Many of you may have noticed that the war in Afghanistan isn’t going well. And recently, the US has taken to making raids into Pakistan that have that nation somewhat upset.
We are please to claim an ethnic Pakistani as one of our internet correspondents. Muslihoon is on a somewhat more cerebral level than we are, but we hope to use him to address some of these issues in the near future.
I consider the fight in Pakistan the key to winning the war in Afghanistan. History shows that an insurgency that has a sanctuary is very tough to defeat. In effect, Pakistan has ceded sovreignity in some of its territory to the Taliban and Al Queda. The US and Afghanistan can ill afford to allow that state of affairs to continue. We hope to draw Muslihoon into the discussion in the near future, but for now, be sure to read what he has to say.
We covered the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment a while back. But sometimes you need something more.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on America, it was clear the next battlefield would be Afghanistan. But there was a surpising lack of intelligence about the Taliban and Al Queda in the area. The decision was made to conduct a raid by the 75th Ranger Regiment to gather intelligence and attempt to secure prisoners for interogation. How to get them into Afghanistan? That’s where the Air Forces Special Operations Wing comes in. Operating highly modified C-130s designed to penetrate deep into enemy held territory, and known as Combat Talons, the Air Force Spec Op guys flew into Afghanistan and dropped the Rangers onto an airfield. Extraction was later made by Air Force Special Operations helicopters operating from a secret base in Pakistan. When you see the Combat Talons dropping long strings of paratroops in night vision, that’s the raid I’m talking about.
Combat Talon has been around for quite a while. In the early days, an awful lot of work was put into improving the C-130s already impressive short field landing and take off performance. This clip shows the results of some testing, and why the project was dropped.
Update: Outlaw 13, our Apache pilot correspondent, informs us that the second clip was a specially modified MC-130 being tested for the aborted raid on Tehran that came to be known as Desert One. The idea was to land in downtown Tehran. After the testing, a new plan had to be devised. I’ll poke around, but I suspect that may have had something to do with the decision to use the Navy’s RH-53s and refuel them in the desert.
So I cruised over to Cranky’s place, and what do I find? Some fling-winged goodness. Cranky saw a CH-53 go by and it inspired him to find this video.
Mind you, this is a Luftwaffe (German Air Force) CH-53. Our Marines operate two different versions of the CH-53 as a transport and the Air Force operates the MH-53M as a special operations and search and rescue bird known as the Pave Low. The Air Force guys operate the Pave Low much like this video, only they do it at night.
I’ve only had one ride in a CH-53. When my platoon was training on Molokai Island in Hawaii, we recieved a mission to move about 5 miles. Now, normally a 5 mile walk isn’t bad, but the terrain there was unbelievable. The trek would have taken us all day and a goodly part of the night. But as we were getting ready to move out, a Marine CH-53 from Kanehoe started doing practice landings in a clearing next to us. My Platoon Sergeant, SFC Lopez ran out and flagged them down. “How about a lift?” Surprisingly, they were more than willing, and fitting the whole platoon in was a piece of cake. We reached our objective about 15 hours ahead of the rest of the company. Thanks, guys!
As of this morning, the Soviets Russians have announced a cease fire and claim they have halted attacks on Georgia. Georgia disputes this, claiming the Russians have continued air and artillery attacks on Georgian territory. The current lines are unclear. I have not been able to verify if Russian forces have withdrawn from undisputed Georgian territory, but it looks that way. Russia seems somewhat surprised by the ferocity of the Georgian defense. Rather than standing to fight on ground unfavorable to them, the Georgians have withdrawn to maintain their army intact (if quite bloodied) and to enable them to continue to resist. The Russians appear to have decided that they have secured about all the strategic gain they can at small cost and that further attacks would not be worthwhile.
Rather than be drawn into a protracted campaign in which the Georgians use guerrilla tactics, the Russians will likely consolidate their gains in the disputed territories, effectively absorbing them. They will likely also continue to press for the removal of pro-western President Saakashvili. The head of NATO, however expressed support for Georgia to continue on the path to membership.
Information Dissemination is also reporting that the Russians appear to be maintaining a de facto blockade of the port of Poti.
I found an interesting video on youtube showing what is purported to be the 10th Mountain Division in action. Couple of things to look out for:
1. Shrapnel- you come pretty dang close to seeing three troops get listed as friendly fire casualties because they had the lookie-loos. Duck, boys, they don’t call it “danger close” for nothing!
2. PT clothes- I can’t seem to recall ever fighting in my workout clothes. It is either an artillery thing, or times have changed…
NSFW for some language in the soundtrack and some images that some folks will find disturbing.