The Administration Implementation Of The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Herschel Smith · 29 Jun 2014 · 38 Comments

The setup for this has been occurring for quite a while.  The collectivists on the right have helped the leftists gain strength, but the rate and fury of activity that has been consequential in destabilizing the United States has increased almost beyond comprehension. The long term evolution of America to a position where such a strategy might stand a greater chance of success began long ago with the move towards urbanization.  The flight from rural America was helped along with family…… [read more]

Marines Fight Taliban With Little Aid From Afghans

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

The New York Times has a must-read on the state of the fight in parts of the Helmand Province.  It’s a sad tale of corruption, ineptitude, laziness and lack of governmental viability.  There are a few money quotes that will be called out below.

Governor Massoud has no body of advisers to help run the area, no doctors to provide health care, no teachers, no professionals to do much of anything. About all he says he does have are police officers who steal and a small group of Afghan soldiers who say they are here for “vacation.”

[ ... ]

Meanwhile, Afghans in Khan Neshin, the Marines’ southernmost outpost in Helmand Province, are coming to the Americans with requests for medical care, repairs of clogged irrigation canals and the reopening of schools.

“Without the Afghan government, we will not be successful,” said Capt. Korvin Kraics, the battalion’s lawyer, who is in Khan Neshin. “You need local-level bureaucracy to defeat the insurgency. Without the stability that brings, the Taliban can continue to maintain control.”

[ ... ]

The Marines, unlike units in some other regions, answer to a NATO-led command and are under orders to defer to Afghan military and civilian officials, even if there are none nearby.

For instance, Marines must release detainees after 96 hours or turn them over to Afghan forces for prosecution, even if the nearest prosecutors or judges are 80 miles away. Some detainees who the Marines say are plainly implicated in attacks using improvised explosive devices or mortars have been released.

[ ... ]

The Afghan National Army contingent appears sharper — even if only one-sixth the size that Governor Massoud said he was promised — but the soldiers have resisted some missions because they say they were sent not to fight, but to recuperate.

“We came here to rest, then we are going somewhere else,” said Lt. Javed Jabar Khail, commander of the 31-man unit. The Marines say they hope the next batch of Afghan soldiers will not be expecting a holiday.

First, concerning the issue of the attitude of the Afghan National Army (ANA), this is a depressing account of lazy and cowardly troops who are relying on the Marines to do the heavy lifting in the Province.  Furthermore, they are liars.  No ANA soldier really believes that he has been sent to the worst Province in Afghanistan to take a vacation.  This is one more in our stable of accounts of the poor training, inept personnel, untrustworthiness, lazy attitude and lack of professionalism that plagues the ANA.  As for ANP stealing, this corruption is one more in a large number of accounts that confirm that they cannot be trusted in any circumstance or with any authority whatsoever.

Second, the attitude the Marines are taking to the fight is dissimilar to the fight in Anbar, and relies too heavily on Afghan help.  The government is not strong enough, the ANA not professional enough, and the courts too corrupt and distant to make a difference in Afghanistan right now.  As for the complaint from the Battalion lawyer (why is a Battalion lawyer telling us what it takes to win a counterinsurgency?), he apparently never spent time in the Anbar Province.  It relied heavily on Marines doing exactly what is being done now in Helmand.  To be sure, the governmental institutions need to be brought along, but relying on them before it is time leads to things like releasing IED makers and emplacers who then go back to blowing the legs off of Marines.  It’s worse than stupid.  It’s immoral when it can be done differently.

Third, the problem we just described sounds like we are already operating under an effective status of forces agreement with Afghanistan, whether formal or not.  This is a mistake that will lead irrevocably to loss of the campaign.  Our deference to the Afghan government won’t convince any Afghan to show or have the same respect.  Respect is earned, not granted.

Finally, if the Marines are indeed actually operating as ISAF forces rather than under the purview of CENTCOM (can someone confirm or dispute this?), then this is an error of staggering proportions, and Commandant Conway has lost his bearings if he agreed to such an arrangement for the U.S. Marines.  This error should be immediately undone and the Marines untethered to operate independently from ISAF / NATO.

Prior on ANA: Afghan National Army Category

Prior on ANP: Afghan National Police

Marine Force Protection in Garmsir Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

Via DVIDS.

KOSHTAY, Garmsir District, Helmand Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – The mission for Marines here is to seize ground controlled by Taliban insurgents, hold that ground and build on it. Building in this case means fortifying their exposed position on the very front lines of this conflict. However, Marine infantrymen are not known for their carpentry and construction skills. That responsibility falls on the engineers.

Marines from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Combat Logistics Battalion 8 and 8th Engineer Support Battalion rolled out in a 20-vehicle convoy full of heavy equipment and building materials, Aug. 16, to construct a semi-permanent position for Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, which often receives enemy fire.

“This will provide Golf Company an overwatch for their resupply routes,” said 2nd Lt. Mark H. Tetzel, platoon commander with Co. D, 1st CEB. It has been difficult to get supplies to Co. G’s position since they arrived here in early July. Overwatch will give the Marines a better vantage point to scan the area for approaching enemy fighters or IED implanters.

Construction started immediately upon arrival late in the evening and continued round the clock. The engineers’ built two observation posts, Patrol Base Khanjar and Combat Outpost Koshtay, as well as a medium girder bridge. These builds include creating a berm, filling metal, mesh barriers called Hesco with dirt, and constructing security posts high on the walls. While they were in the area, they also repaired a damaged culvert along the resupply route to allow provisions to safely arrive at Co. G’s position.

Changing the subject for a moment, after observing that the Army had “negotiated” with the village elders for almost one year, while the elders were under constant threat from the Taliban who were watching for any sign of collusion with the U.S., please recall what we said about the Army approach to VPB (Vehicle Patrol Base) Wanat, and Observation Post Top Side.

Under different circumstances, i.e., rapid base construction and deployment of the troops, VPB Wanat might have been much more successful and would have been advisable.  It might have been things that occurred one year prior to manning the base that doomed it.  I also believe that the physical location of OP (Observation Post) Top Side with its lack of control over the surrounding terrain, was extremely ill advised.  Had an OP been needed and a good site not located, VPB Wanat might have had to be constructed in a different location.  Remember that eight of the nine who perished that fateful night did so either defending or attempting to relieve OP Top Side.

We also pointed out the same thing in Opening a Combat Outpost for Business.

“Ultimately I was surprised,” said Staff Sgt. Chris O. Ross, platoon sergeant. “The COPs were built quickly, and the Marines were working overtime to do it.”

Ross also said the timing and coordination required to conduct the operation came together well.

Second Lt. Juliann C. Naughton, 2nd Platoon’s convoy commander, explained it’s shocking for the locals to wake up the next morning to see that a military outpost has appeared from nowhere during the course of the night.

“The logistical support was a success, and we delivered the materials in a timely manner,” Naughton said. “We’ve also been interacting with the villagers and letting them know why we’re here.”

Subsequent commenters have weighed in saying that the difference between the Farah Province and Wanat makes this comparison (or contrast) irrelevant.  Wanat was logistically difficult and the terrain forbidding, and so there is nothing to be learned from the lessons of the Farah Province, or Anbar, Iraq, for that matter.

I don’t think so.  There is much that can be learned, and terrain wasn’t the point.  Terrain may have been more difficult at Wanat, but however long it took to construct the VPB is however long it took.  While better logistics should have been pursued, the real problem was that the locals were courted at Wanat for 11 months to get their approval for a VPB, while the Taliban had time to deploy in force to kill American troops.

In the Farah Province and at Garmsir, the Marines did it around the clock and didn’t ask for permission from the locals or anyone else.  This is the way it should be done - quickly and in the backyard of the insurgency.  There is another lesson learned from all of this.  Contact with the locals and the enemy is a requirement for good counterinsurgency, and the Marines will do this all day, every day.  But that doesn’t mean that we can jettison the doctrine of force protection.

Rather than sitting at the large bases, the forces should be in the field like the Marines at Now Zad.  But the Marines in Now Zad are in hobbit holes at night protecting themselves and their fellow Marines.  Force protection is a fundamental doctrine that, if lost, will tell the sad and unecessary tale of men lost.

Good way to spend a birthday

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

With my oldest son in beautiful mountains … shooting.  Me first, then my son.

But the Small Wars Council gets prancy on me.  “Happy birthday from all of us at Small Wars Council.  We hope that your wisdom and experience grows alongside your rapidly advancing age, and that you will continue to share them with us for many happy years.”

Rapidly advancing age, huh?  Be careful what you say – I’m holding a gun.

Life in Now Zad

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

A recent report by Mal James bears complete reiteration here.

At all bases the “Marines operate in there” is an expression they use in “River City” to describe what happens when a Marine is killed or injured. All contact with the outside world ceases to be available all phone lines and Internet connections are cut until the next of kin are notified.

At Forward Operating Base in Now Zad, it is almost the norm, rather than the exception. Life continues for the Marines, another day passes and it is one day closer to going home. The majority of the Marines I talked with “going home,” meant safe and still intact, whilst they all grieve for fallen comrades there is also an acceptance that what they do entails risk.

Whilst they may be Rambo one minute, the next minute reflection replaces reality. When we arrived at Now Zad, 2/3 Marines Golf Company had already lost 2 Marines and a further 7 had been wounded in action, including 3 double amputations. All had been killed or injured as a result of IED’s. Any foot patrol was forbidden as the risk was to high to quote Captain Martin of Golf Company, “We will not walk in the area”.

Now Zad is a ghost town, not a soul lives there, or has done for the past couple of years, where once approx 15,000 Afghans once lived, not a soul is there. The British and Estonians have held ground there and the Marines are now on their third rotation there. With a casual ease Marines would point to a spot 100 yards away and say there is a high possibility that the Taliban are there now and watching us. What separates the two is often just a minefield of IED’s. They are so randomly set and spread out that even the Taliban to a degree now will not enter certain areas.

And so in temperatures that destroy any remaining part of your soul, a stand off exists in Now Zad. As if it was the 1st World War, a no mans land of death separates the adversaries. The only thing that moves between the two sides apart from bullets, mortars and rockets are the wasps. For some reason Now Zad has a plague of them. Any water or liquid and you are surrounded by them, and for someone like me who has a certified terror of bee’s let alone wasps, this was no happy place.

Showers and the basic laundry facility was closed between 11am and 2 pm, not to conserve water but to minimize wasp attacks. Hesco barriers and concrete walls may stop Taliban attacks but not wasps.

Unlike large bases back at Leatherneck and Bastion or even in the capital Kabul, FOB Now Zad has no luxuries, most rooms are plywood boxes with no air conditioning, and the temperature inside the rooms can easily reach 42 degrees Celsius close to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no dining facilty for meals apart from some netting on poles, two meals a day are served out of trays, miss the meal time and it is MRE’s. I saw the trays of food just lying around in the dust like discarded waste next to a dumpster, no doubt tomorrows meal.

Water is measured in degrees of bath water, and tepid is something you actually crave. There were fridges around, but they were closely guarded secrets and rarely if ever would anyone ever offer Greg and I a cold drink, they were just too precious, I did not begrudge them this as it made me realize how hard it actually is for them. And how pathetically easy Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen have it at the bigger bases, where 24 hour meals are available and signs on the fridges ask you to limit yourself to two cold cans of soda a meal, but no one ever counts.

And yet not one Marine at FOB Now Zad wanted to be anywhere else but there, at the frontline in the fight against the Taliban. In adversity they become a true “Band of Brothers”, and to be honest you never hear a word of despair or frustration from them.

The only thing they do not like is “River City” because it means one of there own has fallen.

Regular readers know how I have harped on Now Zad, the lack of troops, and the lunacy of having Marines deployed there with more trauma doctors than regularly supplied with Marines because of the risk of IEDs.  More troops are being deployed to the Now Zad district, but we were still skeptical that the troops were going directly to battle the Taliban surrounding the city of Now Zad and currently engaging the Marines.

We were right, and the Marines still live in hobbit holes, exist in far worse conditions than their brethren at the larger bases, and fight the enemy to a standoff in a city deserted because of Taliban violence.  It is a lack of strategic vision, this notion of deploying entire Battalions of Marine infantry aboard Amphibious Assault Docks waiting to be used as force in readiness, when readiness never comes because of policy decisions, Marines are losing their legs in Now Zad, and the Taliban have done us the favor of separating themselves from the population where we can kill them unimpeded and without causing civilian casualties.  We still aren’t taking the campaign seriously.

Prior: Now Zad category

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Baghdad Under Attack as Maliki Re-Evaluates Security Plans

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

It was a bloody day in Baghdad.

Iraqis gather as fire fighters respond to a massive bomb attack near the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. A series of explosions struck the Iraqi capital Wednesday, targeting primarily government and commercial buildings, killing scores of people and wounding many more, Iraqi officials said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — A series of bombings rocked Iraq’s capital within one hour Wednesday, killing at least 95 people and wounding 563 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The six explosions marked the country’s deadliest day since the United States pulled its combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns nearly two months ago and left security in the hands of the Iraqis.

In one attack, a truck bomb exploded outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The blast blew through the front of the building, sending some vehicles flying and leaving others in mangled twists of metal in the area, which is just outside the restricted International Zone, also known as the Green Zone.

Nearby, Iraqi security forces stood with shocked expressions as ambulances screamed past.

Another truck bomb went off outside the Ministry of Finance building.

In central Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on Kifa Street, and another bomb exploded in the Salhiya neighborhood, where on Tuesday security forces had avoided injuries by successfully defusing a truck bomb. Wednesday’s other two bombs exploded in eastern Baghdad’s Beirut Square, officials said.

“The terrorism attacks that took place today require, without a doubt, the re-evaluation of our plans and our security mechanisms to face the challenges of terrorism,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a written statement.

Omar at Iraq The Model mentions based on his sources that the casualty count could in fact be much higher.  He also mentions that major general Qasim Ata blamed the Iraqi security forces for the unfortunate setback in security. According to the Iraqia state TV, he said the incompetent units that failed to prevent the attacks have had their ranks infiltrated.

Michael Rubin writing at NRO’s Corner weighs in saying,

The blame for the terrorist bombing in Baghdad, today, rests solely on the terrorists who planted the bomb.

The terrorists, however, very much exploit an environment made possible by the “Anti-Surge” withdrawal timeline sought by Obama during his campaign and, unfortunately, agreed to by the Bush administration in its twilight weeks.

Whenever national security and military strategy is determined by Washington’s political calendar, rather than the situation on the ground in various areas of operation, the results are disastrous. Creating security vacuums is never wise. Hopefully Obama will recognize the very real linkages between Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of insurgent tactics and strategy.

Normally I agree with Michael, but do not in this instance.  I think the diagnosis points more towards the felt need for legitimacy on the national stage.  When the U.N. agreement expired there needed to be another agreement, or so the administration thought.  Enter the Iraq-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA.  We have well documented the absurd restrictions on U.S. forces under this agreement (and its application by the ISF and Maliki administration), to the point that the U.S. forces are under essential house arrest.  But there are serious questions as to the readiness of the ISF to take over security.

The problem isn’t the timeline for leaving, but what we’re allowed to do there in the mean time.  Relegation to the countryside means that we must await ISF request for assistance, and even then must operate under intense scrutiny by the ISF.

But as we have pointed out, not only does allowing the ISF to utilize U.S. air assets and intelligence gathering capabilities place the U.S. at risk (the ISF have not been trained to and don’t know how to use U.S. air assets), but the best way to allow the ISF to understand its true state of readiness is for daddy to take away the car keys and see just how far junior thinks he can get without help.

Success in maintenance of security would confirm the ISF readiness.  Failure confirms that the SOFA must be undone in order to re-institute U.S. effectiveness.  Maliki can re-evaluate all he wants.  It isn’t about plans or security mechanisms.  It’s all about the SOFA – and about an ISF and administration that is apparently still to sectarian to matter to the people down on the street.

While U.S. forces are safely squirreled away aboard large bases, the ISF is just now figuring out what it means to be responsible for the security of a country.  It’s what they wanted, isn’t it?

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Referring URL from a Mujahideen Web Site Today

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

Today my article The Globalization of Jihad in Palestine was visited.  It isn’t odd that a page was visited – this happens 800 to 1000 times a day for this site.  What is a little odd is the referring URL, a legitimate jihadist web site.

The Ansar AlJihad Network (or the Ansar al-Mujahideen Network).

We don’t know what the discussion thread is about, since one must be a member to participate or even see the thread.  But what’s even more interesting about this visit is the location of the reader.

Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania.

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While the Afghan National Army Sleeps …

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

The video below is yet another disheartening account of the complete lack of professionalism and seriousness of the ANA.  The one mistake that the British forces made is in trusting the night watch (what the U.S. Marines would officially call Guardian Angel, but unofficially simply call ‘duty’) to remain awake without a Brit watching him and providing their own security.  This was a huge mistake.  There is more difficulty in getting the ANA to take the home searches seriously.  General McChrystal’s edict disallowing ISAF forces from entering homes is problematic.


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Skinny Marines and Mules

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

CBS Reporter Lara Logan observes of the Marines currently engaged in the Helmand Province:

These are the skinniest Marines I have ever seen, and I’ve been in some rough places with Marines, like Ramadi in Iraq, where more Americans died than any other part of the country.

But here, I stare in amazement — and some horror — at the uniforms hanging off their lean bodies. There isn’t an inch of excess anywhere. Every uniform is worn thin and faded, hanging off wily frames that still manage to haul over a hundred pounds of gear and weapons and patrol for miles.

These Marines have what they need to fight — and just enough to survive.

They don’t seem to care. I don’t hear them complaining or even talking about it. They make do with what they have and get on with it. It’s as if they don’t even think about it much anymore.

This is why Marine infantry is a young man’s work, not old men, and not women.  And this is also why the same tactic used by the CIA in Afghanistan against the Russians – supplying mules to the Taliban – will also be used against the Taliban now by supplying them to the Marines.

Prior:

Scenes from Operation Khanjar II

Concerning Marines and Mules

Infantry: A Young Man’s Work

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Have we taken Now Zad?

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

Several days ago this report appeared about the U.S. Marines in Now Zad.

Cpl. Justin Thompson crawled out of his rat hole dug deep into a wind-beaten, barren hilltop. Stepping over mounds of protective sand bags, he watched the sun rise over the Now Zad valley, a Taliban stronghold.

Thompson is part of a small Marine force that keeps watch over the deserted town of Now Zad.

About 10 miles (16 kilometers) away, Marines from the same company are fighting to drive the Taliban out of the town of Dahaneh. But Marines stationed on ANP Hill are removed from the battle, relegated to keeping an eye on insurgent movements elsewhere in the Zad valley.

Three years of intense fighting between the Taliban and NATO forces have chased away Now Zad’s 30,000 inhabitants, leaving what had been one of the largest towns in southern Helmand province deserted.

The Marine company lacks the firepower to force the Taliban out of their positions just a mile away. So the Marines of ANP Hill keep watch over the area from their lonely outpost.

“Things can drag pretty slowly up here,” said Thompson, of Manchester, Tenn., who is on duty six hours out of every 18. His unit has been stationed on ANP Hill for over three months, with that many still to go. The position’s name, ANP, stands for Afghan National Police — even though no Afghan government official or police official has been stationed in the valley for years.

“The biggest thing here is not shooting the people who don’t need to be shot,” says 1st Lt. Malachi Bennett, of Tampa, Fla., the outpost’s commander and _at 26_ one of the oldest men on the hill. He says the platoon has been making some progress at befriending residents on the outskirts of town and luring them away from the Taliban.

“At first, villagers looked at us like animals from a zoo,” Bennett said early this week from the command post, where the briefing room is an earthen pit with an old Russian anti-aircraft battery that serves as a beam to hold the ceiling. “Now they come to talk to us on patrols.”

Life on ANP Hill is Spartan. The Marines have no air conditioning despite temperatures that can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. The men sleep alone or in pairs in tiny dugouts barely 4 feet high that they’ve dubbed “Hobbit Holes,” a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarflike character.

“It’s great, I love being up in the outpost,” Thompson said. “You get to know everybody, and there’s less hassle, it’s much more relaxed.”

Afghanistan is Thompson’s third deployment. He’s spent seven months “with some intense war stories” near Haditha in Iraq in 2006, and another “pretty peaceful” seven months in Fallujah in 2008.

Helmand is different from Iraq, Thompson said, because the Marines have learned their lessons from years of counterinsurgency. “In this type of fight you can’t be ‘gung-ho, kill everything,’” he said. “You’ll just be turning more people against you.”

Thompson jokes with his friends about injury, or death, during patrols.

He feels sorry for the villagers and children he meets on patrol. “We’re here to kick butt,” he says. “But you also want to do what you can to make their life a little bit better.”

For now, Thompson feels international forces are spread too thin to make much of a difference.

“Once they put a lot of Marines out here, it will get a lot better,” he says.

And The Captain’s Journal has been arguing almost violently for more Marines in Now Zad for quite some time.  Just today this report appeared about Now Zad (otherwise called Nawzad).

NAWZAD, Afghanistan, Aug 16 (Reuters) – U.S. Marines and Afghan officials hoisted the Afghan flag over a formerly Taliban-held district of southern Afghanistan on Sunday, signalling success in their latest advance days before a presidential election.

The 10,000 Marines in the Taliban’s opium-producing heartland of Helmand province are the largest wave of reinforcements sent by President Barack Obama this year as part of an escalation strategy designed to turn the tide in the 8-year-old war.

They have moved quickly into formerly Taliban-held areas, part of an effort to replicate the tactics used in Iraq of establishing a strong presence in small bases in towns and villages in Helmand.

Last week, 400 Marines, with 100 Afghan troops, launched operation Eastern Resolve II in the Nawzad district, one of about 10 districts of Afghanistan considered to be under Taliban rule.

“We have succeeded in regaining the district after years of Taliban control,” provincial governor Gulab Mangal said at a flag-raising ceremony in Nawzad, introducing a new district chief for the area. “We will make sure that our Afghan troops, with international forces, hold the ground and provide security.”

The district centre, high in the mountains in the northwest of Helmand, is all but completely destroyed after years of fighting — first by British forces and more recently by U.S. Marines — against Taliban fighters.

Much of the population has fled, and only about 100 people were on hand to attend a muted flag-raising ceremony. All shops and businesses in the town were closed, their walls pock-marked with bullets and buildings wrecked.

You can color The Captain’s Journal skeptical.  The Taliban are around, they need to be chased and killed.  More Marines have been deployed – apparently – to Now Zad.  This was too late for Corporal Matthew Lembke who lost both legs and later died while we were literally begging for more troops in Now Zad and also while entire Battalions of Marine infantry floated aboard Amphibious Assault Docks on MEUs wasting their time.

The ANA troops will not be able to take on the Taliban and hold Now Zad without Marines.  They will fail due to incompetence.  Have enough Marines been deployed to justify this loud (and perhaps unseemly) display of hoisting the flag and declaring victory?  We doubt it.

Prior: Now Zad Category

More Marines to Now Zad and Election-Centric Counterinsurgency

Patrolling Now Zad

Combat Action in Nuristan and Now Zad

No Excuse: Marines Losing Legs in Now Zad

What Now Zad Can Teach Us About Counterinsurgency

Combat Video From Now Zad

Marines Take the Fight to the Enemy in Now Zad

Video of U.S. Marine Operations in Helmand and Now Zad

Close Air Support of Marines in Now Zad

Major Combat Operations in Now Zad Afghanistan

Marine Operations in Now Zad Afghanistan

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Marine Combat Action in Dahaneh

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

The U.S. Marine are staying on the offensive in the Northern part of the Helmand Province, in Dahaneh.

U.S. Marines in Afghanistan are meeting fierce Taliban resistance as they push deeper into the strategic Helmand province town of Dahaneh.

Surface-to-surface missiles and Harrier fighter jets have pounded insurgent positions in the surrounding hills.

Marines launched a pre-dawn raid Saturday against a Taliban position on the southern edge of the town, storming a fortified compound. They blew up two towers from which insurgents had fired rockets and mortars at U.S. troops the day before.

Marines found marijuana plants growing in the courtyard and confiscated trigger plates used to manufacture roadside bombs.

U.S. troops launched the assault on Dahaneh early Wednesday, hoping to disrupt Taliban supply lines and establish Afghan government control over an area held by the Taliban for years.

In Why we must chase the Taliban we observed that we will not be able to cede the mountains to the Taliban as safe haven and still protect the population.  We recommended that:

We must use our technological advantage – night vision, air power, sniping skills, infantry patrols – to kill them in the mountains.  Night time patrols into the mountains, along with pre-deployed Marine scout snipers, would be just the ticket.  And the ROE must be robust, where offensive actions can be taken (i.e., Marines don’t have to wait for the Taliban fighters to brandish a weapon).  No one – NO ONE – is backpacking for recreation in these mountains.  Give chase and kill the insurgents.

In the spirit of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Harriers are targeting the Taliban.  This is a good first step, but it’s too easy to evade air power.

Here is a report about continued combat action in Dahaneh.

The Taliban fighters fleeing via vehicle will be back if the Marines don’t stay, and in any case, whether they deploy to a new location or return, they must be chased and killed.  We can only play whack-a-mole for so long under the doctrinal rubric of population-centric counterinsurgency and the hope that marginalization of the insurgents will cause them to lay down their weapons.

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