April 28, 2007


US aircrews show Taliban no mercy (Gethin Chamberlain in Kandahar, 29/04/2007, Sunday Telegraph)

Caught in the middle of the Helmand river, the fleeing Taliban were paddling their boat back to shore for dear life.

Smoke from the ambush they had just sprung on American special forces still hung in the air, but their attention was fixed on the two helicopter gunships that had appeared above them as their leader, the tallest man in the group, struggled to pull what appeared to be a burqa over his head.

As the boat reached the shore, Captain Larry Staley tilted the nose of the lead Apache gunship downwards into a dive. One of the men turned to face the helicopter and sank to his knees. Capt Staley's gunner pressed the trigger and the man disappeared in a cloud of smoke and dust.

By the time the gunships had finished, 21 minutes later, military officials say 14 Taliban were confirmed dead, including one of their key commanders in Helmand.

The mission is typical of a new, aggressive, approach adopted by American forces in southern Afghanistan and particularly in Helmand, where British troops last year bore the brunt of some of the heaviest fighting since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

American commanders believe that the uncompromising use of airpower in recent weeks has been a key factor in preventing the Taliban from launching their expected full-scale spring offensive against coalition forces and forcing them to rethink their tactics.

Aircrews say they have been told to show no mercy, but to press home their advantage until all their targets have been destroyed.

Just wait 'til the feared Afghan winter sets in.....

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2007 9:06 PM

Just wait 'til the feared Afghan winter sets in.....

Thank Al Gore for global warming.

Posted by: ic at April 29, 2007 12:01 AM

"A new, aggressive, approach"? Better late than never, I guess.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 29, 2007 12:12 AM

That's something to put into the Al Qaeda recruitment brochures: "Your last act might be desperately putting on women's clothing."

Posted by: Just John at April 29, 2007 2:00 AM

"Aircrews say they have been told to show no mercy, but to press home their advantage until all their targets have been destroyed."

So that wasn't the instruction before this?

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 29, 2007 7:08 AM

I'll bet when the American media thinks of helicopters, their first thought is of bloody soldiers being evac'ed from rice paddies. Or of air shots from Most Dramatic Police Chases.

The NATO forces in Afghanistan should start distributing burqas with microchips and infra-red markings in them. It might speed up the hunt.

Posted by: ratbert at April 29, 2007 7:12 AM

Someone get the Feared Afghan Winter a GPS. It keeps making a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ending up in New England.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at April 29, 2007 1:37 PM