View Full Version : McNeil Takes Command; Brits Fear Gung-Ho Americans

02-04-2007, 06:57 AM
McNeil Takes Over Command of NATO Troops (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020400075.html) - AP.

Afghanistan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/countries/afghanistan.html?nav=el) - U.S. Gen. Dan McNeil took over command of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan in a ceremony on Sunday.

McNeil replaced British Gen. David Richards at the helm of the 35,500-strong force at the time when the Western alliance braces for a renewed fight with the resurgent Taliban militants...
U.S. Takes Over NATO in Afghanistan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020400072.html) - Reuters.

The United States, which has just doubled its combat troops in Afghanistan, takes over command of the 33,000-strong NATO force in the country on Sunday amid warnings of a bloody spring offensive by the Taliban.

Outgoing commander British General David Richards, who in his nine months in charge saw his force grow from 9,000 and push into the Taliban heartland in the south for the first time, said 2006 had been a crunch year for the rebels and they had failed...

British Fear Gung-ho Americans (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2583184,00.html) - London Times.

Senior defence sources have voiced fears that an imminent push by the United States in Afghanistan will force British soldiers to adopt an overly aggressive approach that will damage relations with ordinary Afghans and play into the hands of the Taliban.

The extent of “frictions” between US and British commanders are revealed in the latest edition of Pegasus, the journal of the Parachute Regiment, in which an unnamed senior officer accuses the Americans of undermining British strategy during last year’s handover...

02-05-2007, 07:30 AM
I need to read the articles, but on the face of it, I think the typical US commander/soldier really thinks that if you just "kick some more ass" the opposition will fold. They see anything less as effete and ineffective.

There is a "Letter from an NCO" that is floating around the internet that reflects this point of view, and it resonates with the great majority of US soldiers/officers.

02-26-2007, 10:34 PM
The Economist, 22 Feb 07: Afghanistan's War: A Double Spring Offensive (http://www.economist.com/world/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8733593)

....Building the state is plainly key to winning the war. General Richards sums up the need as reconstruction, development, governance and relations with Pakistan, all wrapped up in a cloak of growing security. His central point is that there must be “synergistic” progress in all dimensions.

He has been a highly political commander, taking on the job of speaking to Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, “soldier to soldier”. He claims the effort is paying off, but in the process he has irritated the Afghan government. He has also been instrumental in organising an “action group” of Afghan, ISAF, UN and other senior officials to turn government decisions into reality. The group deals with security, intelligence, strategic communications and development. The general wanted to add a fifth pillar, governance, but was overruled by President Hamid Karzai.

America's new counter-insurgency doctrine espouses similar ideas about the need for “unity of effort” in military and civilian activity. But relations between America and Britain in Afghanistan have been tetchy. Some of General Richards's departing staff are nervous that ISAF's new American commander, General Dan McNeill, will be too “kinetic”. Rightly or wrongly, the new man is known by some as “Bomber McNeill”....

02-27-2007, 01:07 AM
I need to read the articles, but on the face of it, I think the typical US commander/soldier really thinks that if you just "kick some more ass" the opposition will fold. They see anything less as effete and ineffective.

There is a "Letter from an NCO" that is floating around the internet that reflects this point of view, and it resonates with the great majority of US soldiers/officers.

Any chance of posting a link to that letter?

02-27-2007, 08:43 AM
Better than that. Here's the "letter"

"Things that I am tired of in this war:

I am tired of Democrats saying they are patriotic and then insulting my commander in chief and the way he goes about his job.

I am tired of Democrats who tell me they support me, the soldier on the ground, and then tell me the best plan to win this war is with a “phased redeployment” (liberal-speak for retreat) out of the combat zone to someplace like Okinawa.

I am tired of the Democrats whining for months on T.V., in the New York Times, and in the House and Senate that we need more troops to win the war in Iraq, and then when my Commander in Chief plans to do just that, they say that is the wrong plan, it won’t work, and we need a “new direction.”

I am tired of every Battalion Sergeant Major and Command Sergeant Major I see over here being more concerned about whether or not I am wearing my uniform in the “spot on,” most garrison-like manner; instead of asking me whether or not I am getting the equipment I need to win the fight, the support I need from my chain of command, or if the chow tastes good.

I am tired of junior and senior officers continually doubting the technical expertise of junior enlisted soldiers who are trained far better to do the jobs they are trained for than these officers believe.

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who fight this war with more of an eye on the media than on the enemy, who desperately needs killing.

I am tired of the decisions of Sergeants and Privates made in the heat of battle being scrutinized by lawyers who were not there and will never really know the state of mind of the young soldiers who were there and what is asked of them in order to survive.

I am tired of CNN claiming that they are showing “news,” with videotape sent to them by terrorists, of my comrades being shot at by snipers, but refusing to show what happens when we build a school, pave a road, hand out food and water to children, or open a water treatment plant.

I am tired of following the enemy with drones that have cameras, and then dropping bombs that sometimes kill civilians; because we could do a better job of killing the right people by sending a man with a high powered rifle instead.

I am tired of the thousands of people in the rear who claim that they are working hard to support me when I see them with their mochas and their PX Bags walking down the street, in the middle of the day, nowhere near their workspaces.

I am tired of Code Pink, Daily Kos, Al-Jazzera, CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, ABC, NBC, CBS, the ACLU, and CAIR thinking that they somehow get to have a vote in how we blast, shoot and kill these animals who would seek to subdue us and destroy us.

I am tired of people like Meredith Vieria from NBC asking oxygen thieves like Senator Chuck Hagel questions like “Senator, at this point, do you think we are fighting and dying for nothing?” Meredith might not get it, but soldiers do know the difference between fighting and dying for something and fighting and dying for nothing.

I am tired of hearing multiple stories from both combat theaters about snipers begging to do their jobs while commanders worry about how the media might portray the possible casualties and what might happen to their career.

I am tired of hearing that the Battalion Tactical Operations Center got a new plasma screen monitor for daily briefings, but rifle scope rings for sniper rifles, extra magazines, and necessary field gear were disapproved by the unit supply system.

I am tired of out of touch general officers, senators, congressmen and defense officials who think that giving me some more heavy body armor to wear is helping me stay alive. Speed is life in combat and wearing 55 to 90 pounds of gear for 12 to 20 hours a day puts me at a great tactical disadvantage to the idiot, mindless terrorist who is wearing no armor at all and carrying an AK-47 and a pistol.

I am tired of soldiers who are stationed in places like Kuwait and who are well away from any actual combat getting Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay and the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion when they live on a base that has a McDonald’s, a Pizza Hut, a Subway, a Baskin Robbins, an internet café, 2 coffee shops and street lights.

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who take it out and "measure" every time they want to have a piece of the action with their helicopters or their artillery; instead of putting their egos aside and using their equipment to support the grunt on the ground.

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who are too afraid for their careers to tell the truth about what they need to win this war to their bosses so that the soldiers can get on with kicking the ass of these animals.

I am tired of Rules of Engagement being made by JAG lawyers and not Combat Commanders. We are not playing Hopscotch over here. There is no 2nd place trophy either. I think that if the enemy knew some rough treatment and some deprivation was at hand for them, instead of prayer rugs, special diets and free Korans; this might help get their terrorist minds “right.”

I am tired of seeing Active Duty Army and Marine units being extended past their original redeployment dates, when there are National Guard Units that have yet to deploy to a combat zone in the last 40 years.

I am tired of hearing soldiers who are stationed in safe places talk about how hard their life is.

I am tired of seeing Infantry Soldiers conducting what amounts to “SWAT” raids and performing the US Army’s version of “CSI Iraq” and doing things like filling out forms for evidence when they could be better used to hunt and kill the enemy.

I am tired of senior officers and commanders who look first in their planning for how many casualties we might take, instead of how many enemy casualties we might inflict.

I am tired of begging to be turned loose so that this war can be over.

Those of us who fight this war want to win it and go home to their families. Prolonging it with attempts to do things like collect “evidence” or present whiz bang briefings on a new plasma screen TV is wasteful and ultimately, dulls the edge of our Infantry soldiers who are trained to kill people and break things, not necessarily in that order.

We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan to build nations. We are there to kill our enemies. We make the work of the State Department easier by the results we achieve.
It is only possible to defeat an enemy who kills indiscriminately by utterly destroying him. He cannot be made to yield or surrender. He will fight to the death by the hundreds to kill only one or two of us.

And so far, all of our “games” have been “away games,” and I don’t know about the ignorant, treasonous Democrats and the completely insane radical leftists and their thoughts on the matter, but I would like to keep our road game schedule.
So let’s get it done. Until the fight is won and there is no more fight left."

02-27-2007, 09:19 AM
This Mick Smith post summarizes the Pegasus article (http://timesonline.typepad.com/mick_smith/2007/02/given_this_blog.html).

The latest edition of Pegasus reveals that British paratroopers were forced into taking part in an overly aggressive operation against the Taliban which caused serious damage to the British mission before it had even begun. They arrived in Helmand in June 2006 to provide security for a reconstruction programme that would leave the local people happy with the coalition presence and with their own government, thereby sidelining the Taliban.

But they found the then US commander planning a large-scale offensive operation against the Taliban in Helmand province. Brig Ed Butler, the British commander in Helmand, opposed Operation Mountain Thrust taking place in what he foolishly thought was the area under his control, saying that he had his own plan and going in hard at the start of the mission, thereby leaving the local population unhappy with the presence of his troops, was not part of that plan.

Unfortunately, the south had not been handed over to Nato control at this point so the US commander not only ignored the British plea, he told Butler bluntly that he was going in hard with US troops and he didn't care whether the British liked it or not.

“Despite our ‘ownership’ of Helmand and our request to conduct ops in ‘the British Way’ we were unable to prevent Mountain Thrust occurring,” an unnamed senior officer says in Pegasus. “As a result of the threat of unilateral action and in order to ensure our own force protection UK task force’s involvement was forced. This operation forced a change in the security dynamic in a number of areas across the province and played, to a certain extent, into the hands of the Taliban.”

Then with the Americans still in charge, Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded that the British put troops into the northern district centres of Now Zad, Sangin and Musa Qala. This took up the entire infantry battalion that was supposed to provide the security needed to allow the carefully planned reconstruction programme to go ahead. General David Richards, the British general in charge of Nato forces, was furious.

This was scarcely surprising. Not only did it tie down much needed troops and put back the reconstruction process, it also gave the Taliban some wonderful targets which they could attack, raising their profile immensely, allowing them to claim fraudulently that they were fighting for the local people, and largely justifying their claim to be mounting a major offensive in the south. They could claim some useful successes. The first 14 British soldiers to die in Helmand were all killed at Sangin or Musa Qala.

So a deal was agreed with the local elders in Musa Qala under which the elders would set up a local police force to keep the town under government control, allowing the British to withdraw their troops. The hope was that it would provide a blueprint that would keep the Taliban out of the towns and allow the British infantry to do their real job, providing the security that would allow reconstruction to go ahead and bring the local population on side.

But McNeil has made it clear that he wants such deals to end and the British to take on the Taliban, which will of course continue to ensure that the British troops cannot provide the necessary security for the reconstruction process that just might win over the local people while at the same time providing the Taliban with a stage on which to posture once again as the brave defenders of the Afghan people.

04-29-2007, 06:48 AM
29 April London Daily Telegraph - US Aircrews Show Taliban No Mercy (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=ZXJ2S55SDILDHQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQ UIV0?xml=/news/2007/04/29/wafg29.xml) by Gethin Chamberlain.

Caught in the middle of the Helmand river, the fleeing Taliban were paddling their boat back to shore for dear life.

Smoke from the ambush they had just sprung on American special forces still hung in the air, but their attention was fixed on the two helicopter gunships that had appeared above them as their leader, the tallest man in the group, struggled to pull what appeared to be a burqa over his head.

As the boat reached the shore, Captain Larry Staley tilted the nose of the lead Apache gunship downwards into a dive. One of the men turned to face the helicopter and sank to his knees. Capt Staley's gunner pressed the trigger and the man disappeared in a cloud of smoke and dust.

By the time the gunships had finished, 21 minutes later, military officials say 14 Taliban were confirmed dead, including one of their key commanders in Helmand.

The mission is typical of a new, aggressive, approach adopted by American forces in southern Afghanistan and particularly in Helmand, where British troops last year bore the brunt of some of the heaviest fighting since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

American commanders believe that the uncompromising use of airpower in recent weeks has been a key factor in preventing the Taliban from launching their expected full-scale spring offensive against coalition forces and forcing them to rethink their tactics...