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Sebastian Junger's War/korengal/restrepo


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#1 Skywalkre

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 1806 PM

So I finally got around to reading Junger's War a few weeks ago and also just caught Korengal (I saw Restrepo a few years ago).  I had a couple questions that weren't answered in the thread from a few years ago.

 

- Junger makes the claim that early in the deployment the fighting in the area of Battle Company was accounting for a remarkable amount of all bombs dropped in Afghanistan at that time (I want to say it was something crazy like 70%).  In short he basically said in the book that the majority of heavy fighting in Afghanistan at the time was happening in the Korengal.  At the start of the deployment their intended mission made it sound like they should have been more proactive in the valley but the simple logistics of securing the area with the 150 men they had seemed to make that difficult.  My question... if these guys are seeing this much combat (assuming Junger wasn't exaggerating or misleading the reader for the sake of a good story) and the terrain they're covering is that pivotal in ferrying Taliban forces into Afghanistan from Pakistan... why were these guys never reinforced?  I know Iraq and the surge was going on around the same time and troops elsewhere in Afghanistan had their own mission... but given what the book and documentaries laid out was there really no way more men and resources could be shifted to the valley?

 

- The book mentions that often when any of the OPs came under fire it was often a few locals paid to simply harass the Americans.  When the Americans were able to kill the attacker all that did was ultimately drive a wedge between them and the locals.  That unit was basically stuck in a no win situation it seems.  What options did they have?  They couldn't just sit there and not return fire.  There were mentions of some plans (such as giving ID cards to every Afghan in the valley and giving supplies so these folks, who in some ways were almost slaves to the elders, could become more independent) that were never carried out.  What options existed for the Americans there besides what they were doing?

 

- I posed this question years ago in the old thread but didn't get an answer.  When Restrepo came out I remember seeing some criticism that the leadership/discipline in the unit was rather poor.  When reading the book there were a few moments in there as well which left me with the same impression.  What are folks' opinions that have seen the films and/or read the books?

 

- Somewhat tying into the first question above... why'd we pull out of the valley a few years after the period covered by Junger?  Was this never a pivotal area?  Was it too hard to police/hold?

 


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#2 FALightFighter

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 2051 PM

We never understood, and just blundered around blindly. The Afghans in that area fought because we were there but didn't belong there. The fought the Russians, and they'll fight the Afghan Army if it ever develops the capability to go there- they'll fight anyone that isn't from there just because.

 

Korengal is right on the edge of Nuristan- a place well out of the mainstream of Afghanistan- heck, it was only converted to Islam in ~1895. I don't know why we went there, but it wasn't, isn't, and will never be critical to the security of Kabul and a central gov't in Afghanistan.

 

I don't know if there's any better explanation. Policy was incoherent, creating a strategy without an objective, which is impossible to operationalize. This leads to a series of unrelated tactical actions- nearly all of them successful. Even the fight at Wanat, something like 10 miles or less from Korengal, was a tactical victory for the US, although costly. But it just doesn't matter if you win every fight it they aren't leading toward something that everyone, on both sides, agrees is a victory.


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