Today, US, Canadian and Afghan forces continue confronting the Taliban on its home ground under mind boggling conditions.
Today,they raided a known Taliban base in Uruzgan province, southwest of Kabul and took out 8 Taliban fighters and captured 6 taking it. The fight took place in the village of Bagh-e Yosof, northwest of Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan's Shahidi district, the military said. The allied forces outmaneuvered enemy fighters in a cave complex...pretty impressive, when you consider that the enemey knew those caves so well.
A search of the compound resulted in the discovery of major weapons cache containing AK-47s, rocket propelled grenades and two machine guns. According to US sources, the compound had been used as a meeting place and workshop for Taliban improvised explosive device makers and facilitators to conduct terrorist operations against coalition forces.
Yesterday, four U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division were killed, and another was wounded, when the U.S.-led coalition yesterday attacked and drove off enemy forces in a remote area of Nuristan province's Kamdesh district. The wounded soldier was evacuated to a coalition hospital, and is in a stable condition, according to the military.
In a seperate battle, in the Sangin district of Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, six insurgents were killed in an operation yesterday near the village of Hydarabad on the east side of the Helmand River.
The success our guys have had is little short of miraculous.
By night, the troops dig in againstTaliban mortar attacks. Daytime hours are taken up by lugging heavy gear and weaponry over rocky ledges in scorching heat and in attacking the enemy on their home ground. This battle is taking place in one of the planet's harshest environments.
Taliban forces have controlled this area for a very long time. Only some small cacti survive in daytime temperatures hovering around 110 degrees in this rocky brown desert.
Too much sun and limited water have resulted in some troops giving each other IVs to prevent dehydration. An IV is the fastest way to rehydrate in this kind of environment.
Resupply is a major effort.
Yesterday, dozens of soldiers and one donkey, rented for $10, lugged more than 7,000 pounds of food and water from the Baghran valley floor to the mountaintop ridge where units of the Tenth Mountain division are dug in.The supplies had been air-dropped by coalition aircraft because no helicopters were available to deliver it closer.
The extra supplies meant that the troops get 12 bottles of water to drink per day, instead of getting by on five or six as they had been. They also now have two MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) per day, instead of the one they'd been limited to earlier.
Temperatures at night drop only to the 80s, too hot for tents, so the troops sleep under the stars.
Here are a few quotes from the troops caught by the imbedded AP reporters to give you the flavor of this campaign from the men who are fighting it....
"I am hungry, thirsty and dirty. Welcome to my world," said Sgt. 1st Class Gonzalo Lassally, 31, of Deltona, Florida.
Lassally had a friend administer an IV on Tuesday, leaving bloody trails on his arms. He said he felt "refreshed" afterward.
"As much as the Army sucks, I still love it," Lassally says. "When you get put into situations like these, you don't sweat the little stuff anymore."
Spc. David Valdiva of Altaloma, California is red in the face from exertion, soaked in sweat and looking near collapse as he lugs 90 pounds of gear, including a 30-pound machine gun. "It's an honor to carry the gun," he says. "I'm just not doing too good today because of the minimal food and water."
"I hate this place. You can drop the devil here and he'd hate it," said Staff Sgt. Brian Rice, 39, of Eugene, Ore.
Company commander Capt. Jared Wilson, 28, of Petaluma, California: "Does it suck carrying all that stuff? Roger that. They don't show that in Hollywood. They don't show you getting dehydrated."
According the AP reporters,in spite of the heat and the incredibly hard conditions, the troops are gratified to be taking the fight to the enemy and proud of their successes.
I'm pretty proud of them too.
Al Qaeda and the Taliban, of course, are trying to win with propaganda what they can't win on the ground.
The number-two leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al Zawahiri, put out a three-minute videotape posted on the Internet yesterday aimed at inflaming Afghans agains the foreign military presence. The terrorist uberfuhrer said, "I direct my speech today to my Muslim brothers in Kabul who lived the bitter events yesterday and saw by their own eyes a new proof of the criminal acts of the American forces," Zawahiri declared. He urged Afghans to revolt against "the infidel forces that are invading Muslim lands."
Hopefully he didn't try to handle any machine guns in the video....
Afghan President Hamid Kharzai called Zawahiri `an enemy of Afghanistan and the world' after the video was posted in a press conference yesterday. He also said the coalition needs to find a better way to tackle terrorism in Afghanistan, or the West will "suffer again," according to Agence France-Presse. He said the international community needs to focus on disarming terrorists by cutting off sources of money.
"I strongly believe ...that we must engage strategically in disarming terrorism by stopping their sources of supply of money, training, equipment and motivation," Karzai said.
This is undoubtedly a reference to Pakistan...and probably Iran and others as well.