How many times have you heard someone compare Afghanistan to Vietnam? Well there is no more thing to add to make the comparisons.
I read an article the other day that made me return to my days in combat in Vietnam…..but before I go any further I need to explain some things.
During the Vietnam we counted the dead after each confrontation and reported it to our HQ so they could include in the reports of the day’s action…..and thus be used in reporting to the families back home through their evening news…..
Maybe this will help explain the process……..
Large maps of the area of operations (AO) covered the walls of the battalion command bunker at Landing Zone Liz where my superiors hatched out their plans to defeat the enemy. Shelves along the walls held the many radios used to communicate with the companies in the field, the artillery units, the forward air controllers and other support units. Clipboards hung on the walls to keep a record of all the information that came into the battalion command post. Tables and benches ran down one of the walls where the colonel’s staff sat and coordinated all of the battalion’s activities. The most impressive thing about the bunker, however, wasn’t all the equipment and maps, but the briefing area for the frequent visitors who wore stars on their collars.
A miniature stage had been constructed on the side of the bunker for the briefings, and it was complete with podium and seating for the visiting VIPs. Behind the podium hung a large map of the AO and a large plastic chart with many rows and columns filled with grease pencil markings. Each of the four companies of the battalion had its allotted space on the chart. There was a column for Alpha Company, one for Bravo Company, one for Charlie Company, one for Delta Company and a smaller column for the Recon Platoon. One of the staff member’s special jobs was to keep the chart updated so the colonel could brief the visiting generals on the body count.
After each action a sweep of the area was taken and the dead were counted…..all dead which included chickens, monkeys, etc…all were reported to HQs enemy killed.
Now fast forward to today……I wrote that I read an article that made me think of some long suppressed memory…..
The Pentagon’s leadership has long opposed using body counts as war propaganda, particularly in Afghanistan, fearing that it would echo he failed strategy of Vietnam, and alienating people around the world.
But in recent months, efforts to sell President Trump on the Afghan War have changed that, with officials now eager to get gaudy death tolls out to the public to prove that the US and its allies will “remove all who oppose them at every turn,” and are making progress in killing people.
Yet these same officials have long admitted this isn’t an effective way to communicate how the war is going, and that fixation on body counts comes off as terribly morbid. Whether it is something to sell President Trump on the war is another matter.
President Trump has been seen as increasingly weary of the 17-year-long war, with mounting territory losses convincing him, and many others, that the war is not winnable. That Pentagon officials are gambling on raw death tolls to reverse that pessimism is a testament to how desperate officials are getting for talking points.
A couple of looks at this subject, the body count…….