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Ray
16 Aug 07,, 06:53
New US-led offensive in Tora Bora

US soldiers patrol a mountain in the eastern province of Kunar, Afghanistan (file photo)

The offensive involves ground troops and airstrikes

Hundreds of US and Afghan soldiers have returned to launch a new attack on the last known hideout of the fugitive al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

They have launched an air and ground assault in the Tora Bora region, near the border with Pakistan.

A US military spokeswoman said the mountainous terrain was an ideal environment to conceal militant bases.

Tora Bora was the scene of a failed major US operation to capture Osama Bin Laden in 2001.

Families flee fighting

Reports say dozens of families in the area have fled the latest fighting.

A US military spokeswoman, Captain Vanessa Bowman, said the assault was launched against targeted positions:

"The targets were carefully chosen to pinpoint enemy positions and eliminate the likelihood of harming innocent civilians."

"This region has provided an ideal environment to conceal enemy support bases and training sites, as well as plan and launch attacks aimed at terrorizing innocent civilians, both inside and outside the region," she said.

She did not say how long the operation would continue for.

The Tora Bora region, a complex of caves, is known as the last stronghold of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

News of the US offensive comes as three German nationals were killed, and a fourth wounded, by a roadside bomb, near the Afghan capital, Kabul.

They were travelling in a diplomatic convoy. Local police say the blast was caused by a remote-controlled bomb, which completely destroyed one vehicle.

In a separate incident, a British national working for a private security firm which guards the British embassy, was killed by unknown assailants in Kabul.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | New US-led offensive in Tora Bora (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6948829.stm)

It appears that the US and ISAF are meaning business and there is a concerted effort by the ISAF, the Afghan and Pakistani govts since recently the Heads met and had a jirga that addressed the tribal heads over how to defeat the Taliban.

Hopefully, the results will lead to a stable Afghanistan and then the FATA and NWFP could be addressed by Musharraf, who is at his tethers end with this whole problem that is reducing his credibility both domestically and internationally.

S2
16 Aug 07,, 20:22
Brigadier,

Great comment on the recent jirga and it's connection to this operation. I do wonder what really was discussed at that meeting. Please remember that representatives from NWFP and FATA tribes were NOT in attendance, IIRC. Thankfully, it appears that Musharraf put down his spat with Karzai long enough to make an appearance.

I wonder what the plans to seal the borders for this op would be? That was the demise of the operations held in late 2001 and 2002, it seems. Either Afghan tribes or nobody covering escape routes across the border. Maybe one and the same.:confused:

Thanks again, Brigadier.

Ray
17 Aug 07,, 06:07
S2,

IIRC, our newspapers stated that tribal leaders of both Afghanistan and Pakistan attended and I based it on that.

What has been reported in the US?

It is very difficult to seal the border in the mountains because it is forested and fully of valleys and gullies and all that. The forest cover limits observation and hence requires physical presence and the gullies and valleys make the distance to be covered more arduous as against it being linear and flat.

To fight this type of insurgency, it has to be two tiered:

1. "Seal' the border.

2. Another force to take on the insurgents thus 'trapped'.

One can cover the border as best as feasible and since there will still be gaps, cross border infiltration can only be limited but not stopped.

Simultaneously, the force within the country should take on the insurgents within.

A hammer and anvil sort of operation.

S2
17 Aug 07,, 07:23
Brigadier,

I may be wrong, sorta. I can't recall where I read FATA and NWFP, nor can I find it. It does appear to be oddly represented, i.e. the make-up comes from provincial councils, parliaments, and elsewhere. Also, it seems that tribal representatives from N. and S. Waziristan provinces boycotted the meeting in protest as taliban representatives weren't invited.

"Significantly, though, the Taliban will not be formally represented, although they are sure to monitor developments through proxies. Elders from the North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal areas in Pakistan - where the Taliban have a deeply entrenched presence - also will not formally attend. The Taliban have called for a boycott of the talks." Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times

U.S. Sponsored "Jirga" to Open In Afghanistan (http://www.khilafah.com/kcom/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=768)

This from Radio Free Europe-

"RFE/RL: Tribal leaders from North Waziristan also are not attending the "Joint Peace Jirga" in Kabul. They have complained that there are no Taliban representatives there. They've also demanded that Pakistani military forces abandon checkpoints in the tribal region of North Waziristan as a precondition of attending. What impact do you think all of this will have on the outcome of the jirga?

Nathan: The jirga is a traditional conflict-resolution mechanism here in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are largely Pashtun areas and Pashtun mechanisms. What this [jirga] is, actually, is a gathering of 700 people -- several hundred from each side of the border -- from provincial councils, from parliaments, from civil society [and] of all the different ethnic groups.


I think it was always fairly unclear exactly what this was and what could come out of it because it's not institutionalizing anything. So who these people represented, what decision-making authority they had, and how to actually institutionalize and action any decisions that were taken were all very unclear. I really do hope it is undertaken in a spirit of dialogue rather than confrontation. And I think, perhaps, it could have been more useful to have actually restricted it more narrowly to people-to-people contact across that border area."

South Asia: No 'High Hopes' For Peace Jirga (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/08/70c7f84a-d6ec-498e-bf49-b4b79864aa51.html)

Ray
17 Aug 07,, 09:57
S 2


Thanks.

S2
18 Aug 07,, 00:39
No worries about confusing this place with Bora Bora.:mad:

From Radio Free Europe-

Tora Bora Offensive Continues... (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/08/360b8d5b-24a8-48b0-8771-a803fa7e576c.html)

Meanwhile, in an interesting article from the EVENING ECHO of Cork, Ireland comes this from the Brits down in Helmand,

Two hurt in battle with Taliban

14/08/2007 - 2:19:54 PM

British forces were caught up in a ferocious gun battle in southern Afghanistan today after a Taliban ambush in a cornfield.

Two soldiers were helicoptered to hospital for emergency surgery – one with very serious injuries – when insurgents opened fire with machine guns and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) just metres away.

Minutes beforehand, the troops from the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (1WFR) had been standing in a suspected Taliban compound in no-man’s-land deep inside Helmand Province’s notorious “Green Zone”.

Its occupants had apparently left, leaving behind only a few daily provisions, a cache of rocket flares and a framed photograph of a Jihadist fighter posing with an AK47.

But as a platoon from the regiment’s B Company made their way into the adjoining field – creeping along a perimeter ditch, out of sight behind ripening corn, the Taliban were lying in wait.

It was to be their 28th “contact” and fourth ambush in four months.

They were among British forces taking part in a fresh push against the Taliban front line codenamed Operation “Naiza” – meaning spike – inside the Green Zone, a lush streak of land cutting through the desert where the insurgents have taken refuge. The operation began late last night with scores of soldiers patrolling across the Green Zone in darkness to a fortress-like outpost held by 1WFR troops throughout the summer.

Setting out after first light today, the troops had stormed a maze of mud-walled compounds suspected of harbouring Taliban before entering the field to search for a better vantage point.

Suddenly pinned down in a ditch as gunfire cracked overhead, the soldiers’ training immediately kicked in, coolly returning fire with the first of hundreds of rounds before taking cover from incoming RPGs.

Troops behind the ditch immediately began shouting out each other’s names to account for their comrades but within less than a minute the call was repeated down the line: “We’ve got one casualty, we’ve got one casualty.”

Crawling on their stomachs, they escaped along the shallow ditch towards a deeper trench as others returned fire.

But as they entered the second ditch Taliban fighters had made their way along behind a hedge into the first compound, threatening to outflank and surround them.

Mortar specialists put down a smoke blanket as an RPG smashed into a tree just feet away from one of them.

Meanwhile the infantrymen crawled down a thorn-filled trench, taking refuge behind a mud wall 100m from the Taliban and opened fire with machine guns.

With reinforcements from another platoon providing covering fire the casualties were safely evacuated.

Worst hit was a private who had been at the front of a line moving through the field when he was shot by a Taliban fighter in a brown “dish-dash” trouser suit and turban.

Corporal Clint Buchanan, 25, from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, was next to him in the line.

He said afterwards: “The guy was in the corner as he attacked him, he was in cover, he waited for him to get all the way up.

“My friend got hit, the bloke went back from there towards the others and obviously heard him moaning in pain because he had been shot.

“Then a couple of minutes later he just came back, casual as f*** and went to finish him off.”

But the insurgent was shot by the British troops before he could get any further. The private is described as in a serious but stable condition in hospital. Another soldier was airlifted with him to Camp Bastion with a shrapnel wound to his arm and is expected to make a full recovery.

The Platoon’s acting Second in Command, Corporal Andy Geering, 36, was hit by a small piece of shrapnel in his arm but did not need hospital treatment and was able to fight on.

He had been due to go home on leave within hours when the battle broke out.

Two hurt in battle with Taliban (http://www.eecho.ie/news/bstory.asp?j=4853430&p=4853445&n=4853522)

Note that the acting platoon 2I/C is a corporal. How light is that? He's on leave orders, btw. Are the Brits suffering an NCO shortage in the line battalions?

Loved the regimental name- Worchestershire and Sherwood Foresters!:biggrin:

dave angel
18 Aug 07,, 10:52
Note that the acting platoon 2I/C is a corporal. How light is that? He's on leave orders, btw. Are the Brits suffering an NCO shortage in the line battalions?

Loved the regimental name- Worchestershire and Sherwood Foresters!:biggrin:


S2, a rifle ptn 2/IC would normally be a Sergeant, but having a CPL do the job isn't wildly uncommon. to put a bit of context on it i think our Cpl's would probably be a bit older than yours and be used to running a section (7 other blokes) anyway - a 'senior' corporal would probably be looking at having three to four years as a private, then four as a Lance-Corporal commanding a four man fire team and as section 2I/C, you're then looking at another four years until progression to Sergeant, meaning the Platoons most senior corporal would be a very experienced bunny indeed - so Platoon 2I/C is no great challenge. most of the specialist Platoons in the Bn - Mortar, ATGW, Reece etc.. - would be commanded by Sergeants/Colour Sergeants rather than officers anyway, so people get used to working in a evironment where ability and experience matter more than rank.

i think we've been trying to use SNCO's and senior Captains and Majors in the PRT's as much as possible, so if you visit an Bn it looks a bit younger than it might ordinarily do, but the redundancy principle means that its fine in actual terms.

'tis a good name isn't it....

S2
18 Aug 07,, 16:43
Dave,

Thanks. I hadn't realized that a senior corporal may have 11-12 years in before sergeant. Time in service is probably quite similar to our platoon sergeants.

Ray
18 Aug 07,, 16:54
S 2,

That is true of the Indian Army too and it can be upto 14 years that he is a Naik (Corporal).

Experience and not rank.

Officer of Engineers
18 Aug 07,, 17:13
Ditto the Canuckians.

Cactus
23 Aug 07,, 14:32
S 2,

That is true of the Indian Army too and it can be upto 14 years that he is a Naik (Corporal).

Experience and not rank.

Ray,

A bit off topic, but could you explain how Indian Army appoints its Junior Commissioned Officers? Are they from exclusively seniormost NCOs who have topped-out in NCO ranks? Or are they any NCOs selected for their command abilities mid-career? It is a very interesting setup and I would love some first-hand information. Thanks!

Ray
23 Aug 07,, 18:24
Seniority, Annual Confidential Report and passing promotion cadres.

Cactus
23 Aug 07,, 19:48
Seniority, Annual Confidential Report and passing promotion cadres.

By seniority, do you mean they have topped-out on NCO promotion track (RSM/SM/whatever)?