Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Smoke Signals and Honking Mini-vans

NYTimes on how the Taliban use ancient methods to track U.S. troop movements.

But as the company moved, shepherds whistled in the darkness, passing warning of the Americans’ approach. Dogs barked themselves hoarse. The din rose in every direction, enveloping the column in noise. And then, as the Marines became visible in the bluish twilight, a minivan rumbled out of one compound. Its driver steered ahead of the company, honking the van’s horn, spreading the alarm. Spotters appeared on roofs.

On the morning of the sweep, made by Weapons Company, Third Battalion, First Marines, a large communications antenna that rose from one compound vanished before the Marines could reach it. The man inside insisted that he had seen nothing. And when the Marines moved within the compounds’ walls, people in nearby houses released white pigeons, revealing the Americans’ locations to anyone watching from afar.

The Taliban and their supporters use other signals besides car horns and pigeons, including kites flown near American movements and dense puffs of smoke released from chimneys near where a unit patrols.

One of the noisiest things on the planet is a grunt rifle company on the move, especially at night when sound carries much farther than in the daytime. You can hear them coming almost literally a mile away if there's no ambient noise like in a city.

I think the way to operate against the Taliban is to use Spec Ops people, who can move very quietly at night, to Find them and Fix them in position, and then use regular troops to move in in force and Finish them.

The Taliban signalling techniques are a good thing for us to know for when the right wing militias start to move. Work on sight alignment and trigger squeeze too.

Go read how the Taliban know where to place small IEDs on the vast steppe to have the best effect. I think with the militias, we can just mine their bar stools.

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