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  #1  
Old 03-14-2009, 02:38 PM
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Default On Patrol in the Afghan Mountains

COMBAT OUTPOST MONTI, Asmar, Afghanistan - Deputy Commander Abdullah wants to show his American colleagues that - after all these years - he can still shoot straight with a bazooka.

In the twilight, against the backdrop of a snowy pass at 2,700 meters, he takes aim at a mountain side and unleashes a rocket that fires out of a shoulder tube with a deafening thunder, echoing across the terraced green valley below.

The United States forces from the 10th Mountain Division cheer as the old warrior strokes his long beard, dyed red to hide the gray, and smiles broadly at his handy work.

Abdullah, who once fought the Soviets in the 1980s from the same sanctuaries in Pakistan now used by the Taliban, other guerrilla groups and al-Qaeda, has an unlikely counterpart in the fight this spring. He is Lieutenant Jake Kerr, a steely-eyed redhead and a 2007 graduate in "counter-insurgency studies" from West Point. Kerr's fighters are amused by the jovial, hashish-smoking Afghans, who stand with them on one of the world's most dangerous of frontlines.



They swap intelligence, gun secrets and air assets even as the fighting has already begun to heat up opposite the Bajaur and Swat regions of Pakistan. Pakistan's own US-backed army has all but abandoned the border areas to Islamic insurgents through "peace deals" that Western officials say are tantamount to surrender.

Down in a nearby valley, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick O'Donnell, who commands the 10th Mountain Division's 1-32 infantry battalion out of Fort Drum, New York, is not hiding his strategy from the insurgents.

"We are trying to flood the zone on this side of the border and move into areas where they are not," he said. "This border area is the center for insurgent math and it has multiple foci." North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and US forces are only now attempting to seize the high mountain passes that have fueled a growing insurgency inside Afghanistan since the Iraq War started leaching crucial US military resources in 2003.

There is a growing understanding in the NATO and US high command circles now, however, that as long as the insurgents can keep their supply lines open, even the best of Afghan and Western coalition "nation building" efforts are likely to collapse in the long run.

To that end, the US Army's 1st Infantry Division is scaling cliffs and remote trails along the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, abandoning some bases and building new outposts. New US positions often provide line of sight and fire towards the border crossings. Small 10th Mountain units, like that of Kerr, often set up overnight camps with Afghan colleagues in the police and border police.

"Our Afghan colleagues have assisted us with information on infiltration as well as the ties going into Pakistan," said Kerr. "We are getting a picture of how the bad guys operate and where they slip into Afghanistan." Just wading through the layers of intrigue between warlords, government administrators and insurgents requires hours of tea drinking, chatting and final analysis every day.

Along with Afghan allies, including the Border Police and the Afghan Army, US forces are determined to slice into insurgent supply lines, some of them mere goat paths through the alpine terrain. In Kunar Province alone, the number of US troops has been bolstered by 200% in the past two years, more so this year because of a "mini-surge" by the 10th Mountain Division, which commands key border posts here.

Their effort is part of a White House and Pentagon-sanctioned injection of 17,000 fresh troops into Afghanistan, a figure that will almost quadruple the initial US ground presence here in 2002.

Lieutenant Colonel O'Donnell displayed a precise aerial photograph of a column of men of fighting age crossing in knee deep snow from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Bulky clothing made it unclear if the men were smuggling in weapons. "They are too savvy to fire at our helicopters when we pass overhead and we believe they often move men and arms in at different border crossings so as to avoid detection," he said. The US military will rarely bomb a column of fighters without knowing precisely who they are and what arms they have stored.

Lurking in the shadows, literally right across the border, is Osama bin Laden and his vast al-Qaeda network, which has stepped up its own efforts to bolster the Afghan insurgency. "Al-Qaeda is an important force multiplier for the Taliban and its allies," said Seth Jones, an American counter-insurgency expert and the author of the forthcoming book, In the Graveyard of Empires (W W Norton, 2009).

He said that al-Qaeda has assisted with insurgent camps inside Pakistan, many of which consist of large courtyards in adobe homes, which serve as education and weapons training centers.

Back along the border, even as O'Donnell speaks with a Western reporter, his men and women are dodging 107mm rockets fired from just inside Afghanistan. The rockets come whirring over the tan tents spread out in a parched valley as 10th Mountain soldiers dive for bomb shelters, where they often spend hours on end smoking and talking. Most of the rockets miss their targets but this week one hit unsuspecting new arrivals and sent two intelligence officers whipping back out of camp in medivac helicopters.

It is a game of cat and mouse that insurgents relish playing against the world's most powerful military. O'Donnell's intelligence officers know the insurgents that are firing on them down to the first and last name and how many rockets they have slipped into Afghanistan on any one day. Oddly, that information has not been enough to pinpoint the culprits, who have been working the same stretch of the border for at least three years.

"These guys are not living in caves," said one US military intelligence officer. "We simply can't distinguish them because they are co-mingling with the local population."

Beyond the sand bags and barbed wire of remote outposts like those overseen by the Afghan Border Police and Kerr, Afghan civilians still live in fear of insurgents that pass through their villages in the dead of night and demand their silence. Single families cannot prevent the guerrilla movements and informing on them risks severe punishment, even execution.
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  #2  
Old 03-15-2009, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Exo1 View Post
COMBAT OUTPOST MONTI, Asmar, Afghanistan - Deputy Commander Abdullah wants to show his American colleagues that - after all these years - he can still shoot straight with a bazooka.

In the twilight, against the backdrop of a snowy pass at 2,700 meters, he takes aim at a mountain side and unleashes a rocket that fires out of a shoulder tube with a deafening thunder, echoing across the terraced green valley below.

The United States forces from the 10th Mountain Division cheer as the old warrior strokes his long beard, dyed red to hide the gray, and smiles broadly at his handy work.

Abdullah, who once fought the Soviets in the 1980s from the same sanctuaries in Pakistan now used by the Taliban, other guerrilla groups and al-Qaeda, has an unlikely counterpart in the fight this spring. He is Lieutenant Jake Kerr, a steely-eyed redhead and a 2007 graduate in "counter-insurgency studies" from West Point. Kerr's fighters are amused by the jovial, hashish-smoking Afghans, who stand with them on one of the world's most dangerous of frontlines.



They swap intelligence, gun secrets and air assets even as the fighting has already begun to heat up opposite the Bajaur and Swat regions of Pakistan. Pakistan's own US-backed army has all but abandoned the border areas to Islamic insurgents through "peace deals" that Western officials say are tantamount to surrender.

Down in a nearby valley, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick O'Donnell, who commands the 10th Mountain Division's 1-32 infantry battalion out of Fort Drum, New York, is not hiding his strategy from the insurgents.

"We are trying to flood the zone on this side of the border and move into areas where they are not," he said. "This border area is the center for insurgent math and it has multiple foci." North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and US forces are only now attempting to seize the high mountain passes that have fueled a growing insurgency inside Afghanistan since the Iraq War started leaching crucial US military resources in 2003.

There is a growing understanding in the NATO and US high command circles now, however, that as long as the insurgents can keep their supply lines open, even the best of Afghan and Western coalition "nation building" efforts are likely to collapse in the long run.

To that end, the US Army's 1st Infantry Division is scaling cliffs and remote trails along the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, abandoning some bases and building new outposts. New US positions often provide line of sight and fire towards the border crossings. Small 10th Mountain units, like that of Kerr, often set up overnight camps with Afghan colleagues in the police and border police.

"Our Afghan colleagues have assisted us with information on infiltration as well as the ties going into Pakistan," said Kerr. "We are getting a picture of how the bad guys operate and where they slip into Afghanistan." Just wading through the layers of intrigue between warlords, government administrators and insurgents requires hours of tea drinking, chatting and final analysis every day.

Along with Afghan allies, including the Border Police and the Afghan Army, US forces are determined to slice into insurgent supply lines, some of them mere goat paths through the alpine terrain. In Kunar Province alone, the number of US troops has been bolstered by 200% in the past two years, more so this year because of a "mini-surge" by the 10th Mountain Division, which commands key border posts here.

Their effort is part of a White House and Pentagon-sanctioned injection of 17,000 fresh troops into Afghanistan, a figure that will almost quadruple the initial US ground presence here in 2002.

Lieutenant Colonel O'Donnell displayed a precise aerial photograph of a column of men of fighting age crossing in knee deep snow from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Bulky clothing made it unclear if the men were smuggling in weapons. "They are too savvy to fire at our helicopters when we pass overhead and we believe they often move men and arms in at different border crossings so as to avoid detection," he said. The US military will rarely bomb a column of fighters without knowing precisely who they are and what arms they have stored.

Lurking in the shadows, literally right across the border, is Osama bin Laden and his vast al-Qaeda network, which has stepped up its own efforts to bolster the Afghan insurgency. "Al-Qaeda is an important force multiplier for the Taliban and its allies," said Seth Jones, an American counter-insurgency expert and the author of the forthcoming book, In the Graveyard of Empires (W W Norton, 2009).

He said that al-Qaeda has assisted with insurgent camps inside Pakistan, many of which consist of large courtyards in adobe homes, which serve as education and weapons training centers.

Back along the border, even as O'Donnell speaks with a Western reporter, his men and women are dodging 107mm rockets fired from just inside Afghanistan. The rockets come whirring over the tan tents spread out in a parched valley as 10th Mountain soldiers dive for bomb shelters, where they often spend hours on end smoking and talking. Most of the rockets miss their targets but this week one hit unsuspecting new arrivals and sent two intelligence officers whipping back out of camp in medivac helicopters.

It is a game of cat and mouse that insurgents relish playing against the world's most powerful military. O'Donnell's intelligence officers know the insurgents that are firing on them down to the first and last name and how many rockets they have slipped into Afghanistan on any one day. Oddly, that information has not been enough to pinpoint the culprits, who have been working the same stretch of the border for at least three years.

"These guys are not living in caves," said one US military intelligence officer. "We simply can't distinguish them because they are co-mingling with the local population."

Beyond the sand bags and barbed wire of remote outposts like those overseen by the Afghan Border Police and Kerr, Afghan civilians still live in fear of insurgents that pass through their villages in the dead of night and demand their silence. Single families cannot prevent the guerrilla movements and informing on them risks severe punishment, even execution.
From a British point of view I'd like to see our contribution double if its to mean anything. But then I wonder whose going to pay for it, now that our economy is F-cked!
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  #3  
Old 03-16-2009, 02:04 PM
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From a British point of view I'd like to see our contribution double if its to mean anything. But then I wonder whose going to pay for it, now that our economy is F-cked!
The west is getting financially raped by the bankers, and yes, we got to do something on getting numbers up.. Withdrawals from Iraq may help, but if other developed countries could club together on Afganistan and military deployments as they have done on the financial crises then no one nation would have to overly committ its military.... share the love so to speak!!...
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Old 03-25-2009, 03:53 PM
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From what I know,our brothers and sisters are chipping away in Afghanistan with their heads held high.More numbers?,I don't know if that's the answer.The fight out there is one we can't ignore or bail from,there's more at stake for us(freedom loving people) then a pointless scuffle across the other side of the world.However, things have to happen politically.We could send a million out there and still be faced with the same problems.Our boys and girls are bumping heads with those extremist rag heads and that plays a big part in the situation but, politics play a bigger part.

Pound for pound we would smash those jokers into the dirt,problem is our government wants it both ways.....Win a war with your left hand and keep the peace with the right.

My brother told me the other week,the good will always out, That's what makes him a better man then me,I'm a cynic I suppose.

May fate return our troops home,safe and well
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by DPJ1 View Post
From what I know,our brothers and sisters are chipping away in Afghanistan with their heads held high.More numbers?,I don't know if that's the answer.The fight out there is one we can't ignore or bail from,there's more at stake for us(freedom loving people) then a pointless scuffle across the other side of the world.However, things have to happen politically.We could send a million out there and still be faced with the same problems.Our boys and girls are bumping heads with those extremist rag heads and that plays a big part in the situation but, politics play a bigger part.

Pound for pound we would smash those jokers into the dirt,problem is our government wants it both ways.....Win a war with your left hand and keep the peace with the right.

My brother told me the other week,the good will always out, That's what makes him a better man then me,I'm a cynic I suppose.

May fate return our troops home,safe and well
The Allies, US and UK in particular are doing a first rate job there, and should be extremely proud of what they are acheiving and doing. I would say that more troops, ramping up the ROEs, and making sure that the troops have the lattitude and tools for the job is needed... Its gonna be a tough one, and looks like Pakistan will have to be addressed too... but on a multi pronged strategy... military action alone will not work...
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Old 04-05-2009, 04:14 PM
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Fox News thinks the US is the only country doing anything in Afghanistan, which is quite insulting and totally incorrect. It seems strange that the concensus has accepted that a military solution is not viable in Afghanistan and yet Obama wants more combat troops deployed to Afghanistan.
Lets not forget that the Taleban were not our enemy until they harboured Bin Laden after 9/11....They were a backward brutal regime prior to 9/11 and yet we accomodated them and wanted to do deals with them
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:31 PM
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Fox News thinks the US is the only country doing anything in Afghanistan, which is quite insulting and totally incorrect. It seems strange that the concensus has accepted that a military solution is not viable in Afghanistan and yet Obama wants more combat troops deployed to Afghanistan.
Lets not forget that the Taleban were not our enemy until they harboured Bin Laden after 9/11....They were a backward brutal regime prior to 9/11 and yet we accomodated them and wanted to do deals with them
The majority of NATO sit back and run defensive ops, and that's ONLY if the bad guys come to them and infringe upon their snack time and manicures.

The UK, Canada, and a few other countries are assisting with offensive operations, but they are in the minority and their numbers do not equal anything near that of US forces ... so it's very accurate to say the US is carrying most of the weight. It's not an insult to any of our allies that are assisting with offensive operations ... we're glad to have them, proud to work with them and appreciate the work they do and blood they spill, but it doesn't change the fact that the US bears the most burden. Just the nature of the beast.

On your other points:

Obama is simply attempting to parrot a solution thrown towards Iraq. More boots .. more security. It worked there. It will not work in Afghanistan.

As for the Taliban, they served a greater purpose to us during the Cold War ... after the USSR fell, they no longer served that purpose. Welcome to the game of geopolitical Risk and lack of foresight.
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:49 PM
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The majority of NATO sit back and run defensive ops, and that's ONLY if the bad guys come to them and infringe upon their snack time and manicures.

The UK, Canada, and a few other countries are assisting with offensive operations, but they are in the minority and their numbers do not equal anything near that of US forces ... so it's very accurate to say the US is carrying most of the weight. It's not an insult to any of our allies that are assisting with offensive operations ... we're glad to have them, proud to work with them and appreciate the work they do and blood they spill, but it doesn't change the fact that the US bears the most burden. Just the nature of the beast.

On your other points:

Obama is simply attempting to parrot a solution thrown towards Iraq. More boots .. more security. It worked there. It will not work in Afghanistan.

As for the Taliban, they served a greater purpose to us during the Cold War ... after the USSR fell, they no longer served that purpose. Welcome to the game of geopolitical Risk and lack of foresight.
Assisting? Get a grip!The US had virtually no ground presence in Helmand/Kandahar prior to British/Canadian involvement there. It was the nut you didn't want to crack and were quite happy looking vacant in East Afghanistan. You (The US) are doing some serious bitching about Europe at present. Why don't you just grow a pair and mature as a nation! FFS We had to and nobody gave a flying F-ck about us for along time.
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:56 PM
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I think Blackwater should get redeployed to Afghanistan, They could maybe take care of Kabul
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Old 04-08-2009, 05:06 PM
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I think Blackwater should get redeployed to Afghanistan, They could maybe take care of Kabul
They'd have to rename the the company Spike....
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