War on Terror

Killing is our business.

1. Kill people.
2. Break stuff.
3. ???
4. Pension!

You should be reading this guy.

[Originally posted at Vox Veterana on 08 MAR 08.]

You wouldn`t know it from the news lately, but apparently there`s some troops over in Iraq doing something or another. Despite his handicap (LT bar), this guy has some great stuff to say, and does it beautifully and eloquently. If you want to know what it`s like to wander through the valley of the shadow of death, I can`t recommend LT G highly enough.

I`d post links to my favorites, but I`ve shared a lot of them via my Reader and I`m holding a baby in one hand, so this is already a sisyphean task.

Check him out--he writes gud.

Sig

Afghanistan, NATO, and Bill Arkin

People who have perused my site--or talked to me for more than 3 minutes--know that I can occasionally be a little bitter about the whole state of "the other war." I didn`t go to Iraq--I went to Afghanistan. When I was preparing to go back in late 2005, a lot of people were astounded to learn that we were still there. Wasn`t that a done deal?

In a way, I`m somewhat gratified to see that it`s making a comeback in the public consciousness, though I really wish it were for a different reason.

This morning my Google News page was infested by a piece by Bill Arkin. Where have I heard that name? Oh yes. That`s the asshat that prattled on about our obscene amenities last year. Today, he`s prattling on about Afghanistan. I`ll say this for Bill: he makes his opinion clearly and unambiguously.

Afghanistan: America Wrong, Europe Right
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is again beating up on Europeans for not doing more in Afghanistan, a now familiar theme in his blame-anybody-but-us strategy.

It goes on to talk about the recurring theme in Afghanistan--a lot of troops not doing a hell of a lot of actual fighting--and then lambasts SecDef Gates for seemingly trying to apply the Iraq methodology to Afghanistan when in fact these are completely different, and what Afghanistan needs is more non-kinetic ops.

I`m reposting my reply here because I have no confidence that it will still be there later:

I spent some time with a small American detachment working on a Canadian-run FOB near Kandahar in late 2006. Under their NATO commander, the Canadians could not engage in any "offensive" operations, meaning that they sat on the FOB and watched insurgents move and transport equipment through their area.

The Americans, under a US Army captain, would do "recon by fire"--that is, finding the bad guys by driving around until we were attacked--at which time we could call for a quick reaction force. This was the only time the Canadians could do anything other than purely defensive measures. I don`t know what the commanders thought, but the joes loved us for it. They could see what was happening right in front of them.

Non-kinetic operations cannot take place in the absence of security. Security requires boots and the ground and active engagement of the Taliban remnants. You won`t build any nations in a place where people are beheaded for selling Americans cigarettes, and letters are spread promising death to entire families should anyone accept humanitarian aid.

We saw what happened early last year when NATO decided not to hold the previously-secured Musa Qah`leh. A "gentleman`s agreement" with the local Talibs resulted in the town becoming a major Taliban stronghold--from the same district center that we had occupied (and fortified) weeks earlier. Taking it back required a price paid in blood.

If Secretary Gates were advocating some other strategy, no doubt you would be castigating him for not heeding the lessons learned at such cost in Iraq.

I`ve bitched about NATO in Afghanistan before. Here, I talk about Musa Qah`leh, which had to be retaken after it was essentially given back to the Talibs. Comments posted later at Blackfive about the Dutch approach resulted in this exchange.

I am a lowly E-5. Far be it from me to advise SecDef Gates on what he should push NATO to do. But it doesn`t take a rocket scientist to see that a lot of countries are not interested in shouldering a fair share of the dirty work--not even a model rocket scientist.

Sig

You can get money just about anywhere, after all.

[Full disclosure: I joined for the security clearance and the chance to beat down rioting college students. I stayed for the MREs.]

Defining moments and dividing lines

In which Sig elaborates on pre- and post-Afghanistan life.

Delayed casualties

In which Sig addresses combat stress.

Why it matters

In which Sig discusses Scott Thomas at some length.

The NSA is listening to your phone sex.

In which Sig does not reveal state secrets.

[11Oct08 Update]Is it unreasonable to expect the media, when reporting on a story potentially very damaging to the credibility of a national agency involved in the war on terror, to at least acknowledge the connection between sources of the story and prominent anti-war groups?

Unfit to serve

In which Sig complains bitterly about the lies of a soon-to-be-former soldier in his unit.

[With a grammar fix, updates, and more linkage]

"As a side note, when SIGINT people think you are standoffish and weird, you probably should seek professional assistance."

Five

Five years ago today, President Bush stood in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished." I remember the cautions about how we were in for a long war, but the Iraq campaign was considered done.

Five years ago yesterday, I enlisted for 8 years in the Washington State Army National Guard.

Sig

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