Thursday, April 14, 2016

Combat footage from Afghanistan. Afghanistan troops fall into Taliban ambush.

Footage from the Taliban. 

The above video is out of Afghanistan. In it, an Afghan Army patrol is ambushed by the Taliban. The video says that the action took place in the Paktika province, but I have no way of verifying it. It's probably filmed by the Taliban though, since ISIS doesn't have that much of a presence in Afghanistan, but it could conceivably be al-Qaeda as well. My money is on the Taliban though. Keep in mind that this is obvious propaganda and shouldn't be taken as anything else. It's a true event but the Taliban edited in a way to make it look more dramatic then it actually was and probably removed anything that would make them look bad. If the Taliban took any casualties in this battle, it certainly wasn't shown. It's still worth watching though. 

I am not sure what the Afghan Army was doing in this video. Though the fog of war clouds everything and hindsight is 20/20, it seems like they screwed up bad. They were on patrol and one of their vehicles gets hit by a heavy round, possibly from a recoilless rifle. Then the rest of the Taliban opens up and it's clear that the Afghans are in a kill zone. Heavy machine gun and rifle fire targets the Afghans and then mortars and/or artillery starts to rain down as well. The Afghans stay and fight until two more of their vehicles get hit by heavy weapons, one of which ends up blowing up spectacularly. Presumably the Afghans took casualties in this engagement.

So what did the Afghans do wrong? Well, even as a total amateur with no military training whatsoever, it's clear that the Afghans should not have stayed and fought. They fell into an ambush where the Taliban probably had their weapons zeroed in where the vehicles stopped. They also returned fire even though the Taliban were well entrenched and in good cover. They also did not retreat until it was clear that they were outgunned, much later then they should have.

I have always read that when you are in an ambush like this, you either fall back immediately or push on through. It did seem like some of the infantry was dismounted, which would complicate things, but I get the feeling that things would have worked out better for the Afghans if they had either put every vehicle in reverse immediately or put the pedal to the metal. 

The video just goes to show how bad things are in Afghanistan. The Afghan military have been taking unsustainable casualties and if this is the way they fight, it isn't that surprising. Though we have spent millions on training them, it's still clear that they don't have combat down to a science yet. 

It also shows that they aren't getting much support. I have a theory that they troops decided to stay and fight because they hoped that they would get air support from America. They were trying to fix the enemy so they could destroy them through air power. That's about the only time you would want to stay in an ambush zone, but it doesn't seem like any air power came to help them. The video was edited after all, but my guess is that they didn't get any serious help. That means that either they don't know how to fight without air power and were just fighting the way they were trained, trying to pin down the enemy for an airstrike that wasn't even a possibility, or they asked for help and it never came. 

Given how crazy the world is right now it isn't surprising that Afghanistan has taken a back seat to Iraq and Syria. As US troops have pulled back from Afghanistan it has slid into predictable chaos. There just aren't enough troops there to help the Afghans fight and there isn't nearly enough air power to support small units like this that get ambushed. The Afghans are doing their best to stand on their own, but it isn't working. Obviously, this isn't a good sign for the future of Afghanistan.

Even though everyone seems to have forgotten it, US troops are still involved in Afghanistan. I am shocked at how little play it has gotten this election cycle. The only moment where I remember Afghanistan coming up was during one of the Democratic debates. Bernie Sanders was asked about it, looked very confused like he didn't remember that we had troops there, and then went on to talk about ISIS, who are only somewhat active in Afghanistan. It wasn't a good moment for Sanders at all.

To be fair to Sanders though, I don't think anyone else has even been asked the question. Maybe Trump has brought it up as a way to say that Obama screwed everything up, but I don't think I have heard any candidate say what, specifically, they would do in Afghanistan. Given how many American soldiers died for that country, and how many still serve, I would like to know more about what they are going to do... 


  1. It is agreed that the voters deserve better answers to the Afghan question. The odds of that happening are zero. Public opinion is against any more boots on the ground so do we abandon another country in their fight against terrorists? Sucks to be our ally!

    1. I agree. There is pretty much no appetite for sending the kind of troops we need in Afghanistan. Still, it's annoying that no politician running right now is talking about Afghanistan.