Category Archives: Afghanistan

Strategic Pause

Posted By lex, on January 8th, 2012

Predictable consequences:

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This Was, I Suppose, Inevitable

Posted by lex, on October 27th, 2011

ISAF has turned to winning Afghan hearts and minds, 140 characters at a time:

U.S. forces feared they were losing the information war to the Taliban and now are fighting back with Twitter – using those brisk 140-character messages to get out the other side of the story.

“The Taliban were just constantly putting out false information and propaganda,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings. “Some of it was so wrong we finally had to start engaging, and backing up our information with the facts…”

“It allows us to keep our followers dynamically informed while also keeping the enemy’s statements in check,” Cummings said in an e-mail exchange with CNN.

It is easy to see this play out on any day. A Twitter account that frequently puts out news reports favoring the Taliban, , trumpets information of a major battlefield success. “Mujahideen bring down US helicopter in Kunar,” says the tweet.

But over at International Security Assistance Force headquarters, the social media experts are on the case on the ISAF Twitter account. “We have no reports of any missing helos. Take any Taliban reports with a block of salt,” their tweet answers. And later, “Reports of a shoot-down are false.”

It doesn’t cost much to station two social media experts on site to trade tweets with goat-bothering rustics and their fan base.

But I doubt it’s worth all that much, either.

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Flying Shotgun

Posted By lex, on October 19th, 2011

Pretty nifty new tool in the ruck:

The tube-launched Switchblade drone, made by Monrovia, California-based Aerovironment Inc., was secretly sent to Afghanistan for the first time last year. “Under a dozen” were fired, said Army Deputy Product Director William Nichols.

“It’s been used in Afghanistan by military personnel” and “shown to be effective,” Nichols said. The drone’s GPS guidance is made by Rockwell Collins Inc. and the warhead by Alliant Techsystems Inc.

Nichols declined to describe the Switchblade’s targets. He said the drone is “designed for open threats, something that’s on top of a building but you can’t hit it” with regular artillery or mortars for fear of collateral damage. The drone is less than 24 inches long and weighs about six pounds.

“It’s a ‘flying shotgun,’” Nichols said, not a “hit-to- kill” weapon that explodes on impact.

“The operator has control of how far away from the target it goes off — preselected distances,” he said in an interview Oct. 12 at the Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

An Army fact sheet said the drone could be used against snipers, insurgents placing roadside bombs and those hiding on ridge lines, under rock overhangs and or in shallow caves.

If every platoon had a couple of those, you’d see a whole lot fewer snipers, insurgents placing roadside bombs and hiding on ridge lines.

One way or the other.

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Sales Rights

Posted By lex, on September 18th, 2011

The US apparently lost a drone ** over Pakistan’s Federally “Administered” Tribal Area over the weekend:

Pakistani soldiers battled Taliban fighters in an attempt to seize precious debris from a suspected U.S. drone that crashed in a rugged tribal area near the Afghan border, Pakistani intelligence officials and militants said Sunday.

The Taliban said they shot down the unmanned aircraft, which crashed Saturday night near Jangara village in the South Waziristan tribal area.

Pakistani intelligence officials said they were not certain whether Taliban fire or technical problems brought down the drone. Drone crashes have happened before in Pakistan, but they are rare.

Pakistan first learned of the crash by intercepting Taliban radio communications, said the intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The debris was first seized by the Taliban. Several hours later, the Pakistani army sent soldiers in to wrest it out of militant hands, sparking a fight with the Taliban in which three militants were killed, said the officials. Three militants and two soldiers were also wounded in the clash, they said.

It’s not clear who has the debris now. It’s pretty obvious who’s going to get it when the dust settles.

The Chinese play a patient game.

** 03-10-21 Original link from Navy Times gone; substitute found – Ed.

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“Rocket” Fire

Posted By lex, on August 6th, 2011

very heavy blow * in Afghanistan:

Thirty-one US special forces and seven Afghans died when the Taliban shot down their helicopter, officials said Saturday, the deadliest incident yet for foreign troops in a decade-long war.

All were killed during an anti-Taliban operation late Friday when a rocket fired by the insurgents struck their Chinook helicopter in Wardak province, southwest of the capital Kabul, as they prepared to leave after a firefight.

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Strange Bedfellows

Posted By lex, on March 10th, 2011

It’s said that politics makes strange bedfellows. If that’s the case, then geo-politics must make stranger partners still: When they were in power in Afghanistan, the Taliban received nothing but inveterate malice from the regime in Tehran.

All changed:

NATO forces in Afghanistan have seized 48 Iranian-made rockets intended to aid the Taliban’s spring battle campaign, the most powerful illicit weapons ever intercepted en route from the neighboring state, officials said Wednesday.

The shipment is seen as a serious escalation in Iran’s state support of the Taliban insurgency, according to NATO officials and described in detail by an international intelligence official.

It’s also an escalation in the proxy war Western officials say Iran is waging against U.S. and other Western forces in Afghanistan, as Washington continues to lobby for tougher international sanctions against Tehran to dissuade it from its alleged goal of building nuclear weapons…

The rockets, which were shown to an Associated Press reporter, were machined without Iranian markings or any serial numbers, but the official says their technical details match other Iranian models…

Iran, which was a staunch opponent of the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion triggered by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has denied allegations that it is supporting militants in the war torn country.

Oh, well then. Probably our mistake.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” At least the Iranians understand that.

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Family Ties

Posted By lex, on March 11th, 2011

Not even a week after a helicopter mistakenly killed 9 Afghan boys collecting firewood, another NATO/Afghan raid netted some pretty strange fish, and gilled at least one of them:

A cousin of Afghanistan’s president was killed Wednesday during a night raid by NATO and Afghan forces in which they detained the man’s son as a suspected Taliban commander, as well as at least two of the family’s bodyguards.

The case brought the delicate issue of civilian casualties into the presidential palace and added to the already tense relationship between the Afghans and the Americans. It also raised questions about whether a member of the extended family of President Hamid Karzai might have Taliban ties, or whether bad intelligence led to a deadly raid on the home of an innocent family.

Either way, the raid raises the prospect of another intense flare-up between NATO and Afghan officials, coming after two other cases of civilian casualties in the past three weeks. Night raids on family compounds, in particular, have long been controversial for their intrusiveness and the civilian casualties associated with them. Startled Afghan men, who commonly keep weapons at home, often react by reaching for their guns and are then shot, often by Special Operations forces.

This raid occurred in the southern province of Kandahar, in the rural village of Karz, the Karzai clan’s ancestral home. The man who was killed was Yar Mohammad Karzai, a lifelong resident of the village who was in his early 60s.

Karzai meltdown in 3, 2,

Update: It may have been a Canadian operation – it occurred in their AO at least – and four of the five people of interest were released, with only the senior Taliban being kept.

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Taking the Hit

Posted by lex, on December 21, 2010

UK LCpl takes the first hit while Afghan insurgent hides behind 10-year old girl.

Pretty amazing.


Editor’s Note: The picture wasn’t originally in Lex’s small post, and his original link was gone – this is what I found in a replacement link, together with the picture and explanation. If this link disappears (and it will, sooner or later), this serves as the explanation – Ed.

Caring: LCpl Murfit is back on duty in Helmand and giving first aid to an Afghan girl. (Picture: Crown/MoD 2010) — SOLDIER CRAIG S NERVES OF STEEL SAVE AFGHAN CHILD S LIFE The actions of a Devon soldier, who took a bullet himself to save the life of a small child, have shown the difference between British courage and Taleban evil. Lance Corporal Craig Murfitt, a rifleman and medic serving in Afghanistan s Helmand province, demonstrated nerves of steel and the coolest of clear heads in a startling sequence of events, after being called to assist other soldiers during a recent patrol The 25-year-old, serving with the Tidworth-based 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, was amongst a crew of soldiers patrolling in one of the Army s new Warthog armoured vehicles. They were out on a routine security patrol, providing reassurance to local communities, when suddenly they were re-tasked to reinforce infantry colleagues who been pinned down by fire from hidden insurgents and needed urgent back-up.


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Undiplomatic

Posted by lex, on December 3, 2010

The continuing Wikileaks saga reveals a harsh evaluation of the UK’s performance in Helmand province, Afghanistan:

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Solitudinem Faciunt

Posted by lex on November 17, 2010

Pacem appellant:

In the most fiercely contested areas, especially in Zhare District, but also in parts of neighboring Panjwai and Arghandab Districts, American troops have been routinely destroying almost every unoccupied home or unused farm building in areas where they are operating.

In Arghandab District, for instance, every one of the 40 homes in the village of Khosrow was flattened by a salvo of 25 missiles, according to the district governor, Shah Muhammed Ahmadi, who estimated that 120 to 130 houses had been demolished in his district. “There was no other way; we knew people wanted us to get rid of all these deadly I.E.D.’s,” he said, referring to improvised explosive devices, the military’s term for homemade bombs.

“In some villages where only a few houses were contaminated by bombs, we called the owners and got their agreement to destroy them,” Mr. Ahmadi said. “In some villages like Khosrow that were completely empty and full of I.E.D.’s, we destroyed them without agreement because it was hard to find the people.

“And not just Khosrow, but many villages,” he said, listing a half-dozen others. “We had to destroy them to make them safe.”

Seems like we’ve been down this road before.

Call me back when they start salting the earth.

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