Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Bad

Communication leads to community, that is,
to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing
--Rollo May

Lying is done with words

and also with silence

--Adrienne Rich

It's the same old song

but with a different meaning

since you've been gone

--It's the Same Old Song, Four Tops


Ranger Question of the Day:

Why weren't these Afghan police

flying their flag outside of their HQ?


These are not good times to wear the Blue Uniform in Afghanistan.

"U.S. Special Forces (SF) killed six Afghan police and one civilian, and wounded 13 12/10 in a case of mistaken identity by both sides after the police fired on the Americans during an operation against an insurgent commander" (U.S. Forces Kill Six Afghan Police in Error.)
In error. . .as opposed to actually intending to.

"Coalition forces deeply regret the incident of mistaken fire" said Col. Jerry O'Hara, military spokesman. My bad. He did not, however, express regret over the ensuing loss of life, which is a slightly different thing from regretting the skill error.

O'Hara chalked it up to a "
tragic case of mistaken identity on both parts." It all comes down to communication, as any relationship counselor will tell you. The SF did not tell the police about the American operation -- in which they "battled and killed an armed militant in the city of Qalat, capital of the southern province of Zabul" -- because U.S. military fears "government officials connected to the Taliban could tip off the militants."

The police at a nearby checkpoint thought it was a
Taliban attack and opened fire, said Gulab Shah Alikhail, Zabul's deputy governor. "Then a helicopter fired on the security post and destroyed it, he said."

On any SF Operational Detachment A there should have been a Warrant Officer, an experienced and school-trained Operations and Intelligence (O & I) type, in addition to at least one E7/O & I specialist on the team.

High tech is great, but technology will fail if the S2/3 is not talking to and coordinating with friendly and adjacent units. High tech can not overcome the failure of an O & I type not talking to adjacent friendly units.

Aside from this flubbed operation, Ranger asks:
Why is the lauded SF running around the world killing insurgents? Insurgents are not the enemy of the U.S. Are these insurgents actually al-Qaeda?
Why are U.S. soldiers playing Serpico against the Afghani PD? At least it's a live fire exercise.

Well, strike off seven less hearts and minds that need winning over to the forces of freedom and equality.

Score for the day: SF 20, Afghans 0.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Range, Afghanistan is a snake-handcuffing venture as well. Matter of fact, I say the same thing about ventures in all of Asia and Africa.

Monday, December 15, 2008 at 6:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

well, i guess that's 20 fewer hearts and minds to have to win the old fashioned way.

my friend in afghanistan has been solving the language barrier with "rosetta stone" software. every patrol now going out has at least two americans who are conversent in the local dialect. he's done it on his own, with command support, but not command funding. i doubt very much that a mistake like this would be made.

the old SF teams that i remember always had a linguist or two among them. that was part of their genius and their success.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 4:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Your observation re. the linguists on the ODA's and within the organization is correct. But now, since SF has become a direct-action, door-kicking, ass-kicking outfit, what need have they of linguists?

This is the crux of COIN. The SF team did not trust the Afghans and therefore, did not effect coordination. If you can't trust your allies, you will never be successful in COIN. This fact alone ensures a poor outcome.

Further SF articles in the pipeline.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 5:30:00 PM GMT-5  

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