Army Brass Conduct Before Afghan Attack Is Questioned

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...07/23/AR2009072303801.html?hpid=moreheadlines


    "A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and an Army historian are raising serious questions about the performance of Army commanders prior to an assault that killed nine U.S. soldiers at a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan last July. "
    ..."The letter cites an unreleased draft report written by an Army historian at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., that is sharply critical of the way senior Army leaders in Afghanistan performed before the assault. Soldiers at the remote base were short of basic necessities such as water and sandbags and repeatedly complained that they were in a precarious position, according to the historian's report."

    I think that this is gonna be ugly. This battle (Wanat) last year in Afghanistan wound up costing 9 troopers from C/2-503 Abn (173rd Abn). I am not confident that the Army will get a balanced review of the circumstances surrounding this battle, as I automatically suspect an investigation led by congress as being at least equal parts fact and grandstanding, but Sen Webb at least has the virtue of having "been there- done that" and unlike may of his political compatriots understands that not everything is as crystal clear at the time as appears in retrospect. This platoon acquitted themselves well, hanging on to this OP in the face of a pretty intense and sustained attack, but it sounds like the after action review that was put together by I believe the Army Center for Lessons Learned out at Ft Leavenworth is pretty critical of the Brigade leadership. The link to Foreign Policy below has a fairly extensive summary of the battle.


    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/post...han_battle_what_happened_at_wanat_last_july_i
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    More on this same subject: "Foreign Policy" came out yesterday with a follow up summarizing the report that was done at Ft Leavenworth. They definitely tar the Brigade and Bn Commanders - but credit the platoon.

    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/07/23/wanat_viii_an_army_report_finds_a_major_coin_failure
    "Cubbison also makes the important point that the platoon was saved from being overrun mainly by its own discipline and professional competence. They did just about everything they could do to establish the defenses of their outpost, despite being dehydrated from a lack of potable water. They were attacked just as they were doing a pre-dawn "stand to," in which every soldier, despite being exhausted from building walls and digging holes, was awake and fully armed and armored and surveilling his assigned sector of fire. As sergeants fell during the fight, junior soldiers were able to step into their shoes. He also marvels at the skill and courage of medical evacuation pilots and crews who picked up out wounded American and Afghan soldiers even as Apache helicopters were conducting gun runs 30 meters from the landing zone. Of the 20 evacuees, not one died of his wounds.

    The report also is in awe of the bravery and persistence of the 42 soldiers and 3 Marines who fought at Wanat, as I am. I knew that some continued to fight after being hit several times. But I didn't know that one continued to pass ammunition even when he was mortally wounded.

    I also think the Army deserves praise for having the honesty to have this report done. I am told that the final version will be released soon. Let's hope it isn't thrown out the back door at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon in August.
    "
     
  3. Antoinette

    Antoinette Founding Member

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  4. Antoinette

    Antoinette Founding Member

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    Neither Dilegge nor Nagle responded in the comments after that posting of Ricks's article. They post many of Ricks's articles.

    All I was pointing out was that there is another side to what Ricks says in his article about the analysis of the battle fought at Wanat (Want). Ricks is not an unbiased journalist. And he has zero command and control experience. He writes to sell papers and books - he is not an historian. He is an excellent writer and well worth reading but it is wise to look for other sources other than Ricks for comparison.

    Until the Army report is released, it is premature to make judgements based on what the Washington Post and Ricks say.
     
  5. mombee

    mombee Banned

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    I agree with Antoinette that perhaps Ricks motives are not pure. He seems simply trying to stir things up. Playing on the American public current lack of palatability for casulities will always sell newspapers.

    War is a risk. Montgomery was probably the only warfarer in the history of the world to go into battle thinking he had sufficient assets (Trivia-What is a Montgomery martini and why?) Pushing the limit, trying to do the most with the least, is one of the things that makes campaigns successful. I don't understand what the Battalion transition had to do with it and I really don't understand what the chopper crew transition had to do with their delayed reaction.
     
  6. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Thanks for the link to the SWJ.
    I think Ricks is a really smart guy who doesn't just "drink the Koolaide" and take the official word as the gospel, nor does he unfairly target the guys actually doing the job- in fact I think that he is usually a pretty balanced reporter of unpopular truths about military situations. I think that most folks who are familiar with him and the situations he writes on think he is often more accurate than not- as TPQ says- I think that most who have worked with him at all find him a fast and insightful learner. That doesn't however mean that every analysis he makes is the gospel either.
    In this case it will be interesting to see what the Army report comes out looking like. I've talked to someone who is pretty familiar with Afghanistan and COIN and they were a little surprised to hear the 173d command team being slammed for not understanding COIN as their read was that the 173d was pretty in touch with the doctrine and its application- and better at it than many of the other units in country. As one of these guys posting on the SWJ notes- armchair critics and after the fact analysis using a doctrine as a static template often fail to notice that the enemy has a vote in how things go as well. My biggest concern is Congress getting into the act. The problem with Congress calling for an investigaton is that their analysis will (like virtually everything else they touch) be overly skewed towards simplistic theoretical models of a picture perfect scenario without understanding the dynamics and limitations on the ground.
     
  7. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    One really cool thing about blogs like SWJ and Abu Mugawama (Andrew Exum) is the variety of thoughtful and intelligent opinions that are expressed. Not all from journalists but from those who have btdt as well.

    Andrew discussed this on his blog yesterday with both Gian Gentille and Tom Ricks chiming in (click on comments):
    http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2009/07/wanat-unasked-questions.html




    Who the hell was Montgomery? Sounds like several wars back.
     
  8. Antoinette

    Antoinette Founding Member

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    Where do I get one of those "Montgomery" martinis? :shake:

    And Col Cavoli posted a comment plus there is a link to Col Ostlund's Military Review article.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  9. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    You are right this is a very cool Blog where you get a lot of feedback and cross talk from some guys who are really well versed in the subject.
     
  10. mombee

    mombee Banned

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    Darn, all this talk about alcohol. We are going to start sounding like the Air Force folks.

    Field Marshal Montgomery, nemesis of Rommel and antagonist of Eisenhower. Commander of the Normandy invasion. He liked the gin to vermouth ratio of his martinis the same as the ratio of his assets to the enemy, or so the Allied O'Club humor goes, 15:1.

    Antoinette, I suppose to keep in the spirit of things, a good British gin, probably Tanqueray, and since there is no good British vermouth, any personal preference would do; however, at 15:1, it probably doesn't matter. And to go along with another British icon, perhaps; shaken, not stirred.
     

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