Category Archives: GWOT

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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Pakistani Politics

Posted by lex, on January 4, 2011

Pretty rough and tumble, these days. You can’t even trust your bodyguard anymore:

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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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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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Cry Havoc

Posted by lex, on November 11, 2010

Noah Shactman writes that General Petraeus is less averse to unfettering the eagles of war than was his predecessor:

The U.S. and its allies have unleashed a massive air campaign in Afghanistan, launching missiles and bombs from the sky at a rate rarely seen since the war’s earliest days. In October alone, NATO planes fired their weapons on 1,000 separate missions, U.S. Air Force statistics provided to Danger Room show. Since Gen. David Petraeus took command of the war effort in late June, coalition aircraft have flown 2,600 attack sorties. That’s 50% more than they did during the same period in 2009. Not surprisingly, civilian casualties are on the rise, as well.

NATO officials say the increase in air attacks is simply a natural outgrowth of a more aggressive campaign to push militants out of their strongholds in southern Afghanistan. “Simply put, our air strikes have increased because our operations have increased. We’ve made a concentrated effort in the south to clear out the insurgency and therefore have increased our number of troops on the ground and aircraft to support them in this effort,” Lt. Nicole Schwegman, a NATO spokesperson, tells Danger Room.

On the other hand, some outside observers believe the strikes are part of an attempt to soften up the insurgency before negotiations with them begin in earnest. But one thing is clear: it’s a strategy Petraeus has used before. Once he took over the Iraq war effort, air strikes jumped nearly sevenfold.

Warfare is not fought by the rules of the Marquess of Queensbury, and nobody that’s ever been in a real fight wants it to be fair, with the outcome shivering in the balance. When fighting against a vicious foe who presses his home court advantage through asymmetric warfare, it’s important to keep in mind that air power is our asymmetric advantage.

It should be applied carefully, and precisely, with due deliberation to the potential strategic effects of tactical actions.

But like bug spray against infestation, it should also be applied vigorously, and as needed.

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Net No

Posted by lex, on October 14, 2010

For your consideration: In the CSMMackubin Thomas Owens and Andrew J. Bacevich cross swords in a “one minute debate” over whether the war in Afghanistan is still worth fighting.

Yes, says Owens – but only if it’s fought properly:

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Hard Duty

Posted by Lex, on September 29, 2010

100927-N-4420S-209 JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (Sept. 27, 2010) Navy SEALs carry the casket of Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) 3rd Class Denis Miranda off the flight line of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Miranda was one of nine service members killed when the helicopter in which they were traveling crashed in Zabul Province in Southern Afghanistan Sept. 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Scorza/Released)

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Snitch Visas

Posted by lex, on July 19, 2010

Come to America, get a job, plot a terrorist attack, get caught, roll over for the feds – get rewarded:

The visa is a little-known bargaining chip that the government can dangle before terrorism suspects who agree to cooperate with investigators and plead guilty. It can sweeten the idea of decades behind bars.

“We always refer to the S visa as a snitch visa,” says Patrick Rowan, who ran the national security division at the Justice Department during the Bush years. “It was always easy to remember because you would use the word snitch.”

Rowan says the idea behind the visa program is simple.

“The essence of the S visa is there’s people who are in the U.S. who you would want their cooperation in the context of a criminal case,” Rowan says. “And you can gain them status in the U.S. so they can live here and work here and even have a path toward becoming a lawful permanent resident if they’re granted an S visa.”

“Well, everybody wants this visa,” (former federal prosecutor Julie Myers Wood) said. “When I was a prosecutor, I remember that almost every foreign national that was a defendant in one of my cases wanted this visa.”

So, there you have it. Some jihadis, at least, are not motivated by religious fervor, nor against American arrogance or international injustice.

Instead, it’s merely envy. If they can’t have what we have, they’ll take it from us.

Unless they can get a green card.

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Trust Gap

Posted by lex, on June 10, 2021

It’s clear that not all of the Afghan people trust the Karzai government, whom many see as thoroughly corrupt and self-interested.

What’s also becoming clear is that the Karzai government doesn’t entirely trust the Afghan people:

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