Our source on the ground in Afghanistan is a reserve Army major (called to duty from his home in Minneapolis) whom we are inordinately proud to claim as a Power Line reader. He has previously asked us not to disclose his name for security reasons. Today he sent us the following report:
First, I have heard of two suicide attacks in Kabul today, one at the UN and one at the British compound. Most of these types of attacks here are not coming from Afghans, but from foreign terrorists from surrounding countries. There is an uptick in the threat level here due largely to the upcoming elections later this year by those who would like to see an unsuccessful Afghanistan.
Here is some information from my base in Afghanistan. I knew about a lot of this, but didn’t know if the information was approved for release. This is an excerpt of an unclassified email coming from the military hospital commander and is accurate to the best of my knowledge:
“Christmas was fairly quiet here. Soldiers were in good spirits and luckily casualty flow was low. New Year’s Eve however was very busy as was New Year’s day. On New Year’s Eve we received a number of children who were casualties of land mines and gun shot wounds. Two children ages 6 and 8 were walking in an area they thought was clear when a mine went off next to them. Both had shrapnel injuries but one took a large piece of metal through the brain. The surgeons worked to stabilize him and remove the shrapnel. Prognosis is poor for his recovery. The second had multiple shrapnel injuries to his arms, legs and trunk.
“This incident was followed by children begging for food below one of our perimeter guard towers. One of the guards threw food down to the children. When a 10 year old girl ran to catch the food she stepped on a mine, just off the path the children walk each day. She blew off one leg above the knee and had severe blast injuries to the groin and both arms. We could not recover her until the explosive detection dogs cleared the area. Our security cameras captured the scenes of her writhing in pain, horrifically injured the other children and the guards screaming while we tried to extricate her from the mine field.
“The perimeter guard who threw the food is taking the whole thing pretty badly. He tried to get into the mine field to recover the child but was restrained by other soldiers. The child has stabilized in the ICU following extensive surgery. Later in the evening an 8 year old was shot through the upper chest and shoulder shattering his upper arm. He was MEDEVACed to the hospital here and the orthopedic surgeons are working to save his arm.
“New Year’s day one of our vehicle patrols was attacked by multiple enemy with RPG’s and small arms. A young soldier was shot through the arm. The impact of the attack knocked everyone else out of the vehicle. Four soldiers found themselves disabled and trapped in the “kill zone” of the enemy. A Marine Cobra helicopter gun ship engaged and destroyed the enemy with one strafing run. The actions of the helicopter crew saved the lives of these four solders. The helicopter crew came to the hospital to shake the hands of the soldiers they had saved — an emotional moment for everyone.
“Later on New Year’s we were informed of an imminent rocket attack on our base. Spent all night listening for the incoming rockets and walking from guard point to guard point making sure the soldiers were prepared. Our howitzers fired rounds most of the night to demonstrate our ability to respond to an attack. Was one of those difficult nights that soldiers won’t ever forget. The sound of the howitzer rounds keeping the newer soldiers on edge as the veterans reassured them that these were outgoing rounds. Those delivering care to the critically injured children and soldiers in the hospital were unable to go to bunkers for protection. No one even questioned this or faltered in their duty. These are extraordinarily brave soldiers.
“No missile attacked occurred. We haven’t been attacked now with missiles since Dec 16th when three rockets landed inside our wire. One traveling right over the hospital and landing behind us. One airman on the flight line was hit by flying dirt but no serious injuries or damage.”
I would like to make a few comments about the above email. One, our military medical personnel are doing a great job not only treating US personnel, but also many Afghan civilians. The mines that cause injury to so many civilians are not a result of US efforts, but rather the many, many years of previous conflict. Some estimates show Afghanistan as the most heavily mined country in the world. I cannot say what caused the gunshot wounds, but have no reason to believe it was caused by US personnel.
The rocket attacks on US bases tend to occur around the time of a full moon. The rockets are primitive ballistic devices aimed by sight. The perpetrators cannot accurately aim them at night without the light from the moon. Once again, the attackers are typically foreign terrorists, or Afghani’s that are paid a decent price to kill Americans. I don’t want to leave the wrong impression, I think that the coalition efforts here are going very well, but this transformation is more like a marathon than a sprint.
On a different note, I have enjoyed reading your commentary on the Democratic primaries and have seen the results from New Hampshire. Did anyone ever ask Wesley Clark how it is he could guarantee no terrorist attacks on US soil while not being able to prevent the bombing of a Chinese Embassy in Belgrade? Or how about the safety of a civilian convoy, killing more than 70 ethnic Albanians?
Your analysis of John Kerry’s post-Vietnam War activities is important. I hope that you and others will continue to hammer on these facts. There were at least two separate incidents, after the early stages of the Afghan campaign, where distinguished Special Forces veterans returned home and subsequently killed their wives. Do we overlook their actions at home simply because they were heroic on the battlefield for the United States? Are they potential Democrat Presidential nominees?
Finally, I think that this argument that President Bush was a deserter has zero merit. I have been both in the active duty and reserve component Army. There is a big difference between missing some weekend reserve drills and not showing up to work in an active duty status. In fact, I have had gaps for up to a year in my reserve career, and many others do as well. These gaps come for a variety of reasons. For me the gaps in service have occurred due to geographical moves, finding a new unit, etc. The Reserve/National Guard world, in my experience, has many differences from active duty and these accusations tend to come from people who do not understand the differences.
Amid the politcal hijinks that consume our daily attention, let us not forget the guys out there who are giving it up for us. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.