Tuesday, December 14, 2010

AAR: Gowardseh 25 JAN 2008

Our fellow barkeep jim (you probably remember him for his rabid following on Ladies' Night; I understand that he honed his technique on the grass widows who decorate the bar at the Dragon Club, and it shows) is doing a very worthwhile analysis of the action in Gowardesh, Afghanistan between an ODA of the 3SFGA and its attached(?) Afghan squad and what appears to be a company-sized element of mujaheddin. This engagement is notable for the actions of SSG Robert Miller, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. Sadly, this decoration was posthumous.

I normally don't fiddle with tactical analysis; tactics are too situational, and now that I'm retired I have not use for tactical skills. But this action caught my eye in that I had just written up the Battle of Unsan over at GFT, and it's worth reading the account and jim's analysis for the ugly reminder of how we in the U.S. Army can't seem to get over what Dave Hackworth used to call "CRS Syndrome".

We learned the hard way in Korea that driving around the roads in the bottom of Korea's steep canyons wan't a good idea when the Chinese were humping over the hills above like good infantrymen. We relearned the lesson - that sticking to the roads, trails, or paddy dikes was dangerous - a dozen years later in Vietnam. My platoon sergeants in the early Eighties were products of that hard lesson. We never moved along roads, trails, or similar channelized routes if we could avoid it - they had learned the hard way that it made it way too easy for the bad guys. Now it seems that we're re-re-learning that lesson - or not - in Afghanistan.

Anyway, jim brings up some worthwhile issues this engagement points out. For those interested, well worth the time to read and discuss.


  1. Chief,
    Thanks for the leg up. Not that you're a leg.
    I thought the mustache and Groucho Marx plastic nose disguised me at pig nite.

    I will put my final synopsis of this MOH series on milpub.
    I've been thinking about kill ratios and the MOH's of the pwot.If one averages the total enemy killed by the recipients and divide by 8, this does not leave a figure to justify the sacrifices. Just a little thought.
    Again - thanks for being a friend.
    btw-TACTICS WORK in bars where you have to lead the fillies into the kill zone.
    How quickly you forget.

  2. Chief, jim,

    I am not saying that anyone's analysis thus far is right or wrong, you could be spot on. But I feel like we are making a lot of assumptions and perhaps a few biases.

    I've reserved comment up until this point, but I do want to remind everyone of one point as we go into tactical critiques. When we get into these discussions about tactics based on 3rd hand, incomplete reports about a land far, far away, just please keep in mind that Afghanistan is not Vietnam, nor Korea.

    Trails. Yep, bad idea. In Afghanistan, unless you are a goat, sometimes you have no choice. Roads, valleys, choke points. All bad. Sometimes there is no other route due to thousand foot peaks. Sure, we would prefer not to drive on a road at the base of a steep canyon, however, sometimes you have no choice. The other option is to fly, however, resources are limited and not available to the vast majority of troops on the ground on a daily basis. (you don't fly Blackhawks in Afg due to high mountains).

    As an infantryman, I can tell you, we didn't forget the lessons of Vietnam nor Korea, you just have to go to Ranger school to see these lessons are still strictly enforced. The reason why Afghanistan is such a great place to defend, is because in so many situations, the terrain offers only one avenue of approach.

    Just for fun, we can do a Terrain Analysis (OCOKA), or perhaps a good old fashioned MCOO (The MI geek in my is coming out, sorry). If we really want to compare battles/tactics, let's start with the basics and so we ensure we are comparing apples to apples and do a fair analysis.

  3. bg,
    I'm making a bunch of assumptions and airing a few biased comments. Righto.This is necessitated by the lack of realistic reporting.
    I'd love to rip thru the official AAR , and would appreciate a chance to review the OPORD.
    Since these are unavailable i do assumptions, based on the reporting that is available based upon the best data that i can find.
    I smile at the idea of a fair analysis, why is it always those on my side of the fence that must be fair, and officials can feed me garbage that is even unquantifiable and bordering on illusion?
    We ignorant citizens are fed bullshit, but expected turn it into flowers.
    Also we can do all the mumbo jumbo analysis we want like ocoka, but this mission will not smell any better to me.