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Afghanistan Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen 1346

Posted by michael
from the daily-deliveries-of-coffins dept.
DaHuNt writes: "A well written article about Afghan experiences by the Soviets... Food for thought... 'When Igor Lisinenko entered what he was told was an Afghan rebel base in 1982, he wasn't sure what to expect. It was, after all, his first assignment...'" Very good article. Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes.
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Afghanistan Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen

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  • by wiredog (43288) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @07:59PM (#2335747) Journal
    that the only option is a massive Desert Storm type of invasion? What I hear military people talking about is using special ops people for small targeted operations. At most we would have a division, the 82nd probably, sieze a small easily secured area to use as, in effect, a large firebase. Or possibly use the Northern Alliance areas. Anyone who thinks we are going to try and conquer Afghanistan is an idiot.
  • by Sagarian (519668) <smiller.alum@mit@edu> on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:04PM (#2335767)
    The implications of a war on Afghanistan are, as this article raises, quite scary. Even if, in a sustained bombing campaign or a land war victory, we "win", what next?

    Afghanistan will need a government to replace the Taliban... The Afghanis will doubtless harbor a deep hatred for Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and others who might aid us in such a war. This could easily lead to a much larger scope Middle East conflict.

    It's just amazing to me how little perspective the average American has in situations like this (even our leaders), and how short and selective our memories are.

    The Russians remind us that a war in Afghanistan is largely unwinnable by US standards. Our own history in Vietnam should clue us in as well. Will we never learn?
  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:11PM (#2335784)
    "Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes."

    How do we know that the United States military isn't learning from British and Soviet mistakes?

    The British attempted to take Afghanistan over 100 years ago, and you can not compare an army before aviation, remote sensing and mechnization to a modern army.

    Same goes for the Soviets. The Soviets were an army of conscripts and as Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam show you, a conscript army isn't the same as a volunteer army. Also, the Soviets hadn't fought since WW2 or 1959-60 against the Chinese, albeit in Bridgade sized clashes. And like the Americans in Vietnam, an army that rusty will have problems.

    Micheal should look to the SAS's exploits in Iraq in '91 and the Desert Rats in '40-'41 for examples of what a small cadre of highly trained and motivated fighters can do againt increadable odds. Or even look at Blackhawk Down for an indication of what Rangers and Delta Force can accomplish in a poorly planned mission. I'm sure that all the lessons learned in Afghanistan in the 80s by Delta Force and CIA as well as those lessons learned in Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia and Sierra Leone by the Rangers, Delta, SAS, Force Recon and SEALs will be taken to heart.

    Back when Desert Storm was still Desert Storm, all you heard were bags o' wind talking about how the United States Military was a paper tiger and couldn't invade Iraq because Iran couldn't invade Iraq in 8 years of fighting. Then when it turned into Desert Storm, they told us how many thousands of men would die because the M-1 used too much gas and was too complicated to use or because it was designed for Europe. Same thing is going on now, people are declaring the United States and United Kingdom beaten before they've had a chance to fire a shot back in anger. It's FUD.

    All those soldiers are volunteers, give them a chance to prove themselves or be beaten.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:17PM (#2335813)
    Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes.

    Good thing we've people like you around to make smug comments.

    As much as everyone likes to cry for revenge, that will not be the primary goal of these missions. The primary goal is to disrupt these global terrorist organizations. If terrorists are busy scurrying from cave to cave and village to village, they will be too busy to plan assaults on other countries.

    The British and Russian experiences taught us that conquering and maintaining government in Afghanistan is near impossible. Who is currently conquering and trying to maintain a government in Afghanistan? The Taliban, that's who. They will be impossible to wipe out. But they should be relatively easy to destroy as an effective government.

    There are myriad possible responses and actions the US will take. It's possible, if they're dumbass, that this'll turn into another Vietnam. It's possible that they'll perform their special ops supremely competently, and a more Western-friendly government will impose itself. What's perhaps most likely is they'll succeed in disrupting the Taliban regime and the bin Laden terrorist organization, at the cost of most years of hellish civil war for the Afghan innoccents. If the Afghan militants are busy fighting each other, they'll be unable to aid global terrorism networks. (In theory, anyway.)

    But what's certain is the US government knows far more about the possible consequences of actions there than anyone here. Whether that knowledge turns to wisdom and they actually figure out the right thing to do will have to be seen.

    Certainly, we should do what we can the understand the situation. But smartass armchair quarterbacking from computer geeks who only know what the media tells them isn't helping anyone.
  • On Afghanistan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Stretch (5304) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:31PM (#2335879)
    This email has been making the rounds, and happened to meander my way:

    Dear Colleagues,

    As we reflect upon the tragic events of this week and an appropriate
    "response," I thought you might like to see this letter from my college
    roommate, Tamim Ansary, who grew up in Afghanistan. I think he offers an
    interesting perspective on Bin Laden, the Taliban, and Afghanistan.

    Toivo Kallas
    Department of Biology & Microbiology

    Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 10:14:27 -0700

    Dear Friends,

    Yesterday I heard a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the
    Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio allowed that this would mean
    killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity,
    but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage," and he asked,
    "What else can we do? What is your suggestion?" Minutes later I heard a
    TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

    And I thought about these issues especially hard because I am from
    Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost
    track of what's been going on over there. So I want to share a few
    thoughts with anyone who will listen.

    I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no
    doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in
    New York. I fervently wish to see those monsters punished.

    But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the
    government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics
    who captured Afghanistan in 1997 and have been holding the country in
    bondage ever since. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a master
    plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden,
    think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the
    Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people
    had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the
    perpetrators. They would love for someone to eliminate the Taliban and
    clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.
    I guarantee it.

    Some say, if that's the case, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow
    the Taliban themselves? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted,
    damaged, and incapacitated. A few years ago, the United Nations
    estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a
    country with no economy, no food. Millions of Afghans are widows of the
    approximately two million men killed during the war with the
    Soviets. And the Taliban has been executing these women for being women
    and have buried some of their opponents alive in mass graves. The soil
    of Afghanistan is littered with land mines and almost all the farms have
    been destroyed . The Afghan people have tried to overthrow the Taliban.
    They haven't been able to.

    We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age.
    Trouble with that scheme is, it's already been done. The Soviets took
    care of it . Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level
    their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble?
    Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their
    infrastructure? There is no infrastructure. Cut them off from medicine
    and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

    New bombs would only land in the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at
    least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the
    Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away
    and hide. (They have already, I hear.) Maybe the bombs would get some of
    those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have
    wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be
    a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it
    would be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the
    people they've been raping all this time

    So what else can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and
    trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground
    troops. I think that when people speak of "having the belly to do what
    needs to be done" many of them are thinking in terms of having the belly
    to kill as many as needed. They are thinking about overcoming moral
    qualms about killing innocent people. But it's the belly to die not kill
    that's actually on the table. Americans will die in a land war to get
    Bin Laden. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their
    way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than
    that, folks. To get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through
    Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would
    have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where
    I'm going. The invasion approach is a flirtation with global war between
    Islam and the West.

    And that is Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants and why he
    did this thing. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right
    there. AT the moment, of course, "Islam" as such does not exist. There
    are Muslims and there are Muslim countries, but no such political entity
    as Islam. Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can
    constitute this entity and he'd be running it. He really believes Islam
    would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can
    polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion
    soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in Muslim lands, that's a
    billion people with nothing left to lose, even better from Bin Laden's
    point of view. He's probably wrong about winning, in the end the west
    would probably overcome--whatever that would mean in such a war; but the
    war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but
    ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden yes, but anyone else?

    I don't have a solution. But I do believe that suffering and poverty are
    the soil in which terrorism grows. Bin Laden and his cohorts want to bait
    us into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish. We
    can't let him do that. That's my humble opinion.

    Tamim Ansary
  • by NumberSyx (130129) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @09:02PM (#2336008) Journal


    Besides most reporters don't know very much. Everyone knows how well the general media reports on technology matters. Why should the military be any different?



    Huge difference here, with technology the reporters have these socially retarded geeks trying to explain these magical things to them using real big words. On military matters they get this tall good looking guy in a pressed uniform and shiny medals explaining things to them in sound bites. To the media, content is meaningless, style is everything. The Military learned this lesson well under Ronald Reagan.


  • by szcx (81006) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @09:39PM (#2336156)
    Cheyney wanting a full-scale invasion isn't entirely unexpected [suck.com];

    But that wasn't the only gift that Dick Cheney had for Norman Schwarzkopf. Having figured out that the general was being too cautious with his fourth combat command in three decades of soldiering, Cheney got his staff busy and began presenting Schwarzkopf with his own ideas about how to fight the Iraqis: What if we parachute the 82nd Airborne into the far western part of Iraq, hundreds of miles from Kuwait and totally cut off from any kind of support, and seize a couple of missile sites, then line up along the highway and drive for Baghdad? Schwarzkopf charitably describes the plan as being "as bad as it could possibly be... But despite our criticism, the western excursion wouldn't die: three times in that week alone Powell called with new variations from Cheney's staff. The most bizarre involved capturing a town in western Iraq and offering it to Saddam in exchange for Kuwait." (Throw in a Pete Rose rookie card?) None of this Walter Mitty posturing especially surprised Schwarzkopf, who points out that he'd already known Cheney as "one of the fiercest cold warriors in Congress."

    And so, of course, you already know what Dick Cheney -- fierce cold warrior, vigorous advocate of the earliest and bravest possible attack, a man not afraid to take bold action with the lives of other men -- did during the Vietnam war, when he was just the right age to open his personal pandour's box and go put some of that martial ferocity into direct practice: He took five years worth of deferments, four as a student and one as a soon-to-be-father, and avoided serving in the military altogether. Which is not to say that he wasn't fiercely in favor of the whole sick mess.

    Certainly the erstwhile fierce cold warrior feels a deep connection with the young men who went to Vietnam in his place. At the mostly sunny Republican nominating rally, last month, Cheney spoke movingly of his reaction to the somber sight of the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Every time he choppered into Washington past the military burial ground, Cheney said, he looked upon "its gentle slopes and crosses row on row. I never once made that trip," he added, "without being reminded how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans." See for yourself: The graves at Arlington National Cemetery are marked with blocky granite headstones - row on row of them.

  • by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 22, 2001 @09:52PM (#2336200) Homepage Journal

    A report in TIME 2 weeks ago on featuring Powell spoke to the fact that Powell has been sidelined in the Bush administration. While everyone thought Powell would be Bush's point man on Defense and Foreign affairs, it has turned out that Powell does not have Bush's ear.

    I think we need to pretty much forget everything before the terrorist attack. I think everyone has Bush's ear at this point, particularly Powell with his military experience.

    The best evidence that Bush is not going to do anything rash is the fact that he has shown good, perhaps even remarkable, restraint. He clearly wants to have all his ducks in a row before acting.

    Also remember the "Powell Doctrine": Go in with overwhelming force. On CNN the other day, he addressed this and said that he believes that, but also this war is going to take overwhelming force of all kinds, not just military.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2001 @10:02PM (#2336234)
    This is a reply to the many posts in previous US terror stories, who are sympathetic to the Muslims of Palestine. Yes, in this one post, I am an "Anonymous Coward", just as anonymous as the weak muslims of the World who carry their heads behind veils of shame and cowardice. I am not willing to allow my family be hurt or killed by local Muslims, just to get my message across on Slashdot.

    I am a white, Australian atheist. Not Jewish, Christian or American. I feel compelled to write here, to get the message across, that the muslims of our World are far from innocent.

    Here in Australia, muslims (esp. Lebanese), have been getting out of hand for the past few years, with gang warfare, thefts, home invasions, vandalism and general terror in the streets against ANYONE who does not appear to share their beliefs of Mohammad. Over a period of about the last year or so, a particular group of Lebanese Muslims, had set up a safe-house, with supplies of condoms. They were systematically abducting non-Muslim girls from Sydney, taking them to this house and pack raping these girls, who have stated that when they asked these Muslim men why they were doing this, the reply was that "because you are Australian". These Lebanese immigrants, perhaps looking for a better life over here, instead of bringing hope for a brighter future, have brought extremely barbaric beliefs and attitudes to our peaceful and once almost utopian society where many different races were welcomed by the people and government of Australia. Australians are on the whole NOT racists, as the World media seems to be purporting in the past, which is proven in the failure of our "One Nation Party" becoming elected into a position of power. "Aussies" "take the piss" (joke about) with others, but most importantly "we take the piss out of ourselves". We have a larakin nature, that should not be mistaken for racism. Although, these girls that were abducted at knife point and pack raped (70 rapes), did not fit the stereotypical "anglo Aussie" image, of the ones I have seen, they appear to be of mediteranean origin, perhaps Italian or Greek. These Muslims don't care for anyone but themselves.

    These Muslims in Australia have shot up Sydney police stations with Uzi sub machine guns. They trade in drugs, guns and stolen goods and wish to use force to instill thier beliefs onto us. Muslim students in our schools cheer in the schoolyards at the news of what occured in NYC. We non-Muslim Australians are peacefull! We don't bomb or shoot them, let alone do anything like this because they are Muslim. A friend on mine (Egyptian origin), fled Egypt, because he and his family were Christian. He was told, become Muslim, or die. Look at what the Taliban did to the peacefull Budhists and thier shrines in Afganistan! Anyone remember the mass killings of a bus load of Greeks in Egypt? Killed because they are most likely Orthodox and not Muslim.THIS IS NOT A WAR AGAINST THE US CAPATILISTS, THIS IS A WAR AGAINST ALL NON-MUSLIMS. If anyone thinks, for one moment, that Israel is not justified in thier war against Palestine, they are simply either ignorant of the facts or are Muslim. I've seen Muslim mothers loudly state, "I want my son to die! For Allah!". These weak bastards follow the tradition of brainwashing this mental disease called Islam, into thier sons, who they then send in to attack and fight on front lines against Israel, and then some morons of the World look on Israel in shame for having to "kill children". You think Israel has a choice?

    Here is a little bit of history for you to chew on.

    In the 7th century, a merchant by the name of Mohammed preached that, "There is no god but Allah.", which brought him conflict with the citizens of Mecca. In 622 he left to live in Medina, which is when the Arab world starts its calendar. The word "Islam" means "submission". Mohammed taught that Christians and Jews where "people of the book" and that they and thier religion should be treated with respect, but would have to accept Muslim rule, but not be persecuted or converted by force. Persia fell to the united Arabs and Byzantium was pushed back. Jerusalem fell in 638. It looked like Constantinople would fall in 717 but the Arab armies were driven back from the city walls. At this stage the Arabs controlled the Near East, North Africa and the whole of Spain. They were even crossing the Pyrenees, going into the plains of Europe, where they found the cold weather too hard to bear. They carried the beliefs of Islam with them throughout this, Christianity disappeared from North Africa. In 750, the rulers of Islam moved the capital to Baghdad. In the 11th century, for 300 years, Arab civilization would be subjected to assaults by Christians from Europe and nomads from Asia, who were much more threatening, and brought the days of Near Eastern civilization to an end.

    They, are far from innocent. And seeing what they are willing to do to completely innocent men, woman and children of other civilizations, I beleive that the time has come, to erradicate completely, the Muslims of our World. Now we should turn the books on them, instruct them to burn their Korans and give up their faith, or suffer absolute genocide. I am feel sorrow for their innocent children, but if the question is their children or ours, then the choice should be obvious.

    I, as an innocent victim in my own land, am willing to carry out mass murder of these animals and support the US and our allies. The time has come to rid the World of this cancer, I hope for a nuclear retribution against this evil.

  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Saturday September 22, 2001 @10:50PM (#2336364)
    Masood's forces and the Northern Alliance members committed numerous, serious abuses. Masood's forces continued sporadic rocket attacks against Kabul. Anti-Taliban forces bombarded civilians indiscriminately. Various factors infringed on citizens' privacy rights. Armed units of the Northern Alliance, local commanders, and rogue individuals were responsible for political killings, abductions, kidnapings for ransom, torture, rape, arbitrary detention, and looting.


    So did we, in Vietnam.
  • by pnuema (523776) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @11:26PM (#2336451)
    My brother is a history teacher, and since he doesn't like computers much, I've had to learn some history so I can have intelligent conversations with him. US Military history quickly became my favorite topic. One thing I have learned in my studies has been this: with the exception of Viet Nam (a war fought by politicians, not the military) the US military has been characterized by one quality. They are almost completely unpredictable. When WWII broke out, the US military was the 16th largest in the world. Facist nations thought that an army of individuals could not possibly compete with their indoctrinated uber men. It was that individuality that gave the American GI the edge over the Japanese or German soldier. German soldiers, when spark plugs went out, abandoned the car. American soldiers welded bulldozer scoops onto tanks to attack hedgerows. Japanese soldiers died by the thousands in banzai charges. (To paraphrase Neal Stephenson, the only Japanese soldiers who figured out the Banzai charge didn't work were already dead.) American pilots changed tatics mid-war, from the dive bomb to the torpedo bomb. The Persian Gulf War was only another example. Pundits said the US would fight for years in a ground war in the desert. Instead, the coalition refused to engage the ground troops. They systematically cut the eyes and ears of the Iragi army, until they could attack the heart without risk. The most recent unpleasantness in Yugoslavia is another example. All I will point out on this one is Slobodon is in custody, and the US did not suffer a single casuality (that they tell us about). The point is, I don't think any one of us can predict what the US military will do. It has proven time and again to be inventive, resourceful, and above all, unpredicatable. Most of the slashdot readship probably falls within the top most 1% of the population in terms of intelligence. Do not forget that the people calling the shots on this one can probably cut that down to .25%. Moreover, they know their shit as well as you know yours. Now, anyone here want to step up and say that the slashdot readship, collectively, cannot solve ANY technology problem on the face of the earth? DO NOT underestimate these people. About the only thing I can say is that what we will see will likely be something that none of us expect.
  • by wytcld (179112) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @11:42PM (#2336496) Homepage
    "Various factors infringed on citizens' privacy rights."

    You're putting credence in a report written by someone stupid enough to think it even makes sense to discuss whether "privacy rights" are "infringed" in the midst of a deadly serious war?

    Oh, and in a war you shouldn't conduct rocket attacks against the enemy capital? Or is the crime that you shouldn't do it "sporadically"?

    I'd guess you're looking at a report slanted to support the late-Clinton- early-Bush-administration policy of providing the Taliban with millions ($43,000,000 just several months ago, from Bush) in exchange for poppy eradication (which is part of why so many impoverished farm families have starved to death while the Taliban has rearmed). Some bureaucrat was giving that pathetic policy cover.

  • by Wolfkin (17910) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @11:59PM (#2336550) Homepage

    Bush has stacked his cabinet with SCARY FUCKERS, hard-liners who are hell bent on national isolation and missile defense.

    If they were really hell bent on national isolation, they wouldn't be "SCARY FUCKERS", would they? They certainly wouldn't talk about invading other countries! Isolationism is when a country keeps its nose out of other nations' affairs.

    How in the hell did "isolationist" come to mean "warmonger" in so many people's minds?

  • by IronChef (164482) on Sunday September 23, 2001 @05:46AM (#2337155) Homepage
    I would far, far, prefer Indian culture to American, and that has nothing to do with economics.

    Then move; it really is that simple.

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