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Practical difficulties of fighting in Afghanistan

By nobbystyles in MLP
Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 12:20:34 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

A former British SAS officer, who trained the Mujahadeen guerillas during the Russian occupation in the 80s, writes about the practical diificulties of a military intervention in Afghanistan in today's Guardian.


A well informed piece from someone who has been in combat conditions in that country. I think even Special Forces will find it difficult to operate there.

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Practical difficulties of fighting in Afghanistan | 33 comments (31 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Some extracts from the article (4.11 / 9) (#1)
by TheophileEscargot on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 08:08:30 AM EST

When I arrived in Peshawar, an Afghan military leader warned me, "I hope you are fit, my men march very quickly." No problem, I thought. I was used to marching. But my God; up, up, up we went. We entered the Hindu Kush mountains and started climbing. Above 3,000m the oxygen started to thin and my concentration to lapse. The Afghans were used to it, but anyone else feels really light-headed...

...As fighting terrain, it is an absolute nightmare. It's a natural fortress. You can't get very far with vehicles; you get bogged down and the passes are too steep. The Russians had a bloody awful time. They really got stuck. It's one thing to put in your infantry, but you've got to keep them within range of your artillery and your mortars. With bad mountain passes, this is almost impossible...

...Still, in terms of their efficiency as an army, their biggest problem was the mullah influence over them. Because of the doctrine that it's a great honour to die in a holy war, they were fearless and took risks that western soldiers perhaps would not. This is not the point of a military exercise, which is to defeat the enemy and live to fight another day. If you are reckless with your life, you risk depleting the army before it has won. But it was almost impossible to raise this issue with them; it would have invited a lot of trouble...

...Most of the Afghan military leaders I encountered operated from the comfort of Peshawar in Pakistan. They didn't take part in any fighting, because they wanted to be around when the fighting was over, to reap the benefits.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

Peshawar (3.50 / 2) (#5)
by netmouse on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 08:42:30 AM EST

heh. The Taliban is all trained in schools in Peshawar, Pakistan. Now this guy says the military leaders hung out there? Not that I really think we should bomb anyone, but it sounds like Peshawar would be a good target, if we could get past the fact that it's in Pakistan which is supposedly cooperating with us.

-netmouse

[ Parent ]

Probably not anymore (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by TheophileEscargot on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:36:34 AM EST

This was back in the 80's, before the Taleban. The Taleban defeated or assimilated these leaders.

BBC summary is here.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Alternate Site for Discussing the Crisis (3.50 / 2) (#4)
by Komodo321 on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 10:23:27 PM EST

Middle East Analysis, a weblog for discussing the current crisis: http://64.128.176.121:80/MEA/html/index.php or click on the first link at wwww.geodigest.com

F ind out how Alexander the Great did it (1.33 / 3) (#6)
by Jonathan Walther on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 12:07:15 PM EST

We would do well to find out how Alexander the Great conquered Afghanistan, when noone else since has been able to. I find that claim suspect; I think at least the Mongols were able to make some impact too. But in any case, Alexanders strategy and tactics should have been clearly recorded. The terrain hasn't changed; they just might still work. I heard stories of Brits who used the Bible for information about lay of the land when they were conquering the territory now known as Israel 100 years ago.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")


Helps if the enemy have no projectile weapons (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by TheophileEscargot on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:48:14 AM EST

As I recall, the ancient Greeks didn't even have effective bows. Certainly in Homer, the only projectile weapon I recall is the javelin, which wasn't terribly effective against even bronze armour.

So, Alexander probably didn't have the problem of snipers in the hills. Also, in hand-to-hand combat trained, disciplined and armoured troops have a huge, HUGE advantage over amateur opposition.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

No Bows in Homer? (none / 0) (#18)
by PLSANDER on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:30:09 AM EST

Huh? What of Odysseus's mighty bow? And numerous references to arrows in the Illiad.

Now I don't remember any great archery scenes like Agincourt, but there is combat archery in Homer.

[ Parent ]

Effective bows (none / 0) (#20)
by TheophileEscargot on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:59:32 AM EST

I said effective bows, i.e. those that are useful against someone wearing armour.

I'm not an archery expert, but wasn't it not until the late Roman era that composite bows (made out of two kinds of wood) appeared that were good enough to pierce armour?
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Re: Effective Bows (none / 0) (#28)
by zkiwi on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 09:50:22 PM EST

Well, bows and for that matter slings had been around for a while prior to Alexander (consider Egypt, Persia, China, and other places). They were effective in combat too!

Anyway, I think Alexander conquered because the locals didn't believe he could conquer them, an overconfidence thing. I stand to be corrected, but that's my take from my memory of the history.



Poetry is more fun...
[ Parent ]
Keep in mind... (3.50 / 4) (#7)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 03:01:30 PM EST

There's something missing here. This guy is British special forces, fine. He trained a bunch of Afghans, fine. But, his assessment is not all that reasonable. It looks as though he's motivated by "logic" something like this: "I trained these people, and they could do things I could not, and I am one of the best. Therefore, there's practically no chance of defeating them!"

Put simply, US special forces are by far the most effective in the world because of superior logistics and support and also because of superior equipment and training that is at least as good as anyone else provides. I'm not worried about their ability to defeat a bunch of sandal wearing AK-47 toting third world militia. I'm far more worried about what the terrorists who are supposed to be the "real" enemy are going to do to US civilians in response.

By the way, this guy is a bit out of date. Some of our helicopters can indeed operate in places like Afghanistan, and our special forces routinely equip themselves with things like boot treads that match those of their opponents and so on. I'm not saying his viewpoint is worthless, because obviously it is not, and this will be a tough situation, but we have troops trained in high altitude operations and so on, and we can win.

The sad part is, we're not going to be happy having done it. Getting blown up tends to cause that.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

sounds familiar (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by guinsu on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 03:54:19 PM EST

I bet a lot of people used to say "how could a bunch of third world rice paddy workers in Asia ever defeat our military"

[ Parent ]
A crucial difference (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 04:14:48 PM EST

We could have crushed the Vietnamese communist movement, but our politicians didn't let the military do the job for PR reasons. Dubya is more likely to suppress media coverage than he is to let PR problems interfere in his pet military operation. This is not to say it is right or a good idea, but merely that it is going to happen. From where I'm sitting, the US government's next few months' actions might as well be acts of God; I cannot alter them in the slightest, regardless of what I think of them.

Think; you're talking about a government that is seriously considering using nuclear weapons. They're not willing to lose, no matter how much you and I suffer for it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
nukes? (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by bunsen on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 11:14:46 PM EST

Just how seriously is who considering using nuclear weapons? Can you point me to a source on this? I've heard a lot of jokes about Duhbya wanting to play with nukyeler missiles, but never anything credible.

---
Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)
[ Parent ]
Well, (none / 0) (#23)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:25:14 PM EST

They refuse to say, but they did specifically tell several reporters that "that option is on the table," and there have been reports (check stratfor.com and antiwar.com) of the Pentagon recommending tactical nukes for this conflict. I don't have an exact URL, but it shouldn't be too difficult to find if you want to.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
SAS, helicopters, boot treads (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by Gregoyle on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 04:05:51 PM EST

Firstly, it seemed more to me like he was saying, "These guys are good. Their one weakness is that they are almost looking for death. The combination of them being good and the terrain they inhabit being a nightmare makes a Western operation against them a complete goatfuck."

If he is from the British "Special Forces", that almost certainly means the SAS. Now I'm not getting down on the US Special Forces, but most of the things we know we learned from two places: Desert One, and the SAS. The SAS is considered the finest Special Forces unit in the world, bar none. Others come close, and may very well be badder at this point, but the ones with history behind them are the Brits.

As for the boot treads, bah. Emulating tire-sandals is not the primary goal of boot manufacturers. When SF units want their footprints to look like those of the enemy, they wear the same footwear.

Helicopters. Yes, some of our helicopters can operate in Afghanistan. Some can even do it in winter. None can do it above 10,000 feet without supplimental oxygen for all crew and infantry on board. None have any kind of range when their rotors are thwacking at air that is %50 consistency of the air they were designed for.

Thinking we are invincible is foolish at best. Luckily we still do have many people who have been there, and even trained the mujahedeen to fight.
-------

He's more machine now than man, twisted and evil.
[ Parent ]

Er... (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 04:44:03 PM EST

Much of what you said is not actually in conflict with what I said... I'm not sure why you're being quite so argumentative, given that fact.

The SAS was the world's best. These days, Israel, Russia, and the US all field superior units, though in Russia's case, "superior" really just means "far more brutal than you can imagine." The French actually have one of the better antiterrorist groups in the world, as funny as that is. The SAS is still very, very good, but they just haven't had the opportunities to learn that you can get by being constantly in conflict with some other nation or nations.

We're not invincible, but we can win. However, I still say "win" is a misguided notion, given what it will entail here at home.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
eh.. (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by Profoss on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 02:37:55 AM EST

I bet the SAS has probably seen the same amount of action as the US special forces, remember that these boys were in the gulf, northern ireland and kosovo (some rumers said that they were there when the figthing was still "live"), and several conflicts that has not been given press coverage.


[ Parent ]
Cock-waving (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by codemonkey_uk on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:05:01 AM EST

My special forces are better than your special forces.

My dad's harder than your dad.

Really, theres no way of knowing without actually having them fight each other, so theres no point in all this cock-waving.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Explanation (none / 0) (#21)
by Gregoyle on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 11:24:28 AM EST

It looks as though he's motivated by "logic" something like this: "I trained these people, and they could do things I could not, and I am one of the best. Therefore, there's practically no chance of defeating them!"

... I'm not worried about their ability to defeat a bunch of sandal wearing AK-47 toting third world militia.

... By the way, this guy is a bit out of date. Some of our helicopters can indeed operate in places like Afghanistan, and our special forces routinely equip themselves with things like boot treads that match those of their opponents and so on.

It looked to me like you were saying that he thought it would be impossible to defeat them, but he was wrong, because we are the best in the world and the Afghans are a sandal-wearing third world militia.

My response was an attempt to bring some realism to the discussion. The first point was that the US Special Forces are good, yes, but that the SAS is just as good, maybe better in some areas. The subsequent points were that it wouldn't be quite as easy as deploying certain helicopters and troops trained in high-altitude marching and combat.

The Afghan guerillas are far from a "sandal wearing AK-47 toting third world militia", they are a highly motivated, battle hardened group that was trained in part by our own Special Forces, CIA, and the British Paras and SAS. They also have terrain on their side. Not just on their side like enfilading fire or lots of canyons, on their side like our helicopters have half their normal range in their mountains, and maybe %2 of our troops are currently acclimated to the altitude.

I'm sorry if I sounded argumentative, to me your first post seemed unrealistic and over-enthusiastic. I, too, think we can win, but it will be very, very difficult.
-------

He's more machine now than man, twisted and evil.
[ Parent ]

american soldiers suck, read Dune (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by boxed on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 07:15:05 AM EST

American soldiers are like the Sardukar in the book Dune, but with a crucial difference: they are afraid to die. The afgan soldiers are like the Fremen, no difference there. The US got it's ass kicked in Vietnam and they'll get their ass kicked if they go into Afganistan too, but this time it'll be worse because the afgans can strike back on US soil with suicide bombings. The US needs to cool down and not make things worse.

[ Parent ]
Um... (none / 0) (#24)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:28:49 PM EST

Dune was a work of fiction, man. In real life, human capabilities do not vary so much, and nobody can survive on so little water. In real life, US special forces are not grunts; they're some of the best trained soldiers on the planet, and they've got the best gear, and the best support. Most of the disadvantages people have listed are disadvantages for normal US troops, but not for our special forces.

My recommendation is that unless you've actually both read an account of their training and (what is known of) their operational practices, and also actually done the survival thing yourself(at altitude, in mountains, and so on,) you might just want to shut your hole on this one.

By the way, in general, special forces have shown an amazing disregard for their own lives in accomplishing their missions, when it was necessary. Pretending they're some kind of cowards is a pathetic joke.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Don't start whining when I'm proven right. (1.00 / 1) (#25)
by boxed on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 05:44:30 PM EST

Dune may be fiction but suicidal bombings and holy warriors are more efficient than the vietnam resistance movement ever was, and you got your ass kicked over there remember? If the US goes into Afghanistan with ground units and are met by a Jihad army they will suffer so heavy losses you won't believe it. It doesn't matter what kind of training your troops have, a few kilos of C4 strapped around a suicide bomber will hurt.

[ Parent ]
Um... (none / 0) (#26)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:23:46 PM EST

First of all, the Afghans don't have C4 in any quantity. That's how badly equipped they really are. They may have a few leftover Stinger missiles in questionable repair, but other than that, they're mostly limited to Kalishnikov battle rifles and binoculars as far as equipment goes. (Even if they had it, they wouldn't use a few kilos on one guy; that'd make a big bang, but it wouldn't kill significantly more people than using half a kilo or even less, so why waste it?)

Second, the odds of them getting a guy close enough to use it are almost nil, showing that it DOES matter what kind of training our troops have. When your ass drops five hundred meters out because your whole head got blown off, you aren't going to bomb anyone.

Third, the odds of having a ready supply of those guys aren't real high; most Afghan army types are somewhat uncaring about their lives, but not outright suicidal. They'd charge a machinegun nest with assault rifles, but they're not like the terrorists we've seen. Suicide bombers are a tiny minority, even among fundies.

Finally, Vietnam was lost for political reasons. Militarily, we could have stomped them.

The thing that's amusing here is that you won't admit it, but you WANT to see the US lose. Maybe you don't really want to see the terrorists win, but that apparently isn't outweighed by your often mentioned distaste for the US government. Funny where peoples' priorities are, when civilization meets barbarism.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
you've misinterpreted my wishes completely (none / 0) (#27)
by boxed on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 05:50:00 AM EST

I wish the US to get hurt badly if they enter Afganistan. Why? Let's just say I beleive in carma. Violence breeds violence and I'd like the US to learn that. You didn't learn the lessen when you got kicked in Korea, and you didn't learn it when you got kicked in nam, and you probably won't learn this time, but sooner or later...

I believe the world will be a much nicer place when no contries go around and, to quote a prominant american, "bomb them back intto the stone age". Remember that quote? Well you did, and you killed hundreds of Vietnamese per american soldier, but you still lost because americans can't stand the idea of americans getting killed. Vietnam was an extermination war (though you never formally declared war), against a people whos only crime was to remove fascists from power and replacing them with a publically elected communist govt. If you go into Afganistan, I fear the same thing might happen again, it would be bad for all parties and it might just increase the number of suicide bombings.

[ Parent ]

Excuse me? (none / 0) (#29)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 12:15:20 PM EST

"Publicly elected?" Yeah, so was the Soviet government. Riight... When you shoot, torture, imprison, or steal from anyone who doesn't vote your way, that is not "publicly elected." When you threaten to do these things in advance, that is not "publicly elected." When opposition leaders mysteriously or not so mysteriously end up dead, their facilities blown all to hell and their neighbors running scared, that is not "publicly elected." When you cast the situation as "us or the old guys," no other alternatives allowed, that is not "publicly elected." No communist regime anywhere in the world has ever survived an election it didn't rig in advance.

As for us getting our asses kicked, I don't see it in the cards. If we tried a massive land invasion, then maybe, but we won't. The ground troops will be special forces from several nations, and the Afghan army is at this point mostly comprised of people who've never fired a gun before; contrary to popular belief, this is NOT the army that fought the Soviets, because most of those men are dead now. The Soviets killed roughly a million of them before they left, you see. So, they're recruiting like mad from Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they're mostly getting green recruits who don't know their asses from holes in the ground. To put it mildly, the mistakes a guy makes the first time he's in a real fight are not mistakes you can make against special forces if you want to go on living.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
quit being a bigot and check the damn facts! (none / 0) (#30)
by boxed on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 03:15:26 PM EST

Sweden has a successful and totally democratically elected socialist government. No that's not exactly the same as communistic government but it can come very close.

As for the matter of "No communist regime anywhere in the world has ever survived an election it didn't rig in advance." No communist government AT ALL has EVER survived. That goes for fascist governments, and all types of monarchies. In time that will be proven true for all forms of government. Winning an election does not highten your chances for survival as the Chilean socialist government realized when they got executed by the fascist and US-supported coup. The exact same thing happened in China. Communist governments get power through election as a matter of rule. Very few survive long enough to become stable due to a number of reasons, among them terrorist or military actions by the US. I find the border between terrorism and what the CIA, NSA and the US military did in Chile, Afghanistan and Vietnam very thin. Murder is murder is murder is murder. Think about that before you decide to kill off those afgans that hasn't already fled the country.

[ Parent ]

Er... (none / 0) (#31)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 03:27:03 PM EST

Sweden has a successful and totally democratically elected socialist government. No that's not exactly the same as communistic government but it can come very close.
Tell that to a Russian who lived under the Soviets. Prepare to have your teeth fixed afterward. The two, while similar conceptually, and while merely degrees along an axis in theory, have in practice been most clearly distinguished by the fact that the communist countries have been oppressive hellholes. As far as I know, you don't have to worry in Sweden that you might "disappear" because your neighbor might tell someone you made a snide remark about a government official. Think about that.
Communist governments get power through election as a matter of rule.
Socialist governments do. Communist governments are typically military takeovers. See the USSR, China, Cuba, and most of Eastern Europe, along with N. Korea and Vietnam. Holding a rigged election does not make you an elected government, and has nothing to do with democracy. On the other hand, most of Europe, Canada, and large parts of the Americas are basically democratic socialist regimes. I don't agree with their policies and I think they are voting on matters people have no right to vote on(ie, each others' lives,) but that's not relevant to the distinction between them and the communists who have held power.

Some communists say the communist nations have never really been communist. Generally, these are people who have never experienced any sort of communism, and are simply talking out their theoretical ivory tower asses.
Think about that before you decide to kill off those afgans that hasn't already fled the country.
I've already said, numerous times, that I think military action is not a good idea, and I've said why. Why you insist that I am the embodiment of American nationalism, I do not know.

One can at least say of the Afghans that they by and large do not want the Taliban as their government. On the other hand, most of the Arab countries seem to have populations that are not merely supportive of, but outright in love with their oppressive dictators, and love to gather in huge crowds to scream bloody murder to the US. I must admit, much though any individual is free to disagree with his countrymen, when those idiots then go and blow stuff up in the US and its embassies, I have precious little concern for their "innocence" while they scream "death to the great satan!" in the streets...

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
you're proving my point (none / 0) (#32)
by boxed on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 04:19:38 AM EST

As far as I know, you don't have to worry in Sweden that you might "disappear" because your neighbor might tell someone you made a snide remark about a government official. Think about that.
My point exactly!
Socialist governments do. Communist governments are typically military takeovers. [...] Some communists say the communist nations have never really been communist. Generally, these are people who have never experienced any sort of communism, and are simply talking out their theoretical ivory tower asses.
It is very clear that you define the word "communism" to mean stalinism. I think that is a mistake and so would Marx, the man who invented the word. It's much like calling Christianity bad because of the holy wars, witchburnings, etc.
On the other hand, most of the Arab countries seem to have populations that are not merely supportive of, but outright in love with their oppressive dictators, and love to gather in huge crowds to scream bloody murder to the US.
I could say the same thing about the US. You've got 2 parties to vote for yes, but they're practically identical at least by non-US standards. You've got the FBI, NSA and CIA breathing down your neck and above all you've got Echelon to monitor your every communication. I for one would define this as "oppressive". The american people have rallied blindly behind Bush in this time of fear, and I'm pretty sure that's a mistake. If Bush had been smart enough I'd suspect him of planning this terrorist act himself. Now that I don't believe he is that clever I doubt the FBI, NSA and the CIA didn't have a bit invested in this. They DO have the most to gain.

[ Parent ]
No, you're missing mine:) (none / 0) (#33)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:06:30 PM EST

It is very clear that you define the word "communism" to mean stalinism. I think that is a mistake and so would Marx, the man who invented the word. It's much like calling Christianity bad because of the holy wars, witchburnings, etc.
If you were Charlie Brown and I was Lucy, and I told you I'd hold the football for you, and then I yanked it away and watched you go flying, and said "oops," and then I did the same thing 50 more times, saying I'd hold it but not doing so, what would you think?

You'd think I was either lying or else incapable of doing what I said.

That's what all reasonable people now think of communism. It has had dozens of chances to at least once become something besides a horrible monstrosity, and it never has. Unlike Christianity, there is no silver lining. Just oppression, death, and suffering.
You've got 2 parties to vote for yes
I vote for someone else.
You've got the FBI, NSA and CIA breathing down your neck
I most certainly do not. The FBI probably has never heard of me. The CIA cannot legally even obtain my social security number without a court order. As for the NSA, I might be mistaken, but I'm guessing their overstrained resources are being better applied than to sit around listening to me talk to my girlfriend on the phone.
and above all you've got Echelon to monitor your every communication.
Probably not. It misses most of my electronic communications because they're encrypted in such a way that it would take too long to break them "casually," and nobody except conspiracy nuts thinks it monitors every phone call - the sheer computing power required doesn't exist on the planet, much less in the hands of the NSA. It probably gets my k5 postings. I'll pretend I care, some day.
I for one would define this as "oppressive".
Yes, because just like those ivory tower assholes, you have no conception of what oppression really is.
I doubt the FBI, NSA and the CIA didn't have a bit invested in this.
This pretty much says it all. You ARE a conspiracy nut. No offense, but given this fact, talking to you is pretty much a waste of my time.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
The foreigner is always at a disadvantage.... (none / 0) (#19)
by hughk on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:55:16 AM EST

One of the main points is that however good any special forces unit is, they will always be at a disadvantage when fighting against native defenders.

If you are defending, you know your land well, you have wepons, ammunition, food and water cached so do you really need to carry anything? If you are attacking, it is harder to live off the land that you don't know. A full 70Kg pack is definitely a disadvantage compared to a couple of ammunition clips and some Naan bread.

The other issue is acclimatisation. The mountains are around 2000 to 3000 metres. You need to be acclimatised to perform well at these altitudes. This process takes time.

Lightweight hi-tech clothing is beneficial, but that is about the limit of where high-tech gets you. IR doesn't work through rock. Radios don't work through mountains and the locals know about "Shoot-and Scoot" which defats mortar location.

The last point is that the British were there twice, in the time of the Raj and more recently as military advisors to the Mujahadeen during the Soviet occupation. I hope that the US special forces can do better. I doubt it.

[ Parent ]

Um... (none / 0) (#22)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:20:04 PM EST

A full 70Kg pack is definitely a disadvantage compared to a couple of ammunition clips and some Naan bread.
The defenders are largely a force that has never fought before; they're recruiting like mad because they're afraid of the US. As such, only a few of their troops will even be effective. Further, have you ever met any special forces guys? A 70lb pack might as well not exist, as far as they're concerned. These guys are tough.
The other issue is acclimatisation. The mountains are around 2000 to 3000 metres. You need to be acclimatised to perform well at these altitudes. This process takes time.
The US has troops who train for that among their special forces, but more to the point, the process takes less than a week. I know because I've done it.
Lightweight hi-tech clothing is beneficial, but that is about the limit of where high-tech gets you. IR doesn't work through rock. Radios don't work through mountains and the locals know about "Shoot-and Scoot" which defats mortar location.
You do know that the government in Afghanistan and the rebels both communicate by radio, right? Oops. From this comment, I'd say you have no idea what the hell you're talking about. IR doesn't have to work through rock to be useful; neither does light amp. Radio will work better for us than them, for several reasons. Air support can locate any sizable body of troops in your vicinity in a matter of minutes, which will keep troop sizes down to what special forces can deal with.
The last point is that the British were there twice, in the time of the Raj and more recently as military advisors to the Mujahadeen during the Soviet occupation. I hope that the US special forces can do better. I doubt it.
I doubt the troops are that much better, but their gear and support are, and their mission is quite different. They've got a damned fine chance. However, I cannot repeat often enough that this is going to cost the lives of US civilians... that really is a problem.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Practical difficulties of fighting in Afghanistan | 33 comments (31 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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