Anti-Air, and Meeting the Taliban

Choppers Being Downed in Iraq

Some open source reporting is speculating on the origin of the anti-air missiles that have been recently employed in Iraq. The US military has only reluctantly admitted that they were shot down by missile instead of small arms fire. In fact the Sea Knight that was downed most recently is still reported as small arms fire or malfunction, even while a group linked to Al-Qaeda posted a video of it clearly being taken down by AA missile.

I think that the military is so worried about this because they don’t know what’s going on — it’s a shift in capabilities. I seem to remember when I was in Arabic class that there were huge Blackhawks full of soldiers being shot down pretty regularly, and then it all stopped… Well, now those times are back. The arms trade has brought AA’s back to Iraq.

Personally I think this careless execution of the “War on Terror” is providing significant market imperative to produce cheap knock-offs of developed countries’ military technologies and selling them cheap to muj, insurgents, and whoever. Sigh…

Meeting the Taliban

Channel 4 in England publishes dispatches which are great journalistic reports covering topics I’m interested in. Not all of them are online and I’m lucky to catch them on Google Video or YouTube.

I watched Meeting the Taliban tonight. The journalist, a pale Brit, travels into enemy territory to talk to Taliban representatives. That has to take some balls, considering he’s got white hair, no beard, and goes looking for Taliban. =P Later he drives into the mountains in Helmund province and finds more Taliban fighters. There’s a part where they tell him to leave, and as he’s leaving, he sees an Apache flying overhead. He must have been shitting himself! I remember watching a video of the Afghani mujaheddin taping Soviet bombers flying above them while they hid in the caves, and this bore a lot of similarity.

Later he travels to a nearby US Army patrol base, manned by only 20 guys or so. God, that’s got to suck. Patrol bases are put out in the middle of nowhere with little niceties or comforts, deep inside guerrilla territory. It’s not like living on a FOB (Forward Operating Base) or the Green Zone. For a better idea, it’d be like those Vietnam movies where the guys are deep in the jungle on patrol.

One of the leaders there, probably an officer, talks about how at his level, the war there is forgotten to the Americans and ignorantly forgotten by the Administration. He says how there’s probably 1,000 muj in the valley surrounding his 20 guys and another 25 guys nearby. I would assume that the patrol base runs either 33% or 50% security at all times, which means those soldiers aren’t ever getting much sleep. One of the joes spent one month at his permanent duty station after basic training before being deployed. He was young and looked like a newb. The other guys looked demoralized, and they admitted that their purpose there was non-existent.

The officer said that a lot of soldiers had been to Iraq already and wished they were there instead because at least they could handle the enemy. He also said that the real war was in Pakistan, and the presence of Pakistan was omnipresent throughout the documentary.

What strikes me is how at home the muj are there, comfortable and controlling large swathes of territory, which while it could be quickly reduced by US movement, is in terms of the civilian population controlled solely by Taliban and Al-Qaeda and related groups.

Meanwhile we’re sending new joes with no familiarity with the region, no language skills, scared and wanting to go home, just doing their duty. Okay, there are seasoned soldiers, yes, but it’s very rare to find soldiers who fit in with the locals.

How is this not anti-occupation guerrilla warfare? Isn’t this well-documented? This is what is going on at the ground level, which Bush claims to be in touch with. More troops have just been sent into Baghdad than there are in all of Afghanistan, I believe.

There is another Channel 4 Dispatch I found, called Jihad TV. It profiles the jihadist propaganda movement on the Internet, which is competing against “Army Strong” American campaigns for attention. People making movies with Windows Movie Maker seem more successful at recruiting than $200million/year advertising campaigns.

Here is a music video mentioned in the report, titled “Dirty Kuffar”, or “Dirty Infidel”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ1TUMRTC4Q

And one more…a light-hearted Kuwaiti music video (“Hi, How Are You?”) by Shams (their more liberal pop music is like our pop music, well-produced and with hot chicks) but with political overtones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpKL5EVpTlU