To thwart militants in Afghanistan from planting roadside bombs, or IEDs, US soldiers are pleading with locals to alert them to threats. Air surveillance can be too imprecise and approval for airstrikes too slow in coming.
COMBAT OUTPOST JFM, AFGHANISTAN
The metal detector was almost off the scale.
In front of a dusty track lay a five-foot-wide crater where an Afghan farmer had been killed by a roadside bomb. Scrap metal used for shrapnel was buried everywhere.
For the United States and coalition soldiers fighting theTaliban, every civilian the insurgents kill adds weight to the argument they repeat over and over: “The solution is to make the Taliban go away,” Lt. Mark Morrison, a US platoon leader from Albany, N.Y., deployed in southern Afghanistan, told villagers. “That way you won’t be in danger, and I won’t be in danger.” Read the rest of this entry »
Villagers are threatened with beheading if they inform on the Taliban
The four men digging on the road exploded silently. The video feed from a US helicopter gunship showed a volley of rockets dispatching them with brutal efficiency. Under the cover of darkness they had been planting an improvised explosive device (IED) on a route used recently by American soldiers.
It was a rare success in the battle against the Taliban bomb-makers, responsible for so many coalition casualties in Afghanistan. They were, perhaps, the kind of men that may eventually, if the peace plan approved in London actually works, accept Western money to come off the battlefield and turn instead to working on a farm or be trained for a job.
For now, the emphasis of the Nato campaign remains firmly fixed on preventing civilian casualties. The problem is that insurgents laying IEDs are usually long gone before soldiers get confirmation of all the criteria needed to order an attack. Read the rest of this entry »