Kunduz affair, RumINT and the leaked report

The Financial Times Deutschland has published a good article about the dysfunctional inner workings of the BMVg (German ministry of defence) in the past four years. The FTD doesn't deserve much praise for it; they should ask themselves "WHY DIDN'T THEY INFORM THE PUBLIC PROPERLY AS LONG AS Mr. JUNG WAS IN OFFICE??".

About 100,000 Germans - officers, journalists, lobbyists, officials and others with interest in military affairs - knew about the irresponsible situation in the BMVg. The general public wasn't informed in time. There's a similar lack of press aggressiveness hurting our nation in regard to our federal economic policy. Merkel gets away with having several extremely lousy and at best worthless ministers.

Anyway; I'd like to point out one especially worrying detail that fits well to FTD's story:

RumINT says that the OEF/ISAF leadership in AFG (McChrystal) pays much attention to a quite questionable tool of damage control in regard to civilian/non-combattant/illegal target casualties: They mobilize local/regional Afghan puppet officials who quickly deny such casualties or declare them to have been Taliban fighters.
RumINT further tells that this approach was given as advice to the Germans and that this tactic was employed in regard to the Kunduz bombing affair.

A certain German MilBlog with hawkish tendencies has been repeating the claim that the Afghans around Kunduz were happy about the air attack and that Afghan officials had declared all casualties to be guilty of being TB or supporting them.

Well, the leaked Kunduz air attack report (if it's the real one) seems to confirm this assertion. There's still a very uneasy feeling, though.

The Afghan national authorities in the Kunduz area are all dominated by the local majority (non-Pashtuns) and said majority is quite at odds with the Pashtuns (which seem to conspire with the TB). It's obvious that the regional authorities - and likewise the police, army and many civilians who appeared to celebrate the attack - do not represent all 'Afghans' of the area.

The worries about popular reactions to the attack centre on the idea that the casualties might motivate additional 'accidental guerrillas'. Well, there's nothing less meaningful in regard to this worry than the opinion of said authorities, army soldiers, policemen and non-Pashtun civilians.

The reaction of the Pashtun populace is of interest - and neither said hawkish blog nor the leaked report give any meaningful info about it.

Let's jump back to the rumoured McChrystal PR tactic; it's meant to disinform and to cover up (IF RumINT is right).

The leaked report - which was not meant for the public - looks as if it got a full treatment with said alleged McChrystal PR tactic. There are statements by officials on several pages (even conflicting ones for completeness' sake), but there's no real indication of negative reactions.

That fits very well to the poor BMVg culture of the last years - and is a damning omen for the future. Let's hope that the new German SecDef reverses the corrupted system and enables the officer corps to turn back to a much more honest, effective mode of operation.



  1. If you're going to approach this delicate subject (which seems rather unusual for you, but okay), you should at least 'make nails with heads'.

    The MilBlog you're referring to is Weblog Sicherheitspolitik? Is there any reason not to mention their name?

    Then there's the issue with the alleged positive reaction. The MP report states, as you say, that the BDA team received a "very friendly" welcome. SpOn kinda confirmed this when they quoted a German soldier who said that the Afghan police were the ones to be joyful, so this would confirm your hunch (I can't find the article :-/). Additionally, the ZDF ran a story a couple of weeks ago where a relative AND local official comments positively. So, yeah, the official reaction was positive. The non-pashtun reaction was probably positive. I guess we don't know much about the pashtun population, probably because nobody dares to go to them and ask them.

    Oh, and is it possible the rumors of deception tactics you mention are also from an article by Spiegel?

    Well, I can certainly see how one could get suspicious. But do we need to try so hard to find some kind of a conspiracy? There are a couple of things we can be quite certain of: that more or less innocent people died, that ROE were ignored, but that a lot of Taleban were killed, and that the overall situation in Kunduz pretty much sucks and has been sucking for over a year now.

    But I think we should get over it. We should be asking different questions. Where's the strategic debate? Has anyone ever said whether we want to bomb Taleban? Sure, we can. But is it useful? And why the hell did the situation in Kunduz get so out of hand? I'd like to see the people who are responsible for that anwser some questions. And I'd like to know why the Foreign Minister is threatening to boycott the London conference if it isn't about strategy and civilian aid. Somebody should tell that dude that he's one year late. We decided on our strategy last year. And we should have decided on that more than two years ago. Who's been sitting on their hands for so long? I mean, Bush for sure, but who on our side?

    We should be making a big deal about this incident, but not in the way we have. It seems to me there's two scandals here. The one in Berlin/Bonn with Jung, Schneiderhan and Wichert. And the one in Kunduz with Klein. The former is over, for all intents and purposes. You could pressure KTzG to go for a more transparent communications policy, but I think he was gonna do that anyway. But while we debate about who knew what when and whether German soldiers may kill folks, we are once again totally ignoring the big picture.

  2. I don't care much about ISAF and the politics that surround it.

    ISAF is a minor test of the Bundeswehr in my opinion, and the outcome is in (not exclusively) my personal opinion an ever growing list of political and bureaucratical insufficiencies.

    Many of my blog posts are not really about their superficial content (as in this case Kunduz), but about something strongly related: In this case it's about some aspects of the BMVg's and higher level officer corps sub-culture.
    I hope that Jung's term did no permament damage, for a poor organization culture can be devastating.

    About links; I consider a link to be a quasi-recommendation. I won't recommend a blog with strong hawkish tendencies. My hint was accurate enough because there are after all only about a dozen German MilBlogs.

  3. Fair enough. I just thought if we were gonna approach this subject, we would get some sources to back up our claims.

    But I'm with you on the whole ISAF thing. I'm saying if we want to do it, we should do it right and ask the tough questions. By the way, did you read "Einsatz ohne Ziel?" by Klaus Naumann? It's an astonishing critique of the way we do defence policy and very enlightening as to how amateurish we actually are, not just the BMVg but the whole political clique.

  4. My reading list is already too long.
    I'm mostly looking into Bw history these days.