Bigger Bang for Afghan Border Cops

Bigger Bang for Afghan Border Cops

Our colleague Christian Lowe is embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan and sends us this dispatch from FOB Salerno near the city of Khost in eastern Afghanistan.

American troops fighting along the Pakistan border have shifted their emphasis from interdicting insurgent forces flowing through the porous border to hunting down enemy elements as they lay up and refit in towns nearby. The job of patrolling the border is increasingly being put at the feet of the Afghan Border Police who man remote outposts perched on the hills overlooking the approaches from Taliban hotbeds like Miramshah.

But increasingly, American units recognize that the border police are in some cases outgunned, patrolling around in unarmored pickups with nothing more than AK-47s and pistols to fend off aggressive assaults by well armed insurgents.


One official at a briefing DT sat in on today at the command post for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team at FOB Salerno in Khost, Afghanistan, said some of the border policemen are reluctant to go to work because of it. So units here are pushing higher command to either pair Afghan army units with the border police at some outposts, or start outfitting those vulnerable outposts with heavier weapons and protection.

What commanders here want is to equip some of these outposts with 81mm mortars, Russian made DShKa heavy machine guns and up-armored Humvees outfitted with Mk-19 grenade launchers so they can at least have a chance to counter any assault from insurgents trying to overrun that speed bump as they transit to the fight in Afghanistan. Call it evening the odds.

Of course there’s reluctance at the top (both in the US command and the Afghan government) to outfit anyone other than the ANA with that kind of firepower. So commanders here are arguing that you don’t have to give that kind of firepower to every border police unit, just those in hot areas. Arming yet another force to the teeth in a country as unstable as Afghanistan clearly has its risks, but hanging lightly armed border police out to dry is fast becoming a non-starter as well.

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I’m going to assume that ‘aghan’ in the title of the article was supposed to be ‘afghan’.

How much of these border patrols can we trust? How do we know they won’t just surrender and join the Taliban with a bunch of mortars and Mk.19s we gave them? Perhaps proven units can get some extra equipment, but not everybody yet.

Hopefully they also give them radios — the best thing they could do is act as spotters. As the insurgents roll by, call in for someone to come by and look at them.

I don’t think the spotter idea is going to work. The Taliban are not stupid and will target the spotters and take them out even though they don’t try to engage. Also, the terrain is such that in many cases by the time the forces which were called in should arrive the Taliban will have effectively disappeared and/or you won’t be able to get your responding forces into an advantageous tactical position.

It’s a difficult problem. Definitely a non-starter to ask people to go out there to sit in an outpost just waiting to get slaughtered. If you’re going to use them you’re going to have to train and equip them.

We might as well face it — A lot of armoured HUMVEES, MRAPS, BRADLEYS and STRYKERS are going to wind up staying there when we leave along with small arms, ammo, and explosives. They will say it is cheaper to leave them than transport them back, and they will also claim that some were sold or left because they were no longer operational. It has happened before in the past and it will happen again, the pull out will be more expensive to the taxpayer than the original landing was that started this.

How about placing an unmanned/ radio controlled border post along Afghan borders equipt with cameras, lasers fence, mines and all the whissle and beesile? On second taught the cameras and laser fence is also good in Arizona borders

!st Indo-China War (French vs VietMinh): Isolated non-supporting outposts, some even manned by bad-ass French Foreign Legionaires were merely secure commie weapons warehouses. Comrade commander I need a shiny new US M1 carbine. No problem Comrade private, we’ll hit Outpost RP03 tonight and you can pick and choose the one you like best. 2nd such war (US Vietnam War): The same.

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