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Marines Have Their Air Support Cut Back

From an approving Washington Post:

U.S. curtails use of airstrikes in assault on Marja

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MARJA, AFGHANISTAN — To the Marines of Bravo Company, the black-and-white video footage from a surveillance drone seemed to present the perfect shot: more than a dozen armed insurgents exiting a building and heading to positions to attack U.S. and Afghan forces seeking to wrest control of this Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan.

Facing stiff resistance from Taliban fighters, the Marines radioed for permission to call in an airstrike on the insurgents at midday Monday. It appeared to be the sort of clear opportunity that would have prompted a rapidly executed bombing run during the Iraq war, or even in the first seven years of this conflict.

But not anymore: Officers at the Marine headquarters deemed the insurgents to be too close to a set of houses. In the new way the United States and its NATO allies are waging the Afghan war, dropping a bomb on or near a house is forbidden unless troops are in imminent danger of being overrun, or they can prove that no civilians are inside.

The rejection of Bravo’s airstrike illuminates the challenges and complexity of waging a counterinsurgency mission that aims to protect Afghan civilians, while battling militants who appear determined to stand and fight for control of this farming district…

"It seemed like a good target to us," Capt. Ryan Sparks, the commander of Bravo Company, which is part of the 1st Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment, said of the strike rejected by Marine headquarters on Monday. "We didn’t see any civilians around."

Not seeing any civilians on a video feed from a drone or through one’s rifle scope is no longer enough. Under a tactical directive McChrystal issued last summer, troops must verify that there are no civilians inside a house by watching it for at least 72 hours to establish a "pattern of life" before an airstrike will be authorized..

Some Marine commanders contend that insurgents in Marja understand what is now out of bounds and are using those bright lines to their advantage. Earlier Monday, the Marines from Bravo Company spotted a group of women and children carrying bundles, which they suspected to be weapons, to a safe house. Later on, the Marines said they saw a band of armed men darting in and out of a mosque, which is off-limits for bombing.

"It’s a frustration and a challenge," said Bravo’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Cal Worth. "The enemy has read the tactical directive and he understands it. He knows our rules of engagement."

The Marines did not want to strike at the women and children, nor did they want to hit the mosque. But they reasoned that striking the fighters in the open, even if there might be some damage to homes, would ultimately be better — and safer — than fighting house-to-house to flush out the insurgents.

"Now we’re going to have to clear the compounds one by one, and that increases the risk, potentially even to civilians in the area," Worth said…

Even so, he said he understands McChrystal’s reasoning. "A professional fighting force need to assume the preponderance of risk," he said. "That’s the way it should be in a counterinsurgency."

After arriving by helicopters early Saturday, Bravo Company has largely been holed up in a mud-and-brick compound, located in the central bazaar area, that had been used as a drug-processing and bomb-manufacturing facility.

Although the Marines have set up heavy machine guns on the roof and guard posts along the street, they are shot at by insurgents multiple times a day. Usually it is just bullets fired by an AK-47, but occasionally a rocket-propelled grenade will come zipping over the wall.

"We’re fighting an offense from a defense," said Lt. Mark Greenlief, Bravo Company’s executive officer…

What a way to lose a war.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

16 Responses to “Marines Have Their Air Support Cut Back”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    How important context is to the writer:

    Usually it is just bullets fired by an AK-47

    You see, in a war zone, it’s “just” bullets from an AK-47. However, let’s revisit that context and put that AK-47 in the streets of, say, oh….I dunno….Chicago. Are they “just” bullets there, too?

    All it takes is one. Just one. They have an extremely high muzzle velocity and can blow a hole in a GI whether they are in Afghanistan or on home USA turf. Funny, also how a most likely anti-gun, flaming liberal pacifist, Rajiv Chandrasekaran can even utter the words, “just bullets from an AK-47”.

    Somehow, I think if Rajiv writes a piece on some senseless murder in the US, he might amplify the power and threat of an AK-47 or any other “assault rifle” for that matter.

    What a dope.

    • JohnMG says:

      …..”Usually it is just bullets fired by an AK-47……”

      Yep. And it was just bullets fired from an AK-47 in ‘Nam, too……..from a population in which the combatants couldn’t be differentiated from the civilians (VC)………during a war waged by an incompetent president (Johnson-Democrat)……..directed by an ineffectual Sec/Def (McNamara).

      The similarities are eerily familiar…..as will be the outcome. The players were criminal then, just as the players are criminal now. And once again, our military will pay the price.

      We have learned nothing in the last 40-plus years.

  2. proreason says:

    We’re missing the obvious.

    If we only allow our guys to kill one of the bad guys for every one of ours that gets killed, we will finally be fighting a “fair” war.

    And they will like us so much better that there wouldn’t be anything to fight about.

  3. ogetagrip says:

    We’re back to fighting the war like we did with Rummy. But this policy shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, Obama’s priority for the military is making it a social experiment with DADT. fighting a war and more importantly winning isn’t really a must on his agenda.

  4. GetBackJack says:

    I guarantee you two things.

    History … in some far away tomorrow, will prove me right.

    1. The Marines of the United States Marine Corps are the finest, best and most everything the ideal of an American Citizen Soldier can ever stand for.

    2. They’re being sent in not just to clear the decks of Isalmofascists, but thereby also securing the poppy fields and a multi-billion dollar drug business for unrevealed Northeast scion-family power-blocs. Study, and I mean REALLY study what Aristotle Onassis ran into some day, and you’ll know which family I mean. While Islam is the headline of this war, the underlying action is to secure the place where money does literally grow on plants … and secure it for certain Criminale Politico Famiglia Criminale Sindacati. Mark my words. This is more about poppies than it is about peace in the region.

    So, the Marines getting shafted is just SOP.

  5. BigOil says:

    Democrats kept referring to Iraq as the next Vietnam. Well, Barry is demonstrating how to create a real quagmire with his handling of the war in Afghanistan.

  6. Chuckk says:

    We don’t have the will to win in Afghanistan. Political correctness and Washington politics have neutered our troops. It’s time to declare victory and bring them home.

  7. BillK says:

    They’re just American soldiers; their death is insignificant when compared to a single Afghan “innocent.”

    It’s not like any of their grieving relatives voted for Obama anyway.

  8. Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

    Where the hell is a Patton or a LeMay when you need one? Instead we’re stuck with a damned Affirmative Action CIC!

  9. artboyusa says:

    I understand the frustration folks are expressing here but I can’t entirely agree. We don’t need a Patton or a Curtis LeMay right now – we need a TE Lawrence. We can shoot Talibs until our barrels melt and still lose this fight because dead enemy aren’t the point of the exercise; getting the population to decide that they’re better off with us than without us is the point. If the Afghans see that we’re fighting for them, not against them then, maybe, we have a chance.

    Fighting hard and fighting smart are not the same things; that’s the big lesson from Iraq that we paid much too high a price in blood and tears to learn. Let’s not forget it so soon – or ever.

    • Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

      I have to disagree artboy. I truly believe that if overwhelming, devastating force was applied to the situation, the muslim terrorists and their supporters would fold in no time. They would never have gotten as bold as they are today if this had been the doctrine for dealing with them from the onset of hostilities. War is won only one way and that is by killing the enemy in such a vicious manner that they’ll think long and hard before ever undertaking such actions again.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      The argument is far more complicated. For one thing, the former Soviet Union went after them with everything they had and they were summarily dismissed.

      In our situation, we were going after Bin Laden, not trying to fundamentally change the way of life of the Afghans. At least, I thought we were. Meanwhile, a year+ after wonderboy said he was going to get our soldiers out of Iraq, they are still there, doing the toughest work. But I digress.

      Inasmuch as dumbo indicated that (evil) Bush was, in the manner of Foghorn Leghorn, was “going about it, I say, going about it all wrong…..Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ya, boy”. His own “strategy” has been nothing short of Monday-morning quarterbacking to the Nth degree, while simultaneously doing what lawyers do best, which is hamstring the whole thing to make it impossible to function. As has been said, in the real world, a place where this president refuses to live, it gets our soldiers killed.

      The mission was, and should remain, to go get Bin Laden. If any other significant terrorist skanks get offed in the process, so much the better, but please do not sell them to me, or the general public, as some monumental gaining of ground against them.

      There are more than enough and far more than can be counted, martyrs-in-waiting in the Afghan/muslim camp. If obama is not an ideologue, then the jihadists are not zealots. For them, carrying a rifle and finding purpose in their occupation of murder is what rockets them to muslim superstar status. They eat this stuff up. In spite of their whole uptake being fundamentally flawed, in their version of reality, they can do no wrong as they have some clown named allah on their side and, has been proven over and over and over and over ad nausueum, ad infinitum, you cannot beat anybody in a religious war on fundamentals. Gee, I seem to recall that the arabs and Jews have hated one another for, oh, thousands of years? I’m certainly not surprised that they have also turned their hatred toward the Christians as well, which is nothing really new since, well, about the mid-first century when they went after a weakened Rome and trucked all the way to Spain to stay for…well….there are STILL pockets of islam in Spain.

      For them, it’s not anything more than allah is great and everything else is crap. When it’s that fundamental, there is no “morality” to it. Everything and anything is legitimate in their efforts to “rid the world of infidels” and, of course, if that were to actually come to pass, they would find something else to be all jihad about….mainly against their own kind.

      This is what makes the Western world so different, and the United States particularly so. Although it’s had its moments of out-and-out destruction, by 1945 we had see enough devastation to realize that it was time to stop. The bomb certainly had some impact by putting a very real punctuation mark on the whole thing and thereafter, every war that came our way was of much smaller scale. But again, I digress…that’s a subject for debate later.

      But right now, whether we want to admit it or not, we are fighting a religious war. The news won’t report it as such because they just won’t. Their inability to grasp the facts is obvious. But every single violent act that has been perpetrated against the US since at least the end of the Vietnam War has been by a muslim zealot, hoping to get to some 72 virgins and live for all eternity on allah’s lap. I submit that they are little more than perverts for that reason alone. But zealots they are and once the brain stem of a human gets ahold of such a fundamental belief, they cannot be swayed.

      Therfore, the only way to remain safe in THIS country is to remain diligent, to kill them before they kill us and make no apologies for doing so. Barry wants to somehow create the illusion of safety for the US without actually having to admit the part where other humans must die. Those humans who would have no compunction at all to see every US citizen with their head on a stick. But he finds that notion somehow medieval and “un-evolved”. So he is also banking on the SEVERE misconception that the Taliban and every other evil muslim faction out there is intelligent, therefore somehow possesses the same passion for arugula that he does, and, given the chance, they would love to shop at Nieman Marcus for the finest tassle shoes that money could buy.

      The goal is not to “evolve” the Afghans. It never was, nor should it be. No points given to show them the light of how democracy is better. Besides, wonderboy isn’t about democracy to begin with. Though it’s clear he’s about raping this nation into submission, it is unclear whether Afghanistan is a troubling distraction for him or a useful tool for political gain. Either way, he’s doing it all wrong.

      Our goal in 2003 was, and should still be, go get Bin Laden. On at least that point the boy was correct. Yet, I see no efforts to that end and the concept that once barry, the great and powerful orator took over would result in Bin Laden scurrying from the hills in abject fear of him wasn’t going to happen, he suddenly found himself in the role of commander-in-chief, a set of clothes that clearly doesn’t fit on him.

      But as to the idea that to defend them we must go in and defeat them summarily, it will never happen. For, every move we make, they find a need to avenge it. There is no winning when everything is tallied and turned into a grudge for later reckoning. And if we were to somehow win, we would lose because there are many more angry muslims than we can possibly count. While liberals here think that white bitter clingers are the center of all things prejudiced, they have NO IDEA how inundated in bigoted doctrine the “average” muslim is. Even the evidence that’s all around them is invisible to a liberal.

      We can’t beat them and my uptake was then, as it always is, never risk the life of a ground soldier to a filthy effing muslim jihadist. We have the technology to kill them from a distance, and we should do so…that is the gift we gave ourselves through our technology. When they come over and kill ours, we go over there without risk and kill twice as many of theirs. On that point, I agree. But putting our troops on the ground there only served to forever offend them..and though I don’t care about that in the least, I do understand that they now have a poor excuse for all eternity to go and fight for allah because “look at what they did. They desecrated our sacred land”. Which, of course, is all crap, as far as I’m concerned.

      But it’s been proven by the Israelis that the only way to win is to summarily beat them with overwhelming numbers, make no apologies or attempt any repair. They are bugs. You have to kill them at the head and sweep the remains into the trash. But somehow, they keep showing up. So you have to beat them where they live. You’ll never change their mind.

      Again, wonderboy doesn’t understand this basic construct of war. Nor will he ever. His “highly evolved” (pronounced, mud-ridden”) mind doesn’t allow for anything outside of political non-violent maneuvering and chess-like mastery of oratory to beat an opponent. Which is also why he’s plummeting in the polls. Your average citizen will put it thus: “He just talks shit all day long and I’m sick of hearing it”.

      Muslims are not interested in talk. They are interested in killing infidels. That is their social construct. They hate us and laugh at us when we don’t hate them back. They kill us and yet, somehow barry wants to “open negotiations”. Even to me, that’s just beyond the reach of common sense. So they kill some more of us, and then the government spins it with blame against Bush.

      Bush knew that the muslims could never be defeated but employed tactical ops to try to route out the kingpins which would result in them thinking twice about coming after us again. If they gave us a bloody nose, we send theirs to the morgue. Simple, effective. But he never politicized it. It’s an unwinnable war. When I was active duty in the 80’s I feared this would come because, they WON’T STOP EVER. Not until the very last muslim is taking a dirt nap and there are just too many of them.

  10. BillK says:

    Yes, but when the Taliban are using human shields precisely because our troops have such encumbered RoE that we can’t touch them, we can’t win, either.

    I’m certainly not advocating a “Kill them all, let God sort ’em out” strategy, but if we have to win “hearts and minds” then the left is correct – there is no way to win this fight and we may as well bring everyone home now and not return until the Afghan people ask us back (read: it would never happen.)

  11. EvaTheFrisbeeDog says:

    All this will be cleared up just as soon as we let gays in the military.

  12. artboyusa says:

    But doesn’t the fact that the Taliban are trying to provoke civilian casulaties support my point, Bill? To them dead civilains are a weapon they can use against us, so let’s not give them that weapon and let’s not fight the war the way they want us to fight it.

    I don’t know whether this fight is one we can “win” but it is definitely one we can lose and we must try to prevent that happening if we can. Right now America looks to the world like a weak enemy and an unreliable friend and that is dangerous. Holding on in Iraq and Afghanistan now will pay off big time down the line – if we can keep our nerve.

    I mean, we’re Americans for crying out loud! America isn’t just some place, some random piece of geography. We’re not like Belgium or Canada or Monaco, we’re not like any country that is or ever has been. America is unique and America exists for a reason and that reason is not to boss the world around like our opponents say but to lead by example; to show the rest of the world what a free society looks like and what free people can do. The enemy can’t defeat us but we can defeat ourselves. Its happened before and it could happen now but I’ve seen my country run out on its friends too many times to want to see us let them and ourselves down again.

    We’re in a tough fight but if we fight smart and fight hard and don’t quit, we can prevail. We have to.

    • proreason says:

      We can’t win a fight with a CIC who doesn’t want to win it.

      It isn’t worth debating how to win until we have somebody who thinks in terms of victory.

      We need to limit the casualties now and go back in and win it in 2013. It only took a few months the first time. We can do it again.

      And given the nature of Afghanistan, which is hardly a country in the modern sense, victory needs to be defined in terms of containming the terrorists who operate there, not in terms of a surrender.

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