Tuesday, April 20, 2010

bits and pieces

During the second World War, the German people were told of the victorious German armies advance on the city of Stalingrad. Then they were told of victories in the fighting in Stalingrad. They were told of nothing but victories until one day they had to be told of the surrender of the encircled German Sixth Army at Stalingrad.

I'm not saying that Afghanistan is Stalingrad. But its a useful reminder that what you hear from the authorities about a war isn't always the whole truth.

One thing though, its probably never a good thing when the rebels of an insurgent war take over the bases of the empire. Generally, guerrillas don't like to mass in the open except when they are attacking. For guerrillas, occupying a fixed known place like a formerly enemy base usually isn't a good idea. One gets the impression in this article that the rebels aren't exactly cowering in a cave afraid of American airpower.

Taliban moves onto abandoned U.S. base

The footage showed armed men walking through the former U.S. base, which was strewn with litter and empty bottles, and sitting atop sandbagged gun positions overlooking the steep hillsides and craggy landscape. Fighters said they recovered fuel and ammunition. But a U.S. spokesman said ammunition had been evacuated and the fuel handed over to local residents.

“We don’t want Americans, we don’t want Germans or any other foreigner. We don’t want foreigners, we want peace. We want Taliban and Islam — we don’t want anything else,” one local resident said on the tape.

Another man identified by Al-Jazeera as a local Taliban commander said the militants intended to use the base for attacks on U.S. forces.

Of course, since this is from the AP, the piece is littered with official quotes and statements that all is well. That this is just a part of a planned change in strategy.

The pullout last week of the remaining 120 U.S. soldiers from the Korengal was part of a strategy announced last year by the top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to abandon small, difficult-to-defend bases in remote, sparsely populated areas and concentrate forces around major population centers.

The Soviets in Afghanistan always had a problem extending their influence beyond the 'major population centers'. For most of this war, the US has pretty much stayed to the cities as well. Its only since Obama's surge that they've been trying to adopt a strategy of pushing out and actually trying to control the country.

I guess this is the end of that strategy.

One interesting question about that quote above is this? Why are those bases difficult to defend? That doesn't sound like a victorious army now does it.

When you are watching scenes of victorious Marines conquering fictional cities, sometimes it helps to pick up on some of the bits and pieces. And its always interesting to see how the propaganda artists announce a sudden defeat after telling everyone constantly of victories.

No comments: