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Don't Shoot, We're Praying For Your Death.

You really have to read this to see just exactly why we are losing ground and may have lost the entire war in Afghanistan:

U.S. military officials tell NBC News they had “high-level” Taliban fighters in their gunsights during a July reconnaissance flight but decided not to fire. The decision to pass on the target angered some in the military, but commanders say they have “no regrets.”

Army intelligence officers confirm the grainy black and white aerial photo taken by a Predator drone and obtained by NBC News on Tuesday shows some 190 suspected Taliban militants standing in several rows near a vehicle in an open field in Afghanistan.

The military said Wednesday that the group seen in the Predator image was likely gathered for a religious ceremony.“During the observation of the group over a significant period of time, it was determined that the group was located on the grounds of a cemetery and were likely conducting a funeral for Taliban insurgents killed in a coalition operation nearby earlier in the day,” a coalition spokesperson said. “A decision was made not to strike this group of insurgents at that specific location and time.”

Even though U.S. military officials in Afghanistan had positively identified those gathered as Taliban fighters, including some “high-level Taliban leaders,” they told NBC News they have “no regrets” in refusing to give the order to attack the gathering.

You're kidding me, right? We're giving carte blanche to almost 200 dangerous enemy combatants because they're at a funeral? What? Seriously, what? They're praying over the bodies of guys who were just busy shooting at our guys and we have them right smack dab in our sights, and we don't shoot?

What in the hell do we tell the families of the American or allied soldiers who get shot or blown apart by one of these 190 Taliban?

Does no one know how to fight a war?

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“Don't Shoot, We're Praying For Your Death.”

  1. Blogger reader_iam Says:

    They do. But they've been crippled.

    You tell me, Tak, what do we tell them? More important, tell me why this is the result of one single person and not the collective failures of collective multiples?

    Before you fire off, read your own post. Look at the reason that you chose to bold for the hold-off. Consider it.

    And I repeat: tell me why this is the result of one single person and not the collective failures of collective multiples?

  2. Anonymous kilroy Says:

    I am not speaking for anyone else, if any of these people are free to kill another day that is the definition of incompetence.

    Again a simple cost profit ratio. Possibly the political cost of taking them out at that point in space and time was greater then the profit. What we have the potential for (but not currently the capability) is to take them as the leave, track them etc. More troops would create that capability.

    If the case is that they are free to attack another day, then frankly there are a few people who individually have the power to deploy more troops. The Commander in chief has the ultimate power to require more troops. The CIC & SOD also have the power to remove incompetence from the command chain. The reason Nato is running the show is because we don't want to pay for the continuing cost alone. I also believe that a U.S. Commander is in charge of the operation.

    The considered lack of action is by definition an action.

    Continued actions that allow for more loss of lives and treasure is a metric for competence.

  3. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    I don't know who put toegther these rules of engagement, so I don't know the specifics of who is at fault.

    I do think we've become mawkish and sentimental as a people. I think we've become too convinced of our own moral superiority. I also think people don't read history so they don't really know the prices we've paid and the crimes we've committed to be where we are today. And I suspect in this case we'll find some religiosity playing a role as well.

    I feel like I'm becoming the moderate blogosphere's warmonger and obviously that's not a fun role to play. I just don't know when war stopped meaning 'kill the enemy.'

    This disconnect is bipartisan. Both sides don't get it. The Right talks tough but has no follow-through, like a bunch of barroom loudmouths. They talk tough and punch like pussies.

    My issue is more with the Right because no one on the left has any power. If they had some real influence I'd bitch at them, but this war is entirely run from the (R) side of the aisle, so the failure is on them.

    The choice seems to be between the party that won't pick a fight and the party that'll pick fights then lose them.

  4. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:


    I can't imagine that there would be as many political consequences as there are when we shoot cars whose occupants we can't ascertain with certainty. I mean, we got 190 guys lined up military style here. It doesn't get much sweeter or clearer than that. One missile could have killed half and injured most of the rest.

    During good times the kill ratio is as much as 100:1. A hundred of theirs for every one of ours that dies. By that ratio we just ensured the death of two more Americans. And those kill ratios are the upper end, so maybe more than 2 Americans. And God knows how many allies or Iraqis.

    It's just hard to believe.

  5. Blogger Shochu John Says:

    I think this was an arguably very well made strategic decision rather than simply excessive concern for the enemy. It is a common notion that there are a fixed number of "terrorists," or "Taliban," and once we kill them, there will be no more. Unfortunately, this is not the case. People in Afghanistan who would be inclined to like us may be alienated by having their cemetary bombed. Similarly, neutrals can become sympathizers and sympathizers can become fighters. I am happy to see that the military brass are taking these things into account when considering strategy. I'd hate to see us make the very same blunders the Soviets made in Afghanistan by showing utter indifference to the concerns of the local populace.

    Clearly, it's a difficult call to make. You don't want to incentivise hiding in religious facilitis by refusing to fire on them. The flipside of that is that if you do fire on them, those Taliban have traded their lives to make the locals hate you more, which they may consider a very beneficial trade. I don't know all the details in this case, but it is very plausible this was the right strategic decision.

  6. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    Shochu John:

    We win "friends" when we win wars. We lose "friends" when we look weak.

    I'm sorry, and I wish the world wasn't this way, but fear is a far more powerful motivator than affection. And there's really no substitute for destroying the enemy.

    Japan, Germany, Italy. Three of our closest friends. Three defeated enemies. We burned Germany and Japan to the ground and would have done the same for Italy had they been more formidable. We stole half of Mexico and haven't had any trouble with them since. We threatened for 40 years to exterminate the Soviets and the Russian people are lesss anti-American than the French.

    People don't act on their vague feelings of friendliness, they act on their interests or their ideology. They act most often out of fear or greed. I'm not saying it isn't nice to be liked, it is. But with these people? I'd rather be feared. They should have dropped the bomb.

  7. Blogger Shochu John Says:

    I should have been more clear. I wasn't sugesting we refrain from bombing to make friends, but to avoid making enemies. This isn't World War II. This isn't a nation to nation war where one gets defeated, accepts it, and then we all get along later. This is counter-insurgency, which is entirely different. If the populace hates you, the insurgence will never die. They don't get scared when you bomb, they just get angry. The CIA station chief in Afghanistan while the Soviets were trying to bomb Afghanistan into submission estimated that for every fighter they took out, five of his family took up arms. The British learned the same in Northern Ireland. When do we learn?

    Afghanistan has been a war torn hell hole for decades. Their fear threshold is beyond our means. Their anger threshold is not.

  8. Anonymous Kevin Says:

    MT, Not sure if you're mixing me up with Kilroy in the comment above or if his name is also Kevin and I'm just conceited. I'm pretty much with you in the "war is fought to be won not to generate good PR" camp. It would take one hell of an argument to convince me that this wasn't a gross missed opportunity.

  9. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    Keith, er, Karl er, Kevin:

    Surely you aren't suggesting that a man of my towering intellect would make an error?

    Dude, I'm lucky if I get my name right. Sorry about that.

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