Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Hamsters on the Titanic" Now Showing "It's Always Sunny in Kabul"

I absolutely adore the blog, Hamsters on the Titanic, Dan in the 'Stan's blog out of Afghanistan. He's like the sage of Kabul with a strong dash of Stephen Colbert.  Now due to the multitude of sunny news coming out of Kabul, I can understand why the author has now changed the blog name to "It's Always Sunny in Kabul." Makes sense, right, since the worst problem they have over in Kabul is traffic.

Yesterday, he wrote about Afghanistan's new shiny toys, the special ones that kill and not because of bad paint from China:

According to General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Defense Minister: Finally, a ray of hope.
He however noted that for foiling the foreign invasions we need war planes, bombers, and air defense systems. He stressed that the only way for ensuring long-term security in Afghanistan is empowering the Afghan forces and there is no other alternative way that the territorial integrity and national sovereignty and national values of the country are defended.

In just two years, LTG Caldwell’s NTM-A has overcome illiteracy, massive desertions, killing US mentors, and alleged massacres by a favorite Border Police General and put together a fighting force that’s ready to move up to advanced military aircraft. That has got capable, affordable and sustainable written all over it.
Frankly, that worries me.  General Wardak want all these new shiny toys and I don't know which uncle will write the check. Please, don't let it be Uncle Sam.

Previously, the blogger also castigated the NYT reporter for being a "killjoy" and casting some "doubts about the ability of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to fully sustain itself and the new equipment it’s being issued." He writes:
LTG Caldwell was just recently a guest at the weekly ISAF press briefing, and I feel the need to share some of his quotes so the readers of Mr. Healy’s rainy day nonsense can really understand what’s going on here in Afghanistan:
“Over the last two years, we have been able to put in place schools, get the required trainers and actually train over 50,000 officers and noncommissioned officers that are now, today, in the Afghan Police, Army and Air Force,” said Caldwell.

See? NTM-A has put the required trainers into place. There is absolutely no requirement that there be trainees, as well. To expect that sort of unrealistic level of trainer/trainee ratio after the fact is just pointless, really. Obviously, too, the IG team wasn’t there on a training day. Otherwise, if 44% of sites weren’t doing any training at all, it would be really hard…even impossible…to actually train 50,000 people in the timeframe that LTG Caldwell is reporting. And, since I’ve come to realize that LTG Caldwell and the NTM-A are always right about what’s really happening here, well, I’d suggest the IG go back and count again. As to being “largely uneducated,” well sir:

During the last year and a half, 134,000 recruits have completed the mandatory literacy training that has been incorporated into their basic training requirements, Caldwell added.

As is well known among those that really care about the ANSF, they are absolutely required to be able to read at a first grade level. I don’t understand the concern: if that ANA soldier can now read at a first grade level, there should be no reason why he can’t understand training that a high school graduate in the United States would be able to comprehend.

"Must read" sections of the blog include the "Afghanistan Users Manual", "Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop", Tweet of the Day and Pic of the Day where he admitted exasperation over ISAF's photostream without captions (sounds familiar?) and recently reported the threat of teddy bears to Afghan toddlers:

From It's Always Sunny in Kabul
ISAF’s Flickr stream doesn’t put any kind of descriptions on the photos is posts,
I’m forced to come up with my own. The point of pictures is to put up a caption
so we can have some context whereby we can know
what’s happening. Otherwise, I’m going to be forced
to report on the threat of teddy bears to Afghan toddlers.

Check out his blog here.

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