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U.S. Forces Set to Battle 'Myth' of Cave Dwellers
LA Times ^
| October 26, 2001
| ESTHER SCHRADER
Posted on 10/25/2001 11:24:54 PM PDT by grimalkin
Edited on 09/03/2002 4:49:29 AM PDT by Jim Robinson.
When the Soviet Union took on Afghanistan, its troops found themselves crawling, terrified, through a vast network of mountain caves studded with knives and booby traps, pursuing moujahedeen fighters who seemed to melt into mountainsides like the night itself.
Although Taliban leaders claim that they will use the same tactic to thwart the United States, their ability to do so when confronted with sophisticated weaponry and highly trained forces may be more myth than reality, former and current defense officials and military analysts say.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events
Here is the entire article
. It's a very interesting read.
posted on 10/25/2001 11:24:54 PM PDT
posted on 10/25/2001 11:31:31 PM PDT
Another thing I'm real tired of reading about: The invincibility and impenetrability of the fabled "caves". To me, caves = tombs! Find their heat signature, fly a bomb into the opening, Ka Boom, goodbye. Collapse it on top of them, seal em in, kiss em goodbye.
We haven't heard much from old OBL lately have we? Maybe he be dead? In the head?
posted on 10/25/2001 11:53:13 PM PDT
Believe this, if our Military Commanders call for ground operations to seek out Taliban and Al Queada forces in caves, we'll have exact locations of those forces throughout Afghanistan. We'll probably pound each location with bunker bombs first, collapsing portions of the cave networks, then send in Special forces with helicopter, and air support to clean up on exit points as they try to escape. Bottom line is we have to many options for attack, and if they choose to hide in the cave networks it'll be like shooting fish in a barrel. I think the media has overplayed the power of the Taliban forces, yeah they might be tough fighters and experienced, but I remember in 1991 when the media overwhelmed us with the Iraqi Republican guard special forces expertise. How well trained they were and 300k strong, how difficult it would be to take back Kuwait with Saddam's army, the media ranking them 4th in the world. I believed it then and was worried. Now I believe, the Taliban Military is a ground force that would absolutely crumble under a swift US led ground campaign. I hope it doesn't come to that, but I know the only way to overthrow the Taliban is to procceed with a ground assault and without using the Northern Alliance directly, but indirectly. -livisdad
posted on 10/25/2001 11:57:13 PM PDT
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I get in a lot of arguments with Ukrainians and Russians here in Donetsk. Especially the Afgantsy
, Afghan war vets, are convinced the US is in for some pain. I remind them that they were fighting against a $3-5 Billion a year CIA black op, using conscripts led by political hacks.
After a few dozen shots, we're all on the same sheet of music.
We own the night!
I called up an ex-Soviet general whom I knew was in Afghanistan and asked him about US battle prospects there. He said we would fry their butts and they didn't have a prayer. No two ways about it. I was surprised but he said he was sure of this. The US military is the only credible one on earth.
During WWII Hitler had an entire airport UNDERGROUND! The thought that this is preposterous is absurd. It's already been done.
posted on 10/26/2001 1:02:15 AM PDT
Maybe he be dead? In the head?
Insane in the membrane...Insane in the brain!
We`re gonna kick Ator`s butt!
Loved watching MST3K blast that movie. I almost died laughing when Ator created a hang glider at least a century before Da Vinci failed in his attempts to create human wings.
I miss Joel/Mike, Crow, Servo and the gang.
Comment #12 Removed by Moderator
All multi-ended caves have airflow. Where the air goes in, pour gasoline, wait ten minutes and light a match. No more hideyholes. When I was a kid we had a problem with ground squirels. We tried everthing, golfer bombs, flooding etc. with no luck. One day we poured a half a cup of gas into the hole the hose was running and lit a match a few minutes later. It felt like a stick of dynamite went off way deep and puffs of smoke and dust came out of a few places. No more rock-rat problem. We quickly ran out of rock-rat spots as we helped all our neighbors clean out the infestations. Fuel air bombs, anti-taliban style.
"During WWII Hitler had an entire airport UNDERGROUND! The thought that this is preposterous is absurd. It's already been done."
Yup.....and I'm worried that we're going to be suprised at what they have waiting for us underground. Who knows what?
posted on 10/26/2001 4:39:08 AM PDT
This article makes "high tech" warfare sound easy, and more power to them if it works. However, there are some aspects that the author wasn't briefed on and didn't know to ask. It's important not to create our own myths, if we intend to see this thing through and not be surprised by harsh realities.
For one thing, the Soviets weren't all bumblers. Many of them were, but some were special forces troops -- probably not as good as ours, but not bozos either. They got chopped up for several reasons, one of which is (as in Vietnam when our troops were involved) that it's usually hard to tell who's an innocent civilian and who is a member of the guerrilla forces when they don't wear uniforms. A lot of the Taliban are early-teen boys, kids really. Many a Soviet tank or APC crew suddenly found themselves under fatal attack by guerrillas who only moments earlier were "innocent" civilians going about their business.
As for targeting fires, the Mujahadin thought of this long ago. One of the tricks during the Soviet occupation was to build a fire in a cave and then set up an ambush in another nearby cave, then blast the troops when they showed up. Where missiles are used, our troops wouldn't be exposed to an ambush but we would be firing a lot of very expensive missiles into empty caves.
Sensitive heat-seeking devices can detect a few men on a dark night by their body heat -- but they can't tell the difference between armed troops and a shepherd and his family, or maybe even a few sheep huddled together for warmth. And any overhead heat-seeking device works effectively only in the early morning hours because the rocks above the caves get much hotter than the caves themselves when the sun is up, and hold much of that heat for hours after dark, even in winter.
Horizontal missiles fired into caves are fine, but I think our planes would have to get pretty low to fire them with any accuracy -- something that would set them up for an ambush by Stinger missiles. (See above, about building fires to set up ambushes.)
We had tremendous technological superiority in Vietnam. And the Soviets had very good high-tech weapons for the time in Afghanistan. One of the things they found out is that one of the world's finest helicopter gunships, the Mi-24 Hind, could be brought down by a single man popping up out of a cave or a niche in the rocks and firing a Stinger missile, after his fellow guerrillas built a fire or fired off a few rifle rounds to make themselves a decoy.
(Incidentally, the Soviets also dropped troops from helicopters to "toss hand grenades into caves" -- which isn't as simple as it sounds when snipers hidden in the rocks may be targeting you as you wind up for a toss, and the ground around the cave entrance may be heavily mined.)
Again, more power to the U.S. and Nato troops if it all works, but I wouldn't buy the Pentagon's pep talk about high-tech weapons. Generals usually fight the last war, and many are still thinking of what worked in the flat, open deserts of Iraq where there were few places to hide. Afghanistan is much closer to Vietnam, except that your enemy can hide in a thousand and one caves in the rock, instead of the canopy and caves of the jungle. In Vietnam, we often had to crawl into the caves to get at the enemy.
Also, a single man or a few men can hide in the open, in the shadow of rocks, covered by gray or light-brown cloth, and be invisible except in the wee hours to anyone who is very much out of rifle range. In daylight hours the rocks around them will be as hot as they are, for heat-seeking detection purposes
A final thought: It's essential to quash terrorism, but the Northern Alliance will probably turn out to be a useless pack of big-talkers ("we need more bombing to advance; kill them all and then we'll attack") and if we have to use our own ground troops the American people need to be prepared for casualties -- and atrocities.
When the British were pouring their best troops into Afghanistan and finding it a quagmire, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about the dangers of being taken alive where women and children may come out to literally cut you apart. It goes:
""When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier."
posted on 10/26/2001 7:42:09 AM PDT
CAVES+ENEMY+FOO GAS= POOFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF. Nuf said.
I thought the article was great. It was enlightening to to the cave systems and tactics used by the Soviets in their war against Afghanistan.
Your response is equally as interesting, pointing out technical difficulties with actually fighting these seasoned warriors. Thanks for taking the time to write all of that out. I wish the LA Times were able to print your 'article' side-by-side with theirs.
But, as is often the case.....you can only find it all here on FR.
Again, more power to the U.S. and Nato troops if it all works, but I wouldn't buy
the Pentagon's pep talk about high-tech weapons.
I felt the same way on the eve of Desert Storm.
And was totally wrong.
It will be interesting to see if the Taliban/Osama end up first getting roasted by
some sort of fuel-air explosive launched from these Predator aircraft, then
buried by follow-up bunker-buster bombs.
I don't even know if that scenario is practicable, or if it's a workable plan...even if it
takes time and some lost hardware to perfect.
posted on 10/26/2001 8:08:09 AM PDT
To: American in Israel
I don't think we want to just destroy the caves. I suspect we want to get our people into them in order to search for information about weapons stored, links to terrorists here and abroad, identify any taliban casualties, and gather any other intelligence helpful to the overall war on terrorism.
I say roll in a Tactical Nuke & shake & bake these B@stards! Let them Sufficate as they cook in this makeshift oven. It's time to take the kid gloves off & show the world what the price for attacking America is.
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You just joined 3 days ago, so perhaps you don't know but, articles from The LA Times and Washington Post can not be posted here, only the first paragraph
posted on 10/26/2001 8:21:26 AM PDT
Dear Mr. Taliban, et al.,
You have less than 2 hours to leave your caves with your hands up!
We have been looking for a way to dispose of our stockpile of VX nerve gas and you have provided it. Come out now, or stay...forever!
This is your only warning!
posted on 10/26/2001 8:28:55 AM PDT
Thank you for your analysis-- for people like me who don't know much about war, it helps a lot to get a variety of viewpoints.
posted on 10/26/2001 9:04:54 AM PDT
I love this graphic of the good guys lowering grenades on strings to the bad guys.
Oops, I suppose posting an image from LA Times is OK?
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