Skip to main content

War in Afghanistan 2008 Week 22

The new government of Pakistan has capitulated to the Taliban, surrendering control of the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan through so-called peace deals. Pakistani troops are to retreat from the region, leaving the Taliban in charge. That's how peace in Pakistan is defined.

The result if that the war in Afghanistan has become a war of attrition, what the New York Times calls a see-saw war.

We can pick two days---one from each of the past two weeks--that typify the war in the summer of 2008.

Tuesday, May 27.
12 police officers and 12 civilians are killed.

Five of the policemen died in gun battles in Kandahar province as Taliban fighters attacked a remote outpost on the Pakistani border. Another four sent as reinforcements were killed when remote-controlled bombs blew up their vehicles.
Three children were killed when a Taliban insurgent planting a bomb under a bridge blew accidentally blew himself up. The children were playing nearby.
In Logar province in eastern Afghanistan a roadside bomb killed 3 policemen.


And in southern Farah province a civilian bus hit a roadside bomb and eight civilians were killed.

Friday, June 6
Airstrikes kill an estimated 32 Taliban fighters in eastern Paktika province.
A roadside bomb killed a family of three, father, mother and child on their way to a clinic.
A tribal elder supporting the ISAF was murdered in Kandahar City.
British paratroopers were fighting fierce battles in Zabul province.
A suicide bomber killed an East Indian engineer building a road in Nimroz province.

While apparently a senseless litany of death and endless fighting, the big picture is quite different.

The Taliban have conceded they can't win in a military confrontation with allied forces. Their only hope of victory is if Western countries quit.

But time is not on their side.

Missing from media reports this year are all the defiant interviews with Taliban fighters that were all-so-common in 2007. They bragged they controlled the village of Sangin; British forces drove them out. They bragged they controlled the village of Musa Qala; then they ran for the hills when allied forces moved in. They had the run of Garmsir, in the south of Helmand province---until the U.S. Marines came calling. Now, this week, Afghan authorities say they're getting information that the Garmsir Taliban are fleeing south to Pakistan to get out of the maelstrom.

Media pundits love to point out that the Taliban always return. Yes, but there's a world of difference between running the show and slinking around at night in fear. It signals to the populace who's winning---and who's not.

The Feared Taliban Spring Offensive was missing-in-action this year. Instead, NATO troops launched their own offensives. The Australians in Uruzgan province, the British in Zabul, the U.S. marines in Helmand, the Canadians in Kandahar. Even Norway spent a month sweeping Badghis province in the north. At this rate, the Taliban are going to hate spring.

And in the past two weeks clear patterns have emerged.

* Attacks on army posts and ambushes are deadly---for the attackers.

. This report from the Chinese news agency Xinhua is typical.

KABUL, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Over 15 insurgents have been killed in a failed attack on a military base of the U.S.-led Coalition forces in Uruzgan province of southern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led military said Friday. Militants attacked on Tuesday Afghan security forces at the base and the ensuing fighting between Afghan, Coalition forces and insurgents in nearby villages left several militants dead, said a statement issued from Bagram Air Field, a major Coalition base.

Hours later, the combined forces came under RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), mortar and small-arms fire near the base and in response fire and precision air strikes killed over a dozen more insurgents, it said. The Coalition said there were no casualties on civilians or Afghan and Coalition forces in the incidents.

In neighboring Helmand province, Afghan security forces and Coalition forces on Tuesday killed several militants and detained five others, according to another Coalition statement. The combined force while searching compounds in Kajaki district "identified a militant armed with a rocket-propelled grenade waiting in an ambush position and several militants consolidating for an attack," it said, adding, "Coalition forces responded with airstrikes, killing the militants."

In remote, and usually quiet, Badghis province an insurgent force of 150 tried to overrun a poice checkpoint near the border with Turkmenistan. Norwegian troops and Afghan police fought back. More than half the attackers were killed or wounded. A 50 percent casualty rate is a good deterrent for future attacks.

In Zabul, Taliban fighters ambushed a joint Afghan and ISAF patrol on the main road travelling through the province. ISAF aircraft were called in.
"Nine Taliban were killed in the aerial bombing. Their bodies were left at the battlefield and we have the bodies," said Faridullah Khan, deputy provincial police chief.

* The Americans have eyes in the sky and they don't miss much

Provincial spokesman Ghamai Khan Mohammadyar told French news agency AFP that coalition reconnaissance planes located a number of Taliban militants Thursday in Paktika province's Urgun district who had grouped for an attack.

"Friendly forces bombed the enemy location and killed all 32 Taliban who had gathered there," he said.

* The U.S. groundwork with local Afghans is paying off in spades

Baitullah Mehsud, who heads the Pakistan Taliban, was not having a good day Friday.

One of Baitullah's senior commanders told the Pakistani newspaper The News by telephone that 18 of Mehsud's fighters were among dozens of insurgents killed in airstrikes in Afghanistan. The timing suggests he was talking about the 32 killed in Paktika, as cited above.

"Dozens of Mehsud tribal militants, led by Commander Khan Ghafoor, had gone to Afghanistan to fight against the US-led forces," The News reported.

"They were staying in various houses when someone informed the US forces about their presence. The US planes bombarded their positions, killing most of them," said the Taliban commander.

"Around two dozen militants had been sent to retrieve the remaining bodies, still lying in the Afghan territory. They are most likely to be brought back tonight," said a militant commander.

The newspaper quoted a close aide to Mehsud as saying that Baitullah was extremely dejected over the incident.

And it's no wonder he's despondent. Nothing is working out for the Taliban.

British journalist Fraser Nelson, reporting for The Spectator from Helmand province observed last week:

"...it seems the Taliban have failed to recruit for this season. The poppy harvest ended three weeks ago, and the fighting usually starts immediately as the hired $10 Taliban” swap ploughshares for Kalashnikovs. Not this time, though. As one solider told me “the problem with the $10 Taliban is they receive $0 training and get killed.”

And the foreign fighters the Taliban is using to backstop the lack of local insurgents are either getting killed by the score, or are blowing themselves up at a record rate and not deliberately.

Along with the incident of the insurgent under the bridge (above) came this report from Pakistan. A pick-up truck carrying Taliban fighters to Afghanistan's Nuristan province blew up, killing as many as 8 fighters. As best as could be determined, someone inside the truck fumbled a hand grenade. Six men in the truck died instantly and two died of their injuries later. Explosives in the truck were ignited and blast continued for two hours. The truck was destroyed by fire.

Incidents like these are being reported weekly.

The bad news out of Afghanistan this week is the departure of U.S. General Dan McNeill as NATO commander in Afghanistan, on regular rotation of command.

McNeill has turned the situation in Afghanistan around, recovering the initiative after the disastrous leadership of British General David Richards whose plan in 2006 was to sign a series of "peace deals" giving up villages to the Taliban on their promise to be good. The first deal was in the Helmand village of Musa Qala where the Taliban imposed their terrorist rule for 10 months and local villagers pleaded for help even at the cost of airstrikes and civilian casualties.

Little known is that McNeill was the originator of the provisional reconstruction teams that are the linchpin of the Canadian mission to Afghanistan. The first team was established by the Americans in Gardez on Dec. 31, 2002.

McNeill will be succeeded by four-star U.S. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the head of American Army troops in Europe.

Canada has suffered another two fatalities in Afghanistan.

* Capt. Jon Snyder died June 8 in a freak accident. He fell into a deep well while on patrol with Afghan troops.

* Capt. Richard Leary died in combat June 3.

Canada has lost 11 soldiers in 2008 to date. Four, including Snyder's, were classified non-hostile deaths. In 2007, by this day in June Canada has 12 deaths, two non-hostile.

And we may have been given a clue into how the Taliban is using the humanitarian efforts of Canadian forces against them. It may answer our questions about why a medic Cpl. Michael Starker with 15 Field Ambulance Regiment became Canada's first non IED combat death in almost 9 months since Cpl. Nathan Horbug was killed in a mortar attack.

On June 2 four Canadian soldiers were wounded in two separate attacks. One was hit by small-arms fire and the other three were hit by an IED. None of these casualties should have happened.

Canwest News Service reported:

Both attacks occurred in the midst of the "days of tranquillity," a three-day period when international aid agencies such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization planned to blanket the southern area of conflict with mobile teams sent to inoculate children under the age of five against polio.
UNICEF officials said earlier yesterday that "access negotiators" had spoken with the Taliban to arrange a temporary cessation of hostilities in the most dangerous areas, which includes Zhari."

Obviously, to the Taliban, a cessation of hostilities means they can kill us, but we can't kill them.


Was Cpl. Stalker killed during similar "days of tranquillity"?

Canadian troops can never let their guard down. We're still shaking at how close Canadian forces came to a major tragedy last month from a huge booby-trap set for them.

As reported by Katherine O'Neill in the Globe and Mail, the soldiers were clearing a suspected Taliban hideout in Zhari district when an explosion erupted near the main door, leaving a crater the size of a small car, followed 10 minutes later by another explosion inside the compound.

"After the attack, soldiers searched the abandoned compound on the north bank of the Arghandab River southwest of Kandahar and found dozens of improvised explosive devices, including mortars, which failed to detonate. Those explosives, which were wired together by a single strand of copper wire and activated by command denotation, were sequenced to blow up so the soldiers would be trapped inside and killed. They didn't detonate because of faulty wiring.

“That place was rigged to kill everybody,” said Warrant Officer Chuck Côté, who was also inside the compound when blasts occurred."

Popular posts from this blog

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. There, we said it.

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed.
Oh, you won't find anyone official to say it. Yet.
Like relatives trying to appear cheery and optimistic around a loved one that's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the people in power are in the first stage of grief -- denial.
The prognosis for Hydro was delivered three weeks ago at hearings before the Public Utilities Board where the utility was seeking punishingly higher rates for customers in Manitoba.
It took us this long to read through the hundred-plus pages of transcript, to decipher the coded language of the witnesses, to interpret what they were getting at, and, finally, to understand the terrible conclusion.  We couldn't believe it, just as, we're sure, you can't--- so we did it all again, to get a second opinion, so to speak. 
Hydro conceded to the PUB that it undertook a massive expansion program--- involving three (it was once four) new dams and two new major powerlines (one in the United States)---which it could not a…

The unreported bombshell conspiracy evidence in the Trudeau/SNC-Lavelin scandal

Wow.
No, double-wow.
A game-changing bombshell lies buried in the supplementary evidence provided to the House of Commons Judiciary Committee by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould.
It has gone virtually unreported since she submitted the material almost a week ago. As far as we can find, only one journalist-- Andrew Coyne, columnist for the National Post--- has even mentioned it and even then he badly missed what it meant, burying it in paragraph 10 of a 14 paragraph story.
The gist of the greatest political scandal in modern Canadian history is well-known by now. It's bigger than Adscam, the revelation 15 years ago that prominent members of the Liberal Party of Canada and the party itself funneled tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks into their own pockets from federal spending in Quebec sponsoring ads promoting Canadian unity. That was just venal politicians and a crooked political party helping themselves to public money.
The Trudeau-Snc-Lavalin scandal is so much more…

Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP's Christian-bashing, cop-smearing, other star candidate

As the vultures of the press circle over the wounded Liberal Party of Manitoba, one NDP star candidate must be laughing up her sleeve at how her extremist past has escaped the scrutiny of reporters and pundits.
Parachuted into a safe NDP seat in Winnipeg's North End, she nonetheless feared a bruising campaign against a well-heeled Liberal opponent.  Ha ha.  Instead, the sleepy newspeeps have turned a blind eye to her years of vitriolic attacks on Christianity, white people, and police.
* She's spent years bashing Christianity as the root cause of all the problems of native people in Canada.
* She's called for a boycott of white businesses.
* And with her  Marxist research partner, she's smeared city police as intransigent racists.
Step up Nahanni Fontaine,
running for election in St. John's riding as successor to the retiring Gord Macintosh.
While her male counterpart in the NDP's galaxy of stars, Wab Kinew, has responded to the controversy over his woman-and-gay bas…

Crips and Bloodz true cultural anchors of Winnipeg's aboriginal gangs

(Bebo tribute page to Aaron Nabess on the right, his handgun-toting friend on the left) At least six murder victims in Winnipeg in the past year are linked to a network of thuglife, gangster rap-styled, mainly aboriginal street gangs calling themselves Crips and Bloods after the major black gangs of L.A.
The Black Rod has been monitoring these gangs for several months ever since discovering memorial tributes to victim Josh Prince on numerous pages on Bebo.com, a social networking website like Myspace and Facebook.

Josh Prince, a student of Kildonan East Collegiate, was stabbed to death the night of May 26 allegedly while breaking up a fight. His family said at the time he had once been associated with an unidentified gang, but had since broken away.

But the devotion to Prince on sites like Watt Street Bloodz and Kingk Notorious Bloodz (King-K-BLOODZ4Life) shows that at the time of his death he was still accepted as one of their own.

Our searches of Bebo have turned up another five gang-li…

Sex and Drugs in the Peg. Is that what PM Justin Trudeau is covering up?

The Parliamentary Press Gallery spent the weekend yukking it up with Justin Trudeau at the annual gallery dinner, demonstrating that relations between the Prime Minister and the press were back to normal, the master and his voice in sync again. Things had been a little strained a few weeks ago when Trudeau, determined to show that he was a tough guy and not to be trifled with in the House of Commons, delivered a hard elbow to a female MP's breast while manhandling an Opposition MP who wasn't moving fast enough to suit the PM.
The reporters and pundits had to do quite the soft shoe to excuse Trudeau's boorishness when video of the incident contradicted his initial explanation for how his elbow smashed into her chest.  Luckily, the controversy subsided quickly and the press gallery could go back to work--- adoring the Sun King.
And then, last week, damn it, up popped another matter that threatened to blemish the reign of Trudeau II. Its name---Hunter Tootoo.
Hunter Tootoo turned…

It's time to call the family to pay their last respects. Manitoba Hydro is done.

A perfect storm is hitting Manitoba Hydro. Insolvency is inevitable. 

Eight months ago we reported that Hydro was on its deathbed, based on the testimony of the utility's own witnesses at a hearing of the Manitoba Public Utilities Board.

http://blackrod.blogspot.ca/2017/08/manitoba-hydro-is-on-its-deathbed-there.html
Since then the patient's condition has deteriorated rapidly. It's time to call the family to pay their last respects. 

Last week the Bank of Canada announced that the years of low interest rates are officially over. The Bank raised the bank rate by one quarter of one percent. It was the third rate hike within a year.  It's just the start.

The Bank of Canada expects at least one and possibly two more rate hikes in 2018.  That will bring the bank rate to about half of where the Bank wants it to be.  You read that right---half.  The Bank of Canada wants the bank rate to steady out at 2.5 percent, the lower end of a range the Bank feels is right for a healthy econo…