August 05, 2005

The Forgotten War

...Afghanistan DOD briefing here.

Don't miss this interesting snippet:

And we have seen some tactics. In southern -- in Kandahar City in particular -- the use of suicide bombers on three occasions, once at the -- to kill one of the mullahs that did renounce Omar and the Taliban, and then a suicide bomber came to his funeral the next day. And the fact that they came in, entered a mosque, entered a funeral and killed these people during a sacred event like this, killing these innocent victims, that is something we have not seen in Afghanistan before.


Q Can I follow up on that?


MR. WHITMAN: Go ahead.

Q Is there any indication that the use of that kind of tactic -- and also the IEDs; I believe that there have been a greater incidence of IED use in Afghanistan -- is being brought in from, you know, people with experience in Iraq? And I'm thinking particularly al Qaeda, as opposed to the Taliban.

GEN. CHAMPION: We have not seen -- well, we've seen an increased use in the IEDs. We have not seen -- but at the same time, with the increased use -- the increased -- we have detected more, we have uncovered more, discovered more. And in our case, which you're not seeing in Iraq right now, is the Afghan population have been key players in our area of alerting us to IEDs and, in fact, coming to get us and turning in IEDs and leading us to IED makers. So I don't see -- other than there's IEDs here and IEDs in Iraq, we have not seen that relationship between the tactics and techniques of the two groups in the two different theaters. [emphasis addd]

Guess you can read this a bunch of ways. Is General Champion making the Afghan locals out to be more coalition-friendly than they really are in terms of helping on IEDs? In most of the country, I'd say, probably not, but input from those with first hand experience there (particularly in the Pasthun areas) would be appreciated. This apart, note his frankness with regard to Iraq. He's saying that the Iraqi population have not been "key players," as in Afghanistan, when it comes to warning the coalition forces about the location of IEDs. In other words, he's basically intimating that the Afghan populace is with the coalition, but the Iraqis, well, aren't as much ...No definitive judgments to be made here, really, I'm just putting it out for discussion (are Iraqis more fearful of insurgent retaliation for 'collaboration?' do more of them wish for the coalition's defeat? Or is there really not as much of a distinction to be made between Afghanistan and Iraq's civilians when it comes to cooperating with the coalition? If not, was Champion just spinning a rosier Afghan narrative? Or was he too pessimistic w/r/t the Iraqi one?) Also worth chatting about? Are we going to see more insurgent tactics from Iraq (IEDs, suicide bombings) exported to Afghanistan in the coming months and years? And might some of the materiel and know-how be transiting overland via Iran?

Posted by Gregory at August 5, 2005 06:14 AM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

There has been cooperation between US troops and Iraqi civilians in disarming IED's; even a small girl, according to one account, who stood by a mine in the middle of the road, blocking the progress of an American patrol.

My guess is that the IED makers in Afghanistan are Arabs, not Afghans. Strangers in town do attract attention. I think the Baathists are behind many of the IED attacks in Iraq. Many of them could be still afraid of that knock on the door in the middle of the night.

Posted by: Chuck Betz at August 5, 2005 04:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Little Green Footballs has up a post about a large shipment of recently manufactured military shape charges from Iran being intercepted in Iraq...the most recent incarnation of IED's have been using shape charges as opposed to old artillery shells.

Posted by: GeoBandy at August 5, 2005 06:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What I find amazing is that the MSM didn't even get close to questioning the General about the GAO report that concluded that lack of security was hindering reconstruction (see http://home.earthlink.net/~mikejsmith/weblog/2005/07/not-keeping-our-eye-on-ball.html) and see http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05742.pdf). The MSM did not ask why this year alone the U.S has had more fatalities than any other year and it's only August (see http://home.earthlink.net/~mikejsmith/weblog/2005/08/eye-on-ball-redux.html) . And the MSM did not come close to questioning the General on the GAO's warning that Afghanistan was on the verge of becoming a narco-state (See http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05742.pdf). What the heck do they do, actually?

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 5, 2005 06:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Gregs question consists of reading too much into these remarks.

Independent reports from milbloggers indicates that civilian help from Iraqi's in locating IEDs has been routine and increasing.

But numerous reports indicate that since the Jan 30 elections, most of the captured terrorists in Iraq are foreigners - especially Saudi's.

Does the latter mean that IEDs are now tougher for locals to help Coalition forces in finding? Perhaps the isolation of terrorists is producing this, and that's what the spokesman meant.

Time will tell if developments imply inability of Iraqi's to help instead of unwillingness - but I suspect the former much more than the latter.

Posted by: Orson Olson at August 5, 2005 09:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Gregs question consists of reading too much into these remarks.

Independent reports from milbloggers indicates that civilian help from Iraqi's in locating IEDs has been routine and increasing.

But numerous reports indicate that since the Jan 30 elections, most of the captured terrorists in Iraq are foreigners - especially Saudi's.

Does the latter mean that IEDs are now tougher for locals to help Coalition forces in finding? Perhaps the isolation of terrorists is producing this, and that's what the spokesman meant.

Time will tell if developments imply inability of Iraqi's to help instead of unwillingness - but I suspect the former much more than the latter.

Posted by: Orson Olson at August 5, 2005 09:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with Orson: you can't expect to read that much useful about the Iraq situation into a partial sentence in an offhand response to a question about Afghanistan during a press conference in theater in Afghanistan with a Brigadier General who is the XO and not commanding officer; among other things, he probably doesn't have need-to-know on operational intelligence from Iraq, much less time to read it --- and even if he does, he's looking at G2 summaries, because he's got other things on his mind.

For similar reasons, he probably doesn't read the milblogs either.

Most likely, this reflects his unconscious summary of what he read in weeks-old Time magazines waiting for the barber.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at August 6, 2005 04:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Both IEDs and suicide bombers are bound to be less often used in a mostly rural country like Afghanistan. The ability to blend into crowds is key to the success of both tactics -- IEDs also require target, i.e. paved roads, which are much more common in Iraq than Afghanistan. It is probably also true that mostly Arab suicide bombers would blend into the background of Arab Iraq better than they would in Afghanistan.

Posted by: JEB at August 6, 2005 05:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Iraq's SOCIETY was and is way more conducive to this international jihadi crap than Afghanistan's ever was.

That's why we get less assistance there,IMO.

The Shiite culture is as bad,they just leave us alone right now because we're fighting their fight.

Posted by: Patrick at August 6, 2005 08:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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