Tanks to Afghanistan: The Killing Fields

It had seemed the tanker’s last hurrah was Desert Storm, but the Bagdad Blitzkrieg presented yet another opportunity to roll, baby roll. Well the tank is back, and this pachyderm of battle is en route to Afghanistan.

In an uber-step away from stereotyped counterinsurgency, military forces accept it may take an all-out hardware effort against an often invisible enemy. There is a time table, and progress for coalition forces is at a premium. Fighting on the ground has intensified in recent months. Aerial bombing has been on the rise. Special operations night raids have increased, but there is concern these efforts are undermining Afghan support for the war. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has not supported some efforts like the increase in, but does the President for Life really not support much that the U.S does unless it is preceded by the dollar sign and followed by a bunch of zeroes?

Officials on the ground say “taking off the gloves” has improved security in places like Kandahar.

Sixteen tanks are on their way to Helmund Province to help ferret out (blow away?) a resilient Taliban. According to one RAND Corporation senior researcher who has studied the concept of tanks in Afghanistan, tanks provide immediate protected fire power and a range the ground forces don’t have because of the decision to ditch the big guns.

But it was not everyone’s preference to fight a la the native blue people in “Avatar.”
The Marines wanted to take their tanks when they started deploying to Afghanistan, but at least one senior commander was concerned the hefty hardware would remind Afghans of the Soviet invasion and put the kabash on the plan. While Gen. David “King David” Petraeus is considered the father of counterinsurgency, he is very much in favor of heavy fire power when necessary.

Tanks can come in handy. A single tank in Mogadishu 1993 may have saved U.S. lives and drawn the line in the rubble with the Somalis.

The first tanks were developed during the First World War. Winston Churchill had a hand in their creation. Thought by many to be Cold War relics, tanks have proved otherwise and may do so again.

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