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Thread: The USMC in Helmand (merged thread)

  1. #21
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    [QUOTE=ODB;67481]From my boys there and the numbers here:

    Jan-Feb 2008 = 8 US Deaths

    Jan-Feb 2009 = 29 US Deaths
    QUOTE]

    I would like to see the numbers for August and July 2008 compared with 2009 as I think enemy activity and CF/ANSF deaths are up in general and not specific to the winter. I was in the Helmand and Farah provinces so I can only speak to those areas. From what I saw all the big timers take off to see their families or take a break during the winter and some of the local players keep some level of activity up.

  2. #22
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default OEF Casualties Database

    I would like to see the numbers for August and July 2008 compared with 2009 as I think enemy activity and CF/ANSF deaths are up in general and not specific to the winter. I was in the Helmand and Farah provinces so I can only speak to those areas. From what I saw all the big timers take off to see their families or take a break during the winter and some of the local players keep some level of activity up.
    Historical statistics here OEF Fatalities

    Jul-Aug 2008 = 31 US Deaths

    Total CF for those months = 76

    Historically CF
    Jan-Feb 02 = 22
    Jan-Feb 03 = 11
    Jan-Feb 04 = 13
    Jan-Feb 05 = 4
    Jan-Feb 06 = 18
    Jan-Feb 07 = 20
    Jan-Feb 08 = 21
    Jan-Feb 09 = 48

    All the data is at the above linked site.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  3. #23
    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Please do not believe the reporters

    it's been a long time since I've posted for many different reasons. mainly didn't have anything worthwhile to say. Also, I've been busy. Currently I am on a staff in southern afghanistan and have a good view of what is going on. I cannot cover too much here but what I can say is that the two articles (the first posted by tequila & the mcclatchy article) are not the whole story.

    Unclass version- the Coalition and Afghan forces have upped the anti for fighting in the winter. If you had stats on the number of insurgents kia this would be shown. But it is not about body counts.

    We are not 'winning' yet but we are doing good things. The tactics, well this is my favorite quote: 'afghanistan is a place where the land fashions the people, it is also a place where the land and the people should fashion the military operations.' Most of the folks fighting this fight 'get it.'

    As for the ROE issue, McClatchy had it wrong. There was, and in some circles still is, a miss understanding of the ISAF ROE. This has and is being corrected through training. The ROE is designed to help increase Afghan lead operations and to reduce collateral damage. There are some issues between the various nations who have 'national caveats' but they can be worked with through good planning. Bottomline our guys can enter buildings if they need to, we are not limited in our right to self defense. We just prefer to have the Afghans do it, it is their country after all.

    -T

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    it's been a long time since I've posted for many different reasons. mainly didn't have anything worthwhile to say. Also, I've been busy. Currently I am on a staff in southern afghanistan and have a good view of what is going on. I cannot cover too much here but what I can say is that the two articles (the first posted by tequila & the mcclatchy article) are not the whole story.

    Unclass version- the Coalition and Afghan forces have upped the anti for fighting in the winter. If you had stats on the number of insurgents kia this would be shown. But it is not about body counts.

    We are not 'winning' yet but we are doing good things. The tactics, well this is my favorite quote: 'afghanistan is a place where the land fashions the people, it is also a place where the land and the people should fashion the military operations.' Most of the folks fighting this fight 'get it.'

    As for the ROE issue, McClatchy had it wrong. There was, and in some circles still is, a miss understanding of the ISAF ROE. This has and is being corrected through training. The ROE is designed to help increase Afghan lead operations and to reduce collateral damage. There are some issues between the various nations who have 'national caveats' but they can be worked with through good planning. Bottomline our guys can enter buildings if they need to, we are not limited in our right to self defense. We just prefer to have the Afghans do it, it is their country after all.

    -T
    I know Nancy Youssef, the author of the article, and she's pretty conscientious. If you have a factual correction/modification for her article, I can email it to her.

    Niel
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

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    Default T, thank you, ....

    for the clarification on the ISAF ROEs. Stay safe.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    As for the ROE issue, McClatchy had it wrong. There was, and in some circles still is, a miss understanding of the ISAF ROE. This has and is being corrected through training. The ROE is designed to help increase Afghan lead operations and to reduce collateral damage. There are some issues between the various nations who have 'national caveats' but they can be worked with through good planning. Bottomline our guys can enter buildings if they need to, we are not limited in our right to self defense. We just prefer to have the Afghans do it, it is their country after all.

    -T
    I really can't blame Ms Yousef. While she does have her own agenda, as does any reporter, I think she was reporting on what she saw and heard. When I was in Afghanistan I saw that the average Marine and Soldier on the ground was convinced that they could not enter buildings and felt that they were limited in their ability to engage known enemy forces. Whether or not this is really the case, that is what the reality on the ground was. The problem is that this misunderstanding existed at a level well above the platoon level. At least it did when I was there. The Marines recently transitioned to ISAF ROE from OEF ROE and it is normal for there to be some confusion. I am glad to hear that this is being addressed now.

  7. #27
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    Default Numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    Unclass version- the Coalition and Afghan forces have upped the anti for fighting in the winter. If you had stats on the number of insurgents kia this would be shown. But it is not about body counts.
    Never been a big numbers guy in the past, however they do tell a story, as I am starting learn (without a statistics class, yet). In this case there are many things to gain from numbers, the increase in IED numbers and CF deaths. Agreed there are underlying circumstances to both. The biggest being CF numbers have increased as have the number of operations. A quieter number is the IED one. Not just the number of IEDs but also the types, how they are being initiated, built, etc... The lessons from Iraq are flooding into Afghanistan, no doubt the fighters as well. Throw in the growing (size) of the safe haven in Pakistan and the dynamics change immensly, in a short period of time.

    NATO is an animal of itself.....
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  8. #28
    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default misunderstood ROE

    The issue is not with the veracity of the reporting I am sure that Ms. Yousef reported what she was told. From my vantage she always seemed a straight shooter. However what she did get wrong, and what the Marines on the ground needed training in was the actual ROE.

    "But in Afghanistan, they operate under the rules of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, of which U.S. troops are part. Under those regulations, only Afghans can search buildings and detain people."-McClatchy News.

    This statement is incorrect, though I have no doubt that it came from reliable sources, it is just that they were misinformed.

    Truth-The 2/7 Marines operated under OEF rules and the SPMAGTF-A Marines operate under ISAF, the rules are different.

    The rules appear (and are) cumbersome. They are difficult for all ranks to grasp. BUT once the training is in place and conducted the issues are reduced.

    Note that many of the Marines in theater now were training for Iraq upto in some cases 2-4 months prior to coming here. This caused some issues with the baseline training. ROE was one of those issues.

    The bottom line is this nothing gets in the way of our right to self defense. If hostile intent and or act is identified our forces can deal with it approriately. If that means detaining a person or entering a building without ANSF present they can do so. HOWEVER, we mitigate this by trying very hard to integrate all our actions with the ANSF.

    The ANSF and Government of Afghanistan are the future, we endevour to train them; work with them; and integrate all our actions with them at every opportunity.

    -T

  9. #29
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    Default Good post, many thanks

    Stay alert.

  10. #30
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    Default Brit book on Musa Qala

    Just out and not seen yet, a book on the battle for Musa Qala by an embedded journalist with the UK forces and a review piece: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...snakebite.html

    davidbfpo

  11. #31
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    Default Afghanistan mission impossible?

    Missed this UK Channel 4 Dispatches programme, where Stephen Grey is the reporter and includes several interviews with UK Army officers - mainly those at the top: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/d...es-6/episode-4

    Hopefully this link to the TV programme will work outside the UK, as Rex and a few others have found links don't: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/catch-up

    davidbfpo

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    Default US Marines to 'drink lots of tea'

    Asia Times
    Ali Gharib

    WASHINGTON - After months of planning and putting pieces in order, aspects of the new United States strategy in Afghanistan are beginning to be concretely implemented - including a surge of troops and attempts to curtail the poppy trade that allegedly funds insurgents.

    But some aspects of the new strategy are lagging behind, and questions linger about the feasibility of winning by concentrating new US forces in Afghanistan's south and east, where the Taliban has largely established full control.

    On Thursday, 4,000 US Marines made their way by helicopter into Afghanistan's enormous Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold in the south where poppy cultivation runs rampant.....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 07-07-2009 at 04:08 PM.

  13. #33
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    Good for them... As an influential malik once told me, a meeting can have the highest quality food, the best accomodations, and the most important people attending, but without chai it is meaningless.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  14. #34
    Council Member mhusband's Avatar
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    I was sooo tired or chia by the time I left. But it is good for conversing with local nationals and safer than drinking a glass of water.

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    - an armed Peace Corps, well, I guess it could be worse somehow, not sure how though....its just the notion of gunfire and tea that bothers me when the grunts are conditioned on beer and soda and engaging - I just can't see them digging irrigation canals for instance or herding goats to generate warm fuzzy feelings amongst the people- I mean, what exactly are they supposed to do besides drink tea? Is, ah, seeking non-personal engagement with the taliban a part time job here or what? I sure hope this doesn't turn into a cluster F

  16. #36
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    Default Marines in Helmand

    I saw the video at this address:
    http://www.breitbart.tv/valley-of-de...e-afghanistan/

    Asked a recent Old Grad to whom I am related what he saw wrong and he said:
    their fire was uncoordinated. they seemed to just be shooting. the squad leaders should have been directing fire on targets. suppressing fire is all well and good when it is asked for, but otherwise you end up in a situation like they did where they need to break contact because you cant sustain. the psg should have been on that instead of firing his own weapon.

    for starters, if i knew an ambush was coming i wouldn't be waiting in the ducking alamo in downtown al-bhull####ville. it makes a great target, god forbid they have a mortar and know how to use it. i would need to see a map but id have made a show of running away, and hit em at night in or around town somewhere.

    my saw gunners wont be emptying drums of ammunition at nothing, not twice anyway...

    I added the following observations for his consideration and benefit:

    If you are reasonably sure that there are bad guys in that hamlet you:

    1. identify escape routes and put squad sized ambushes on those paths the night before, say 0300 or so.

    2. using your whiz bang tech gps gear, you locate ambush sites precisely and then lay mortars in on the ambush positions to cover the squads retreat if they get more business than they can handle.

    3. Whatever else you do, you show up at the hamlet at BMNT, not just in time for brunch, come on! Surprise is a dish best served at daybreak, not brunch.

    4. PSG is doing video instead of helping PL direct the action shame on both

    5. None of the marines in the video can see a target so by firing, they are telling enemy precisely where THEY are but enemy is not located. Your people should not be firing unless they have a target (exception- ambush that you are giving or receiving) also wasting ammo that they may need as you point out. There is even one Hue re-enactment where the guy sticks his weapon up over the wall and just hoses down the planet.

    6. There ought to be another platoon or a company saddled up and ready to dance for just such situations so they can get behind em. if not, you move the platoon out and flank em or, if terrain won't permit, withdraw and hope they chase you.

    That way your main body drives them into the ambushes in confusion instead of lollygagging up the hill in broad daylight so the bad guys can make an orderly retreat or set up their defenses.

    Why send a platoon to hit and run. This did NOT work in Irag and didn't in Vietnam either. If you are going hunting in rough terrain, plan on staying and set up blocking positions first... or send in a smaller force and have a rifle co. saddled up to drop in behind the assholes once they engage and then smoke em.

    If the hamlet is controlled by the Ban, then take it and hold it or set up camps outside... or relocate hamlet.
    don't expect locals to support you if you can't protect them with either local militia or troops. if they don't want that protection then they are Ban symps and need to be relocated or dealt with otherwise.

    remember, just because they aren't for the govt doesn't mean they are against you. not truly a binary situation.

    so endeth the sermon.

    We would appreciate other observations since said Old Grad will be there next year!

    W. M. Treadway
    AUSA, Infantry
    Ft. Polk 1967
    Ft. Benning 1968
    MAT II-36 1969
    DSA Van Ninh District 1969

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Agree on the fire discipline -- or lack thereof.

    That was really bad. Way, way too much just popping caps. Excessively long bursts on the 249s will destroy them sooner than necessary, aside from the waste of ammo. Firing them essentially offhand is of no value. I saw two Grenadiers launch 40mm rounds with no clue where they might land, a number of riflemen firing multiple shots in rapid succession almost certainly really unaimed, at least one firing an M4 on full auto which is pointless...

    Those folks definitely need some training. I can never understand why leaders allow that kind of loose and pointless firing. We don't do the basics well at all and our lack of fire discipline is the prime indicator. In defense of that unit, same thing occurs all the time and did in other wars. Control of fire is not one of our strong points; we waste a LOT of ammo...

    Not enough info on the tactical situation to say much on that aspect, though I agree with most of what you say as generically good.

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    Default taxpayer cynicism

    - all points missed by the general Public, unfortunately - Obama made it clear this was where the war needed to be fought so my take is its a shot of PR, the good fight,quasi cool for arm chair soldiers in front of their flat screens safe at home, especially the guy spraying over the wall, they're left with maybe 20% of their ammo and the villagers chalk it off as another American loss -

  19. #39
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    1) Do they have enough manpower to do what was suggested?
    2) Why do you say "None of the marines in the video can see a target?" Reporter said they identified fire from 5 pairs of bad guys, hit several.
    3) Village was cleared with no casualties. I'm not sure Obama was responsible, but it doesn't seem like a bad thing to be responsible for.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  20. #40
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    Default Iraq Veterans Find Afghan Enemy Even Bolder

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/wo...26marines.html

    It appears that the Taliban's tactics and strategy of fighting the US/NATO/Afghan government forces is evolving to become more coordinated than ever before. In a way the Taliban is becoming more advanced in the way they fight then the insurgency in Iraq. However like the article said they lack alot of the heavy explosives that the insurgency in Iraq had. Which if they happen to do could cause more problems then they already are know for US/NATO forces as well as for the government in Afghanistan.

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