The U.S. military has reprimanded an unusually large number of commanders for battlefield failures in Afghanistan in recent weeks, reflecting a new push by the top brass to hold commanders responsible for major incidents in which troops are killed or wounded, said senior military officials.
The military does not release figures on disciplinary actions taken against field commanders. But officials familiar with recent investigations said letters of reprimand or other disciplinary action have been recommended for officers involved in three ambushes in which U.S. troops battled Taliban forces in remote villages in 2008 and 2009. Such administrative actions can scuttle chances for promotion and end a career if they are made part of an officer's permanent personnel file.
The investigations are a departure for the U.S. military, which until recently has been reluctant to second-guess commanders whose decisions might have played a role in the deaths of soldiers in enemy action. Disciplinary action has been more common in cases in which U.S. troops have injured or killed civilians.
In response to the recent reprimands, some military officials have argued that casualties are inevitable in war and that a culture of excessive investigations could make officers risk-averse.
"This is a war where the other side is trying, too," said one Army officer who commanded troops in Afghanistan and requested anonymity in order to speak freely.
As many as five battlefield commanders have received letters of reprimand in the past month or have been the subject of an investigation by a general who recommended disciplinary action. A sixth commander received a less-severe formal letter of admonishment. None of the investigations or letters of reprimand has been released publicly.
The reprimands come amid growing political pressure from lawmakers who have pushed the military to assign greater accountability for incidents in which large numbers of U.S. troops are killed or wounded. The Pentagon's top leaders Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also have been quicker to dismiss senior officers, fostering a change in the overall culture.
In 2009 they relieved the top commander in Afghanistan for his stewardship of the war. "The issue of holding people accountable is something Admiral Mullen watches very, very carefully," said a senior military official.
So Rules of Engagement make it impossible to shoot back at the Taliban. Now the top "brass" have decided to punish officers whose men get shot. Sounds to me like American Hater Obama ("The Commander in Chief's") dream of demoralizing the US military is coming true.
Posted by: War On Terror ||
02/05/2010 17:58 Comments ||
The battle at Combat Outpost Keating in Oct 2009 didn't seem to have much to do with restrictive rules of engagement. From the WSJ article cited elsewhere today on the 'Burg: The U.S. military decided to close the outpost in July and August 2009, but delayed the move because of other operations. Such a "mindset of imminent closure" prevented the unit from improving the outpost's defenses even as intelligence reports warned of a planned strike by "a large enemy force," Friday's report said. These inadequate defenses, in turn, have made Keating into "an attractive target" for the Taliban, the report added. Dozens of other vulnerable combat outposts, manned just by a few dozen soldiers, remain in Afghanistan. The report urged coalition commanders to assess "the value and the vulnerabilities" of each of these bases to prevent similar incidents in the future.
I keep getting the impression that the military is trying to do too much with too little in Afghanistan.
OTOH BHARAT RAKSHAK/MIL FORUMS > [US INTEL ingeneral]CIA ALLOWS ITS AGENTS TO MOONLIGHT, in order to stem serious Agency-internal probs wid "SPY FLIGHT" INCLUD LOW-PAY.
The CIA = US INTEL wants Amer to believe that, despite allowing or tolerating "moonlighting", they can effec control their Agents-Employees from become subject to select ANTI-AGENCY, ANTI-MISSION/SCOPE, ETC. MALICIOUS PARTISAN INFLUENCES???
Read - turn TRAITOR, MAFIA, DOUBLE- or TRIPLE AGENCY, OTHER "FIFTH COLUMN" AGZ THEIR OWN AGENCY + COUNTRY???
WASHINGTON (CNN) - When it comes to launching a major military operation, most would assume that preparations are done secretly so as not to tip off the enemy.
So how do the U.S., coalition military and Afghan government prepare for a major clearing operation to eliminate the Taliban from an insurgent stronghold? Talk about it publicly ahead of time.
For months now, one of the worst kept secrets in Afghanistan's central Helmand region has been the forthcoming operation to take back control of the poppy-covered and Taliban-held Marjah district in the restive central Helmand province region.
The area is home to some of the most serious fighting between the coalition and Taliban in the country, and also is some of the most fertile land in the country.
Helmand province is in southern central Afghanistan and is patrolled mainly by forces from the United Kingdom and U.S. Marines, and it has been on the coalition's radar for a long time as Taliban dug in and funded their operations with money from poppy production.
Central Helmand is also home to the majority of the world supply of heroin, about 60 percent, according to U.S. government officials. The relationship of convenience between narco-traffickers and the Taliban brings in about $400 million to the Taliban from the poppy sales, "more than enough for them to conduct the kind of operations they do," according to a
senior U.S. military official.
The U.S. military has been briefing reporters for months on basics, mainly that the Marjah region is the target of this operation. However, officials have been leaving out details of how and when the operation will go down.
The British military even put out a press release with the name of the effort, Operation Moshtarak, which means "together" in Afghanistan's Persian-language dialect of Dari, saying the military is in the "shape" phase of the operation.
There have also been discussions with local governmental leaders about the operation, and those leaders have in turn spread the word around the local population.
So why, if the enemy is concentrated in one area, would the top commander in Afghanistan authorize the publicity of a major operation to go in, clear the area of Taliban and try to convince poppy growers to switch to wheat? It is a curious plan, but a plan that both Defense Secretary Robert Gates
and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen agree with and signed off on.
The answer, it seems, is based on human nature. If you are told the military is going to conduct a major operation in your region and you are one of the bad guys, common sense says you pack up and leave. But in this case, part of the message has been sent to the local population to let them know the Afghan government will support them if they
change from growing poppy to growing wheat of other non-narco crops. That paves the way, the military hopes, for less combat and leaves Afghan and coalition forces with a local population, in theory, willing to work with them.
There are problems with this kind of plan, though. The Taliban have plenty of time to plant roadside bombs and leave other deadly surprises behind for the Afghan and coalition troops.
The military understands this and expects this, and is prepared for casualties - but the benefits outweigh the negatives, according to military officials.
If the local population understands ahead of time that the government and local security forces will deliver jobs and security, then the fight will not be that bad.
The Marjah model is something McChrystal is counting on working; if it does, it will be applied to numerous other problem areas around the country, according to U.S. military officials.
Proof that this could work is counter-intuitively based on the failure of U.K. troops in the same area last year. There was no support form the local government or Afghan forces and the local governances did not end up supporting the local populations and remained influenced by the Taliban.
U.S. commanders are hopeful, and believe this formula of broadcasting the plans that will be more effective.
The question remains - if this does not work, where does that leave the U.S. and the Afghan government in the eyes of the local population who already are weary of their intentions?
I wouldn't doubt that a lot of it is PSYOP. You keep telling the enemy that you are coming. But they don't know when or from which direction. Maybe then you start doing small operations in the area just to get them used to seeing you in the neighborhood. They can only keep their vigilance up for so long. Pretty soon they begin to ignore these little operations. But over time, you are shaping things, managing lines of communications, preparing things.
We weren't exactly secretive of the fact that we were going to take Fallujah either. It wears on the enemy and it gives civilians time to get out of the way.
In context of the "protect the population" operational method of counterinsurgency, this makes a good deal of sense. Guerrillas don't go up against main force units, unless the guerrillas have clear superiority. I predict that, when the offensive does happen, the tactical-level units won't find much sign of any insurgents, because they will have melted away. Taking towns without firing a shot is a big plus, because then you don't piss off the locals, and you don't have to rebuild a shattered town you just took. The townspeople will naturally look towards the coalition and Afghan gov't forces to fill the security functions that the insurgents provided, and that's the whole point.
lotp - it strikes me the overriding goal may be to force senior & mid-level officers out of the service, as a precursor to major downsizing. They are the biggest natural opponent to a civilian political militia (analog Brown Shirts.) Ok, I'm done now, and will put my tinfoil hat back on.
Whatever the move is, this is part of prepping the battlefield.
lotp, you are not alone. The scenario which concerns me is that the bad guys take up the offer to fight this battlefield, and use the CFs to kill of the riff-raff and not as hard core as they should be types, not only causing damage to the CFs but give the body count victory for CFs to pull out, kill off their future rank and file competition, and still claim a victory as the last blackhawk flies out of Kabul. A Taliban Tet Offensive if you will. (I do think that would be a highly risky strategy by the bad guys)
British troops have launched helicopter advances in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province to prepare the battlefield for a major NATO operation, the British military said on Friday.
The British operations were the first confirmation that small-scale military activity has already begun ahead of an expected massive assault on the town of Marjah, a warren of desert canals that U.S. Marines say they intend to seize soon.
Posted by: Mullah Richard ||
02/05/2010 13:05 Comments ||
"Nothing like telling the enemy what we plan to do in advance."
Well, I am with Michael Yon in that respect. They already know exactly where we are. The civilians know where the compounds are, they can see troop buildups. Word gets around. You can't hide stuff like that from the locals. They already know.
[Dawn] Thirty-two Taliban and three soldiers have been killed in an Afghan-Nato operation in Helmand province ahead of a major anti-Taliban push, the provincial government said on Thursday.
The operation took place in Nad Ali district, west of the provincial capital Lashkar Gar, on Wednesday, provincial government spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP.
"We had an operation in the Nad Ali area last night," Ahmadi said. "During the operation 32 Taliban were killed and the bodies of some of them remained in the area."
The southern province of Helmand, along with neighbouring Kandahar, has been the hub of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan since their regime was pushed from power in the US-led invasion in late 2001.
The Marjah area, south of Nad Ali, is set to be the scene of a major military operation headed by US Marines who have been massing in their thousands, along with Afghan and Nato troops, for weeks in preparation.
Afghan and Nato officials said Wednesday the operation to clear the Taliban from one of their last bastions should begin soon but gave no specific timeframe.
About 113,000 international troops are deployed in Afghanistan to eradicate the Taliban, with another 40,000 reinforcements due to arrive over the coming months. Most reinforcement will be sent to the southern insurgency hotspots.
Posted by: Fred ||
02/05/2010 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Taliban
153,000 troops soon. How many fighters? 100,000 fighters, with license to kill, and there will be an abundance of hassenfeffer. 150,000 REMFs and 3000 handcuffed fighters will end up as 5000 allied casualties.
From what I understand, Glenmore, the term "REMF" is no longer operational. There ARE no "rear areas" in asymmetrical warfare. If called upon to do so, it won't be the first time cooks, bakers, and candlestick makers have been handed a rifle and told "point to the outside and pull the trigger". It isn't always effective, but it sure causes confusion in the enemy's ranks.
Posted by: Old Patriot ||
02/05/2010 12:07 Comments ||
Non-lethal weapons, spicey-hot paintball, wooden warning bombs, and annoying low-level sonic booms....all coming soon. Hope & Change on the battlefield.
Point taken, Old Patiot. My concern is whether we are adding 'targets' to our staffing, or people intended to fight. It's hard to know how to fight a war of this kind (probably why Bush diverted focus to Iraq as early as possible.) Sometimes it's about killing people, sometimes about protecting them, sometimes simply bribing them - I have serious doubts ANY strategy will actually work in A'stan.
Danish special forces stormed a ship captured by armed Somali pirates Friday and freed the 25 crew on board, an EU naval spokesman said, marking the first time a warship has intervened during a hijacking.
After the vessel Ariella sent out a distress signal early Friday, the Danish warship Absalon sent a helicopter to confirm the presence of pirates, and communicated with the crew to ensure they were in a safe location, said Cmdr. John Harbour, spokesman for the European Union Naval Force.
Then Danish special forces aboard the Absalon approached the Ariella in inflatable dinghies. The forces scaled the side of the ship and freed the 25 crew, who had locked themselves in a secure room, Harbour said. The forces continued to search the vessel for the pirates.
[Maghrebia] An Algiers criminal court on Wednesday (February 3rd) sentenced convicted murderer Mohamed Benziane to death, El Watan reported. Benziane, who was apprehended in 2004, was reportedly a member of Abou Yacine's armed group in Chlef. At trial, he recanted his alleged initial admission to several deadly terror attacks, including the 1999 Tadjena massacre in which at least 50 people were killed and 9 women kidnapped and raped.
Following a Colombian armed forces bombardment on Tuesday morning, soldiers began an offensive in the south of the Tolima department against the FARC's 21st Front, which is thought to be led by the guerrillas' supreme commander, "Alfonso Cano."
According to the army, heavy fighting was still continuing at the end of the afternoon. The assault's aim was to weaken or break the security ring around the FARC's central command and its leader "Cano." The offensive follows the discovery of a number of camps where the army thinks top guerrilla leaders may be hiding.
The area where the fighting is taking place is remote, at an altitude of 13,000 feet, and far from civilization.
The authorities have long suspected that "Cano" and other prominent members of the FARC are using the deserted south Tolima mountains as their center of operations. The army claims to have killed three members of the personal security ring of "Alfonso Cano."
Posted by: Steve White ||
02/05/2010 00:00 ||
Top|| File under:
offensive follows the discovery of a number of camps
I wonder just what kind of help they might have had 'discovering' those camps? Good hunting, boys.
Grom - it was considered the "IN" place for mountain climbing before the FARC took over. Fighting at 13,000 feet is harder than a Donk agreeing to a tax cut - especially for soldiers that were born, trained, and conditioned at sea level.
Posted by: Old Patriot ||
02/05/2010 12:11 Comments ||
Two bombs targeting Shiite Muslims exploded in Pakistan's largest city Friday, one outside a hospital treating victims from the first blast hours earlier. At least 22 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded. What a barbaric religion.
Ashura - death of Ali. Marked by random crowd bombings.
Arbaeen - end of 40 days of mourning for Ali. Marked by more random crowd bombings.
Oh, did I mention the convert or die! aspect?
Pictures at link-- would like to hear from you who know, what is this thing? Also, the article has a "bias" against Blair -- it is the Daily Mail
They have been searching in Iraq for the past nine years, 10 months and 15 days. Today, the hard work finally paid off as soldiers found one of those elusive 'weapons of mass destruction' that Saddam Hussein was supposed to have been hiding.
So is it all round to Tony Blair's house for celebratory drinks?
Unfortunately the discovery came just a few days late for the former prime minister, who could have used the extraordinary find as proof he was right about Iraq all along during the Chilcot Inquiry.
But from the looks of the rocket, it would appear unlikely it could be deployed anywhere in 45 minutes, let alone be fired at the UK, as a certain dossier led us to believe.
The bomb is thought to have been buried by Saddam Hussein's regime before the UK and U.S. invasion of Iraq started in 2003. Iraqi guards were as surprised as the rest of us to discover the 'missile' during an operation in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib suburb.
It is not yet known whether the seven-metre rocket is armed with a warhead.
The SILKWORM is "dual-use" - it took SADDAM only to buy his NUKE, BIOWAR, + CHEMWAR warheads, andor indigenously dev his own while "reverse engineering" to produce Saddamist Iraq's own variant of the 'WORM.
In any case, YEAR 2012-N-BEYOND  > I'm expecting the MILTERRS to formally declare their possession and competency in NUCLEAR + OTHER STRATEGIC WEAPONS TECHS.
Personally, I'm more concerned about the various MilTerr Groups as a class procuring low-tech [read, $$$ CHEAP + IDIOT-PROOF], "dual-use", NBC-CBRNE-CAPABLE UNGUIDED ROCKETS + MORTAR TUBE, ETC. SYSTEMS than the bulky, $$$ expensive, more Tech-complex MilComSys like SILKWORM + LARGER.
RELIABLE, CHEAP, POTENT, COVERT, EASY-TO-OPERATE, + WON'T STOP THE USERS FROM BLOWIN' THEMSELVES TO CAMEL-REENIES, OR WEAR WOMENS' CLOTHING, IFF THEY WANT TO.
A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb Friday alongside a crowd of Shiite pilgrims packing a highway as they walked to a holy city south of Baghdad for a major religious ceremony, killing at least 27 people and wounding more than 70, Iraqi police officials said.
It was the third deadly bombing this week hitting the ceremony in which hundreds of thousands of Shiites have been converging on the city of Karbala. Friday's attack struck during the culmination of the pilgrimage.
[Ma'an] A Fatah official's office in Qalandiya refugee camp was the target of an apparent arson on Thursday, police said.
Palestinian Authority security forces opened an investigation into the incident, police said, refusing to identify whose office was targeted.
In a statement, the Ramallah police department stated that "intelligence services rushed to the scene, where it was discovered that the office door was deliberately opened by force, and that unknown assailants set fire to its contents."
It was not immediately clear exactly when on Thursday the alleged attack was carried out.
Posted by: Fred ||
02/05/2010 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Fatah
[Al Arabiya Latest] Australia said it used an anti-weapons of mass destruction law to block three shipments to Iran but calls for new sanctions against the Islamic state opened up a new international divide Thursday.
Western countries who fear Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb also condemned a test rocket launch by Iran.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said his country had blocked three shipments of unidentified cargo to Iran invoking a rarely used Weapons of Mass Destruction Act.
Rudd did not give details of the cargo. But The Australian newspaper reported that at least one of the orders made in recent months blocked a shipment of pumps which could have been used to cool nuclear power plants.
"If you look at the threat to regional and global peace which Iran poses in its current nuclear weapons program, there is no alternative other than robust international action including in areas such as this," Rudd told Australian television.
The United States and France led condemnations of Iran for launching its Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket, which Iran said carried a capsule containing a rat, turtle and worms and was an experiment in sending living creatures into space. Iran has denied it is trying to build a bomb.
The U.S. White House called the launch "provocative."
France believes "this announcement can only reinforce the concerns of the international community as Iran in parallel develops a nuclear program that has no identifiable civil aims," a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Posted by: Fred ||
02/05/2010 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Govt of Iran
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.