Five Hundred Meter War
Herschel Smith at the Captains Journal has put up a great post which addresses a topic near and dear to my heart; infantry tactics. The post is The Five Hundred Meter War which had the video below from James Foley, a professional journalist writing at Global Post embedded in it. His full report can be found here. I have been on the road again which has made getting a post out a very low priority. But I wanted to reinforce Herschel’s point with some observations. To frame those observations please check out the video below.
I am not going to go over the tactical argument raised by Herschel because when he posts on a topic as far as I am concerned that is the last word. I agree with everything he writes and hope someday to meet him and share a beer. My contribution to the debate is to point out the results we achieved from the mission shown above which was undoubtably just one of dozens and dozens of similar missions.
The incident rates above clearly demonstrate a point made over and over by Herschel Smith and many other military bloggers have made and that is incident rates drop when kinetic activity increases. It also demonstrated the folly of running down a road to visit sites for a brief period of time and then returning to the FOB. Yesterday a British national working for the development firm DAI was kidnapped in the same spot where the video was filmed last August. She was moving in a two vehicle convoy of low profile Toyota Corollas which is normally a safe mode of travel as long as the people inside the Corollas can pass as locals at first glance. This method of blending in is not a good idea if the convoy is going to be static for any period of time allowing local spotters to get a good look at the passengers. There are internationals in Afghanistan who can fool a trained observer with local clothes and a local style beard but they are few and far between and anorexic by western standards.
I do not know the woman who was kidnapped that well but can say she was one of the more experienced and savvy operators in the eastern region. The company she works for, DAI, is one of the “big boys” in the reconstruction business and although they are not as nimble or fast as we are they are still damn good. So here we are in the middle of the surge and the security situation has never been worse. If the security situation continues to degrade it is just a matter of time before all of us reconstruction types pull up the stakes and go home. The U.S. Military is the only organization which can effect change now as it is apparent the government of Afghanistan is not going to ever be able to produce security in its present form. I think I am speaking for the outside the wire community when I say (to ISAF) “it’s time to get off the FOB’s and into the fight….or we’re done here.”