Michael's Dispatches

Man Dogs

Kandahar, Afghanistan
15 March 2010

In David Galula’s 1964 book, Counterinsurgency Warfare, THEORY AND PRACTICE, he states:

“The ideal situation for the insurgent would be a large, land-locked country, shaped like a blunt-tipped star, with jungle-covered mountains along the borders and scattered swamps along the plains, in a temperate zone with a large and dispersed rural population and a primitive economy.”

Mr. Galula described Afghanistan almost perfectly.  Instead of jungle-covered mountains are some of the most extreme folds on Planet Earth: The “abode of snow,” the Himalaya.  Afghan elevations dwarf Mount Rainier, and make the great Colorado Rockies look like the Pygmy Snow Hills. Meanwhile, down in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces, Galula’s “swamps” are the “Green Zones,” where most of the current fighting occurs.

Yet the experienced Mr. Galula omitted a crucial factor describing the Afghan war: A heavily armed, warring amalgam of peoples, some of whose national sport and pastime is guerrilla war. British officer John Masters variously described in “Bugles and a Tiger: My life in the Gurkhas” that life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for Afghans includes vendettas, guerrilla warfare and lots of guns.

This weekend, on Saturday night, mass murderers struck.  Taliban terrorists used bombs and other weapons in Kandahar City to murder about 35 people.  They wounded another five dozen, and damaged about forty homes, according to reports.  Enthusiasm to commit wholesale murder is one of the enemy’s prime weaknesses.

About 12 miles from the suicide attacks on Saturday night, is the runway at Kandahar Airfield, where operations continue every minute of the day.

Kandahar Airfield

Recently, two Belgian F-16s taxied to the runway, engines roaring, like a dragon with a foot caught in a trap.  The first pilot rolled from the hanger area then parked just off the runaway.  Under the cockpit, the single engine sucked air and dust, mixing oxygen with fuel, as combusted gases shot from the nozzle, bending light on the runway.

While the Belgian fighters wait, a Russian jet from parts unknown roars in, screeches down, and rolls far down the runway.   It’s time for the F-16 to launch, prepared to bring space-aged, often satellite-guided weapons, to stone-aged enemies who sometimes are so uneducated that they don’t understand how to impregnate their wives.  For some, their only sexual experiences are with boys, men, and animals.  In years gone by, many people seemed to imagine suicide attackers were the ultimate expression of commitment.  Today, we see suicide attackers for what they are: Stooges.  Ignorant suicide bombers are not brave martyrs, but gullible Man Dogs trained to fetch myths.   The Taliban select and condition Man Dogs as precision guided weapons.  They are myth guided munitions.

A windsock speaks for the wind while lights speak for the dust.

Part scream and part roar, the whining engine creates a painful mixture of noises as the first Belgian F-16 rolls into start position.

When the pilot throttles up, the engine stops screaming.  The rumble can be heard from miles away.

Brakes released.

Scorching gases bend light, creating ephemeral beauty lasting only seconds in the dark Afghan night.

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