25 Tons of Bombs Wipe Afghan Town Off Map
Thu Jan 20 2011 03:11
An American-led military unit pulverized an Afghan village in Kandahar’s Arghandab River Valley in October, after it became overrun with Taliban insurgents. It’s hard to understand how turning an entire village into dust fits into America’s counterinsurgency strategy — which supposedly prizes the local people’s loyalty above all else.
But it’s the latest indication that Gen. David Petraeus, the counterinsurgency icon, is prosecuting a frustrating war with surprising levels of violence. Some observers already fear a backlash brewing in the area.
Paula Broadwell, a West Point graduate and Petraeus biographer, described the destruction of Tarok Kolache in a guest post for Tom Ricks’ Foreign Policy blog. Or, at least, she described its aftermath: Nothing remains of Tarok Kolache after Lt. Col. David Flynn, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 1-320th, made a fateful decision in October.
His men had come under relentless assault from homemade bombs emanating from the village, where a Taliban “intimidation campaign [chased] the villagers out” to create a staging ground for attacking the task force. With multiple U.S. amputations the result of the Taliban hold over Tarok Kolache, Flynn’s men were “terrified to go back into the pomegranate orchards to continue clearing [the area]; it seemed like certain death.”
After two failed attempts at clearing the village resulted in U.S and Afghan casualties, Flynn’s response was to take the village out. He ordered a mine-clearing line charge, using rocket-propelled explosives to create a path into the center of Tarok Kolache.
And that was for starters, Broadwell writes. Airstrikes from A-10s and B-1s combined with powerful ground-launched rockets on Oct. 6 to batter the village with “49,200 lbs. of ordnance” — which she writes, resulted in “NO CIVCAS,” meaning no civilians dead.