Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Afghanistan. Have we got the tactics wrong?

I don't wish to bash our troops, they are doing a fine job with the troop numbers and equipment they have but I can only see problems in the tactics used.

Firstly I don't like the way platoon houses are being operated. This is where a number of troops hold a government compound in an important town or village.

These platoon houses get attacked on a regular basis as indeed such defensive positions have been attacked throughout the thousands of years of war. That would be OK if there were enough men and material to go out and meet the threat. There isn't so a firefight ensues between the waring parties catching much in the cross fire, until air support becomes available destroying where the enemy are.

This has two key problems. Firstly that which is caught in the cross fire and secondly which ever building the Taliban were holed up in gets destroyed possibly after they have left.

In short there is not enough military power about to prevent the Taliban taking up positions in towns as and when they like causing havoc for the civilians when fire fights start.

The second tactic used is long range patrols. In many ways these seem to work well in drawing out ambushes but the Taliban use the cover of other peoples houses to fight and they get destroyed. There is not a huge amount that can be done about this other than to bring each individual firefight to an end as soon as possible. They normally end with the dropping of a bomb. It looks like the Taliban know how long it takes to muster a plane with a bomb and frequently may be gone before it is dropped.

It both the platoon house and the long range patrol situation rapid air cover would be very useful. This will mean many more planes in the sky at all times on patrol, but it will help in both circumstances.

In short we lack men, armoured vehicles and aircraft. The government is trying to do Afghanistan on the cheap and if it continues on this path it may well fail.

It should of course be noted that attacks are down month on month, but the Taliban will use the winter to regroup and rearm. We need to cut off their cash and supply, which is a difficult job, as well.


billy said...

You have to wonder just how committed our friend Pakistan is to the 'war on terror'.
The more we are told they are the less I find myself believing it.

Benedict White said...

Well, yes billy though there is the issue from his point of view of waht is possible whilst holding his country together.

Chris D said...

Benedict, I agree with most of your article, but IIRC part of the problem has been political rather than "text book" military planning or implementation.
That is usually where things go wrong! !!!
Limited troop numbers, poor equipment and far too little resources have compounded an already difficult situation.
Both Nato and our own government must take equal responsibility. At a time when many countries within Nato will not allow their troops to enter the hotspots, our government has tried to fight a war using politically prudent troop deployments with the treasury trying to cut costs at ever corner.

billy said...

Yes, it must be very difficult for a military dictator to hold his country together and if it fell apart would that be a problem here?
Acts of terror, while terrible, are pinpricks compared to organised events by armies such as ethnic cleansing. I feel we have committed to troops to fight an enemy that is one minute in the Afghan foothills and the next in Madrid or Bradford.
Another marine died yesterday, and for what?

Benedict White said...

Chris D I agree. The problem is one of resource because the politians thought they could get way with it. It is costing lives, both Afghan and our own and is in danger of going wrong unless we have much more resource for the next fighting season.

Billy, What if a nuclear power fails apart and ends up being controled by loons? That is not something I want to contemplate (even though we have to)

On the terrorism issue, we needed to stop Afghanistan being a base for terrorist training. We have done that now, and now need to make it stable so it does not revert. That is what we are doing there, albeit without the required resource.

billy said...

Arguably, Benedict, nuclear power has fallen apart and is controlled by loons. If you are referring to Pakistan's nuclear weapons I'd say it is only a question of time before the loons that are against us get control of them as opposed to the loons that profess to be for us.
Secondly, our home grown 'Bradford' bombers apparently found Llangollen suitable for training. The IRA manage(d) with Eire. Didn't the 9/11 terrorists do the vital part of their traing in the US?You can train a terrorist anywhere. It doesn't have to be rushing about with guns and rolling in the mud. Effective bombs can be made at home and do not need to be large to be effective.

Anonymous said...

Afghanistan is just another example of the UK and USA always interfering in others affairs, making a balls up of it,..foisting their sick morals and beliefs on a nation that does not want them. (next stop Cuba and Venezuala)
You shoot people in their own country then your perverse crusading dumbo soldiers get shot/killed or wounded and call the Afghans/muslims all the racist names under the sun.
The only thing missing so far are God freaks and Bible salesmen hawking their tacky wares. (no wait a minute Blair, Bush and Cameron have paid their morality visits and more to come)