Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Honesty Traces" and the Marines in Afghanistan: Hansel and Gretel Were Right

The article's headline caught my eye: "Hansel and Gretel vs. Roadside Bombs." That was intriguing enough to look up, and what I found was an article on United States Marines in Afghanistan.

The Marines' Combat Logistics Battalion 3, based out of Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, had a problem. They'd been driving off-road, to avoid bombs planted by the Taliban. They'd been taking different routes, too, but the Taliban always seemed to know where the trucks would be.

It took quite a few GPS units, maps, and analysis, but they found out that they'd been driving different routes: that tended to converge on a few spots. It wasn't so much careless behavior, as a matter of the terrain. Those were natural bottlenecks, sort of like fords in rivers or the solid ground between marsh and swamp you'll find in parts of Northern Minnesota.

The solution this time was pretty straightforward: take a careful look for bombs already planted, and set up sniper teams to discourage "militants" from planting more.

In this case the problem and the solution are perfectly clear - with 20-20 hindsight. Before someone started tracking the exact routes, I'm not so sure that the convergence on spots in remote areas of Helmand Province was all that obvious.

I've made the point before: The American military makes mistakes, and learns from them. (June 30, 2008)

More-or-less related posts: In the news:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.