Monday, 25 May 2009

Lessons learned for soldiers

It is always interesting get an insight into how soldiers prepare for war and so the launch of Afghan Lessons Learned for Soldiers is to be welcomed. Created by four American veterans of the conflict in Afghanistan (three senior NCOs and a major), the site is designed to help share knowledge. “We were filled full of bullshit by those who trained us and so we are trying to help tell it like it really is,” they remark.

The first ‘chapter’ on the site deals with ‘Gear’. An interesting subject. Readers may remember the disdain with which US soldiers regarded their British counterparts at the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan. They often referred to them as ‘Flintstones’ or The Borrowers, friendly jibes based on the poor quality equipment the British Tommies had to make do with.

Now we can understand why the US soldier is so well equipped. He clearly buys much of it himself. There is a list of 69 items that are recommended for those deploying to Afghanistan. For example, weapons lubrication that doesn’t attract sand seems to be a good idea, as do extra bootlaces, a stainless steel mug, lock de-icer and disposable hand and feet warmers.

And I can understand the need for a pair of comfortable desert boots. “All they will give you is a regular summer set and a set of Goretex lined for waterproof needs. Desert is a cold place at these altitudes in the winter time”, says the site.

The same point is made about the standard US Army issue tac vest – for holding magazines and other small pieces of gear. “Dump the IBA tac vest you get issued. Get a Tactical Tailor MAV chest rig (does not matter if you get 1 or 2 piece one as you want to keep the front open for laying in the prone. You don’t want mags pushing into your chest making it hard to breathe).”

Then there’s the computer gear - laptop, screen wipes, canned air to blow dust out of equipment, a DVD ripping program, personal GPS, webcam and headset, skype account, external 120gb USB hard drive, digital camera, MP3 player, LED lights and batteries for 30 days.

Not to mention the soap, toilet paper, baby wipes (30 days supply) foot and body paper, desert tan spray paint, hand sanitizer, Fabreeze fabric softener, a stack of clothing, towels, pillow, pillow cases and sheets.

Eighteen M4 ammunition magazines and nine 9mm mags seems reasonable, as does a LULA mag loader/unloader and a reasonable assault pack.

Not quite so sure about the weightlifting supplies or shower shoes, but I wouldn’t begrudge them.

I think you get my point. War has changed. Today’s soldier expects to be regularly in touch with family and friends half a world away and to be clean and comfortable when not actually out in the field. Even if he has to pay for the equipment himself - (I presume this list is only for male soldiers as there is no concession to women soldiers).

I’m not sure how much all these items would cost the average soldier, but it cannot be much short of $3,000.00.

While the ALL site is good on gear, its understanding of history and Afghan culture is not so good. This is what it says: “Afghanistan has been like the cartoon character who is run over by a car, struggles to his feet and has scarcely dusted himself off when he is run over again. And again. And again, ad nauseum.” Er, I don’t think so. In Afghanistan, the wheels usually fall off the car before it gets a chance to run over anyone.

If you think of Afghanistan as an individual, this would be a person who has suffered repeated blows to the head and suffers from TBI and PTSD.” I think you will find that PTSD is far more prevalent amongst Allied troops returning from Afghanistan than amongst Afghans themselves, who have known nothing but war for the last two generations.

In your research you will find that the Persians, Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, and more recently the British Empire and the Russians have all swept through Afghanistan. For some, this paints a picture of the indomitable Afghan. I tend to disagree, as the Afghans have indeed been conquered on numerous occasions.” Actually, the British, the Soviets and most other people who tried to hold territory in Afghanistan have come to grief. That is indisputable.

I can’t blame soldiers for wanting to talk up their own prospects and for talking down their enemies. However, let’s face it, the US and its Allies have now been fighting in Afghanistan for twice as long as they fought in the Second World War and for longer than they fought in Vietnam. There is presently no end in prospect and certainly no sign yet of a military defeat of the Taliban.

It never does any good to underestimate your enemy. The reality is that the Afghan fighter is unequalled as a guerrilla. He will march for 30 miles a day at altitude, carrying everything he needs and living on little more than pressed mulberries and dry bread. He is willing to die gladly for his beliefs but will seldom give his life cheaply. There’s no shame in admitting any of this. It is simply a fact. Forget it and you will lose before you even step outside your FOB.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd drop my 5 cents for Soviet Army in Afghan. Yes, we've had casualties in much more larger scale but we're fighting ACTIVELY, not sitting for a year and prepare most safe operation. Our guys kicked asses of afghans, chinese, packies and white rembo's in numerous strikes. They established controls in majority of the country. They left not bc of "buildup" in resistance. They were told to get back home. Bc my country were sold to transnational elite cartel who wants to keep they hairy hands on Afghan opium and heroin production and transportation to Europe.
As you know, back in 1978 Afghan were set for good BY ITSELF with "The military officers who took charge invited the PDP to form a new government under the leadership of Nur Mohammed Taraki, a poet and novelist. This is how a Marxist-led coalition of national democratic forces came into office. “It was a totally indigenous happening. Not even the CIA blamed the USSR for it,” writes John Ryan, a retired professor at the University of Winnipeg, who was conducting an agricultural research project in Afghanistan at about that time.
The Taraki government proceeded to legalize labor unions, and set up a minimum wage, a progressive income tax, a literacy campaign, and programs that gave ordinary people greater access to health care, housing, and public sanitation. Fledgling peasant cooperatives were started and price reductions on some key foods were imposed."
Then ZOG by CIA "helping hands" find out :"The Taraki government moved to eradicate the cultivation of opium poppy".

So, elite hired CIA and they established "... It should be noted that all this happened before the Soviet military intervention. National security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly admitted--months before Soviet troops entered the country--that the Carter administration was providing huge sums to Muslim extremists to subvert the reformist government. Part of that effort involved brutal attacks by the CIA-backed mujahideen against schools and teachers in rural areas."

"Upon taking over Afghanistan, the mujahideen fell to fighting among themselves. They ravaged the cities, terrorized civilian populations, looted, staged mass executions, closed schools, raped thousands of women and girls, and reduced half of Kabul to rubble. In 2001 Amnesty International reported that the mujahideen used sexual assault as “a method of intimidating vanquished populations and rewarding soldiers.’”

Ruling the country gangster-style and looking for lucrative sources of income, the tribes ordered farmers to plant opium poppy. The Pakistani ISI, a close junior partner to the CIA, set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA’s arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland became the biggest producer of heroin in the world."

Is this is NOT TRUE?