2010 December 08 Wednesday
IED Attacks In Afghanistan Up Sharply
The surge of US troops into Afghanistan has been accompanied by a surge in damage from improvised explosive devices.
Between June 2009 and 2010, insurgents’ use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, rose by 22 percent. More worrying, say senior US military officials, is that the rate of effective attacks – in other words, bombs that result in injuries to NATO troops or Afghan civilians – has increased 45 percent.
Get this: The Afghans are too primitive to make IEDs that are easy to detect. They do not have the metal needed to make IEDs that military sensor systems could detect.
Afghanistan also has such a high birth rate that the Taliban can replace its losses with plenty teenagers coming of age.
Meanwhile even those not killed or externally injured by IEDs are coming back with brain damage in large numbers. Alas, these are not even the biggest costs of empire.
>>Get this: The Afghans are too primitive to make IEDs that are easy to detect.
>>They do not have the metal needed to make IEDs that military
>>sensor systems could detect.
Get this: Even the notorious Russian cruelty wasn't enough to defeat Afghanistan.
Here is a list of Afghan casualties:
Estimates of the Afghan deaths vary from 1 million to 2 million. 5-10 million Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran, 1/3 of the prewar population of the country. Another 2 million Afghans were displaced within the country. In the 1980s, half of all refugees in the world were Afghan.
Along with fatalities were 1.2 million Afghans disabled (mujahideen, government soldiers and noncombatants) and 3 million maimed or wounded (primarily noncombatants).
Despite all that destruction, Russia was defeated because they tried to keep the place occupied.
But in the case of the US, what was the goal? Surely we did not expect to make the Afghans capitalist atheists (instead of making them communist atheists, as the Russians tried). All we wanted was to prevent Al Qaeda from using that territory as a base. Other methods, such as intense aerial bombardment to destroy the poppy fields and many other places, would have been far cheaper, and far more convincing for Taliban to kick out the Al Qaeda.
1) The huge increase in Afghan IED attacks is due to the increase in resupply convoys on a small road net. More troops need more supplies and Afghanistan doesn't have the fuel logistical infrastructure for the American military to make all the resupply aircraft (mainly helicopter) based.
2) A surge in _Damage_ is not a surge in the _casualty rate_. The usual measure of this is % of deaths and wounds per 1000 per combat day. The last I saw at strategypage.com, were were at less than 1/3 Vietnam's rates and falling, thanks to things like the light MRAP armored trucks.
3) The non-metal content of Afghan IEDs is based on two facts; a. There isn't 150,000 tons of unused artillery ammunition littering the Afghan countryside like in Iraq, and b. The American military has made getting even nitrate based fertilizers for ANFO bombs hard to come by.
4) There was more PTSD/combat fatigue in WW2 and Vietnam that today. We are much better at a. Avoiding casualties through better skill, b. Saving lives of those wounded and c. How we fight has changed even apart from better tactical skills.
American forces no longer use huge barrages of artillery and bombs that cause sub-concussion organic brain injuries we are now diagnosing with MRI technology. We have effectively replaced hundreds of shells and bombs with JDAM and Excalibur smart weapons. Two orders of magnitude fewer big bangs mean far fewer organic brain injuries.
This is a large reason why we have combat soldiers who are still effective after 600 to 800 days in combat compared to the 200 to 250 days of a WW2 GI.
Yes, it is definitely worth reiterating that the median age of an Afghan is a pinch under 18. Half of Afghanistan's populous would be considered minors in the US.