Hotel California Naw Zad Edition
Apologies. I ended my last post with an observation about the importance of how wars end. That was most foolish because it assumed we started bombing Libya with the intention of using the military to achieve a militarily appropriate endstate. I’m all for killing Col Gadhafi because he killed Americans; a lot of them in Berlin and over the skies of Lockerbie Scotland. I knew the ESPN Color Analyst in Chief hadn’t thought through what the hell he got us into but for some strange reason assumed the NSC and Pentagon had a plan. I forgot that the NSC is now headed by a political hack (with no previous military or national security experience) named Tom Donilon and, being on vacation with my kids, it also slipped my mind that the Pentagon is focusing on the things that really matter; force feeding acceptance of openly gay service members and retro fitting submarines to accommodate female sailors.
I can’t bring myself to re-hash the hypocrisy, stupidity, or folly of Obama and his minions when it comes to the multiple crises popping up in the Middle East. It is too depressing; the White House Bat Phone must be ringing off the hook nightly but it appears nobody has the balls to answer it. Besides Mark Styen has done the heavy lifting with an excellent assessment on the debacle with his usual wit which ends:
But lost along the way is hard-headed, strategic calculation of the national interest. “They won’t come back till it’s over/Over there!” sang George M. Cohan as the doughboys marched off in 1917. It was all over 20 minutes later, and then they came back. Now it’s never over over there not in Korea, not in Kuwait, not in Kosovo, not in Kandahar. Next stop Kufra? America has swapped The Art Of War for the Hotel California: We psychologically check out, but we never leave.
I must add this gem which, as the Bot is my witness, is an almost exact replica of conversations I had over and over in the summer of 2008 with Liberal USAID contractors at the Tiki Bar. Being the bar tender and being the sober one at the end of the night made these conversations especially frustrating but what was one to do? Ride for the brand is the best response I can think of but I have to tell you the disaster which is Obama is worse than my worst nightmare. It is no longer funny (but the clip below is).
I’ll take a pass on Libya for now while pointing out that the ongoing revolts in Syria,Bahrain and Yeman are much more important to the USA but you need to know something about the region to understand that. That type of specialist knowledge is hard to come by in Saul Alinsky seminars, Reverand Wrights church sermons or Harvard Law School.
While on holiday I saw this article on an airstrike targeting a Taliban commander ended up killing civilians. The article also helpfully points out that nine kids were killed in the Pech Valley earlier in the month which prompted the usually hysterics from President Karzai.
I’m not so sure about what the deal is with the Pech Valley airstrike but am compelled to point out that I know a few of the attack helicopter pilots based out of Jalalabad and they know just about every stinking inch of the Pech Valley. I doubt the veracity of the report and will address that in a minute because this story about Naw Zad pisses me off and here’s why.
We got played again by the Afghans and the reason we got played has everything to do with the intelligence shortfalls identified by MajGen Flynn two years ago combined with a totally incompetent human intelligence program. Here is why I can say that with near total certainty without knowing a damn thing about what went on in this strike. The start point is the unit on the ground in Naw Zad – the 1st Battalion 8th Marines (1/8) has rotated home and the battalion who now works the battle space has been on deck maybe two weeks max. New battalions in theater are not given carte blanch to do whatever the hell they want; it is inconceivable that they came up with “these two cars have a Taliban commander in them plan” and were then able to talk the air officer at the RCT into letting them shoot at two vehicles containing persons unknown with attack helicopters. The Naw Zad Valley is a flat, treeless expanse of high desert. If the battalion thought they had a Taliban commander why not just stop the cars and see who’s in the damn things?
When aviation assets attack moving cars which reportedly contain high level Taliban it is a safe bet that the hit is driven by intelligence. Normally that is supplied by the CIA and normally the hit has to be given a green light by someone from on high and that someone from on high is never held to account because it is too easy for him to finger point back at the intel weenies. Authority without accountability is a bullshit way to fight a war. I would bet money that is exactly what happened at Naw Zad just as it was when we killed 27 woman and children attending a wedding in Nangarhar Province back in July 2008. Or when we killed over 2 dozen children at a wedding party in Kandahar in November 2008, or….I could go on and on. The common denominator with this botched attacks was human intel fed into the system by “walk-in” informants of dubious background and character or fed to our FOB bound intel people by the un-FOB bound Afghanistan intel people who have scores to settle or land to steal. How many times do we need to be played by the Afghans before we wise up? How many innocents have to die before we learn we cannot put all our eggs in the electronic warfare basket and start to develop our own human intelligence capability? It’s not that hard to get off the FOB and stay off the FOB for christsakes, my children did it. Grad students from MIT do it…which reminds me the Synergy Strike Force girls are back in Nangarhar; living off the FOB and doing some super cool medical and social networking stuff. Jenn’s blog is here and Rachel’s blog is here – Rachel brought her husband Juan Rodriguez along and Juan is a pro shooter with a good eye and great camera – you should spend some time on both blogs. I have caught massive grief for not giving them a shout out on FRI and they are loyal supporters too. Anyway the girls are doing it so why can’t our humint folks do it too?
Earlier in the month ISAF was accused of shooting up 9 teenagers in the mountains of the Pech River Valley. The Army attack helicopter pilots who work that part of the country know well every attack point in the Pech Mountains where it is not unusual to see Taliban fighters who are very young. Remember the video of a 12 year old boy cutting the head off “an American spy”? Or the herd of teenagers rolling boulders into the road behind American vehicles during the battle at Ganjgal? Army attack pilots don’t light up people in the mountains for no good reason and the Taliban kill innocent civilians damn near daily because it is easier then trying to kill soldiers. Look at what just popped up on the net? The Taliban targeting and killing civilians; looks like they got 20 this time. I’m sure President Karzai will be pitching a fit about this attack too….not, but even if he did he would be missing the point. What he should be upset about is the video pasted below which horrified and I mean horrified my Afghan staff. I didn’t intend to show it to them but one of the cooks heard the music from the video and walked into my office to see why I was playing Jihadi music. Within minutes the whole staff was watching in mute horror before wondering off in stunned silence. This is what should concern the Afghan elite but they can’t extort cash out of the Taliban over things like this or over dead civilians so why bother?