Monday, July 21, 2008

Standard Operating Procedures

I have expressed confusion over the battle at Wanat, Afghanistan, where we lost 9 soldiers. Where were the troops killed? Why was the base so poorly situated? Why abandon the base and give the enemy a victory?

Well, as it turns out the press got the story wrong and our military actually just did what it was supposed to do. From Strategypage:

American troops in Afghanistan are not happy with how a July 13th battle with the Taliban was reported. In that action, some 200 Taliban attacked a U.S. “base” and killed or wounded more than half the 50 or so U.S. and Afghan troops found there. Actual U.S. casualties were nine dead and fifteen wounded (including walking wounded).

U.S. troops were irked that, once again, the mass media got lazy and didn’t bother to report the action accurately. For one thing, there was no “base”. What the Taliban attacked was a temporary parking area for vehicles used to conduct patrols of the area. These are set up regularly, and have been used for years. These are secure areas, but basically a parking lot surrounded by barbed wire and several sandbagged observation posts. This one was set a few days before the attack, and was due to be taken down soon, as the patrol activity moved to another area.

The "base" was no base at all. Which is why we "abandoned" it. We "abandon" "bases" all the time, I imagine, as we move around.

Perhaps reporters thought it was a base because, like the Romans, we dig in whenever we stop moving. Other armies break out the cigarettes and rations when they stop, so when an enemy attacks, the troops get overrun and killed. We prepared and so saved the unit. The press does not understand what we do and so thought our temporary preparations amounted to a "base."

Which makes holding that position all the more impressive.

So really, our military peformed as professionals as they were trained; and our professional press corps doesn't understand what it is reporting on.

Standard operating procedures, all around.