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Into the Valley of Death

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  • S2
    replied
    A Young Marine's Dream Job-NYT

    More C.J. Chivers' brilliance.

    Watching video of this war in the Korengal and elsewhere (but certainly the Korengal) I've noted U.S. Marines at times in what seems largely a U.S. Army war.

    Who are they? Here's their AMAZING story of these ballsy guys-

    A Young Marine's Dream Job-NYT 30 April 2009

    Imagine a corporal, 25, with a Lance Corporal, 21, alone with 30 or so Afghans-any and all who could overwhelm them or slit their throats while sleeping, living, working, and training an afghan army infantry platoon in the Korengal valley.

    HUGE responsibility for an E-4 and E-3. Corporal Conway's enlistment was up. He extended nine months, though, to gain this duty-living and working with these afghan men who attend the same mosque on Friday as their valley militant counterparts.

    "How effective the American training mission will be is unclear. The corporal said it would be years before the Afghan Army was ready to operate independently full time. But he said he had seen reason for optimism.

    The Afghan captain who worked here until early April was overweight, lazy and rarely left the firebase. He used Afghan infantryman as valets.
    'I expected to come in and find the soldiers dropping grapes in his mouth,' Corporal Conroy said.

    'Or fanning him with a palm branch,'said Lance Corporal Murray.

    A new Afghan lieutenant rotated in last week. He is neat and lean, and has shown self-discipline and tactical sense. The Marines celebrated his arrival by buying a chestnut-and-white bull.

    The Afghan soldiers bound the animal’s legs and flipped it onto its side. A soldier worked a blade across its throat. These Afghan soldiers eat meat once every two or three weeks. Tonight they would feast.

    They were palpably happy.
    'Let Barack Obama come here and kill a cow for us,' one said. The rest laughed.

    Corporal Conroy watched until the jokes subsided. War, like politics, is local. He reminded the Afghans that a platoon looked out for itself, and that he was the senior American on hand.
    'You don’t need Obama here,' he said. 'I bought the cow.'”

    Helluva story about these guys...

    Still no love for the doggies who cover their azzes though.:))

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  • gabriel
    replied
    Originally posted by WaltzingMatilda View Post
    Footage of the Korangal Valley ambush reported by C.J. Chivers a few weeks back...

    Stalemate in Korangal Valley - Video Library - The New York Times
    See post #86 .

    Leave a comment:


  • WaltzingMatilda
    replied
    Video - Korangal Valley Ambush

    Footage of the Korangal Valley ambush reported by C.J. Chivers a few weeks back...

    Stalemate in Korangal Valley - Video Library - The New York Times

    Leave a comment:


  • gabriel
    replied
    Another day in the Korangal, with both sides making the point they made during the sweep: Do what you will. We are still here.
    Commitment is the word , and I'm glad to see it is there...

    Leave a comment:


  • Tronic
    replied
    Re: Use of heavy weapons

    With mounting civilian deaths, including the most recent one in which a US strike killed over a 100 civilians, should there be some change in tactics with respect to the use of heavy weapons or airstrikes in civil areas? The civilian deaths have to be drastically reduced if ISAF hopes to accomplish its mission in Afghanistan, because they only have a very negative effect in the war. From my perception, I think the greatest challenge of the war in Afghanistan is to secure and hold the ground, build the infrastructure and gradually bringing about a change in ideology. The latter happens only by providing civilians the chance to see opportunities to progress towards a better life in a stable and working government system. Mounting civilian casualties put us on a back foot at achieving that goal.

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  • S2
    replied
    More From the Korengal

    C.J. Chivers has the following from the guys in the Korengal for today-

    In Bleak Afghan Outpost Troops Slog On: NYT 14 May 2009

    Superb bit of writing as the NYT continues following the travails of 1-26 Infantry in the Korengal.

    Reads like a company air assault in the valley and a sweep above 9,000 ft. that hit nothing. Also reads like most of the company was out overnight to do so.

    This is the same unit which lost PFC Dewater a few days before to a command-detonated IED. Also the same that had sprung an ambush the day before the TIC that killed Dewater when they caught, IIRC 13 or so on a trail crossing.

    Brutal contest of wills limited by the terrain to the numbers that can be sustained by either, I suspect. Claustrophobic too. Forests and tight deep valleys.

    The video which accompanies this story fully shows the contact in which Dewater is killed. You see a LOT of the fight and a very good look at the terrain.

    Very powerful imagry.
    Last edited by S2; 14 May 09,, 20:58.

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  • S2
    replied
    Mihais Reply

    Your impressions are generally accurate. Many of the fighters are local. Still there are a lot of Chechen and uzbek "ringers" coming down from Chitral by following the Konar river.

    WRT to heavy weapons use, all I can tell you is there is ALL SORTS of ordnance that's tossed in that valley-120mm mortar HE/WP, 155mm HOW HE/WP, 2.75inch rockets, 30mm cannon fire and the usual array of infantry weapons.

    We've had problems too-with civilians and ourselves lost to these weapons. So despite tremendous restraint, we have little choice but to use these weapons. Capt. Dan Kearney, IIRC, from a company of the 173rd in an early article here by Elizabeth Rubin is faced with EXACTLY the situation these guys so fear-taking fire at night from a large structure that I.D.ed all sorts of heat sources...

    ...and taking it out knowing there were women and children included.

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  • Mihais
    replied
    S-2 reply

    I read the entire thread,and I can tell you that these men have my eternal respect.On a particular note I was impressed by their discipline.Soviets would have bombed the crap out of those villages,but these troops abstain from using massed firepower even if they know that insurgents leave their weapons in hideouts when they return home for dinner.I also remarked the efficiency of the tried method of taking the fight to the insurgents and setting ambushes of your own(again great discipline and skill observed in setting up the ambush).Regarding the enemy,the impression left by the various articles is that they generally resort to harassing fire without considerable effect and that their most efficient weapon remains the IED.They seem to be a farcry from some of Massoud's fighters of the old days,even if foreign militants are present in large numbers.Again that may be only an impression,and I mean no disrespect for the troops by stating that.

    On a personal note,if I were in the US Army this is the place I would like to serve.

    Leave a comment:


  • S2
    replied
    Mihais Reply

    We are building roads into the Korengal as an alternative to trails and timber smuggling. There is a cost to either but one is cheaper in blood and offers greater volume.

    As to combat in the Korengal, life there is all about interdiction but seismic sensors and other items only reveal the presence of people. Not whether they're armed or not.

    These trails are used by everybody for every reason. They are, after centuries, highly developed tiny trails with reinforced and walled corners in places. Noting a presence on a trail doesn't necessarily mean a combattant.

    As to ambushes, I welcome you to actually read the thread before comment. If so, you'll learn a bit about ambushes in the Korengal and how it cuts both ways.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mihais
    replied
    ''In addition to its strategic value, the Korengal also has the perfect population in which to root an insurgency. The Korengalis are clannish and violent and have successfully fought off every outside attempt to control them—including the Taliban’s in the 1990s. They practice the extremist Wahhabi version of Islam and speak a language that even people in the next valley over cannot understand. That makes it extremely difficult for the American forces to find reliable translators. The Korengalis have terraced the steep slopes of their valley into fertile wheat fields and built stone houses that can withstand earthquakes (and, as it turns out, air strikes), and have set about cutting down the enormous cedar trees that cover the upper elevations of the Abas Ghar. Without access to heavy machinery, they simply grease the mountainsides with cooking oil and let the trees rocket several thousand feet to the valley below.

    The timber industry has given the Korengalis a measure of wealth that has made them more or less autonomous in the country. Hamid Karzai’s government tried to force them into the fold by regulating the export of timber, but the Taliban quickly offered to help them smuggle it out to Pakistan in return for assistance fighting the Americans. The timber is moved past corrupt border guards or along a maze of mountain tracks and donkey trails that cross the border into Pakistan. The locals call these trails buzrao; some American soldiers refer to them as “rat lines.” The routes are almost impossible to monitor because they cross steep, forested mountainsides that provide cover from aircraft. After firefights, the Americans can listen in on Taliban radio communications calling for more ammunition to be brought by donkey along these lines.''

    The road to peoples heart goes through stomach.Why not offer the Korengalis a better deal than the Taliban.Give them a few second-hand timber mills and telphers(???)to ease their work.On the other hand smuggling logs and timber is no easy task.I cannot believe that a limited number of trails can't be monitored by electronic means(you don't need aircraft to do it as the article implies).In the worst case patrol these trails aggressively.These people have no love for the Taliban,nor for Kabul.It's only business for them to take one side or the other.

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  • S2
    replied
    A.R. Reply

    S-2 knows where you've been and who you love.

    I've got your back with the boys from 1-26 INF.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Deuce & Mods

    I just opened a new thread with the article...didn't see this.

    Mods, do you want to merge the threads?

    Leave a comment:


  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Another Good Article

    http://http://www.nytimes.com/2009/0...&_r=1&ref=asia

    There has been a good series in the NY Times about this unit.

    I am proud to say that many, many, many years ago, when there was still a wall in place and the Evil Empire was in the East, I was XO of the Bravo Bears of the Blue Spaders...B Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 26th Infantry...the unit in this article.

    And I still have my unit crests.

    Leave a comment:


  • S2
    replied
    More From the Korengal

    Multi-media presentation that follows the second ambush where the young American is KIA.

    Muti-media of Ambush-NYT

    This is the front page of the Asia-Internat'l section of the NYT. Halfway down the page you'll see the story posted above by Muse and just to the right a multi-media presentation of this ambush upon U.S. troops.

    Young african-American soldier is the link. They interview the team afterwards and you've audio of the firefight.

    Leave a comment:


  • tankie
    replied
    Originally posted by Shiny Capstar View Post
    Its not me you should be wishing luck to;)
    Go gerrem tiger ;)

    Leave a comment:

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