By lex, on November 19th, 2010
Main battle tanks to Afghanistan:
The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.
The deployment of a company of M1 Abrams tanks, which will be fielded by the Marines in the country’s southwest, will allow ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance – and with more of a lethal punch – than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm main gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.
Quicker than air, more accurate than arty and pretty damned intimidating.
One senior officer is even relating the broader destruction to a hearts and minds campaign:
In another recent operation in the Zhari district, U.S. soldiers fired more than a dozen mine-clearing line charges in a day. Each one creates a clear path that is 100 yards long and wide enough for a truck. Anything that is in the way – trees, crops, huts – is demolished.
“Why do you have to blow up so many of our fields and homes?” a farmer from the Arghandab district asked a top NATO general at a recent community meeting.
Although military officials are apologetic in public, they maintain privately that the tactic has a benefit beyond the elimination of insurgent bombs. By making people travel to the district governor’s office to submit a claim for damaged property, “in effect, you’re connecting the government to the people,” the senior officer said.
Connecting the people to the government as aggrieved supplicants. It’s like health care reform!