Hardly A Fair Trade

Seriously, how could we be sure whether or not we killed the exact Taliban responsible for last Saturday’s deadly attack? If we knew who and where these barbaric cretins were, we probably wouldn’t have lost the Chinook in the first place.

U.S. kills Taliban insurgents who downed SEALs’ helicopter

The retribution wasn’t long in coming.

An American airstrike killed the Taliban insurgents whose attack caused a helicopter crash that killed 22 Navy SEALs and eight other U.S. service members, military officials in Kabul and Washington said Wednesday.

However, Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon that the main Taliban leader in the area remained at large. He did not identify that insurgent commander, the hunt for whom set in motion the events that led to the crash of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter on Saturday.

. . .

Special operations forces tracked down a group of “less than 10” insurgents and called in an airstrike from an F-16 fighter jet, Allen said. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul said the strike took place early Tuesday in the Chak district of Wardak province, close to the area where the Chinook helicopter was shot down.

See also:
U.S. Says It Killed Taliban Who Hit Copter
U.S. forces kill Taliban fighters who downed helicopter
Copter attackers found, killed in strike
US-Led Forces Kill Taliban Militants Behind Helicopter Attack
Strike kills insurgents who downed helicopter in Afghanistan, top commander says
Taliban helicopter shooter killed by United States
Military killed Taliban who downed US helicopter

There’s so many questions yet to be answered regarding this incident, including which CH-47 variant was shot down, why were so many SEALs crammed onto a single helicopter, and why was SEAL Team Six being used on what’s variously, so far been described as a rescue mission, a reinforcement, or an independent, follow on raid?

/this “we got the Taliban that killed our SEALs” makes for a heartwarming tale of revenge but, given how many times this story has already changed, I remain skeptically waiting for the real truth to unfold, if it ever does come out

You’ve Got To Get Out To Get In

“Retreat Hell! We’re just attacking in another direction.”
(Attributed to Major General Oliver P. Smith, USMC, Korea, December 1950.)

Afghanistan war: US leaves remote outpost of Korengal

It became known as “Enemy Central,” a small, isolated slice of eastern Afghanistan synonymous with violence, a dogged adversary and, increasingly, futility. More than 40 US soldiers have died there after being drawn into battles of attrition for questionable return. In the worst such incident, 16 American troops on a special forces mission were killed when their helicopter crashed under enemy fire.

Now the last US troops have pulled out of the Korengal valley on the grounds that they can be better used somewhere else. “This repositioning, in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces, responds to the requirements of the new population-centric counterinsurgency strategy,” Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, joint commander of international forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement on NATO’s website. “The move does not prevent forces from rapidly responding, as necessary, to crises there in Korengal and in other parts of the region, as well.”

Part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy is to pull troops back from remote mountain outposts and concentrate them in the towns and villages where more of the Afghan population lives. By putting the emphasis on protecting civilians instead of killing Taliban fighters, he hopes to drive a wedge between the two, isolating and alienating the insurgents.

The withdrawal in Korengal – a short tributary valley so isolated that its inhabitants speak their own language – has been going on for months. Combat Outpost Vegas, high up in the valley, closed last year. But US military officials have said in the past that the strategy was delayed by a shortage of cargo helicopters, military bureaucracy, and Afghan politics.

And it is not just Korengal that is seeing American forces depart. The US footprint in nearby Nuristan Province – the mountain highlands that were the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s tale of imperial hubris, “The Man Who Would Be King,” has all but vanished, too. Two separate attacks in 2008 and 2009 saw a total of 17 US soldiers die when insurgents overran their outposts in remarkably similar circumstances.

The signs in Nuristan, though, are encouraging. Since the US pulled all its troops out of Kamdesh district, the scene of the most recent of these battles, Taliban-linked insurgents have been on the back foot as local communities and elders turn against them.

See also:
ISAF Units Realign in Eastern Afghanistan
American troops pull out of Korengal Valley as strategy shifts
US forces leave Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley
U.S. Forces Leave Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
After the bloodshed, the leaving
US leave, Taliban claim victory
Korangal valley
Hi-Def Pics – One of the Heaviest Taliban Combat Areas: Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley (15 photos)

Well, McChrystal wrote the U.S. book on counterinsurgency, so he certainly knows what he’s doing, given the terrain and number of troops available, we certainly can’t occupy every square inch of Afghanistan. Besides the bloody fighting for limited returns, it also appears that our very presence in the Korengal valley was counterproductive to positive relations with the local civilian population living in the area. Not only weren’t we accomplishing much militarily, we weren’t winning any hearts and minds either, better to redeploy our limited resources and try our luck somewhere else.

/all that said, it doesn’t mean the Taliban and the Lefty media won’t be doing a happy dance while spinning this withdrawal as a propaganda victory and an American defeat

Classic Hammer And Anvil With Taliban In Between


‘Cobra’s Anger’ strikes Taliban

More than 1,000 U.S., British, and Afghan troops launched a major offensive in a key battleground of southern Afghanistan yesterday, only days after President Barack Obama unveiled a new strategy to end the war.

NATO said the offensive was designed to crush terrorists around a major town in Helmand in order to allow development to begin and civilians to return, key elements of Mr. Obama’s decision to deploy 30,000 new U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

About 900 U.S. Marines and sailors, British troops and more than 150 Afghan soldiers and police were taking part in Operation Khareh Cobra, or “Cobra’s Anger” in the valley of Now Zad.

Hundreds of Marines were dropped by aircraft into the north of the valley, while a large force of soldiers pushed northward from the town of Now Zad to sandwich the Taliban between the two forces.

“More than 1,000 ISAF personnel partnered with Afghan national security forces began a long-planned operation in northern Helmand province to clear insurgent forces from a key area,” the military said.

For the first time in Afghanistan, U.S. troops used Osprey aircraft — which have features of both a helicopter and a fixed-wing plane– to fly waves of Marines into the valley.

Also for the first time, combat engineers deployed the “Assault Breacher,” a tracked armoured vehicle built on a tank chassis. It was being used to clear a path through improvised minefields.

Major William Pelletier, from Camp Leatherneck in Helmand, told CNN the valley is “a major through-route” for transporting fighters and munitions from east to west and north to south. Terrorists have mined the region, and troops intend to provide enough security for the Afghan government and nongovernmental organizations to begin clearing the mines and roadside bombs so they can repopulate the town.

“So far, four Taliban dead bodies were left behind on the battlefield. But enemy casualties could be higher,” said Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand governor, adding scores of mines and a cache of explosives were seized.

See also:
U.S. Marines advance in southern Afghanistan
US, British, Afghan Troops Push into Taliban Area
Marines Start Operation in Helmand Province
Marines, Afghans Launch Major Offensive
‘Cobra’s Anger’ unleashed in Taliban heartland
New Afghan push takes aim at militants
U.S., Afghan troops launch first major offensive after Obama’s announcement of troop surge
Militants killed, detained in new Afghan-US military operation
‘Cobra’s Anger’ making progress, say US Marines
‘Cobra’s Anger’ Offensive Sends Thousand U.S., NATO Troops To Afghan Valley
NATO takes on Taliban in south of Afghanistan
Marines Start Operation in Helmand Province
Monster mine-clearing tank goes to work in Afghanistan
ABV to protect combat engineers
Grizzly [Breacher]
Controversial ‘Osprey’ chopper makes debut in Afghanistan
V-22 Osprey
V-22 Osprey

/dusting off the old playbook, shades of Junction City

The Taliban Is Serious About Winning In Afghanistan, Are We?

It’s bad enough that the Taliban is killing more U.S. and NATO soldiers than ever, using ever more sophisticated tactics, destroying NATO supply convoys at the vulnerable border choke points between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and generally intimidating and terrorizing the civilian population with suicide bombers and mutilations. Now there’s a new twist, the Taliban is using targeted suicide bombings to assasinate high ranking members of the Afghan military chain of command and civilian leadership.

Taliban Kill Spy Official, 22 Others

A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 23 people including Afghanistan’s deputy intelligence chief Wednesday, demonstrating the insurgency’s reach and its ability to hit a vulnerable Afghan government.

. . .

The slain official, Abdullah Laghmani, helped head the National Directorate of Security, which has been at the forefront of the anti-Taliban fight. Insurgent groups have long targeted Mr. Laghmani, according to Afghan intelligence agents.

Early Wednesday, Mr. Laghmani was emerging from a mosque in Mehterlam, the capital of Laghman province, about 60 miles east of Kabul, when a man approached and detonated explosives. The blast killed Mr. Laghmani and a number of senior provincial officials, according to Sayed Ahmad Safi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

How the bomber slipped past Mr. Laghmani’s security detail wasn’t clear, Mr. Safi said. Mr. Laghmani, who comes from Laghman, had been at the mosque to discuss security in the province with tribal elders, according to Mr. Safi. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group was responsible for the attack, the Associated Press reported.

The insurgents have repeatedly warned Afghans not to work with the government, and they’ve killed high- and low-ranking officials. In recent weeks, they’ve ambushed and wounded lawmakers traveling along a main road south of Kabul; killed a district governor in southern Afghanistan; and slain a number of election workers in the North.

President Karzai called Wednesday’s attack an attempt by the “enemy” to undermine the government. But other “brave and hardworking” Afghans would take the places of those slain, he said in a statement.

The attacks point to an insurgency that is packing a powerful punch as it expands beyond the Taliban stronghold in the south to the eastern border with Pakistan as well as other areas of Afghanistan. Once-peaceful provinces in Afghanistan now see regular insurgent attacks. In July and August, 153 foreign troops were killed, the deadliest two-month period since the war began in 2001.

See also:
Afghan intelligence chief Abdullah Laghmani killed in suicide attack
Afghan spy boss killed in Taliban suicide attack
Blast kills senior Afghan intelligence official
In Afghanistan, suicide bomber kills intelligence official at mosque
Suicide bomber kills 23 in Afghanistan
At least 23 die in Afghanistan blast -spokesman

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is calling for a change in strategy to counter the increasing Taliban threat.

Danger growing in Afghanistan

Nearly eight years on, the multinational endeavor to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan is in serious trouble. A recent security review conducted by the Afghan government and United Nations agencies indicated the Taliban either control or pose a high risk of attack in 40 percent of the country.

Casualties among Afghan civilians and the International Security Assistance Force — about half of which is American — are rising. August was the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces, as insurgent attacks and roadside bombs claimed 49 American lives.

President Obama has responded to the calls of military leaders to increase troop strength in Afghanistan, deploying an additional 21,000 troops in recent months. Another 4,000 are due before the end of the year.

But as with the surge in Iraq, success in Afghanistan isn’t merely a question of more boots on the ground. It’s also dependent on giving them the right leaders with the right strategy. And it’s dependent on our Afghan partners.

A new strategic assessment from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, calls for a revision of current strategy. The primary objective, he says, should be to earn the trust of the Afghan people and prepare them to take the lead in securing their country.

Temporarily taking towns and villages out from under control of the shadow government of the Taliban isn’t enough to earn the trust of the local population, McChrystal writes in a counterinsurgency document. Areas must be held and the local context changed “so people are more attracted to building and protecting their communities than destroying them.”

The biggest problem, however, may not be the size or strategy of the ISAF force. It may be the Afghan government.

McChrystal’s assessment assumes a timeline of several years before Afghan security forces and government institutions build up operational effectiveness. But mounting allegations of fraud and unexpectedly low voter turnout in last month’s presidential election along with continuing concerns about corruption and drug trafficking raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the government of President Hamid Karzai.

See also:
Afghanistan strategy must change, US commander McChrystal says
Gen. McChrystal calls for overhaul of Afghanistan war strategy
Report: McChrystal says US needs new Afghanistan strategy
Obama to Receive McChrystal Report Wednesday
Obama to get Afghan report on vacation
Obama using 5 measures to assess Afghan report
Top General in Afghanistan Looks to Replace Support Force With Combat Troops
EXCLUSIVE: General mulls more fighters in Afghanistan
Gates hints at US buildup in Afghanistan
Why McChrystal may not get more troops for Afghanistan
How long before Americans demand change in Afghanistan?

All I can say is that Obama had better be prepared to follow his military commander’s advice and do whatever is necessary to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, and he had better not be looking for the nearest exit door to cut and run through.

/giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban and al Qaeda on his Presidential watch, after eight years of sacrificing American blood and treasure to the conflict, will not look good on Obama’s historical resume

Deep Into The Heart Of Indian Country

Get some!

Operation Aims to Secure Southern Afghanistan for Elections

Hours into the new Operation Eastern Resolve II in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, defense officials report that U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers are confronting “some resistance” as they work to secure the area for the Aug. 20 elections.

The Marines and Afghan soldiers launched the offensive earlier today in Helmand province’s Now Zad district. Much of the operation is centered on Dahaneh, a Taliban-held southern Afghanistan town, and the surrounding mountains.

The mission was ordered to disrupt insurgent violence and intimidation campaigns and provide freedom of movement for Afghans to vote in upcoming provincial and national elections, military officials at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan reported.

About 100 Afghan National Army soldiers and 400 Marines and sailors from Marine Expeditionary Brigade, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, are conducting the operation. Marines from Marine Aircraft Group 40 provided helicopter lift and other aviation support for the mission.

The operation is proceeding as planned, and forces have confronted some opposition, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters. No casualty information is available, he said. Marine officials later reported that casualties are “very light.”

See also:
Operation Eastern Resolve II Launches
U.S. Marines Fight for Strategic Taliban Stronghold in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province
US to expand operation in Afghanistan
Military Operation Targets Taliban Before Afghan Election
US, Afghan troops launch operation to protect vote
Marines launch new assault in Afghanistan, target Taliban-held town so residents can vote
Helmand province
Camp Leatherneck

Rumor has it that the Taliban was tipped off in advance about the operation, but they’ll die just the same.

/Godspeed Marines, rack up lots of Taliban ass!