sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Valley of Death

In Afghanistan, Taliban attacks occurred yesterday morning around the country as their winter offensive began.

      Meanwhile in the Korengal Valley 
“Daesh (the Islamic State) took complete control of the Korengal Valley,” said Abdul Latif Fazly, a member of Kunar provincial council, referring to the militant group by its Arabic name. 
Fazly said hundreds of Islamic State fighters had gathered from Kunar, as well as neighboring Nangarhar, where its presence is strongest, to attack the valley and push back the Taliban.
US Army soldiers and Marines fought a succession of battles to maintain government control of the Korengal Valley between October 2004 and April 2010. 

In 2010, the US command decided to abandon the valley and withdrew US forces. Fifty-four US soldiers and Marines were killed in the fighting in what some called the valley of death.

The Taliban and the Korengalis took over after the US forces withdrew. This week, the Islamic State drove out the Taliban and expanded their operating area.

In 2008, I was sent to Kunar Province and to the Korengal Valley as part of a team of "old men" who spent time there bad old days when the Soviets were running the place. They wanted a "fresh perspective",  in the hope that we would come up with a more positive view of the situation. The report remains classified to the best of my knowledge.

America lost a lot of blood and treasure holding the Korengal Valley. Some men who returned home from intense fighting will never be the same. There were suicides - after their return and, naturally, that is not considered in the body count. The campaign to hold the valley reminded me very much of Viet Nam. If you are going to ask me what those fifty-four Americans died for - don't. Don't ask because the answer is ugly. If blame is to be assigned, look at the two commanders-in-chief, and Congress. The military carries out orders. It does not set policy. Intelligence agencies and the military have an advisory function that is almost always ignored.

The sorts of Valley of Death campaigns are only valid to me if the children of a president.vice president and Congress are sent in with the rest of the grunts.

Should America keep troops in Afghanistan (at great cost)? If you've followed my blog in the past, you know that one of my sons-in-law who served in the navy came back from there disabled and now works at a Naval Engineering Laboratory (NAVSEA). He's one of the lucky ones, if you can call that lucky. The Navy came to its senses when it did a head count and found that they were losing a staggering 26 +/- Afghan veterans per day to suicide and he was one of the men that they made an extra effort to help. 

Is an endless war in a God forsaken place like that worth it? President Trump doesn't think so and the progressives want to keep the war rolling. 


25 comments:

  1. 1st Brigade 4th Infantry Division took and held that valley until they rotated back to Ft Carson. My youngest son was there.

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    1. It was not easy ground to take or hold from the Korengis. I realize that soldiers and Marines (and sailors) are given tough tasks and are expected to carry them out. But the place would never be 'pacified' and despite the reports of optimistic officers with an eye on their next career move, the locals have hated ALL foreign invaders from the Mongols who swept down the Vakhan pass, and the Russians, who never stayed there long to the Americans in the present day. They hated the Taliban (city boys mostly) who came through. I'm sure that they'll hate ISIS.

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    2. Seems the senior leadership of the 1/4th had a more relaxed view of ROE than General Betrayus.

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    3. General Petraeus was on his way to the White House until he ran into Paula Broadwell's mighty fine ass.

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    4. No, I think that she was an intelligence analyst who became the general's work-out buddy. There will be more on that subject in tomorrow's Sunday Sermonette.

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    1. It's not about me, Adrienne. It's about waste, and spending lives and treasure on a patch of ground that NOBODY really cares about unless you're from there. We could pound the place with artillery. We could move troops through the area and fortify choke points. But what was the goal then and what is the goal NOW? True, we're gone now, but the arrival of ISIS has a lot of beltway bandits salivating with the profits to be made from a NEW deployment. I say that we should let the Taliban, the locals and ISIS fight it out. A lot of the ISIS types there now are Chinese Muslims.

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    2. A Pole I used to work with thought we'd be doing everyone a favor if we just went Roman on their asses and opened up a bunch of units of canned sunshine all over that misbegotten hellhole, along with Pakistan and the Arabian peninsula. Maybe Iraq and Iran if they looked at us cross ways, too. I wish I could categorically say he was 100% wrong, but I can't. :(

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    3. That was shortly after 9/11, but I suspect he'd say the same thing now.

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    4. A Polish special forces officer was assigned to a unit that I commanded. He had a similar take on things, that mirrored mine. I liked the Mongol approach even better than the Romans (but the Romans had the right idea). They killed everyone who opposed them, raised their cities and salted the earth.

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  3. I was a military contractor and I had a site in the Korengal valley. Of all the places I had to travel that was the most dangerous. The locals were loyal to whoever was paying them more money.

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    1. Nuristan (north of Kunar and the Korengal Valley) was more dangerous still in my experience. I see no value in going there unless it is our intention to kill every living thing and raise Asadabad and every hamlet. And I don't think that we should go there and kill them, for the record. America is so squeamish that if a soldier ends up smacking around a local, they Article 15 him. In that place, in that part of the world, you have to be harder than the Korengalis if you want to live.

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  4. And the progressives want us to keep fighting because they're the party of peace, tolerance and love. And witchcraft.

    I've never been to Afghanistan.

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    1. The Valley of Death (and that whole area) is wildly beautiful, and as has been discussed, is dangerous.

      The progressives can't even figure out which restroom to use. Yet they took the House of Representatives. It underscores how screwed up this nation is. And why anyone would be pumping the military to go back into NE Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush is beyond me. But the wisdom of Pelosi, Ocassio-Cortez, and the rest of those freaks and misfits appeals to a certain population here in America.

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  5. The only reason to put boots on the ground and risk those lives is to HOLD that ground. I know of nothing there we need bad enough to burn through lives. If we need to kill bad guys and break things we can easily do that...drones work well for that as well as other methods that entail little to no risk to American military personnel. Gen. Smedley Butler nailed it almost a century ago when he described war as being a racket. Too many people get too rich from war. End that paradigm and a lot of conflict stops. Sadly however the motivation for most Islamic fighters is not money, it's religion. A much tougher thing to counter. Fanatics by definition are not amenable to reason.

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    1. The Mongols dealt with fanatics by killing them, their families, their children, everyone they ever knew. No more fanatics. The Agustus Caesar did that as well. Pax Romana.

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    2. Dan, you might be interested in reading my piece on Smedley over at my place, where LL commented astutely.

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  6. I suggest we drop flyers throughout this province warning of a massive carpet bombing to come, then send a wing or two of B-52's and carpet bomb it back into the Stone Age.

    Er, wait. It already exists TODAY as if it were the Stone Age.

    Never mind.

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    1. You're right there, Fredd. They're in the stone age. But saturation bombing has an impact on stone age people as well.

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  7. We both know war=money... sigh

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    1. It's a way to justify looting the treasury, without any regard for the human cost involved...on all sides.

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  8. Why should the US spend soldiers’ lives and taxpayers money in a valley in nowhere. Afghanistan with all its tribes, languages and clans, not to forget the religion, will remain a disaster until they have solved their own problems their own way. The US government and politicians should strengthen USA and make it prosperous by investing money where it matters to educate engineers, build infrastructure that makes US attractive for investors. Build safe communities, foster law and order and let all the other rouge nations out there find their partners in crime an solve their own problems. Many people want to spend the US taxpayers money on various political ventures being beneficial for their own personal career and bank account. Stop it. Take care of and develop the potential available in the US. Let China struggle with their friends in Pakistan and try to build a new silk road in Muslim countries while they are struggling with the Uyghurs having them eat pork. Europe is going through great problems and the Elite e.g. Merkel and Macron and their friends have caused trouble for the next 20 years that need to be sorted out. Let them be responsible for their own defense and spend their own money to keep their borders safe. Make them ask polite and then evaluate the request before spending any money or soldiers’ lives to fix the mess they have caused. Let them grow up and take responsibility before the tell others what to do.

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