Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE

SEARCH

Search

SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe RSS

Subscribe to SPO.

Afghanistan

AfghanistanEditorialFeatured Posts

Downrange: An Informal Report of a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 15, 2010

[Part Four of Four]

COIN doctrine, counter-insurgency theory, says “protect the people” comes before “kill the enemy.” In meeting after meeting we heard all the right things from officers and civilian leaders who were earnest, brave, well-intentioned, smart, sincere, hard-working and absolutely decent and ethical.  We heard about construction projects and rules of engagement and mitigating civilian casualties, about liaising with tribal elders and managing escalation of force and irrigation and extracting resources and using local people, defeating the corruption of the Karzai regime, delivering good governance, etc.  But I didn’t see any Afghans in the rooms.  I didn’t see any in the PRT sessions (the meetings with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams.) (more…)

Posted in Afghanistan, Editorial, Featured Posts
19 Comments

Afghanistan

AfghanistanEditorialFeatured Posts

Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine General James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 14, 2010

[Part Three of Four]

It’s more than a little weird, participating in one of these PR walkarounds. Self-congratulation is the inevitable theme. The bubble can get pretty thick. For me, at least, it’s almost impossible to grok the street reality. Are things going great or are we all lining up to drink our own Kool-Aid?  For all I can tell, the sullen, hood-eyed bandits eyeballing our procession have been cutting loose AK rounds at Marines twenty-four hours earlier—and may be doing it again three days from now. Not that that means anything. Earlier in the trip, Gen. Mattis, speaking of Iraq and the Anbar Awakening, had credited British general Graeme Lamb with the philosophical breakthrough that made that turnaround embraceable by the field commanders, the battlespace owners.  “Gen. Lamb’s mental model divided the Iraqi population into two groups—those who were reconcilable and those who weren’t.  The trick was to reintegrate the first group into the life of the nation–and to kill or chase the second bunch out of Dodge.”

Gen. Mattis with an Afghan commando in Marjah, 28 Feb 2010

(more…)

Posted in Afghanistan, Editorial, Featured Posts
5 Comments

Afghanistan

AfghanistanEditorialFeatured Posts

Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 13, 2010

[Part Two of Four]

6. Kabul is a Third World city, squalid as mud and dirty as hell. Every building that’s above the level of the people is built like a fortress; compounds with high walls topped with razor wire, AK-toting guards out front and security cameras atop Y-shaped posts. At the airport, guard towers are set in onion fields with police asleep or tending little vegetable gardens or heating tea over propane stoves. They’re keeping watch, supposedly, over cyclone fences topped with concertina wire and protected at ground level by rolls of the same, so no one can crawl under. Hesco barriers are squarish barrel-like containers made of super heavy duty cardboard and wire; fill them with rock or gravel or dirt and they make impenetrable blast walls.  Stack them three or four high around a perimeter: instant Fort Apache. On bases, the quonset-shaped living tents are surrounded by sandbags piled four and five feet high. Checkpoint guards are TCNs–Third Country Nationals–from Fiji, Mongolia, Bangladesh. We circle Massoud Square again and drive past the famous Serena Hotel. “Why is it famous?” I ask SSgt Barr, our security team leader. “Because,” he says, “the Taliban keep trying to blow it up.”

The Marine Osprey aircraft can fly like a helicopter or a fixed-wing. That's BG Nicholson, back to us, in the foreground.

(more…)

Posted in Afghanistan, Editorial, Featured Posts
8 Comments
Sign up for first look access.

Enter your email to get free access to every new thing I do.

No spam, I promise!

Gates of Fire
The War of Art
The Knowledge
Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t
The Authentic Swing
The Lion's Gate
Turning Pro
The Profession
The Warrior Ethos
Do The Work
Tides of War
The Afghan Campaign
The Virtues of War
Killing Rommel
Last of the Amazons
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Additional Reading
Video Blog