Afghanistan: the Taliban sends a message

by Richard North

Note: I am minded of these lines from Kipling:

I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

Afghanistan: the Taliban sends a messagemastiff-in-ndas.jpg

It was bound to happen sooner or later – and now it has. Soldiers have been killed – three of them – after a Mastiff protected patrol vehicle had been hit by an IED. Variously, between six and eight others are said to be injured.

Reports are patchy, but the fullest – if not necessarily the most accurate – account seems to be offered by the Mail, which describes the 27-ton vehicle as the “15-tonne Mastiff”, two short of the Daily Express, which gives it 17 tons, ten short of the actual empty weight of the Mastiff II.

The vehicle was travelling in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province. Some reports have it that the vehicle was specifically searching for IEDs, which is unlikely. That is the role of the Buffalo. And while some Mastiffs are deployed with bomb disposal, these would hardly be carrying solders from the Royal Highland Fusiliers 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland – the unit of those who died.

Many of the media reports attest that the vehicle was hit by a very large bomb – “one of the biggest roadside bombs ever used in Afghanistan”, says the Express. The blast is said to have been so powerful that it hurled the vehicle “several metres” into the air, flipping it onto its roof as it crashed to the ground.

There is agreement in reports that the vehicle was driving on a tarmacked road, which suggests that the bomb could well have been a culvert bomb. This is a classic terrorist technique, commonly employed by the Taliban, and very large bombs have already been experienced – with the threat to mine-protected vehicles identified in 2008.

As early as June 2009, three Danish soldiers were killed in a Mercedes “jeep”, from a such device, estimated at 350Kg weight but, in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, bombs of 1,000lb were used, one of which took out a Saracen APC near Crossmaglen on 9 October 1975.

Ostensibly, this incident vindicates the “bigger bomb” crowd – that vociferous group of critics who opposed the introduction of the Mastiff, on the grounds that the enemy would simply respond by using larger devices, which indeed they have.

However, it has taken seven years – the period the Mastiff has been in service – finally for the terrorists to overcome the formidable defences provided by the Mastiff, and even then this is not the end of the story.

One of the points of using better protection is the very fact that you then force the enemy to use “bigger bombs”. This means they are riskier to transport, they take longer to place, increasing the chances of detection, and the number of suitable placement sites is reduce – also assisting detection.

With that, detection technology has considerably advanced since the IRA scourge of 1975 and multiple techniques are now available and it is fair to say that, given the will and determination, incidents such as this current one, are eminently preventable – not least through imaginative use of UAV technology, including change detection, using video mapping.

Absent from any current reports is any speculation as to why this vehicle was caught out. However, even standard route clearance techniques should have been able to pick up a bomb this size – assuming that a culvert denial programme was not in place – which may suggest that British forces have dropped the ball. Questions might be asked as to whether complacency had set in, or simply not enough resources were being devoted to force protection.

At this late stage in the campaign, though, it is unlikely that there will be any great outcry as there was with Snatch Land Rovers, especially as the bulk of troops are due to be withdrawn next year.

Despite that, this incident does have an importance that transcends even the immediate tragedy of young lives cut short. In targeting the Mastiff, and successfully taking one out, the Taliban is sending a message to the people of Afghanistan.

Effectively, they are proving that they can overcome the best that the West has to offer, demonstrating their power and the impotence of the “infidels”. And although news of this incident will disappear quickly from the British press, one suspects that the message will not be lost elsewhere: when the infidels leave, they will be leaving as a defeated force.


4 responses to “Afghanistan: the Taliban sends a message

  1. I too read this report with some surprise and horror. This is supposed to be a rather good vehicle, and so the “device” must have been (a) large and (b) very nearby. One problem which nobody seems to address, at all, however, is where these bastards are getting their gear from, all the time. Even IEDs, while not exactly rocket science, are not something that an ordinary goatmunching old towelhead hill-farmer can set up and use easily. They are also expensive, relatively speaking, compared with AK47s or Molotov Cocktails.

    Someone, or some state, is supplying _big ordnance_ to the fucking bastards. I suspect Pakistan, as the proximal accessory, but even that has to watch its arse, and is nominally a pluralist democracy.

    Now, I know Libertarians are supposed to be opposed to war. I was initially in favour of going into both Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq, without question: the murdering fascist Nazi bastard Saddam _did_ have WmDs (the Polish continget found them, and were threatened by the French goverment ( which supplied these) with “non-acceptance into the EU” if they grassed (on the French”). So the Polish general promptly was ordered by his government to “unfind” the said chemically-armed missiles, which had also a delivery date on them of not long before. (It was later leaked that this was a “service by” date, which makes them older, as if that mattered.)

    it was right to go into Iraq, but perhaps we didn’t get things right at first. I am now convinced by Sean Gabb’s arguments that the “Afghan War” was certainly a wrong turning for us. I am not so sure about Iraq: we should have gone in, hung Saddam ourselves – or preferably have had him shot in public (so everyone could see) to make a point, and then left. He was a mass murderer: end of story.

    And people whom the BBC persistently refers to as “insurgents” are really GramscoStaliNazi Catspaws, and therefore to be brown-nosed regardless. I firmly believe that “insurgents” were and are being “put in, by states who do not have the West’s best interests at heart, specifically to hurt us, make us look like defeated prats, and give aid and comfort to our more real, more mortal cultural enemies, at home, here.

    I don’t think we really needed to be in Afghanistan. True: we’d have needed to “go in” to “service” that Mr Bin-Liner, but we certainly could have got the Israelis to do it probably much cheaper and more cleanly and quietly, and without any international BBC fussing and outcry. We might have had to promise Israel that we would certainly shut-down the BBC permanently, but “Paris is Worth a Mass”.

    However, now we are “there”, and “we’re there because we’re there because we’re there because we’re there”, one can’t just upsticks and “leave a war” because it has got boring, expensive in lives and treasure, and politically a millstone round our necks at home. There are two exit strategies from any war (any at all). These are called Victory and Defeat. Like the Irishman when asked the way, I would say “if I were you I’d not be starting from here!” But since we are where we are, the ought to be only one thing to do….

    IF the “insurgents” are native, and only native, it ought to be possible to use quite normal 19th-century-Prussian-Army techniques to smoke out the bastards. These are very, very nasty, they do involve some death, and are awful, and provoke “monuments” full of other uninvolved countries’ flags sometimes. But all war is nasty and awful, and these techniques were developed for a clear political and strategic purpose – to immediately cleanse a population where you want to execute some political shift favourable to yourself, of _all_ the elements within it that might later cause trouble, through fear and terror.

    I suspect that in Afghanistan, though, this situation does not hold, and it’s this Taliban fellow who is using Prussian-evolved fear-and-terror-techniques, which is how he can get away with moving half-ton-bombs about and placing them where he knows an enemy vehicle will soon pass (you can’t leave such abomb there that long…), and nobody saying anything at all beforehand. If I am right, then as this Taliban man is few on the ground, and can’t be everywhere at once, then someone from outside is helping him. The “usual suspects”, who would have the motive and the physical means, are of course any other StaliNazi regime, or else an “ordinary” one currently acutely infected and debilitated by StaliNazim internally, such as Pakistan. I’m not fingering Pakistan directly, since I’m sure its government would like to be out of any soplights, but it is sort of just over the fence and also loves making trouble for India (just over the other fence.)

    The question is then raised as to what to do about “third party states” who are involved in that they “seek to influence the strategic position in their defined battle zone”. I don’t think it’s Russia or China: both need our money far too much to want to look like they want to hurt us.

    Then there’s France: the French Political-EnemyClass has never forgiven us, ever, for washing and then drying their soiled nappies twice, against people who they secretly admire for technocratic reasons, and want most of all to be like. They’d also sell fireworks to anybody and his uncle, since their defence-sales-industry and the state-fingers behind it do not even jib an inch at seeing the cost of the very prettiest tart(s) (as many as the fella says he’d like, all together if wanted, AND that villa for a week, or two) on the planet, when set against a $20-billion order that’ll keep all their Algerian immigant workers quiet for a bit longer.

    So who is giving us this grief then, and what ought we to do, before leaving?


  2. They have good access to explosives, IED’s are not that difficult for a mountain man to make, they simply blow the vehicle clean off the ground
    by being located directly under it. a couple of barrels of gunpowder would
    have a similar effect, even if Guy Faulks lit it with his pipe.

  3. Of course it could be argued the IED’s used by the IRA in the 60’s were more
    advanced, remember the barrack busters, they got to the stage where they
    were very advanced bomb makers, some could not be defused, point of

  4. Of course it could be argued, that the bombs used during the second world war where far more avdvanced, but in saying that the primitive IED is still leathal, the Japanese air force had some very advanced bombs during the second world war, they could hole the deck of a ship, a timer would kick in and detonate the main charge, remember this hit the deck at about 180 MPH entered the lower decks, the timers were shock proof, the bombs ended up where they would do maxium damged, the germans also had various serach and destroy torpedos, fire and dive, or fire underwater for that matter. The IED’s are really stone age, but they still work, you can still kill an animal for dinner with a bow and arrow.