Skip to comments.U.S. Forces Set to Battle 'Myth' of Cave Dwellers
Posted on 10/25/2001 11:24:54 PM PDT by grimalkinEdited on 09/03/2002 4:49:29 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
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 ...
We haven't heard much from old OBL lately have we? Maybe he be dead? In the head?
After a few dozen shots, we're all on the same sheet of music.
Insane in the membrane...Insane in the brain!
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.
Yup.....and I'm worried that we're going to be suprised at what they have waiting for us underground. Who knows what?
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."
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.
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
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!
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