They just wont let it lie.
March 2, 2002 2:25 PM   Subscribe

They just wont let it lie. What posses these people to keep fighting against overwhelming odds.I can see what they are against but for the life of me I cannot see what they are for.Couple of points near the bottom of the piece are interesting.IHave I been asleep or has the killing of innocents on 23 January been underreported.Does the fact that small raids have led to arrest interrogation and subsequent release answer my own question? I am perplexed,are there any good guys?
posted by Fat Buddha (10 comments total)
Why should they "let it lie" if the alternative is being deported to Cuba, to face a military tribunal and the death penalty with no prospect of appeal?
They have no idea whether they will be interrogated, then released or shipped out of the country to a six foot cage.
posted by laukf at 3:03 PM on March 2, 2002

Afghan forces wore black wool caps with white pieces of paper on the tops, so US helicopter pilots could distinguish them from Taliban and Al Qaeda.

(I Hope nobody in the Taliban or Al Qaeda reads the Christian Science Monitor.)
posted by Zbobo at 3:49 PM on March 2, 2002

whoops,trust me to let the white paper disguise out of the bag.
Lauk,call me a pussy but that is exactly why I would let it lie.If I go against these guy I am guaranteed major unpleasantness.
I am also guaranteed to lose.
Fuck That !
What exactly do theses guys want,I really dont know.
posted by Fat Buddha at 4:21 PM on March 2, 2002

What exactly do theses guys want,I really dont know.

They want to see paradise.
posted by victors at 4:36 PM on March 2, 2002

Cuba's not paradise? Ooh, that's gonna piss off Castro...
posted by UnReality at 5:28 PM on March 2, 2002

laukf, I'm not sure what you are referring to since the current draft tribunal rules state: International terrorism suspects brought before U.S. military commissions would be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, could be sentenced to death only by a unanimous vote of the commissions' members and would have the right to an appeal, according to draft procedures for the commissions.
posted by schlyer at 5:30 PM on March 2, 2002

What nobody is talking about is just how 60 US "military advisors" and nearly a thousand Afghanis got sent into a battle against what was originally thought to be 500 al Qaeda... only to have later reports say there could be as many as 5,000 enemies, dug into the high ground, equipped with heavy machine guns, mortars, rockets, etc.

It's worth noting that casualty reports here are preliminary, and that Afghani soldiers reported that some of their troops may have been cut off and/or captured. Clearly, the element of surprize was lost in this attack. Fortunately, the US is still good at extracating its soldiers from hairy situations.

We might have to wait a few days to really know what the real casualty count was on this attack, but it sounds like one of the worst failures of US military intelligence since Mogadishu.

It also indicates a failure of US military policy, which generally dictates using strengths against weaknesses in an overwhelming, highly directed nature.

I have nothing against US special forces being used as military advisors. I also have nothing against them being used in elite raids. I do have a problem with sending elite troops into battle alongside the Afghani troops, however. It's like giving away all your advantages - surprize, stealth, speed, the ability to hit-and-run, the ability to conduct military operations at night, etc.

In other words, either let US special forces conduct their own missions with every advantage against the enemy possible, or keep them safely out of the range of enemy fire.

So, do you think we'll have similar luck with U.S. military advisors in Philippines, Yemen, and Georgia?
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:37 PM on March 2, 2002

Have I been asleep or has the killing of innocents on 23 January been underreported.

That raid has been covered all over the place.
posted by rcade at 6:56 AM on March 3, 2002

It's not "white paper", it's thermal recognition tape used for identification-friend-or-foe (IFF). This easily distributes on a roll like masking tape and those rolls were handed out to Northern Alliance and Karzai-affiliated forces beginning last fall. Of course, like any IFF system, it is vulnerable to security breaches, but it would be unlikely for an entire enemy force to be able to outfit itself to the degree that friendly forces would be. As such, it simplifies the process but does not wholly replace battlefield judgement by humans.

insomnia, it seems to me you're using highly charged characterizations of what has all the looks of a standard operation. Is it some kind of awfully surprising military precedent that the enemy turned out to have more people and be more dug in than intelligence had indicated? Surely it's a disappointment, but this sort of thing happens every damned day in a real war -- get a grip. As for your backseat driving about the use of special forces, I would submit that they are most likely being used in ways that closely correspond to their training and that they are also most likely very willing to take on more active assignments. Most of the "special forces" teams we sent into Afghanistan were actually used not so much in sneak commando attacks but as battlefield intelligence and ordnance targeting teams. While well within their capabilities these are jobs that are normally assigned to other groups (e.g. Army Pathfinder units).

There are broad political reasons for giving the bulk of the fighting to local troops: every success strengthens the hand of the central government, the close relationships we have with local commanders temporize their warlordlike ambitions, and overall it deepens the bond with the US. Sending our own troops into battle raises their own morale and seals their reputation with the locals. In terms of these straggling Taliban forces, the Tora Bora experience shows that among other things a) the Afghan forces sent to the fight will be underequipped, undermanned, unprofessional and undisciplined; b) the American troops must be on the ground to monitor the situation and detect any enemy exfiltration; c) the American forces must be in sufficent number to conduct their own operations as necessary, e.g. closing a hole; d) without American troop presence it is difficult to ensure that the Afghan forces will pursue the same ends that we would like. (These are standard issues with any alliance; even the US and UK had deep differences of opinion about various WWII operations.)

And I'm completely baffled at your assumption that because we have small numbers of elite troops, that they would be effective alone against dug-in troops arrayed in defensive fortifications.

Frankly, I'm quite glad that we have a professional military who is somewhat insulated from politics and able to make these decisions on its own. The last thing they need is pressure to change their strategies from ill-informed citizens on message boards.

Finally, do not judge the success of the operation by the fact that there have been casualties. This is the way war works, and nobody knows it better than these soldiers.
posted by dhartung at 11:52 AM on March 3, 2002

insom-lj, please refer to SOG operations during vietnam war, hunter-killer teams operating either alone or detached to SVA Regs (most likely paratroopers). They were advisors and the advised, (SOG teams) when inflitrating enemy territory. The low numbers(U.S.) keep ones unit mobile and somewhat blended in. SOG units usually operated in the deep of cover but when used for raids they could call upon airstrikes even arty. I would envision todays operations in similar fashion. Warfare kept on that scale has proven to be highly effective in routing the enemy. (though highly dangerous)
posted by clavdivs at 2:09 PM on March 4, 2002

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