Friday, November 19, 2010

Tanks For the Memories

Sixteen tanks is not an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, even if the Washington Post says so:

The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.

The deployment of a company of M1 Abrams tanks, which will be fielded by the Marines in the country's southwest, will allow ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance - and with more of a lethal punch - than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm main gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.

Tanks are very useful in counter-insurgencies. We used them in Iraq. We used them in Vietnam. They are big and loud, immune to many of the weapons that insurgents use, and simply scary as hell.

And sending a single company is hardly a signal of escalation of aggressive tactics. The tanks will support infantry in urban areas as mobile pill boxes, likely using their machine guns far more than their main guns; and probably using their size and noise more than their machine guns.

Honestly, the news to me is that this is the first time we are sending tanks to Afghanistan. I assumed we of all people would have learned the value of heavy armor. How could we forget given the faux armor controversies peddled by our anti-war Left invented for Iraq?

We have surged and are aggressively moving into enemy dominated areas in the south to carry out counter-insurgency. The tanks are just another tool. It's about time we had that tool. Counter-insurgency may be about protecting the population from the enemy, but protecting the people does mean we have to kill the enemy. Remember, dead enemies can't harm the population we seek to protect.

I leave you with this quote from the Post article:

"Petraeus believes counterinsurgency does not mean just handing out sacks of wheat seed," said a senior officer in Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency"doesn't mean you don't blow up stuff or kill people who need to be killed."

Some people simply need to be killed.

UPDATE: An Instapundit reader is upset:

I am pretty worried about this development. It seems that we are following the Russian plan. That turned out well.

He's kidding, right? Russians used tanks, and so if we use tanks we are following the Russian path? I mean, Russia used planes. We use planes! Russia used artillery. We use artillery! Uncanny! Russia used rifles! My God, we use rifles!  Keep this logic up and pretty soon you see Vietnam all over again because upright bipeds are shooting at us!

Tanks are one tool among many we use to fight the war. A useful tool. We use our tools more precisely and carefully than the Russians did. And we fight not for conquest but to stop terrorists who already attacked us at home.

What's next, our troops have to strip down to their underwear because--my Lord!--the Russian troops wore uniforms when they fought in Afghanistan?

Get a grip, people. Just because Obama is doing something doesn't mean it is wrong.