Small Wars Journal

Not a Tactical Hurdle...

Mon, 08/10/2009 - 7:06pm

This is a one minute video that illustrates the nature of the fighting in the flatlands / villages of the '"Green Zone". This is typical of the fighting I observed day after day. We have the firepower. Body armor and gear weigh about 70 pounds per man on patrol. The Taliban gangs have the mobility and concealment. They initiate most firefights. We cannot locate their firing positions with sufficient precision to apply accurate killing fires. This is a serious operational-level issue, not a tactical hurdle. If we cannot fix and finish them, they can choose when to fight and extend the war.



Wed, 08/12/2009 - 11:15am

Thanks for the video, sir. Please tell the Marines of 1st Brigade Plt, 2d ANGLICO that Capt Benbow sends his regards. I think I saw Sgt B sitting on the ground talking into a handset in the video.


Tue, 08/11/2009 - 2:17pm

<p><em>"... can we not also 'rent' a Pashtun that knows the likely places of ambush and Taliban tactics... ?"</em></p>
<p>We paid informants for similar purposes in 2005, though, for some reason, it was not actually authorized. Rather than paying an informant for information - which was not allowed - we would stage a raid on the informant's home after he assisted us. During the raid, we would "accidentally break his door" and then grossly overcompensate him and ask him for more info.</p>
<p>I am not sure of the reasons behind the policy of not paying informants (or if it is still in effect).</p>

Boatspace (not verified)

Tue, 08/11/2009 - 1:01am

Good points MikeF, Obviously the Afghan Army unit wasn't from this area - operating w/o supporting arms to supress and maneuver - a negative.

Also, can we not also "rent" a Pashtun that knows the likely places of ambush and Taliban tactics, eventually creating a program similiar to the Corp's Kit Carson Scout Program in RVN?

Of course we have to keep a presence in the area for this to occur.

I'll build off Schmedlap's posts. With that said, I'm not second guessing the command's decisions or the distinct problem sets they face. I'm just offering my own "inconsequential," second-hand opinion from an armchair view.

Even though they are established in trenches, they are not fighting trench warfare. Regardless of the amount of body armor they carry, after the initial fighting is over and the enemy fades into the masses, then they can bound towards the nearby village.

Since Bing West is embedded with them, I'm sure that they will receive the appropriate aerial observation, CAS, and AWT necessary to make this move into the adjacent village.

This move will allow them to capture the physical enemy terrain. Next, they can focus on the so-called "human terrain." The ground commander can begin to focus on making relationships with the local social, political, and religious leaders and determine the appropriate sphere of influence for this village. Simultaneously, he can send out LP/OP's (Listening Post/Observation Post) or simply recon teams to extend his Area of Operations.

With these tasks complete, they can drive on...

If they become extended past ground and aerial resupply, then the situation shifts from tactical to operational...

Again, just my two cents..




Tue, 08/11/2009 - 12:17am

Without knowing if this is what J Pate had in mind, I think one could support his argument by asserting that we have made the people our enemy through our ineptitude. Perhaps "adversary" would be a better word, though.

In my inconsequential opinion, the solution to both "the people are our adversaries" and "the Taliban can hide amongst the people" is the same. If the Taliban cannot hide amongst the people, then the people will incur less pain from our operations. If the people are no longer our adversaries, then the Taliban will not be able to so easily blend in with them. I'm not sure if this is a chicken versus egg thing, a ying versus yang thing, or if I'm just pontificating too far beyond my level of understanding.

J Pate states that the "enemy" are the people. I would assert that the "enemy" is a subset of the population. The trick is to separate the "enemy" from the population as a whole. I suspect that this is easier said the done. I think it would be playing into the Talaban to treat population as a whole as the "enemy".

J Pate (not verified)

Mon, 08/10/2009 - 10:29pm

Schmedlap notes that "the enemy is able to blend in with the populace." The problem is worse than that: The "enemy" that we have chosen to fight are part of the populace, they are mostly Pashtuns, they are native to the land. Christian armies, primarily speaking English with Western values and customs have invaded from thousands of miles away a Muslim nation and are trying to root out and kill the natives themselves. It is not remarkable that they can blend in with the people. They are the people!


Mon, 08/10/2009 - 10:11pm

Agree regarding operational versus tactical, though the post makes it sound as though the Soldiers' loads are the main culprits (or one of the main). If the enemy is close enough to fire an RPG relatively accurately, with it flying just over your head, then they should be close enough to maneuver upon - body armor or not.

I think the real operational issue is that the enemy is able to blend in with the populace. Take that away and they will be hard-pressed to initiate a direct fire engagement that they can survive.