Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nine Inch Nails

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear --
kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor --

with the cry of grave national emergency.

Always there has been some terrible evil at home

or some monstrous foreign power that was going

to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind

it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded.

Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem

never to have happened,

seem never to have been quite real

--Douglas MacArthur

Terrorism is the best political weapon

for nothing drives people harder

than a fear of sudden death

--Adolf Hitler

A thing is not necessarily true

because a man dies for it

The Portrait of Mr. W. H., Oscar Wilde

USA Today
ran the requisite scare photo (later picked up by Military- and Navy Times) of a human skill with a
3-inch-long, threaded steel bolt lodged near the cerebrum, headlined: "Afghan Insurgents Jamming More Objects in Bombs". D'Oh.

"Insurgents are creating more destructive roadside bombs this year by packing them with nails, screws, bolts, metal coils, ball bearings and other materials, according to doctors treating wounded U.S. and coalition troops here.

"The number of casualties suffering multiple wounds from these objects has increased from about a dozen in March to around 100 each month this summer, according to Navy Capt. Michael Mullins, spokesman for the NATO hospital operated by the U.S. Navy outside Kandahar."

Truama specialist U.S. Air Force Maj. Randy Snoots, says the bombs "are getting bigger and bigger and more full of stuff." Of course, they're not quite as big as the stuff in the U.S. inventory, which includes 5,000 pound bunker busters, 155/8" artillery, cruise missiles (that have been employed against individual targets) and Predator missiles, to name a few.

Is this supposed to shock me? We were using IED's before IED's were cool. We were trained to use rocks if we couldn't get steel or scrap iron. While it is beyond regrettable that our soldiers are getting killed by these devices, they are not some space-age innovation, nor is packing them with even more stuff.

Bombs are emotional since they are viewed as indiscriminate and arbitrary. The soldiers who become targets have no ability to protect themselves, and this is fear-producing. While one may not know the exact place and time, it is a go that traveling up and down highways in hostile territory will eventually result in your finding and IED in a way you would have preferred to avoid.

Bombs in the hands of skilled bombers have military value and are a type of force multiplier. U.S. Special Forces soldiers are taught advanced bomb enhancement techniques that have included adding a White Phosphorous grenade to the front of a Claymore to enhance its lethality. In the Vietnam War, SF A-Camps employed 40-pound cratering charges as giant Claymores simply by putting rolls of new barbed or concertina wire in front of the explosive for an extra large fragmentary effect, adding to the blast effect. These were all IED's.

The North Vietnamese Army hung Chinese Claymores, artillery/mortar duds in trees to enhance lethality; the Irish Republican Army added nails to their explosive devices; the Jewish Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto used a bomb with metal fragments called the "Matzoh Ball", etc.

So what is newsworthy about the fact that the "insurgents" in Afghanistan are using "bigger and more full of stuff" historical devices to fight the U.S./NATO incursion? The real question is: How have the soldiers killed and wounded by these nail bombs decreased the threat of terrorism to Americans in the continental U.S.?

Further, if this is an insurgency, why are Americans being targeted? Is this insurgency against Americans, or against the Karzai government? Are the two separate entities? By definition, the insurgency must be against the Karzai government, and it is dubious that U.S. involvement is addressing the key issue which is the al-Qaeda threat against the Ole Homeland.

U.S. goals have become so muddled and convoluted that the entire theatre of operations has become a theatre of the absurd. Nail bombs will not build a nation, nor will U.S. involvement in an Afghan insurgency.

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Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Too many people are oblivious to the obvious, IEd tactics as you point out are not new nor do they need to be (Save for some special circumstances encountered infrequently on the battlefield).

However, what is distressing to me is the turn taken in reporting from Afghanistan. Everyone's favorite news babe Lara Logan spoke with a 101st Airborne Captain for a 60 minutes piece. Like that level of Officer he was compelling and chock full of incredible bravery and I'm on the ground making personal contact with the locals building trust.

And then he did it. He started rattling off the numbers of Taliban/Insurgent fighters his unit has taken out; 30 this day, 35 that day, 13 in this engagement and he began to talk of separating the locals from the enemy.

And just like that I heard a turn back to Destroying the Village to Save it... And We win every battle...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 10:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I saw the piece that you reference and it was so saccharine that it made me cringe.
The CPT was on text completely and his OER will reflect that he's a good organization team player.
His replies were loud and clear to me by what he didn't say, and wanted to.
The female reporter didn't have a clue as to what to ask or how to reply. It was softball.
Killing is always the yardstick when you are a killer.
The tactical march from the village struck me as being rather bunched up for going cross country in hostile terrain.
It further busts my ass to see Airborne troops in armored vehicles.Hell send in armor dudes.

Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 12:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Minstrel Boy said...

Jim, 80-85% of the Afghan IEDs are ANFO fertilizer and diesel bombs filled in 5 gallon plastic jugs with pressure plate or command wire detonations.

It bares noting how new if any are manufactured mines from a nation state. Pakistan, Iran, China, just to name 3 could ruin our day if they chose by providing mine munitions directly to the Taliban.

That they haven't in volume is telling about how isolated the Taliban really is in the world of nation states. Let's hope it stays that way.

In the 60 minutes piece, did you note the body language of the Afghan villagers?

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 2:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Minstrel Boy said...

My prior comment should have read, how few, not how new...

How so few IEDs are government/industrially produced mines and how the vast majority are locally produced.

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 2:49:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I've often wondered what the US leadership would or could say IF the Rusns would sell/train AFGH insurgents with shoulder packed anti a/c missiles.
Fortunately they have not done so,and probably unlike the US they can tell friend from foe.
The supreme irony would be if the Talibs get their ampho mixings fron USAID give aways.
I'm glad to hear from you.
I was worried about you.

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 4:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

so in other words, just perfect!

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 7:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Your comment re. the body language is spot-on. Their reticence says everything, though I doubt any of the Americans on that patrol picked up on it.

An acquaintance far better-versed on explosives in Afghanistan than I says the fertilizer ANFO IED's are used due to the low-metal content, to inc. the caps, and also the Afghans need only knock off a wheel to an MRAP and have it tumble off a cliff or into a ravine to cause casualties.

I further cringe every time I see Airborne troops in armored vehicles. It's a contradiction.

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 8:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Well, like, yeah!

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 8:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger sheerahkahn said...

I find it interesting that people in the United States are shocked, shocked I say! that war involves people getting hurt, or worse, dieing.
And for some foul, unconscionable reason Americans have this twisted, narcissistic mentality that only the enemy is suppose to suffer from the effects of our war.

I suppose, once again, that Americans are discovering that reality is a bitch.

Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 10:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

We can't even define who the enemy is.
The peoples of AFGH and IRQ have indeed suffered greatly from our imposition of love and democracy upon their lives.
All of the death and suffering in this war/wars cannot be justified since all proportionality has been ignoed .

Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 11:13:00 AM GMT-5  

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