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Afghans Heart G.I.s Who Flattened Their Village

The residents of Afghanistan’s Tarok Kolache are really quite fond of the American forces who demolished their village. The Taliban had turned the place into a minefield, after all, and now U.S. troops are helping rebuild the place. That’s the story, at least, according to Gen. David Petraeus’ biographer and former adviser, who’s embedded with the 1-320th Field Artillery Regiment nearby.


The residents of Afghanistan’s Tarok Kolache are really quite fond of the American forces who demolished their village. The Taliban had turned the place into a minefield, after all, and now U.S. troops are helping rebuild the place. That’s the story, at least, according to Gen. David Petraeus’ biographer and former adviser, who’s embedded with the 1-320th Field Artillery Regiment nearby.
Paula Broadwell finds residents of the town to be all smiles now that reconstruction is beginning. In October, the 1-320th pounded Tarok Kolache with 49,200 lbs of bombs and rockets after the Taliban kicked out its residents and turned it into a hotbed of homemade bombs, making it too dangerous for U.S. troops to clear. Now, its children are playing happily on Tarok Kolache’s roads. One village representative tells Broadwell that he wants the unit “to move into our new village with us. We don’t want you to leave.”
All in all, Broadwell concludes, it’s a “small victory” for the war effort, and any skepticism about the operation is “skewed” by not being on the ground to talk to the locals.
We’d never dispute the value of on-the-ground-experience, of course. That’s why we took so seriously earlier reports from Tarok Kolache and nearby areas detailing local frustration with heavy-handed U.S. tactics. The Washington Post recently recounted a Kandahar farmer asking a NATO general, “Why do you have to blow up so many of our fields and homes?” In Tarok Kolache itself, Stars & Stripes reported in December that villagers compared the U.S. to the 80s-era Soviet occupiers and were “extremely angry,” as one U.S. captain put it, at least until the U.S. began pledging to rebuild the area. Even Broadwell’s first piece on Tarok Kolache earlier this month picked up on the villagers’ unease with the leveling of their homes.



Perhaps rebuilding a village can offset its residents’ anger at its destruction. But it’s worth remembering that Insurgency 101 is about provoking violent overreactions from counterinsurgents. Petraeus’ spokesman, Col. Erik Gunhus, told Danger Room last week that U.S. troops waging a difficult fight in southern Afghanistan were encountering compounds and even whole villages “saturated” with homemade explosives, ready to kill American forces.
That suggests the Taliban may be trying to force the U.S. into knocking down the buildings, spreading the message that the U.S. don’t actually care about Afghan lives or property. “Given that the strategy — that EVERYONE here knows — is to win the hearts and minds of villagers, razing villages is not high on the priority list,” Broadwell emails Afghanistan analyst Josh Foust, who’s been sharply critical of the Tarok Kolache operation. “It is not common.”
Perhaps. But in November, the New York Times reported that during a two-month period in Kandahar, NATO tallied 174 “deliberate demolitions… including homes and other structures.”

To say the least, U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan don’t have a good track record. Hopefully Broadwell’s right and Tarok Kolache will prove to be an exception. But the more the U.S. relies on demolitions like that, the smaller its margin of error for keeping the Afghan people on its side will become.
In July, a military official wrote that the Taliban “want” U.S. troops to “kill civilians or damage their property in the course of our operations,” thereby creating “more enemies than our operations eliminate.” His name is Gen. David Petraeus. Years ago, he learned some hard lessons about how heavy-handed tactics can inadvertently set back an entire U.S. war effort.
Update, 1:20 p.m.: Over at Tom Ricks’ blog, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force 1-320, Lt. Col. David Flynn, writes a long, detailed post explaining his reasoning for flattening and now rebuilding Tarok Kolache. Here’s how he describes the measures he took to avoid civilian casualties, which match what Petraeus’ spokesman told Danger Room last week:
I approved airstrikes based upon multiple intelligence cues, no evidence of civilians reported by soldiers on the ground, my sources in the local area, and overhead drones. There were no civilians killed in the strike. We observed with aerial platforms and later consulted the local leaders in the area to learn if anyone had been injured. The plan to conduct strikes was vetted through the district governor.
Flynn continues, “If we didn’t care about the local population, I would have thrown money at them and bid them farewell. We are committed to their future, and as far as I can tell they are walking side by side with us.”
Photos: DoD, ISAF



Click to view image: '8c474ce71fe3-hires_228645.jpg'


http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/claim-afghans-heart-g-i-s-who-flattened-their-village/


Added: Jan-26-2011 Occurred On: Jan-26-2011
By: nurdmyth
In:
Afghanistan, News, Middle East
Tags: Afghans, Heart, G.I.s, Who, Flattened, Their, Village,
Views: 10542 | Comments: 36 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • The mission is to destroy al queda and make the Taliban irrelevant...
    Those villagers knew explosives were being planted in their homes. The people of Afghanistan can either help or suffer the collateral damage of living in a war zone.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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    • In their defense, I must add that they have little choice. The Taliban use brutal force, kill their leaders and in some occasions threaten to kill their families. They live pretty much in the middle of nowhere, our guys are not always there 100% of the time to protect them. They're caught between the middle and the Taliban use them, if they don't comply, they get the short end of the stick. If the Afghan Army and police, were not so corrupt and incompetent they could be there for them, unfortuna More..

      Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • I must admit, I was quite skeptical about this attack myself. Seeing that an immediate reconstruction effort has been undertaken to compensate the locals, and that they're unharmed, is quite impressive. The military should be commended for stuff like this, I'd like to see more of it.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • Just goes to show there are two sides to a story.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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    • yeah. the enemy can turn any photo into a propaganda tool. and fools like Doyle just eat that shit up.

      Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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    • It's all about the context, which is typically too complex for your average journalist to grasp. Either that or it goes something like this:

      "USAF bombs an entire Afghan village into dust?! Oh yeah, that'll get some headlines! What? You mean the villagers wanted it destroyed because the Taliban kicked them out and then turned it into one massive IED and the US military is helping to rebuild the entire village? Pfft, who cares? That doesn't make the US military look like the bad guys."

      Posted Jan-27-2011 By 

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  • And when you tell the other side, the America-haters' heads explode.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • Nice to see the truth after Sahaafi mujapig attempted to distort it AS ALWAYS. This time, he just happened to be caught RED HANDED, just flat out lying.


    Great post nurd!!

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • they win a free walmart.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • I <3 JDAM's

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • So much for all the morons claiming it was full of women and children.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • I'll believe it when a NGO reports on the new towns construction.

    Posted Jan-27-2011 By 

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  • What a bullshit propaganda, what the bastards should do is help reconstruct the whole country they destroyed and compensate the population, instead of an abandoned village with five homes... oh yes and get the fuck out of Afghanistan.
    The war is already declared lost.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'nurdmyth' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • To you, and all the idiots like you...... Who the fuck said "WE" have to rebuild anything in the first place ?? This is a war,not a neighborhood improvement project, and the idea of trying to rebuild anything in the middle of a war is ridiculous. The only thing our troops need to do is keep killing ragheads by the dozen.

      Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'bouymarker' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • You mean my brother? yeah

      Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'nurdmyth' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Petraeus in his book should include flying squirrels onto his chopper illegally entering a USS carrier and later being deported.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • And the second the dust settles after they leave the local's are back to chanting death to America.
    They have to, or the Taliban will kill them.
    That's how the game is played over there.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • I just laugh of this Afghan BS posts on both sides.
    First months bombed the shit of Taliban,control of opium fields,install a puppet pro US regime and get out.
    My my 10 years of war and the silly cavemen are still in control. what a laugh,what a laugh

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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  • We are very good at fulfilling the concept of...destroying the village in order to save it. We perfected it in Vietnam.

    Posted Jan-26-2011 By 

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