Boar Down!

Herschel Smith · 30 Oct 2022 · 9 Comments

Readers may have noticed I was absent the last several days.  It was a good time away.  A very good buddy and neighbor of mine, Robert, and I went hunting courtesy of the fine folks with Williams Hunting in South Carolina. I was shooting a 6mm ARC rifle with a Grendel Hunter upper, Aero Precision lower, Amend2 magazines, Brownells scope mount, Radian Raptor charging handle, Nikon Black scope, and a Viking Tactics sling.  I have no complaints about the gun.  It's at least a 1 MOA gun…… [read more]

Hammer and Anvil in Now Zad

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 6 months ago

From Tony Perry of the L.A. Times:

Hundreds of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers descended on a nearly empty city in southern Afghanistan on Friday to cut off supply routes for Taliban fighters who have taken refuge in the area.

The troops want to starve out the insurgents holed up around Now Zad, which was once a vibrant city of 30,000 but now is a virtual ghost town because years of fighting.

The assault in Helmand province, named Cobra’s Anger, may prove to be a warmup for a larger, more complex and more dangerous assault on Marja, a town to which many Taliban fighters and narcotics middlemen fled after Marines descended on nearby villages this summer.

In Now Zad, Marines had to contend with roadside bombs that Taliban militants buried in anticipation of the Americans’ arrival. Even more such bombs are expected to await troops in Marja.

“Marja is that last major sanctuary in Helmand province, the last place where the enemy has freedom of movement,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. “We’re going to take that away from him.”

Nicholson compared the prospective battle in Marja to the fight in late 2004 to clear barricaded insurgents from the Iraqi city of Fallouja.

But Marja is split up by irrigation canals that will make moving troops and vehicles difficult. A vigorous house-to-house assault by Marines on a town also would raise the specter of civilian casualties, an issue that has strained relations between Western forces and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Still, Nicholson said, the only issue is when Marja will be emptied of insurgents. No timetable has been announced.

In Now Zad, Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, based in Twentynine Palms, and the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, based in Okinawa, Japan, met only light opposition, which may not be the case in Marja.

No Marine casualties were reported in the first stage of the Now Zad assault. Some of the troops descended on key supply routes via the Marines’ tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft.

Commentary & Analysis

In order to place this operation in context, note that I have been covering Now Zad for one year and two months, ever since our friend Major Cliff Gilmore, USMC, sent his first update (published only at TCJ).  I have also been demanding more Marines for Now Zad for about that long.

Eight months ago I asked very directly: Now Zad is currently abandoned.  Perhaps someone in the chain of command could drop by and explain the strategic and/or tactical significance of patrolling and holding an abandoned town.  Do we intend to secure it, rebuild it, and repopulate it with the original citizens?

Within two weeks I got my answer via DVIDS: ” … the Marines had proactively conducted combat operations in Now Zad’s District center daily in order to shape the battlefield by moving insurgents into disposable positions.”  But is this really what was happening?

When the Marines figured out that the civilian population had been evicted and that Now Zad was inhabited only by insurgents, they all but apologized that there was no Afghan National Police there to train, and no population to protect.  They were left with the only thing they could do, attempt to battle the insurgents.

The Marines were undermanned, and thus they and the Taliban fought each other to a stalemate.  Now Zad was so dangerous that the unit deployed there was the “only Marine unit in Afghanistan that brings along two trauma doctors, as well as two armored vehicles used as ambulances and supplies of fresh blood.”  Many of the Marines found themselves living in hobbit holes at night in order to stay alive.

U.S. forces had the perfect opportunity in Now Zad, i.e., to battle an insurgency which had taken to using Now Zad as an R&R area after having evicted the population.  In other words, we could battle the insurgency without having to worry about harming noncombatants.  But rather than sending more Marines to Now Zad, we left units like 2/7 Golf Company there to fight the Taliban to a draw, because there was no “population to protect.”

This is population-centric counterinsurgency run amuck.  Jules Crittenden has a good synopsis of reactions across the web, including from J.D. Johannes who doubts the value in this operation because anvil and hammer operations rarely succeed in counterinsurgency.  He recommends census taking and other related actions.  True enough, gated communities, databases and census taking has worked at other times (although combined with heavy kinetics).

But his objection still misses the point about Now Zad.  We have become strategically so blinded by the doctrines of population-centric counterinsurgency that we couldn’t decide to send troops to defeat a non-trivial number of enemy fighters because there was no population to protect.  Instead, we allowed them to escape to Marja where it will likely be more difficult and perhaps even among the population where the rules of engagement will prevent kinetics if it is possible that noncombatants might be in the vicinity.

Our doctrines have made it more dangerous for the population and left an enemy behind that will kill and maim more Marines, and while the U.S. Marine Corps has had visions of Expeditionary Units dancing in its head, Corporal Matthew Lembke lost his legs, and then his life.

Now Zad, having taken the lives and legs of so many Marines, is a missed opportunity.  Perhaps its lessons will be learned for the next operations, including in Marja.  Now Zad will be re-populated, and enough forces will have to be garrisoned there to prevent the return of the Taliban.  But the Taliban have slipped the noose, and they will live to kill another day.  Little has been gained in spite of the bravery of the Marines who have battled the insurgents there over the past year, and that’s sad.

Weekend Reading #3

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 6 months ago

TCJ was linked at Hannity, and it seems like every time a rules of engagement article is linked, some wise guy drops by and says something like “but this isn’t war, it is a counterinsurgency and in COIN we must prevent killing innocents and thus win the hearts and minds.”

Well now.  I just hadn’t figured it like that.  I hereby rescind everything I have ever written about ROE.  On second thought, nevermind.  Maybe we should consider this for a second.  No one wants to see noncombatants die, and everyone wants the cooperation of the locals.  It’s more complicated than that, leading such experienced hands as Ken White of the Small Wars Council to respond, upon hearing of McChrystal’s tactical directive, that “Aside from the impacts on own forces, the net result is most likely to be more, not fewer, civilian casualties …”

Even Pentagon officials have admitted that the new ROE has opened up space for the insurgents.  The problem is never the intent – it is the unintended consequences of our actions.  I would conclude by reminding us of the robust ROE in place in the Anbar Province, and … ahem … that the Marines’ campaign in Anbar was successful.

Next, The Captain’s Journal appreciates the link by Andrew McCarthy at NRO in Alinsky Does Afghanistan.  And Jules Crittenden has a remarkable find from a military historian named Richard F. Miller.  A short clip of his analysis:

The most important convention these sorts of speeches is first, simplicity of message (e.g., attack, retreat, hold) and next, consistency of message. The latter is key — time and attention spans are short. When a civilian commander, versus a NCO, gives such a speech, multiple audiences have to be accounted for — friends, allies, enemies, fence sitters, etc. This actually puts nuance at a severe discount — clarity is key. Battle speeches are not diplomacy. The same message must be received by all constituencies.

Given the foregoing, but not addressing the policy merits, Obama’s speech was a failure. It transgressed both simplicity and consistency with its call for a July 2011 terminus (since walked backwards and forwards by a variety of administration shills).

The speech was too long, and its length was spent badly. Where he might have outlined some basic tactics (a key according to SLA Marshall) he was silent about details — the numbers matter less than what one does with the troops. (Here both Bush and Petraeus excelled in defining broadly where and how new force would be applied.) Consistency also fell short because he reproached his predecessor, an gratuitous distraction from his message.

Consistency was also violated by the other boundaries that Obama set. For example, in  emphasizing, unnecessarily, in my view, that America’s war-making capacity was subject to economic limitations, should the Taliban to assume that American can be compelled to withdraw by, Heaven forbid, dynamiting the New York Stock Exchange? In general, a battle speech, or call to action is not the place to recite one’s limitations. One can imagine FDR calling for “the inevitable triumph” but “subject to the success of next war bond drive.”

Moreover, civilian commanders-in-chief have a special responsibility in their battle speeches from which their military counterparts are exempt — rallying the civilian population. Here, Obama failed miserably, save for the only segment of the civil population that seemed to matter to him — the Democrats’ left wing.

Good analysis.  Remember also that I analyzed Obama’s speech as a failure.  Make sure to take in Victor Davis Hanson at NRO who is at his best on resetting the reset button.

But didn’t Obama’s new Middle East outreach — stamped with Bush culpability, recognition of Islam’s brilliance, monotonous promises of friendship, and emphasis on Obama’s unique name, heritage, and patrimony — at least bring political dividends?

Hardly. Iran has announced an expansion, not the cessation, of its nuclear-enrichment program. We have achieved the paradoxical result of having polarized our democratic ally Israel without winning over the autocratic Palestinians. The Sunni Arab world assumes that a Shiite Persia will go nuclear, and in response the Arabs will probably seek their own deterrent. Obama’s cozying up to Syria has achieved nothing other than bolstering Damascus’s confidence about re-entering Lebanon and copycatting the Iranian model of nuclear acquisition.

In general, the Arab world is suspicious of those who trash their own. Its leaders interpret Obama’s apologies for his own country as being as much a character defect as proof of any new accommodation. And while Obama repents for America’s misdemeanors, most leaders in the Middle East have no intention of apologizing for their countries’ felonies.

From Foreign Policy, we have this.

When President Obama spoke to troops at Alaska’s Elmendorf Air Force Base last month, the unit there parked a shiny new F-22 fighter plane in the hangar. But according to multiple sources, White House aides demanded the plane be changed to an older F-15 fighter because they didn’t want Obama speaking in front of the F-22, a controversial program he fought hard to end.

“White House aides actually made them remove the F-22-said they would not allow POTUS to be pictured with the F-22 in any way, shape, or form,” one source close to the unit relayed.

It’s difficult to imagine a more un-serious, trivial, childish man for President of the U.S., surrounded by people who could be any more un-serious, trivial and childish than they are.

Last, try to take in Hannity tonight on TV, as our friend Michael Ledeen is on.  I just haven’t yet been able to find a point of disagreement with Michael.  If I could I would parade it around for Michael and you to see.


Weekend Reading #2

Weekend Reading #1

The Strategy of Chasing the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 6 months ago

In Why we must chase the Taliban and Refusing the Chase we covered how the ROE was preventing U.S. troops from engaging the insurgency when it was possible that noncombatants could be involved, and that this tactical approach had caused the need to chase the insurgents when they took cover in civilian areas and then later escaped.  We must chase the Taliban and kill every last one of them, we are told by some Afghanis.

But we don’t have the troops, helicopters or logistics to continue the chase into the valleys, mountains and fields of Afghanistan.  From Lt. Col. Scott Cunningham, commander of the 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry, of the Nevada National Guard, we have another indication of insurgent tactics that brings up the issue of chasing the enemy.

The enemy in Afghanistan is elusive. They will rarely attack unless they have absolute superiority. Because of that, we usually maneuver with enough soldiers and firepower to defeat any potential threat we may encounter. Getting cut off by a superior force is a recipe for disaster. A TIC, or “Troops in Contact” is unlikely in any given patrol, but essentially inevitable over the course of an entire deployment. It can be either an IED, long-distance harassing fire or a close-up ambush. Depending on the enemy tactic, the maneuver unit will immediately attempt to pin the enemy down, and then use artillery, helicopters, or aircraft weapons on him, or flank them with maneuver forces.

The enemy has the tendency to attack from long range and then run away, often into villages, where our rules of engagement prevent us from effectively engaging him, or into the mountains where the weight of our gear prevents rapid pursuit.

One more important account comes to us from a Marine who was embedded with the Afghan National Army in the Kunar Province.

Upon getting into the village, we did the usual – looked around at the terrain and figured out how we were going to set up security with our sparse forces (2 Marines and perhaps a dozen ANA), before looking around for the village elder to talk to. We eventually got ourselves set up and found an elder, who invited me, my terp, and the ANA leader inside “The White House” for tea, nuts, and candies. No matter how poor, down and out an Afghan is, they’ll always have some small provisions for guests. It was a pretty gloomy, rainy day and the old fella seemed kind of down, though it’s never easy to really read people when you can’t understand a word they are saying. Eventually, his nephews, young men in their 20’s, came out and proceeded to show us pictures of their father, who apparently had been the head man in the village, but had been killed by the insurgents just a few months before. At that point, the older gentlemen teared up and had to leave the room. The story was that the Taliban killed him because he had been a powerful figure in the local area, and wasn’t showing enough support to them. It’s those moments where you really realize how alone those people are. They may have had each other, living in a huge house built of stones fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle, but once we left the area that day they were really on their own. Our base may have been less than a mile away, but we didn’t really know what went on in that village at night. “Protecting the people” in Afghanistan is a tough thing to do.

Especially in a land where the people will not combat the insurgents themselves, it becomes necessary to take additional measures to target the insurgents.  In this case it might come down to distributed operations.  Additional troops will be needed, and Scout Sniper, Force Recon and DMs (Designated Marksman) will be used extensively along with the rest of infantry.  But we must lie in wait, perform reconnaissance, find them before they find us (or the people), chase them into the valleys and hills, and be prepared to work in smaller units where force protection may not be the most important of the doctrines.

Of course, the embedded Marine in Kunar hasn’t the resources necessary to do these things.  At least in part, that’s the point.  The new population-centric counterinsurgency strategy will heavily target the population centers such as Kandahar.  But I fear that we don’t even have enough troops to secure Kandahar.  Population centric counterinsurgency is a romantic idea, but in lieu of unflagging support from the American people, perfect logistics, never-ending good will among the U.S. military and no problem with repeated deployments for a campaign that seems to  never end, another strategy must be employed.

We must consider more robust ROE and chasing the enemy into his domain.  I fear that absent such a radical shift in strategy we will lose.  We simply don’t have the resources necessary to perform the magic outlined in FM 3-24.  This is what Lt. Col. Allen West is saying, I think.

Obama’s Afghanistan Speech

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 6 months ago

The speech was ghastly, dreary, dreadful and morose, full of wishful thinking and blame of others for the situation we now face.  Obama seemed to be unable to stay focused on Afghanistan, appeared bored with the subject, and even seemed a bit peeved that he had to deliver such a speech.

The first part of the speech rehashed information that most people alive today already know, and then proceeded to place the blame on Operation Iraqi Freedom for the low troop levels in Afghanistan.  That Generals McNeill and McKiernan requested more troops for the campaign in Afghanistan is true, but at least McKiernan’s desires were made known during Obama’s tenure.  Even this doesn’t fully explain how the situation in Iraq related to Afghanistan.

During much of the time from 2004 (around the time of Operation al Fajr) to 2007, thousands of religiously motivated foreign fighters (AQ) flowed into Iraq per year to fight the U.S. forces.  These are fighters that didn’t go to Afghanistan because they were headed for Iraq.  Whatever else one thinks of the initial invasion of Iraq, the subsequent counterinsurgency phases (Operation Iraqi Freedom II and III) were the center of gravity of the fight against religious globalists (even though we had to fight our way through an indigenous insurgency in Iraq to get to AQ, this insurgency being somewhat less committed to the religious cause of AQ).  To blame the situation in Afghanistan entirely on Iraq just doesn’t comport with the facts.

Slow to give up the finger-pointing even though he chides us for failing to do the same, Obama eventually transitions to his strategy.  He does mention population centers and securing the population (and Kandahar will be a big focus of the effort).  But he insisted that the cornerstone of the strategy was turnover to Afghan Security Forces, and couples this insistence with the strangest of demands: that U.S. troops begin leaving Afghanistan in 2011.

I have repeatedly claimed that seeing the population as the center of gravity of a counterinsurgency is doctrinal intransigence and stubbornness, and that multiple foci should be pursued in small wars, including an enemy-centric focus if that is deemed wise at some particular point in a campaign (such as early on).  But if Obama has been listening to his generals (and it sounds as if he has, at least to some degree), it would explain the focus on population centers and startup of the Afghan Security Forces.  Obama insists on placing the burden on the ANA and ANP, and sooner rather than later.

So assuming that Obama has selected population-centric counterinsurgency as his strategy, he certainly doesn’t appear to understand exactly what that entails.  We have been training the ANA and ANP for eight years now, and had Provincial Reconstruction Teams deployed throughout Afghanistan for years.  Army human terrain teams have studied the tribes, agricultural experts have advised and counseled Afghan farmers, and U.S. Soldiers and Marines now must be aligned with Afghan Army in order to conduct operations.

Yet in the Afghan Security Forces, drug addiction continues, they sleep on duty, they refuse in cases to go on night patrols, they have proven to be generally inept and unreliable in fire fights, and the Afghan people hate the corruption within their ranks.  Training up an Afghan Army is not about teaching them to fire a weapon or go on patrol.  Instilling esprit de corps, reliability, commitment and faithfulness is not about thirteen weeks or even a year of basic training.  It’s about a culture, country and social and religious milieu that can sustain such an institution.

Pointing to an end date for troop presence is the height of irresponsibility.  It’s either an intentional lie (in which case he is a liar and the troops’ families have false hope for and end date), or it’s the truth, in which case he clearly has confused ideas on just how long counterinsurgency takes to succeed – if it can succeed at all.

Finally, the speech wanders off into foreign territory by discussing the use of soft power to end the threat of nuclear weapons.  The claim is that work to end nuclear proliferation will enhance national security, but thus far the only change to nuclear weapons has been on the American side.  The Russians have now been invited to examine our nuclear weapons installations, and nuclear warhead refurbishment (strongly recommended by the DoD and DOE) has been denied and de-funded.  All the while, Iran insists that its very own nuclear program is non-negotiable.

I was recently at a funeral where I had a chance to speak with four World War II veterans at one ad hoc gathering.  Upon hearing that my son was in the U.S. Marine Corps, they conveyed their heart felt thanks to both him and me.  They had battled the Japanese in the South Pacific and the Germans in Europe.  But they knew what we face.  They used the phrase “long war,” and they didn’t know who John Abizaid was.  They simply knew that we were in a long war – the longest one our republic would ever face, and much longer than the one they faced.

U.S. industry fabricated some 55,000 Sherman tanks to prosecute World War II.  Our industry is being shut down due to all manner of issues, including environmental regulations.  Large scale steel fabrication is now done primarily overseas, and the current administration cannot bear the thought of deploying fewer American warriors to Afghanistan than tanks we deployed during World War II.

Afghanistan matters.  The Durand line means nothing to al Qaeda and their supporters, the Taliban.  Pakistan, whom the U.S. very much wants to focus on its internal threats rather than India, awaits our own intentions.  Pressure must be kept on AQ and the Taliban on both sides of the alleged border, because there is no border.  While Pakistan awaits our direction, so does most of Europe.

With the current leadership unable to make a case for troop presence beyond 2011, we are poorly prepared indeed for the battle ahead.  I missed the initial speech and had to take it in later, but my daughter told me that it was ghastly, dreary and dreadful.  She was right.  It would have been better if it had never been made.

The Logistical Cost of Being Deployed

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 6 months ago

The logistical cost of being deployed in Afghanistan is especially high due to the nature of providing land-locked troops with heavy equipment, weapons, ammunition and other necessary supplies (including fuel for machinery, from helicopters and other aircraft to generators).

Hence I was among the first to point out the Taliban strategy of interdiction of supplies through Khyber and Chamen (coming from the Pakistani port city of Karachi), and also among the first to weigh in against the daydream of Russia as a viable and reliable logistics route, recommending instead engaging the Caucasus for such needs.

There there are the local costs to consider after bulk supplies have been transported.  We don’t own the terrain because of lack of troops, and this lack of ownership is expensive.  How expensive?  From Thomas P.M. Barnett, courtesy of SWJ Blog:

“Rebalancing” has been the watchword of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy to date: rebalancing the global economy between East and West, rebalancing domestic needs and foreign responsibilities, and — soon enough — rebalancing the international security burden among the world’s great powers. One number explains why that last rebalancing is necessary: It costs the United States $1 million a year to keep a soldier inside a theater of operations such as Afghanistan. The math is easy enough: For every thousand troops, the price comes out to $1 billion a year.

Rob Thornton adds this WSJ source:

“In a speech in mid-October, Gen. Conway said military-grade fuel — which costs roughly $1 a gallon in the U.S. — can sometimes cost the Marine Corps about $400 per gallon once all the expenses of ferrying it into Afghanistan are factored in. The Marines operating in southern Afghanistan consume more than 88,000 gallons of the fuel per day, he said.

“Most all of that comes along this fairly tenuous supply line across Pakistan, where we’re paying large amounts of money to tribes so that they don’t fight each other and so that they don’t raid our supply lines,” Gen. Conway said at an energy conference in Virginia.

Pricey, no doubt, as we have pointed out for months and even years.  But Schmedlap points out the Tom Barnett has used a linear equation to figure the costs of larger units based on smaller units.  This doesn’t account for the difference between fixed and variable costs.  True enough, Schmedlap.  Good catch.

But I’ll go one step further.  While not claiming that the equation is linear, it (i.e., the costs per person) is more nearly inversely proportional than proportional.  At least, there is a turn-around where it becomes less expensive to deploy more troops.  No, not just on a per person basis, but in total.  I claim that it would be less expensive in the long run to deploy 100,000 troops than it would be to deploy 50,000.

Audacious claim, no?  But consider the cost of a gallon of gasoline in Helmand.  $400.  It costs this much because we cannot ensure security and don’t own the roads.  Even the Afghani contractors we hire attempt the transit of supplies by strap hanging.  The lack of security is why combat outposts and other far flung posts must be supplied entirely be helicopter.

Helicopters are of such importance at the moment that the campaign would fall apart without them.  If you own the terrain and can ensure relative security compared to what we have at the moment, the price of a gallon of gasoline would drop from $400.

With logistics being the main cost of the war, more troops doesn’t necessarily mean greater expense.

Rules of Engagement: Letting the Enemy Go Free

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 6 months ago

More than two years ago I outlined the calamity that British rules of engagement had caused to their campaign in Basra.  The security situation began very well at the initiation of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but devolved into one in which the British were completely ineffective at fighting the insurgency and had evacuated their outposts and retreated to their largest base.

Due to leaked MoD papers we now know certain details directly from the British on just how hamstrung their troop were due to the ROE.

Despite fighting “the most sustained conflict since the Korean War”, the rules left troops with one hand tied behind their backs, the secret documents said. Ministers refused to change the rules although they caused “significant” casualties.

British soldiers were banned from opening fire unless the Iraqis were actually pointing their weapons at them.

Insurgents from Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army quickly “worked out” the rules and exploited them causing many casualties, according to the documents.

“On many occasions,” says one, British patrols in the town of Amarah saw “Muqtada militia stood on rooftops from where they had fired in the past, with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at their feet”.

Although clearly waiting to attack, the Iraqis could not be fired on because they were not pointing their weapons at the British. As the patrol passed, say the documents, the insurgents would then “pick up their weapons and fire”.

The documents leaked to The Daily Telegraph are secret “post-operational reports” written by British commanders in Iraq, and classified transcripts of interviews they gave to the MoD.

In them, Major General Andrew Stewart, the senior British operational commander in Iraq, says: “The US could not believe that in our area you were not able to fire at someone who had a weapon just because he wasn’t pointing it at you.”

The Americans were on warfighting tactics, yet Britain stuck to its “peacekeeping” rules despite a significant upsurge in violence after the arrest of a key al-Sadr lieutenant in 2004 …

In one of its fiercest engagements, the “Battle of Danny Boy”, at a checkpoint in May 2004, the British were attacked by 100 insurgents, leaving two soldiers seriously injured. Yet, the documents say, they had to allow 40 of the attackers to “walk away” with their weapons, after they lowered their guns. The same people later attacked the unit again, killing two soldiers.

The documents appear to show that Gen Stewart tried to get the rules of engagement changed, but was frustrated by ministers.

He says that the rules his men were working under did contain a “dormant war-fighting profile,” allowing more action, but “activation of this profile was reserved to Ministerial level” and did not happen.

Gen Stewart describes the rules of engagement as “constraining,” and “frustrating” but says they “did help us win over the locals by not being over-robust… you have to show restraint if you are to win hearts and minds”.

From another account by a British Soldier, “In 2003 the rules were that if someone shot at you, you could shoot them back but not if they were turned with their back to you.”

This last part about restrictive ROE helping to win over the locals is a bit of wishful thinking and fatuous, doctrinaire absurdity.  If the locals had been won over they would have given up the insurgency.  As it was, the Iraqi Security Forces, combined with U.S. forces, had to retake Basra while the British sat at their base watching (later retreating entirely from Basra).

The ISF regularly dismissed the British as sissies and cowards even though they clearly are not, and British Colonel Tim Collins has claimed that the British retreat from Basra has badly damaged the reputation of the British Army (this damage being inflicted by MoD strategy rather than the enlisted men who have been proven to be brave and well trained).

This example should be a clarion call to give chase to and kill the enemy as the surest way to win the hearts and minds of the locals, and thus win the campaign.  You might recall some of the rules of engagement in Afghanistan?

• No night or surprise searches.

• Villagers have to be warned prior to searches.

• ANA or ANP must accompany U.S. units on searches.

• U.S. soldiers may not fire at the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first.

• U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present.

• Only women can search women.

• Troops can fire at an insurgent if they catch him placing an IED but not if insurgents are walking away from an area where explosives have been laid.

These same rules refused artillery support for four Marines who were killed in combat action in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan while pleading for help via radio.  Having forgotten the lessons of Iraq (where robust ROE in Anbar by the Marines helped to win that part of the campaign), we have reverted to the failed British model in Basra.  Intentionally repeating failed history is the strategy of losers.

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