Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Reporting Quagmire Continues

United States forces need to move into the eastern part of Afghanistan and knock down the Taliban just as we did in the south over the last couple years. This article describes one big effort by a brigade of the 25th Infantry Division:

The offensive operation is the largest for the 3rd Brigade since its deployment to eastern Afghanistan in April. A brigade spokesman, Maj. David Eastburn, said it was at least "five to seven times larger than any previous operation conducted by the brigade."

Taming this volatile area of Kunar province is not an easy task, a lesson that U.S. forces have learned in recent years in this region. American troops have suffered heavy casualties in Watahpur District and the surrounding area.

A small combat outpost in the restive Korengal Valley, just to the west of Watahpur, was overrun in 2009, leaving eight soldiers dead just weeks before it was scheduled to be closed.

Despite the accelerated withdrawal schedule of the 2010 surge forces, this needs to be done or we leave the enemy with a base area to attack out of once our presence is reduced. Remember that the Taliban made the mistake of letting the Northern Alliance survive, which was our springboard for toppling the Taliban regime starting in October 2001.

What gets me about the article is not the discussion of the battle in question, but the reference to the enemy overrunning one of our outposts in 2009.

The enemy did not overrun one of our outposts in 2009. Or ever, for that matter. I've been impressed by our campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan that we've never lost even a platoon-sized element in a battle.

In 2009, we did lose 8 troops at Combat Outpost Keating. Yes, the large enemy force penetrated the perimeter and our outnumbered troops had to rally in the interior of the base.

But we held out and counter-attacked to retake the rest of the base. And killed more than 75 of the enemy for their troubles. We made some mistakes to let it get to that point, but the base was not overrun as the article states. And locals were upset with the Taliban for losing so many of their men in an attack on a base we were planning to close anyway.

But what the heck, the enemy convinced at least one Western reporter that they "overran" one of our outposts. So it wasn't a total loss.

Our press corps doesn't have to fight the battles in our wars. It would be nice if they could take a shot at accurately describing the battles.