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Thread: The UK in Afghanistan

  1. #121
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Crisply written

    The written word too:
    The brave and honourable spirit of Britain's soldiers will benefit us all. The daily exercise in Afghanistan of will-power and leadership serves the best human instincts, says Crispin Black.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...it-us-all.html

    The response has been very mixed and I fully accept the timing suggests PR.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-16-2010 at 06:05 PM.
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  2. #122
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Kings of War teaching aide

    A short PPT on the UK campaign, nothing startling, but "all in one place" and critical: http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2010/02/3424/
    davidbfpo

  3. #123
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Boots on the ground film

    An eleven minute newsreel clip following a UK Army patrol from a FOB at Kushal Kalay, Helmand Province into the nearby fields and then being fired at. Hat tip to Kings Of War.http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2010/02/fro...the-frontline/

    Personally from faraway I asked myself what were they doing, "mowing the lawn" once again seems appropriate. Note the apparently "new" sniping capability has appeared in other news stories and on FRI.
    davidbfpo

  4. #124
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default British Army Chief of Staff plus

    Two rather laudatory articles as General Sir David Richards tours Afghanistan: a general report:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ve-turned.html and an article around an interview:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

    On the strategic front very different opinions see the "round up" thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=9718

    I note the speculation on how many Taliban commanders were thinking of reconciliation.

    Also on the battle for Marjah thread.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-27-2010 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Copied here from the marjah thread
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  5. #125
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK troops to remain in Afghanistan 'for five years'

    General Sir David Richards adds to the BBC:
    Britain will be "militarily engaged" in Afghanistan for a further five years, the head of the Army has said.
    General Sir David Richards told the Daily Telegraph, while on a visit to Helmand, that he expected the military conflict to "trail off in 2011". But British troops will continue in training and support roles, he said.
    From:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8540402.stm
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  6. #126
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Morale at home affects the front

    A leaked document written by General Sir David Richards and his response when in Afghanistan:
    In a confidential draft memo prepared for ministers he wrote that soldiers and their families felt “undervalued” (and now comments)....'We need our soldiers to be ready, mentally and physically, to endure repeated tours in Afghanistan, in a harsh environment, with the real prospect of significant casualties each time. To maintain the necessary morale and cohesion, they must see tangible signs between tours that they and their families are valued'.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...army-head.html
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  7. #127
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    Another interesting video:


    http://www.channel4.com/news/article...+lines/3549942

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...id=67312757001

    EXCLUSIVE: in a remarkable close-up account from behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, Channel 4 News video journalist Vaughan Smith joins the Grenadier Guards to reveal how British forces are using ambush strategies to beat the Taliban.

    A clandestine operation carried out by the Reconnaisance Platoon of the Grenadier Guards battle group took place in northern Helmand province during the initial stages of Operation Moshtarak.

    Channel 4 News has had unique access to the strategic operations and preparations behind the offensive.

    Video journalist Vaughan Smith, a former army captain, was embedded with the Grenadier Guards in the weeks leading up to Moshtarak, based in an old British fort, now called Camp Shawqat, in the central Nad-e-Ali district.

    Captain Jim Young, the officer who led the platoon, confirmed that his men had "65 confirmed enemy kills" in the four months leading up to the new offensive.

    Channel 4 News filmed the troops as they lay in wait for Taliban insurgents. British soldiers worked side by side with their counterparts from the Afghan National Army.

    At least three enemy insurgents died in the ambush which was intended to destabilise the Taliban.

    In the next phase of the operation the Grenadiers with an attached company from the Royal Welch Regiment then "cleared" the village of Kushal Kalay of roadside bombs as part of the "clear, hold and build" objectives of Moshtarak.

    IED threat
    Roadside bombs are a constant threat to British soldiers. In one incident during Vaughan Smith's four-week period embedded with the British Army, three Afghan soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb. One British and two Afghan soldiers were also lightly wounded.

    He said:
    The threat had changed since the last time I was there. Now it is now all about the dangers of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Radio-controlled and so called 'command wire' mines are common now, but the Taliban are constantly adapting their bomb making techniques to avoid detection. These days insurgents are using less metal in their IEDs - which means British troops have to use more sophisticated technology to find and destroy them. Each cost just a few pounds to make - the operation to remove one took eight men, three painstaking hours and millions of pounds worth of equipment.
    'Thinking man's war'
    Smith, who often found himself under fire, explained:
    Afghanistan has become a thinking man's war. While I was there complex tactics were used. Men would sometimes fires shots into an empty field. It was done so that the Taliban would return fire and expose their positions. But done in a way to ensure no civilian casualties.
    Smith, who first went to Afghanistan with the Grenadier Guards in September 2007, added:
    It was a different war back then. In 2007 it was aggressive and mobile. This time I was surprised to see how different things looked. The army now has a clear idea of what it wants to do. That is, deny them the thing that the Taliban need most - control of the civilian population.
    The Afghan people have seen fighting for too long. The country has been at war for 40 years. All they want now is peace.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-01-2010 at 07:14 PM. Reason: fix quotes

  8. #128
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboon6 View Post
    'Thinking man's war'
    Smith, who often found himself under fire, explained: "Afghanistan has become a thinking man's war. While I was there complex tactics were used. Men would sometimes fires shots into an empty field. It was done so that the Taliban would return fire and expose their positions. But done in a way to ensure no civilian casualties."
    Can't access the links, but the above statement is profoundly stupid. I doubt he ever said it. Firing shots to into an empty field is "Reconnaissance by fire." It's not a complex tactic. Part of the basics, even back when I was young, nearly 30 years ago.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  9. #129
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    Links fixed:

    http://www.channel4.com/news/article...+lines/3549942

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...id=67312757001

    EXCLUSIVE: in a remarkable close-up account from behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, Channel 4 News video journalist Vaughan Smith joins the Grenadier Guards to reveal how British forces are using ambush strategies to beat the Taliban.

    Sorry should work now on this version. My edit button seems to have disappeared so had to do it like this.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-21-2010 at 08:10 PM. Reason: Quote shortened as only there with fixed links to video

  10. #130
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboon6 View Post
    Sorry should work now on this version. My edit button seems to have disappeared so had to do it like this.
    Cheers for that. Amazing (not really) how infantry operations have not changed much, if at all in about 30-40 years, as concerns the basics.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  11. #131
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Sangin: a report on why more Brits die there

    The BBC Newsnight Defence Correspondent, Mark Urban, reports from Sangin:
    Sangin in Afghanistan is the most dangerous place in the world for UK troops, with six UK servicemen being killed there since the beginning of this month.
    Link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programme...ht/8555922.stm
    davidbfpo

  12. #132
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Can't access the links, but the above statement is profoundly stupid. I doubt he ever said it. Firing shots to into an empty field is "Reconnaissance by fire." It's not a complex tactic. Part of the basics, even back when I was young, nearly 30 years ago.
    Come on, everything is complex. Ask neuroscientists.

    Said recce by fire can at times be quite amusing. It was used early on to fool Leclerc Plts, for example. Their protection system popped smoke every time when the tank was hit by a laser. Red teams learned to simply scan tree lines with lasers...
    It's indeed old.


    I do sometimes wonder whether officers are really that ill-educated on military history and tactics or maybe they just offer dumb statements because they have to hide their brilliant stuff.
    Sadly, my personal experience has a strong bias in this question, and it's not nice.

  13. #133
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    Vdeo of British EOD team in action; hours to clear just a little stretch of road:

    http://www.channel4.com/news/article...57&time=201532

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...id=71660498001

    In the war of the IED - Improvised Explosive Device - it is the loneliest of lonely walks. The last 30 yards out from your colleagues, dropping off your cover man 20 yards out from the bomb, writes Alex Thomson.

    On your own, you have the last few yards to yourself. You are going into the death zone. A place where if you make a mistake, no flack jacket or helmet will make the slightest difference.

    Forget please, the absurd nonsense served up to us recently in The Hurt Locker. This is no world for mavericks or heroes: just close-knit, tight teamwork.

    It starts with an urgent notification that an IED has been found. They call them ten-liners, emails of ten lines detailing everything known about the device. But teams like that led by "Woody", Staff Sergeant Gareth Wood of the Royal Logistic Corps sometimes get more than ten such warnings in one day. At the bomb site, best forget everything you have seen about police cordons, crowd safety and other quaint British notions.

    Clearly the Afghan locals all seem to know where the bombs are laid. They'll drive round columns of heavily armed military vehicles because they want to be on their way and to hell with Nato.

    Instead of diffusing the bomb, soldiers usually have to yell at people to go back from the bomb zone. Traffic must be halted. Warning flares fired if necessary. It all sort of works, eventually.

    In the heat, tension and general sense of chaos the British team must also be mindful of an ambush. Nothing is more exposed and static than soldiers painstakingly feeling their way to a buried bomb, warily waving their mine detectors.

    About the only thing the British have going for them, the Pashto word for mine, is mine.

    Now for obvious reasons I'm not going to tell you, indeed I'm not allowed to tell you, what really goes on in the death zone. But the bombs are not the sophisticated devices used in Iraq or Northern Ireland.

    So it is a matter of breaking the link between the pack of batteries wired into the detonator and the container of ammonium nitrate and sugar, or ammonium nitrate and aluminium depending on your recipe.

    Variations abound, the team we filmed discovered both home-made explosive mixtures: pressure plate triggers, release pressure triggers, small devices and much larger ones of 40kg or more explosive.

    Some of the diffusing methods are almost quaintly old fashioned. No robots on the team we filmed, still less the Oscar-laden moon suits of The Hurt Locker. No no, this thing the British army think more along the lines of cables, hooks and elbow grease to haul bombs out of the road to a safe distance.

    "It's surreal really, you're just in you're own world. It's my office I suppose" said Staff Sergeant Wood. "It's just what we do."

    Though that extraordinary work ethic was seriously tested as we filmed bomb after bomb detected then diffused. There were so many, our convoy drove past several before they were even discovered. But nobody dwells on lucky escapes.

    After nine hours in the blazing heat with no break, yet another notification, a ten-liner: "Oh not another ******* bomb" as one of the team put it.

    In the end running low on batteries, fuel, endurance, food, stamina, you name it - the IED team had no choice. All forensics, examination and bagging up of bomb parts, was forgotten n the race against the clock.

    Even so the clock won. Edging towards exhaustion two more bombs on the way back to their camp, had to be left and marked for the next day.

    All this on one section of road a few hundred yards long in one small part of one small district of Helmand province.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-14-2010 at 07:23 PM. Reason: Quote marks added

  14. #134
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default Black Watch Military Crosses, Mention in Dispatches

    From the Press and Journal, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, March 20, 2010:

    Black Watch heroes honoured for brave deeds in Afghanistan against Taliban

    By Jane Candlish
    Published: 20/03/2010

    Four Black Watch heroes have won the Military Cross for their bravery in battles against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    A comrade of the Inverness-based soldiers was also given the armed forces’ oldest accolade for gallantry – a Mention in Dispatches – posthumously.

    Acting Sergeant Sean Binnie threw a grenade that killed insurgents a split second before he was fatally wounded by a round fired from one of their guns.

    The Military Cross is the third-highest decoration given to the British Army and is awarded in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations.
    To read the entire article click here. The Black Watch is continuing a long and honorable tradition.

  15. #135
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Punchline is at the end

    Earlier this week C4 News broadcast a good, long report (16 mins) on a patrol with the Coldstream Guards, complete with ANA alongside - well sort of, as they fired at each other once. The link has the film and a commentary:http://www.channel4.com/news/article...ntline/3579862

    Hopefully it can be watched beyond the UK shores and another SWC member has located an alternative before.

    The report ends with a line missing from the commentary; the allied patrol is withdrawn by three Chinooks, after two days IIRC out in the compounds and fields. How far were they from the FOB? A mile. From my "armchair" this is not encouraging.
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  16. #136
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Critic catches up with General

    I'm sure I posted this article before (Post 85), based around General Sir David Richards, the UK's top soldier, on a visit to Afghanistan, on 26/2/10: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ve-turned.html

    I do not think we can afford to fail in Afghanistan because of the intoxicating effect failure will have on those militants who oppose democracy and our freedoms,” he explained. “It would create the view that we are not prepared to fight for that which we hold precious.
    A critic Patrick Porter on his blogsite:http://offshorebalancer.wordpress.co...set-about-you/ has commented:
    Of all the defences for fighting in Afghanistan, this is the weakest. We must stay and win just in case we excite a group of beleaguered, largely ineffectual and marginal militants?
    Read on for more.

    I like this comment:
    Here's what a CIA veteran who was deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats, has to say about AQ:

    'We must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are." Al Qaeda "has only a handful of individuals capable of planning, organizing and leading a terrorist operation," Carle notes, and "its capabilities are far inferior to its desires.
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  17. #137
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default McChrystal pays tribute to courage of British special forces

    General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, has paid tribute to the extraordinary courage of British special forces.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...al-forces.html
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  18. #138
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Prince Charles in Afghanistan

    A frank, high-level memo which lays bare the "frustration" felt over the Prince of Wales's trip to Afghanistan has been leaked in Whitehall, causing embarrassment to senior figures in the Foreign Office.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...hall-memo.html

    An earlier report:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...ghanistan.html
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  19. #139
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    Default davidbfpo & baboon6 Reply

    Thanks, gents, for keeping us in touch with views of this fight from your side of the fence. I'm appreciative.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski, a.k.a. "The Dude"

  20. #140
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default British forces to withdraw from Helmand......

    British forces are to be withdrawn from Helmand and replaced by United States Marines under controversial new plans being drawn up by American commanders.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

    Not exactly a surprise to me, if only for the expected gaps created when the Canadians and Dutch leave the combat role. How this will play out in the UK is unclear, with all the commitment made and deaths since 2006.

    General Dannatt, the UK's previous senior general, has weighed in:
    If British forces are indeed asked to re-deploy from Helmand to Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul, it would pose a major dilemma for policymakers, writes former Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-28-2010 at 10:46 AM. Reason: Add second quote
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