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Thread: The French in Afghanistan

  1. #1
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default The French in Afghanistan

    This ain't good.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26281580

    SUROBI, Afghanistan - Insurgents ambushed a group of French parachutists outside Kabul, sparking a battle that killed 10 of the soldiers in the biggest loss of life for international forces in combat in Afghanistan in more than three years, officials said Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, a team of suicide bombers tried unsuccessfully to storm a U.S. military base near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in a daring attack on a major American installation.

    The French soldiers from the 8th infantry parachute regiment were on a reconnaissance mission in the Surobi district, an area known as a militant redoubt about 30 miles east of the Afghan capital.

    Qazi Suliman, the district chief in Surobi, said the ambush sparked a three-hour gunbattle. French president Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that 10 were killed and 21 wounded in the clashes.

    An Afghan official said that four of those soldiers had been kidnapped by insurgents and killed. 1The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't supposed to release the information.

    Suliman said he had a report that 13 militants were killed.

    *
    Khost attacks
    In the attack on the U.S. base just a few miles from the border with Pakistan, militants failed to gain entry to Camp Salerno in Khost city after launching waves of attacks just before midnight on Monday, said Arsallah Jamal, the governor of Khost.

    The attacks came a day after a suicide bomb outside the same base killed 10 civilians and wounded 13 others.

    *
    Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, said Afghan soldiers, aided by U.S. troops, chased and surrounded a group of insurgents, and that six militants blew themselves up when cornered. Seven other militants died in those explosions and a rolling gun battle,2 he said.

    "(The Afghan National Army) is saying that anytime we get close to them, they detonate themselves," Jamal said.

    Comments
    1. AQ's new manual suggests taking hostages and killing them in gruesome ways.
    2. Sounds like these bombers are deliberately luring our people in close. I wonder if the militants running where the same ones who had the suicide charges or if it was a bait-and-switch.

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    Rest in peace, mes amis
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It also appears that either the reporter or

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    It appears that the bad guys aren't afraid of tanks.
    the French defense minister or both don't know that neither the French nor US SF have any tanks in-country...

    Given the current penchant for reporters to call a Frigate a 'Battleship' this is not surprising.

    Even if there had been tanks, why should anyone be afraid of them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    the French defense minister or both don't know that neither the French nor US SF have any tanks in-country...

    Given the current penchant for reporters to call a Frigate a 'Battleship' this is not surprising.

    Even if there had been tanks, why should anyone be afraid of them?
    The Canadian tank article linked to here a while back said the Taliban were afraid of tanks. Canadian newspaper too. Darn Canadians are making me look bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by BBC has better info
    French defence officials said about 100 soldiers - from France, the US and Afghanistan - were on a reconnaissance mission when bad road conditions forced them to stop their vehicles.

    A group of French soldiers was sent ahead on foot to check the terrain, but they were ambushed by Taleban fighters and nine were killed.

    A tenth French soldier was killed when his vehicle overturned on the road.

    An Afghan intelligence officer told the BBC the troops had been ambushed from several directions.

    "The Taleban and al-Qaeda forces used heavy machine guns and other weapons. They fired from mountains and gardens," he said.

    The fighting went on for 24 hours and it is understood that reinforcements had to be called in to airlift the troops to safety.
    They were VABs and the soldiers were out in front of the vehicles.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Heh. My points...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    The Canadian tank article linked to here a while back said the Taliban were afraid of tanks. Canadian newspaper too. Darn Canadians are making me look bad.
    Don't trust the media, they're clueless, seriously so. Really.

    Not least in confusing sensible respect for capability with being afraid -- not at all the same thing...
    They were VABs and the soldiers were out in front of the vehicles.
    I know. The VAB (and there was probably a VBL or three in there and with USSF, some up armored HMMWV of one kind or another also) is not a tank -- it isn't even a very good combat wheeled vehicle. Ergo, it probably doesn't get much respect at all from the bad guys, only anticipatory drooling at big targets.

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    Le Monde writes that the soldiers were not killed/wounded (10/21) right at the beginning of the 13 hour skirmish. They interviewed somebody who survived and that guy says they had serious C3 problems, finally ran out of MG ammo and grenades and had only their Famas left. In addition there was no artillery support, and it took four hours till (Afghan) reinforcements arrived, which then were shooting at everybody, including the French. And finally CAS also hit the French, not only the Taliban (they were as close as 50m). The ten killed belonged to the 8th RPIMa, the 2nd REP and the Tchadian RMT.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thanks. That tracks with the probabilities

    so it's perhaps pretty accurate. Given 2d REP and the 8th RPIMa plus the Chadian; US SF and Afghans, I guess C3 problems were virtually guaranteed and ANA reinforcements firing up everyone seems to be par for the course. CAS close is always dicey. Surprised that with vehicles, they ran out of MG Ammo, though.

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    Default Rocky road

    The BBC news: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7572612.stm and by a defence commentator: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/

    Note the emphasis on the French public not supporting the deployment; once again an example of the political failure to explain why.

    Rest in peace mon ami.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Armchair comment

    Not me, but from the Kings College London War Studies Kings of War blogsite: http://kingsofwar.wordpress.com/2008...-how/#comments

    Very pithy comments on the ambush and the Taliban threat (in a moment will post to a Taliban thread too).

    davidbfpo

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    Default French mission possibly betrayed by interpreter

    More here.

    New information surfaced Wednesday on the death on August 18 of 10 French soldiers who, while on a reconnaissance mission in Eastern Afghanistan, were ambushed by Taliban insurgents. French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, reputed for its investigative reporting and political scoops, suggested that the French patrol may have been betrayed by their Afghan interpreter. 'A few hours before the soldiers departed on their mission on August 18, the interpreter who was supposed to accompany the small patrol disappeared,' said an article on Wednesday [27 August 2008] in Le Canard Enchaîné. According to FRANCE 24 sources, this version of the facts was given to journalists by soldiers who had participated in the mission while they were being treated at the French military hospital in Kabul. According to the newspaper, French officials speaking anonymously admitted that the insurgents knew about the French patrol’s mission 'through the missing interpreter, or through Afghan police or soldiers.

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    Mass Attack on French Paratroopers Heralds New Taliban Tactics

    French press interviews with survivors of the ambush describe a rapid breakdown in command and communications, with Taliban marksmen taking down French soldiers at will. Among the first to be killed were the deputy section leader and the radioman of the advance unit. The warrant officer in command was shot in the shoulder. Soon afterwards the paratroopers’ radio communication with the RMT broke down. Heavily outnumbered, the French remained pinned down and under fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket launchers for four hours without reinforcements. Ammunition for all weapons other than their assault rifles ran out as the soldiers were unable to reach supplies still in their vehicles, although a VAB with a section from the 35e Régiment d'Artillerie Parachutiste in the rear of the column was able to deploy the vehicle’s machine gun and four 120mm mortars in support (La Depeche, August 21).
    http://www.jamestown.org/news_details.php?news_id=346#

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    French soldiers unprepared for Taliban ambush: report

    A secret NATO review obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that the French who were killed in August did not have enough bullets, radios and other equipment. By contrast, the insurgents were dangerously well prepared


    GRAEME SMITH
    From Saturday's Globe and Mail
    September 20, 2008 at 1:11 AM EDT

    It was mid-afternoon when a tribal elder invited a U.S. military commander for a quiet chat in a garden. His village was surrounded by foreign troops, hunting around the mountain valley in search of infiltrators from Pakistan rumoured to be lurking in the barren hills.

    Thirty soldiers from a French airborne platoon wandered farthest from the village, exploring a steep slope covered with rocks and scrubby vegetation under a high ridge.

    That hill would soon become a killing ground, scene of the deadliest ambush against international forces since 2001, and the latest troubling sign that the insurgents are mastering the art of guerrilla war.

    A NATO report on the incident obtained by The Globe and Mail provides the most in-depth account so far of an attack on Aug. 18 that shook the countries involved in the increasingly bloody campaign. The NATO report, marked “secret,” reveals woefully unprepared French troops surprised by well-armed insurgents in a valley east of Kabul. Ten soldiers were killed, the report concludes, but the other soldiers were lucky to escape without more deaths.

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    "There was no Nato report," said a French army spokesman, saying such information was based on "rumours" possibly fed by "partial" accounts from soldiers questioned after the attack. He denied that the troops ran out of ammunition quickly and said that radio reception was only lost for a few minutes.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...ghanistan.html

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    Default this is ugly...

    French troops were killed after Italy hushed up ‘bribes’ to Taleban, by Tom Coghlan. The Times (London), October 15, 2009.

    What the grieving nation did not know was that in the months before the French soldiers arrived in mid-2008, the Italian secret service had been paying tens of thousands of dollars to Taleban commanders and local warlords to keep the area quiet, The Times has learnt. The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials.

    US intelligence officials were flabbergasted when they found out through intercepted telephone conversations that the Italians had also been buying off militants, notably in Herat province in the far west. In June 2008, several weeks before the ambush, the US Ambassador in Rome made a démarche, or diplomatic protest, to the Berlusconi Government over allegations concerning the tactic.

    However, a number of high-ranking officers in Nato have told The Times that payments were subsequently discovered to have been made in the Sarobi area as well.

    Western officials say that because the French knew nothing of the payments they made a catastrophically incorrect threat assessment.

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    Default Italian link to the French killings....

    Here's the same story from today's Foreign Policy:

    http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/...ff_the_taliban

    Did Italy pay off the Taliban?

    But the larger question is: why is this so damming? Isn't this now part of our strategic calculus to consider paying off those same Taliban when necessary to achieve our larger withdrawal aims?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kotkinjs1 View Post

    But the larger question is: why is this so damming? Isn't this now part of our strategic calculus to consider paying off those same Taliban when necessary to achieve our larger withdrawal aims?
    It's damning when you don't tell your relieving force who you've been paying and why, assuming this story is true.

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    right - I understand that; it is pretty sh!tty that this little gem was left out in the turnover brief. I was only referring to the payoffs. The article focuses on the payments to militants to maintain the peace:

    "US intelligence officials were flabbergasted when they found out through intercepted telephone conversations that the Italians had also been buying off militants, notably in Herat province in the far west."

    Is cutting a deal with militant tribes or even factions of the Taliban so horrible? This article paints it out to be.

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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kotkinjs1 View Post
    "US intelligence officials were flabbergasted when they found out through intercepted telephone conversations that the Italians had also been buying off militants, notably in Herat province in the far west."

    Is cutting a deal with militant tribes or even factions of the Taliban so horrible? This article paints it out to be.
    My "this is ugly" comment was in reference to not informing the French, if this is indeed true; not the matter of payments.

    I am flabbergasted that US intelligence officials were 'flabbergasted' when they found out that the Italians had been buying off militants. The Italian government is confronted with commitments to its allies, and unpopular domestic support for its endeavors in Afghanistan that is increasingly sensitive to its casualties. Until recently in the eyes of many European countries, foreign corruption was a legitimate tool in business and diplomatic matters – it was even a tax deduction in some countries. It shouldn’t come as a surprise; disappointment perhaps, but not surprise.

    As to the merits of bribing tribes or factions of the Taliban, I would not consider it something so horrible as to leave it from consideration. Just so long as they are open to greenbacks; none of this Euro, Yuan, or Ruble funny business.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm inclined to believe this is one of those much ado incidents.

    We, the British, the Spanish, the Italians AND the French have all paid for quiet from time to time according to several who have been or are there. I suspect there's more to it than meets the eye -- and I'd also bet there's a domestic political angle for surfacing it at this time...

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