Here is a
smart guest report from Mac Mccallister, freshly returned from a long tour of
duty in Afghanistan. "FID" is foreign internal defense, or training the locals
to provide security. "CT" is "counterterror." "Close air" is of course helicopters or airplanes that fire in support
of troops on the ground. And "COIN" is counterinsurgency. But you knew that.
Navy Commander and
platoon of artillery men converted into infantry seek to enter valley to do
some nation-building. Local police chief strongly advises against plan for
there be bad men in the valley who had not invited the good guys for tea. Navy
commander disagrees and enters the valley anyway for he fears no one. A little while later his command is
hammered... The artillery men fight well and disengage with small loses. Doesn't
matter though for the word spreads quickly that a band of local fighters has
defeated a great invading force. More young men rally to the cause.
Our Navy commander
feels betrayed and tells the district police chief that the local police chief
betrayed him and his men. How else would the bad men know that they were
coming? The local and district police explain to the Navy commander that
EVERYONE knew that he was coming and that EVERYONE knew what would be the
result. EVERYONE knew except the Navy Commander. Both the local police chief
and the district chief state that they tried to explain to the Navy Commander
what would happen... They speak from experience.
The district police
chief offers a solution. He explains that he knows people who could take care
of the problem. These people for a price could enter the valley and kill two
men which would solve the problem for a while. The Navy Commander is taken
aback. He refuses to provide the funds to hire the assassins and states that WE
DON'T MURDER. A couple of days later another patrol is ambushed. Close Air is
called and 17 civilians are killed.
Arithmetic on the
frontier. Why kill 2 men? Maybe the 2 men were the leaders of this band of
troublemakers? Makes sense to kill the leadership. How long does it take for a
leader to emerge from within a potential band of fighters? The potential leader
must prove himself and be recognized by others. He must execute a number of
confidence targets so that others may begin to trust and follow. How long ... 2
weeks ... 2 months ... maybe less.... A window of opportunity for the Navy
Commander to enter the valley and do some of the voodoo we do so well.
Type A personalities
may not be the right type to conduct irregular warfare, COIN, FID or CT...
especially when we refuse to stop, listen and learn from the locals.
feels to me like a modern version of a Kipling short story -- say, my favorite,
which also takes place in this part of the world -- The Head of the District.
in the Afghanistan photo above, can you find the house?