Monday morning quarterbacking combat from the operational vantage point continues to be the preferred parlor game for those without prior service or specific experience in combat operations - anywhere, or anytime. There have been many stories and even more commentators questioning everything from the mission to the load plan for the CH 47 (presumably) that crashed this past weekend. These stories and commentary are all based on partial explanations from military sources who are balancing a nation's "need to know" with operational security issues and are all, generally, pointed in the wrong direction.
It has been typical for folks, again, without any specific experience, to lash out at lower level command whenever troops are killed and in the most aggravating and consistent way, refusing to question the legitimacy of decisions from the upper echelon command structure that placed them in a position to be killed to begin with. There should be a general desire to safeguard and secure our troops and their commanders and a corresponding groundswell of pressure placed on upper echelon military officers and politicians here at home. But for some perverse reason, the reverse seems to be true.
Whether a single Chopper used to deliver the thirty eight who perished was a wrong choice is something that the local command is currently dealing with. There are, however a myriad of reasons why this decision was made and none of us may ever know the reasons why, nor do we have a "need to know". What is far more important is why this specific mission may have been launched to begin with. A report just out by Stratfor has a lot to say about what might have been the impetus for a mission to begin with; from the story:
"The helicopter, which was shot down and left 30 U.S. troops dead in Afghanistan, was a trap set by a Taliban commander, an unnamed Afghan official said Aug. 8, AFP reported. According to the official, Taliban commander Qari Tahir told U.S. forces there was a Taliban meeting at the scene. Four Pakistani nationals helped Tahir, the official said, adding that the Taliban knew the route the helicopter took to the scene. The Taliban took position on either side of the valley, shot rockets and other weapons and brought the helicopter down with multiple shots, the official said."
While it is still too early to know exactly when or how this supposed conversation took place or even with whom, it is a very damning statement to say the least.
Because for months now, we have been told by the 'movers and shakers' of this COIN menagerie that it is imperative to bring the Taliban into the "peacemaking" process along with the "legitimate" government in Kabul, Tribal leaders, et al. Bringing the Taliban into the 'peace process' would be akin to bringing the Japanese into a "peace process" during the battle of Saipan in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. The Taliban have everything to gain through subterfuge, false starts, our weakened posture, our downsizing of forces and a general wasting of time. In addition, if any element of the story above is true and there in fact was a conversation with U.S. forces about a meeting, and if that meeting took place before the original patrol was launched to the site in response this intel, we then have COIN and upper echelon circles to thank for the tragedy.
Trusting an active enemy leader to "help" you or deliver to you intel that would presumably lead to a mission to kill his own while still fully engaged in the battle space isn’t foolish; it's insane! Understanding that lower command has very little choice but to carry out the intent of upper echelon circles and the political will of Washington DC in turn, places the entire fault for this at those upper levels. Operationally; the intel gatherers and the operators did precisely what was expected of them. Again; information is early but this certainly sounds like an effort to "turn" some Taliban leadership in an effort to forge a trust which would in turn create an opportunity to sit down with an enemy that is not yet suppressed…unbelievable political cowardice!
There are other stories circulating that say the locals in the region where this took place have become frustrated by night raids and are siding with the Taliban. The only reason this is important is because it is an overt example of what is true - nationwide. There has never been nor shall ever be a reason for the vast majority of Afghan culture or it's people to side with us against a body of their own. While the Taliban may be oppressive in some ways, they are never-the-less, brothers, ideologically while we remain the infidel.
Are we ever going to see a little political courage from the boneheads in DC? How about just 10% of the compassion for our troops on the ground that they show for the general population of Afghanistan? How about 1/2% of the courage displayed by our Upper Echelon Military Leadership and Politicians who approved the firebombing of Tokyo which destroyed 16 square miles of the city and killed an estimated 100,000 and injured another 125,000 and all before the dropping of the two atomic bombs! And this was done because the specter of another possibly 1 million American deaths was repugnant - to American Leadership!
Why aren't American deaths on the battlefield today, as repugnant to our current leadership as they were back then? Why don't the leaders of this country, today, expect the Afghan's to share the devastation of broken families, untimely death of children and other ravages of warfare to secure their own futures?
Why is it only Americans who must "pay the price for freedom" - even the freedom of foreigners who don't relish it?
These are the questions all of us who have experienced loss on the battlefield are asking. The families of those lost in this latest headline grabber will be asking those and other questions as well.
Is anyone in DC ready to justify their wanton destruction of the lives of American Warriors on the plains of Afghanistan…yet?