patrol it so you could interact with the population, only with that interaction could you really tell who was ruling the roost, when you put out small bases they attract enormous destructive aggression from the insurgents, because the last thing the insurgents want is someone who operates in the vicinity of, and can deprive them of their own bases. This is sometimes very difficult to implement, because in terms of force protection and risk this is huge, it therefore requires a risk-taking organisation to undertake it, not only the military hierarchy, but the political hierarchy as well.” Risk is a very necessary part of winning in warfare, and that has been something that has been missing, in terms of the way we have deployed our forces and our civilian agencies. The current thinking of the US is in some ways summarised by Kitson; this is a great quote that has been bantered around by American as well as British Generals in MND SE, and I think it’s very apt, quote: “We have seen that it’s only by close combination of civil and military measures that insurgency can be fought so its logical to expect soldiers, who business it is to know how to fight, to know also how to use civil measures in this way. Not only should the army officers know about this subject, they must also be prepared to pass on their knowledge to politicians, civil servants, economists, members of the local government, and policemen where necessary. The additional function of the army at these critical moments is most important. Amongst senior officers in particular, ignorance or excessive diffidence in passing along such knowledge can be disastrous”. That started to happen in Iraq and is stating to happen in Afghanistan, especially within the northern hemisphere. So the potential current thinking within ISAF. To give you some background, this article just came out in ‘Joint-Forces Quarterly’ by an incredibly intelligent US Marine Colonel called Colonel Alford who did excellent work in Al-Qa’im; a town on the border of Syria. Where in 2005 after clearing the city of Al-Qa’im of Al-Qaeda, working with tribes, embedded his 3/6 Marines across an Iraqi brigade to pacify and try to control that area. We all talk about the Al-Anbar awakening, there are many reasons why the Al-Anbar awakening began, and where it came from. What Colonel Alford did in Al-Qa’im is one of the pieces to the recent success, so what he has to say about his role now in ISAF is very important, because he’s putting out some interesting concepts there. One, Pashtunwali, we need to work with it – would have been unheard of within the American military four or five years ago, but that’s how basic the change of mindset has occurred in the US. I want to put some framework, when dealing with ‘clear, hold, build’. It is constantly being discussed in different places, a lot of times even some military commanders can’t really get the points across; what it actually means. It’s been around for a little over a hundred years. It’s not an American thing, it’s a French thing, it’s a British thing, and now it is an American thing. Let me just give you the concept that he’s working with, and this appears to be ISAF thinking as well.
Operational design framework is as follows: ‘understand, shape, secure, hold, build’. Clear is being debated because there is a propensity and fear sometimes with commanders, that clearing is too kinetically orientated. So ‘clear’ may be dropped. ‘Understand’, we must understand the family, clan, tribe, or community organisation; and ‘hold’, ‘hold’ power in that area, we will never understand what it means to be an Afghan, but can gain a critical appreciation of their values, obviously take off your Western mindset and glasses, this is not the way it’s going to be done in the Pashtun belt. ‘Shaping’, the ability to influence and inform the perceptions, allegiance, attitudes, actions and behaviours of all players in the operations before we move in to secure it; ‘securing’, means to gain possession of a key terrain in order to deny its use to the enemy, and also to provide security to the population, killing insurgents is often not main objective. You never would have thought you’d hear an American officer say that after what we saw in 2001-2002, but it came down to reform and change in mindset. The American military, and the British military are going through it as well, have fundamentally relooked at themselves to try to win these wars. They don’t even use win anymore, they use ‘succeed’; win is too dangerous a term. ‘Holding, we [Coalition] and the Afghan national security forces are present and intend to remain until a legitimate local government is ready to provide security and governance. This means we must eat, and sleep, in the villages and towns without displacing a single family. ‘Build’, an area of operation means maintaining a safe environment for the people and the local government so both can pursue their social, political and economic goals. At the tactical and operational levels, ISAF building efforts must be focused on facilitating popular support for the district, provincial government, through the clans and tribes and/or village leader providing an atmosphere for political reconciliation, bottom-up. Bottom-up reform occurred in the military, bottom-up in development, bottom up in terms of government has always occurred in western states, this is the way it worked in different areas, this is the way which many Pashtuns have stated to military commanders, is what they want. So, the last points I’ll raise are these, and as an American who has only been here [in Australia] for six months I might be presumptuous in what I might say here, but where does Australia go from here? The Rudd government needs to decide if the narrative for Afghanistan needs to change, but he’s going to be intelligent, he’s going to wait for Obama to change the narrative first; just like Gordon Brown, and then they’re either going to join up or have their own interpretations. Points we discussed this morning, we had the alliance debate, national interests, security, terrorism. I’ll also add, if Rudd embarks on this, and embarks potentially on an increase in troops, he had better explain to the Australian people, ‘what is counterinsurgency’, and counterinsurgency isn’t ‘hearts and minds’. That was COIN in the 1950s, [hearts and minds] was fundamentally different from what it is today. ‘Hearts and minds’ has been ripped out of the doctrine and other things in the northern hemisphere, because it’s caused a lot of problems. When boys are dying and fighting for their lives in villages, the people back home have questioned the mission, “I thought we were doing ‘hearts and minds’”, so there needs to be a broader understanding as to what counterinsurgency is. The narratives are changing in the northern hemisphere and we’ll probably all be intelligent and wait until Obama changes the narrative first before we sign up. Population centric COIN I think, and I’m not speaking for the new strategy that’ll be released in a month’s time, but the writing is on the wall. The train has left the station, its population centric within the Pashtun belt. Australia needs to decide if you’re going to get on the train or get off the train. COIN is the way forward for RC East and South. So the three potential options for Australia if it remains in RC South are as follows, I feel; one, a true, ‘understand, hold, shape, and build’ strategy in Orūzgān, the problem with that, coming back to points which Jim Molan has stated many times over, the Dutch and the Australians – if the Dutch remain – will need to provide more battalions and have the risk-taking issues dealt with at the highest levels, there will be more casualties, I have to say, I was told by somebody not to say that, but I think we have to be open about it, that there will be more casualties. I think you need
to accept it as well, if you go that route. Two, the Australians remain in the south at current troop levels, to come back to Hugh’s point, but we might want you to be fighting somewhere else, we might ask you not to have Orūzgān, because you can’t really control Orūzgān if the Dutch leave with 1,000 troops. You might need to come down and help the Canadians, if the Canadians stay on, you might need to go to Helmand, might even have to help the Marines, and that’s a bone of contention potentially for your Chiefs of Army and Chief of Defence Forces as well as your government to decide. We’d be more than happy to have you. We’d love to see more RAR as long as everybody’s speaking the same language, and that’s counterinsurgency, which I’ll get to at the end here. Three, an advisory mission, that is very important, we all know that the, in theory if you want to be simplistic, that the route home is a secure Pashtun belt that is reconciled with the larger community and has a security force, either local or at the national level, that is able to provide security, and support the government of the area. But it takes a lot of effort to build a security force up to that level. The Afghan National Army isn’t a counterinsurgency force yet, still have a lot of work to do, so what you might want to do is send out and Australian army training team to Afghanistan. But not what you sent to Iraq, that was not the training team from Vietnam. The training team from Vietnam served everywhere in the country, so it would serve in RC East and RC South, and it didn’t have many red-cards. It fought and died with American Special Forces, with the Montagnards, with Ruffs and Puffs, with ARVN, there was a lot of risk in that. We’d love to see another training team on the same level as the training team in Vietnam, but Iraq was not the training team we are probably looking for. The embedding with the Iraqis for both the British and the Australians turned out to be very controversial, the embedding for the British for 14 DIV was a better success story, lots of lessons have been learned from Iraq. The need for an Australian civilian surge, this is a COIN fight. We need civilians who are actually trained and educated in understanding local conditions, understanding that what works in Sydney isn’t going to work potentially in Tarin Kowt. That you need to work with people potentially who have blood on their hands. The fact that US Marines who sit down with people they know have killed fellow marines and recognised that that’s the way forward, anyone can move forwards if the Marines can do it, and I’m not slighting the marines. That vital transformation of a mentality is something the British have come to terms with as well. The British were better in the past, they’ve come back to it. So a discussion needs to occur with the government and the people of Australia if these options are right. We’re not just talking about money, we’re potentially talking about more funerals, and how the government deals with those funerals is something that will be seen by the public and be very close to home for some communities in this country. It needs to change if you want to go that route, not everybody’s son is coming home. The Australian soldier prides himself on COIN training and tactics, however, the US and UK militaries have now recognised the importance of education for officers and commanders to implement a COIN strategy that is properly researched and focused. I’m not throwing a grenade here, but to the Australians in the audience from the military, you may have been the best in counterinsurgency in 2001 maybe, 2002, but I think we have to recognise that the US and now the Brits have come a long way in their understanding of counterinsurgency and in some ways even the British admit that the Americans are leading. I think that some humility in the fact that you might need to learn from your fellow allies is important in this kind of fight because it came home for the Brits very harshly in MND SE, but the relationship has been mended, but I do think it’s going to wear very thin. Within any RC South command structure, an Australian officer telling a Brit or American officer ‘this is COIN, this is what we do’ that’s not the common language anymore, there is a common language but we all need to be professional in understanding what we’ve done and what we haven’t done, in the past campaign in Iraq, and I’ll just leave it at that. Graeme Dobell: Jim, do you want to have a go?
Jim Molan: Only to the extent that I agree with what Daniel is saying, particularly about some aspects of our own self-delusion but I still don’t think that’s the big issue, the big issue for us, when we decide what we’re going to do is to do something meaningful. I have no argument with Daniel on the tactics, absolutely agree, the US is now the best counterinsurgency operator in the world, has been since 2006-7, because they stared defeat in the face, and it’s the greatest way to learn is to think that you’re going to lose if you don’t change absolutely everything you think you’re going to lose, and it would be arrogant in the extreme for us to think we could do it. The beauty of Australia and Australian troops is that we can learn and we can change and we can adapt, we are intelligent, we’re smart soldiers, we’re culturally sensitive soldiers, and I think there is a lot of potential in there; for example, I would love to see Australia in an Australian way, learning from our allies, but with our own culture behind us, running Orūzgān province, regardless of whether we’ve put the total number of troops needed in that province for success, but I think we could make a significant contribution to overall success and it’d be nice to know what overall success is going to be, and we’ll know that hopefully in a month or two what the overall strategy is going to be, and within that Australia plays a small but significant part in that we are in Orūzgān in order to win, or as Daniel says, to succeed. Graeme Dobell: Hugh, and then Bill. Hugh White: Thanks Daniel that was terrific, I just want to ask two difficult questions, and they’re both about numbers; the first is, do you think – looking at the coalition effort in Afghanistan as a whole – to implement the kind of strategy that you see emerging, is it anything like an additional 17,000 troops going to be enough, and, if not, give me a number; and secondly, to take over Orūzgān, for Australia to take over Orūzgān what would be needed, how big a contribution would be needed. Daniel Marston: First of all, no 17,000 troops isn’t enough, but we’re also not talking about 150,000 US troops, as we had in Iraq. We do need – I don’t want to speak out of turn here – but the marines are sending in a brigade in the south, but there is talk of more troops in the future potentially if the south doesn’t go the right way. I think it’s what kind of troops we send in there as well, and we will probably send in brigade combat teams but we’ll be partnered so closely to the ANA that the force multiplication goes out. They are looking at where best to do have the footprint, where should we be refocusing our efforts, and Kandahar is one, that’s why the marines are reinforcing Kandahar, and other locations to start the hold process. If this is the way we go forward. But at no time are we talking more than 80,000 troops, probably, you’ve have to be careful with numbers too. let’s face it the Brits deployed 3,330 troops in Helmand for the summer of 2006 but they had about a thousand bayonets. So those numbers are a bit skewed and that’s where some commanders are saying we need the right forces, and make sure the logistical chain is there to support them. But we need to make sure the right forces are there to embed with the Afghan national security forces, or even the auxiliaries if they go that route, and I can’t possibly comment on how many troops we do need, but we’re not talking, I think, more than 80,000 US troops, because the Brits are sending another battlegroup, you know, Gordon Brown said it the other day, they’re sending another 1,800. I know that there is a huge debate within Britain that they should be sending more than that, a whole another brigade. Two brigades in Helmand would probably do quite well, if you embed the Afghan Kandak in the area and the issue of local security forces, there have already been local security forces that are working well, that have not been reported on, and we’ve embedded the right kind of people. Coming back to the training team mission, training teams are very important, but you’ve got to make sure you put the right advisors in those teams, it can’t just be second and third rate individuals. It has to be the best and people who will work for longer periods of time, so there are discussions on
about the fact that some of these training teams should be out there for two years, but then you pay them back, with promotion, with the fact you move their family to Qatar or UAE, so there are a lot of debates going on right now. I’m sure it’s no different here, but a lot of things are being looked into. Orūzgān itself, I think if we’re dealing with the fact the Dutch will pull out, I think for you to hold Tarin Kowt and try to spread out with the Afghan national security forces as they are slowly right now, would see these small COPS being built up outside of Tarin Kowt, [inaudible]. I think you’ll need at least a brigade to have any hope of trying to explain to RC South that you can actually control Tarin Kowt. We have to be realistic with the metrics, we’re not going to pacify every valley in the next 18 months. We have been doing to many clearing operations, this is a long term process, and we would want to see, I think, and again I’m not speaking for anybody at CENTCOM or DoD, I think we’d like to see the Australians commit a brigade, potentially, that can be properly resourced too. Not just for the next 18 months but potentially for the next five years. That’s a political and military debate, which has to occur, but the British are looking long term as well about potentially reinforcing with a whole brigade by the end of the year. I’m not saying they’ll do it. The Canadians are stretched too, but we feel the Canadians have been trying to put in as much as they can, they know they need help, so they’ve been looking to the Marines to help them with Kandahar. Graeme Dobell: Bill? William Maley: Just a reflection. Part of the problem, I think, that also needs to be factored into this discussion is the increasing sense of disappointment, or even anger, on the part of the Afghan government, and people in Afghan political circles, about the way in which they have been positioned in this kind of narrative; for years, they feel that they’ve been told that the international forces have just discovered the Holy Grail and that if they shut up and let the internationals handle things all will be well. This is particularly the case in terms of relations with Pakistan, where the line that was explicitly put to President Karzai was, ‘We will handle Pakistan’. You could make a similar point about the situation in Helmand, where, against the wishes of the Afghan government, there was a change in local leadership and everything went to custard. As a result there is not a great deal of confidence that things have now dropped into place, and I think finding ways of overcoming the distrust that has build up because of the accumulated burden of past failure is going to be one of the significant challenges that is required to make new doctrine of this sort work. And I had two more specific questions about these new doctrinal developments. The first is how does one overcome the gap that has often been discussed with US operations in the field between the officer corps and the people at the ground level: I can remember a former senior Australian officer remarking that the US military were no good for more than a three month insurgency environment because of the difficulty of getting the low-[level troops actually to join up to the good strategic or tactical ideas that were being generated at the doctrinal level; and flowing from that, do you have any data on the number of people in the US military who actually have any language capacity in Pashto? Daniel Marston: The first point is, I’d be interested to find out which General was saying that about the three months. The American military – as any military – has recognised that 100% of all these forces to work in these kinds of conditions, they can’t get everybody to do the right jobs. It’s putting the right brigade commanders, battalion commanders, setting the tone in these areas that understand potentially the long term consequences of their actions. The Americans have overreacted, the Americans have made mistakes, and so have the Brits, and so have the Canadians, but it’s getting the right people trained and educated across many lines into this. the efforts in Iraq, and again I don’t want to draw to much from Iraq, but just to give an example of how the training program reformed for Iraq, and it was changing all the time. As a BCT brigade team was ripping into the country they had spent eight months out, training for their mission, BCTs with their opposite
numbers and everything else, but by 2007 those BCTs also had Iraqi police, Iraqi Generals and Iraqi sheiks talking to them, saying these are the people you’re going to meet, they started to build up this whole concept of looking through these different metrics and different mindsets from eight months out. Then they arrived at Taji, at the COIN training center, and that’s where they met the sheiks and local power-brokers and others, and started to build that relationship about how do we embed our people with your people, and to start the process. Now it wasn’t always 100% successful, we have had still some issues on the ground, there will never be any force, including the Australians, will never be 100% perfect at this kind of warfare, but the thing is, the mindset and the training packages and other things are starting to change some of these mindsets within commanders. We have outside academics as well as former insurgents come and saying [inaudible] ‘I fight you because you killed my brother’, you know, there is a very large openness going on within the military and the mistakes that have occurred. Now in the training mission that is seen as one of the most important bits, not everybody can be a trainer, not everybody can work with an Afghan, a Tajik, a Uzbek or a Pashtun and see eye-to-eye. It’s finding the right people to do that mission, and that is being looked into heavily, we – contrary to what some people might say in this room – the Marines did a great job with their Combined Action Platoons in Vietnam. They did psychological assessments of people who are attached to those villages and worked with the popular forces. They did not want the guy who talks about Vietnamese in a derogatory way. Those systems are being looked into, how do they set these metrics for these guys and try to figure out who will be best to be that negotiator. Pashtun and Dari language capability has been debated for a long time. There was a big push in the British army to get as many intelligence officers and others to become either Dari or Pashtun speakers so they can interact. It has come down to budgets, lots of times I believe that the language course were dropped because of deployment issues and other things. The Americans have ebbed and flowed, the marines have ebbed and flowed too, they wanted a lot of people to speak Arabic they’ve fallen back on it, they’re now going to Afghanistan and they have too many Arabic speakers. So there is always going to be catch-up, but it’s always about who are the interpreters and who can you trust on the ground, because as we know in Afghanistan there are many times when a tribal elder will speak to someone and say ‘I want a school’ and the interpreter ‘he wants a hospital’ and the guy goes away and builds the hospital, not knowing that the interpreter has lied because he’s a doctor and he wants a job. Those things are ongoing issues, but it also came to – well I don’t want to put too much on historical experience – there are lots of interesting lessons from the British administration of the FATA pre-1947, that many people are looking into. It was a light footprint and the right people. They were people who were willing to not ‘go native’ but were willing to be respectful and honourable to those individuals in their area. To bring some sense of security and stability to a region, never to pacify them, you need to remember that many of the present day commanders are not talking about control of the Pashtun belt, it’s about having some semblance of security in the Pashtun belt, so we can go home. So they feel secure, it’s not about imposing our metrics; the problem though has been, and we had an administration that was definitely, as we all know, ‘in your face’ about the way that we were supposed to be better. I don’t think that’s necessarily true of the Obama administration any longer and I think the military and I think some people in State Department have woken up, that that rhetoric doesn’t work any more. Graeme Dobell: We’re going to have to lie down five quick mortar rounds, you’re only getting $10 a round, and then Daniel will take those five, so it’s going to be Lesley, Jim, Nick Stewart, Neil James, and John, so Lesley you get first round.
Lesley Seebeck: I’m interested in what you have to say Daniel, and that was an excellent presentation by the way, about civilians. Whenever we talk about ‘numbers’ we immediately talk about military solutions, and we’re asking for the military numbers. Jim [Molan] says, ‘give me a brigade and we’ll have Orūzgān done’, but I notice there is no mention of any civilians, So what do you mean about the sort of things that are needed, the sort of capabilities are we after, the sort of people and numbers, and timeframes. I’ve got my own ideas, I’m interested in yours, because at the moment part of the problem is we go straight to the military again and we haven’t built other aspects in. Graeme Dobell: No I think that’s a really interesting point, and Lesley you’ll get your chance at that next session. Jim? Jim Molan: Certainly in the articles that I’ve written in relation to specifying that, I’ve acknowledged that is just so important Lesley and it’ll be great to get to it, but I think we’ve got to keep in mind that this war is winnable, we shouldn’t see it as an absolutely impossible task that we’re taking on, there are no guarantees of course, but it is winnable, the lower the number of troops that we deploy the longer it will take us to achieve some sort of result, we’re not going to lose tomorrow if we change the troop numbers, if we increase them a little bit it’ll just go on and on and on and what we then do is a expose our own will to our enemies and therefore we defeat ourselves and we will go at a certain stage. How we do it is really that we don’t do it by demanding certainty and no risk at the start, so, it’s unrealistic to think that if this job is worth doing, we’re not going to go in until we’ve got enough Pashtun speakers, until we’ve got enough troops, until we’re all totally resources and we know perfectly what’s going to go on in the world; it’ll be a strange situation if we don’t commit until after we hear the US plan 100% because the plan will last 15minutes, when the US comes out with the strategy it’ll last 15minutes and then it’ll change, the commitment by a country such as Australia into the war and the alliance, we get into the war and as soon as we get into it it’ll change, but that’s not a reason for not getting into it. I’ve got to say that what Daniel said about the way of leading into the war with smart commanders who then educate their organisations; we’ve seen that in Al-Qi’im, in Tal Afar, in Baghdad, in North Babil, and innovative commanders are the answer, Australia can produce them and we could produce them there, it’s interesting when we’re talking about counterinsurgency or stability, and this is exactly what’s needed, the one thing that did strike me and that I tried to bring back with me from Iraq is that half way through a counterinsurgency, where you have optimised your troops for counterinsurgency, you have to fight a conventional battle; and the marines found this on a number of occasions and Daniel was just speaking about the British paras in Helmand, who were fighting fundamentally head-to-head, straight down the line battles, and so what you’re asking of your military to do is extraordinary. Nick Stewart: Terrifically energetic speech, but I’m still confused exactly how it’s going to work tactically on the ground. You’ve told us that the current operational conception from the operation isn’t actually working, but I don’t understand, do we end up with squads of troops deployed in the location, (is this what you’re talking about?) from village, district, provincial etc. or are you doing it concentrated in provincial areas as appears to be the new form of deployment where the troops go out, how does that actually work on the ground? Neil James: The only point I’d like to make, and I agree entirely about what Daniel and Jim have been saying about counterinsurgency, but you have to factor a little bit that the uniformity of doctrine to the fact that the cross-cultural awareness of the soldiers is very important and that differs from country to country and it’s one of the reasons why you have the French, British, Russian and American schools of counterinsurgency, and this is one reason why it’s very important that we take
the lead in Orūzgān after the Dutch go, for the simple reason that it’s a win-win-win, the Americans win because they’re not seen to be leading it, and they gain a lot by that because they’re leading so much everywhere else, the Australians win, because we’re seen by the Americans as doing the right thing by them as an ally and we can perhaps manage the counterinsurgency better along the areas that are slightly different in doctrine, and the Afghans win because it’s not Americans, but it’s all part of the allied effort. The last thing I’d add is in a previous life I was the army’s linguist manager, and it’s inevitable that you always train your linguists for the last war, I mean, in the 1980s for instance, the army was full of Thai linguists for the war that never came, and finance and spending are an inevitable part of it, and I can remember having enormous fights with international policy division where they were telling us we couldn’t possibly have any Japanese linguists at all because there was no job in the military that required you to speak Japanese, and virtually every language I’d suggest with the exception of Indonesian and Chinese, the bean counters just said, ‘no no no no no’ and we then had a generation of people we had to train in Bislama and Tetum and languages that for years our international relations bureaucrats had told us we’d never need. John McFarlane: Very quickly, let’s assume for the purpose of this exercise that we will have a build-up in troops, perhaps along the lines Jim was talking about, and the politics of selling that to the community as you say, is one of the Prime Minister’s biggest challenges, but I see another related challenge, and that is, every time we’ve had a fatality we’ve had the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister, the Chief of the Defence Force, and a host of other people that have thought it personally necessary to attend the funeral. I think from the relative’s point of view that’s a wonderful point of respect for the person that’s kidded, but if we have a lot of casualties, if we have a multi-casualty situation, how do we turn that off, and how to we handle the politics of turning that off. Daniel Marston: It’s always hard; I had 25 questions in a row one day, but this is a little bit easier. We come back to the point raised about civilians. I’ll try to answer this in a very civil way. There has been a growing concern from within [US] State [Dept] that potentially the way they’ve been recruiting people for specific positions, and what qualities they were looking for, are not conducive to what the mission has become in some of these countries. So we might have to go outside, and bring people in. But I’ll also add the education side, to be fair to Georgetown, they started a program in their foreign service school on insurgency and counterinsurgency; they’re trying to make sure that a lot of guys who will be deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq have some basic ideas of what the hell is going on. They get a lot of good speakers and others. ANU, SDSC has a course now on COIN and insurgency. Britain has been slower. There has been a push in Oxbridge and a few other places. There are terrorism courses, but that’s not the same sort of thing. So governments are trying to potentially start funding universities to carry out these programs, to start the building blocks. Now at the operational level, go back to CORDS, and I apologize for beating the CORDS drum, but in 2001 in November, some of us – myself included – were saying to people ‘there is going to be a Pashtun insurgency, it’s coming, we need to get our heads around this war. We need to look at history, we need to not go down the same path we did before. We need to look at CORDS. There are a lot of programmes in CORDS that we need to look at in terms of getting a unified comprehensive approach to this future campaign.” Now, of course, Yale – at the time – said thank you for your application Dan but there is no insurgency. God bless Yale. CORDS had a course for every single USAID, State Department, agriculture, everybody else, had to go through a six-week course before they deployed to Vietnam, to understand the environment, to understand what is COIN and your role in COIN. They also created a training centre at Vung Tau, [one in DC for USA officials] for the Vietnamese, CORDS was 80-90% Vietnamese. As far as I am aware, we don’t have a training program in Kabul or other places, to start filling these district centres and other places for agriculture and other things. This point has been passed along to the State Department
and other agencies, and they’ve said ‘Oh Christ, we’ve had a course on this before?’ Everybody has amnesia; it’s not just the military. They are improving. So, coming back to that, they started to push the idea that they need training courses for civilians. There are other problems though, in some of these agencies, I wont say which, but some in the UK there are lots of people who want to go to Afghanistan or Iraq but they’re being poo-poo’d by London because they’re war-mongers. So there is an institutional problem in a lot of these departments that need to be worked out. Potentially for six years duty in Afghanistan you don’t have to do some of these silly job back in D.C or London, but that’s for the institution to figure out. But it’s getting those other institutions and government departments to figure out there is a need for these civilian enablers. We’re not talking thousands of civilians, if you have one excellent civilian it goes far. Again – I don’t want to harp on – but the British had eight civilian officers in the FATA backed up by a local security force, the Frontier Corps, that was to maintain some semblance of security. It had a very light footprint. Those who were in the political agency knew the Pashtuns and respected the Pashtuns and tended to be seen as native by New Delhi, as sell-outs by some, but they were the ones who negotiated with the tribes all the time, I’m not saying we need an imperial service, you know we’re not talking colonial civil service anymore, that’s the last thing that you want to discuss in public, but you can’t dismiss history, and as a historian we have been dismissing history in many ways and we’re living with that mistake. Graeme Dobell: Alright I think you’ll all agree with me that class act, thank you, alright, you have ten minutes to get you coffee, we’re starting bang on at 2:40. INTERMISSION Graeme Dobell: They say as Ken Begg once said during our famous election campaign, “Now this is where it gets interesting.” As the French say ‘to govern is to choose’ and in this session those of you gathered in the inner circle of hell are going to choose. And I’ll give you your question in a moment. First though, I want to set the scene by giving you a letter, private and confidential, written by a senior cabinet minister to the newly elected Prime Minister talking to him about his thinking on sending several thousand more troops to this war that this new Prime Minister has inherited. The senior minister in this private and confidential letter says, and I quote: “He accepts that Australia should make a contribution to the effort. What he refuses to accept is the notion of Australia needing to make a greater sacrifice. He rejects the argument that America would abandon their efforts if Australia did not increase its land force. While he acknowledges that a presence gives comfort and assistance to the United States, the size of the presence so long as it is not contemptible is simple irrelevant. So as long as it’s not contemptible then the size is irrelevant. If Australian force levels are not going to affect American decision making it would be better for us to spend the money in ways which will be of far greater benefit to the progress, safety and stability of our country. Thus far, no further” That was actually John Gorton writing to Harold Holt after Holt had just won the famous 1966 Vietnam election. And that brings us to your moment of choosing. The question you are going to be asked, each and every one of you on the inner table of hell is what military commitment should Australia make in Afghanistan. You are about to go into the Prime Minister’s office and advise him on the figure he should use. The figures I’m giving you, you can play with or vote for. You can go for the cut and run, not quite contemptible figure which would meet the Gorton approach. The not contemptible figure would be five hundred. The status quo figure 1090. You can go for the Surge figure and let’s put it at the top end of the figure and we might even, on Lesley’s [Seebeck] figuring there if you want to you can fudge it by putting in some civilians as well, your surge figure is five
thousand. And if you really think that this is the fight, if you think this is the biggest of the big, the thing that really does make or break both in terms of alliance or the relationship in Afghanistan, at the very top you can have a go for broke figure of 10,000. Your job when it gets to you is in 90 seconds or less, and remember Kevin Rudd has a very short attention span when he’s not talking, is to convince him of that. Now having set up the question, you can have some time to cogitate, I’ll hand you over to Chris Barrie. Chris Barrie: Thanks Graeme. I’d like to start by first of all saying I’m sure we’re going to read about this in the white paper when it is delivered by government but I won’t be holding my breath. Secondly, I think it’s pretty disappointing that no one from the Australian Army is here to take part in the deliberations because, actually, this is an important function of a conference like this, I would have said. I know that Peter Leahy, was formerly the Chief of the Army and Jim of course a serving General and I’m a former CDF [Chief of the Defence Force] but having the young people here who can listen in and hear what we have to say I think is pretty important. So, Graeme has offered us four options and I guess there’s a fifth which is to do nothing at all and get out. Of course, all military operations get a life of their own and it’s a very brave general who tries to predict when things are going to end. So when you are thinking about the sorts of figures that you want to commit, I think you ought to be thinking in terms of the generational war and what that might actually mean over how long, and to pick up Jim Molan’s point of course, the more you do now, then may be the less long it’s going to take, so there is a quite a neat balancing act required in all of this. But where I stand says it’s really nice to be able to support your effort, your national effort, not just your military effort, your national effort comprehensively. It’s nice to be able to put people in to do the developmental work, to be talked about and to be able to provide for them the sort of security they expect. You certainly cannot expect your aid workers to go out there and get shot. Furthermore, in providing aid and development support, it is good if you’re also in charge of the security part of the operation. So, you can probably guess that I’m going to head for Graeme’s surge figure and notwithstanding that it will be very demanding and notwithstanding that if it’s a composite military force and a civilian force of 5000 it will be quite difficult to meet that obligation. So without any further ado, now that you’ve all had time to think this matter through, off we go. And this time we’ll start with Brab [Richard Brabin-Smith] and go around the other way. Richard Brabin-Smith: Thank you, I feared that might happen. Well, Prime Minister Dobell it’s been government policy for a very large number, not just of years but of decades, to draw a differentiation between a “contribution and greater sacrifice” and “size if not contemptible”: this is reasonably well documented. I cannot claim, Prime Minister, that Australia’s vital interests are so high in this particular case for it to justify a significant greater contribution than that which we are already making, especially in the presence of significant uncertainty over contribution of other likeminded nations. My 90 seconds is almost up. My position therefore is to defer making a decision. (Yes, Prime Minister, before becoming Minister of Defence, I was a civil servant in the Department of Defence.) Graeme Dobell: Now, Brab, as Dick Woolcott used to say sometimes not making a decision is a decision. But you’re here as my expert advisor, do I put you down as a status quo man or would you rather cut to 500. Richard Brabin-Smith: I think status quo with the expectation that at some stage we will try and do something with our civilian elements as well, to give the small-T Taliban something to look forward to when they grow more wheat on their otherwise arid and infertile land.
Graeme Dobell: Status quo it is. Michael? Michael Evans: I think I would have to go for the Surge figure. That would be my advice but I would do this with some hesitation for the simple reason that I would worry about our rotation capacity, with that number of troops. So therefore I would be a little bit more inclined to try and graduate that, if that’s possible, perhaps going to a figure of 2000 to begin with. I would tie this, I would tie everything, I would tie our security presence to a Counterinsurgency strategy that promotes stability, governance and development. Therefore, I would fit it very closely to what can actually be achieved on the ground, a StabOps type approach. COIN leading to StabsOps and what you would have is a sequence of activity here. An increased security presence is probably inevitable. The concern I would have in giving this kind of action is how would the Prime Minister actually sell this to the electorate and as I said before, I think in some ways one approach is to be, to use the mantra as ‘civilian as possible, as military as necessary’. It’s got a nice ring of inter-agency and StabOps and COIN, it’s a blended approach. The end state has got to be that the Afghan people have got to own this mission and therefore although I’d favour a 5000 figure I’d also like to think within that figure I could put a proper Australian Army training team and I would certainly like to put an Australian Police training team in there. What that would do with our figures is probably boost them to well up over the 2000 mark. I would also give some thought to a combat policing concept for Counterinsurgency to improve the Afghan police. As I said, tie the commitment to security, governance and development and also tie it to a better regional diplomacy, certainly towards Pakistan and perhaps under our DCP, some education of Pakistani offices in Australian facilities and also AusAID. So I am, what I am saying really is that when you talk about a military commitment it’s hard to isolate that military commitment because in a counterinsurgency, stability operation, nation-building mission there’s going to civilians, diplomat, there’s going to be soldiers, police there’s going to be a whole batch of people, so really your commitment should be governed by the amount of troops you need to provide security for them to do their job in giving the problem back to the Afghans, in other words, building a local capacity. There’s enough in that, I think, for the Prime Minister to play around with. Stephan Frühling: I think I would also go for something like the surge figure. Probably not as high as 5000, because the 5000 figure implies that we send a Brigade, and although I would reinforce Orūzgān to some extent, I would not make any move that might be interpreted as Australia letting the Dutch go. I think putting some pressure on the Dutch to stay is not a bad idea. So I would avoid giving the impression that we are ready to replace the Dutch, and instead keep the presence in Orūzgān, maybe reinforce it slightly, but otherwise then concentrate on a training team that is not necessarily geographically focused, but that can be shifted wherever it is needed in the overall campaign plan. Graeme Dobell: So you’re a status quo with surge capacity? Stephan Frühling: Well, status quo plus. Graeme Dobell: Okay, well. Alright I think putting the pressure on the Dutch is a good political point. Neil? Neil James: Look I think the question is a difficult one for the simple reason that by setting arbitrary figures you’re artificially constricted. We’re in a coalition war and I’m not convinced that you need to have such a huge gap between the status quo figure and the surge figure. I think we could easily maintain a force of somewhere between 2500 and 3500, total. So it would be about 2500 at its
maximum on top of the 1100 odd we’ve got there now but it really depends what you’ve got in the force and what you want them to do. On a strategic level I think we need to send a training team in very similar to the one we had in Vietnam where they would operate outside of Orūzgān across the whole country because I think the strategic benefit of that and the diplomatic benefit far greater than just confining it to the province. But you’ve got to remember the old rule of three. For every digger, every bayonet you’ve got in Afghanistan you’ve got to have two back here in Australia and a force of 5000 would just about eat the entire field force of the Army so I think we’re really looking at a slightly smaller force to be sustainable in the long run and for the time needed of about 3500-3800 and not the 5000 but if you’re asking me to commit to a figure than I’d definitely commit to the 5000 rather than the status quo. Senator David Johnston: Given that the buck stops with the Prime Minister’s decision, my discussion points would be as follows. I’d want to know the assumptions we are making with respect to proceeding with this change in policy, the troops would need to be quality combat troops. If we were to take charge of Orūzgān province that province has a 23,400 square kilometre area with 630,000 people living in it. RAND Corporation tells us that something like 6000-12000 troops would be sufficient to retain and maintain order over an insurgency there. We’d need to remember that whatever we put into the field we need to rotate by three, that is one standing down, one working up and one in the field. Are we talking bayonets, lets presume that we are. Any such action would require at least a 6 month workup I would have thought to go away if we’re talking ordinary infantry. So I’m adding a further 1090 troops to what we have there presuming that that 1000 converts to 3300 plus support which would take us somewhere around the 3500-4500 mark and I would then want to see the Chief of the Defence Force that we can do that. Graeme Dobell: This is the NATO view now. Klaus Peter Klaiber: Thank you. What I’ve learned today already is that we must realise and everybody realises and especially after the presentation of Daniel [Marston], that this is not a military operation alone in Afghanistan it’s a combined civilian-military effort of all parties concerned and of all nations involved and therefore I believe that the advice to the Australian Prime Minister could be something like: We’ve put in already 1000 combat troops in the country, they are doing a very good job. I will support them with another kind of security level team which make sure they are well-equipped but our main support; our main additional support will be sort of some larger training facilities for the Afghan Armed Forces, maybe some specific training effort also for the Police which is still lacking a lot and where the Australians have a lot of expertise and I would say that what else we would do as Australians is we would do some training efforts in Pakistan as well to help the Pakistan government and especially their Armed Forces and their Police to do a better job to contain the insurgency. Graeme Dobell: I’ll put that down as a not contemptible status quo. Peter Leahy: Prime Minister can I start by saying I’m disappointed with the simplistic approach you’ve taken and that approach has been taken, I might say… [inaudible]. Graeme Dobell: Welcome to the other side of Kings Avenue. Peter Leahy: You’re following in the grand tradition of other Prime Ministers who have seen deployments in terms of numbers and I think that is one of the real problems that we have, it is about troops to task, what do you want us to achieve and then it’s a matter of finding if we have those troops so just saying I’ll have a number. I don’t recommend the 10000 figure although if you do choose that number, there’s an ex-journalist that I think should be drafted in amongst that lot and
we’ll send him off there straight away. The figures going to be, any figure is going to hard to achieve and you’ve heard some of the design comments and I would only make some broad comment on these, having a view to my recent position but it is about rotation. If we’re there for an extended period of time, that rule of three does apply and you might even consider that if you’re there for ten years or more the fact that some of the people we say I know I’m going back three or four times, it’s going to be even harder so the rotation requirement. There is a requirement to maintain high order skills, it’s an argument that the Navy and the Air Force have been using a lot and there are military skills that you won’t be using up in Orūzgān province in a COIN campaign so there’s another element of the Army that would need to be devoted to doing that. Hugh talked earlier about some of those concurrency pressures, instability in the region. Can we be sure that this is the main game or the only game? So do we need to keep something back here in reserve. With regard to more than numbers, that sort of force just isn’t simple just go and make some more infantry, it’s enabling elements and these things that are in chronic short supply and they are not only in short supply within the military, they’re in chronic short supply around the community. Medical support, in particular, intelligence capability, our logistics capability, our signals capability and this is not only in the trained people but in the hardware you need to be able to do these things, helicopters, the other elements of combat support, artillery. Neil was kind enough to mention tanks; I would remind some in this room that we have a beautiful tank that we would be able to send should you choose to send it, Prime Minister. The other thing I would say is that also the technical capability of many of the platforms, we’ve done something in Australia equip for but not with and the difficulty of moving some of our helicopters there at the moment, they’re not in the right shape and as we’ve seen with the Blackhawk and the Chinook helicopter, the Blackhawk is more a low-altitude helicopter. Hot, dry, high-altitude climates are not going to do that terribly well, you can’t get the payload out of it. Status quo plus a bit but give me some tasks. Graeme Dobell: Sure. Frank Lewincamp: Graeme, just one small difficulty with the analogy as you’ve set it for us. You said size is not relevant if it has no effect on US decision making, unfortunately in this instance it does have some effect because the US has to make a decision about the province. My position would be to maintain the status quo, for several reasons. One, I don’t think our interests are sufficiently engaged to contribute more and as Peter has just said we have significant interests elsewhere against which we deploy and use forces. I’d like to enter into discussions with the Coalition, particularly with the US, about the strategy and the desired end state and the means to achieve that, particularly if a new strategy is to be released imminently. I’m still not convinced that the strategy that I’ve heard so far encompasses all of the factors in that region, we’ve only been talking about Afghanistan. I’ve not yet heard a coherent strategy on how to fix the problems with Pakistan. Prime Minister, you should be prepared to consider greater civil effort, if asked and in the meantime maintain the status quo. Rod Lyon: Well bearing in mind the cautionary note of the generational war and sustainability, I think we have to pick a force number that not only suits our missions but is going to be sustainable over a prolonged period of time, a decade or perhaps two decades. On that basis, I’m sort of opting for low surge but like Neil, maybe 3500 on a military number and about 1500 on a civilian emergency corps, that civilian emergency corps to concentrate on engineering, agriculture, education, medicine and language skills and that civilian corps to be the basis of our reach out into the Afghan population, 50% of whom live in villages of 300 or less. I think we actually have to get out among the population if we are going to have any effect here. As I’ve said, it’s not just a number and as other people have said, it’s not just a number it’s what you do with it. I know that
sounds like something that the actress said to the bishop but in this case I think we have to think about what it is we’re going to do with the number. And in particular, I want to see a greater effort put in on the political side, that helps prepare the ground for what we do and that is that we reach out more to the local security architecture, that governance becomes something that relies more heavily on the local political basis of power distribution. And I suppose that we even look at local development architecture: where is it that we can most effectively pour money in Afghanistan that gives us the results that we want? And on top of that we actually have to solve the regional problem, which means we need some sort of Paris Accord from Cambodia; we need to get some regional players round a table, and when we did this at Bonn we did it after the Taliban had already lost twothirds of the country and we just helped enshrine the northern warlords. We need to bring a lot more players to a table, probably outside the region and just let them talk for a while. Thanks. William Maley: I think there are several crucial points that the Prime Minister needs to take on board. The first is that strategically, if Afghanistan seems to have gone under, then the prospect for saving Pakistan will be fairly bleak with all the awesome consequences that could flow from that, not just for South Asia but for South-east Asia and our region. Having said that, we need to listen to what the Afghans want. If we are actually going to secure the environment, we need to focus not so much attacking terrorists with global reach but providing a more secure environment in which ordinary Afghans can lead their daily lives, and there we need to think carefully about aerial bombing because it’s not likely that the Afghans will want to let us know that the Taliban are beginning to infiltrate their villages if the likely consequence is that the village will be bombed from the air. Having said that, it’s almost certain that to provide some ambient security for people on the ground, it will be necessary to put in more troops than are presently there, where at the moment there is only a holding operation which is not meeting a lot of opposition but is not particularly meeting the wishes of the ordinary people for a more secure environment in which they can reconstruct. There’s one other element which is very important here: the Afghan people are looking for some kind of indication that Western powers are actually serious about addressing the problems of the regional environment which they see as central to their concerns. It’s important that there be signals that we are adopting realistic views about the sanctuaries in neighbouring territory rather than simply ignoring the problem or hoping that it will go away. This is not something that the Prime Minister should find difficult to address because in fact in August 2007 the then President of Pakistan said the following and I quote: “There is no doubt that Afghan militants are supported from Pakistan soil. The problem that you have in your region is because support is provided from our side.” Now, the if President of Pakistan can say it, then there’s no reason that the Prime Minister cannot say it too, in exactly those words, and we need to drive home the point that if a neighbouring state claims to be a sovereign state, then that involves duties as well as rights and one duty is to prevent its territory being used in that way. To start with, it would be perfectly legitimate diplomatically for Australia and its allies to augment troop-number discussions with pressure on Pakistan to arrest the Taliban leadership, which, as Seth Jones noted in last week’s Washington Post, is comfortably sitting in Quetta unmolested by any of the security authorities of the Pakistan state and running an insurgency in which our own troops are dying. Graeme Dobell: So you’re a surge man? Bill Maley: Yes. Graeme Dobell: It’s running neck and neck, Daniel.
Daniel Marston: I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach based upon the earlier comments. Send out a true RAR [Royal Australian Regiment] Battle group, instead of a reconstruction taskforce team, and send it to Kandahar. Send it to support the Canadian efforts there, then send out another 250 of the best of the Royal Australian Regiment with SAS [Special Air Service] as a training team in RC East and South. That will have more an impact on how the Americans and Brits view you. I think there’s potentially some issues with the Australians controlling Orūzgān by itself because even with the brigade team you probably can’t control it all by yourself, so we’re going have to come and support you anyway. Whereas, if you come down and support another coalition partner, who’s having an issue with force ratios, you can work together. We’ll support you there whereas you’re training team mission can help the key enabler and that’s the Afghan national security forces which are going to be the ones left at the end of the day, either through the ANA [Afghan National Army], through the ANP [Afghan National Police] or through local auxiliaries depending upon which route we go. But the experience that the Australians have of the training team in Vietnam, there are key lessons that the Australians need to really look at and to deal with the issue of risk. Some of these men will not come back. There may be mutinies, there’ll be other issues as well. Most American and British commanders are recognising that, but you’d have a larger impact I think in some ways if you provide 200 of the best training team throughout RC East and South and send a RAR battle group. Which you could reinforce in terms of rotations and everything else. I think you need to look at your length of tour, that’s an ongoing debate even in Britain and within the US Marine Corps. There’s talk of a year still, and so that deals with numbers of rotations as well. [Inaudible question] Sorry? There’s even debates about little bit longer too, that would be nice too. Jim Molan: Peter is quite right in that it’s a shame that strategy is defined by numbers and we’re just reinforcing that but I believe if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. At the moment we’ve got a 1700 Dutch, 1100 Australians, a small number of US Special Forces so we’re not winning with 3000 people in Orūzgān I can’t see any reason why we should change it by not doing anything. I’ve done troops to task to the best of my ability to the best of my knowledge and I do come up with something between 5000 and 6000 people based on the population centres and the geography of the province. A few more, my answer succinctly, a few more trainers would be tokenism, a battalion group that is about adding 800-900 on to our 1100 making it about 2000, would be appropriate as a first step and I believe we should do a battalion group taking us up to about 2000 in 2009, we should then be prepared by 2011 to take over the province and run the province with up to 6000 troops, now if the Marines come in give us 3000, fantastic, we don’t have to do it. We only need to supply 3000 after the Dutch go home but we should be prepared once we get to 2011 to run the province and run it with Australian troops and in an Australian way as an expression of our sovereignty. Lesley Seebeck: I’m also in favour of a surge—and I would prefer the terminology of a ‘greater sustained effort’ rather than a surge, as a surge only gives the impression that you’re only going to be there for a short period of time and that defeats the purpose. I’d love to say that the number we should put in whatever you could afford with $42 billion dollars because that seems to be a magic number. Taking a long-term view—because we are looking at a long-term commitment—when I look at the nature of the world today, I see non-traditional threats; the need for stabilisation missions, flexibility, and sustainability. And this is the sort of mission that better prepares us for those sorts of contingencies. We need allies and it’s no longer the case that we can say merrily look, we’re interoperable and we do the right things, or engage in tokenism, and expect to remain of Team A. We need to be interoperable in terms of doctrine, how and what we do and being on the
ground experiencing those sorts of conditions with our allies and that will give us knowledge and experience, know-how and technology interoperability. And as Peter [Leahy] points out we might even be able to use those tanks, which would be great. But again, I’m a little wary of just doing more of the same, I don’t think that’s necessarily going to help All counter-insurgency is local, and therefore those people who say even a commitment of 5000 will not make a big change in the great scheme of things potentially are wrong—so long as you can target operations. I’ve clearly not sat down and thought through exactly what you would be targeting, and towards what, with more trainers or a battalion group, for example. I think there’s a mix of things that you want to do. You might even look at having a civilian-led operation. I say that because if one of the issues is civilians then you’re going to have to build up the capability. I know that Jim [Molan] just pointed out to me that this is never going to happen but you’ve got to have civilians leading it. One of the issues has been that there is a tendency to see everything through the narrow lens of a military operation and I think that there is scope to do make it more civilian. There are qualifications and they’re the same ones that Mike’s [Evans] picked up, again and a number of others around the table. We need to think how a contribution fits into the grand strategy and regional strategy. The last point is that you always need to consider the cost of not doing anything. That’s not merely the cost of not making a decision but of not doing anything—that includes the possible diminishment of local and regional security, falling back to the Team B scenario, and also the opportunity costs. Andrew Shearer: It’s getting hard to come up with a new variation but I’ll try. I think I’m probably a status quo plus kind of guy. I’d like to see us add a serious training team because I think that that is key and I think that is something we’re good at and I think it’s part of a strategy that we know from previous experience works. Having said that, to do it properly we would have to address some very deep-seated, I think, problems in our institutions with embedding. My experience was that there was neuralgia around embedding in lots of quarters, not least out lawyers but also, to be honest, in political quarters, it’s a very difficult issue and it would take a significant cultural change, I think, for our system to deal with that but I still think it’s worth doing. I would announce that we’re establishing a proper, permanent embassy in Kabul and that we’re going to staff it properly. I’d announce that we’re establishing a diplomatic presence in Orūzgān. I have to correct the record here, AusAID does have a presence on the ground in Orūzgān but I think most of us here would agree that one or two people are not sufficient. Likewise, the Australian Federal Police, I understand, are ramping up their effort but again I think more can be done there. In parallel with this, I would do two other things; I’d put together a serious aid package for Pakistan and try to leverage that in the regional community and in the international community more broadly and I’d also embark on a major education campaign to sell this thing to the Australian people and I’d make sure it was sustained and I would have the ADF out explaining what we’re actually doing there a lot more than we think we do now. Patrick Walters: Prime Minister, after extensive discussions with military advisors, looking at the progress in Orūzgān over the last three and a half years, I think you should consider us taking over the leadership of the province from the Dutch at the end of next year or early 2011. But on this proviso, that a lot of the enablers would come from the United States which we can’t provide ourselves. So in terms of numbers, it would be much more modest than some of the others are talking about, we are thinking around about 1800-2000 in terms of the military and of course that dictates a lot of US help. But if we do this it would allow us, I think, to make a substantial difference on the ground in the province in terms of effective counterinsurgency with both training of the ANA and as Daniel has said, this focus, this new focus in that province of auxiliaries which
are locally recruited, we could make a substantial difference. The problem has been that we have essentially stood still. AusAID, as Andrew says, is there but they are in the base and not in the town. I certainly agree that we should lift the embassy in Kabul onto a proper basis but if we look at the political risks, Orūzgān is a relatively safe province. We can have confidence that the campaign we would prosecute there will not involve a big lift in casualties. It is something you can sell to the Australian public in terms of our US ally. There is an expectation, and as Daniel alluded to earlier, there is a sense in Washington that we talk the talk but won’t walk the walk. This [deployment] is something that is sustainable in consultation with Washington and it depends on them to some extent to meet their share of the bargain. The final point I’d make in terms of sustainment is that I think I agree we would have to look at one year rotations rather than 8 months. Hugh White: Of course Peter Leahy is absolutely right, you shouldn’t talk about numbers, you should talk about tasks and the best way to talk about tasks in this context is to look at it that way, is Australia serious about making a substantive operational contribution to achieving the strategic objectives or are we interested in making a symbolic contribution which achieves our alliance objectives. Now, Australia has a pretty strong record on both sides, no one would call what we did in World War One symbolic but most of our experience, I would almost say all of experience of coalition contributions as opposed to coalition leading since Vietnam have been on the symbolic end of the spectrum. So one way of asking the question, Prime Minister, is are we serious about this? Making a real contribution or are we just doing our usual symbolic routine. Nothing wrong with symbolism as a form of alliance management it has been extremely effective but in a sense a lot of the debate today has been backwards and forwards about that. Now if you’re going to make a really substantive contribution, you really need to make a substantive contribution otherwise you find yourself in that territory familiar to all bureaucrats in offering all support short of actual help and to my mind you then have to make a pretty tough decision. I couldn’t help but notice how many of us are trying to move backwards and forwards between symbolism and substance because we either want a bit more or a bit less. On my view, we’re in there for symbolism because I don’t think our interests are substantive enough and I don’t think the chance of success is big enough for it to be worth our while to make a substantive contribution and that’s why I would stick with the status quo and of course the point about what they do is really critical, I’d stick with the status quo and keep them as safe as possible. Graeme Dobell: And just because I haven’t given them any notice at all. Clive [Williams], you get a vote, John [McFarlane] you get a vote. [inaudible] That’ll teach you. Clive Williams: I would go with an intelligence based approach [inaudible]. Graeme Dobell: So we finally got a 500 man. One for five hundred. Clive Williams: I go for status quo based upon a good understanding of what the enemy’s situation is. Graeme Dobell: John?
John McFarlane: I think I would go for the surge because if we’re going to be in it, we’d better be in it for real. My only concern about some of the things that have been said about the surge is the idea of half military and a whole lot of civilians I hope the surge just isn’t a way of avoiding military casualties by having civilian casualties but I do think we do need to think very carefully through what AusAID can actually do and how they can do and what the AFP can actually do and how they can do it so it’s not a single [inaudible] with numbers. Graeme Dobell: Well it doesn’t give Chris Barrie the deciding vote but at the moment it stands 8 for the status quo, some muscular status quo but nevertheless 8 for status quo and 10 for the surge, so Chris Barrie what are you going to tell the Prime Minister? Chris Barrie: Thanks, Graeme. Well, as with all these very easy problems to solve we’ve got an almost equally divided room. And I think to just pick up on a couple of points that emerged from having you do that, I couldn’t agree more with Peter and Hugh that this isn’t actually about numbers but actually what you really want to do. And in part, I think that’s a very complicated question for us. Afghanistan’s a long way away; it takes a fair bit of effort to support it from here even with the help of allies and things. Secondly, we do have other interests and they’re closer to home, some of them and finally, of course, there is no end in sight at this stage. So, that makes it extraordinarily complicated. The next part of it is when we start to talk about numbers or as Jim Molan would say troops to task, what are we really trying to do here? I would begin from the point that says reconstruction and aid people can do a hell of a lot of good and not anyone of them should get shot in the execution of their duties. So the provision of a secure environment in which to do those things is pretty important. Now what does that take? Well, I’ve never been to the province and say if somebody here could draw us a pen picture of what we’re really talking about here, that’d be most useful. My only visit to Afghanistan was in 2002, it reminded me a lot of the northern parts of India and places along those lines, so that’s in my imagining. And then there is the fact is that it doesn’t all happen at once. The sort of security tasks that you would have to undertake are not all going to happen at once. It is important maintain a secure operation. It is also important that when you begin to provide security for local people that you don’t have to give that up, that it should not be contestable once you provide it. It is important that the people can go about their daily lives feeling that good is happening to them. There are also many other complications, such as coalition management. My experience in coalition management or running a coalition once and being a victim of coalition operations on many other occasions, is that on day one on any tasks there are always plenty of volunteers, but when it gets to the end of year five the volunteers are all drying up, they’re all going away because they’ve got different interests and so one has always got to be cautionary about where this might head and I just end up with one final point. What did the euphoria of the inauguration in January actually mean for all of us in the Western World? It was more than just the United States changing its leadership, it was the Western Alliance changing fundamental leadership and in one sense and why I would recommend that Australia does a lot more than it has been doing in this coalition, it’s really important that we get in behind the United States and its leadership of the Western World in trying to do these things. And I think we can do better. Graeme Dobell: So are you a surge man or are you status quo man? Chris Barrie: No, I think I’m with Jim Molan. Look, we’ve been in a holding operation. If we really want to do something here than we should dig into our overall commitment: as I said to solve this problem is about our will and ideas. We can do a hell of a lot more than we’re doing and I don’t want to put real numbers on it but it’s going to look something about five grand and the build-up to that and how you get there, I think that’s part of the neat trick of management. Secondly, I believe it
should be a civilian in charge of the whole commitment because I think the security aspect of the whole thing is one part of the deal and I think we need somebody in this country appointed to manage the whole process. The ‘king’ of Afghanistan in Australia. Graeme Dobell: Alright as you all know, that Prime Minister’s can never confine themselves to one question. So the Prime Minister has listened to your presentation and a bit like me, the Prime Minister came of age, well actually a bit later than me, he’s a bit younger than me. Ok, as I came of age, of conscriptable age, my lens through on Vietnam was always an incredibly personal one but nevertheless one of the things that my reading about Vietnam has always impressed upon me has been the need to tell the people about death with sense. Where the Americans lost in a lot of analyses but I’ve always been attracted to the idea that in the end the American people weren’t being given a narrative that gave them death with sense, some sense for the death. So your Prime Minister says to you, you’re telling me that we’re going to be there for a generation and that the Prime Minister might have to go to a funeral once every two weeks. What is the political narrative, what is the death with sense narrative that I am going to use to tell the Australian people about why there sons and daughters are going to go off to Afghanistan, a place that most of them couldn’t find on a map. Why am I going to send them to die there? So that’s my next question to you, my advisors. Why? Chris Barrie. Chris Barrie: Prime Minister. Graeme Dobell: I could get to enjoy this. Chris Barrie: I’ve been to a number, a few, military funerals in my time and I wouldn’t want you to think that they would want you there. Because funerals, like many other things we do in family, are very personalised affairs and frankly, I think it’s crazy that all but the Archangel Michael goes to any funeral to any solider who dies overseas. So we do have to walk back on those ideas. Now, equally it is important that families and other relatives or close friends do understand that anyone who dies in these operations is dying for something that is worth it. And that does require a dialogue with the community. You know, I think most Australians at bush level, know that politicians and Canberra is full of fools but they do understand about doing tough things sometimes and I think this is a tough thing but frankly, we haven’t seen decent arguments or a narrative that’s been presented in the public domain that really makes sense of this, once again it’s something we can do better at. Graeme Dobell: So some thoughts on the death with sense narrative? Jim Molan: If I could make a comment on that. If we’re serious about, it’ll led by the Prime Minister for all the reasons that the Prime Minister has at the back of his mind and he wouldn’t be asking his military chiefs to be justifying that but I understand the point of the question. I gave four reasons before why we should do this and certainly for military professionals we accept that in these occasions part of the contract is that you’ve got to be prepared to die. Now, I would stress, if I were the Prime Minister, the humanitarian aspect of it. We can do real good. We may be clumsy on occasions but we can do real good. Second, I’d stress self-interest. Australia has interests whether you define them as key interests or whatever in relation to terrorism, in relation the world that we live in, in relation to drugs, we have interests in supporting our allies and the Prime Minister already indicated when he was in Opposition that he has interests in that particular war. I don’t believe it’s that big of a problem to sell it in a general sense and as long as there is a good strategy, a good overall strategy that has a fair chance of delivering success or winning in the end, you can sustain it. It will become a problem, I think, if we don’t, if we commit to a dumb strategy or if we status quo and achieving not much and our people are still dying but I think it’s sellable.
Graeme Dobell: Peter? Peter Leahy: Funerals first, and then the narrative. Prime Minister, I recognise it’s an imposition to come to the funerals but I like you coming because you get to realise the impact of your decisions and I think that’s one of the really important things in all of this. I’ve seen ministers and Prime Ministers go to the farewell parade and give that narrative and they give it to the soldiers and to the families. That then is a sense of comfort for soldiers and their families while they’re deployed and the uncertainty of the deployment but then to bring it home, to have someone senior to government again it’s a sense of comfort to the families of the soldiers that you’re there at the funerals. I think it will become quickly unmanageable and I don’t know how you unravel it. We’ve got ourselves into this situation, I went to all of the funerals and I think that’s appropriate as Adm. Barrie spoke, it’s family. The families liked the Governor-General and the Prime Minister coming along. We’ve got ourselves a problem, I don’t know how we get out it but I think it’s a useful thing. In terms of the narrative, it has to be clear, it has to be consistent and frankly and it’s the mission we were talking about this morning. If we don’t know what we want to achieve there how can we develop a narrative and I agree, as I did this morning, largely with Jim. It’s about humanitarianism, it’s about denial of terrorism, which was one of the original missions we set ourselves and it’s about a secure and stable nation. Now, I think the mission has crept, it’s a secure and stable region because Pakistan is very much part of that and I don’t know how we do that but then, to my mind there’s another element that comes on top of this. The soldiers hear that from the Prime Minister or the Minister as they leave and feel very proud that they’re going off to fight for Good. Adm. Barrie would understand a force for Good. That they’re fighting on behalf of their country, they’ve probably got their shirts all autographed by the Prime Minister and the flags have been done and those sorts of things that you would do but then when they get on the ground, there’s another element that comes into this. The sense of pride of what they’re doing and even on the short trips that I’ve done to Iraq or Afghanistan, to me it was always about the kids. If you would look outside of the vehicle and others who have travelled with me might see these sorts of things, I think Patrick we saw one of them on a patrol down in the south of Iraq. The kids would run up and wave at you, there’d be a sense of, hey, they’re acknowledging that we’re here; we must be doing something good. In that sense of who we are as Australians, I think open, egalitarian, inquisitive, there is that sense, alright, I’m proud of what I’m doing and I think that’s what keeps a lot of the soldiers going, so it’s multidimensional but it’s about setting the mission. Graeme Dobell: Neil? Neil James: Look, this is an area that we’ve talked about for some time and there’s just a few little points I’d love to chuck in. The first one is just the simple technical point, the more tanks you send, the less infantry you’ve got to send and the less casualties you’ll take for those of you who are sceptics about tanks. The second thing is that is that once the Government lays down what it wants done, the advice on how many troops to take should be given by uniformed people and not by diplomats or bureaucrats because they are the only people who understand the problem once the problem is actually set. The third one is the simple problem of the leader’s son. In the 1962-1972 period, over 1000 people sat in the Congress and the House of the Representatives and the American Senate and only one of them had a son who served in Vietnam. There’s a real, that was Gore. Gore was the only one. We have a bit of a problem that through the 80s and 90s and early 2000s, in our Parliament, the leaders of both parties were perceived by war veterans and by members of the military as men who had avoided military service during the Vietnam War and this, and it was both sides of politics and it doesn’t look good and if you look at how many of them were
actually of conscriptable age or military service age and deferred their studies for exceptionally long periods on both sides of politics, it was quite embarrassing. So what you have to actually say to the Prime Minister is ‘Prime Minister, are you prepared for your son to die in this war?’ and we shouldn’t be electing to Parliament anyone who doesn’t, isn’t prepared to send their own children to something they’re prepared to send other men’s children or other men and women’s children to fight, remembering that we only have one war veteran in the current Parliament, we only had one in the last Parliament and only two in the Parliament before that, so it’s really quite an interesting question. On the subject of funerals, the ADA [Australian Defence Association] always maintained that they Going-Away Parade should be officiated by a politically neutral person like the state Governor or a Governor-General or a local mayor or a local RSL [Returned Services League] president or someone. The politicians should be there but shouldn’t be the focus of the ceremony. The funerals are a much more difficult task; obviously the Governor-General should try and get to every one. It’s handy for the Prime Minister to turn up because they have to confront an aspect that they no longer confront in the new building up the hill there but n the old building they used to because if look at the vista from this building, down across the lake it runs directly to the War Memorial so every time you walk out the front door you’re confronted with it and on the subject of the narrative, I give you a very quick 30 seconds vignette. When I was serving on the ceasefire line in Kashmir on my first night, a Norwegian officer and we had two Swedes, a Norwegian and me. I gotta tell you eating the herring and rye bread was terrible. Didn’t think I’d survive but the Norwegian said to me, he said ‘Neil, he said, how come such a young country as Australia has fought so many wars?” and I thought about this and I thought well, you know, Australian’s don’t have a great tolerance for big dictatorships attacking small countries, particularly when they’re democracies and the Norwegian pulled himself up the table and glared at the two Swedes and said ‘Isn’t it wonderful that Australia came all the way across the world to help liberate Poland whereas countries who were so close did nothing’. You know, it was a great way about how the Norwegians have never forgiven the Swedes. Well, this is what Australians do, we have a very, very, very proud and impressive record of standing up for the little guy and the little guy in this situation are the people of Afghanistan who are being buggered around by the Taliban and by the Pakistanis and by you name it and we stand up for the little guy and it’s the same reason why those people who think if China was ever stupid enough to attack Taiwan, we could remain neutral, how would you ignore the howls of outrage from the average Australian who would see a big dictatorship attacking a small democracy. Well it’s the same in Afghanistan, the Afghans are the little guy and you sell the narrative to the Australian people of we’re actually going to help the little guy against the bad guy. We gonna actually shot dead the people who spray battery acid in the faces of schoolchildren, schoolgirls because they go to school and we’re going to try and give Afghanistan the type of chance that by sheer good luck and 100 years of British strategic sea power, we had to develop into a first-world liberal democracy. It’s not a difficult narrative to sell if you sell it properly. The failure of the Howard government was for political reasons, they failed to sell it properly and I’ve got to say it, the Rudd government is probably doing a bit better job of it. Graeme Dobell: Senator, the Prime Minister’s thinking about all of this and he thinks he’d better find out what things look like on the other side of the chamber, always in that big building it’s handy to go for a stroll and bump into somebody in the corridor, it’s amazing what you can pick up just strolling down towards Aussies and as he’s going down to get his coffee, he bumps into you and he says ‘What do you think of the politics of this, you know? How do you think the politics of this are going to play? How do the politics look on your side of the chamber?’
Senator David Johnston: [inaudible]…before the Prime Minister asks that question he’s done all of the right things that need to be done and that is being inclusive, to discuss in an open and very frank way with the Leader of the Opposition, not necessarily anybody else but the Leader of the Opposition, what is in his mind with respect to something that already has bipartisan support. Now, I think it’s about taking everybody with you and we have been through a circumstance where we didn’t have that luxury when in Government but the current Government does have that advantage so I don’t think there’s a particularly big problem confronting the Prime Minister, the politics, I think, up on the hill are straightforward. There will be issues with minor issues and others but at the end of the day, in this particular instance and talking about this particular engagement I think the politics are quite less muddied than we’ve previously had. William Maley: I think that’s a very important point that Senator Johnston has just made. Issues tend to become profoundly politicised either when there is partisan division between major parties, as occurred over Vietnam around 1969 and over Iraq, or when conscription is the principal mechanism for the selection of people for despatch overseas, which can politicise the issue at the mass level even if there is an elite consensus. If you use the regular Army and other assets of the ADF and there is a consensus between the major parties that the mission is worth pursuing, then the importance of a narrative is not so much a matter of political legitimation: it’s more matter of a duty ofaccounting to the public, particularly the families of people who are being sent abroad. It’s not related to the building of mass support or the protecting of mass support for the mission; it’s almost a moral responsibility of agents of the state to engage in a proper kind of interaction with the community to provide a rational justification for what’s being attempted and there, I think, that’s not just a matter of what’s being attempted militarily, but also the kind of justification that Neil’s been talking about in terms of the morality of the situation on the ground. If you ask Afghans what they think of the Taliban, they don’t think the Taliban movement has changed a bit. The Taliban before 2001 were the world’s least feminist movement, they were unremittingly brutal to anybody who got in their way. We’ve seen them happily engage in decapitation of state officials, of schoolteachers, of people who are utterly innocent, by any stretch of the imagination and I have sufficient respect for the community that I think that documenting those kinds of patterns of behaviour actually suffice to provide an underpinning of a moral kind for the sort of action in which the ADF may be involved. Graeme Dobell: Hugh. [inaudible] Yep, sure. Senator David Johnston: That’s prompted me to say that one of the reasons why I think the former Government was most fortunate in not having bipartisan support in Iraq but came through relatively unscathed to some extent was because we didn’t suffer any casualties. I think that was the crucial point of pressure that was never brought to bear on that decision, we were involved and we were not necessarily wearing any of the pain that other players were. Graeme Dobell: Hugh? Hugh White: Yes, just to, in fact, pick up on that last very interesting point that the Senator Johnston made. It always seemed to me that the politics of casualties in societies like ours are always quite complicated. I think societies like ours will take casualties; they will always take them if two very important conditions are satisfied. The first is that it is very clear why the operation is important to us and the secondly, it’s very clear the operation is succeeding. If both of those conditions are satisfied, then actually I think the idea that this is a society that won’t take casualties is, at least, unproven but I think actually it’s more than that, I think the evidence is to the contrary and there’s a little bit of data, although, superficially the data in Canada points the other way, the
fact that the Canadians are still there with 108 killed in action to me is a remarkable statistic but that brings me to the point about how you answer Graeme’s question of the Prime Minister. The first point to note is that because so many of our military operations in recent decades have been undertaken primarily to support our allies there has crept into Australian strategic discourse a kind of systematic dissimulation because in order to achieve your strategic objectives of supporting your allies you can’t say you’re going to do it just to support your allies, you’ve got to say you’re going to do it because you agree with whatever it is they’re trying to do, that’s part of the deal. The honest politicians and I include both John Howard and Bob Hawke under this category acknowledge that duality of motive, you look at the arguments that Hawke put on the table before he went to Iraq, to Kuwait in 1990-1, if you look at the way John Howard presented the arguments on Iraq in 2003, they both went to a great deal of trouble to say we, are worried about WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] or we’re worried about what’s going happen at the UN but we’re also very focussed on the US alliance but the fact remains is that Australian politicians have always found it, partly because of some elements of the Gallipoli myth, if I can put it that way, hard to say that we’re going to fight an odd war in a distant place because it’s good for our alliances. Now, and so any Prime Minister facing up to the problem of how he expresses this is going to have to wrestle with this. One way of getting around this of course is to use the language of values rather than interests and Neil gave us a powerful presentation on that line and there are almost two philosophies of military operations that they’re undertaken for values or they’re undertaken for interests, I’m personally an interests guy myself. I tend to think people talk about values when they find that military operations they’ve undertaken are no longer serving their interests. We didn’t go to support the British against Poland because we cared about the Poles, we went because we though that Nazi aggression was bad for us strategically and it was bad for strategically as was demonstrated in 1941 and 1942 pretty clearly. Now, the impact of that for us in particular is that you can get away with the values narrative for a little while but as the years drag on, people have got to know what’s this really doing for Australia so to base your narrative in interests in the end provides a more robust, long-term basis for a commitment which, as we’re saying in this case if we decide that’s what we’re going to do, could be with us for a very long time. Graeme Dobell: I think what Hugh’s saying is very, very true. It’s very useful to go back and reread the speech that John Howard gave to the House of Representatives on March the 18th, 2003. Hugh White: And the speech to the press club. Graeme Dobell: And the speech to the club but particularly the speech on the floor of the House because that’s where Howard was speaking to the record and all the other pillars fall away, out of that speech, you still get this one pillar of the US alliance which Howard had put right in the centre of the speech. Hugh White: But at the risk of appearing self-interested, if you look at the Hawke’s equivalent speech in the House of Representatives for the Iraq commitment in 1991, a very strong formulation of the US alliance. Graeme Dobell: My understanding from someone, not too far from that Prime Ministers office is that they had a look at the speech too but that’s a story for another day. Brab, and then John. Richard Brabin-Smith: While the people were talking I was trying to recall how many casualties Australia has taken in peacekeeping operations. Tthere have been some; I think there was a doctor who died in MINURSO [Mission des Nations Unies pour un Referendum au Sahara Occidental], I think, was it?
Neil James: Eleven. Richard Brabin-Smith: Eleven. Neil James: Well, if you don’t count Korea it’s eleven. Richard Brabin-Smith: I was thinking of those more recently, I think we lost someone in what used to be called the Spanish Sahara. Neil James: Plane crash; female doctor. Richard Brabin-Smith: Thank you. So, I think that the community took that in its stride, but it does lead to the issue of numbers: that is to say it seems to me that a small number of casualties in any one operation will not get the electorate or the Government seriously reviewing its position on a specific operation. It really comes down to whether you can put together a convincing argument for why you’re there. It gets very close to the point that Hugh has just made. Where you have, for example, small numbers of casualties in remote peacekeeping operations like MINURSO, then you can run strongly with the values argument. But I suspect that as the casualties mount, you do have to make it abundantly clear, governments have to make it abundantly clear to themselves and then to the electorate, that the interests, the national interests really are commensurate with the casualties that are being taken. With specific reference to Afghanistan, yes we can run the humanitarian argument: they are a poor country that has been subjected to an odious regime, and that’s a very strong argument. But I doubt it would be sufficient in the event of large numbers of casualties. You can run the interests argument with counter-terrorism and, as Bill has said a few times today, we do have the issue of instability in Afghanistan spilling over into what some people remind us from time to time is a nuclear-armed Pakistan. Then there’s another factor, how do our casualties compare to what other nations are taking. I don’t know where the argument on numbers lies: you can say that below a particular number it’s easy to take, and beyond some number it’s difficult to take, but it does put the onus very much on the government to be clear as to why it’s taking part in a particular operation and to make these reasons particularly clear to the electorate. Graeme Dobell: John? John McFarlane: Thank you Graeme. I think that before I get to the point I particularly wanted to make, if I could just enhance a little a little bit of what Brabs said there, the number of military fatalities over the years in peacekeeping, are of the order of six or seven or something like that. It might interest you to know that in the forty plus years of peacekeeping that police have undertaken, they have also taken six or seven casualties, the latest one being…[inaudible]…and Cyprus. You won’t find any of these names on the Australian War Memorial which is one of the differences but you will find them on the National Police Memorial so let’s recognise…[inaudible]. Now, perhaps I put a red herring into this conference by raising this whole question of funerals and representation and in one way I’m sorry for doing that but in another way I think it’s a good way to get to the politics of this whole question of support for a military campaign but I think it’s inevitable but I think I’d like to go back to what is a military funeral actually for, the objective is to bury a solider who has given the ultimate sacrifice, the people who are immediately concerned with it are the soldier’s families, wife and kids, parents. The soldier’s military family, his unit and ultimately his service and it’s not and shouldn’t be seen as a political event so I’m actually opposed to the long-
term idea of having senior politicians there; I think different ways have been thought about dealing with these sort of issues. I think Peter raised the idea of having the Prime Minister realise the seriousness of the commitment he’s making by, at least occasionally attending such a service is probably a very good one from a psychological point of view and also a commitment point of view but in the United States President Bush didn’t allow photographs of coffins coming in, which almost seems to deny that people are dying, real people, on how to handle it here, I don’t know. I presume this is the case that President Obama actually signs a letter going off to each family that would be my preference. I think the Prime Minister representing the head of government could write to the families a personal letter which could be framed and kept in memory of the person who died without having to go through the process of having just about the entire senior level of government attend. As for the GovernorGeneral or a state Governor, they are non political people and I think it’s quite appropriate that they might attend. Graeme Dobell: Daniel? [inaudible] Peter Leahy: I don’t think it’s political. It’s personal from the Prime Minister and the GovernorGeneral. We just seem to get ourselves in this situation and I’m just trying to remember properly that Dave Nary was the first of the funerals, he was killed training. Well I’ll get to Kovco as well but Nary, the Governor-General went to that because he was the Colonel-Commandant of the Special Air Service Regiment. Kovco, after the telephone call that Shelley Kovco had with the Prime Minister at about 11:30 that night that the family were notified that the wrong body was coming back, there was an emotional relationship between the two and I think the Prime Minister felt that because of that relationship he was going. The Governor-General was away, we just seem to have got ourselves into this situation. I don’t think they’ve done it in any calculated sense but the problem now is you went to that funeral why didn’t you come to this funeral. We are going to find it very hard to extricate ourselves and I would applaud who can find a way out of it. We’re stuck but John, I wouldn’t call it political, I think its genuine wanting to share in the grief. Daniel Marston: I just wanted to add a little bit to what, a point that Hugh raised at the beginning and has mentioned a minute ago. Historically, if you look at 2007, in Iraq, there are a lot of excellent lessons for Prime Ministers and future Presidents to look at in terms of the media. We were staring defeat in the face and you can say George Bush finally made a correct decision and he decided to have reinforcements but also the way we used those forces. There was a lot of anger in the United States, a lot of anger within Congress, that we looked as if we were just piling in more blood into a bad campaign. The irony though, was the US military, in some ways became more open to the media, some might say very open to the media. It got people inside to show that progress was occurring quite fast and for somebody who’s been there at the time, progress was happening quite dramatically. That message starting to permeate back to the American people and by the time that Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus would come back to the Congress to report on the surge there were fewer and fewer skeptics about what was actually happening on the ground. People were not viewing it as a Bush campaign but more as a Petraeus and Crocker campaign which in some ways helped the support for it. By September 07 even the Democrats in Congress including Obama and Clinton had backed away from the attacks on Petraeus and Crocker about what was actually happening on the ground. But a lot of the information came through the media. The issue with ‘fear’ of the media in other countries in terms of its operations, they might need to look at the lessons. Prime Ministers and Presidents need to look how you might have to take a very difficult position and realise the narrative needs to change. The narrative did change and it was about security and that the American people and American soldiers and others recognise the priority was the security of the Iraqi people. That became the main mission and it wasn’t as if we
were selling out, on Iraq. It was that we were being more realistic on the narrative and we sustained more casualties in 2007 but people saw progress and they supported it. Graeme Dobell: Neil James? Neil James: I’d just make the quick point that no American president goes to funerals because they’d be to busy to going to funerals than to be President and the policy wasn’t a Bush policy, in fact it came in after Vietnam so Obama has reversed a longstanding American policy that Bush got for blamed unfairly. Just to answer Hugh, Hugh and I might die for the American alliance because we understand it on an intellectual level and what you might call a patriotic level, we can’t expect our diggers to die for that so much. It’s not an either/or proposition, the values and the interests reinforce each other as arguments, they always have in all our previous wars and I’d suggest they always will in all our future wars and as the passage of time goes on, people are more likely to remember the value than the interest and if you’re a bereaved family at the time, the values probably more comforting to you in your bereavement than the interests and that probably doesn’t change over time but it’s not an either/or situation and people will die for values and they’ll die for interests and they’ll particularly die for values if the interests coincide and they’ll particularly die for interests if the value coincide, it’s not an either/or proposition. Graeme Dobell: Michael, then Jim, then Bill. Michael Evans: On the politics of casualties, I must admit to be somewhat befuddled by this, perhaps it’s because of my background, I come from a country where 30,000 people were killed and there were funerals every day for seven years so to me the way you address this is that every soldier, or every airman, or every naval rating, that goes to sea, or goes to air, or goes to the land, in fact signs an unlimited liability, that’s what it is, that’s the nature of the military contract and I think if they get killed its tragic, its sad, its wasteful; nonetheless it happens, we can’t turn it into a carnival of tragedy every time it does happen and while we’ve got ourselves into this situation befuddles me but that’s the first point. So I think, I guess what I’m saying is go back to basics, go back to the unlimited liability, go back to the fact that soldiers sign up, they sign up for adventure, part of that deal is you might get killed, tough luck you live with it. Part of the issue of how do you bring about this to a narrative, I think we need to start thinking in terms of risk and threat. We’re used to thinking in terms of threat, we don’t think very often in terms of risk, we have to think much more in terms of risk, if you’re going to sell deaths, if you’re going to sell casualties to the media and the public, in the new security environment we face irregular warfare as a major challenge, that’s a new thing for us, complex irregular warfare that is transnational. It’s not something that we are used to; we talk about terrorism all the time, the most misleading and over-used and devalued word now in our media discourse. It tells us nothing, it symbolises everything. So I think we’re really need to look at the whole issue of irregular warfare and the way people in fact certainly, our serving members who have to go fight in that cause against that cause because if we don’t go to the crisis, the crisis will come to us so it’s a matter of societal security and it should not be beyond our ability to explain to the Australian people that the adversaries that we face in the irregular world are not interested in fighting us on a state to state basis. They want to damage our societies, they want to kill civilians they want to arrive on our soil and wage social warfare, therefore it makes good sense to go to where the problem is, so that would be one of my solutions to approaching this issue and again it comes down to public education, it comes to media education, it comes down to a change of mindset and it comes down to issues of responsibility and our public culture. It’s very interesting in Britain at the moment there is very high support for the British Armed Forces despite taking large casualties in Afghanistan where there is not high support for Britain is in Britain’s political establishment which is seen to be a debased public culture, that’s an interesting
thing for us to consider, whether we are in that situation in Australia and whether if we had had 150 casualties whether we’d be facing that same thing. Jim Molan: My point follows on in that what should be our expectations of casualties, my memory and I haven’t done formal research on this, my memory from the year I spent in Iraq where 900 US servicemen killed in that year from a force of about 140,000 was that a battalion would take, a battalion would said it had a great tour of a year if it lost 15 killed and the Marine battalions, my memory of the Marine battalions was that it wasn’t unusual for 40-50 be killed and 100 plus to be wounded to the extent that they didn’t come back to the unit. For those of us who said 5000-6000 troops, over half in the room, that means our expectations should be in the area of, if it’s like Iraq and it could get to that extent by 2011, you’re looking at, from our force, 100 killed and maybe 300 wounded above lightly wounded and I think we should think along those lines even if we halved, even if we halved that number because the level of combat may not be as intense as in the urban environment in Iraq then they’re bigger numbers than peacekeeping or our traditional rate of casualties but I’ve got to say I couldn’t agree more with Michael. Neil James: [inaudible] Jim Molan: Sorry, yes you’re quite right. They’re annual numbers and some of the heavily hit battalions stayed 15 months. William Maley: To go back to the point I raised briefly this morning about reconfiguration, part of the difficulty we face in terms of sharing with the public what’s going in Afghanistan is that Uruzgan is a dangerous place. There are lots of places in Afghanistan that are nowhere near as dangerous as Uruzgan and it might be well be useful if there were some Australian aid money going into those areas where it’s relatively easy to implement projects that are of great benefit to the local public, to which people from Australia could then go to get a sense of what positive can be achieved. That actually leads me to a broader point. We are very much hamstrung by a country-wide ‘defer all travel’ recommendation in respect to Afghanistan. It doesn’t stop people travelling but it means that if you’re an academic, your insurance cover evaporates; you then have to go and broker a hideously-expensive insurance policy to go there. But Kabul is not Baghdad, not at all. You can walk around Kabul in the street, you can catch taxis. There are private security companies which have a vested interest in putting the fear of God into people that they are going to be shot or snatched if they go out on the street, but it’s simply not the case, and there are other parts of the north in Afghanistan which are quieter still. iIt’s really regrettable that the image which is actually conveyed by these warnings is one which is grossly exaggerated in a number of cases, not all, but in some. In the Smart Traveller site you will find a statement to avoid travel on the airport road in Kabul because of the ‘very high threat of terrorist attack’. Now, if you’re a Consul and you’re worried that sometimes you might have to provide consular assistance to someone, that may be the case. The risk to a given individual of being on the spot when something nasty happens on that road is infinitesimally small; it’s a manifestation of the same problem that arises when people fear the Great White Shark much more than the domestic pet, even though statistically you are at greater risk of being killed by a Pit Bull than a Great White. There’s a discrepancy between what statistics tell us about risk, and popular conceptions of risk when is then cascading down into these kind of warnings and configuring an image of the environment which is actually not particularly accurate. Now, I’m not going to walk in the streets of Tarin Kowt or of Kandahar or Lashkar Gah but not all of Afghanistan is like that, at all.
Chris Barrie: Bill. I think that’s a very important point, we’re not talking about something that looks all the same everywhere and I guess that comes back to my earlier point. I just have a few points to pick up. One is of course the importance of the mission and what making progress really means and whether we’ve got the will and the ideas to get there. Secondly, we talked about tour length, whether the current 8 month tour length was sufficient or whether we should extend that out and of course under what conditions that would be true, I was struck by the number of times the Pakistan dimension comes into a discussion of Afghanistan and clearly a lot of people are now saying hang on, this problem is pertaining to that entire region, irrespective of where the national borders lie and I guess a question in the air is if we commit to solving problems in Afghanistan what are we going to do about Pakistan? So there’s a big one and finally, of course, I think we are at a status quo plus. Graeme Dobell: We went to a surge actually. Chris Barrie: Or surge minus would be the right way to put it. We’re somewhere between those two limits, I would say but I think if I could simply summarise, I think the bulk of opinion is that we should be doing more; and more that makes sense in the context of where we want to go. Graeme Dobell: Hugh. Hugh White: Hey, look I just want to wrap up the day very quickly, I’m wise enough to say on the program I’m not going to try and summarise. We designed this day around the proposition that we should spend serious, quality time talking about objectives and then some serious, quality time talking about how they might achieved. We didn’t plan but I must say for myself I am very glad that we also ended up spending some quality time about costs, particularly not fiscal ones, but the cost in lives because it’s a pretty important part of our business and you know, the core thing about our discussion of objectives is that this morning was that it did get on the table the fact that the set of objectives that drive Australia’s decisions on Afghanistan are pretty complicated. There are humanitarian issues and issues of political responsibility arising from the fact that we helped invade the joint a few years ago. There are questions about how what happens in Afghanistan does and its surrounding neighbours play into global security issues which have relevance to Australia’s security and there are questions about how it plays into the alliance and different ways in which it might play into the alliance. It’s also worth coming back to a point that in different ways Peter Leahy and Jim Molan both stressed and that is that in the sense that Australia’s objectives are critical to Australia’s decision making but our objectives will be set within a framework which is set by our allies and others, that is in the end we’ve got to be careful when we say our objectives, are we talking about our Australia’s objectives or our objectives that we can genuinely sure we will share with others. Because if you look at the set of objectives that other people have, they will be as complex, diverse and conflicting as ours. As we look to the questions this afternoon, I think a very helpful introduction by Daniel put some very important propositions on the table, which are I think are a bit new to a lot of the debate in Australia. One is that the approach being taken by our partners to operations in Afghanistan is moving very fast and in directions which are in some way quite sobering, the kind of operations that Daniel described will need more troops, thy will be more risky, they will put very high demands on the kinds of people we put in place, those demands won’t just be on people in uniform but also on civilians and they’re going to make very important demands on what you might call cultural questions, that is how we actually operate with the people on the ground there and that does seem to me to carry a lot of problems, in the end are the coalition partners are going to get enough troops on the ground for long enough to achieve these objectives, will we get enough civilian people to do the other parts of the pie with the sort of skills they need, will there be enough people who can speak the relevant language and there are still very deep
questions about what we aiming to achieve and what we’re aiming to leave behind, how far do we need to move Afghanistan’s or Afghanistan’s bits on from where they have been for the last few decades or the last few centuries before we think we’ve done enough and can get out. These do seem to me to be very deep questions about the direction in which the operation is going. For Australia that does mean the choice Rudd faces is very far from being simple. We have to make questions about numbers but as we discussed in the session just a little while ago it’s not really about numbers but it is about what we’re trying to do, about how many casualties we’re prepared to take, about what kind of timeframe we’re prepared to commit ourselves to and what that means for our broader force structure. To my mind, if we were really serious about achieving that kind of substantive, strategic contribution in Afghanistan then I don’t see how we can do it within the present structure of the Army. You’d be going for more battalions and that’s not unthinkable you know if these objectives are as important as many people in the debate in Australia believe then that would be a good reason to increase the size of the Army that’s what you would need to do but there are also, I think, and we came to this at the end, some deeper questions. There are questions about whether our allies are dinkum, in the end is the Obama administration serious about doing what is required to implement effectively the kind of strategy that Daniel sketched out and I guess we can all make our different judgements about that and in the end how dinkum are we about this and I think in that connection the discussion about casualties and funerals was very useful one, so thanks all for participating in this. I’d like to thank you all for coming, particularly those on in the inner circle who had to sing for their supper, particularly, Senator Johnston, it was a privilege for you to join us for this, we appreciate how bust senior parliamentarians and it’s been a great chance to have you participating with and I’d also like to thank the many members of the diplomatic community who have been kind enough to join us and we know how deeply your countries are in many of these issues and we really appreciate you being with us. Graeme, thanks for doing a terrific job as always and finally to Stephan Frühling and Daniel, who put the day together – whose entrepreneurship this was – I’d like you to thank them very much indeed. And now we can all wait and see what the Prime Minister says when he leaves the Oval Office.
‘Inner Table’ of SDSC Afghanistan Conference
5 March 2009
Graeme Dobell (Moderation) Previously the ABC’s South-East Asia radio correspondent in Singapore, Graeme is the Canberrabased Foreign Affairs & Defence Correspondent for Radio Australia. He also reports for ABC radio news and current affairs programs. Graeme joined the ABC in 1975 and has concentrated mostly on reporting politics and international affairs, serving as a correspondent in Europe, America and throughout Asia and the Pacific. Since 1985 Graeme has focussed on reporting the affairs of the Asia-Pacific region and has covered all the APEC summits and the security dialogue of the ASEAN Regional Forum. Assignments in his career as a correspondent have included the Falklands War, coups in Fiji, Thailand and the Philippines, Beijing after the crushing of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, and the return of Hong Kong to China. He is the author of Australia Finds Home – The Choices and Chances of an Asia Pacific Journey, a survey of the choices and actions Australia has taken in its relationship with the Asia-Pacific.
ADM Chris Barrie (ret.) Chris Barrie retired from active service in the RAN, and as CDF Australia in July 2002. As CDF, he directed and commanded the operation to secure East Timor in 1999-2000, and provided specialized defence security support for the Sydney Olympic Games (2000) and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Coolum (2002). He also advised the Government about specific roles for Australia’s armed forces in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere after the 911 tragedy and the invocation of assistance to the U.S. Government offered by the Australian Government under the ANZUS Treaty. Since retirement, Chris has concentrated his work on strategic leadership issues with involvement each year in the Oxford Strategic Leadership and Stimulus Program, the Young Strategic Leaders Forum in Australia, and teaching an elective on Strategic Leadership to senior U.S. military officers at the National Defense University in Washington DC. This work is intended to assist the next generation of leaders of complex and diverse organisations to be successful. In addition he has been working to promote the establishing of the Asia-Pacific Leaders Circle and institution building throughout the region through the Australian Crime Prevention Council.
Dr Richard Brabin-Smith Dr Richard Brabin-Smith AO is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University, where he follows his interests in matters relating to Australian and regional security. Before this, he had spent thirty years in the Department of Defence, with some twenty of these years in a wide range of senior policy and corporate management positions. These included Deputy Secretary for Strategic Policy, Chief Defence Scientist, First Assistant Secretary for International Policy, and First Assistant Secretary for Force Development and Analysis.
Dr Michael Evans
Dr Michael Evans is a Fellow at the Australian Defence College in Canberra. Between 2002 and 2005 he was Head of the Australian Army’s ‘think tank’, the Land Warfare Studies Centre at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. Dr Evans has also served on the staff of Land Headquarters in Sydney (1994-95) and in the Directorate of Army Research and Analysis in Army Headquarters in Canberra (1996-98). Born in Wales, Dr Evans is a graduate in history, politics and war studies of the University of Rhodesia (BA Hons First Class Honours), the University of London (MA War Studies) and The University of Western Australia (PhD). He has been a Sir Alfred Beit Fellow in the Department of War Studies at King's College, University of London and has held Visiting Fellowships at the University of York in England and the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Dr Evans’ saw military service in Africa as a member of the Rhodesian security forces during the civil war in that country. He was later a regular officer in the post-civil war Zimbabwe National Army where he headed the war studies program and was closely associated with the British Army in the integration of two rival guerrilla armies into a conventional land force. Dr Evans is a Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and serves on the international editorial boards of three leading journals, the Australian Journal of International Affairs, the Journal of Strategic Studies and Small Wars and Insurgencies. He is a former editor of the Australian Army Journal and is the only Australian to be a recipient of the US Naval War College Foundation’s prestigious Hugh G. Nott Award for strategic analysis.
Dr Stephan Frühling Dr Stephan Frühling is Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University (ANU), and Managing Editor of the journal Security Challenges. He was awarded a PhD from the ANU for a thesis entitled ‘Managing Strategic Risk: Four Ideal Defence Planning Concepts in Theory and Practice’, and holds a Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies from Missouri State University, and a ‘Diplom’ in Economics from Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany. His primary areas of research and publication include Australian defence planning, strategic theory, ballistic missile defence and nuclear strategy.
Prof Geoffrey Garrett Dr. Geoffrey Garrett is founding CEO of the United States Studies Centre and Professor of Political Science at the University of Sydney. He was previously President of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles and before that Dean of the UCLA International Institute. Garrett is a frequent commentator on all aspects of US politics, economics and foreign policy in Australian media, including The Australian, Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC radio and television programs. Among the most influential political scientists of his generation, Garrett is author of Partisan Politics in the Global Economy, editor of The Global Diffusion of Markets and Democracy, both published by Cambridge University Press, and over fifty articles in the world’s leading social science journals. Garrett has held academic appointments at Oxford, Stanford and Yale universities and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations as well as the Los Angelesbased Pacific Council on International Policy. A dual citizen of Australia and the US, Garrett was born and raised in Canberra and holds a BA (Hons) from the Australian National University. He earned his MA and PhD at Duke University in North Carolina, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.
Tom Gregg has served with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for the past four years, most recently as Special Assistant to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and previously as the Head of UNAMA's operations in the Southeast Region. Prior to UNAMA, he worked for the Australian Council for International Development on Pacific Policy, and as an independent researcher based at the Australian National University, Canberra. He has also worked with an NGO in the Fiji Islands. He is co-author of How Ethical is Australia: An Examination of Australia's Record as a Global Citizen (2004) and holds a Master of Arts (International Relations) from the Australian National University.
Neil James Neil James is a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon. He served for over 31 years in the Australian Army. His experiences spanned a wide range of regimental, intelligence, liaison, teaching, operational planning and operations research positions throughout Australia and overseas, including Malaysia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Kashmir, Pakistan, India, Canada, Iraq, the United States and New Zealand. Neil is the author of four ADF and Army operational manuals, has written numerous articles for professional and specialist journals, has contributed chapters to several books on defence matters and has authored several entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. He has served with the senior teaching staff at the Army's tertiary-level Command and Staff College, and at the Australian and Canadian defence intelligence schools. Neil has also taught on specialist courses with various Australian and allied intelligence and security agencies. After serving for nearly four years (1997-2000) as foundation director of the Army's 'think-tank', the Land Warfare Studies Centre at Duntroon, his final posting was as head (J5) of the operational plans branch at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand near Wellington. In 2000 the then Australian Defence Studies Centre at UNSW published his comprehensive and critical study paper on reforming the strategic management of Australia's defence. The paper earned him both his transTasman exile in 2001-02 and his current position as Executive Director of the Association (since April 2003).
Senator David Johnston David Johnston is the Shadow Minister for Defence. He was first elected to represent Western Australia in the Senate in 2001. Prior to entering Parliament, he worked as a solicitor and a barrister. Born in Perth, he was a member of the University of Western Australia’s Liberal Club from 1974 until 1979. He went on to become State President of the party from 1997 until 2001. Parliamentary Service: Elected to the Senate for Western Australia 2001 (term began 1.7.2002) and 2007. Ministerial Appointments include Minister for Justice and Customs from 9.3.07 to 3.12.07.
Dr Klaus-Peter Klaiber Dr. Klaiber is a distinguished visiting fellow of the National Europe Center and the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the ANU. After obtaining a PhD in law from the University of Mainz, Germany, in 1966 and further postgraduate studies in Politics, Economics and History in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Klaiber entered the German Foreign Service in 1968. Since then he has served in missions in Kinshasa, Nairobi, Washington DC and London. From 1985 to 1987 he was Deputy Director of the Private Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hans-Dietrich Genscher. After serving as Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs at NATO headquarters in Brussels
between 1997 and 2001, Dr. Klaiber was made Special Representative of the European Union for Afghanistan. Between 2002 and 2005, Dr. Klaiber was German Ambassador to Australia.
LTGEN Peter Leahy (ret.) Lieutenant General Peter Leahy (ret.), AC, is Director of the National Security Institute at the University of Canberra. He retired from the Army, as Chief of Army, in July 2008. During his 37 year career he served in a wide variety of command, training, research and strategic appointments in Australia and overseas. During his 6 year appointment as Chief of Army, the Army had its busiest operational period since the Vietnam War with multiple, concurrent, large scale, war fighting deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and complex stabilization deployments to East Timor and The Solomon Islands. His formal duties as Chief of Army were to advise the Government and Chief of the Defence Force on Army matters and to raise, train and sustain the Army. He was involved in the preparation of defence strategic assessments and plans, the development of Army capabilities and the maintenance of Army preparedness. He was also responsible for the leadership of the Army and the maintenance of professional standards within the Army, as well as being Chairman of the Army’s senior board he was also a member of the Defence Committee, the Chiefs of Service Committee, the Council of the Australian War Memorial and the Defence Housing Authority.
Frank Lewincamp Frank Lewincamp retired last year after 25 years' service in the Department of Defence. He worked in the intelligence, strategic policy, force development, resources, acquisition and management areas of the Department. His senior positions included Chief Financial Officer (1996-9), Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation (1999-2005) and Chief Operating Officer of the Defence Material Organisation (2005-7). He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU, and principal of frankadvice pty ltd.
Dr Rod Lyon Rod Lyon is the Program Director, Strategy and International, with ASPI. He has previously worked at the University of Queensland and the Office of National Assessments. His research interests focus on a range of problems associated with global security, nuclear strategy and Australian security. He has authored or co-authored a number of ASPI publications including, most recently, Global Jigsaw: ASPI’s Strategic Assessment 2008 and The eagle in a turbulent world: US and its global role.
Prof William Maley Dr William Maley is Professor and Director of the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University, and has served as a Visiting Professor at the Russian Diplomatic Academy, a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Refugee Studies Programme at Oxford University. A regular visitor to Afghanistan, he is author of Rescuing Afghanistan (London: Hurst & Co., 2006), and The Afghanistan Wars (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, 2009); coauthored Regime Change in Afghanistan: Foreign Intervention and the Politics of Legitimacy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), and Political Order in Post-Communist Afghanistan (Boulder:
Lynne Rienner, 1992); edited Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban (New York: New York University Press, 1998, 2001); and co-edited The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); From Civil Strife to Civil Society: Civil and Military Responsibilities in Disrupted States (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2003); and and Global Governance and Diplomacy: Worlds Apart? (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
Dr Daniel Marston Daniel Marston is a Research Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, a Visiting Fellow at the Changing Character of War Program at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society He has also served as a Visiting Fellow at the United States Army and United States Marine Corps COIN Center for Excellence in Taji, Iraq. He received a BA (Hons), MA from McGill University and was the Beit Senior Research Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, where he completed his DPhil in the history of war. He has focused on the topic of how armies learn and reform as a central theme in his academic research. His first book, Phoenix from the Ashes, an in-depth examination of how the British/Indian Army turned defeat into victory in the Burma campaign of the Second World War, won the Templer Medal Book Prize in 2003. His most recent work, co-edited with Carter Malkasian, Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare, was published in 2008 and includes discussion of current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has lectured widely on the principles and historical practices of counterinsurgency to units and formations of the American, Australian, British and Canadian armed forces in and out of theatre, as well as serving as an adviser for all of the above. Dr Marston is currently engaged in research into the lessons of counterinsurgency for the Australian and British armies from the 1960s to the present.
MAJ GEN Jim Molan (ret.) Retiring from the Australian Army in July 2008 after 40 years, Jim Molan has seen service across a broad range of command and staff appointments in operations, training and military diplomacy. An infantryman, an Indonesian speaker, a helicopter pilot, commander of army units from a thirty man platoon to a division of 15,000 soldiers, commander of the Australian Defence Colleges, with service in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, Germany and the US, and commander of the evacuation force from the Solomon Islands in 2000, all provided the necessary background to his most demanding posting to Iraq. In April 2004, Major General Molan deployed for a year to Iraq as the Coalition’s chief of operations during a period of continuous and intense combat. In this position, he controlled all operations of all forces across all of Iraq, including the security of Iraq’s oil, electricity and rail infrastructure. This period covered the Iraqi elections in January 2005, and the pre-election shaping battles of Najaf, TalAfar, Samarra, Fallujah, Ramadan 04 and Mosul. For distinguished command and leadership in action in Iraq, Major General Molan was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by the Australian Government and the Legion of Merit by the United States Government. Major General Molan has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New South Wales and a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Queensland. He maintains an interest in aviation and holds civil commercial licences and instrument ratings for fixed and rotary wing aircraft. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD) and is accredited as a Master Project Director (MPD). In August 2008, Jim published his book “Running the War in Iraq” through Harper Collins, which is about to go into a second edition.
Dr Lesley Seebeck A senior consultant with SMS Management & Technology, Lesley Seebeck has over 10 years experience in strategic policy, analysis and assessment in Defence, Prime Minister and Cabinet and ONA. In 2007, she was the main author of the Defence Update 2007, after which she acted as Assistant Secretary Strategic Policy in Strategic Policy Division in Defence. Lesley received her PhD from the University of Queensland in June 2006, receiving a Dean’s Commendation for an Outstanding Thesis. Her work used complex adaptive systems theories to understand how sociotechnical systems, such as organisations, information systems and national security, coped with the challenges posed by time. Her interests include international security, strategy, Australian strategic policy and organisation, and warfare as a complex adaptive system. Lesley also has masters in business administration and defence studies and a degree in applied physics, and has published articles and delivered papers in the information systems, strategic policy and national security fields.
Andrew Shearer Andrew Shearer is Director of Studies and Senior Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Andrew has extensive international experience in the Australian Government, most recently as foreign policy adviser to former Prime Minister John Howard. Previously he occupied a senior position in the Australian Embassy in Washington DC and was strategic policy adviser to former Defence Minister Robert Hill. He occupied various positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Office of National Assessments. Andrew has honours degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Melbourne. He was awarded a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Chevening Scholarship and has an MPhil degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge.
Patrick Walters Patrick Walters is The Australian newspaper’s National Security Editor and the newspaper’s senior writer on defence issues. He joined The Australian in 1993 establishing the Jakarta bureau for the newspaper. From 1998 to 2003 he was Canberra bureau chief for The Australian. He started in journalism with a cadetship with the Sydney Morning Herald where he specialised in defence and foreign affairs issues. From 1987 to 1988 he was a Fulbright Scholar in Washington DC and is a member of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. From 1988 to 1993 he worked as senior advisor to the Hon. Kim Beazley MP across three portfolios including defence.
Prof Hugh White Hugh White is Professor of Strategic Studies and Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. His work focuses primarily on Australian strategic and defence policy, AsiaPacific security issues, and global strategic affairs especially as they influence Australia and the Asia-Pacific. He has served as an intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments, as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald, as a senior adviser on the staffs of Defence Minister Kim Beazley and Prime Minister Bob Hawke, as a senior official in the Department of Defence (where from 1995 to 2000 he was Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence) and as the first Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). In the 1970s he studied philosophy at Melbourne and Oxford Universities. Professor White teaches STST8051 Great and Powerful
Friends: Strategic Alliances and Australia’s Security and contributes to the GSSD core courses. He is the author of Beyond the Defence of Australia, Lowy Institute Paper 16, (Sydney: Lowy Institute for International Policy, 2006).