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"Royal Marines commandos force US troops into a humiliating surrender" @ Twentynine Palms

daftandbarmy

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My understanding is that there were two elements to the troubles the British experienced in Helmand in 2006. First, they were riding high in institutional arrogance stemming from Iraq. The British Army was looking at the Sunni Insurgency in Iraq and the relative calm in Basra, where its forces were located, and was wagging its finger at the Americans who "didn't know COIN." This is evident when a British senior officer published an article in the US Army's professional journal telling them so.

The truth hurts, as it should on occasion. Careerism kills troops... friendly forces' troops mainly:


Helmand: anatomy of a disaster​


As painfully described in an investigation published last week by the Times of London, the charge against military top brass, and those like Stirrup who talked endlessly of constant progress on the ground, is of filtering complaints from field commanders and junior soldiers so that politicians under the previous Labour administration got spared the full picture of how badly things were going in Helmand and the many shortfalls, for example, of war-winning military equipment and in basic welfare for the troops and their injured. Britain went into Helmand, the article described, with its "eyes shut and fingers crossed."

 

FJAG

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My understanding is that there were two elements to the troubles the British experienced in Helmand in 2006. First, they were riding high in institutional arrogance stemming from Iraq. The British Army was looking at the Sunni Insurgency in Iraq and the relative calm in Basra, where its forces were located, and was wagging its finger at the Americans who "didn't know COIN." This is evident when a British senior officer published an article in the US Army's professional journal telling them so.

The second is a bit of cap badge politics. The CGS at the time was Mike Jackson, a Para, and I've seen arguments (with sources) that there was a deliberate move to put the Paras in despite any other considerations that might indicate a different force. I'd have to dig around my notes a bit, but apparently there were some other COAs for the initial force.

In the end, these two led to an operational approach that assumed "ink blots" would be effective in winning hearts and minds, and that small light force "lily pads" would act as islands of counterinsurgent sentiment, enabling reconstruction. The reality is that (1) it ran smack into the Talban's 2006 campaign to re-enter southern Afghanistan in force (2) it put little isolated targets in the middle of territory hostile to both the Afghan central government and NATO and (3) it missed the fact that in Southern Afghanistan, the summer months turn an arid floodplain into a jungle, which will reduce the area of influence of a force to a few hundred yards or less.
Tootal, the CO 3 Para, reinforces all of those points in his book and adds in that the bn was short of its establishment, was very poorly equipped (especially for vehicles and comms gear), had limited flying hours for their six Chinooks and that the overall command structure pretty much sucked in amongst other things that 16 Air Assault brigade (the senior HQ to 3 Para on the ground) did not bring their own brigadier but instead had a colonel from the Irish Guards stuffed in because the MOD and PJHQ felt it would not be proper to have a Brit brigadier subordinate to a Canadian one. Not to mention that the Brit colonel would then have to have Fraser's orders endorsed by the Brit senior commander in the country.

Tootal's complaints all fell on deaf ears at PJHQ and he eventually complained about the helicopters to the Prince of Wales during a visit just before deploying. His doing so didn't lead to a solution, just the shit hitting the fan.

Things were compounded when the provincial governor established an ANA FOB near Sangin in the heart of poppy country just before the Brit's deployment which drew much Taliban attention requiring several Canadian intervention and creeping the Brit's mission into that area which would stretch their already thin force further than originally contemplated.

He's quite open about how crappy things were and about the shit that the Toms had to put up with and how tough the fight was at the platoon level.

🍻
 
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