Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 55

AFGHANISTAN ENDGAME Cambodian Armed Forces (FANK) Leadership, Logistics, and Airpower Capabilities Operationally, the condition of officer leadership, logistics, and airpower within the FANK led to disastrous consequences—themes that are similar to the current criticism of the ANSF. The insurgent Khmer Communist force had a much higher quality of combat leadership than the FANK. The Khmer peasant soldiers fighting for the communists were sturdy individuals who performed well and even heroically when properly led. In contrast, poor officer leadership, low morale, and high levels of troop desertion hampered the FANK’s combat performance. Additionally, the officer corps was corrupt and cronyism endemic to the force.11 Furthermore, differences in the effectiveness between territorial and intervention battalions plagued combat readiness.12 While the FANK’s performance was certainly disconcerting, the few U.S. military personnel assigned did make some progress in training them. However, the shortage of advisors precluded significant improvements in FANK capabilities. While the U.S. Congress MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 AP Photo/Zaheeruddin Abdullah of 31,000 U.S. and 43,000 South Vietnamese troops into Cambodia quickly stripped the Lon Nol regime of its neutralist veneer.7 The initial consequences of the Cambodian incursion were favorable. Overall enemy offensive plans were set back, Cambodian supply lines were denied to Hanoi, and Phnom Penh and the Lon Nol regime appeared safe for the time being.8 Yet, while the NVA retreated, abandoned huge base areas, and decreased its pressure on the FANK, the success was short-lived. Fearing further widening of U.S. involvement in the Southeast Asian conflict, the U.S. Congress refused to authorize retaining U.S. ground forces in Cambodia, forbade the use of combat advisors, limited U.S. military aid, and in 1972 placed severe restrictions on the number of U.S. in-country military personnel.9 The Khmer Republic had become, by the completion of the Peace Accords in neighboring Vietnam in 1973, a sickly dependent of the United States. In 1974, U.S. financial aid exceeded the total Cambodian national budget for 1969.10 Unfortunately, this policy did not permit sufficient U.S. personnel to ensure the money would be well spent. Taliban fighters with Russian AK-47 assault rifles in the frontline village of Shakardara 15 miles (25 km) north of Kabul, 9 August 1997. The Taliban at that time controlled the southern two-thirds of Afghanistan and were battling a northern-based opposition coalition led by ousted defense chief Ahmed Shah Massood and Uzbek Malik Pahlawan. was relatively generous with military advisors to the U.S. defense attaché in Saigon, it provided few advisors for Cambodia. The organization known as the Military Equipment Delivery Team, Cambodia, was limited to 74 advisory and program personnel in Cambodia and 15 in Thailand. The defense attaché in Phnom Penh supplemented this effort with 17 personnel. These were meager numbers to improve a Cambodian army that had 224,000 personnel.13 By mid-1972, U.S. aid to the Cambodian military had reached about $400 million–equal to $2,000 for every soldier, if the official personnel counts were accurate. Nonetheless, the support had done little apparent good.14 Logistical support continued to be hampered by inefficiencies in the FANK system and by insufficient advising. By 1975, despite $1 billion in U.S. aid and the efforts of the few U.S. military officers attached to the 53