Ever since I saw this video on Belmont Club last week, I’ve been pondering the voices in the background. This is a static piece of film; nothing much happens. And that is the point… though it certainly wasn’t meant to be by those who shot the footage —
Pech Valley Dco 1-32 10th Mountain
A video captured from the Taliban in Afghanistan illustrates the power of electronic warfare. The enemy is using a cell phone to trigger an IED on American convoys. But the Americans have their own wizardry. Their vehicles are blanketed by an electronic jamming bubble. Watch as the Taliban try to blow up American vehicles traveling along the strategic Pech River road without success. Not even praying to Allah helps.
A road is the pathway to civilization and the battle to upgrade and secure the Pech river road is one of the more interesting but unsung stories of the war. The Pech River road is now well along in its construction. The Taliban have lost to civilization — for now. Road-building has been a strategic counterinsurgency weapon since ancient times.
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Wretchard then uses a long quote from David Kilcullen from Small Wars Journal to explain why the control of roads are strategically important. What was of particular interest to me was Dr. Kilcullen’s experience as a trainer in counterinsurgency, using geographical points in northern Britain from which to observe, only to find that the ancients had been there long before him.
Part of Wretchard’s quote from Kilcullen:
As a tactics instructor in the mid-1990s, teaching British platoon commanders at the School of Infantry, I spent many weeks on extended field exercises in the wilds of south Wales and on windswept Salisbury Plain. Both landscapes are studded with Roman military antiquities, relics of ancient counterinsurgency campaigns – mile-castles, military roads, legion encampments – as well as the Iron Age hill-forts of the Romans’ insurgent adversaries. Teaching ambushing, I often found that ambush sites I chose from a map, even on the remotest hillsides, would turn out (once I dragged my weary, rucksack-carrying ass to the actual spot) to have Roman or Celtic ruins on them, and often a Roman military road nearby: call me lacking in self-assurance, but I often found this a comforting vote of confidence in my tactical judgment from the collective wisdom of the ancestors.
Having been reading Bernard Cornwell of late, the quote gave me a frisson of connection to “the collective wisdom of the ancestors”, also.
I suggest you read Wretchard’s whole post, in order to get all his links. And click on Small Wars Journal, which has a much longer explanation of the importance of roads in Afghanistan.
I don’t know why that You Tube video haunts me, but a week later I’m still thinking about those fervent, ultimately-in-vain prayers echoing from that captured film.