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Cambodia and Mississipi Ozark hillbillies

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
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    A few years ago I saw an 'edgy' film called 'City of ghosts' directed and starring Matt Dillon.As well as being an excellent film noir it really got to me as a film which summed up the Cambodia of the 1990s.
    I see lots of bagpackers watching endless re-runs of 'The killing fields' and although it's a good film if you want to see what life was like in the aftermath of the Vietnamese invasion and the UNTAC days this film gets the closest IMO.
    Although I think Mississipi Ozark hillbillies are a little way out of the remit of this travelsite I'd like to reccomend another film I've just seen which is just as edgy and pulls you in to real life.It's called 'Winters Bone' and if you've got the chance don't miss it.

    #1 Posted: 28/10/2010 - 22:24

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  • neosho

    Joined Travelfish
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    Hmmmm....I didn't know Mississippi was considered part of the Ozarks. :)

    #2 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 06:53

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    What is "Winters Bone" about?
    And I loved City of Ghosts. The scene where Matt shows up in Bangkok and goes to the home of Stefan Skjarsgard and is introduced to "Rocky", his fiance, is hillarious: "She's a bit of a diamond in the rough. I'll make a lady out of her yet." It took me a second to realize "she" wasn't a she at all and Stefan was taking a walk on the wild side.

    #3 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 11:59

  • sayadian

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    Neosho-yes the Ozark mountains or plateau encompass quite a few States including parts of Mississipi and Kansas.The people who live there are called Hillbillies apparently because they are descended from 18th century Celtic immigrants from Scotland and Ireland who were dissenters-that is protestant supporters of King William of Orange (hence the name billies)
    I could never get into the politics of this without writing a book not a post but bear in mind that the Troubles in Ireland stem from the religious differences between supporters of King William and Catholics.
    Winter's Bone is about the struggle of a young girl to find her father who has disappeared and left her looking after her young brother and sister.He is heavily involved with some sinister people in the production of Meth (methamphetamine) and the characters she meets during her search are mostly wild, gun carrying meth-heads (or twitchers as some call them for obvious reasons).There is no way I can do justice to this film with a synopsis but I reckon it's going to be a candidate for an Oscar despite being a low budget indie film.The mountain scenery is striking and haunting. I haven't seen anything as good since the film about Iraq- 'The Hurt Locker.'
    Madmac.My favourite scene from City of Ghosts is the bit where they end up being 'entertained in the nightclub and James Caan does his karaoke act.The little guy who shouts for the girls is a well-known funny-man in Cambodia.My Khmer friends reckon Caan does a pretty good job singing Khmer.Believe me places like that were rife a few years ago before the moral crackdown.

    #4 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 14:52

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
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    I saw City of Ghosts earlier this year, after not long having been to Cambodia. I agree its a really good film, though strangely seemed to get poor reviews. Maybe its appeal is greater if you've been to the country.

    #5 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 15:18

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Sayadian
    The Hurt Locker was terrible and gives a ridiculous impression of how the US Army operates - the usual cliche ridden nonsense. Unwatchable for anyone in the profession of arms.

    "Believe me places like that were rife a few years ago before the moral crackdown."

    Thailand is rife with places like this now. I'm surprised Cambodia's not.

    #6 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 21:34

  • sayadian

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    Posts: 1557

    Ok, all you travellers out there.When you arrive in Phnom Penh and see the Killing Fields movie go out and get yourself a copy of City of Ghosts cost about $2 at your local dvd pirate store and stick it the guesthouse dvd player.Some lovely scenes of Phnom Penh shot around the main Post Office and in Oudong,the old Cambodian capital,a place travellers never seem to go to.(I'd rather go there than The Killing Fields which is just one of hundreds such sites in Cambodia and is just an empty field where the KR executed just about everybody they didn't like.)And a great finale shot on Bokor mountain.:-)

    #7 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 21:36

  • MADMAC

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    The hotel in that movie - and the bar - are they still there? If I ever go to PP I'm going to stay in that hotel and drink at that bar.

    #8 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 21:38

  • MADMAC

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    Is Winters Bone set in Cambodia or SEA?

    #9 Posted: 29/10/2010 - 21:46

  • sayadian

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    The 'hotel' in the movie is a building opposite the Main Post office.One of the last remaining pieces of French colonial architecture which hasn't been torn down to make way for concrete blocks.It's near street 104 a quaint little street of hostess bars which reminds me a little of the French Quartier in New Orleans.
    TBH the Ozarks are about as dirt poor as rural Cambodia-that's about all they have in common.
    S.O.P of the U.S Army. I have no idea.but I thought the film was pretty tense.Directed by a woman.Funnily enough a female author is credited with some of the best descriptions of battle-Olivia Manning's Egyptian trilogy based around the siege of Tobruk.I think the guy who wrote the Red Badge of courage had never seen a shot fired in anger yet he gets a high rating for accuracy.

    #10 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 00:52

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  • neosho

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    I wouldn't go to Kansas and start calling people hillbillys. :) Some of us who actually live in the Ozarks would have to disagree with some of the other remarks also. Poor as rural Cambodia? Come on. When was the last time you went there? Most of Mississippi is low lying delta. You might get a few hills up around the Tennessee and Kentucky border. I think the area you are refering to is more the Smokeys and Appalacia. Pardon the spelling. :)

    #11 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 07:41

  • sayadian

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    wow there Neosha.If you read my post you'll see that I said: that's were they come from and parts of Kansas are in the Ozarks, not that all people from Kansas are hillbillies.If you come from Mississipi too, you have my apologies, as I got it mixed up with Missouri.I think these mountain people come from Arkansas as well.
    I'm never quite sure whether this term is derogatory or not.After all it's got an historical significance i.e. Supporters of William of Orange.What I've seen of the Ozarks it consists mostly of birch woods and poor soil so that's what makes people poor.Now Kansas and Missouri- there are two States with a very interesting history during the Civil War.
    BTW I'm Celtic so I've got some affinity with hillbillies,also got relatives all over the South in Virginia,Texas and Florida .Does that make me 'A good ol' boy' once removed?:-)

    #12 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 14:01

  • neosho

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    No offense taken and I hope none given. I tried to post the smile with some of my comments but it doesn't seem to work now. I live in southwest Missouri. Visit more now, I guess. I've lived almost my entire life in the southeast Kansas, NE Oklahoma and SW Missouri region. I don't know of the orgin of the term hillbilly but for years has been used to describe someone as backward, uneducated and interbred. Twenty-five to 30 years ago, it was a common site to see. Wal-mart on a Saturday was interesting to say the least. :) The whole area has changed immensley in the last 30 to 40 years. They can still be kind of clanish though. :) There's still poverty just like everywhere else in the US but they also didn't start coming out of the depression until the mid 60's.
    Being a "good ol' boy" (lol) just depends on how a person acts and treats other people. I remember someone told me when I first moved there year ago, "If the hills don't getcha, the natives will." Subtle advice. LOL

    #13 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 15:44

  • MADMAC

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    "TBH the Ozarks are about as dirt poor as rural Cambodia-that's about all they have in common."

    Perhaps a bit of hyperbole here. The Ozarks aren't that poor anymore. Rural Cambodia?

    "S.O.P of the U.S Army. I have no idea.but I thought the film was pretty tense.Directed by a woman.Funnily enough a female author is credited with some of the best descriptions of battle-Olivia Manning's Egyptian trilogy based around the siege of Tobruk.I think the guy who wrote the Red Badge of courage had never seen a shot fired in anger yet he gets a high rating for accuracy. "

    Writing about warfare when you haven't experienced it is like writing about brain surgery when you're not a doctor. And you're about as likely to get the same results. Hurt Locker was only marginally better than the attrocious Black Hawk Down. The problem with these inds of films is most of the time accurracy is unimportant to the writers, directors and producers. So it is sacrificed to either send a desired political message and / or to entertain. That problem is only magnified by gross ignorance.

    #14 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 15:48

  • sayadian

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    Posts: 1557

    neosha
    absolutely no offence taken.
    going back to that film.'Winter's Bone' I expect you'd find it very cliched as the 'hillbillies'in it are mostly ignorant, clanish,stubborn, live on squirrel meat and make a living 'cooking' meth.They're only redemption,in the movie, is that they have a code, putting family first.
    Madmac
    Not all films are made to be accurate.The good ones try to get a message across.
    Plain and simple truth is I enjoyed the Hurt Locker and it seems a lot of people thought similar as it won some Oscars.
    My father fought in WW2 in the Mediterranean he had the same take on war films.The only one he said showed any accuracy about war time life in the navy was 'The Cruel Sea' well worth watching if you ever come across a copy.It was made in B&W during the 1950's
    but still ranks as a classic.
    BTW my comment on the poverty in the Ozarks was concerning the film's take on it not mine,should have made that clear.

    #15 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 16:02

  • MADMAC

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    "Plain and simple truth is I enjoyed the Hurt Locker and it seems a lot of people thought similar as it won some Oscars."

    I really liked Band of Brothers. For me, accurracy is paramount. Lose that, lose credbility - and I am not longer interested in the message, because the guy who's delivering it has no credibility with me. I've been to these places, fought there, and now I've got some guy who hasn't trying to tell me what's what and screwing it up in the process. Just doesn't work for me. There are a few war movies I've enjoyed, but most are cliche ridden and trying too hard to send a message (usually a predictable one).

    I remember Mark Bowden wrote "Black Hawk Down" and it was about to be made into a film. I thought, great, finally the story of what happened there will reach the American people. But nope, they left the theater worse off than when they came in. A travesty.

    #16 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 19:35

  • sayadian

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    Bit puzzled about your opinion on 'Black Hawk Down' I thought it was a pretty accurate film which more or less stuck to Mark Bowden's account.
    The soldiers there were surely brave but they were out-thought and out-gunned by the Somalis.I think in this case the U.S. under-estimated the enemy.
    Aidid had a strategic plan to knock out a blackhawk to suck you guys in and it worked.
    I'd be interested in why you believe it's inaccurate.
    Also knowing these guys had RPGs by the truckload why were helis flying so low?

    #17 Posted: 31/10/2010 - 00:26

  • MADMAC

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    OK, the thread is wandering, but that's what healthy conversations do:

    Black Hawk Down list of inaccuracies - big and small.

    1. Garrison had a large staff - depicted as basically two guys in the film. That operations center was humming with activity whenever I went in it. Int he film it's Garrison looking at a video monitor and talking on the radio and that's it. Ridiculous. His J2 staff had about 50 guys on it!
    2. Most of the Somalis weren't Somali! They weren't even Hamitic. They were Bantu! I mean, WTF? Not only the wrong ethnic group but the wrong racial group! Pathetic. They didn't even bother to get Somalia extras?
    3. The scene where Eversman is in the helicopter and sees a technical open fire on a bunch of civilians and then requests permission to engage. Beyond stupid:
    a. We were authorized (and often did) to engage ANY Somali manning a crew served weapon. That included an RPG, which by definition has a gunner and assistant gunner. They did not need to do a thing other than carry the weapon. They knew this, and we knew this.
    b. We were authorized to use deadly force to protect a third party from same. Always. Authorization wasn't needed from higher headquarters.

    This radio conversation would not have even happened. The only radio convseration that would have taken place was the one where a technical was sited and destroyed - it's crew killed. That would have been the radio conversation.

    4. The scene with Osman Hassan Ali's (Atto) capture. In the film, he's talking on a cell phone. Mogadischu had no cell phone service in 1993. Ridiculous. Once captured he's sitting in a room acting cool - NOT. First, we put him in a small holding cage. He was not treated as a guest of honor. Secondly, once caught he was rocking back and forth nervously say ing "****, ****, ****". Hardly suave.
    5. Because Stebbins was convicted of sex with a minor and given a lengthy prison sentence after his heroic performance in Somalia, they decided to change the character's name to "Grinds". Ridiculous.
    6. McKnight's performance, the Lieutenant Colonel (and 3rd Ranger Battalion Commander) who commanded the ground convoy, was erratic and inconsistent, and by the time the convoy made it back to the air field, he was out of the fight. In the movie Sizemore leads the subsequent rescue convoy. This is a total insult to Bill David, the 2-14 infantry battalion commander, who actually did lead the rescue (and did so with a bigger pair of balls than anyone I've ever seen). Hollywoods' obsession with character development causes them to do so even when they do so while ignoring great achievement by people.
    7. The QRF is portrayed as slow moving, incompetent. Completely left out of the account is their first attempted break in - which like that of the cook platoon failed because of fierce resistance.
    8. Other allies are given short shrift. In particular the Malays and the Pakistanis show up, the Malays took eight catualties, including one KIA, for their trouble. Yet are portrayed in the film as some sort of marginal incompetents.
    9. They use M-113 APCs whent he Malays deployed Condors.

    But the really big gaffe's are the ones that irk. For example the one that leaves you with this impression:

    "The soldiers there were surely brave but they were out-thought and out-gunned by the Somalis.I think in this case the U.S. under-estimated the enemy."

    1. We were most certainly NOT outgunned nor outthought. We won that battle by every definition. We had enormous firepower and we used it. They had great numbers, but we had greater firepower. This fight had been brewing for a long time. The reason things went wrong is because there was enormous political pressure from UN participants to minimize "civilian" casualties. Especially after the raid on the house of Abdi Hassan Awale "Qeybdid". That is how the concept of conducting raids to eliminate leadership came from. Raids are inherently risky operations. You are putting your personnel in relatively small numbers into the territory of the enemy to achieve a specific objective. The enemy gets a vote. We knew these were risky, but sounder military methods were vetoed by both the UN and the Clinton administration. What we should have done, once the target house was identified holding the targets in question, was destroyed it with long range fires and killed the occupants. This is sound. Strike the enemy in a way he can't respond. We should have continued to do this until he broke, or all his people were dead. When we departed from the sound, and moved into the idea of trying to "arrest" people (something Armies aren't trained to do), we gave up our most important advantage.

    2. We weren't fighting "the Somalis". We were fighting the Haber Gedir. A subclan of the Hawiye and only the second largest clan in Mogadischu at the time (the Abgal being the largest, and a close ally with us - I have many Abgal friends). There were about 275,000 Haber Gedir (give or take, exact numbers are not available) in the city at the time. We understood in great detail what parts of the city they controlled, what their armaments were, etc. There were no miscalculations.

    "Aidid had a strategic plan to knock out a blackhawk to suck you guys in and it worked."

    It worked because we had a lot of aircraft in the air flying low directly over his territory. We knew it was risk. We had lost an aircraft on 25 September to an RPG and they had been freqeuntly firing RPGs at aircraft prior to that. We had had detailed discussions with Turkish intel officers on how the RPGs were being employed in the Kurdish region against their aircraft and what evasive manuevers we could employ. The conflict was for the aircraft to provide decent fire support they have to fly within the range of the RPG. Move them too high, and they can't see much and can't engage effectively. That's not to mention when they are delivering troops, which of course necessitates low level flying. Again. The enemy gets a vote. If the enemy has a success it doesn't mean you did something wrong. Just as when we have a success it doesn't indicate mistep on their part. This is part of the friction of war, and is wholly unavoidable. We conducted five raids prior to the one in which we had the large engagement on 3/4 October. They all went smoothly. You can only go to the well so many times and eventually it will be dry.

    Our mistake in this whole venture was at the political level and a general aversion in the western world to conducting warfare properly. We had the firepower to put Aideed out of business quickly, but we were not prepared to kill the number of people it would have taken to do so. So we operated on the fringes when our political leadership constrained us. This was foolish, and in this case wholly self-generated constraint. Aideed represented a narrow range of the population, he was not generally popular, he was vicious and responsbile for the deaths of tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people. He was the scum of the earth. What the UN was doing there was morally more than justifiable. Our lack of will to fight this relatively small fight to the finish and destroy the enemy has had two lasting, negative, effects:

    1. It reinforced a common, and not always inaccurate, notion that the US has no staying power. That if you give it a bloody nose, it will look for a way out. Hence the Talibans current strategy (and Al Qaeda's in Iraq previously).
    2. It has left Somalia to wallow in political chaos, and the violence and poverty associated with same, for close to two decades and also created an opening for Al Shabab, which we will have to destroy if it gets to powerful there.

    Black Hawk down failed in the details, failed in big picture and failed to capture the feel of the event. It was a travesty.

    #18 Posted: 31/10/2010 - 11:48

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 1557

    A very interesting and I am in no doubt, accurate and detailed answer. Thank you for your time in writing it.
    I can't really answer from a military perspective except I'm still puzzled whythese helis were giving cover so close to the ground when the effective range of an RPG can't be more than 500 metres whereas canon fire is effective at 3 times that distance. I accept that infiltration/exfiltration has to be done but why hang around after that?

    What you write shows clearly the different perspectives of military v politicians.
    The use of troops as peacekeepers v their real role as soldiers.
    You say:
    'Our mistake in this whole venture was at the political level and a general aversion in the western world to conducting warfare properly. We had thefirepower to put Aided out of business quickly, but we were not prepared to kill the number of people it would have taken to do so.'

    I’d agree with that but you just can’t go in gung ho.These people hide themselves in towns and cities, mosques and hospitals, conventional warfare has no place in this sort of fight. When you do this, you widen the conflict; create more 'martyrs', as in Pakistan,by killing lots of innocent people in drone attacks. This is not Normandy 1944 with precise battle lines.

    The answer is more intelligence, small units tasked to takeout the major players (small units- not large task forces as in Mogadishu),turning people with money etc.

    We play into their hands everyday by trying to use conventional war whilst playing peacemaker. Afghanistan has now spilled into Pakistan,Yemen. Should we engage them in those countries? Where’s the line?

    I am not criticising the army, UK has soldier’s coffins coming back from Afghanistan every week in another pointless conflict which we are told is to help the people of Afghanistan.The politicians are to blame for using the military in a role it is not suited to.

    You say:
    ‘Aided represented a narrow range of the population, he was not generally popular, he was vicious and responsible for the deaths of tens,perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people. He was the scum of the earth.’

    Absolutely, but inadvertently the U.S. Army made this guy more popular. He knew that if he got you involved in a firefight on the streets of Mogadishu there would be civilian casualties and the invader/infidel, whatever they called you, would get the blame. Aided sucked you into coming in heavily armed, provoked a firefight which got completely out of hand and with his clever propaganda machine managed to convince the people that you were the threat not him and made himself more popular, albeit for a short period of time.

    I blame the politicians for training men to fight in battle then using them as policemen.

    #19 Posted: 31/10/2010 - 18:31

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "I can't really answer from a military perspective except I'm still puzzled whythese helis were giving cover so close to the ground when the effective range of an RPG can't be more than 500 metres whereas canon fire is effective at 3 times that distance. I accept that infiltration/exfiltration has to be done but why hang around after that?"

    The RPG-7 isn't accurrate at all when firing at moving aircraft. They weren't designed for that and they aren't good at it. They self destruct (and the warhead detonates, sending shrapnel in all directions) at about 950 meters. So anywhere out to 950 meters they are a danger to whatever they strike (since their destructive power is not based on kinetic energy). Thus an aircraft would have to fly at 3,000 feet to be really out of any risk. And at 3,000 feet, your not going to see very well while flying and trying to put steel on target.

    The UH-60s being used by TF Ranger at the time had no cannon. They had 7.62 mini guns. Great guns to be sure. And certainly capable of sending lead 3,000 feet - but not all that effectively and not all that accurately given the urban terrain. In short, there was no way to support the troops with the UH-60s (or the mini-birds) and effectively provide ground support.

    "I’d agree with that but you just can’t go in gung ho.These people hide themselves in towns and cities, mosques and hospitals, conventional warfare has no place in this sort of fight. When you do this, you widen the conflict; create more 'martyrs', as in Pakistan,by killing lots of innocent people in drone attacks. This is not Normandy 1944 with precise battle lines."

    Every conflict is different. In the context we are discussing here, I believe we should have destroyed all of the known SNA ammo caches (we stopped destroying any after the initial battle around the SNA enclave), and target buildings with militia leaders or personnel should have been destroyed as well. In my estimate at the time, such actions would have killed roughly 10,000 personnel before the SNA was broken and the Haber Gedir conceded.

    "The answer is more intelligence, small units tasked to takeout the major players (small units- not large task forces as in Mogadishu),turning people with money etc."

    Obviously targetting leadership is an element. But the Task Force in Mogadischu was by no means large. It was quite small. You have to remember we were fighting an armed unit with thousands of men under arms. They were attacking us daily. It was a war. A small war, but a war. Small units can not "take out major players" without extreme risk. The major players are operating in denied terrain. They aren't stupid. Turning people with money only helps develop sources. You were not going to cause the SNA to turn in Aideed with money.

    "We play into their hands everyday by trying to use conventional war whilst playing peacemaker. Afghanistan has now spilled into Pakistan,Yemen. Should we engage them in those countries? Where’s the line?"

    By indicating you should not be using conventional forces you are under-estimating their combat power. The Taliban, for example, have AT LEAST 30,000 men under arms. These guys are coming to fight and kill. You had better be able to engage them on a more than equal footing. It's not a peacekeeping mission, and neither was Somalia in 93. It was a Chapter 7 peace making mission. BIG DIFFERENCE.

    Nor did the conflict spill into Pakistan. Waziristan has been rife with conflict against the central government for decades. It's more viral now, because Al Qaeda has brought this conflict out into the open in the hopes that they receive a massive groundswell of public support across the Islamic world. That's another story. But frankly, it is simply incorrect to conclude that the campaign in Afghanistan could be fought with "small units and more intelligence". Not possible. Smaller than the force now? Absolutely possible. But this is a decades long fight, there is no cheap answer. And if we don't want to see a VERY MILITANT Islamic state armed with nuclear weapons, we had better take it seriously.

    "I am not criticising the army, UK has soldier’s coffins coming back from Afghanistan every week in another pointless conflict which we are told is to help the people of Afghanistan.The politicians are to blame for using the military in a role it is not suited to."

    Only the military can fight this fight. Send in a bunch of cops, and you'll get back a bunch of bodies. As I said, the Taliban are a determined, capable foe. The cost of losing will very possibly be the destruction of the government of Pakistan (one of Al Qaeda's objectives from the beginning) and the overthrow and replacement of the House of Saud - giving militant Islam control of the worlds oil supply and nuclear weapons. The potential outcome of this conflict if we lose our will is a third world war that will cost about 2 billion lives. That's of course worst case, but quite possible.

    "Absolutely, but inadvertently the U.S. Army made this guy more popular."

    No, we did not. This is absoutely wrong. He was as despised by the clans who hated him when we left as when we arrived.

    "He knew that if he got you involved in a firefight on the streets of Mogadishu there would be civilian casualties and the invader/infidel, whatever they called you, would get the blame."

    The approbation we received from the civilian deaths did not come from the Somali population (minus the Haber Gedir and their lackey's). They came from outside sources. Mostly those who are averse to warfare and seek any and all excuses to attack the US military. The Abgal, Hawadle, Murosade and so on and so forth were glad we killed those people. They hated them. They would have killed those women and children themselves given half a chance. That's war Africa.

    "Aided sucked you into coming in heavily armed, provoked a firefight which got completely out of hand and with his clever propaganda machine managed to convince the people that you were the threat not him and made himself more popular, albeit for a short period of time."

    That was not his strategy, so don't think for a minute it was. He shot his wad fighting us. When we left, and open warfare resumed, the Haber Gedir were never again on top. Less than three years after we were gone, he was dead as a result of warfare in Mogadischu. He NEVER did control the city. Aideed believed that back on 5 June he could attack the UN with impunity and get away with it. That backfired. He didn't bargain for the full scale fight he got. He thought we would be cowed. Any "victory" he obtained, was phyric indeed.

    "I blame the politicians for training men to fight in battle then using them as policemen"

    I blame the politicians for not having the balls to fight when you have to fight. Afghanistan is a classic case in point. This is a difficult, drawn out conflict. There will be no quick victory, and we should not be seeking one. It's not possible. Tell the people the truth and why we are fighting in the first place. What the objectives are, how long it will take to achieve them and so forth. Don't sugarcoat it. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are counting on our lack of paitence. That's their strategy. So just keep operating in southern Afghanistan, keep putting Hellfire missiles into their bedrooms in Waziristan - day, after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. Eventually, they will break. It's a game of chicken. It's as simple as that, and there is no way out. There are no short cuts. There are no cheap, easy solutions. The simple fact is that we can kill more of them by a factor of ten or more every year. Now I understand that to the parents of those troops killed - that ain't a bargain. But warfare is a deadly business, and those of us who fight (and in Afghanistan they'll all volunteers) we know what we signed up for. make the pace sustainable (so guys aren't literally living there forever), and the troops will do it, and do it gladly. I know, I was one of these guys.

    #20 Posted: 31/10/2010 - 20:15

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Thanks again for your take on the subject.
    I'm afraid we are never going to agree on the overall strategy against Islamists.The more we kill the more will come out of the wall.We will never defeat them by arms.
    Iraq and Afghanistan have been failures in that they've created more recruits and in the case of Iraq a huge vacuum for Al quaida and Iran to fill.
    Whatever Saddam was, he had just as much as us to fear from them
    You are right about Pakistan, that is the greatest danger far more so than Afghanistan where we have an alliance fighting medieval warlords who've done nothing but fight for the last thousand years and it's the national sport.
    I think the strategy in Pakistan must be to keep the Pakistani army onside, after all the officer corp are mostly Sandhurst graduates so we've got a link.
    As far as I can make out in Saudi Arabia, one country I am familiar with, the extremists have been there a long time and hold sway over the House of Saud.So you could say they are in a tricky situation.I worked with the National Guard there some 20 odd years ago and believe me many of these guys had little time for the infidel.
    'Small units can not "take out major players" without extreme risk.'
    They can if their brief is to watch and target for air strike

    #21 Posted: 1/11/2010 - 00:39

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6218
    Total reviews: 10

    "I'm afraid we are never going to agree on the overall strategy against Islamists.The more we kill the more will come out of the wall.We will never defeat them by arms."

    First of all, this statement pre-supposes that all we are doing is using "force of arms". This is not correct. Have you seen the massive commitment in Afghanstan, Pakistan, Iraq, East Africa and Yemen to economic improvement? There are large numbers of civil affairs units fixing schools, digging wells, conducting free health and dental clinics, immunizing livestock - you name it. Take a look at the work being done by CJTF-HOA. We are being incredibly successful. Why do you think so many of these militant Islamic plots are failing, why there are so few in the first place, and why they are so small in scale? Since 9-11 there has been one successful attack in the US (the major who went postal).
    Open warfare with the Taliban is part of this complex conflict, not the only part. But most certainly a neccesary part.
    "Iraq and Afghanistan have been failures in that they've created more recruits and in the case of Iraq a huge vacuum for Al quaida and Iran to fill."
    Two different campaigns that are not all that comparable. Frankly, in my view, the decision to invade Iraq was a stupid one. Not because I was sympathetic with the animal known as Saddam Hussein. But his regime was not connected to the militant Islam movement and removing every dictator from power is not our business. It was a costly and unnecessary adventure. Having said that, it seems pretty clear now that Iraq will survive and not turn into a militant Islamic state - so it can be fairly called a success.
    Afghanistan is different. That campaign had to happen to deny Al Qaeda a sanctuary from which to operate. There was no other way. Their capacity now to recruit has been severely diminished, because there is no safe place to do it. Ditto training. In every state now (minus Somalia, an open chancre) there are security forces (police) who are working hard to catch militants, to disrupt their operations, etc. It is getting more and more difficult for Arabs to join the movement, and the numbers of trained personnel who can impart knowledge are getting fewer and fewer, as we are killing or arresting them faster than they can reproduce. Again, witness their lack of effectiveness in attacking the western world, the sharp decrease in attacks in the middle east - frankly the only place where they are a real challenge is Afghanistan, and that's because they are native insurgents fighting on familiar ground.
    "They can if their brief is to watch and target for air strike"
    Even then, LRS type units, if located by the enemy, are in deep gimchee. They just don't have the firepower to last for long. In Mogadischu it was almost impossible. I believe there were some guys doing this with the agency, but you would be pretty lucky to see a major target moving around where you would visibly identify him. Again, after 12 July these guys were lying real low and tough to find - even using indigenous human assets. Also, using one does not preclude using the other. And lastly, our problem in Mog was not only locating them, but the fact we were no longer permitted to kill them outright, but were required to detain them. Big mistake. At least in Waziristan we are not trying to do that - which would spell huge trouble.

    #22 Posted: 1/11/2010 - 11:22

  • neosho

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2008
    Posts: 386

    Sayadian, I recently had the pleasure of watching Winter's Bone. While of the opinion that like most movies, some truth and some fantasy, it was still good to watch. I had to smile several times as it brought back some old memories I had long forgotten. The acting was good and the girl that plays the lead was fantastic.

    #23 Posted: 13/2/2011 - 09:57

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Neosho
    Glad you liked it.and yes that girl put in a fine performance.Made the movie

    #24 Posted: 13/2/2011 - 11:17

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    Sayadian..I don't know where you are from but in the states the term 'Hillbilly" is used all over the US for poor country folks from the hills. It may have been that the original Ozark mountain people had some Celtic heritage related to British history way back when, but these days it is used interchangeably with Rednecks. Has no historical significance. Both are derogatory although many "redneck" comedians these days are taking the word back so to speak. Many are proud to be a hillbilly or redneck. The term "hillbilly" can be heard anywhere there are hills and lower class people. It is unfortunate but true. I found living in Japan they had terms for poor hill folks too.

    #25 Posted: 19/3/2011 - 10:35

  • alicechen

    Joined Travelfish
    26th July, 2011
    Posts: 3

    Writing about warfare when you haven't experienced it is like writing about brain surgery when you're not a doctor.
    Coach Glasses
    discount coach handbags
    microsoft office 2010

    #26 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 13:32

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6218
    Total reviews: 10

    Ali
    I agree, but writing discussing the policy of whether or not to use military forces is something citizenry have both a right and obligation to do, at least in healthy societies. And that public discourse needs to take place prior to the use of forces whenever possible.

    The biggest problem is that most people don't understand that armies are not police forces, and they are not surgical instruments - they are blunt instruments. If you send an Army somewhere to use force to accomplish an objective, understand innocent people are going to die. Every time. That's a reality that a lot of people don't want to admit. It doesn't mean you want innocent people to die, it means that is an unavoidable consequence.

    #27 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 13:50

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    In the West the idea of Armed Forces being used as an extension of policing as 'keeping the peace' is becoming more and more acceptable and the brass are just going to have to live with it.
    The British probably have the biggest experience of this in Northern Ireland for 30 years plus.
    That didn't stop us mounting small scale military operations in the real sense against PIRA, who incidently wanted it both ways, never wore any insignia or uniform but demanded to be identified and processed as POW's when captured.
    N.I. was accepted as a genuine 'policing' op by the public.The army learnt that in this type of war covert ops with the guys from 'Det' and special forces ops were the only real soldiering.
    Don't forget ironically, it was the Catholic community who first asked for Army presence to stop the 'ethnic cleansing' by the Prods.
    It was a difficult time for the army with ROE being very strictly enforced and if you recall soldiers were actually prosecuted for firing on cars which successfully breached CPs and killing the occupants after they were no longer deemed a threat (bullshine!).
    My point is the Army adapted and it will continue to be used in this policing role and have to adapt. This goes for most 'Western' armies.

    #28 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 14:46

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    BTW this is my thread, just noticed.Who hijacked it? :-)

    #29 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 14:47

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6218
    Total reviews: 10

    Ali hijacked it... sort of.

    Anyway, Sayadian the British Army did a reasonable job in a very difficult environment in Northern Ireland, but remember that was a level one insurgency. The capabilities of the IRA were never sufficient to advance to level two, let alone level three. In my view, organizations such as these are both illegal (not debateable) and immoral. They are essentially mafia's with more muscle. I don't care how justifiable their arguements. As Dire Straits said "Right becomes wrong and left becomes right." They ALWAYS lose their way morally.

    But on a larger scale, all insurgencies are not the same. For example, the IRA did not have anything near the manpower of firepower of the SNA in Mogadischu in 1993. There the Haber Gedir could put 10,000 well armed men on the street. Much greater capacity for violence which causes a much greater response to survive and win.

    Then we run across cases where armies sent to enforce peace where peace does not exist (Somalia 1992 or Bosnia 92-95 or the Congo, etc.) find they do not have the means to enforce agreements. The poor Dutch (who admitedly did not cover themselves in glory, but screwed no matter what) in Srebrenica absolutely lacked the means to enforce any agreement. At the end of the day, military forces are deployed because non-military forces can not do the job. And that means at least a capacity and a will to kill, and kill a lot. If you don't have the stomach for that, then don't play the game in the first place.

    #30 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 14:58

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    'There the Haber Gedir could put 10,000 well armed men on the street.'
    Hell, if he could do that I would imagine you had a full scale war on your hands not a policing op.
    The examples in the former Yugoslavia.Maybe you can jog my memory.Weren't the massacres due to inability to engage because of long U.N. chain of command and Rules of Engagement?
    Srebrenica (glad I don't have to pronounce it)
    Isn't that the place that was being shelled from the surrounding hills? Where were the Air boys when they were needed? It wouldn't have taken much to dislodge them from that position with the superior air power NATO or was it UN (I think they were blue berets) had.

    #31 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 15:22

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6218
    Total reviews: 10

    "The examples in the former Yugoslavia.Maybe you can jog my memory.Weren't the massacres due to inability to engage because of long U.N. chain of command and Rules of Engagement?"

    ROE was one limiting factor. The second was the fact that the Dutch fielded an infantry battalion devoid of anti-tank weaponry when the Serbs had tanks, was under-manned and completely outgunned. Even had air support become available, Screbrenica would have been overrun. The Dutch lacked the capacity with force. That's because the Dutch government failed to understand that presence alone isn't enough. They didn't think the Serbs would actually use violence against their "peace keeping" soldiers. VERY naive. Very Stupid. The dutch government (and citizenry) made the obtuse mistake of assuming that the Bosnian Serbs shared their moral compass on some level and that presence alone was enough to deter attack. For that mistaken assumption, some 6,000 Bosnian Muslims lost their lives.

    "Hell, if he could do that I would imagine you had a full scale war on your hands not a policing op."

    We killed about 1,000 people the night of 3/4 October. A little policing up it wasn't. I didn't sleep for 36 hours.

    "Isn't that the place that was being shelled from the surrounding hills? "

    That was Sarajevo. Still a beautful city. But it was ripped during the war. Whole neighborhoods were destroyed.

    "Where were the Air boys when they were needed?"

    You can't take an hold ground with air. Air is a combat multiplier, but it isn't a solution. You have to do that with boots on the ground and infantrymen shooting people.

    "It wouldn't have taken much to dislodge them from that position with the superior air power NATO or was it UN (I think they were blue berets) had."

    It would take troops, with air support, taking the ground and killing those who resisted.

    This is what armies do. This is all they do. They achieve a political end through force or the threat of the use of force. But that threat, when you are not prepared to do it, is meaningless. Bosnia under UNPROFOR is a classic case in point.

    #32 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 22:04

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Agree with most of what you say but surely it would not have been a problem locating the battery positions and putting them out.The Serbs didn't have unlimited resources and probably would have found it hard to bring up more artillery. I'm probably mixing up Srebrinica and Sarajevo.I know one of them had continous sniper fire to contend with, in that scenario would agree entirely with you that the ground would have had to be taken and held.
    Who was the muppet who sent infantry to face tanks without ATW? Sounds like the U.N. Politicians running for peace prizes.

    #33 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 23:15

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6218
    Total reviews: 10

    It was the Dutch government itself. The battalion actually did have anti-tank weaponry in it's arsenal, but the Dutch government thought that was too provocative, and ordered the all heavy weaponry to be left behind. They were, after all, peacekeepers and not meant to fight. And THAT was were things unravaled. You don't send in peacekeepers when there isn't peace. It requires UN Chapter 7 authorization - peacemaking (Somalia is the only example to date of Chapter 7 authorization). Europeans (the British - and now ironically the Dutch -being notable exceptions) in particular are VERY skittish on the subject and loathe to use their military forces to actually fight. That's how they get into these predicaments. Commanders are aware that any use of force will be scrutinized and they become afraid to use it even when authorized. I hate to say it, because I am not anti-European, but aside from Britain and the Dutch, the rest of the European armies are pretty much useless at this juncture. The skill and material is not lacking, but the will certainly is. You will note UNPROFOR, with large British and French contingents, had plenty of warfighting capacity from 1992-1995, but it actually took American leadership to end the war. Not because we are somehow organically more competent, but because we were prepared to use real force against any who resisted, and all the conflicting parties knew this and were not prepared to take us on. Just as they knew the European forces were not prepared to use real force and thus were prepared to take them on.

    #34 Posted: 26/7/2011 - 23:36

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