NYT: MLRS/GPS prove deadly effective in afghanistan

Discussion in 'World Armed Forces' started by challenge, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. challenge
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    challenge Banned Idiot

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/world/asia/21kandahar.html

    ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan — American and Afghan forces have been routing the Taliban in much of Kandahar Province in recent weeks, forcing many hardened fighters, faced with the buildup of American forces, to flee strongholds they have held for years, NATO commanders, local Afghan officials and residents of the region said.


    Afghans waited Wednesday at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar to submit claims for compensation from coalition forces.
    A series of civilian and military operations around the strategic southern province, made possible after a force of 12,000 American and NATO troops reached full strength here in the late summer, has persuaded Afghan and Western officials that the Taliban will have a hard time returning to areas they had controlled in the province that was their base.

    Some of the gains seem to have come from a new mobile rocket that has pinpoint accuracy — like a small cruise missile — and has been used against the hideouts of insurgent commanders around Kandahar. That has forced many of them to retreat across the border into Pakistan. Disruption of their supply lines has made it harder for them to stage retaliatory strikes or suicide bombings, at least for the moment, officials and residents said.

    NATO commanders are careful not to overstate their successes — they acknowledge they made that mistake earlier in the year when they undertook a high-profile operation against Marja that did not produce lasting gains. But they say they are making “deliberate progress” and have seized the initiative from the insurgents.

    Western and Afghan civilian officials are more outspoken, saying that heavy losses for the Taliban have sapped the momentum the insurgency had in the area. Unlike the Marja operation, they say, the one in Kandahar is a comprehensive civil and military effort that is changing the public mood as well as improving security.

    “We now have the initiative. We have created momentum,” said Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the British commander of the NATO coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, who has overseen the Kandahar operation for the last year. “It is everything put together in terms of the effort that has gone in over the last 18 months and it is undoubtedly having an impact.”

    NATO forces have experienced setbacks in other parts of Afghanistan, and some military officials say the advances in Kandahar may not represent a turning point in the overall war effort. The Taliban, for example, have surprised the Americans by asserting control over some areas in the northern part of Afghanistan, from which they had once been almost entirely eliminated.

    But Kandahar represents the heartland of the Taliban insurgency and is the main focus of the large influx of American troops and Afghan government forces. “Afghans will tell you, if you have a peaceful Kandahar, you will have a peaceful Afghanistan,” General Carter said. “I think only time will tell.”

    The civilian and military effort in Kandahar has been 18 months in the planning. Only after thousands of extra troops were in place at the end of August — part of the surge of 30,000 troops President Obama ordered last year — did the operations finally begin producing results. The combined strength of 12,000 American and NATO troops and some 7,000 Afghan security forces in the province has meant that for the first time they are able to mount operations simultaneously in all of the most critical areas of the province.

    Beginning in August, Afghan forces spearheaded a clearing operation in Mehlajat, on the southern edge of the city of Kandahar. Soon after, American forces pushed through much of Arghandab, a strategic rural district that leads into the city from the north. At the same time troops from the 101st Airborne Division moved into Zhare District to the southwest, where they initially encountered strong resistance.

    By the middle of this month, forces were poised to retake the most nefarious area of all, the horn of Panjwai, an area 19 miles long and 6 miles wide where the Taliban had built up a redoubt of command posts, courts and mined areas over the last four years. Afghan and American troops mounted an airborne assault into the region last weekend.

    Apparently surprised by the intensity of the strikes on their supply routes, bomb factories and command compounds, many Taliban commanders pulled out to Pakistan, and most of the fighters have also slipped away or hidden their weapons, NATO commanders, local residents and the Taliban themselves say.

    Lt. Col. Rodger Lemons, commanding Task Force 1-66 in Arghandab, said he had seen insurgent attacks drop from 50 a week in August to 15 a week two months later. That may be because of the onset of colder weather, when fighting tends to drop off, but Colonel Lemons said he felt the Taliban was losing heart.

    “A lot are getting killed,” he said. “They are not receiving support from the local population, they are complaining that the local people are not burying their dead, and they are saying: ‘We are losing so many we want to go back home.’ ”

    Military and civilian officials say there are also signs of a crisis in command as Taliban leaders have struggled to maintain logistics and supply routes, suicide bombers have failed to turn up for attacks, and even senior commanders were showing reluctance to follow orders from their leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, to go in to fight the NATO onslaught in Panjwai.

    The Taliban have described their pullback as a tactical retreat, saying that fighters have gone to the city of Kandahar instead to conduct bombings and rocket attacks like those Saturday night outside the prison and the police station.

    Yet residents say that the Taliban have been stunned by fast-paced raids on their leaders and bases. In particular they talk with awe of a powerful new rocket that has been fired from the Kandahar air base into Panjwai and other areas for the last two or three weeks, hitting Taliban compounds with remarkable accuracy.

    The rocket curls and turns in the air as it zooms in on its target and sets off secondary explosions, often burning the trees and foliage around buildings, one landowner from the Panjwai District said.

    In an interview, General Carter said the weapon the Afghans saw was most likely the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or Himars, a relatively new multiple rocket system. “They are extraordinarily precise; they are accurate to a meter,” he said.

    A Taliban fighter reached by telephone, who spoke to a reporter only on condition that he not be named, confirmed that the insurgents had pulled back but would seek to reinfiltrate once the main push was over. “We are not there anymore, we are not preparing to fight a big battle, but we are waiting,” he said. “We are waiting until this force has been exhausted and has done all they are supposed to do, and later on our fighters will re-enter the area.”

    But the Afghan police and officials say the Taliban have been severely weakened. “We broke their neck,” said Hajji Niaz Muhammad, the police chief in the Arghandab District. “There is no doubt they are very weak in this area now.”




    (watch discovery channel, MLRS/GPS score direct hit on simulate command post.accuracy report to 3m error of probability).
     
    #1 challenge, Oct 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2010
  2. bd popeye
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    bd popeye The Last Jedi
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    Thanks for posting challenge.

    No response here. But I must say if the tables were turned and the Taliban was routing the US led NATO force the discussion would really pick up. But..that's not going to happen.
     
    #2 bd popeye, Oct 22, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2010
  3. solarz
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    solarz Brigadier

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    Well... NATO has been "routing" the Taliban for 9 years now, so it's not exactly news.
     
  4. bingo
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    bingo Junior Member

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    US seems to have learnt it's lesson from Vietnam:

    1. It's NATO which is fighting, not US alone.
    2. In 2001, it used Afghan opposition's ground forces ... supporting them from the air.
    3. The dirty work on Afpak border is really being done by Pakitani army, for the last many years.
    4. US has succeeded in avoiding taking large casualties in both Afghan and Iraq wars (nothing close to Korean or Vietnam wars).
    5. They get to test their latest weapons in a real war (not practice) .... drones, cruise missiles, daisy cutters and all .... at a scale which no other military has done so far.


    However, they are failing on the cost of war ... how far will US economy absorb the costs, which don't seem to decline.

    And there don't seen tangible economic benefits, even from an outright victory ---> Victory just reduces chance of another terrorist attack on US. That's it.

    Overall, it benefits the world, in general .... at US cost.
     
  5. Scratch
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    Scratch Captain

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    With the US pulling combat forces out of Iraq, I think the economical burden is relaxing allready.
    It took, however, a really long time to go from a high intensity warfare force that could defeat very capable opposing forces with technology and combined arms training to a COIN experianced force that can hold and controll territoy at large. NATO forces would basicly route opposing forces in almost every conventional battle. But doing basic police work in a country bigger than Iraq with less personal really puts a big strain on the forces.
    Now with the combined NATO / ANA forces that start to move around the countryside in larger numbers, it's a lot easier to hold areas that were previously cleared. And I think that's the important issue, denying the enemy areas to retreat to and reform themeselves.
    New weapon developments that incorporate the lessons learned and make the fight more effective are of course highly welcome and helpfull. But I think they are only an aspect in the overall picture.
    These small, accurate and really cost effective missiles are a nice tool, though. If you have the organic ability to engange hideouts on the move in a timely manner and not having to wait for air support, that's a big help of course.
     
  6. bd popeye
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    bd popeye The Last Jedi
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    I don't think that after the first initial push into in 2001-2002 that the NATO forces have basically done a policing role in A-stan while all along the Taliban has re-grouped. It has not been bust since the last year or so that anyone has seen any real push by NATO.
     
  7. solarz
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    In Korea, the US fought against China. In the Vietnam wars, Vietnam communists had huge popular support (something the Taliban lacks), and was supplied by China and USSR. Plus, Vietnam was a jungle, which negates much of the aerial advantage.

    Operation Medusa comes to mind, and that was in 2006. Seems like every year NATO announces some new offensive on the Taliban.
     
  8. bd popeye
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    bd popeye The Last Jedi
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    ^^^ and the Taliban has not gained a single inch of ground in Afghanistan. Not one.
     
  9. Finn McCool
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    Finn McCool Captain

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    The Taliban has steadily increased the number of provinces and districts where they have a presence. Up until about a year and a half ago the northern part of the country had no Taliban presence, now there is an incident or two everyday there.

    However it would be incorrect to say no progress had been made in the last 6 months against the Taliban. JSOC has really set to work against them with proper resources and they are deadly efficient. By all accounts they're killing many, many mid to high level Taliban leaders. The drone strikes are taking a toll as well. And lastly the "grunts" are steadily setting up check points and patrol bases in more and more places around the country.

    On the other hand it's hard to tell how much of the actual "success" of these operations is spin put on the media by NATO's propaganda machine. A conscious part of the war strategy right now for NATO is to convince both Western publics and Afghans that NATO's offensive is going well. That's mainly because in this war, perception is often reality. So while the Taliban is taking real blows, NATO progress is deliberately being exaggerated as well. The truth lies somewhere in between, like always.
     
    #9 Finn McCool, Oct 22, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010
  10. bd popeye
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    bd popeye The Last Jedi
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    Finn, for a very young man you seem to have an excellent insight into this protracted war in Afghanistan..

    So true. So very true.
     

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