• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Afghanistan: Lessons Learned (merged)

Haggis

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
749
Points
1,010
I'd like to ask and encourage the recently returned members of TF 1-07 to contribute their lessons learned as well.

This is great stuff to pass on.  We've still got at least three more rotos to go.
 

RB612

Guest
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Thank God for men like you who go over, knowing what the horrible circumstances could be, and fight so others can sleep warm in their beds. Give 'em hell and fight the good fight. :salute:
 
Reaction score
0
Points
0
As someone who is planning on going on tour (I'm a reservist so I'm waiting for fresh information on the next Task Force for LFCA, I believe its 1-10) all of this material is outstanding. I am sure as hell glad this topic exists for those who have been in the sand box, come back and are passing all this knowledge on. (I would hate to ever cross MG34 as I would probably have nightmares for many years after  ;D).
 

Teeps74

Full Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Just started reading this thread... The lessons learned here from the bayonet's perspective are invaluable, and should be required reading at all levels IMHO.

To the contributors, my most humble thanks and appreciation.
 

OldSolduer

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,943
Points
1,010
I've just started reading this thread. So far, Well done!! Keep up the  good work.
I'm an infantryman as well, however my days of chasing down insurgents in Afghanistan are not in the cards. I'm 50, a tough 50, but a bit past my prime ....however I can fulfill various "staff jobs" etc. So yes I've volunteered. Enough of this.
I have this to say about any new piece of kit, whether it be a LAVIII, an RG31 or a rucksack: Some genius  in TF HQ, Bde HQ or NDHQ thinks a troop can carry more kit, so they come up with whacky kits lists. Usually these people never have to carry the kit, and complain bitterly when the troops do their own thing that works.....is this the Afghan experience or did we have an issue of common sense from the RQMS?
 

geo

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
0
Points
0
OS... sometimes Common Sense is on back-order or at least in short supply....
 

tomahawk6

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
61
Points
530
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=48746

Commanders in Afghanistan Share Tactics, Procedures
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2008 – Commanders in Afghanistan share their best counterinsurgency tactics, but the country is big and what works in one area may not work in another, the commander of NATO’s Regional Command—East said during a Pentagon news conference today.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez said the counterinsurgency tactics he uses in the eastern provinces of the country may not work in other areas. Earlier this month, a flurry of stories suggested that U.S. forces in the country do a better job at the counterinsurgency fight against the Taliban than NATO allies stationed in other regions.

“It's a different fight and a different type of challenge in each different area,” Rodriguez said. “Each force is in there, whether it be RC East, Northwest, South or Capital. It's a different type of terrain, it's a different type of tribal infrastructure, a different type of leadership in the Afghan government.”

All these differences have an impact on the type of tactics used, Rodriguez said. Still, the commanders of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces constantly share information. “We're in touch with them all the time,” the general said. “We coordinate with them. We share lessons learned and work with them very carefully, closely, to share anything we have.”

The NATO troops also learn from Afghan forces and vice versa, Rodriguez said.

This information sharing is important, he said, but commanders must remember that “all the lessons don't translate one-to-one, but we all talk about the principles and those things.”

Rodriguez’s command has about 160 districts and there has been between 30 to 40 percent improvement in security, governance and development, he said. “What that has done is reduce the area from which the enemy … can conduct operations from support bases that are out there. So, we believe that we've significantly restricted their freedom of movement,” he said.

Despite the political problems in Pakistan, the command has a great military-to-military coordination with the Pakistani military on the border, the general said.

“Over the past several years, the coalition forces have been able to develop some trust between the Pakistani military and the coalition forces, and now that is starting to extend to the Afghan military forces,” Rodriguez said. Pakistani military leaders “realize it's a common enemy that we're fighting, and in a common cause.”

The Taliban and al Qaeda are establishing safe havens and training areas in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, the general said. The area has much the same geography as eastern Afghanistan, and troops trying to police the area face many of the same problems, he said.

“It's rugged, rugged terrain,” Rodriguez said. “And (the Taliban and al Qaeda) have been able to establish some support bases over time, but it's the same problem you have in both sides of the border. I mean, we have to disrupt the support bases so that they can't survive in those areas, and support the development of governance and development in those areas.

“I think it will be a long time to change … the situation there. And again, I think the Pak military is committed to doing that.”
 

fireman451

Guest
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I can offer only a quick heads up, if you're entering a village at first light and the entire village leaves with all their personal effects in tow, you are F#@Ked. They know its game on so just walk in there and wait for the kickoff.
 

RHFC_piper

Sr. Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
fireman451 said:
I can offer only a quick heads up, if you're entering a village at first light and the entire village leaves with all their personal effects in tow, you are F#@Ked. They know its game on so just walk in there and wait for the kickoff.

Just to tack on to this, if I may... and some here may know what I'm talking about...  If you're sitting in a leaguer, just before going in to a village at first light, and you see truck loads of women and children leaving and truck loads of unarmed "fighting aged males" coming into the village... as above, expect to take it hard.
 

fireman451

Guest
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Yeah the women and children were an omen for sure. Although on my tour TF 106 OEF we didnt see too many fighting age males enter the areas while we advanced, we mostly acted on reports they were already in sangin, panjwaii, seyyddan, and zhari to name a few. But I must say that "pit of your stomach" feeling came on fast when the mass exodus  started, an almost sure sign TICs are soon to follow. Grapehuts can suck me in the middle of july of 2006.hahaha
 
Reaction score
0
Points
0
plus.............. if your rolling with the ANP dont expect them to do anything short of retreat and give the enemy more of a vantage point on your position.


(Moderator edit to remove unnecessary terminology.)
 

TheHead

Full Member
Reaction score
29
Points
280
When_in_doubt_rack_out said:
plus.............. if your rolling with the ANP dont expect them to do anything short of retreat and give the enemy more of a vantage point on your position.


(Moderator edit to remove unnecessary terminology.)

AGREED!!!


We had 20ish ANP with us on August 3/06. The second the bullets started flying they turned tail and ran like cowards. 
The ANA on the other hand, were good to go.  They were always at the tip of the spear, ready too fight and knew the lay of the land very well.  Other than almost being killed by an RPG back blast I have had no problems with them ;)
 

A_Royal

Guest
Reaction score
0
Points
0
This has been so informative. I've spent the past few days reading these posts and I can honestly say that I've learned A LOT. I'm a no hook private (was supposed to get my rank this past summer but was RTU'd) but I hope to be able to go overseas in the next few years. In any case what I wanted to say was about the gunfighter program. In the 2 weeks that I was in my SQ in Meaford we were given a very informal lesson one day on the MG range. Later on at my unit, a couple of the cpls and sgts who operated the SAT brought us down and had us there for about an hour or so. Our unit was scheduled to go on the PWT4 ("instinctive shooting") and they thought they'd give us an intro even though we weren't qualified. The point of all this was to show that it is slowly making it's way into the system from what i've seen.
P.s. Thanks to all who took the time to post their experiences, i hope to have much more to read in this thread in the months to come.
Respect to all of you  :cdn:
 
Reaction score
0
Points
0
The "gunfighter program" as they call it these days, i found was a not too bad training tool.  I found the program taught a far better method of quickly engaging targets then i ever learned in sq or biq.
 

The Bread Guy

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
470
Points
1,230
Mods - if I missed this elsewhere (searched), feel free to delete.....


“3-D Soviet Style: Lessons Learned from the Soviet Experience in Afghanistan”
Anton Minkov and Gregory Smolynec, DRDC Centre for Operational Research & Analysis, Technical Memorandum TM 2007-36, 26 Oct 07
Report - alternate download site (both .pdf)

Abstract:  3-D Soviet Style: A Presentation on Lessons Learned from the Soviet Experience in Afghanistan presents research on the history of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. The presentation analyzes Soviet efforts in defence, development and diplomacy during the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. The research is based on up-to-date Russian and English language sources; and analysis of statistical data pertaining to the conflict. The authors, Anton Minkov and Gregory Smolynec, argue that previous studies of the subject are either inadequate or distorted by Cold War attitudes and that the Soviet experience offers many lessons to be learned in current efforts to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan.
 

RHFC_piper

Sr. Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I know this thread has been dormant for a while, but I've been thinking back a lot on Afghanistan and some of the stuff that went on during TICs and Ops...  Which really is nothing new for me, but now it's not so much "flash backs" and bad memories.    Lately I've been thinking about how I could have been better prepared. What training could have been improved and how.  And since I probably won't be going on another tour (for a long time) and the chances of the next tour I go on being a combat tour, I figured I'd empty my head on the next generation of war fighters.  Also, I can't sleep, and writing centers me. 


Okay... so here it is;

Individual Soldier Skills...  This is something I noticed on the BF.  Yeah, we've all done the gun fighter program, or at least instinctive shooting, but that's just the beginning.  Whilst in prolonged fire fights, I didn't have that many problems getting on target, engaging, changing mags or performing any other drills, thanks to the GFP, but things could definitely be improved.  When I look back at work up trg, I seem to remember sitting around in the plt area for a few hours a day, doing nothing... waiting.  At that time, that seemed pretty normal.  Now that I look back at it, that could have been a good chance to practice some of the skills taught in the GFP... or even TOETs...  Mag changes... anything to improve reaction time and ability.  Even dry trg is effective. 
Along with this, and it has been mentioned quite a bit; train with the kit you're going to use.  I wish I had more time practicing drills with my Chest rig, forward grip and everything else I used over there. 

Anything to improve reaction time under contact and build muscle memory is worth while in my book....  Consider it like going to the gym and working out; you do it to improve your ability.  As well, we should be practicing drills like you would practice playing an instrument.  For example; Bag pipes (bet you didn't see this one coming)... I have noticed that if I don't go to practice at least once a week, for the normal 2 hours, my ability and accuracy in playing decreases.  The longer I go between practicing, the worse I get.  It's not that I forget how to play; it's just the loss of muscle memory. 

I compare soldier skills to bag pipes for 3 reasons;   

- As any piper will tell you, playing technique is pretty much a drill.  you first learn the scale, then simple tunes and once on the full set you start learning breathing techniques and how to maintain constant pressure.  All of this comes down to drills you practice, sometimes whether you realize it or not, every time you play.

- All music played on the pipes is, for the most part, memorized.  Pipers learn where the notes are and how to use them, along with grace notes which, in some cases, can be harder to learn than the base of the tune they're in...  The piper then has to memorize order, tempo, parts, strike ups, cut offs and transitions in sets... With no music in front of them.  This requires regular practice.  The more complicated the tune/set, the more practice the piper needs to ensure it is done accurately.  This is why a lot of comp bands play a few sets, and play them well, switching tunes very rarely, rather than having a large repertoire and learning new tunes all the time.  To me, this is much like soldiers having multiple weapons systems, comms equipment and other tools, and practicing on their specific use over and over until it is second nature.  Drill, as it were.

- Playing the pipes, especially in a military band, involves multi-tasking. Take the above mentioned items and combine them with foot drill.  A piper in a military band has to do the following at the same time; March, pay attention to the drum major for commands and cut offs, pay attention to the Pipe major for musical selection or memorize a selection, pay attention to the drum corps for tempo, listen for cut off double beats and rolls, concentrate on playing technique and play the tunes in the selection from memory.... sounds familiar, eh? In combat, the soldiers has to be aware of his CoC and orders, remember contact drills and conduct them, keep contact with the section, maintain situational awareness, effectively engage the enemy and conduct stoppage drills efficiently to continue effective combat.  To accomplish these goals; the piper and the soldier have to practice.


I was once told; long ago (while I was in cadets, but by a RegF MWO from the RCR... don't ask me to remember names) that drill is conducted to ensure you don't have to think about it... Those who are very good at foot drill are able to turn off their minds and just move by reaction.    I agree with this.
Weapons drill and playing the pipes are no different.  I have found that the more I play the pipes, the better I get.  Tunes and notes are played more precisely, and with greater ease.  There was a time, when I was in college, when I thought I was almost at the level of playing where I could compete (at grade 4 or maybe 3)... And only because I had the time to practice at least 1 hour a day, as well as 2 X 2 hour practices a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays, since I was attached to the band).  Others in the band had also noticed the improvement in ability.  But now, due to my work and physio schedule, and the fact that I'm pretty sore all the time (even more now thanks to wicked bad muscle spasms around the wounds in my back) I have only been to 2 band practices in the last 6 months... My playing has suffered greatly.  I'm still able to play; it just takes more effort and requires a great deal of concentration. 

Now, back to the issue at hand.  How does this relate?  Well, as with band, I also haven't picked up a C7 in a while, thanks to restriction.  The last time I did, I helped one of my buddies in the rifle company teach tactical mag changes...  I found myself fumbling with the mag and struggling a bit.  The skills are still there, but the muscle memory is weakening. 

So, where am I going with this?  Well, here it is in a nutshell... and as much as I don't like to step on toes, I'm going to jump on them now... this is something the CoC has to realize at all levels;  TOET, weapons and equipment drills, and basic (and I mean Pte/Cpl) soldier skills are the meat and potatoes, the bread and butter, the large Timmies Double Double, what ever other saying you want to throw in to express the most important, most paramount skills of the combat soldier.  If you choose to ignore these skills and take them as read, move on to "advanced trg" and bypass them, you will have excited soldiers able to do all the cool stuff, kind of... but won't be able to change a magazine whilst getting shot at.  The focus of training for the combat soldier should be his/her ability to conduct combat at his/her individual soldier level... Soldiers have to be able to confidently and effectively master these skills before they’re expected to move on to higher and more involved levels of trg.  And even when they’ve learned these skills, they must continue practicing them.  What use is a soldier in a platoon attack/company attack/raid/etc if they have to think about skills that should be muscle memory?

Here's what I brought back from my exp in a few tics and Op Medusa; I should have spent more time practicing soldier skills and less time "guarding lockers" in the platoon area. 
Whose fault is it that I didn't? Well... Mine...  The resources were there; Rifle, TV (or Chest rig), helmet, space, time.... but, no... I sat on a$$. 

The one thing I did do, and I'd strongly advise all those deploying to do, is read... read everything that you can about every aspect of the mission, the country, the people, the conflict, the enemy, foreign weapons... everything... read, read, read.

The best discipline for a deploying soldier is to put their role, their job and their personal skills at the top of the heap.  Another analogy from my personal exp;  Trades... most professionals in a specific field will read/subscribe to/study any and all publications regarding their trade/field to maintain their ability, skills, and knowledge of any changes or improvements to their trade, then use this information to stay current... I found myself doing this when I finish college and started working in a machine shop. 

I didn't read anything about machining before I took the course, but once I found it would help me, I read everything I could.  And I did the same before deployment.  I grabbed old PAMs I had forgotten about and re read them, read everything I could find online (especially here) and started reading books... and I'm not a "booky" person. 

Even now, I read every thing I can on things which may help my current career or situation.  I've learned so much, in the last year or so, about Recruiting, Military law, the CF medical and support system, Mechanical Engineering (in the last few months), Afghanistan (even more), Physical Fitness (specifically rehabilitation) and everything relating to my injuries...  I've even been caught reading posts here at Army.ca at work (by the RSM) and explaining that it is the best way for me to say current...  Example; I knew about the new CT system before the CFRC sent me an official message about it thanks to the post here, and was able to change it in the Unit Recruiting and Transfer SOPs long before I was officially told to...  Not to mention all the other fantastic advice and information I get about my personal situation (thank you army.ca).

This is the change/addition I believe should be made in the CF trg structure; Encourage soldiers to self study and give them the time and resources to do it... and the discipline of self study, and self improvement should be reinforced by the CoC.  It seems to me that a lot of soldiers won't do any kind of self study unless so instructed... this seems to be the result of the standard "wait till we tell you" method of trg.  Knowledge in this field is not a commodity to be hoarded; if a soldier wants to learn, they should be inundated with all the information they can handle, given time to absorb it, supplied resources to practice it and encouraged to do more... and correction if required. 
Soldiers who subscribe to this method are better for it.

I feel that if I were physically able to deploy again (and allowed by both my military and marital CoC), thanks to this discipline of self study and the urge to improve my skills, I would be much more effective and would be much more of an asset to the BG than I was on my last (and only) tour.


I could write pages and pages on all the specific things to do, or not do when deployed to Afghanistan... as a rifleman... as Reserve Augmentee... as breacher... as piper... but how much of that knowledge is useful in current operations?  Very little.  Things change quickly there and new knowledge and SOPs are being developed each tour.
So, I'd have to say; developing the desire to excel, the thirst for knowledge and the disciple to practice regularly the basic skills for combat and operations, is the best advice I can give... And will serve you in any operational, training, or occupational environment, not just in the sand box.   


Well... that’s about enough writing for me for now.  I really hope this diatribe made sense, but I have a funny feeling it's clearer to me, in my soupy head, than it will be for the average reader...  If that’s the case, then here's my back up advice; avoid getting wounded if you can... or, you to will be apt to make little sense in long compositions at random intervals ...  Oh... and avoid the Subway on the boardwalk in KAF...  not good... not even after 2 weeks of IMPs.






Oh yeah... before I forget; There have been a few tours since the information given in the last few posts (including this one)... Why haven't people from the last few Rotos posted any new info?  It’s pretty dynamic there and I figured new stuff would be making its way back here by now... lets have it, troops... 
 

geo

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Roto4 has just come home.
There is a bit of a language issue to deal with but, I will have a chat with a couple of friends and encourage them to get "on net"
 

Kiwi99

Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Piper, thanks for being honest about what you learnt in all those many TICs you were in while you were there!  I'm tracking!
 
Top