The Bodies Continue To Mount Up

I feel like I am alone here on the blogosphere hen it comes to our troops fighting so many wars it is almost uncountable.  But I continue to follow the sites that keep me up to date on the conflicts and most of all the soldiers that are killed in service to their country.

I will admit the these deaths made the news….15 seconds of coverage…..

We can add two more to the ever expanding number of combat dead….this time it is in Afghanistan…….

The Pentagon says two US service members were killed in Afghanistan overnight Wednesday, reports the AP. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis says they were killed during an operation against the Islamic State in Nangahar Province in the eastern part of the country, the same area in which the US dropped the “mother of all bombs” on an ISIS complex two weeks ago. That bomb killed several dozen militants just days after a US Army special forces soldier was killed in the region. Davis says the US is still gathering details on Wednesday’s incident. The US estimates that the group has about 800 fighters in Afghanistan.

It amazes me that these people mean NOTHING to the average American….instead they had rather worry about the freshness of their breath or what the bathroom smells like after a dump or how fresh their ass is after a TP use……

This is pathetic….that is right I called all you PATHETIC!

Afghanistan: Land Of The Proxy

My old farts that visit IST will remember the days of yore, 1979, when the USSR entered Afghanistan…..I use “old farts” because few seem to want to remember that we have been doing “business” in Afghanistan for over 25 years.

The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways. Rebellion was swift and broad, and the Soviets dealt harshly with the Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them, leveling entire villages to deny safe havens to their enemy. Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the United States.

It was a proxy war between the USSR and the US and the people of Afghanistan were caught in the middle of the 9 years of death and destruction……The US armed the opposition to the Russian occupation and today it appears that Russia is arming the opposition to the American occupation…..

The Afghan War is going extremely poorly, 16 years in, and the US military needs someone to blame for its failures. The first choice among a lot of top military figures seems to be Russia, and while they offer no evidence to back up their claims, several have alleged that Russia might conceivably be arming the Taliban.

US commandeer Gen. John Nicholson appeared to be joining that camp today during comments in Kabul, complaining about the “malign influence” of Russia in the country, and insisting that he was “not refuting” allegations of Russia shipping weapons to the Taliban.

(antiwar.com)

I bring all this up because there seems to be another proxy war between Russia and the US brewing…..and yes Afghanistan will be caught in the middle once again.

If recent developments are any indication, Russia is becoming increasingly focused on and active in Afghanistan. The Russian government has held several consultations with Tajikistan on expanding security cooperation on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border and has explored increasing the scope of its Central Asian military bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). It has also increased its diplomatic engagement with the Taliban and, according to Afghan and U.S. officials, may even be providing security assistance to the group. Long a consideration for Russia, Afghanistan is growing in importance to Moscow at both the tactical and strategic levels. And as it does, it is becoming an increasingly important theater for the U.S.-Russia competition.

Source: Afghanistan: The Next Big U.S.-Russia Proxy Battle | RealClearDefense

This is what the US and Russia are very good at doing……using proxies so they do not have to get their hands dirty….as it were……

Russia is a great power that retains muscle memory (and a strategic arsenal) from its past superpowerdom. In the Ukraine and Syria, Russia has challenged the United States—its former peer and a hesitant hegemon in decline—through direct military interventions. Additionally, Moscow has impressively deployed hybrid warfare tactics to create the perception that it has influenced the U.S. presidential election and forged a rift between the incoming commander-in-chief and elements of the U.S. intelligence community.

Surprisingly, Afghanistan is emerging as another arena in which Moscow is pointedly working at odds with Washington’s interests. Indeed, recent moves by Russia now represent a pivot toward Afghanistan, posing a set of challenges that have been unanticipated by U.S. observers of the region. The incoming Trump Administration ought to be aware of Russia’s newfound assertiveness vis-à-vis Afghanistan, both in the threats it poses as well as the potential opportunities it may present.

Source: Russia Returns to Afghanistan | The National Interest

What is left to say….some tactics never change….and that could very well be the problem.

There is one more thing to say…..

Mattis did meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and offered the same assessment that US officials have been offering on the Afghan War for the past 16 years, that it’s “going to be a tough year” in Afghanistan, and that the US appreciates the major problems facing the country.

There you have same song, different year.

After I wrote this draft another Afghan story came to my attention……

The use of a large conventional bomb against an Afghan tunnel complex occupied by Islamic State militants recently captured the media’s imagination. Talking heads rushed to discern the meaning of the decision. Was it President Donald Trump sending a message to North Korea? Was the president even involved in the decision? It turns out that he wasn’t.

The U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, says he ordered the use of the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst Bomb, known colloquially as the “mother of all bombs”) for purely tactical reasons: “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles.” The jubilation expressed by U.S. media in purely tactical destruction, however, sent a strategic message to some Afghans: that the United States considers their country a collection of targets to destroy rather than a country with a history and, hopefully, a future. A senior pro-government political analyst in Kabul whom I have known for decades points out that even if the Islamic State flees the area, the government’s weakness means the Taliban, who pose a greater threat to the government, will fill the vacuum.

Source: It’s Much Bigger Than Afghanistan: U.S. Strategy for a Transformed Region

The song is FAR from over!

Afghanistan: Is There A Road Out?

This is a situation that I have written about many times and yet very little has changed in all that time.

Damn near 16 years of continuous war in Afghanistan….and yet no one wants to get out…..that is none of the M-IC wants to get out they are making obscene profits….so why kill the goose with the golden eggs?

My problem with this conflict is that we accomplished most of what we set out to do by 2003….and yet we are still fighting a war we cannot win…..why?

There is no military strategy for Afghanistan…..the country has turned over that portion of this conflict to defense contractors that will do anything but leave a lucrative “gold mine”……

More than 16 years after the first Special Operations Forces unit stepped onto Afghan soil, does the United States have a strategy in Afghanistan?

The Trump administration is still trying to determine the answer to that question, which is why President Trump dispatched National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to Afghanistan for a full review of Washington’s options. McMaster, Trump said, traveled to Afghanistan to “find out how we can make progress alongside our Afghan partners.”

“Progress” is an interesting term, because it’s been used by civilian and military leaders repeatedly for more than a decade and a half as a means to assure the American people that their sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers in uniform are undertaking a mission that is of the utmost importance to the national security of the United States.

Source: Still Missing a Strategy After 16 Years in Afghanistan | RealClearDefense

National Interest magazine was looked that the situation in Afghanistan…..

Good strategies are essential for the priority national-security challenges America faces, whether it is Syria, ISIS, Russia, China, North Korea or Afghanistan.

President Trump has sent National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster to Afghanistan as part of a U.S. strategy in that key country. Afghanistan is America’s longest-standing commitment in the post-9/11 struggle against terrorism and remains a frontline state in that effort. In February, the commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan testified that some twenty terrorist groups are operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the “highest concentration” in the world.

Source: An Afghanistan Strategy for Trump | The National Interest

As someone who studies and writes about conflicts…I see NO strategy from this president or any of his predecessors….NO one seems willing to find a successful conclusion to this war….why?

Here is the only strategy I have seen …….

That more US troops are headed to Afghanistan, some 16 years into the invasion and occupation, is a foregone conclusion, with commander Gen. John Nicholson seeking “a few thousand more troops” in testimony to Congress, and seemingly all recommendations out of the Pentagon seeking escalations of varying sizes.

Hawks outside of the chain of command, however, are seeking even bigger military commitments to the conflict. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Senior Fellow Stephen Biddle, formerly a part of assessment teams for Gens. Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, is arguing for the US to send “around 100,000” ground troops to Afghanistan.

(antiwar.com)

There you have the only strategy these people have…..more troops, more war…..

What a grand plan!

MOAB……The “Big Bang”

Before I go any further on this “Big Bang”….there is important news coming out of Afghanistan that the media chooses to ignore…..

Any American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan……An Army Green Beret…..

Staff Sgt. Mark de Alencar, 37, was killed by “small arms fire” in Agarhar Province Saturday, the Department of Defense

de Alencar was married and had five children.

And NO one cared.

I have waited before I posted more on the MOAB explosion…..I wanted to see what others had to say about this “big bang”…

The “mother of all bombs” dropped on the Islamic State in Afghanistan Thursday not only killed 36 militants but also destroyed their base within a 1,000-foot-long network of tunnels and a stockpile of weapons, says the Afghan defense ministry. A presidential spokesman tells the BBC that ISIS commander Siddiq Yar was among those killed as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb detonated in the Momand valley of Achin in Nangarhar province.

Officials say civilians had previously left the area and weren’t affected by the blast, which the district governor described as “the biggest I have ever seen.” President Trump says the strike was “another successful job,” per CNN, which notes the US military had pegged the number of active ISIS militants in the area at up to 800. They had been launching attacks on Afghan troops from the tunnels. One person who was displeased by the move: former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who called it “an inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country.” Read more about the specifics of the bomb here.

Here it is…The “Big Bang”…….30 seconds of ecstasy (if you are a lover of destruction)……

According to the intel there were about 800 ISIS fighters in the area…..and this huge ass bomb killed 36….at what cost?

My economics is not very good but I do not believe that is a sound return on investment…..just a thought.

MOAB…….Not In Utah!

The US has past another milestone in war…..it has dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever…..why now?

I waited before posting because I wanted to see the reaction to this “new” concept in war…….

US forces in Afghanistan dropped the military’s biggest non-nuclear bomb on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan, reports the AP. Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump says it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, formally called the GBU-43/Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. Based on the acronym, it has been nicknamed the “Mother of All Bombs,” with the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT. Stump says it was dropped on a cave complex used by ISIS fighters in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan.

  • The bomb weighs 21,000 pounds and was first detonated in a 2003 test, reports Fox News. When dropped, it detonates before reaching the ground, resulting in a huge blast radius.
  • See a History Channel video about the bomb and the 2003 test here.
  • It is not the nation’s biggest conventional weapon, notes the Guardian. That would be the Massive Ordnance Penetrator GBU-57, a “bunker buster.”
  • Back in 2007, the Guardian reported that Russia had detonated the “Father of All Bombs,” said to be four times more powerful than the US weapon. The test took place at a military base. It’s a “thermobaric bomb” with a yield of 44 tons of TNT, adds Business Insider.
  • Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, gave the green light for use of the bomb in Afghanistan, reports CNN. White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not answer questions about whether President Trump personally approved the mission. “I’m not going to get into the details right now,” he said, deferring to the Pentagon.

NPR hits some of the logistics: “At more than 30 feet long, it’s too big to fit inside the weapons bay of a standard Air Force bomber. Instead, troops load it into the cargo compartment of a specialized transport, the MC-130 Combat Talon, which releases it over the target by opening its ramp in the same way it might for paratroopers or air-dropped supplies.”

We have been at war for almost 16 years and if this is some sort of “cure all” why has it not been used before?

When it first introduced the bomb, the Pentagon said it was designed to terrify America’s enemy into submission.

…..campaign promise to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS, the Pentagon dropped the “mother of all bombs” — one of its largest non-nuclear munitions — for the first time on Thursday, in Afghanistan. The 21,600 pound weapon was developed over a decade ago, but was never used due to concerns of possible massive civilian casualties.

The Pentagon said it used the weapon on an ISIS-affiliated group hiding in a tunnel complex in the Nangarhar province. The group, according to the Pentagon, is made up of former members of the Taliban.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” has a mile-long blast radius.

Source: “Mother of All Bombs” Never Used Before Due to Civilian Casualty Concerns

There is so much more about the bomb and space is limited here so if you want to know more then there is furthering reading below……

Source: U.S Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb In Nangarhar | TOLOnews

Source: Commander-in-Chief Trump Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs’ on Afghanistan | Common Dreams

Afghanistan: 16 Years And Counting

Yes we have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for 16 years…the US longest continuous war…..although a war that was never authorized…..and it does not look as if there is an end to this endless tunnel.

But there seems to be those that think the US can withdraw from Afghanistan by the year 2020…..only 3 short years away…..

In an interview today with USA Today, Afghan Ambassador to the United States Hamdullah Mohib raised the possibility that the US occupation of Afghanistan, which began in 2001, might finally be nearing an end, and that it was at least possible the US occupation could end by 2020.

The hope that the US might be able to leave is very tentative, however, as Mohib made it conditional on the assumption that the Afghan military “will be able to have what they need to carry on the fight on their own for the most part.” This  is not the first time the Afghan military was expected to be ready to handle the Taliban, of course.

Rampant corruption and flagging morale have hindered that time and again, however, with a significant portion of Afghanistan’s military dogged by “ghost troops” that exist only on paper, and only to draw a salary that can be embezzled by officials.

(antiwar.com)

Bold words…..idle words…..is this possible the US could get out of Afghanistan in 3 years?

The International Crisis Group has issued a report that may crap all over that optimistic prediction…..

Two and a half years after it was created to prevent the bitterly contested 2014 presidential election from plunging Afghanistan into turmoil, the future of the National Unity Government (NUG) is shaky, as is broader political stability. The NUG is beset with internal disagreements and discord and facing a resurgent insurgency. Several options are being discussed in Afghan and international circles for how best to tackle the political and constitutional tensions that, if left unresolved, would increase the risk of internal conflict and insecurity in an already fragile state. The only promising way forward is for the two protagonists, President Ashraf Ghani and his Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Abdullah Abdullah, to acknowledge that the stability of their government and country requires them to work together.

Source: Afghanistan: The Future of the National Unity Government | World Affairs Journal

Personally, I am not holding my breath…..there are too many variables in this conflict to make an accurate prediction 3 years down the road.

And Then There Is Afghanistan

Another dead American soldier….and few care.

With all going on in the Middle East I am sure that this report will not be reported on much by the MSM…..IST refuses to look the other way when an American soldier loses his/her life…….

A U.S. soldier was killed while conducting operations against Islamic State in Afghanistan late on Saturday, a U.S. military spokesman said in a message posted on Twitter.

“The soldier was mortally wounded late Saturday during an operation in Nangarhar Province” in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. Navy Captain Bill Salvin said in a message on the official Twitter account of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.

The soldier was a Special Forces operator, Salvin told Reuters separately.

The circumstances of the death were unclear and Salvin said more information could be released later.

(Reuters)

Our longest war seems to just drudge on and few people notice…..only people like me that study war and conflict does it ever get much exposure….

The US does not seem to have a strategy beyond keep on keeping on for Afghanistan…..maybe now is a good time to meet and have a substantive conversation on Afghanistan…

Afghanistan has become an intractable problem absent any clear acceptable strategic solutions.  It is our national tar baby. Most simply, it is a mess. We are there. We would like to get out. What are our options? A small brief for our strategic planners.

First, visualize a large pond-sized blender. Insert six frogs. Hit pulse several times.

Desire the frogs to emerge and make the pond a better place.

Currently, our sticky strategic plan for Afghanistan is the pond, frog, and pulse arrangement. So what are our reasonable options for a resolution to the Afghanistan tar baby in a briar patch?  Gen. H.R. McMaster has limited options and none result in sunlight and smiles. And in the reality of all crisis situations at the national level, no decision is, in fact, a decision.  So what are our options?

Source: A Strategic Guide to Afghanistan Options | Small Wars Journal

Time to get out of Afghanistan…..if any problems arise after we leave then we can repeat our invasion of 2001….but now we need to close down this killing field and call it a day.