Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Into the Valley of Death

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • I'm trying to educate myself a bit more on the current situation. Trying to grasp the specifics. But I can't help but think of Curtis LeMay, Halsey, Patton, other aggressive commanders who would prosecute these conflicts in a very different manner.

    Comment


    • i re-call there was an article posted here a while back about how, after defeating a bunch of taliban in a firefight, a group of US Army guys threw the captured weapons onto a truck and paraded around the city with a loudspeaker to taunt them.

      i'd like to see more of that type of PSYOPS. not only show the people that we can do nice, but that we can do deadly if provoked.
      There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

      Comment


      • Chogy Reply

        "Trying to grasp the specifics. But I can't help but think of Curtis LeMay, Halsey, Patton, other aggressive commanders who would prosecute these conflicts in a very different manner."

        Chogy,

        I'm unsure how they might do so given the political and manpower constraints we've faced in Afghanistan since 2002. As is too commonplace, we really had no clue what our exit strategy should be. That not entails how to leave but how to create the conditions for leaving.

        On the cheap wasn't the recipe. The insurgency held no viable traction between 2002 and the spring of 2006. That window of opportunity closed.

        We'll be lucky if we're getting back exactly what we've invested-a half measure return for a half measure commitment.
        "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
        "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

        Comment


        • astralis Reply

          "i'd like to see more of that type of PSYOPS. not only show the people that we can do nice, but that we can do deadly if provoked."

          Needs scrutiny. Submit your recommendation in triplicate to DoD and maybe it'll be approved. First, though, they'll issue an open-bid contract for its study.

          Should have an answer for you in about a year or two.;)
          "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
          "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

          Comment


          • Quite a somber story:

            Op-Ed Contributor
            Farewell to Korengal
            By SEBASTIAN JUNGER
            Published: April 20, 2010


            LAST week the United States military pulled out of the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan. Six miles long, sparsely populated and of dubious strategic value, the Korengal was the scene of some of the most relentless fighting of the Afghan war. American forces have been there in one form or another since the summer of 2005, when Taliban fighters cornered a four-man Navy Seal team on a nearby mountain and killed three of them. They then shot down a Chinook helicopter with 16 commandos on board. All of them died.

            For much of 2007 and 2008, I was an embedded reporter with a platoon of airborne infantry at a remote outpost called Restrepo, which was attacked up to four times a day. Many soldiers had creases in their uniforms from bullets that had brushed them. In one firefight a bullet hit a sandbag six inches from my head.

            The psychological pressure was enormous. “I’ve only been here for four months and I can’t believe how messed up I am,” one soldier told me. “I went to the counselor and he asked if I smoked cigarettes and I told him no and he said, ‘Well, you may want to think about starting.’”

            There were around 20 men at Restrepo — part of a 150-member unit called Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team — and the possibility of getting overrun by the enemy was openly discussed. The men slept next to their guns and sometimes with their boots on. More than 40 American soldiers have died in the Korengal Valley.

            Now, the military has retreated, saying that the valley is too isolated and that the American presence was possibly pushing the locals to side with the Taliban. This raises some questions: If the Korengal was really worth fighting for, why would we ever pull out? Or, conversely, why did we go there in the first place? Like the soldiers at Restrepo, I was looking at the war through a tiny keyhole, and have no way to answer such overarching questions. But I do know that several important points must be acknowledged.

            First, a significant proportion of enemy fighters in the Korengal were foreigners who had come to Afghanistan to wage jihad. There were Pakistani cellphone numbers painted on rocks around the valley as a recruiting tool for potential volunteers; there were Arabic graffiti urging local men to join the fight. These foreigners presumably would have fought the Americans wherever they found them; if we had avoided the Korengal they would simply have shifted the battle elsewhere. (To a better place? A worse one? I doubt even the Taliban could say.)

            Furthermore, I was told that one of the reasons for establishing a base in the Korengal was to prevent militants from using the valley to stage attacks on the vastly more important Pech River Valley, immediately to the north. The Pech was a major corridor for moving men and supplies, and after American bases were established in the Korengal, attacks at Pech dropped off significantly. The Korengal may not have been important per se, but arguably the Pech was, and there may have been no way to strategically separate the two.

            War is a complex endeavor that has no predictable outcome: ill-equipped militias can defeat modern armies, huge battles can hinge on luck or bad weather. Expecting commanders to make strategically correct decisions every time is not a realistic criterion for evaluating the war.

            Some 30,000 British soldiers were killed and wounded in the folly that became known as the Battle of Dunkirk, and yet the Allies went on to win the war. There is no way to know how World War II would have unfolded without Dunkirk. And there is no way to know what would have happened in Kunar Province — or in Afghanistan as a whole — had several hundred local and foreign fighters not been tied up in the Korengal by American forces.

            That said, the emotional repercussions of the pullout cannot be discounted. One of the young men I was with at Restrepo is now in a unit that is about to deploy to the Chowkay Valley, immediately to the south. Enemy fighters would come up the Chowkay and then into the Korengal to attack the American positions. Having fought for over a year and nearly lost his life in a battle now deemed pointless, this young man seems unlikely to throw himself into the fight in the Chowkay with the same determination.

            I’m a civilian, though — not a soldier — and I may be entirely wrong. The men at Restrepo seemed to make “sense” of combat in a completely personal way. They were not interested in the rest of the war and they were not much concerned with whether it was just, winnable or even well executed. For soldiers, the fight is what gives a place meaning, rather than the other way around.

            In that sense, the Korengal was literally sacred ground. Every man in Battle Company lost a good friend there, and every man was nearly killed there. These soldiers did not require “strategic importance” or “national interest” to give the place value — it already had that in spades.

            Outpost Restrepo was named after Juan Restrepo, a platoon medic who was killed on July 22, 2007. He was one of the best-liked men in the platoon, and his death was devastating. The men took enormous pride in the outpost they built, and they can now go online and watch videotape of it being blown up by an American demolition team. It is a painful experience for many of them, and in recent days, e-mail messages have flown back and forth as the men have tried to come to terms with it. One man became increasingly overwrought from watching the video over and over again, wondering what all the sacrifice had been for. Another soldier finally intervened.

            “They might have pulled out but they can’t take away what we accomplished and how hard we fought there,” he wrote to his distraught comrade. “The base is a base, we all knew it would sooner or later come down. But what Battle Company did there cannot be blown up, ripped down or burned down. Remember that.”

            Sebastian Junger, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, is the author of the forthcoming “War” and co-director of the documentary film “Restrepo.”

            Comment


            • 1980s Reply

              "In that sense, the Korengal was literally sacred ground...These soldiers did not require “strategic importance” or “national interest” to give the place value — it already had that in spades."

              I'm sure you know that the thread's title comes from the story Junger wrote about his time in the valley through 2007. It's come for me to define the American experience in Afghanistan. Brits, Canadians, and others have their memories and places but we've walked that ground with them. Here in Konar, Nuristan and elsewhere along the eastern border it was a uniquely American war.

              Full circle with Junger. Maybe full circle for this thread and us at WAB too. Like Restrepo, it might be time for the mods to close it...
              "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
              "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

              Comment


              • Originally posted by S-2 View Post
                "In that sense, the Korengal was literally sacred ground...These soldiers did not require “strategic importance” or “national interest” to give the place value — it already had that in spades."

                I'm sure you know that the thread's title comes from the story Junger wrote about his time in the valley through 2007. It's come for me to define the American experience in Afghanistan. Brits, Canadians, and others have their memories and places but we've walked that ground with them. Here in Konar, Nuristan and elsewhere along the eastern border it was a uniquely American war.

                Full circle with Junger. Maybe full circle for this thread and us at WAB too. Like Restrepo, it might be time for the mods to close it...
                Not yet. Please.

                The place has meaning for me, too.

                Comment


                • Blues Reply

                  "Not yet. Please.

                  The place has meaning for me, too."


                  That's fine with me, stud. I don't have a say but I'm glad to know your feelings about it. It's been a magical, hypnotic if deadly place that's utterly captured my imagination.
                  "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                  "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                  Comment


                  • Korangal Sanctuary

                    Locals are reporting that insurgent activity has ramped up in the Korangal valley-

                    Military Disputes Taliban on Korangal Valley Outpost -NYT April 29, 2010

                    It is a practical fact and propaganda benefit that the taliban have taken visible control of this area and DARE the ANA to assert otherwise.

                    We'd have to have been utterly naive to believe otherwise. This is the cost of doing business in the manner we've determined is best. Their power will radiate from there.

                    It beez dat way, bro...
                    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by S-2 View Post
                      Locals are reporting that insurgent activity has ramped up in the Korangal valley-

                      Military Disputes Taliban on Korangal Valley Outpost -NYT April 29, 2010

                      It is a practical fact and propaganda benefit that the taliban have taken visible control of this area and DARE the ANA to assert otherwise.

                      We'd have to have been utterly naive to believe otherwise. This is the cost of doing business in the manner we've determined is best. Their power will radiate from there.

                      It beez dat way, bro...
                      In that part of the world, it is ruinous to one's reputation and status to be perceived as running away from a fight.

                      And it is ALL ALL ALL about reputation.

                      Another self-inflicted wound.

                      Comment


                      • Just been talking a buddy at the FOB from the pic I posted in the Gunner Porn thread yesterday (His gun by the way) and I could hear the 2 guns banging away, so the fight is still on!!! SKYPE is a great comms tool :)

                        Regards

                        Arty
                        "Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations".- Motto of the Gun Crew who have just done something incredibly stupid!!!!

                        Comment


                        • Arty Engineer Reply

                          "I could hear the 2 guns banging away..."

                          H&Is are not "...the fight is still on..." in my mind. Now, of course, I don't know for sure that they were firing H&Is. Then again, neither I nor you know for sure that the Korangal was the target of the fires.

                          We knew that a battalion-sized op was necessary to gain control of that valley. I don't know if that's what would have been necessary to retain control. Separate issue but we never penetrated more than two miles into a six mile long valley and that was determined by the forces we were willing to commit at any given time to an op.

                          Those villagers think that they didn't want us. Those villagers were made to believe that they didn't want us. Those villagers thought they'd be getting that valley back to smuggle lumber and do business as they saw fit.

                          Nope. There'll be a new sheriff in town and things will roll as Qari Ziaur Rahman sees fit. Those local leaders will be pushed aside and those local fighters will be fighting for the taliban or BE DEAD.

                          What'll you hear is the cry of abandonment...never remembering the petty, short-sighted mewing, mealy-mouthed crap that led to the demise of those local tribes. Most believed that they could actually NOT cooperate with us and have things their way locally.

                          Bummer for them...
                          "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                          "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                          Comment


                          • S-2

                            True, could just have been banging out illume trying to make folks keep their heads down and stay in their holes. Rate of Fire was high though. But as you say who knows. The nature of the firemission is not something discussed over SKYPE!!!!!

                            The "fights still on" statement was my desire for that to be the case coming through. Units have fought too hard and bled to much in that area of the world to walk away. But at teh same time what teh point of staying and bleeding some more if we are not actually accomplishing anything!!!!

                            Regards

                            Arty
                            "Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations".- Motto of the Gun Crew who have just done something incredibly stupid!!!!

                            Comment


                            • A.E. Reply

                              "The "fights still on" statement was my desire for that to be the case coming through. Units have fought too hard and bled to much in that area of the world to walk away. But at teh same time what teh point of staying and bleeding some more if we are not actually accomplishing anything!!!!"

                              I appreciate the sentiment behind your comments. It's sort of a case for the locals of "be careful for what you ask-you may get it". They were never a big help for us when they might otherwise have been. Sometimes they were an active hinderance and I'm unsure how much of our blood they might have on their hands but there's some.

                              Well...they're going to get another lesson in true oppression now. Maybe really their first.
                              "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                              "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                              Comment


                              • Bluesman Reply

                                "And it is ALL ALL ALL about reputation.

                                Another self-inflicted wound."


                                I'm afraid so.

                                Worse, I'm unconvinced of the strategy generally and, moreover, unconvinced that the Korangal and more largely Nuristan/Konar shouldn't have been notable exceptions to the rule. Certainly Helmand with 850,000 (3%) of a 28,000,000 population nation seems so, therefore strategic motivations/imperatives that contradict the maxim behind McChrystal's strategy do have their place.
                                "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                                "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X