Thursday, April 22, 2010


by Mohammed Daud Miraki

With the long awaited decision by the Obama Administration in regards to the new strategy for Afghanistan, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated to the point that the US commanders started using the word ‘defeat’ in their report to Washington. The word defeat has rarely been uttered by military; however, Afghanistan is the exception, where defeat is a realistic outcome. There, defeat is a reality that all invaders have faced since the beginning when Pashtuns have inhabited this region. The Pashtuns’ resistance is one of multiple factors characterizing the Anatomy of US’s Defeat in Afghanistan, where the inevitability of defeat for the US and NATO appears to be a certainty.

American Military underestimated the Afghans (Pashtuns)

When the American troops landed in Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan, they were confident that the defeat of the Taliban and take over of Afghanistan was inevitable. Their behavior was typically American characterized with excessive over confidence totally oblivious of Afghan history. Characteristically, they did not expect to suffer significant casualties either; however, much to their dismay, American causality has become quite apparent The overconfidence of American military was detailed by a reporter of IWPR:

“…in October when the Americans began deploying at the airport,
they were gung-ho, telling their Uzbek counterparts that it would take no more than a month and a half to defeat the Taliban…”

The report continues:

“Uzbek army personnel working at the air base said scores of US casualties have been arriving there. From November 25 to Decemeber [sic] 2, an Uzbek orderly working with American medical staff said he had witnessed the arrival of four to five US helicopters - carrying between them 10-15 American casualties - each day.”

The wounded soldiers that had returned from Afghanistan were frustrated by the sudden change in their self-perceived invincibility. The frustrations of the wounded soldiers on the base played out in daily occurrences of shouting and name-callings. These were the same soldiers that had heroic mentality before entering Afghanistan.

Similar experiences were reported in other parts of Afghanistan. For example, during operation Anaconda in 2002, America had used massive firepower to subdue a Taliban Commander Saifu-r-Rahman Mansoor in Shah-e-Kot in Southeastern Afghanistan. The Americans thought they could destroy the Afghan resistance by having superior air-power. They learned this to be more a wishful thinking. In the days of the fighting, Pentagon made various extravagant claims of having destroyed Mansoor’s defenses and killing more than a thousand (1000) Taliban fighters. The facts were otherwise. The US forces went to the battle with a heroic mind set, but they were bitterly surprised when they sustained heavy losses and had lost 16 helicopters ranging from Apaches to Chinooks. The escalation reached a point of no return when 22 American Special Forces were caught alive. The heavy losses coupled with the captured soldiers started to take its toll on the US forces until March 10, 2002 when General Tommy Frank decided to pull back 400 troops to Bagram. The official explanation was that the conflict had ended for the most part while media reported that the troops suffered from battle fatigue. The truth was that the pull back was an attempt at building confidence aimed at convincing Taliban that American military is serious in seeking the release of the 22 Special Forces Commandos. The Taliban Commander, Maulana Mansoor demanded the release of all captives held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the 22 Special Forces soldiers.

Meanwhile, as the US forces encountered stiff resistance, it claimed to be fighting against a force of 1000 fighters when in reality there were 100 Afghan fighters, 120 Uzbek, and 30 Arab fighters. The US claimed to have killed 700 of 1000 Taliban/Al-Qaida fighters:

“U.S. military spokesmen estimate 700 out of roughly 1,000 Islamic extremists have been killed in the past nine days of fighting, which has cost the lives of eight Americans and three allied Afghans.”

The number of Taliban and foreign fighters killed stood at 88 (mostly Uzbek including 8 Arabs) while the number of US, British and others were much higher. Different media sources reported different numbers in regards to US losses. For example, the Russian online newspaper Strana.Ru on April 8, 2002, reported that the US lost 100 Special Forces and four Apache helicopters. However, data obtained from the battlefield put the casualty figure at 228 killed. From this figure 186 Americans killed in the battle, 22 prisoners executed when the US refused to release Guantanamo prisoners and 20 British SAS were killed when their vehicles were ambushed. The 186 killed Americans included those that were on-board helicopters. The total number of helicopters shot was 16 out of which two Chinook and 6 Apaches were totally destroyed and the remaining crash landed. The Canadians and Australians killed were reported as victims of friendly fire.

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