The Navy in Asadabad?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 5 months ago

In Response to Afghanistan: We No Longer Give Pens and Stationary Away, DirtyMick responded as follows:

I was on the previous two PRTs in Kunar. They need to jettison the navy element and make it an army effort. Previous two Navy commanders (especially the one with the Nevada National guard in 2009/2010) focused too much on the soft aspect of coin, were in overall charge of the army manuever element at camp wright (like army running a ship), had a hard on for wanting to take non essential navy personnel (ie anybody not engineers) into places like the pech river valley and north of asadabad, and passing out badges and awards like candy on Halloween (so navy guys can be just as stacked as an 0311 marine cpl.). Torwards the end of this summer did my higher chain of command do things like cancel projects in the pech only after many months of us getting shot up in the pech. Why build a school for assholes when they’re shooting RPGs at us? I will never work on a PRT again.

And in response to Abandoning the Pech Valley Part II, Scarbelly79 said:

I was with DirtyMick in Asadabad during 2009-2010; I felt like our time was wasted in large part to satisfy the egos and experimentations of everyone who wanted to show how nuanced they were, and how we were going to make a lasting impact by NOT killing the enemy… An old vet told me once that “when you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”.

It’s bad enough that Army and Marine Corps field grade officers are unwilling to risk their careers by granting air and indirect fire assets to troops in contact… We have Navy surface warfare officers and Air Force admin officers “leading” PRT’s; most of them without applicable experience or training – but trying desperately to pick up their O6 as they blame the Army and Marine Corps for screwing everything up.

The Pashtuns are not suicidal fanatics, they are brigands. We won’t win them to our side by bribing them with roads (when many of them don’t own cars), hospitals (without doctors to staff them), or electricity (when most of them don’t own televisions). We will win them to our side by effectively separating the militant Taliban from the general populace by hunting them down and killing them.

If you look back at the advent of Naval officers on PRTs in Afghanistan, it has pretty sad and naive theoretical framework.

The teams were founded in 2004 and are designed to be mobile goodwill ambassadors for coalition forces, using their transportation, logistics and communications capabilities to access the most remote Afghan villages.

Once there, the specialized personnel can hold medical, dental and veterinary clinics, and help build roads, wells, schools, irrigation systems and other facilities that will improve life for Afghans who have known only war and poverty for generations, Hartung said.

What about the infantry, you ask?  Why, they handle force protection for the team.  That’s right.  Force protection.  But DirtyMick and Scarbelly79 have given us reason to think that things are even worse now.  Naval officers are adorning themselves with medals at the expense of the fighting men, and then blaming the Army and Marines to boot.

Let’s make one thing clear.  We can discuss ineptitude all day, or organizational inadequacies, or lists of reasons that we are failing in Afghanistan.  We can treat that with clinical precision and a degree of detachment as a scientist.  But for a Naval officer on a PRT to complain and blame the fighting men is about as low as it gets.  I’m not sure what medals adorn the Naval officers on the PRTs, but unless they have been involved, engaged and active in kinetic operations and under fire, they don’t deserve and shouldn’t be awarded Combat Action Ribbons.  This would be a travesty.

Finally, here is the prerequisite for a Naval officer to complain about anything – ANYTHING – that is going on in Afghanistan.  Pick up a weapon, go on patrol, take fire, and kill the enemy.  Until you do, no one cares about your complaints, and playing the blame game with men under fire is immoral.  If you are a Naval officer who wants to complain, then lodge it right here, right now.  But show us your combat action ribbon first.  Tell us all about it.  We’re waiting.

  • jj

    Same thing in Tarin Kowt in 06. Had a “skipper” who thought we were too aggressive. Him and the Connecticut NG were a real combo of ineptitude. I can still remember the anti-war/Bush diatribes being placed on the bulletin board daily. Yep, that shit was fine but going after the enemy wasn’t…..

    “This isn’t Iraq” they would say, as the EFP’s and AQ tactics started showing up. “If we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone.” the squad leader from the Connecticut NG would say. “They know our vehicles, just be nice and they will leave us alone.” It was some of the craziest shit I have ever heard.

    Not too mention the “skipper” was always trying to “command” our security forces.

  • Rock Turner

    Use to be Some level of MAC would participate in this, knowing the guys who do the area studies. how do the navy pukes get involved at this level of community building when they have to realize these people (civilian Afghanistanis) are going to shoot ‘em in the back as soon as the turn away? ‘Steppe’ people do not even trust each other that well, and these navy pukes have to realize this before they step foot in the AO. These ‘stanis’ come battle hardened right out of the womb.

  • RetNavyPAC

    I don’t know WTF happened after the first PRT Abad left in April of ’07 but it must have gone downhill from there. I was there from Apr ’06 to Apt ’07 and we had a great skipper (Bing West mentions him in his book ‘The Wrong War”), but we also had an Army MAJ (former infantry ‘re-designated’ CA) as our XO who had his head and a** wired together and the both of them kept everything on track. We were constantly outside the wire and we operated in close coordination with TF Spartan (1/32) and did a lot of joint ops. I think we were pretty tight operationally, but I’m biased.

    The tool who was the Navy (Reserve) CO of PRT Tarin Kowt (later moved to Kalagush, Nuristan when the Dutch took over TK) was a f*ckin’ idiot who had seen too many war movies. Everybody knew it from Day 1 at Bragg. He’s the guy mentioned in the S&S article: http://www.stripes.com/news/navy-officers-head-to-afghanistan-to-join-prt-teams-1.47853. Read it it. You can just feel the douchebaggery coming right off the page. We’d all just look at the lame, retarded sh*t he’d make them do at Bragg, shake our heads and feel sorry for the poor f*ckers of PRT Tarin Kowt. In fact he was such an a**hole he was later relieved not long after they got to Kalagush. My buddy sent me a great photo of this toad getting on a bird to Bagram, never to darken a PRT again.

    And don’t get me started on a couple of the AF dorkwad PRT COs (Panshjir & ‘Meth Lab’). . . .

    That being said, the whole reason for having the USN and USAF take over 12 PRTs was that the Army was stretched paper thin in Iraq. We didn’t ask for the gig. The Army said, “We need help. It’s not combat (much). Can you guys help a brother out?” and we rogered up.

    I think once word got out that it was a way of getting one’s Joint Tour ticket punched on the cheap (couple of months training followed by 9, not 12, months BOG, rather than a full 2-year joint tour) the Navy’s version of Fobbits came out of the woodwork. I guess the rest was inevitable.


You are currently reading "The Navy in Asadabad?", entry #6294 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Counterinsurgency,Navy,PRTs and was published February 13th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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