The more I look to the past, the more I see the present…(Afghanistan)

Map of Afghanistan with flag.

Image via Wikipedia

Afghanistan has been rising to the surface of my thoughts again recently.  Part of this is because I recently was asked to speak conduct some counterinsurgency training for a group of soldiers who are beginning the process of preparing for a deployment to that country.  It will most likely be the last time I get to do that before I retire from the military and I’m get a bit nostalgic about the whole thing.

The other part is due to the fact that I just finished The Kabul Insurrection of 1841-42 by Vincent Eyre.  Simply an amazing book that

you should read for both the reoccurring themes you find with today’s war and also for the remarkable stories of survival that boggle the imagination.  Imagine the events of Black Hawk Down getting stretched out for six weeks minus the reinforcements.  Of special interest to me was the fact that most of the events of this narrative involved areas where I had spent some time.  The area from Charikar to Kabul saw some desperate battles as the embattled British attempted to first reach safety and later just tried to stay alive.

Spencer Ackerman writes a story for wired.com about Stanley McChrystal titled “How Special Ops Copied al-Qaida to Kill It”.  The title is more exciting than the story and I suspect if you’ve been paying even a passing interest in U.S. military policy in Afghanistan over the past couple of years I’m not sure there’s anything shocking here but it is a nice underscore to just how impressive McChrystal was.

This may be totally inside baseball and have no real impact on the battle for the narrative between ISAF and the Taliban  but I have to admit I found the twitter war between the two compelling stuff.  (h/t Abu Muqawama)  While I know ancient armies would taunt each other across the battlefield, has any army ever uttered words such as these:

Re: Taliban spox on #Kabulattack: the outcome is inevitable. Question is how much longer will terrorist put innocent Afghans in harm’s way?ISAFmedia September 14, 2011 at 0:18

@ISAFmediai dnt knw.u hve bn pttng thm n ‘harm’s way’ fr da pst 10 yrs.Razd whole vllgs n mrkts.n stil hv da nrve to tlk bout ‘harm’s way’
Really, @abalkhi? UNAMA reported 80% of civilians causalities are caused by insurgent (your) activities http://goo.gl/FylwU

Anyone want to guess when Goodwin’s law will kick in?

2 Responses to The more I look to the past, the more I see the present…(Afghanistan)

  1. Must GET Twitter™!

  2. When the ‘arf-made recruity goes out to the East
    ‘E acts like a babe an’ ‘e drinks like a beast,
    An’ ‘e wonders because ‘e is frequent deceased
    Ere ‘e’s fit for to serve as a soldier.
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    So-oldier ~OF~ the Queen!

    Now all you recruities what’s drafted to-day,
    You shut up your rag-box an’ ‘ark to my lay,
    An’ I’ll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
    A soldier what’s fit for a soldier.
    Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

    First mind you steer clear o’ the grog-sellers’ huts,
    For they sell you Fixed Bay’nets that rots out your guts –
    Ay, drink that ‘ud eat the live steel from your butts –
    An’ it’s bad for the young British soldier.
    Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

    When the cholera comes — as it will past a doubt –
    Keep out of the wet and don’t go on the shout,
    For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
    An’ it crumples the young British soldier.
    Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

    But the worst o’ your foes is the sun over’ead:
    You ~must~ wear your ‘elmet for all that is said:
    If ‘e finds you uncovered ‘e’ll knock you down dead,
    An’ you’ll die like a fool of a soldier.
    Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

    If you’re cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
    Don’t grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
    Be handy and civil, and then you will find
    That it’s beer for the young British soldier.
    Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

    Now, if you must marry, take care she is old –
    A troop-sergeant’s widow’s the nicest I’m told,
    For beauty won’t help if your rations is cold,
    Nor love ain’t enough for a soldier.
    ‘Nough, ‘nough, ‘nough for a soldier . . .

    If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
    To shoot when you catch ‘em — you’ll swing, on my oath! –
    Make ‘im take ‘er and keep ‘er: that’s Hell for them both,
    An’ you’re shut o’ the curse of a soldier.
    Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

    When first under fire an’ you’re wishful to duck,
    Don’t look nor take ‘eed at the man that is struck,
    Be thankful you’re livin’, and trust to your luck
    And march to your front like a soldier.
    Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

    When ‘arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
    Don’t call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
    She’s human as you are — you treat her as sich,
    An’ she’ll fight for the young British soldier.
    Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

    When shakin’ their bustles like ladies so fine,
    The guns o’ the enemy wheel into line,
    Shoot low at the limbers an’ don’t mind the shine,
    For noise never startles the soldier.
    Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

    If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
    Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
    So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
    And wait for supports like a soldier.
    Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!

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