The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.
The deployment of a company of M1 Abrams tanks, which will be fielded by the marines in the country’s southwest, will allow ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance – and with more of a lethal punch – than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm main gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.
Despite an overall counterinsurgency strategy that emphasizes the use of troops to protect Afghan civilians from insurgents, statistics released by the NATO military command in Kabul and interviews with several senior commanders indicate that U.S. troop operations over the past two months have been more intense and have had a harder edge than at any point since the initial 2001 drive to oust the Taliban government.
The pace of Special Operations missions to kill or capture Taliban leaders has more than tripled over the past three months. U.S. and NATO aircraft unleashed more bombs and missiles in October – 1,000 total – than in any single month since 2001. In the districts around the southern city of Kandahar, Soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division have demolished dozens of homes that were thought to be booby-trapped, and they have used scores of high-explosive line charges — a weapon that had been used only sparingly in the past — to blast through minefields.
Some of the tougher methods, particularly Special Operations night raids, have incensed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who told The Washington Post last week that the missions were undermining support for the U.S.-led war effort. But senior U.S. military officials involved in running the war contend that the raids, as well as other aggressive measures, have dealt a staggering blow to the insurgency.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss specific tactics, said the combination of the raids, the airstrikes and the use of explosives on the ground have been instrumental in improving security in areas around Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold that has been the focus of coalition operations this fall.
“We’ve taken the gloves off, and it has had huge impact,” one of the senior officials said.
The problem is that there are only certain areas (terrain) where tanks can maneuver and be an asset on the battlefield. They’re more accurate than artillery and can hit a house from two miles away. Other than that, I don’t see much direct engagement with the enemy in Afghanistan with the use of tanks. They like to hide in the mountains and blend in with village populations. They’re not about to fight a conventional battle out in the open.
Wanna really take the gloves off? IMO, we should have saturated the entire fucking countryside with oodles of MOABs and maybe even a neutron bomb or two.
Neutron nukes are great weapons:
“Also called ENHANCED RADIATION WARHEAD, specialized type of small thermonuclear weapon that produces minimal blast and heat but which releases large amounts of lethal radiation. The neutron bomb delivers blast and heat effects that are confined to an area of only a few hundred yards in radius. But within a somewhat larger area it throws off a massive wave of neutron and gamma radiation, which can penetrate armor or several feet of earth. This radiation is extremely destructive to living tissue. Because of its short-range destructiveness and the absence of long-range effect, the neutron bomb would be highly effective against tank and infantry formations on the battlefield but would not endanger cities or other population centers only a few miles away. It can be carried in a Lance missile or delivered by an 8-inch (200-millimetre) howitzer, or possibly by attack aircraft. In strategic terms, the neutron bomb has a theoretical deterrent effect: discouraging an armored ground assault by arousing the fear of neutron bomb counterattack. The bomb would disable enemy tank crews in minutes, and those exposed would die within days. U.S. production of the bomb was postponed in 1978 and resumed in 1981.”
It kills people, but leaves structures intact, and can be used for surgical strikes. Had we used a tactic like that, this war would have been over in a week. And I don’t give a shit how much it would incense Karzai.