US bombs erase Afghan village from mapBy IANS
Saturday, January 22, 2011
LONDON - A village in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province has been completely wiped out of the map after an offensive by the US Army to get rid of the Taliban militants in the area, a media report said here.
Tarok Kolache, a small settlement in Kandahar near the Arghandad River Valley, has been completely erased from the map, according to the Daily Mail.
Taliban militants had taken control of the village and battered the coalition task force with home-made bombs and improvised explosive devices. After two attempts at clearing the village led to casualties on both sides, Lieutenant Colonel David Flynn, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force 1-320th gave the order to pulverise the village.
His men were “terrified to go back into the pomegranate orchards to continue clearing (the area); it seemed like certain death”, Paula Broadwell, a West Point graduate, writes on the Foreign Policy blog.
Instead of continuing to clear the tiny village, the commander approved a mine-clearing line charge, which hammered a route into the centre of Tarok Kolache using rocket-propelled explosives.
The results of the offensive were adjudged to have left “NO CIVCAS” - no civilians killed, the daily said. But with Tarok Kolache bombarded with close to 25 tonnes of explosives, assuming some collateral damage does not seem unjustified.
Analysts have not been able to assess the impact of the bombing on civilians due to security concerns. However, it has been agreed that “extreme” operations such as the destruction of an entire village are likely to have a negative impact on attempts to improve coalition-Afghan relations.
The erasure of Tarok Kolache was exactly the type of behaviour that would deal a body blow to Afghan acceptance of the presence of the International Security Assistance Force, Erica Gaston, an Open Society Institute researcher based in Afghanistan, was quoted as saying.
“But for this, I think (NATO) would have started to get some credit for improved conduct,” Gaston wrote in an email.
“Some Kandahar elders (and I stress ’some’, not ‘all’ or even ‘most’) who had initially opposed the Kandahar operations were in the last few months expressing more appreciation for ISAF conduct during these operations, saying they had driven out the Taliban and shown restraint in not harming civilians.
“I think this property destruction has likely reset the clock on any nascent positive impressions.”
According to Broadwell’s post on Foreign Policy, US military commander Gen. Petraeus has approved $1 million worth of reconstruction projects but also told his commanders in the south of Afghanistan to “take a similar approach to what 1-320th was doing on a grander scale as it applies to the districts north of Arghandab”.