Afghanistan: December 12, 2001


The US is working hard to avoid repeating the Soviet Union's mistakes in Afghanistan.

@ The ground elements are kept small so there is no target for mass casualties, and no base that is too big to move every week or two.

@ Units are resupplied by air, since ground convoys are too vulnerable.

@ US bases are kept small and in fairly remote areas, so that the Afghan people do not resent Americas as an occupying force.

@ Elite units are being used which can follow the Taliban and al Qaeda forces into the hills rather than mass mechanized units blundering through the valleys.

@ The US, unlike the Soviets, is trying to avoid alienating the people by staying out of their way and providing them with food and medicine.--Stephen V Cole

Al Qaeda fighters near Tora Bora missed their surrender deadline and fighting continued. The al Quaed troops broke the ceasefire during the night, and U.S. bombing resumed after daylight. Al Qaeda say they are still willing to surrender, but will only do so to the UN and with representatives from their native countries to witness it. Al Qaeda troops here are known to come from several Arab nations, plus Sudan, Russia (Chechnya) and others. Some may already be trying to make their way south to the Pakistani border. But the skies are constantly patrolled by American recon aircraft that can detect people moving along the ground. It's a three day walk, and once across the border, the al Qaeda men will find themselves in Baluchistan, an area not noted for pro-Taliban attitudes. Indeed, the Baluchi tribes have long been noted for supplying mercenaries throughout the region. So al Qaeda may be able to bribe their way through to the coast. Fighting their way through is not a likely option.

In addition to Predator UAVs and JSTARS recon aircraft, AC-130 gunships are also being used around Tora Bora. JSTARS is useful in spotting al Qaeda use of vehicles, which can then be bombed. It's common to find large bomb craters around Tora Bora with the remnants of a vehicle scattered around it. 

Most of Afghanistan is still controlled by local warlords. Many of these groups are pro-Taliban, making travel through many parts of the country dangerous. Skirmishes between Northern Alliance and Taliban fighters continues all over the country. 

U.S. marines are manning road blocks outside Kandahar and checking all traffic for men with weapons. Weapons are seized, recorded and destroyed from Taliban fighters. Afghan Taliban are then allowed to go on their way. Foreigner Taliban are arrested. Sine few Afghans carry identification documents, the marines have to use their judgment when deciding who to take weapons from.


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