Wandering Afghan goatherd holds up Belgian F-16s

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Lieven

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Unread post07 May 2009, 16:49

<a href="news_article3441.html">Belgian F-16 kills two Taliban fighters</a>

And here's the full story from The Times:

Wandering Afghan goatherd holds up lethal attack on Taleban roadside bombers

The Times, May 5, 2009
By Michael Evans in Garmsir, Helmand


Four Taleban insurgents appeared at one end of a bridge on Route Cowboys and began to dig a hole for a roadside bomb. Buzzing above them at a height of 9,000ft was a Hermes unmanned aerial vehicle, relaying pictures of the scene to British commanders.

Soon, two Belgian Air Force F-16s had flown in and were ready to pulverise the Taleban fighters. Just as they were about to swoop in for the kill there was a shout over the radio: “Stop, hold fire - there's a boy with goats approaching.”

Sure enough, a young Afghan goatherd with a few goats around him was walking towards the bridge. The world seemed to freeze. The F-16 pilots remained on alert. The Taleban continued burying their explosives, and with growing frustration British officers watched - in operations rooms within sight of the bridge, in battlegroup headquarters at Forward Operating Base Delhi farther north, and in Camp Bastion, the main base in central Helmand - the goatherd's slow progress.

Route Cowboys runs north to south past a line of mini-patrol bases six miles from Garmsir. The nearest base is Patrol Base Hassan Abad, home of B Company 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment, and the bridge is Bridge Three.
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If the insurgents registered the presence of the F-16s it did nothing to stop them - two of them continued working while a third began to walk backwards holding a wire and disappeared from view. The fourth, apparently the leader, had left on a motorcycle.

Finally the goatherd was safely clear of the area and the jets were given the order to attack. Rather than dropping a 500lb bomb that would have damaged the bridge, one of the jets came roaring in and strafed the area with 30mm cannon where the two Taleban had nearly finished burying their improvised explosive device (IED). They both died.

The insurgent with the wire had climbed on to a motorbike and the Hermes drone followed him as he drove south, taking photographs that told the F16 pilots where he was heading. The man went into a compound to change his clothes and then drove off again to a rendezvous spot known to be a Taleban command centre. He was allowed to escape.

At 4.30am the next day, 100 soldiers set off from Hassan Abad base towards Bridge Three. They were accompanied by two US Marine bomb-disposal specialists. “Don't use my name, sir, just say I'm from USMCEOD [US Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Demolition],” one of them, a Texan sporting a heavy-duty pair of sunglasses and who shares a tent with The Times, said.

Progress is painstaking. Overnight it is possible that the Taleban have planted more IEDs. Every patrol “multiple” has a soldier with a metal detector sweeping the ground in front of him as the rest of us follow, knowing that the Taleban are watching from the poppy and wheat fields as the dim light turns to dawn. Hermes 450, with that reassuring and familiar buzzing engine, watches our progress.

At one point each soldier, carrying more than 100lb on his back, has to walk along a terrifyingly thin sluice-gate wall over a deep irrigation canal and leap across a gap of about 2ft and land, balanced, on the wall beyond to reach the other side. For one soldier it is too much; he topples over and falls into the water. One of his comrades has to leap in to get him and find his rifle.

We reach Bridge Three without being shot at. The journey - two miles as the crow flies - has taken nearly five hours, partly because a compound suspected of being used by the Taleban has had to be searched. It is getting oppressively hot. Soldiers spread out to control the ground and make sure there is no one concealed within sight of the bridge who might be able to detonate a bomb.

Lieutenant Ed Hattersley, 25, of B Company 2 Mercian, only two years out of Sandhurst, approaches the area of the suspected IED, lies full stretch on the ground and starts to dig away gently with his knife, scooping away the dry earth with a paintbrush. All the rest of the group can do is wait.

The young lieutenant finds enough evidence to confirm the presence of an IED, and the two experts from the US Marine Corps move in. They uncover four mortar shells filled with explosives and linked - known as a “daisy-chain” device.

With no protection other than normal body armour and helmets, they pick up the bombs and carry them away from Bridge Three. They pack their own explosives around the bombs, draw back a distance, and give the signal: “Sixty seconds, heads down”... ingers to ears, helmeted heads tucked into chests.

The bomb is destroyed and we return to camp. The IED was planted at about 5pm the previous day; it is now 11.30am the day after, and 100 men are exhausted from the strains of a seven-hour mission.

That was only one IED - and there are scores more.

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 222494.ece
Last edited by Lieven on 07 May 2009, 20:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Kaasjager.

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Unread post07 May 2009, 17:00

the man went into a compound to change his clothes and then drove off again to a rendezvous spot known to be a Taleban command centre. He was allowed to escape.


Why the hell didn't those F-16's bomb that compound...
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Unread post07 May 2009, 19:38

Lieven wrote:Finally the goatherd was safely clear of the area and the jets were given the order to attack. Rather than dropping a 500lb bomb that would have damaged the bridge, one of the jets came roaring in and strafed the area with 30mm cannon where the two Taleban had nearly finished burying their improvised explosive device (IED). They both died.


I may not be the first to notice, but it's 20mm cannon, not 30mm.

In Belgium, the opposition is screaming murder because of this incident.
They disagree with the deployment of Belgian combat-troops in the first place, second they would like to see that if troops are deployed it would be for the sake of "just being there" without doing anything really.

But let them whine about it: at the end of June or beginning of July two extra F-16's will arrive in Afghanistan to support the four who are already there.
Last edited by Master-of-Disaster on 07 May 2009, 19:45, edited 1 time in total.
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Lieven

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Unread post07 May 2009, 19:39

And the Belgian F-16 pilots used the <a href="f-16_armament_article5.html">20mm cannon</a> of course... :)
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Unread post07 May 2009, 22:27

Lieven wrote:And the Belgian F-16 pilots used the <a href="f-16_armament_article5.html">20mm cannon</a> of course... :)


You mean you Belgians don't have a secret GAU-8 Avenger modification in your F-16's? :o
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Unread post08 May 2009, 06:37

Kaasjager. wrote:
the man went into a compound to change his clothes and then drove off again to a rendezvous spot known to be a Taleban command centre. He was allowed to escape.


Why the hell didn't those F-16's bomb that compound...

Same reason they didn't drop when the goat kid got in the way. They take extreme pains to minimize collateral deaths. Sometimes it's unavoidable. It didn't say if any non-combatants were at the compound but chances are good they were. And if they struck said compound and killed a bunch of women and kids the world press would brand 'em as baby-killers, giving the T-ban a PR victory. If he was being watched by the UAV they could also have gleaned some intel by following him.

In a recent interview, a senior US commander suggested that the recent rash of civilian deaths due to armed UAV strikes were due in part to the T-ban coming in after the fact and..shall we say....manually upping the body count post-strike. They may be a bunch of medieval scum buckets but they have ways to manipulate world opinion.
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Unread post08 May 2009, 17:22

I know this part of my comment is OffT :offtopic: , but why are Belgian Army soldiers deforming their spines carrying 100lb (45.4 kg) on their backs?

http://www.combatreform2.com/atac.htm

The solution for every infantry soldier: All-Terrain All-Purpose Cart Sled!

Anyway, back to getting OnT :ontopic:

I acknowledge the best efforts of the Belgian Viper drivers to minimize CD, but you wouldn't want to scream murder.
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Unread post08 May 2009, 17:53

The foot soldiers were not Belgian, they were British accompanied by 2 US Marine EOD experts.

"At one point each soldier, carrying more than 100lb on his back, has to walk along a terrifyingly thin sluice-gate wall over a deep irrigation canal and leap across a gap of about 2ft and land, balanced, on the wall beyond to reach the other side. For one soldier it is too much; he topples over and falls into the water. One of his comrades has to leap in to get him and find his rifle."

ATACS would not be pratical in this situation.

No idea what you are trying to say in your last comment.
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Unread post08 May 2009, 18:31

cywolf32 wrote:The foot soldiers were not Belgian, they were British accompanied by 2 US Marine EOD experts.

"At one point each soldier, carrying more than 100lb on his back, has to walk along a terrifyingly thin sluice-gate wall over a deep irrigation canal and leap across a gap of about 2ft and land, balanced, on the wall beyond to reach the other side. For one soldier it is too much; he topples over and falls into the water. One of his comrades has to leap in to get him and find his rifle."

ATACS would not be pratical in this situation.

No idea what you are trying to say in your last comment.


To skyhigh :

And don't forget it's one of Michael Sparks' webpage...

If you read a lot of his articles, you'll notice he "forgets" some facts, or neglects the technical and financial problems with his projects...

One of his dumbest idea was putting a gunshield at the foreend of rifles, because it would (of course unverified) better protect the Soldier than using the same weight in body armor. Of course, you lose the ability to point quickly the rifle at the target, and you've got some problems for reducing your cross section while prone or for shooting in odd positions (like through a very low loophole)...

I don't say you have to neglect everything he says (I do agree with him that uparmored M113s would have been nice instead of HUMWEEs in Iraq, because they're very cost-effective in the light cavalry role.), but don't trust everything he says. Always analyze what he says and think if it's the best option/tradeoff. :wink:

For the weight the "light infantry" is carrying, the question lies really in technology and doctrine ; for example, there are some research to reduce the weight of ammo, or go on PEO Soldier and read the change from MRE to First Strike Ration that helped reduce the burden. And for the doctrine, you have to ask yourself what can you field strip in your equipment.

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Unread post08 May 2009, 19:08

In May 1982, RF-4E was shot down over Syria. Russian advisors swarmed over the Phantom, picking it for avionics to take home to Moscow. Decision was made to destroy the remnants of the Phantom and a few Phantoms swarmed back with their bomb loads. They saw the Russians and didn't give a rats a$$ as to their nationality by pressing on the attack that killed 11 Russians.

Who cares about the Taliban? imply kill the kid with the goats as he is out there to kill you.
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Unread post08 May 2009, 19:11

Goodwin wrote:Who cares about the Taliban? imply kill the kid with the goats as he is out there to kill you.


Where the hell does it say that the kid was Taliban? It was just a random kid herding his families goats.
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Unread post08 May 2009, 19:18

And the media tend to say "Hey, NATO is killing poor civilians..." and stops investigating (I rarely see in my country full articles analyzing if it was really civilians, and if the Talibans were using them as human shields...).

So any civilian casualty will probably undermine NATO's efforts to stabilize the country, so if you can limit collateral damage without hurting your mission objectives, do it.
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Unread post08 May 2009, 22:05

Kaasjager. wrote:
Lieven wrote:And the Belgian F-16 pilots used the <a href="f-16_armament_article5.html">20mm cannon</a> of course... :)


You mean you Belgians don't have a secret GAU-8 Avenger modification in your F-16's? :o


Oh, you heard about it? Alright, I guess there's no point keeping it a secret any longer then...

;-)
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Unread post10 May 2009, 23:27

CD = collateral damage

That's what the Belgian Viper drivers were trying to minimize.

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