Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Gotta Go Kill These Guys First

The details of the battle in Wanat are so confusing that it may not even have been at Wanat but in Want in another province altogether:

There has been much recent hysteria about an incident on July 13 when nine American soldiers were killed in an insurgent assault on a combat outpost in Want, in Nuristan (mistakenly reported as taking place in Wanat in neighboring Kunar Province).

One thing that was not confusing to me, however, was that our troops must have put up one hell of a fight in very desperate conditions. A lot of well-earned medals for heroism will come out of this fight, I figured.

The enemy pressed the attack with exceptional vigor. I didn't know the half of it:

Outnumbered but not outgunned, a platoon-plus element of soldiers with 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team accompanied by Afghan soldiers engaged in a fistfight of a firefight.

I can't do justice to all that the article describes without just copying the entire piece. The enemy clearly wanted a massacre of an entire American unit and persisted in their attack instead of running. So read the conclusion and then read the details:

"It was some of the bravest stuff I’ve ever seen in my life, and I will never see it again because those guys," Stafford said, then paused. "Normal humans wouldn’t do that. You’re not supposed to do that — getting up and firing back when everything around you is popping and whizzing and trees, branches coming down and sandbags exploding and RPGs coming in over your head … It was a fistfight then, and those guys held ’ em off."

Stafford offered a guess as to why his fellow soldiers fought so hard.

"Just hardcoreness I guess," he said. "Just guys kicking ass, basically. Just making sure that we look scary enough that you don’t want to come in and try to get us."

Far more of the enemy are dead rather than scared, but point taken. It has been years since our jihadi enemies derided us as 15,000-foot warriors and invited us to close quarter combat.

Lesser troops would have folded and been slaughtered or led off to be tortured and killed on video. The paratroopers of 173rd Airborne Brigade held a hasty position against high odds and denied our enemies a victory that they very clearly desperately wanted.