View Full Version : Tough G.I.'s Go to War Armed With Afghan ABC's

02-16-2006, 09:27 AM
16 Feb. New York Times - Tough G.I.'s Go to War Armed With Afghan ABC's (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/16/nyregion/16fort.html).

As the 10th Mountain Division prepared to go to Afghanistan this month, its Third Brigade ordered boxes of the Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid's seminal book "Taliban" to be issued to officers along with body armor, high-tech seven-layer cold weather uniforms and ballistic-grade Oakley Blade wraparound sunglasses.

When the 10th Mountain went to Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, their task was purely military: to hunt down Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. That mission remains, but now the goal is as much a political one: to bolster the American-supported government of President Hamid Karzai.

The 10th Mountain, one of the Army's best units, is developing a military ethos that goes beyond the tactics of past conventional warfare to a new age of ideological war.

In a series of interviews as the soldiers — about half of them combat veterans — prepared for their deployment this month, the division's commander, Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, and other officers spoke of the heightened language and cultural training they had instituted to meet the new challenges in a conflict against militant Islam that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently referred to as "the long war."

The officers were relentlessly upbeat; war is not a profession for doubters. But at the same time, they were keenly aware they faced, as General Freakley put it, "a very savvy, capable adversary" in what another officer called "a very ambiguous battle-space."

Officers in many Marine and Army units have instituted study programs in basic Islam and local mores for the duty of nation-building. But division commanders like General Freakley have wide latitude, and the program here is particularly sweeping...

Counterinsurgency warfare, the 10th Mountain soldiers now believe, is as much a political problem as a military one; as much knowing how to win over the population as shooting bad guys...

02-16-2006, 09:35 AM
16 Feb. New York Times - A New Challenge Is Undertaken by an Army Division Born on Skis (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/16/nyregion/16history.html).

... The days when the division fought only in the mountains are long past. It now often combines ground troops with Blackhawk helicopters. This has made the 10th Mountain, along with the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne divisions, the workhorse of recent years, deployed to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It uses its feet to close with the enemy," said Lt. Col. Christopher Cavoli, a Princeton graduate with a master's degree from Yale who is a battalion commander. "It's an extremely light force intended to operate by its wits. It can be deployed quickly to mountains, thick forests or swamps to perform in an austere environment."

The now predictable operations tempo enabled the Third Brigade, formed in September 2004, to concentrate from the start on training for Afghanistan and to send noncommissioned officers for language training or schools for snipers and Rangers.

Capt. Chris Nunn, a company commander, for example, is in frequent contact with his counterpart now in Afghanistan, a captain in the 82nd Airborne."There are specifics about what the enemy is doing," Captain Nunn said. "It's been real good, giving me an idea how to start."

The brigade's command sergeant major, James Redmore, at the apex of the crucial leadership network of sergeants down through battalion, company, platoon and squad levels, said intensive training would sharpen the "warrior skill set" troops need.

The Afghanistan campaign is often fought by the smallest units, said Colonel Cavoli, meaning, "It's the midlevel sergeants who are key, the staff sergeants, the sergeants first class."

"In a counterinsurgency, the calibration of force is critical," he went on. "The sloppy application of force ruins the cultivation of the populace."