Something I Missed

by Joshua Foust on 1/17/2011 · 1 comment

BruceR notices something I missed in the Paula Broadwell saga-of-actually-describing-what-happened in Tarok Kaloche/Kalacha. And it is a doozy.

Note that ABP (Afghan Border Police) is the only Afghan unit in that list. ABP: by this, Paul is referring undoubtedly to Raziq’s chaps from Spin Boldak, who we’ve talked about before here and here. No Afghan regular army, for instance, or local police. Now, Raziq, it’s fair to say if you follow the links, is not loved by all Kandaharis, and has been accused before of increasing the Taliban’s support through selective atrocities against other Pashtun tribes. His forces have no jurisdiction in Arghandab, deep inside the country, or even deep local knowledge to offer… Wow. But he was the Afghan partner who provided the only host nation input around the table about whether the village needed to be destroyed in order to be saved? Just… wow.

Wow indeed. I should have noticed that. I think I was distracted by the physical disgust at dropping ordinance on a village because of a few HMEs. But this makes the story even worse than it already appeared to be. This whole damned thing stinks to high heaven.

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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 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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{ 1 comment }

sayke January 18, 2011 at 2:14 am

we have more sources on this, and it’s a damn interesting story. the ultimate responsibility lies with the taliban for turning whole villages into impenetrable minefields, and it’s not clear what exactly the US should be doing differently, but regardless – check it out:

During the Kandahar operation, Americans have unleashed ferocious air bombardments. In some parts of the Argandab, U.S. troops discovered the Taliban had cleared out whole villages and rigged each house with homemade explosives. In one October operation to clear the way for Razziq’s troops, American aircraft dropped about 25 2,000-pound bombs and twice as many 500-pound bombs, while also firing powerful rockets over the ridge from the Kandahar Air Field miles away.

“We obliterated those towns. They’re not there at all,” Martindale said. “These are just parking lots right now.”

Martindale said civilians had long ago fled the Taliban-dominated area, and that the U.S. attacks did not cause civilian casualties – a claim that could not be independently verified.

Faced with the NATO and Afghan push, American commanders believe that many Taliban leaders have retreated to Pakistan, leaving lower-level fighters to stage attacks in Kandahar. Part of this appears to be the normal ebb of fighting in Afghanistan, as insurgents slow their tempo in the colder months.

Afghans living in Zhari and Panjwayi cited many complaints with the current operations, including homes and orchards damaged by American troops, no government support for the people and elusive Taliban guerrillas who dodge the conventional armies.

“Who are the victims of these operations? Just the local people. If the Taliban comes, the people suffer, if the foreign forces come, the people suffer,” said Mohammad Rahim, a member of Panjwayi’s district council. “The Taliban always leave, and the Taliban always come back.”

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