By Kevin Dougherty, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, October 31, 2009
TAGAB VALLEY, Afghanistan – After several years of enduring Americans’ scorn for sitting out the Iraq campaign, the French military is going toe-to-toe with the Taliban, shedding blood and proving a worthy partner in Afghanistan, U.S. officers say.
While some knock the French for not empowering junior officers more or being aggressive enough in some instances, U.S. servicemembers serving with them northeast of Kabul generally spoke well of their ally.
“When they do get into battles, they fight it out,” observed U.S. Army Capt. Dave Disi, who has been on more than 35 missions with the French military.
Disi and 30 other Americans recently joined a company of French marines on a three-day operation that started in Tagab Valley. It’s a place the Soviets couldn’t pacify in the 1980s, and the British didn’t fare well a century before. Nonetheless, NATO is counting on France to stabilize this strategic valley, which links Kabul to northern Afghanistan.
On the first morning of the operation, up to 40 insurgents initiated the first of 10 separate engagements along a 10-mile stretch. It was the day after a French marine from another company was struck by lightning. The violent overnight storm hit while he and members of a strike force were up in the mountains heading out on a raid. Two other marines drowned.
Going into the southern Tagab Valley the following day “was pretty ballsy,” said Disi, who leads a team that mentors the Afghan police. “We knew we were going to get lit up. I was proud and surprised they went ahead with this operation after they lost those three guys.”
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In: Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East
Tags: French, France, USA, afghanistan, Irak, troops, marines, USMC, war, on, terror, weapons, soldiers, fight, respect, kapisa, taliban, islam, muslim, terrorist,
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