21 September 2010

'Screaming Eagles 101,' Part 1

The following post presents annotated and excerpted comments from Maj. Gen. John Campbell ("Eagle-6"), commander of the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles" Division, currently deployed to Regional Command-East (RC-East), Afghanistan. Dated earlier this month, these comments were part of a regular series of publicly disseminated messages from the commander.

These remarks are of potential interest to Red Bull Rising readers, given the likelihood that all or part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34 BCT) will, upon arrival to Afghanistan later this year, work under Campbell's command. In short, it provides a "Screaming Eagles 101" primer on the Red Bull's future operational environment.

Notes on acronyms used in this message:
  • "C.A.B." (pronounced "kab") stands for "Combat Aviation Brigade." Because of its historical role in helicopter-borne missions, The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) is the only U.S. Army division to include two aviation brigades.
  • "FOB" (pronounced "faub") stands for "Forward Operating Base."
  • "GiROA" stands for "Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan."
Eagle-6 on "Why We Fight":
[...] The specific reasons we continue to fight in Afghanistan are more complex. We are here to disrupt Al Qaida and other transnational extremist organizations. We are here to prevent extremists from having a safe haven for training camps where they can plan future attacks. We are here to strengthen and enhance the government and security forces of a country attempting to re-establish some sense of normalcy in a war-ravaged country.

For the people of Afghanistan this is important because it provides them hope for the future after nearly 30 years of war. For Americans and many other countries around the world, we are here to provide for safer environments for our Families, free from fear that terrorists will once again kill thousands of innocent people.
Eagle-6 on recent insurgent attacks:
You may have heard about insurgents attacking Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno and FOB Chapman on 28 August. An estimated 50-60 insurgents near simultaneously massed to attack both of these FOBs that are a couple miles apart. During the attacks, we suffered four Soldiers wounded in action, three of whom were quickly returned to duty. The enemy, however, suffered a disruptive blow against his ability to conduct an effective attack against the FOBs in the near future.

In addition to the 41 insurgents killed, we captured 13 suicide vests, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), and various other weapons. This attack failed as did an attack in June on FOB Fenty in Jalalabad and a third attack on Bagram in May. The Haqqani network leadership orchestrated these attacks from relative safety in Pakistan hoping for a spectacular display. All three of these attacks were quickly defeated and the cowardly leadership continues to hide in Pakistan while sending ill-equipped and ill-trained insurgents to fight against a strong coalition of well-equipped, trained, and disciplined Soldiers.
Eagle-6 on Afghan civilian casualties:
Another thing we do not do a good job of explaining is the primary cause for civilian casualties (CIVCAS) here in Afghanistan. A few months ago, if you were to watch the news, you might think that coalition forces were responsible for all the CIVCAS here in Afghanistan. That incorrect perception is beginning to change, and the true picture is beginning to emerge.

The facts show that only 10% of CIVCAS is caused by coalition forces, 4% ANSF, and 86% by the insurgents. Even one civilian casualty is a tragedy, and our forces put a lot of effort into training and planning to minimize the potential to cause civilian casualties. We have seen the insurgents target the civilian population to intimidate and spread fear. The insurgents have no qualms about killing innocent women and children, or dressing as women in burkhas and then blowing themselves up to cause as much harm to civilians as they can. Again almost 90% of CIVCAS is caused by the insurgents...that ought to speak for itself. [...]
Eagle-6 on losses to coalition forces:
The last 10 days [this was posted on Sept. 12, 2010] have been difficult for our forces. We have lost 8 Soldiers since my last update on 1 September. Our coalition units (all attached other than 101st) have now lost 27 Soldiers, and we have lost 49 101st Soldiers. I ask that you keep all of our Coalition Forces in your thoughts and prayers. Also, please pray for all of our Families, they sacrifice so much and rarely receive the recognition they deserve. We should never forget the sacrifices they endure to enable us and our coalition members to serve our respective countries.
To be continued in tomorrow's Red Bull Rising post ...

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