Thursday, October 26, 2006

Canadahar , Afghanistan

The latest in the recently 'pacified' Panjwai area of Afghanistan has the Canadian forces switching from an outright combat to a 'development' mode. The development part invloves, I believe, building a better road into the Panjwai.

Once a highway is in place then the blessings of further development will follow.

If the 'Iraq model' of road construction is being urtilized, it is aimed more at minimizing the effectiveness of IED than increasing any sort of prosperity. After all the great majority of large vehicles driving up and down the roads in Afghanistan are the kind used by Coalition forces. Tarmac and wide, graded shoulders may have some future benefit but in the immediate situation the highway to the Afghans is like the wagon trail to the Indians, it's for access not commerce.

And what's been going on in this 'new' role. Well , first there's dope. The armed forces announced that they've been testing personnel for the use of street drugs with 20%, or so, showing positive results. Why would they want to do that you might ask? Well, for one reason, Afghanistan is coming out of 'harvest season' and major crops include marijuana, hashish and opium - three real temptations to those with an affinity. The recent news from Kandahar announced large confiscations of dope, pot (in Tonnes) and opium, in recent police stops. The photo of a Dragoons AFV parked in a field of pot that virtually hid it, was striking for two reasons. One, the 11 foot high pot crop and the second as another incident of the stupids that make for dead sojers. If that pot forest could hide an AFV, it could certainly hide Taliban anti-tank crews, and the bright client who thought the picture would be worth it, is lucky he's not coming home missing some body parts.

The other big thing is the 'pacification' bit. That announcement at the 'end' of Medusa was promptly answered with a spate of attacks and Canadian casualties. If, as the Afghans say, the Talban have been chased out of Panjwai, who are the Coalition forces shooting at? In the same period civilian casualties have risen markedly. This due to the 'fix and bomb' tactics used since the end of the offensive. However, those 'fixed and bombed' have a embarassing propensity to turn out to be other than the Taliban. Even the 'American' president of Afghanistan realizes that the sure way to 'eff it all up' is to kill civilians. I would have hoped that the NATO leadership would have been able to curb the high explosive and fire-suppression tendencies of our American allies, it doesan't look like it.

Not that only the Yanks have PR problems. To-day the Germans reacted to some snapshots of their 'boys' acting the bravo with an Afghan skull and their schwanzen. Boys will be boys, and that's what happens when you dress 'em up in uniforms and send them somewhere to be 'heart-breakers and widow-makers'.

Looking as hopeful as a settlement at the 'Injun barricades'. But winter's coming!

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