Of C-Wire and Hescos

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I just want to be clear (and perhaps I should have posted the full excerpt or the link to the report) but the Soldiers at COP Kahler and OP Topside did use claymores in their defense and had built well thought out defenseive barriers and wire.

The 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company leadership made the best possible utilization of Class IV (construction materials) assets available at Wanat. All available Concertina wire was installed, and all available concertina stakes and poles were utilized. All available HESCOs were emplaced, and based upon limitations of the construction equipment available at Wanat (a single Bobcat with bulldozer blade that ran out of gas on July 11th and 12th) all available HESCOs were filled to the maximum extent possible. All available sandbags were maximized. All available weapon systems were positioned with established fields of fire and range cards. With the exception of weapons systems either suppressed or destroyed by the ACM, all weapon systems had been emplaced such that they could be successfully employed during the engagement. Available hand tools were maximized, and given the tools available the positions were excavated to the greatest depth feasible.

And on the use of claymores, it wasn't that they didn't use them, it's that they didn't use them effectively...

Insufficient numbers of Claymore mines were positioned to control the dead ground to the north, east and south of OP Topside (only four Claymores were thus employed). At OP Topside the Claymore mines were simply placed atop the ground. Claymore mines were properly tested by the soldiers, and the three Claymore mines whose wires were not damaged functioned correctly. Claymore mines were only emplaced after darkness at OP Topside, which was an effective TTP. However, the limited numbers and failure to have overlapping Claymore fields of fire is evidence that Claymores were not employed to their maximum effectiveness at OP Topside. Of the four Claymore Anti-Personnel mines emplaced at OP Topside at Wanat, one of them had its wires severed by a nearby RPG detonation, rendering it unusable. A second Claymore was either knocked over by the RPG detonations, fell over for some other reason, or was deliberately turned around by the ACM. There was no way for the defenders of OP Topside to know that this Claymore mine had either fallen over or been tampered with. The other two Claymore mines functioned as intended, and at least one killed an ACM insurgent in the act of crossing the wire.

And this is sort of along the point of what Byron, atacms and Mat are getting at in their comments on the previous post...Afghanistan is tactically more like Vietnam than Iraq ever was (at least eastern Afghanistan is) and I was talking to a source about this yesterday...time to dust off the old school firebase defense plans and agressive patrolling and search and destroy missions, maybe. If you couple that with a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy that's well resourced not incremental, then we might be able to eek one out.

And for those of you questioning the leadership and training (as I did a bit), here's another thing the official history (draft) said:

2nd Platoon leadership maintained high standards of discipline within the platoon. Numerous candid photographs taken by soldiers at COP Kahler from 9-12 July do not evince a single instance of soldiers being out of proper uniform, or not wearing their personal protective equipment. CONOP Rock Move came at the end of a 15-month deployment, but no degradation of discipline could be documented, or was reported by members of the platoon. Rigid adherence to high standards of discipline, to particularly include the stand-to measures that permitted the platoon to successfully withstand the determined attack, reflect great credit upon the leadership of 2nd Platoon and Chosen Company. Stand To at 04:00 (approx 75 minutes before BMNT) resulted in the garrison of COP Kahler being alert, awake, all defensive positions were fully manned, and all soldiers were fully equipped and armed prior to attack being launched. This standard defensive measure, first documented by Major Robert Rogers of Rogers Rangers in 1755, and meticulously implemented by 2nd Platoon leadership, prevented disaster.

I leave you with that for now...I'll have more on the weapons issue later this afternoon...

-- Christian

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