The Heat Is On

It is 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day in Jalalabad making this the coolest start to summer in memory.  Unfortunately the number of security incidents in Jalalabad and around the country have started climbing  like the temperature normally does.  Yesterday, for the first time since a one-off attack in 2008 the villains struck at the U.S. army inside Jalalabad City.  A VBIED (vehicle borne improvise explosive device) attacked an RG-31 MRAP killing both the VBIED driver and the turret gunner and also causing injuries of various severity to 11 local people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I have been waiting in vain for the Afghan president or media to pile on the Taliban decrying in strong language the deliberate targeting of innocent Afghan civilians.

The VBIED blast ignited a large fire and reportedly killed the turret gunner who was ejected from the truck and thrown into the river. The ANP troops on the north side of the bridge reportedly reached the gunner mere moments after he hit the water rapidly getting him to shore where the medics could start working on him. I am glad the vehicle protected the rest of the crew but remain no fan of the MRAP. The 101st lost five men in one earlier today; for their size they offer state of the art protection which is meaningless when one of them hits a mine designed to kill a main battle tank. The fire department and police have pulled back from the MRAP as the ammo on board starts to cook off.
The VBIED blast ignited a large fire and reportedly killed the turret gunner who was ejected from the truck and thrown into the river.  The ANP troops on the north side of the bridge reportedly reached the gunner mere moments after he hit the water rapidly getting him to shore where the medics could start working on him.  I am glad the vehicle protected the rest of the crew but remain no fan of the MRAP.  The 101st lost five men in one earlier today; for their size they offer state of the art protection which is meaningless when one of them hits a mine designed to kill a main battle tank.  The fire department and police have pulled back from the MRAP as the ammo on board starts to cook off.

It is not just the Taliban and other insurgent groups turning on the heat – GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) is putting the heat on the reconstruction battle too.  Yesterday President Karzai removed the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Amrullah Saleh,  and the Interior Minister Hanif Atmar.  After firing his two top security officials he announced this:

“Karzai made his first official response to the jirga Sunday by ordering a review of all cases of Taliban suspects in Afghan jails and the release of those detained on doubtful evidence.”

This order does not apply to militants in American custody but it is not like the Afghans have a solid record of keeping insurgents in jail in the first place.  Then a memo from the new Minister of the Interior appeared which looks like it is going to make getting a work visa (they are damn hard to get now) almost impossible.  The Afghan security chat room buzzed for hours about this as we tried to decipher the new rules.  The consensus is that the rules are targeting third country nationals (TCN’s,) both Nepalese who are the bulk of  TCN armed security and Filipino’s; who make up the bulk of the finance and admin officers in companies who use TCN’s  for those important roles.  Just like the review of Taliban prisoners these new visa requirements will not impact the contractors working on military bases which are the majority of contractors working in country.  Contractors working the FOB’s enter and exit the country aboard mil air or contractor aircraft flying directly to the major military airfields from Dubai; they don’t have visas or work permits.  The new rules are specifically targeting security companies who use internationals and the reconstruction implementers who are doing all the reconstruction work outside of the military bases.

The fire damaged the road bed of the bridge which will be difficult to fix but it did not close the bridge.
The fire damaged the road bed of the bridge which will be difficult to fix, but it did not close the bridge.

At exactly the time when Afghanistan is going to need more international security operatives to harden existing reconstruction efforts and provide (now needed) professional security to internationals operating outside the wire, the central government continues to squeeze them out of the business.  On top of that there are on-going problems with Afghan only security operations.  Dexter Filkins posted an excellent story on this topic today which can be found here.  He points out that both Watan and Compass security were not closed down after being banned by the Kabul government but instead “worked out” their differences and remain in operation.  I see reports of convoys from Compass security about their guys being ambushed almost daily on the security face chat room.  Normally the reports look like this:

“08 JUNE 10: DRIVE BY SHOOTING: at 1025 hrs Compass escorted convoy subjected to PKM and AK-47 fire delivered from two passing motorcycles at Grid 41R PR 91285 02241, 3 km Northwest of Keshnakod. No damages, convoy continued movement.”

If these convoys are taking fire they are no doubt returning it too, which may account for reports of indiscriminate shooting.  I find it hard to believe that security contractors are shooting up the countryside if, for no other reason, then ammo is so expensive and a pain to obtain. 7.62 x 39mm rounds (AK 47 ammo) sells for 50 cents a round at normal market rates with no discount on bulk purchases.   I don’t really know what these contractors are doing but Dexter seems to have a good handle on the topic.  What I do know is that if ISAF wants the contractors they are hiring as convoy escort to perform at international standards they need to hire internationals. That is becoming increasingly harder to do and clearly not something the Afghans want to see happen as they drive the security dollars to their companies by driving out international competition.

Most of the big reconstruction outfits use TCN’s in the finance officer positions because they have to handle and disperse large amounts of cash. Eliminating them from the work force is short sighted and dumb.  The central government is reducing the ability of the international aid agencies to rapidly develop Afghan human capital via daily mentor-ship by TCN professionals who have the requisite training and certification to pass muster with agencies like US AID.  Project management, project engineers and finance officers, as a rule of thumb, have to be approved by funding agencies which is a proven method for controlling fraud and theft.

Recovery team
Part of the army recovery team on the Behsud bridge

It took the army about four hours to recover their damaged MRAP and the soldiers let me and one of our engineers look over the bridge so we could check the structural integrity.  The roadbed will need to be replaced which will require a few days (probably longer here) but the good news is the damage was superficial.

Talking with the American soldiers is always a treat.  Paratroopers from the  101st  are now in charge of RC East and they seem to be a confident, cocky bunch which is exactly the right attitude. One of the sergeants told me they get out all the time doing COIN which he describes as talking to and being friendly with the people instead of hunting down and killing bad guys.  He said their pre-deployment training stressed that the Afghan people generally remain friendly towards Americans which he said he didn’t really believe until he saw us pop out of the crowd wearing casual western clothes; smiling at and  joking with the men around us as we passed through.  I told him to always smile warmly when greeting Afghans and to learn four cuss words and two mullah jokes in Pashto.  Those modest skills will make him a hero  wherever he goes as long as he stays out of the Korengal and Pech valleys in Kunar Province.  He thought that was a great heads up and laughed and laughed as he passed on this sage advice to his buddies.  I love being around good infantry and these guys have the look of world class fighters.

Here is the thing; the soldiers, through no fault of their own, really aren’t doing COIN.  The MRAP vehicles, which protected them this time, are a physical barrier between the people and the soldiers.  The body armor, helmets and mandatory sun glasses are both a physical and psychological barrier between the soldiers and the people they are trying to protect.  I know the MRAPs and body armor will never go away – they are self imposed constraints the commander has to deal with to accomplish his mission.  But no commander can accomplish the mission of protecting the local population if they are forced to deploy from and live on FOB’s.  They can’t protect families living 100 meters outside the wire of the bases from the Taliban, which even the illiterate peasant fighters in the south  have figured out as they reverse the gains made by the Marines last winter in the Helmand  River Valley.  The only way to combat small teams of Taliban enforcers roaming the countryside at night is to roam the countryside at night in small teams yourself; preferably without the helmets and body armor so you too can be fast and sneaky.

Paratroopers from the 101st mounting up to head back into the FOB. These are great troops who are capable of independent COIN style operations but are unable to do so due to constraints imposed from on high
Paratroopers from the 101st mounting up to head back into the FOB. These are great troops who are capable of independent COIN style operations but are unable to do so due to constraints imposed from on high.

Yesterday an article popped up from  ABC news saying this is the longest war in American history.  As is typical with the dying, brain dead, liberal media that is completely wrong; the longest war in American history was the Pig War in the San Juan islands between the British and us.  Afghanistan has three more years to go before it really becomes our longest war. Reading the main stream media gives me a headache…. I know that liberalism is a disease with the complete ignorance of your countries history being a major symptom but you would think that by now the dinosaur media would at least have heard of wikipedia. What a bunch of dummies.  They continue to think my fellow Americans are stupid enough to believe the partisan spin they publish is really news.  How many days did it take those jackasses to realize that we were not going to ignore the virulent racism of Helen Thomas?  She has finally exited the stage just like Dan Rather did; in complete and total disgrace.  Not that you would know that if you depended on the New York Slimes or Washington Compost for your news; they don’t seem to think that some guy taking out one of the more infamous media names in history with the video camera in his cell phone is an important story.   Whoops I was about to launch into another rant …sorry  about that.

The new fire apparatus remains a big deal in Jalalabad
The new fire apparatus remains a big deal in Jalalabad.  Trucks like this are a sign of hope that international aid effort will ultimately result in long term change but in and of themselves they are too little and too late.  

The question the MSM should be asking, if they were capable of independent thought or even thinking clearly about the important issues of the day, is will Afghanistan become our longest war, and if so, why?  President Karzai went to Washington last month for a round of meaningless photo ops and stupid proclamations because the current administration also thinks the American people are stupid enough to be fooled by such nonsense.  Karzai obviously has concluded the Commander in Chief will continue to “vote present” for the foreseeable future and is tightening the screws on the few internationals who continue to work outside the wire in attempt to divert more money to Afghan businesses, many of which have proven to be unreliable.  Those of us who remain in the reconstruction fight are busy adapting, hardening our compounds, changing up our routines, spending inordinate amounts of time and effort trying to get a handle on how bad the current security situation is and how much worse it will get.

Yesterday NATO lost ten men in battle; five American to an anti tank mine  in Nangarhar Province, and another five to different incidents in both the southern and central regions.  At least one of the KIA’s was a French Foreign Legion sergeant and the rest could well be Americans.  There is no way we will stay engaged here if the Taliban can inflict 10 KIA’s a day on us for any length of time.  Imagine that… the NATO military which is designed and deployed to fight a battle of attrition, cannot for a variety of reasons fight a battle of attrition; loses because it cannot accept the casualties which come from fighting a battle of attrition. It doesn’t have to be this way.  There is plenty  of world class infantry from both America and NATO in theater and now that the villains are offering battle they could be let lose to react with speed, daring, and accurate, overwhelming firepower.  To do that the leadership would have to accept risk, it would  have to embrace uncertainty and deploy smaller, mobile combat formations.  That kind of change in the campaign plan can only come from decisions made at the U.S. Commander in Chief level.  Those changes would require a president who is engaged, decisive, resolute and able to exert sustained expert, confident leadership.  We don’t have one of those.

Afghanistan is going down the tubes fast my friends and there are no signs; not one, to  indicate things are going to start going our way any time soon.

38 Replies to “The Heat Is On”

  1. “She has finally exited the stage just like Dan Rather did; in complete and total disgrace. Not that you would know that if you depended on the New York Slimes or Washington Compost for your news;”

    NYT: Reporter Retires After Words About Israel

    WaPo: The sad farewell of Helen Thomas

    Each also has about four related pieces about Thomas.

    Oh and Thomas didn’t tell the Jews to leave Israel, she told them to get “the hell out of Palestine”, i.e. the settlements, which one might note is a. something different and b. also the official position of the United States, the UN and any country but Israel itself.

    Otherwise, a nice rant. Stay healthy!

  2. When liberals ask me why I support Israel, I just tell them ‘it’s their land’. It was for thousands of years before Christians and Moslems showed up, so a few hundred years of Moslem squatters hasn’t changed anything over there but the name. Not that they aren’t allowed to stay (reference Judges chapter 3), but only that they aren’t allowed to dictate to Israelis the terms of resettlement of the Holy Land. Their doing so is analogous to European Christians taking over the greater Mecca/Medina region, then, in utter disregard for the history of the place and its relative importance to the region, attempting to antagonize and interdict Moslem settlement of the land.

    1. ummm Does that mean that we have to give the USA back to the Indians ? I sure hope not, even if it was their land for thousands of years. The biggest danger to the state of Israel is demographics, more Jews are leaving than arriving and the Israeli Arab population is 25% and increasing at 1% per year. In 25 years Israeli Arabs will outnumber the Jews.

    2. So Dave – Get the hell off Indian land. A few hundred years of white Christian squatting hasn’t changed anything.

  3. The greatest gift our loser politicians will have given to the American people via these two wars we’ve been waging now for far too long is that we will have thousands of veterans who know that they can fight and beat the bad guys. Quality troops still alive and knowledgeable; perhaps young enough to continue to protect, certainly able to train and support newer warriors.

    However, here at home we have a much different story. Helen Thomas was a pain in the ass for years, was bigoted for those many years too. Think of how Don Imus was treated via his “nappy headed” remarks for a proper perspective.

    Note how Obama-Mao doesn’t seem to be in pictures with the governor of La., Mr. Jindal. Note how our borders are not going to be secured; rather a move will take place to register the illegals as future voting Democrats.
    Watch how the economic impact reverberates throughout the Gulf states, in a rapidly downward spiral. Stay tuned for future tax increases to take effect this coming January.

    You want “lawyers” to be our political elite? The press is Obama-Mao’s Praetorian Guard.

    Do the CBA (cost benefit analysis) of these wars then compare to the expenditures of our enemies: Every doctor will tell you when a patient has a bleeding problem that can’t be stopped…the patient will surely die! Drive your MRAP to that empty gas station!

    How’s that American debt working for you? Blood money, right?

    Whether one is a citizen of Israel or of Afghanistan, my bet is that those who stay informed now know for sure that Obama-Mao doesn’t give a damn about their lives.

    Obama-Mao is all mouth and no balls! Read your Plato.

    If it’s Wednesday, it’s party time at the White House!

  4. What is Palestine and where the hell is it?

    Nice spin but…ie nothing.

    The twisted old bat very clearly said, “…back to Germany and Poland…”

    Which puts her squarely in the realm of the Moon of Alabama denizens, Pat Buchanan, and David Duke.

    Is that what “socialcon” means? The place where far left and far right meet at the intersection of Jew hate central?



    It’s not “two wars.” It’s one war in multiple theaters against one enemy with multiple names.

    The enemy thinks so and has stated as much repeatedly. They plan accordingly, are we?

    UP THE

  5. There is no way NATO troops can “protect the people” by wandering around amongst them. Population Centric COIN is a delusion. An expensive delusion. We don’t have enough troops of sufficient quality to execute it and because NATO voters increasingly see this as an optional and perhaps futile effort we cannot enage in a battle of attrition. We don’t have the troops. The money is running out. The surge is feeding the insurgency not stifling it.

    I doubt very much there is an answer to Afghanistan we’ll like but at the tactical level the lead force must be NDS and should include targeted hits on TB leaders. Phoenix if you will. CT not PC-COIN. Will a withdrawal of tens of thousands of fobbits and units spending most of their time digging ditches and dodging IEDs along with a full scale push by CT guys work? Probably not but it’ll be orders of magnitude cheaper than what we have now and the final withdrawal will be less messy and conspicuous.

  6. You’re kidding right? You go off on a rant about how liberalism is a disease and how stupid the liberal media is and then you compare the war in Afghanistan to the frickin’ Pig War? Here’s a clue for you… It wasn’t really a war. Like the “war” on drugs only less “warry”. Only a damn pig died. For shit sake don’t blow your credibility on a rant based on ignorance of what others desire to see in their world. Stick to the facts and you may do this world some good. Go off on uniformed rants and you will drive away the very people who need to hear what you have to say most.

  7. great post. Thank you for telling it like it is.

    What is really weird is that the Special ops people are now the shooters and the regulars are the COIN types, or at least attempting such. The lessons learned from the successful COIN programs in Vietnam and Iraq don’t seem to be wholly applicable in A’stan. It is too easy for the enemy to gather enough forces to overrun small kasernes. They have shown a willingness to confront company level COP’s on a number of occasions. What are your thoughts?

  8. And as everyone knows, the San Juan islands are BRITISH DAMN IT BRITISH!

    Great article as usual babatim! The 101st are a fantastic outfit and do NCO and other swaps with the Paras on a regular basis so the two tend to quickly cross polinate ideas a lot.

  9. The Philippine-American War ran from 1899 until 1913. Is there enough death and blood in that war for you Lefty?

    The Korean War still hasn’t ended, did we lose enough good people there for you Lefty?


    COIN is bullshit because there is no “insurgency” to counter. It’s a war, against a transnational enemy who hides in barely touched safe zones.

    The very essence of COIN means meeting the enemy on ground of his own choosing, on his own battlefield amongst the people.

    “If General McClellan isn’t going to use his army, I’d like to borrow it for a time.”
    -A Lincoln


  10. Back in 2008 when I was in the Kandahar PRT, we were told by Sarah Chayes that Kandahar City was going down the tubes. As much as I disliked her on a personal basis I had to take her warnings seriously because she had a much better feel for the pulse of the population than those of us in the PRT who could only leave the camp in armored vehicles and hold meetings surrounded by layers of security. (She must really be freaking out over what is going on in Kandahar now.) For the same reason, I would regularly consult the USPI security contractors who lived in a team house across the street from the PRT. Now, when I hear Tim Lynch say that Afghanistan is going down the tubes, that is a major wake up call that makes me start to wonder how this will turn out.

  11. @babatim

    The leftists and islamists consider all of Israel to be Palestine as well. She meant exactly what she said. She thinks all the light skinned Jews should go back to Europe. She thinks that way because leftists tend to view (in general) all dark skinned peoples as innocent victims of light skinned oppression and injustice. So they always tend to side with and support darker skinned people whenever they’re in some kind of conflict with lighter skinned people. You can see this type of mindset in action with leftist activists trying to free black racists from jail who murdered a white police officers or with their common criticism of the Vietnamese War being motivated by little more than the (supposed) secret desire of whites to kill brown people – both the Vietnamese communists with our guns and bombs and black Americans by using them as cannon fodder (a blatantly false accusation). It might not be the politically correct answer but it’s the truth. I should know, I used to be a hardcore leftist.

  12. Tim, nice one with the Pig War. I thought of some others, but that’s pretty funny. You learn something new every day!

    Matt, you addressed one of the major concerns that I have about the war. A professor I had last semester (a terrific retired Army Lt Col) asked my class if we thought the Taliban were capable of overrunning a battalion sized FOB. One of my classmates, an Army ROTC cadet, promptly said “No way!” Before I could respond that of course they could pull it off, the Colonel was describing his plan for how to do exactly that. The biggest problem I could find with his plan was the difficulty of massing the number of fighters he thought he’d need without exposing them to detection and destruction, but that would be much easier for the Taliban in the more rugged provinces. There seem to be many, at many different levels of command, who have too much faith in our firepower. One well-planned, well-coordinated attack on an unprepared FOB and executed in inclement weather or with SAMs or AAA could prove disastrous. I hope we don’t see anything like that, but the audacity and tempo with which the Taliban et al. have been operating make me think some sort of significant tactical defeat is a real possibility this fighting season. That, on top of the generally deteriorating security situation, might be enough to get our government to back down entirely.

    Following that vein, the insurgents wouldn’t even have to target American FOBs. If they hit the FOBs of our significant allies hard, many would probably pull out what troops they have left. If 10 KIAs a day will drive us out (and it seems like 2 KIAs a day will the way things are now), imagine what 50, or 100, or hundreds would do, especially to ISAF partners with much smaller numbers on the ground.

    Hmmm, I rambled a quite bit there. Apologies.

  13. Tim thanks for the update in your neck of the woods.BD well put.Matt good point. SF ops seem to be more active,and the regulars are doing drive bys for a show of force.Karzai i would say is trying to push out as many contractors as he can.Money is a big motivator and would say the C&C and him came to a understanding.

  14. The only way to combat small teams of Taliban enforcers roaming the countryside at night is to roam the countryside at night in small teams yourself; preferably without the helmets and body armor so you too can be fast and sneaky.

    This says it all. Do our leaders have the courage to take this direction?

  15. The question the MSM should be asking, if they were capable of independent thought or even thinking clearly about the important issues of the day, is will Afghanistan become our longest war, and if so, why?

    The MSM ask the questions they choose thinking clearly about one important issue of the day, which is how to survive and maintain their power as propagandists and arbiters of what the citizens are allowed to know and how the citizens should feel about what they are allowed to know.

    Operation Enduring Freedom began on 7 October 2001, eight years and nine months ago, to destroy the Al Qaida network inside Afghanistan along with the Taliban regime which refused President Bush’s demand to turn the plotters of 9/11 over to us. Most of what we went there to do was indeed accomplished, but Tora Bora went badly, bin Laden escaped, America was denied a satisfying, clear-cut revenge for 9/11, and we were sucked into an Information Operations briar patch. Both As-Sahab, the media arm of al Qaeda, and the American MSM, the media arm of the Democrats, planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to American audiences in order to influence our emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of our governments, organizations, groups, and individual citizens.

    After Tora Bora, Afghanistan’s strategic criticality to America was recognized by many as marginal, but it was the only war we had at the time and manufacturing consent for limited land wars in Asia with limited objectives, limited resources, and limited return on investment was a perception management task the Bush Administration was not up to. Saddam’s misfortune was that we could logistically support major military operations against him, and we could convince a lot of people that Saddam had been asking for it for a long time, so we satisfied the blood lust of the American people with Saddam’s neck in a noose and relegated OEF to a side show for the Coalition of the Unwilling to Join Us In Iraq.

    We haven’t been “in it to win it” almost since we got there and there is no good way to strategically communicate incovenient truths like that.

  16. Me and my pal Abdul were wondering how hard it would be to find a country willing to supply our fighters with early model ground to air missiles so that we could shoot down some NATO or American aircraft. Once we got started with this game plan the bet would be on as to how many deaths per week it would take before NATO and those pesky Americans would pack up and leave. We were laughing thinking how it would be somewhat like getting even on behalf of those Russians who had their planes shot down via American air to ground missile contributions many years ago.

    Why spend time attacking those MRAPS with buried bombs? Makes for better television and more fear shooting down copters.

    Kind of a cost benefit ratio game. Then we could put in a claim for environmental damages via the UN or some other organization against NATO and those Americans with all the fancy gear, weapons, etc. that lay splattered, leaking oil and other mystery fluids onto our ground and into our water systems. Maybe we could film some dead bird life or other animals, working the sympathy angles.

    The time certainly seems right, does it not? Abdul liked the idea so much he immediately ran off to see if someone in Iran likes this idea, or Turkey, Russia, even North Korea might want to help.

    Soon we’ll have a fine opium crop along with our famous hash… We’ll sell it to those soldiers as they wait to leave our wonderful lands…ring a bell, does it?

  17. Okay everybody, BD and RJ in particular, let’s not get too carried away with hypothetical Taliban attacks. I’ve spent a fair bit of time with the Afghan Army and Police and despite US/NATO training, those guys still haven’t figured out the mechanics of toilet paper, let alone sophisticated weaponry such as SAM’s (yes, even members of the vaunted SF-trained ANA “commando” units still do stupid things like shoot themselves in the foot occasionally) and AAA. Now Terry Taliban is typically a hell of a lot more motivated than your average ANA troop – which counts for something – but he still has far less training, on average, than your typical ANA troop…eats a lot less too I would wager. Plus, even if you could get the Taliban trained up, MANPADS (Man portable air defense systems) are damned expensive and not many nations, even Iran, would want to foot the bill for that one. As for the hypothetical Taliban attack on a “battalion-sized FOB,” it’s impossible. I will eat my hat with mustard if it ever happens. Taliban might have the intent, but never the capability. It took 300 villains to overtake COP Keating last October (resulting in 8 brave Americans KIA) and the small cav troop HQ’d there managed to lay down an attrition rate on the Taliban of around 50%. There’s a reason the Taliban generally don’t engage in large force on force attacks with the US/NATO, they DON’T WORK.

    1. E2,

      I probably went a bit overboard. When the Colonel I mentioned described his idea, he said he’d need 2,000 fighters to pull it off. I think its almost impossible for the Taliban to pull together a force of that size as they lack the C&C and logistics to do it. Furthermore, such a large target would be very difficult to conceal from NATO intelligence and our precision firepower. Even if they could get a force that size together, it would, as you say, cost them many many casualties to take on a large American FOB, and they might not even succeed in doing much damage.

      All that being said, I’ve heard bad things about a few FOBs run by some of our allies, and such targets might prove easier to attack successfully. Keep in mind that success for the Taliban in this case doesn’t mean completely overrunning a FOB, just inflicting a dozen KIAs or so. Given the attacks on hardened contractor compounds and the like in recent weeks, they do indeed seem to be escalating their intensity substantially. Even a few successful attacks could prove to be a significant strategic victory for the Taliban, worth many casualties on their part. My impression (granted, it’s from several thousand miles away) is that insurgent aggressiveness and high-command focus on force-protection have combined to rob our forces of both strategic and tactical initiative in many areas. If my impression is correct, we’re in a pickle.

      You called me out for going to far, and you are absolutely correct in doing so. But I stand by my core argument that as the security situation deteriorates the risk of Taliban and other insurgents escalating their attacks through this fighting season will continue to climb. As this happens, the chances for a repeat of COP Keating (or worse) happening will also rise. As Tim said, 10 KIAs a day will likely drive us out of Afghanistan. A few well-executed attacks on some other COPs or FOBs would only accelerate that process.

      I’m not trying to be a doomsayer, but a realist. What I see is a weak and corrupt central government, an under-resourced and overly cautious military effort, declining support for the war in virtually every NATO country with troops deployed there, and an increasingly bold and effective insurgency. This is not a recipe for successful COIN operations, and can only be changed with good decisive leadership at every level and some good luck tossed in.

      Again, thanks for reeling me back in a bit. I get frustrated that there isn’t more I can do right now and it gets the better of me sometimes. You have my respect and gratitude for your work downrange, and I wish you all the best.

  18. Okay Tim as I promised you on skype last night, I took a look at your blog and read up on the security situation there. I have chewed all my finger nails as far back as they can go and am currently trying to caluculate how to get enough cash together to get over there. Even if I can’t get a work permit I can be volunteer. Anyhow Sorry i had to bail on you the other night. My lap top batteries died and the Mosquitoes in Bangkok were treating me like a vegas Buffet. Logan has gotten big… as big as you… since i saw him last. The family that trains together will be able to live longer than the family that only goes to Dairy queen together. Well I have to go be fast and sneaky. Talk to you soon take care. D

  19. Some of us have seen the enemy video of triple AAA (and accurate indirect fire weapons) used at COP Keating. That wasn’t hypothetical.

    We’ve seen the video of Pak combined arms columns (mech infantry, tanks, helicopter and fixed wing support) being sent running. That wasn’t hypothetical.

    We can glance over at The Long War Journal and see there on the front page attacks on Coalition logistics and NATO terminals. That’s not hypothetical.

    We can Google “Spin Boldak” and find articles describing a mile long convoy of armored vehicles going nowhere, achieving nothing, and wasting massive amounts of fuel. That wasn’t hypothetical.

    Maybe “hypothetical” isn’t the correct word to describe dead Americans?

    Maybe “insurgency” is not the proper description for a transnational enemy?

    Maybe COIN isn’t the proper tactic for an enemy that does not recognize national borders?


  20. E2: “MANPADS (Man portable air defense systems) are damned expensive and not many nations, even Iran, would want to foot the bill for that one”

    Why are you so sure about this?

    I said “early model” did I not? Old stock, not as good as newer models yet still capable…somewhat like America selling its planes without all the top electronic gear we use. You’re a fool if you think the bad guys wouldn’t want some of these weapons instead of RPGs to fire at copters coming in to zap them.

    As your buddy Obama-Mao drops a cool 400 million plus to the Palestinians as an “aid package” while telling BP to pay up on claims faster, not slower (recall the bogus claims from Katrina and the waste of taxpayer dollars) you spend your time watching the native government troops learn how to use toilet paper: Perhaps you should read my previous posts to see how long and direct my thoughts have been!

    If my local and those internet army navy businesses can sell European used military gear all day long, why can’t bad guys get some 2nd or 3rd generation MANPADS using American government aid monies? While Hamas shuts down legit NCOs in Gaza so that their phony shells can gather international funds for their private and political needs, you don’t think a concentrated effort by the Taliban or Bin Laden’s people could acquire a stock of air to ground soldier fired missiles?

    Did I miss that Charlie Sheen SEALS movie some years back over this idea?

    If you can’t teach the Afghan government soldiers how to use toilet paper (would this reflect on your personal teaching skills or just cultural ignorance?) what makes you so sure the other guys could not learn how to fire a shoulder air to ground missile?

    Might they be half way home on such skills as they blow themselves up wearing a suicide vest?

    How long have the Americans been trying to wipe out the Taliban, these guys who are so primitive?

    Why do I think E2, you would really enjoy taking a ride in a MRAP? Maybe it has a tissue dispenser inside for occupants who realize they are sitting ducks?

    Erecting huge forts now called FOBs while our enemies wander about in native dress on old pathways reminds me that sometimes the guy who thinks he is so modern and so much smarter than his enemy is doomed to lose.

    Obama-Mao is America’s CIC, right? He thinks he is so smart and modern. Bet me Putin, for starters, wouldn’t love to ship a few MANPADS over to Afghanistan for the bad guys to bring down some American aircraft.

    What goes around, comes around…sometimes to bite you really hard on your ass while you’re trying to “kick ass” on the other guy!

    Lawyers fight with words pal; tissue paper is adored by females. Obama-Mao is a metrosexual.

    Close enough… get ready to fire!

  21. Whoops!

    My thoughts, dear E2, are not presented as if a prophet speaks; rather a conclusion from the application of what is thought to be “common sense” from those facts perceived and known.

    For example: Two days ago, I saw this program on television where our great general, the Princeton-Petraeus, was presenting how our troops needed to approach their efforts in fighting the bad guys.

    He stated we intend to separate these bad guys, especially the top leaders, from the good guys and then deal with them. I watched his cool demeanor, his skill in looking at the camera lens, his vast array of ribbons reflecting years of study, discipline and efforts.

    Yet still, I wondered just how restrained one can make an “army” in a combat theater. Take the time and the effort to separate the bad from the good…that was his primary message.

    Why did my mind think he might apply to Cargill Industries after his military career ends? The wheat from the shaft…how did that Tora Bora fight go some years back? Get the guys you and your pals wanted, did it? How is your Ethanol stock performing these days?

    “Drill baby drill” versus stop all deep water drilling until we “analyze” what happened and make sure it never happens again.

    I feel so much better…I know now how we got those MRAPS…it was more than up-armoring Hummers and getting better helmets after Cher went nuts on camera years ago. Even today our military recalls body armor for its performance failures. Why is that, E2?

    What price will our gas climb toward? Does oil mix well with blood?

    The guys and gals running the show back home create policies that go right into those valleys and hills over there in Afghanistan where perhaps you have some skin in the game.

    But they don’t…now do they?

    During this film where Princeton-Petraeus had camera time, they also were presenting the building of a road: The contractor had knocked down some walls, demolished a few homes, disturbed old family property lines, scared the livestock, etc.

    Those locals who were subject to such efforts complained…and America’s checkbook came out to offer up dollars for “I’m sorry” feelings of good will (COIN).

    Separation of the good guys from the bad guys can’t even begin if the road crew meanders where it deems the “right of way” for a simple road needs to be.

    Take a look at those who are now wandering America’s beaches in the Gulf of Mexico searching for oil, dead or alive animal life. Note how they are dressed, the new shovels, the plastic bags into which sand and oil are placed, the trailer into which the bags go, the portable toilets on the trailer…kinda like those MRAPS we’ve deemed necessary to fight a war.

    Hear the arguments coming from our Environmental agencies over the building of berms, chemicals for oil dispersal, etc.?

    See, off into the dunes, those guys in suits with briefcases? They are the same lawyers who years ago showed up in New York City bemoaning the ills all our workers wrongly ingested while attacking the aftermath of 9/11. So what if our Courts are arguing over lawyer compensation percentages of the present proposed settlements. What’s right is right, no?

    I can’t wait for the trial of Major Hasan: General Casey on the witness stand, tears streaming down his face, wiping his clouded designer wire rimmed glasses, and all the while lamenting the loss of “diversity” in his Army! This won’t cost many tax dollars, right?

    Onto victory in Afghanistan!

    Is it OK to say that? I better check with a lawyer…I’ll get back to you, E2.

  22. RJ, dude, you need to lighten up. My TP comment was meant as a JOKE…but I have logged enough hours in the back of an MRAP to wish there was some sort of toilet-like receptacle in it. I could go over each statement to defend myself, but you are clearly the master of all knowledge, so why bother?

    However, I will say this, I will eat my hat with mustard and a knife and fork if MANPADS are ever effectively employed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. I have numerous good reasons for saying this, but once again, don’t feel like looking up the specs on the shelf lives of MANPADS boosters, etc. in order to prove my point. If it ever happens, get my contact info from Tim and I will gladly let you tell me toldya so.

  23. E2…dude…

    Joke huh? That’s a rather passive aggressive posture. Further, I said nothing about “toilet-like receptacle” in my post, rather tissue dispenser within a MRAP. As to whether or not “shelf lives” would seriously come into play for those willing to wear suicide vests, etc., I don’t see how that comment even comes close to suggesting you understand what it is I am trying to present, other than your “you are clearly the master of all knowledge” smart ass retort.

    Think Putin would offer up MANPADS that always died instead of hitting the target because they spent too much time in storage?

    The check is in the mail, the wife doesn’t understand me, and I swear I’ll only slide the tip in…

    I think you came after me, not I after you.

    You offer grunt, snake eater tough guy responses (eat one’s hat, etc.) all the while suggesting you possess inside knowledge of truths on this matter of MANPADS.

    There are many surgeons who are dilettantes that learn the hard way, as do lawyers, politicians and even military leaders. For example, those soldiers who refuse to carry as much ammo and water while out on patrol often never survive past first contact.

    I am suggesting our country is rapidly running out of gas, energy, bullets, you name it…we don’t have an endless supply nor do we have endless credit. And wasn’t this part of Bin Laden’s original game plan as he foretold in his letter to America?

    I suspect we’re on the same team/side, just shouting from different parts of this jungle; ’cause we know we’re short and want to get home alive.

    Grey Poupon works for me.

  24. RJ – E2 is correct about the shelf life of older MANPADS, especially COMBLOC crap. Pop-tarts last longer. The last ones used and/or captured in Afghanistan all came from Iran (at least according to open source intel – see my link up thread).

    E2 – RJ has a valid point inside the ranting rage. They don’t need MANPADS. RPG’s and 14.5mm’s seem to be serving their purposes quite well.,0,6221428.story

    Another Blackhawk down, four more dead.


  25. My friend Abdul has emailed me saying there is a manual along with “retro” parts for older MANPADS, plus proper tactics to employ for success that are much different than those used when firing RPGs, etc. Presently, the Iranians are translating this manual for the Taliban locals and those remaining Al Qaeda fighters. Each weapon is to come with a personal “good luck” wish from Russia and a smiling picture of V. Putin (suitable for framing).

    My main point being the Russians would love to provide ground to air missiles (MANPADS primarily) against NATO and American aircraft. Could they, would they, should they give new, working models? Wait and see is my response.

    If Americans read or see that such weaponry is being used by these “bad guys” via Russian architecture, etc. that impact will also be added to our waning desire to continue this campaign as we have for these many years.

    As America wrings it’s hands over a border patrol agent killing a teenage Mexican kid who was alleged to have been throwing stones, rocks and bricks (possibly with his friends) at Border Agents; I am reminded of the IDF soldiers being attacked by Palestinian kids doing the same for years, while in some areas muslims, those who believe their religion is one of peace, continue to stone women to death for adultery.

    Nation building has always been fun and easy. Knock that notion down with whatever you want!

  26. Tim, don’t worry about H. Thomas. She’s already landed a gig as a fill in gargoyle at the national cathedral.

    Your article really stirred up a hornets nest this time. If this were the 1700’s I imagine RJ would challenge E2 to a duel.

    Both have good points. You gotta realize that “those people”, as my personal hero R.E. Lee called opponents in the War for Southern Independence, have the same basic equipment upstairs that we do, and are very capable of thinking their way through any problem. Those who survive battle learn from it, and get a little better each time. There are some of “those people” who’ve got a basket full of experience and common sense. Right now, they can’t mass effectively, they can’t shoot well, and they can’t support extended operations. They may not have the gear or the training, but that CAN change.

    We have to respond to the situation by learning and being able to adapt ourselves. Unfortunately, we seem to be getting more hidebound and resistant to positive change, especially at the higher levels of command, where “risk averse” is a synonym for promotion. I don’t want to sound too negative, because historically our military has been hidebound and stubborn pretty much since the beginning. Things usually change for the better….just very slowly.

    In any event, I don’t see us losing on the battlefield. Not gonna happen. Where we will likely buy the farm is in “public relations” and politics. We lost the initiative there years ago, and it’s just getting worse with the present administration.

  27. Ok, I’ll join the other team, you know, the one that thinks they have this game, this war (played out in various theaters) figured out to the extent that their “in place strategy and applied tactics” are going to be, and are in fact, the winning ones.

    Therefore, I am the dupe, the citizen who uses his computer to traverse around this planet seeking many sources for information and opinion on those issues I find important and curious.

    Our leaders are so smart they know the information I see and try to comprehend is meant for people just like me so that they, and their people, can go on about doing the job as that fine General Patraeus intends and knows will work.

    As secretly as possible, our warriors are killing the bad guys every day, reaching into the higher echelons of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in every theater possible. Soon, all senior management on the bad guy’s side will be history, allowing new and junior types the chance to perform; yet they too will be, and are constantly hunted.

    All the while, our other troops are working hard in tandem with US State Department personnel teaching the natives, those who were separated off from the bad guys, how to govern, how to work, how to socialize, and how to improve daily their lives and those that they love.

    I do not know how long this plan will take; those in control don’t want me to know such things, only that I should trust them to do what’s right, and I should realize they only have my best interests and those of my fellow Americans at the forefront of every major decision they must and intend to make.

    Via some transubstantiation efforts generated by love, faith and of course trust on my part, soon I too will sense the coming end of conflict with these bad people. Perhaps a new group of bad people might show up (“when don’t they?”, asked my friend Abdul) but I should not worry due to the fine leaders America has in place.

    As to those comments I made concerning MRAPS, I should be careful for those machines represent work many Americans have done and been paid which results in our national economy working the way our leaders know is right, and healthy too! Further, I have smeared the legal profession and those politicians who came from it without merit, without reason, and without proper facts.

    I am told that the re-education camp to which I am being transferred is indeed a fine place, south of Florida, on the doorstep to Cuba, and great for older people’s health with new pools, tennis courts and a horde of other leisure activities available to those deserving such!

    Allah is a most merciful god, and I am a very bad and ignorant sinner. Forgive me for all my previous rants and posts…I just wasn’t myself it seems.

    There’s nothing wrong with celebrating when you and your pals are the smart guys…you know victory is at hand and all those doubters will be kneeling before your feet–sooner, rather than later.

    Remember, if it’s Wednesday, it’s party time at the White House!

    I have been the fool in all of this for sooo long!

  28. sorry to be back to the thread late, but maybe someone will read this.

    Last July 4, @ 300-350 tried to overrun FOB Zerok in Paktika Province. @ 150 30509 troopers and a platoon of ANA. VBIED, 122mm rockets, heavy MG’s, mortars. Well coordinated Haqqani attack meant to overrun us on our national holiday.

    We had 2 KIA and @ 14 wounded, but the enemy had at least 60-80 KIA and unknown wounded, as Zerok is a few Km from the Paki border. Co Commander called in a APB on air and that really helped change the balance.There is some good video up on the net.

Comments are closed.

Verified by MonsterInsights