Sunday, July 19, 2009

American 'colossus' helicopters into Helmand

a href=""Sunday Telegraph:/abr /br /blockquotep Americans now occupy the ramshackle grounds of a 300-year-old fort in Khan Neshin, on a bend of the Helmand River Valley known as the Fishhook. /ppIt is far beyond anywhere their British allies ever managed to control; the Taliban's black-turbaned fighters are nowhere to be seen, although none of the battle-hardened Americans - part of a force which has flooded into Helmand with the US surge - expects them to stay quiet for long./ppThe US military colossus has moved into Afghanistan's most dangerous and turbulent province, moving troops, aircraft and armoured vehicles in numbers which British commanders could only dream of through their years of frustrating battle against a determined and deadly enemy./ppThe arrival of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade two months ago has put 10,000 United States Marines alongside 4,000 British soldiers./ppThe Marines have brought with them their own fleet of more than 50 helicopters and Harrier jets, and the US Army has also sent a combat aviation brigade of 60 to 80 more aircraft to southern Afghanistan./ppAfter three years of overstretched British forces, desperately short of "air", officers describe their arrival as "game changing"./ppThe well-supplied Americans are in stark contrast to their British brothers-in-arms, whose shortages of armoured vehicles and helicopters are the subject of political arguments at home /ppBritish operations like the current Panther's Claw have only been possible because of the influx of US helicopters which are shared with other nations./ppThe surge is changing the nature of the war in Helmand in many ways; at Camp Bastion, the billion pound British base constructed in the middle of the Helmand desert, few of the helicopters that land in relays amid clouds of dust are now British./ppThe fleets of helicopters have changed the way the war is being fought./ppWhen 350 men of the Black Watch landed in a Taliban stronghold at the start of the operation, they would ideally have had 12 Chinook helicopters to carry them in, but they had to make do with less./pp.../ppAs well as their helicopters, the Marines have bought huge mine resistant trucks, designed to protect them from the roadside bombs which cause most coalition casualties./ppCompared to the hulking Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) trucks, Marines marvel at the puny-looking British armour. Even compared to the smaller US vehicles, they say British armoured turrets look vulnerable./pp.../ppThe most hardened fighters, including foreign jihadists, are being held in reserve, the Americans believe. One military source said: "Their good fighters, their foreign fighters, the guys they have trained, they don't want them to meet the Marines, because they invariably get killed./pp"The guys they pick up off the street to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) - they are all about throwing those into the fight./ppWhenever they choose to fight us they get killed. The best way they can attack us is IEDs."/ //p/blockquoteThere is more gear envy and it is justified. The Brits have been wasting money on social programs rather than providing for their troops in harms way and those troops have had to pay a price in blood for that stinginess. The Marines not only have the gear, but they also have an aggressive fighting style that tends to rock the enemy on his heels even if they decide to stick around an watch what happens. I think they will continue aggressive patrolling in the area they are occupying.div class="blogger-post-footer"img width='1' height='1' src=''//div

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