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About the Taliban's Spring Offensive...

The one the MSM desultorily tried to make sound like the "Afghan Tet Offensive" which, I suppose it is--a clear victory for the Afghans and ISAF--everywhere but in our own press.

Bill was there, here's his view of it.  Plus a little video so that those of us who have not been downrange during the current unpleasantness can hear what a fobbit hears when the fecal matter is spraying downstream from the fan.

Take it away, Bill-

The primary topic of conversation the past week was “When do you think they’ll kick off their annual Spring Offensive?” Them, of course, being the Taliban. We figured something was going to pop soon, because there have been a pair of Mi-35s launching each day at noon since Friday. At about 1325, one of the Air Force types in the C-27 sim got a phone call telling him to gather his crew and report back to his unit. He told the guys running the sim (different company than my employer) in the building we share that “something happened,” and advised them to armor up and travel with his crew back inside the berm.

I rousted D (the only other US occupant of our side of the building) and told him put a mag in his 9-mil and stash his IBA by the console; I put my own IBA and M-4 under my desk, then went around to find Hamadi, the straw-boss riding herd on the Afghan HVAC crew renovating our building. Based on the scrambling that happened the last time we were told to bug out, I figured I’d better give him a head start on getting his guys out of the crawlspace under the roof and giving everyone time to clean up.

Sure enough, a half-hour later, two of my security buds came charging in, hollering “Everybody out!”
Everybody would be me, D, Hamadi, and the Afghan sheetmetal-benders still folding ladders or washing up in the latrine.

“What’s up?”

“Spring offensive. They hit the American and Brit Embassies with RPGs, and a couple of suiciders have gone boom.”

“What’s the drill, do we egress in fire teams out the fence to the Berm Gate?”

The Berm Gate is 75 meters from the gate to the AIU compound where we work – bear that in mind…

“Naw, Berm Gate’s on lockdown – secure the building and head up to ops.”

Five minutes later, I’d armored up and finished sweeping the building for strays and D had coordinated times for meeting Hamadi to let him know when we’d be back to open the building (“Inshallah, tomorrow morning.”). I killed the lights, shooed two last-minute footwashers put of the latrine, gave Hamdi a 12-pack of water to distribute to his crew, and D and I went up to ops to get briefed on the evac.

“Oh, good – you have a long gun. That makes three.”

I didn’t like the sound of that.

So. we sat around for a half hour with fifty of our fellow contractor parasites, waiting for the Air Force to call and tell us The Plan.

Item: The morning intel brief contained a short mention that the Haqqani were offering 500,000 Pak rupees to anyone who killed a US contractor in Af-stan. Even with the lousy exchange rate, that’s a pretty good offer.

Item: The last bugout coordinated by the Air Force was obviously – to us – a debacle-in-the-making. Said the E-7 who drove into our area to ride herd on us: “Okay, everybody will move through the ANA compound (we were bugging out because intel suspected one of the ANA was a suicide bomber) to the side nearest those unsecured hills overlooking the area and form up in this big open parade ground…” – the theory evidently being that any sniper up there would be so overwhelmed by the sheer number of potential targets that he’d suffer a nervous breakdown before he could actually pull the trigger.

Before anyone in official USAF tiger cammies could get a headcount going, every single Army and Marine vet within earshot had exfiltrated between the stacks of Conexes, rotor blade shipping crates, and trashed Mi-17 transmissions, scooted the 75 meters from our area to the Berm Gate, and had already finished chow by the time our compatriots under USAF protection made it back inside the wire.

So, putting the Berm Gate on lockdown this time countered any ideas we may have had of repeating that tactic. However, if it looked like it was ginning up to be a re-run of the last fiasco, I planned to go through the flightline gate on the ANA side, walk down the Afghan Police ramp to the cargo terminal, and then enter the compound by the front door. And I have all the passes and ID cards to do that.

Plus the Afghan cops know me by sight – I *am* the guy who teaches them instrument flying, after all.

Surprise! The Air Force called and told us to report to *their* compound, which is full of MRAPs and armored SUVs, and was nicely protected from direct fire by Iraq-sized T-walls. It’s also a half-mile walk from the AIU compound, and *not* in the direction of the Berm Gate…

And there we waited, while drivers drew straws for *soft-skinned* vans and pick-‘em-up trucks.

For two hours.

Item: I got an AAR from a survivor of the previous bugout the day after. It seems the Air Force method of convoy security is to bunch all the vehicles together, on the theory that a car-bomber or an IED triggerman will be presented with such a plethora of targets that he’ll be lost in the throes of decision-making and suffer a nervous breakdown before etc., etc.

Pleasant surprise – the vehicles actually maintained a proper interval as we left the protection of the T-walls and traveled at rapid speed for all of two minutes to get dropped off right in front of –

*koff*

-- the Berm Gate.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Latest word from a couple of the MITT guys who got told to get back inside the wire is that there’s some smoke columns and noise in Kabul proper, but not much activity in the outskirts – two suiciders were spotted a mile from their bailiwick and one suffered a premature detonation after he was shot; the other one decided surrender was a viable option. The Kabul Star Hotel was still on fire, last I heard, and all the restaurants and bazaars are locked up tight, but casualties (mostly attackers, police, and security guards) are fairly light. The MITT Lootenant said that he only knew there were firefights going on because his ‘terp called him to see if he’d gotten inside the wire, and he heard some pops as background noise. At about 1740, we were treated to the klaxon and Giant Voice’s Dalek-impersonator announcing we were under attack, followed almost immediately by the “All Clear” siren.

Meanwhile, the Talib only have so many rounds and so many RPGs, and when they’re gone, they’ll scoot back into the hills, minus probably a couple of dozen shooters and bombers. They’ll lose some more on the way – there’s a light fire team of Mangustas up, and the crews *do* have NVGs.

But what do you want to bet the media will play it up as “the worst US defeat since Tet”…?



13 Comments

Glad Bill's okay.  Looks like some "fire drill" practice is called for.  Could'a been an even worse "cloister volk".
 
And our reason for still being there, other than keeping contractors from adding to the ginormous unemployment numbers back home, is........?

Glad Bill is okay, but I no longer see the value in risking his butt endlessly just because we have been there for 10 years and Karzai and gang have not yet stolen everything they can. 

Time to come home, and let the locals resume whatever intramural unpleasantness we have temporarily interrupted.  We know that is the inevitable end state, the only thing in question is when.
 
I agree with John (Not the Armorer), and would add that when we leave, we stop all monies going to the Karzai government, too.

It's long past time to let them stew in their own juice.
 
Could not agree more John, NTA.

Saw the same crap forty years ago, cannot believe we are doing it again.
 
 Good for Bill! The actions of teh Air Farce, however, do not surprise me. Letting them fly airplanes without adult supervision is a risk I can do without. Bring back the Army Air Corps.
 
Good solution, Quartermaster. Relevant, related to the issue at hand, and based on years of professional experience...or not.
 
...so that those of us who have not been downrange during the current unpleasantness can hear what a fobbit hears when the fecal matter is spraying downstream from the fan.

Literally. The sigh-reen gets outside the wire, but the specifics -- ground or rocket attack -- is inaudible on this side. Which makes life interesting trying to access the Berm Gate turnstile -- I've been stopped (by a squeaky voice from the intercom box outside the gate) 
1. during a rocket attack warning and told to take cover, and the only bunkers are *inside* the gate, and
2. during a ground attack warning and told that I had to unload and clear my weapons -- into a clearing barrel -- *before* going through the turnstile, and the clearing barrels are *inside* the gate.

Saw the same crap forty years ago, cannot believe we are doing it again.

I saw it too, but I'm seeing it on this go-around from the advisor's side -- it's...interesting...
 
 Bill: You're awesome.

Geee...there's been a 'Sping Offensive' every year since I've been going there. The best was when they tried to 'Tet' Kandahar City in 2011 and got their assess handed to them. It only offends the people who have to clean it up.... The Afghans are so used to this that they have whatever the war version of compassion fatigue is. Wait. That didn't come out right.
 
 Panther - based on years of personal observation, and quite relevant. Perhaps you haven't read many of my posts. I grew up with teh Air Farce. My father was an AF retiree, so I have spent a great deal of time around the AF. That I chose the Navy because I wanted to go to sea for a bit, then chose the Army for flight training says, I think, all that needs to be said on my opinion of the AF.
 
BillT, about the fecal matter versus fan issue, didn't you forget something? It sounds something like this, "It's a ceiling fan, everybody gets sprayed. This is *true equal opportunity and no elitists!*.

QM, All of the branches have their own dirty laundry, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and yes, the Air Force. Time will tell the whole story.

Sean Maloney, I think y'all did just fine. I think the Afghas and Paks are playing us like a fine Stradivarius Violin.
 
 All true Grumpy, but it really doesn't mean much. The AF problems I allude to have been present since 1947. Those problems have, quite likely caused the deaths of troops too. They are problems that have been around since the creation of the Army Air Force from the Air Corps. The JOs are OK, but when you get up to Squadron Commanders and higher, the problems manifest. Most of it is caused by them getting their back up and not wanting to fulfill their obligations to the Army. The C-27 fiasco is just the latest manifestation of the trouble.
 
Time to pull out. *Everything* that we ever buildt. Don't leave so much
as a bent nail behind. Then have a nuclear "mad minute". Launch for
effect, expend all warheads.

 
"...based on years of personal observation, and quite relevant. Perhaps you haven't read many of my posts. I grew up with teh Air Farce. My father was an AF retiree, so I have spent a great deal of time around the AF. That I chose the Navy because I wanted to go to sea for a bit, then chose the Army for flight training says, I think, all that needs to be said on my opinion of the AF."

OK, based on that logic, since I spent a lot of time around my dad, who was a dentist, I know one hell of a lot about dentistry. So, next time you need a root canal, Quartermaster, feel free to call me. My rates are quite reasonable. I can do them either orally or rectally, your choice.

As far as Squadron Commanders go, well, been there, done that (FYI, that's the "01" part of my callsign, but you probably knew that, based on your USAF experience)...I didn't kill anyone in the process (not physically, anyway). 

Not wanting to fill our "obligations to the Army?" *sigh*

Frankly, I think you're secretly jealous of us...;)