Monday, February 09, 2009

War does not Work (5) - Afghanistan

I recently watched a television documentary made by Ross Kemp while he worked as an embedded reporter with British troops serving in Afghanistan. The troops were initially based at Camp Bastian, a town in the middle of a desert made from thousands of air conditioned tents.

Intelligence reported that Taliban had been scene in a village 90 miles to the north. The company of British soldiers got into their Scorpion tracked armed personnel vehicle and spent two days travelling into the area. They convoy of Scorpions made such a noise and kicked up such a cloud of dust that everyone in the region could see them were coming. On the way, one scorpion drove over and IED and a couple of soldiers were killed.

When they arrived at the village, the Taliban were ensconced in a commanding position. The infantry had to get out of the APVs and try and draw the enemy out. They moved into a compound of mud bricks, blew a hole in the wall of one so they could fire out (I presume this was someone’s home).

After exchanging small arms fire for a couple of hours, they withdrew back to their armoured vehicles. Someone reported seeing some people hiding in a cave on the other side of the valley, so they called in the artillery and turned the cave into a heap of rubble. The commanding officer reported that only a few goats had survived. It did not seem to occur to him that the goats belonged to someone who would most likely have been with them.

Another platoon found ten men that looked a bit suspicious. They put them in a Scorpion and took them out of the area so they could be interrogated. A week later they decided that the men were not Taliban, so they gave them money for compensation and dropped them back at their village. If they were Taliban, they would be laughing. If they were not Taliban, they would be more like to go over.
Before the soldiers left the village, Ross Kemp interviewed a village leader and asked if he appreciated what the British were doing for them. He seemed genuinely surprised at the hostility of the response. The man replied that all the British did was breeze in occasionally, smash some of their buildings, fire off their weapons and then disappear again. They had not provided the teacher that the village they wanted.

The British infantry then got into their scorpions with a great roar and cloud of dust travelled back to their air conditioned tents at Camp Bastion. They whole thing seemed totally pointless. They might have killed a few people, but they had not endeared themselves towards the villagers they were supposed to be protecting.

On their last sortie before returning to the United Kingdom, they engaged with a Taliban force for most of a day. They eventually withdrew after running out of ammunition. The commanding officer declared this sortie a success, because the Taliban were engaged, but no troops were lost.

If this documentary describes how the Western armies are going to rescue Afghanistan, I am not holding by breathe.


Gene said...

Did war work in Iraq?

Ron McK said...

One swallow does not make a summer. All the ethnic, religious and sectarian divisions are still there waiting to pop out when the opportunity is right.

Gene said...

Heck, we had that in Germany after the war, we had that in Japan, we have that still in the USA.

Ethnic, Religious and Sectarian divisions popping up.

Ron McK said...

And the Kingdom of God went backwards in both Japan and Germany. Possibly in America too?