Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pure gold from Schmedlap

I'm happy to see that Schmedlap's posting frequency has increased lately, and today he treats us to an awesome rant about ill-informed criticisms of the new strategy and/or aspects of the U.S. approach in Afghanistan. (I like to think that my criticisms are well-informed, but maybe he'd disagree.) This is my favorite part, easily:
If a guerrilla force fires at you from a distance, and you return fire and begin to maneuver upon him, and then he retreats into a populated area, then your work may be done. Some gripe that they are not allowed to fire artillery, call in an Air-Weapons Team (helicopter gunships), or bring some other indiscriminate, highly destructive type of ordnance to bear upon the area where the gunmen seek refuge. Stupid. When you bombard a populated area, you kill civilians. That is counterproductive. Your commander is right to deny you this fire support. In fact, after he denies it to you, he should probably slap you because you are clueless.
Prepare for Herschel Smith to tell Schmedlap how stupid/naive he is in 3... 2... 1...

6 comments:

  1. Sometimes, it's counterproductive. It depends on the civilians. It depends on the bombardment.

    The Sri Lankans or the Sierra Leoneans or the Ugandans might reach different conclusions about the efficacy of certain tactics that, devoid of convenient dogma, nevertheless might work.

    I have heard arguments that certain applications of ROE, especially with CAS, have led to the unnecessary deaths of US personnel (especially Marines). This, too, has a psychological effect on small units in daily contact with the enemy that goes a bit beyond niggling frustration.

    While I would agree with Schmedlap on all of this, and defend him, I wouldn't be too set in my assumptions, nor so convinced that they fit every sitrep. Because so much of COIN is local, those closest to the people need to reach -- often quite quick -- decisions about articulating force to reach their objectives.

    If that includes making an informed judgment about who is in a building and who isn't, and that in the balance it would be better to blow the place to crap, then so be it. It doesn't mean that you're taking out your zippos and setting the ville on fire, but attempting to do the least bad thing under very grave pressure.

    SNLII

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  2. Sometimes, it's counterproductive. It depends on the civilians. It depends on the bombardment.

    The Sri Lankans or the Sierra Leoneans or the Ugandans might reach different conclusions about the efficacy of certain tactics that, devoid of convenient dogma, nevertheless might work.


    Of course. I think it's fair to assume here, considering the context, that he meant "counterproductive for U.S. troops in Afghanistan."

    I have heard arguments that certain applications of ROE, especially with CAS, have led to the unnecessary deaths of US personnel (especially Marines). This, too, has a psychological effect on small units in daily contact with the enemy that goes a bit beyond niggling frustration.

    I've heard them as well, and I'm not in a position to judge their legitimacy. You and Schmedlap and Gunslinger are, at least to a greater extent. But of course no one really is except for the man on the ground, something you allude to later in your comment. At the end of the day we're dependent on the thoughtful consideration (and ultimately, the personal ethic) of the on-site commander to do, as you say, the "least bad thing."

    I think the point, though, is that there are a lot of yobos out there in the commentariat with an F'ed up idea of what constitutes the least bad thing.

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  3. Random question for you folks. Over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, he posts an e-mail from a military-type who claims to be working for McChrystal. This line caught my eye:
    "We're booting the Canadians out of command of Kandahar City."
    Anyone know if that's true? I mean, they just installed BG Daniel Menard two weeks ago, and transferred in a battalion of the 508th. Are we really booting the Canadians, or is that just a little bit of overheated rhetoric?

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  4. "We're booting the Canadians out of command of Kandahar City." Anyone know if that's true?

    According to this article, it's not:

    But the Canadians will retain control of most of of those two districts, plus Dand District and Kandahar City.

    As well as Arghandab, the Canadians are taking take charge of Daman District which lies between Kandahar Airfield and the city. Although they had often been called out to fight the Taliban in Daman, until Wednesday the area had officially been the responsibility of the Royal Air Force Regiment.

    Since the first surge of U.S. troops in the spring, Menard acknowledged that Canada's area of operations had shrunk considerably. One of the results was that Canada no longer had to make "911 calls" into areas where it never had enough forces to operate constantly.

    Although these latest moves will, when taken together, slightly decrease the Canadian area of operations, Menard noted that troops under his command would be responsible for terrain where "85 per cent of the population of Kandahar lives."

    Securing the provincial capital "is by far my priority No. 1," the Van Doo officer said, adding that "the mission is at a very critical point right now . . ."

    "Having all these additional resources means we will be in a better position to hold the ground, to build and mentor and stabilize the area."

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  5. "[The military] is not a basket case of downtrodden, exploited serfs on the verge of suicide and suffering from PTSD, like many on the left apparently think, but it is a bit more stretched and strained than many on the right seem to realize."

    The above was a far better quote. I had a very good chuckle when my eyes fell upon "serfs".

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  6. Yup, Deus Ex, it was a nice quote. :-)

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