"On Aug. 13, the day the company arrived in Sangin, a Marine stepped from his armored vehicle about 100 yards from a secure U.S.-British patrol base. The sniper fired a single shot, killing the soldier, the Journal said.On the same day, Darren Foster, 20, a British army engineer from Carlisle, England, was shot and killed as he walked in an unprotected small space that bridge two areas of bulletproof glass, the Journal reported."(The sniper) hit a moving target in a space this big," said Capt. Jim Nolan, Lima Company's commander, indicating a space of 9 inches with his hands."
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Quote from Jon, a Danish army interpreter, who speaks about half a dozen languages. In: "Complex Working Environment" - video available at the NATO Channel TV. Direct URL cannot be provided, as the website does not work that way; you will see.
The Ministry is not able to say that much, for now, about what Jon's company could do about this. Force protection is important to them, especially to their political leaders back home, and they won't give up on armour when they enter the "green zone" (which ironically means the opposite of what it used to mean in Iraq, in terms of security).
The interesting thing to note is the contrast. When the look of this website was changed a while ago, at the time when the Ministry took over running this place, an incident was mentioned here where U.S. Marines paid compensation to an opium poppy farmer for having a C-17 airdrop land on his field, crushing some plants. Back in December last year, another incident was covered at this site, whereby a U.S.-led police team, there with an escort of Canadian soldiers, thought it the best approach to winning the hearts and minds of an outlying village in Kandahar province, to destroy all the marijuana plants that were found there. We have written of Polish soldiers participating in destroying
Trying to deal with a rural insurgency, why would it be important to have a coherent approach to these issues... like, what to do about farmers' crops and all that...
Pat Porter, discussing the proposition that more Pashto speakers would be needed by Western armies in Afghanistan, ironically asks: "How do you say ‘we are destroying your opium crop’ in Pashto?" Jon, quoted above, knows that, and Pat Porter is right, it probably doesn't help all that much. Otherwise, the Ministry's position is still rather that it would be mighty good to have a thousand Jons out there.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
"In Iraq, a half-hour firefight was considered a long engagement; here, Marines have fought battles that have lasted as long as eight hours against an enemy whose attacking forces have grown from platoon-size to company-size."But NATO's so-called master narrative still says, about 2008:
"The significant increase in security incidents this year is due to an increased use of asymmetric tactics by insurgents."And this is similar to what Theo Farrell said in a House of Commons hearing about Afghanistan.
"There are combat operations, which I would call formation warfare, where the Taliban or other groups gather in company-size formation-between 50 and 200 soldiers-and launch a formation attack against one of our patrol bases, or even against a forward operation base. On the other hand there are terrorist attacks, which would comprise suicide bombs, improvised explosive devices and sniper fire. The important point to realise is that this past year, as I understand it, we have seen a significant reduction in formation warfare by the Taliban, and an increase in terrorist attacks. Some observers have said that that is very worrying, because they are moving to asymmetric tactics, which presents a great challenge for us.
I see it as a positive development. The simple reason why they have moved to asymmetric tactics is that between 2007 and early 2008 we caused considerable attrition to their force structure. It is very hard to get reliable figures, but I understand from speaking to people in the Ministry of Defence that they think that around 6,000 Taliban have been killed. So we have gutted a lot of their lower command structure, which has forced them to move towards more asymmetric tactics."
Now here are some statistics. First, from Anthony Cordesman's comprehensive presentaion on the Afghanistan/Pakistan war, prepared for CSIS, page 22, showing growth in the number of direct fire attacks. Watch the blue columns.
Then from ANSO's Q1 report (thanks to Christian for drawing attention to it), page 8, showing growth in the number of "close range" attacks.
And some more statistics from ANSO, page 10, about tactics, showing the proportion of small arms/RPG attacks which grew from 54% in Q1 of 2007 to where it is now, in the first quarter of 2009.
This could be interesting to address. ANSO's team concludes that insurgents have stable logistical support, a steady supply of recruits and they are capable of engaging the other side's forces in a conventional manner. At least as long as the first jet-delivered bomb does not drop by for some truly asymmetric action, I would add.
In other news, things are looking bad. In more ways than one.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
"I'm still shocked by the incompetence of the RNA (Royal Nepalese Army) and by its dangerous tactics. For example, in this day and age we would never use helicopter gunships in counter-insurgency work -- helicopters for transport, sure, but this is a war that can only be fought on the ground level. Firing into jungles from a thousand feet up has no real military benefit and is bound to be counter-productive when innocent civilians end up as victims."Sure, this holds some relevance for the campaign in Afghanistan as well. Not that helicopters are firing into a jungle there, like that, but as everyone knows, there is a tendency to use a lot of CAS (close air support).
Meanwhile, it was very timely for me to have that thing come up now for other reasons, too. I'll be interested to hear just this afternoon a lecture by Gulshan Sachdeva on a "Development strategy for the Indian Northeast." Will of course get back to you to say a few comments perhaps, at the end of the day.
One more quote from the ICG report, same page, this time from another Indian academic, telling you nothing new, just showing how much of a coincidence it is that I ended up hearing a presentation based partly on this report today:
"S.D. Muni, the former ambassador widely recognised as India's leading academic authority on Nepal. "India's own experience in the northeast and in areas affected by Naxalite Maoist guerrillas is that military methods may, at best, help, but cannot deliver a solution to internal revolts and insurgencies." "The promised update: Prof. Sachdeva gave a very interesting presentation. I wouldn't want to outline his ideas as though he would have given his lecture to the readership of this blog. But I will point out at least one thing.
Over at the Frontline Club, Alex van Linschoten lists a couple of issues he would like to see the media cover this year - stories that could be especially interesting in his view. All are interesting, indeed. The very first is: "NGOs who indirectly (or directly) fund the Taliban." Now, this is something also of interest when it comes to India's Northwest. Not really because of NGOs. There, in many places, it's state-run projects where contractors end up passing on state development money to guerrillas, to buy operational security, generating a vicious cirlce that perpetuates the insurgency.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
"En représailles le dernier hameau traversé par la colonne est détruit, selon des témoignages militaires, par 4 missiles Milan tirés par les paras français. Deux autres hameaux sont détruits lors d'un raid aérien le lendemain."
"Quatre missiles Milan ont été tirés contre le village, deux autres hameaux ont été détruits dans un raid aérien le lendemain. L'agence Pajhwok estime qu'il y aurait plusieurs dizaines de civils morts. "Je ne suis pas certain qu'ils étaient directement impliqués dans l'attaque contre les français," dit le colonel Rumi Nelson-Green, porte-parole de la coalition. "Ça na aucune importance. Ils étaient certainement au moins complices." "