On Giving Up

by Joshua Foust on 8/4/2010 · 20 comments

Last year, I endorsed the idea of withdrawing from indefensible areas within Afghanistan:

However, in a world without infinite resources (ahem), we realistically must decide which places to abandon and which to focus on. In that sense, abandoning Nuristan makes a lot of sense. Much of the U.S.’s activity in that area has been misplaced and poorly focused. The retaking of Bargimatal several months ago didn’t make much sense—the area holds no real strategic value, we just did it for pride.

And indeed it does not, though it is interesting to see how, even post-American withdrawal, the insurgents can’t seem to do much more than hold remote districts for a while before the government chases them away—at horrifying cost to the locals, of course, but the U.S. was not able to seriously affect the balance of power through its presence.

Going a bit further south, into Kunar, it is trickier. David Axe reported earlier this year that the soldiers working in Kunar have had a hard time making any progress against the insurgency, for a variety of reasons. Indeed, they are making many of the same missteps and mistakes—though unintentional—that their predecessors have made over the last five years or so. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that things aren’t exactly swimming with success there.

U.S. troops have already withdrawn from the Korengal Valley, a hornet’s nest of nastiness that suffered from well-meaning meddlers trying to impose an inappropriate political-economic model on an area that never gave its consent (for example, the targetting of timber smugglers). The Korengalis pretty obviously didn’t want our “help,” such as it was, and made that abundantly clear until we withdrew and wished them good luck. And indeed, there is precedent for needing to tread lightly when imposing government “control” on these places—the 1945 Safi Rebellion, which was arguably King Zahir Shah’s greatest challenge during his rule (aside from, obviously, his own cousin’s coup in 1963), grew from this general area, over a dispute about the method through which the King would conscript young men into the Army. The Safi elders—and while the Korengalis are not Safis, the sentiment is widespread—felt the King wasn’t respecting their wishes and concerns enough. So they revolted—violently (the king responded with greater violence, spreading formerly wealthy families throughout the country in internal, impoverished, exile).

So what of the Pech Valley? Stars and Stripes reports:

Now American commanders are struggling to assess the value of trying to hold this isolated valley in the hostile Kunar province. Many wonder if it wouldn’t be better to pull out of the Pech, too.

“I ask myself the same question,” said Maj. Gen. John Campbell, 101 Division commander of all Regional Command-East. “I don’t think the time is right. At some point, I have to figure out what we can sustain here.”

Insurgents in the Pech are outgunned by the long reach of U.S. artillery, mortars at every base and air power that rattles the rigid mountainsides. But they have the terrain and the fear of the people, ensuring their complicity.

I could be mistaken in this, but the Pech Valley’s biggest strategic value is as a supply line into the Korengal and central Nuristan Valleys—places where there is a minimal, if any U.S. presence. In that sense, there’s no reason to cling to the Pech Valley, whose geography confines ground movement to a narrow patch of land along the Pech River, making IEDs and complex ambushes relatively easy. The U.S. likes to portray the population there as cowed into submission by the militants, but the real picture is normally not that simple: often the locals resent both groups as outsiders, and simply make a rational choice to prefer physical safety over material betterment.

Given the extreme difficulties of pacifying in a reasonable manner the narrow valleys of northern Kunar, one must wonder: at what point does it stop making sense to hold ground? The word “retreat” carries justifiably negative connotations, but I’m really curious at what point the costs outweigh the benefits of remaining in an area. It’s difficult to make the case that our presence in the Pech Valley has made things safer or more prosperous for the locals, though I will happily retract the statement if anyone who’s been there recently can attest otherwise. Similarly, the Pech Valley has always been isolated and kind of a backwater—it is not the same kind of “hold at any cost” territory as, say, Jalalabad or Herat or even Kandahar (don’t get me started on our Baghdadification of that place).

So, while it would be sad if we had to withdraw—retreat—from the Pech Valley, much more so for the locals who have to deal with the insurgents than for poor America’s pride, I’m scratching my head at what the downsides are. I would guess that, after an initial period of reprisals, the overall level of violence would die down; the IEDs in the road would certainly stop. Daily life would no longer be interrupted by air assaults and mortar fire.

So help me out, dear readers: why should we stay in northern Kunar?


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 20 comments }

reader August 4, 2010 at 6:50 pm

It’s all about the domino effect. Giving up territory to radical Islamists would only encourage them and give in to defeatism. First Kunar, then Kandahar, then Kabul, then Kentucky. The fate of all the school children in the greater Lexington area depends on a robust American presence in Kunar. We leave a single valley to the insurgents, or the locals, and the next thing you know its covered gals at your neighborhood Starbucks and beards on everyone there, not just the poetry majors.

will August 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm

this question makes little sense outside a coherent thesis about what the US should be doing in afghanistan in the first place.

ND August 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm

There’s no good answer to the question without an informed discussion of the relevance and value of “blocking positions” and “economy of force” operations to the counterinsurgent in Afghanistan and the general nature of the insurgency in the Pech.

We’ve been in the Pech since 2003, growing from one outpost at FOB Blessing to a total of five and their associated OPs. These outposts are largely positioned at the base of the Waygal, Watapur, Shuryak and Korengal valleys, all posited as insurgent sanctuaries. Furthermore, these positions are intended to provide freedom of movement along the paved road we funded from Asadabad through the valley to Chapadarreh District. Despite this growth, Kunar was the most violent Province in RC East in 2007-2009.

Given the unique and diverse cultural and linguistic landscape of the Pech and its tributaries (perhaps seven different languages), it’s difficult to determine the fundamental nature of the insurgency. Is it isolationist and fueled primarily by U.S. presence or is central Kunar a large insurgent sanctuary that will spill over to the Kunar River valley and more critically, Nangarhar Province? A larger sample size following the withdrawal from the Korengal and Western Nuristan may help answer this question. Thus far, I am unconvinced that sanctuary in Kunar and Nuristan is critical to overall insurgent operations in RC East and that it couldn’t be interdicted from outside the Province.

What we do know for certain is the huge amount of resources consumed by our presence in Kunar that could be better applied other areas. When the Korengal and Waygal valleys were both occupied last during the 173rd’s rotation in 07-08, the better part of an entire Aviation Battalion was tied up in resupply operations for these outposts. The Pech was later occupied by nearly an entire Infantry Battalion, neutralizing the logistics benefits of leaving these valleys. Overall, the counterinsurgent-to-population ratio in the Pech was rather high when compared across RC East, leaving eastern Kunar and Nangarhar undermanned for little discernable benefit. Given the resource tradeoffs we face and the logistics and operational challenges of Kunar, it’s probably best to focus our forces in more favorable and more densely populated regions while interdicting sanctuary when intelligence supports.

Nick

Joshua Foust August 4, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Nick,

Thanks. I was kind of hoping you’d read this and comment. I still don’t know – as the commenter below noted, these are supply routes going into Pakistan. The last time I really studied it in depth was 2008, when they were certainly a problem but not really vital to the main insurgency. It seemed self-contained, in other words, with a relatively small number of chokepoints that could be monitored and interdicted if needed (I remain amazed, though, at how little attention is paid to the gun merchants running up and down the Panjshir Valley).

I agree that in the FOB Fenty AO, the priority should be on Jalalabad, and securing the routes between Jalalabad and Peshawar and Kabul. Especially considering how the security situation inside the city itself has deteriorated over the last few months, I think pulling back from northern Kunar to beef up the presence around Jalalabad proper is probably a better use of resources.

But again, none of this feels like a particularly good idea, just what we’re left with. Either way, I appreciate your first-hand insights, as always.

Capt. Monkey August 5, 2010 at 5:11 am

Nick-
Just out of curiousity, how much aviation assets were available when 173rd was here last? IIRC, in 2006 it was a single CAB for all of RC-East. With the 10th Mtn Div’s Decisive Operation being in Kunar, it would only make sense to have an aviation battalion supporting that fight. I know that by 2007, though, we were up to essentially 3 brigades in RC-East–so maybe the DO changed…

Is it possible to assume a lighter footprint? Use CDS bundles and heavy drops from fixed wing aircraft instead of rotary assets to conduct resupply?

What about LDI/CDI? The other thread recently talked quite a bit about those programs. Would they be more successful in N2K? MAJ Gant seems to think so. While I’m a bit outdated, I think they may work too. Many of my peers that were in that area around the same time think so too… Can we do a Unconventional Warfare mission in that area that limits the need for resupply assets?

Hmm… now you’ve got me thinking…

-Andy

ND August 5, 2010 at 10:49 am

Andy,

In 2006, there was only a single CAB for the entire country with a super-Battalion in Kandahar, two Battalions in Bagram, one in Salerno and a Company-plus at Jalalabad. In 2008, a second CAB was placed in Kandahar and the Bagram CAB was able to disperse more, placing a full Battalion (2-17 CAV) at Jalalabad. At the same time, Aviation Battalions were aligned with their supporting Brigades in a Direct Support relationship, greatly improving support (this has since reverted to GS under the 3rd CAB). Today, there are even more aviation resources with large operating sites also at FOB Shank and FOB Sharana.

My general concern is not the volume of aviation assets, but rather how they are used. A Battalion-sized attachment with additional AH-64s is probably sufficient for N2KL. When you give the DS aviation battalion the responsibility to fly two major bi-weekly resupply routes (Pech and Kam-Gow Re-supply) and a ring route (Red Ring), you leave little blade time for combat operations. Some of this pressure was relieved by the GS Battalion from Bagram, but nevertheless fully 2/3rd of CH-47 and ½ of AH-64 blade hours were consumed by these logistics operations. Indeed, one of the points missed in the Wanat reports is the negative impact of these resupply flights on the timing of the move and ability to push additional supplies to the outpost when needed. These aircraft are much better utilized to conduct air-mobile operations, aviation reconnaissance and logistics support of extended patrolling operations (or LDI perhaps).

On the DO issue, when the 82nd assumed responsibility from the 10th MTN DIV, the DO shifted from Kunar to the Haqqani network in Paktiya, Khost and Paktika for much of their tour, briefly shifting to Nangarhar for a major operation, before returning to P2KG. The 101st continued this emphasis, keeping their DO in P2KG throughout their tour (at least until I left in late 2008). When I returned in 2009, the 82nd conducted a major operational reevaluation and shifted the DO to Nangarhar Province where it remains today.

In general, I think this is more an exercise in semantics, rather than actual resource allocation priorities. With four BCTs in RC East and not nearly enough associated enablers, the CJTF more or less balances their allocation across BCTs rather than weighting the DO and I think Nangarhar remains undermanned to this day.

On LDI or VSP, I’m not convinced the conditions are favorable in Kunar for the widespread use of these programs. The insurgent networks in Kunar are very well armed, funded and experienced in direct fire attacks and would quickly physically (and financially) overwhelm LDI/VSP efforts. AP3 in Wardak has worked generally well (for security) because of the general weakness of the insurgency there, its village-bound nature and greater reliance on IEDs. I would prefer a more concerted effort to localize ANP recruiting and stationing and partner SF with ANA/ANP in the area to secure at least the Kunar River valley coupled with SOF interdiction in the Pech and its tributaries.

Joshua,

On the Panjshir gun-runners issue, I always found the calls to station huge volumes of forces on the remote portions of the border ridiculous until we made efforts to secure the actual, official border crossing points. Torkham Gate was [under]manned by ABP, Customs and U.S. forces for less than 12 hours a day until very recently. The same held true for Chaman Gate and the numerous smaller road crossing points (Arandu, Nawa, etc). If large amounts of weapons, supplies and other materials could be smuggled through the relatively few legal crossing points, why are we so concerned with securing endless remote mountain passes? This also hits at the concerns on the use of the Pech and Korengal (both many kilometers removed from the border) as supply lines into the rest of Afghanistan.

Nick

Capt. Monkey August 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

Nick-
You up for moving this conversation outside of the public domain? If so, you can hit me up at andrew.glenn@us.army.mil

I’d like to ask a few questions, pick your brain a little bit.

Andy

Anonymous August 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm

WRT paragraph subsequent to “I could be mistaken in this”: You are mistaken in this. The situation is almost the reverse of what you understand. The Kornegal and the valleys of Nuristan serve as a supply line fueling problems in the Pech River Valley. Once this is understood, and the associated family relationships are superimposed, then things begin to make sense. You’ve got it exactly backwards. The Safis can be, and should be, and have been respected, autonomous, yet loyal supporters of the government when properly treated. Protecting and courting them in an appropriate fashion creates a bulwark against the progress of more extreme forces in the area.

Joshua Foust August 4, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Cool. Help me brainstorm this, then: how can they be courted and protected in a way that doesn’t inspire revolt, and is sustainable against our logistical limitations in the area? If there is a way to do this, I really want to figure it out.

Capt. Monkey August 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

You’re breaking my heart Josh.

If we’re only concerned with areas of great strategic value, then what should we do? Park all of our forces on Highway 1, Kabul, Kandahar, Jbad, MeS, and Herat and ensure that the ring road works?

I’m worried that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Afghan insurgency at all levels. It isn’t an urban based insurgency. Dense population centers are not the centers of gravity that they are/were in Iraq or other insurgent movements. Because it is a rural insurgency, counterinsurgents must need be in rural areas with the population, which by extension means that we run the risk of spreading our forces thin. There’s always risk.

If it’s no longer worth the risk to put forces in the decisive points where they need to be in order to defeat the insurgent momentum, then it’s no longer worth the risk to be in the theater of operations at all. I highly disagree with that too.

Also, very low IED threat in the Pech. In 2005, it was the most dangerous road in Afghanistan, but the paving of the Pech River Road and increased force presence greatly reduced the number and severity. At times I wish the threat were higher so I could get back up there… and the primary threat isn’t IED activity.

@ Anonymous: What’s your source? Is that experiential? I’m trying to remember when I was last in that neck of the woods… I think we viewed the vallies as being staging/support zones for attacks in the Pech valley as well. That’s why we started pushing into the Waygal, Watapur, and Shuryak.

Maybe I’m just broken-hearted at the reality that I may never get to go back to that area and try to make the difference that I feel is possible there…

Joshua Foust August 4, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Capt. Monkey,

My concern is, I have a hard time pointing to how we have positively changed the areas branching off from the Pech for the better. Meanwhile, the cities, where the insurgency was not until very recently, are growing progressively worse. We cannot afford to lose them the way we’ve lost Kandahar. But we cannot be everywhere at once, with the resources we want.

FWIW, IED attacks in Pech have been climbing steadily from 2007-2009. Paved though the roads may be—and despite the almost religious insistence that paving, and not other factors, reduce IED emplacement—the area has become incredibly dangerous again. So something isn’t working. Is it things in other valleys, like the Korengal, or the constant back-and-forth in Bargimatal? I don’t know—that’s why I’m putting this out there. Data from 2005 isn’t good enough at this point, I’m afraid.

And I share your heartbreak at what’s happening there. I am holding onto hope that someday I’ll get to go back.

Capt. Monkey August 5, 2010 at 5:04 am

Josh-
I agree that it’s possible that we haven’t had a lasting, positive effect in the Korengal, Waygal, Shuryak, Watarpur or further West into Chapa Dara, etc.

Here’s what scares me, though. Everytime we pull back from a valley, in which we’ve had a footprint and invested ourselves, we send a clear IO message to the insurgency: “Hit us hard enough or long enough and we’ll leave.” We also send a message to the local populace: “You can’t count on us to be there when you need/want us.” Now in some areas, they don’t want us there to begin with–Korengal for example. As an example, we paid nearly 3x the going rate for day-labor ($20 vs $8 in other parts of RC-East), as early as April 2006. Clearly, our presence wasn’t really worth it to them. Now, I will also caveat that by saying that even some sons of village elders from Korengal and Qalaygal were working for CF. So, while they didn’t necessarily want us there, they were willing to capitalize on our presence.

Anyway, the first message I think is an extremely important one. Add to that the fact that when we abandon an area we add legitimacy to any shadow government that exists there, as they move in to the area more openly and can claim “we can address your needs better than GIRoA/ISAF.” This, in turn, adds legitimacy to the overall insurgency.

I agree that some sort of triage is necessary. I don’t think we can just abandon an area, though. And certainly not an area as large as the Pech River Valley (it represents more than 25% of the population of Kunar–more than the city of Asadabad).

Once I get NIPR back up and running, I’ll shoot you an email with my glorious plan that will get us back there… can you say “skyaking?”

-Andy

Abdullah August 5, 2010 at 8:51 am

“I’m worried that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Afghan insurgency at all levels.”
No need to worry Capt.,….. there truly is, some of ignorance, some out of intention. Understanding will not keep the $$$$ flowing.

Please keep going guy’s, I haven’t laughed this hard in years.

Potemkyn August 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

The US and GIRoA should completely abandon Barg-i-matal. It’s worse than a running sore. The Afghan Border Police that work there regularly hand over their supplies and munitions to insurgents in order to bribe them into not attacking. Every supply run for the Afghans turns into a supply run for the insurgents as well. These resources are then redirected towards American forces in Kunar. The fight in Barg-i-Matal is self-defeating in the worst way.

Unfortunately, the only way to withdraw US forces from these remote areas seems to rely on setting up ‘functioning’ Afghan Security Forces which will execute operations in a similar way that the ABP at Barg-i-Matal currently do.

The worst part about all this is that I’ve heard from a friend there that despite the closing of four US bases in and around northern Kunar/Kamdesh last year, attacks are up over 100% compared with last year. There does appear to be some sort of spill over in resources if not fighters in Kunar.

Anonymous August 5, 2010 at 8:37 pm

A couple of comments:
1. N2KL helo assets in 2006 were less than stated in one of these posts. There was not a company+ of aviation in Jalalabad; rather, there were two MEDEVAC UH60s and two AH64s for escort. When the MEDEVACs flew, the Apaches were dedicated to them and close combat aviation support had to fly in from Bagram, 40 minutes away from Jalalabad and more from the fighting in Kunar. On some occasions lift helos would be displaced forward to Jalalabad for a limited period, and for a while there was an aviation planning cell there, too. This should give some feeling for the scarcity of assets in Afghanistan during that period.
2. To answer a question in another post: Yes, airdrop was used almost daily to resupply outposts in Kunar and Nuristan. However, when you miss by a little you miss by a lot in those mountains, so this was not reliable as a sole means of resupply. And helos get shot down, so ground LOCs were critical. For instance, the Korengal road was begun to force a ground LOC, not as a COIN “benefit” for the locals (in fact, Zarawar Khan was livid when he discovered the road would only go as far as the KOP). For another instance, the Pech outposts needed a reliable ground LOC among them. Sum: Airdrop was used, rotary was frequent, but ground LOCs are crucial. Fortunately, GLOCs are also what you use to connect ink spots. BTW, Josh, this is why roads are important: because they are something that the Coalition needs and that the people need. Where the population favors us or is on the fence, roads give us something in common to work on. This is the basis of a good, mutually respectful and mutually beneficial relationship.
3. Kunar was not 10th Mountain’s DO. Except for Operation Mountain Lion in April 2006, it was always a supporting effort.
4. Yes, CPT Monkey, the basis for my comments is experiential.
5. Oh, NOW I know who you are, CPT Monkey. You are a great officer.
6. This is a really good blog you run, Josh.

Capt. Monkey August 5, 2010 at 11:59 pm

And I have a feeling that I know who you are. I certainly appreciate you weighing in, sir! The sentiment is more than mutual. If I ever get a home FOB with DSN, I’ll try to give you another call.

Anecdotally, I remember an airdrop in the Korengal where a water blivet was dropped and missed by a little. The blivet then rolled down the mountain (I want to say about 2,000 verticle feet–but it’s been a long time and my memory may be fuzzy). Yes, it was not recoverable at all.

For what it’s worth, one of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned in my Army career revolved around a certain GLOC that I failed to get opened in a timely enough manner.

How would you recommend handling the issue of the interior of Kunar and Nuristan? It still seems to me that pulling out of all of those areas is a dangerous and ill-conceived idea…

-Andy

Infidel 3-1 August 11, 2010 at 9:42 am

The fuel blivet wasn’t exactly dropped wrong. 2PLT was trying to roll it down from the LZ, and of course the thing weighed thousands of pounds. It got away from them & then proceeded to tumble down the mountainside from Restrepo.

And I don’t care what anyone says about stretched air assets, or how the Korengal doesn’t make any difference. I never expected air support when we left the wire and the mortars from the KOP were usually sufficient. Leaving there was a victory for the Taliban. And where does it end? Now everyone’s debating pulling out of the Pech?! What’s next? The entire Kunar Province? Jesus, why not just abandon the entire country if that’s gonna be the mentality. It makes me sick. Yes, war is hard. It’s supposed to be. It’s war. What you don’t do is give a bunch of fanatical Taliban hope by evacuating an epicenter of the fight.

FDChief August 16, 2010 at 3:08 am

“Jesus, why not just abandon the entire country if that’s gonna be the mentality.”

Well…

That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

Foreign Internal Defense is supposed to be a transient mission, one that allows the local government time to pull itself together and come up with a political and military competence that eventually either crushes the rebellion or forces the rebels to the conference table. So the notion that the U.S./NATO can’t ever leave this valley or that city…well, that’s called “colonization”, and let’s sit here for a moment and reflect on how well that’s gone in Central Asia in the past.

So the deal here is to figure out how to do this with Afghans, since the only historically successful ways of suppressing rebellion are with massive force, which we have neither the inclination nor the ability to use successfully (i.e. the moment we did we’d “lose” the larger geopolitical struggle) or through a combination of astute political pressure and an effective local proxy. Note that I wouldn’t consider an ANA/ANP built along Western lines “effective” – the country hasn’t the technical or revenue base to sustain it.

In short – the best way to “win” these places is to leave them…in the hands of a capable local proxy who can do our dirty work for us. The problem being, of course, is that so far the competent locals seem to be largely fighting for the other side.

I don’t have an answer – I honestly don’t think there IS a good answer – but while I understand the frustration that makes you post this, the same frustration is the sort of thing that got a lot of good troops killed in places like Mogadishu…and for what?

Capt. Monkey August 17, 2010 at 1:24 am

What got a lot of good troops killed in places like Mogadishu was an aggressive CT policy veiled in a humanitarian mission with obscured command and control. The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing and so could not provide the immediate support needed when things went downhill.

The debate seems to be more about the strategic goals in Afghanistan. The argument against being in N2K goes something like this: “The population in N2K, with the execption of Jalalabad and to a lesser extent Asadabad, is sparse. The area does not have ready access to Kabul, nor the ring road. Highway 7 (Peshawar – Khyber – Torkham – Jalalabad – Kabul) is the only strategically important piece of infrastructure. We should shuffle our forces to Jalalabad and to protect that one piece of highway.”

The problem is that following this line of logic neglects the fact that the Pech disctrict of Kunar accounts for 25% of the population (more than Asadabad). HiG, LeT, JeM, TTP, etc all move freely through the area. Infiltration from Chitral, and other parts of the NWFP to N2K provides the enemy freedom of maneuver (FoM) along the major highways and they can easily move through Asadabad, Jalalabad, and into Kabul. Not leaving ANY capacity for governance or legitimacy of force has left a vacuum that is quickly being filled by those aforementioned groups. The FoM extends to the ability to meet and gather freely, plan and coordinate attacks, consolidate and reorganize (i.e., lick their wounds), train new fighters and IED facilitators. And oh by the way, Pakistan insists that many top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are still in the N2K region, including Osama bin Laden. Now, who knows if that piece is true, but it certainly is possible.

Just because a fight is dark and tough or the terrain is steep and rough–that is no reason to shy away from doing what is necessary. The decision over a year ago to begin withdrawing from Nuristan and culminating in the discussion of withdrawal from Kunar has marked a serious turn in the engagement in Afghanistan. They hold far more strategic significance than we give them credit. It’s tragic that we are neglecting these areas and it’s going to wind up damaging our overall effort.

-Andy

Render August 17, 2010 at 11:51 pm

By choosing to refuse a flank doesn’t one only prolong the inevitable envelopment?

Has the blockhouse strategy ever really worked?

Aren’t we simply recreating, albeit with better accuracy and more efficient systems, much of the Soviet strategy and tactics used three decades ago in the exact same region, with much the same results?

From 5,000 miles away it seems that more and more 14.5mm AAA guns are showing up in the recent enemy videos from the area. No way to tell from here if that’s actually a reflection of the ground truth, but if it is it would certainly effect helicopter ops, wouldn’t it?

That artificial dividing line beyond which the enemy cannot be pursued, what if we moved it 30 or 40 miles to the west?

===

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/08/taliban_al_qaeda_for.php

Information black outs can be both good and bad. I learned long ago to expect the worst and hope to be pleasantly surprised. So surprise me…

LONG LENS
POOR FOCUS,
R

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