Monday, 12 November 2007

Taking on the Taleban -The Soldiers' Story

A BBC Panorama special, a reporter follows the Queen's company to Afghanistan. Part 1 of 6 below. While opswarfare salutes the British troops for their bravery in fighting, the way it is fighting the Taleban seems low-tech and indecisive. I hope those reading this will pardon me as I point out where the British Army can move to the next level.
  • Holding ground virtually
    • This was mentioned, at least twice in the programme.
    • The lack of manpower means that the troops cannot safely defend their new position
    • Recommend that the British troops place ground sensors to at least help monitor enemy troops movement in lieu of holding ground
  • Close air-support, UAV-style
    • Conventional air-strikes take too long to call and deliver
    • A loitering platform, like the Reaper that the UK is getting, can help detect, monitor, and eliminate enemy forces
    • Smaller bombs, like the Small Diameter Bomb (with a payload of 250lb) is the order of the day, providing precision killing with little collateral damage
    • Smaller bombs also mean that they can be dropped while friendly friendly troops are very close by and being pinned down by enemy fire
  • Night vision
    • Firing at night without a night sight is frankly quite wasteful (and dangerous)
    • This was seen towards the end when the outpost at Sangin was attacked
    • Night vision also gives an extra edge by providing the commander with more options when deciding the time of attack, thus causing the enemy more problems as he cannot easily predict the time of battle
  • Armour platform
    • Armoured vehicles provide 3 advantages
    • Firepower
      • A 25mm Bushmaster (or even a 0.5-inch HMG) provides great suppressive fire
      • A 40mm AGL allows for accurate indirect fire over the low mud walls in Helmand
    • Mobility
      • Troops energy levels are preserved by patrolling in vehicles instead of foot patrols
    • Protection
      • Slat armour has proven itself relatively well against RPG attacks
However, there are positive points to take away from the operations seen
    • One portion in the video suggest that the ANA managed to listen in to Taleban radio communications
    • There are many ways to take advantage
      • Direction-finding
      • Jamming
      • Fake communications
  • Close-cooperation
    • The British Army and Afghan National Army seemed to work well together, this is crucial as the Coalition cannot be there forever
    • This on-the-job training bodes well for the future

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