The official Sebastian Junger community
April 14th, 2010...We pulled out of the Korengal Valley. For 15 months I personally walked the hills of that valley with the men of Battle Company 2/503rd ABN. I was a member of the Scout team attached to Battle Company, callsign "Wildcat 1 Alpha". I have been following the developments in the Korengal Valley since I have been home (I have been home from the military since Oct '08).
The topic I would like to start a discussion on is: we pulled out from the Korengal.
Now, for those that have been there, and those that have read Sebastians book, and anyone that has ever been in that valley, you know what I mean when I say...Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot...Over! I mean, seriously!!! We're fighting a war on terror, right? Isn't that why we started fucking with that country in the first place? We went into the Korengal because it was a safe haven for the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and possibly where they planned the very attacks that brought us to that country in the first place. Heavy resistance was met when approching the very mouth of that god forsaken valley. We've managed to push farther south and have more success than any other fighting force on the planet, by success I'm referring to the "quiet spring/summer of '08", built two additional firebases(Restrepo and Dallas), substantially improved Vegas (it was only a mud farm house on terraces with only triple strand c-wire for a perimeter) the KOP, and Vimoto (Phoenix); all using conventional means...meaning, we absolutly HAD to take contact in order to engage...I don't know how many times we (Wildcat) had clearance to take a shot 4 hours after we spotted someone, so they basically weren't any where to be seen by the time we could shoot; took 1/5 the fighting in ALL of Afghanistan; too much blood spilt, too many bullets fired (I wouldn't be suprised if we all came back with lead poisoning for simply sitting around in that place)...So, that being said...why erase all that we've all done by withdrawing...It goes against everything that we as combat infantrymen know about winning a battle, or war for that matter. We are trained "to close with and destroy the enemy" meaning we take the fight to our enemy. Meaning if we take resistance, and are met with a superior fighting force, we AMPLIFY our efforts...not withdraw...withdrawing only gives the enemy their safety back, some breathing room, and now...plenty of tactical fortification. So if we are ever to try and reclaim that valley, we'd have to pretty much just drop a small A-Bomb to get a foot back in the door...even then, I'm still pretty sure they'd come out swinging...or shooting...they seem to like shooting a lot...
NOW....what I'm wondering is, what does the average person think about this...Our "war on terror" doesn't seem to be heading in the right direction, we're allowing the enemy a tremendous boost in morale, safety, and resources...how is "tactical realignment" going to help if you're realigning your fighting forces AWAY from the fight?
Personally, I think it is the worst decision our military has made. People may think that the Korengal is worthless fight, but perhaps its because I was there and worked so hard with so many great men, that it seems worth fighting for. Or perhaps because I find it disgraceful to the memory of every single man that had bled on the hills of that valley. Perhaps its because of the significant amount of fighting. Or perhaps because it was one of the last known locations of Osama Bin-Laden. I think that if we were able to take that valley it would have tremendously shifted the momentum of this so called "war on terror"....
I will try to keep my reply short.
I think that after everything you and everyone else has done there, It is absolutely stupid to hell and back, that you would pull out, at some point, I reckon they will need to get back in and either they will need to just drop a small nuke, as Young said, or go back to the start of the place and work their way forward like before. If you need a hand in taking it back, Im more then happy to join in, I dont know if having a 15 year old Australian serving in afghanistan is leagal, or even possible, but I hope so
I hope we don't need (I guess now) 16 year old Australians in Afghanistan. The coalision (I call it like that because I am a Captain of the German Armed Forces) has a lot of experienced and find soldiers. Most of them are brave and exactly at the place where we need them. I had the god given luck to survive all the IED, rocket and SAF attacks that I was involved in, and just as a sideline the book Mr. Junger wrote is so full of soldier like behaviour and thinking that I really though 'How could he now?'. But nevertheless reducing or withdrawal our troops is not only dremendously stupid it also gives me the feeling that my comrads (wheter it where just numbers or names to me or the ones that I really knew from face to face, from heart to heart) died in vain. A lot of mistakes had been made especially when it comes to "win hearts and mind" thing. I can not come into a dying country and the only thing you care about in the first years of your presence is the install the ministry of woman affairs while children are starving because they have no food.
I can only speak for the German Army, but it tooks us years to understand or better to say to recognize the complexitiy of the "afghan" tribe society. You cannot help fast without doing harm, you cannot project your moral on them, now that we start to understand and evolve a kind of "intercultural competence" we make proceedings. But it is a long and a hard way.