Panorama tonight - the return to bomb alley BBC1 - 8.30

#1
http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_9378000/9378563.stm

US Marines revisit 'bomb alley'

Three months after British forces in Afghanistan handed over control of Sangin to the Americans, reporter Ben Anderson went on patrol with the US 3rd Battalion 5th Marines "Lima Company" in the area still widely viewed as the country's most dangerous.

No-one knew it yet, but we were standing on a "daisy chain" of seven home-made bombs, buried inches beneath our feet and designed to wipe out the entire squad of US marines.

The bombs were attached to a wire, which led down an alleyway off the path we were nervously inching along.

Somewhere, someone with a battery at the other end of that wire was watching us, waiting for the perfect moment to connect the circuit and detonate the bombs.

We had tried to avoid walking through this very corner, knowing full well such obvious routes are favoured by the Taliban in placing their IEDs. But there was no other way forward.

Roughly 20 metres past the corner, there was a huge explosion behind me.

PANORAMA: FIND OUT MORE

Ben Anderson reports from Afghanistan
The Battle for Bomb Alley
BBC One, Monday, 31 January at 2030GMT
Or watch it later via the
I turned and saw the air thick with swirling dust. Stones and rocks started landing all around. As the air began to clear I saw a crater, and could hear someone groaning.

I walked back and saw a marine known as "Big T" on his hands and knees, patting the ground around him, trying to work out where he was.

Somehow, no one had been killed - the marines walking behind me were all standing between the IEDs when they went off.

Big T was severely concussed, and temporarily blind and deaf. Two others had been badly shaken, but it seemed miraculous that no one was dead. It was four days after Christmas.

Familiar path

The area claimed the lives of 106 British soldiers in four years.

In the three months since the US forces took over from British troops, more than 20% of the combat power of 3rd Battalion 5th Marines in Sangin have been killed or injured.

The town's reputation as the most dangerous place in Afghanistan is undimmed by the arrival of Marine muscle and firepower.

So far, 27 have died and more than 140 have been injured. These numbers are staggering, even by Sangin standards.
 
#2
Ben Andersen has been reporting from the Afghan for many years and was previously embedded with both US and UK forces. He went on to publish some of the more controversial footage that the BBC did not show on VBS TV. Looking forward to it.
 
#4
"The US Marines abandoned over half the old British bases, but now they admit that was a mistake"
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#6
I'm seriously impressed with the CO of the Co being featured. Not conforming to stereotype at all. A tough, aggressive but thinking soldier. Not a slave to the party line but some one who has bought into the mission.


Sent from my iPhone using ARRSE so please excuse fat fingers and slips of the keyboard.
 
#7
I'm Sorry... But how does knocking down the local's homes going to help anything? Never mind not even checking if anyone is living there before blowing a ****ing hole into the side of it.
 
#9
Genuine. I was in the Falklands and would not like to experience that again.....
 
#11
It was a good report on one operation but said little about the overall situation in Sangin, which is what I was expecting.
 
#15
I spent the better part of 2010 in Sangin and I can't help but think of those that lost their lives to protect the same houses being demolished. I wasn't party to the decision making process that led to the abandonment of the PBs, but there were some very worried Brit officers predicting exactly this kind of cluster last September. All fell on deaf ears. So it's out with hearts and minds then... hope they know what they are doing...
 
#16
I spent the better part of 2010 in Sangin and I can't help but think of those that lost their lives to protect the same houses being demolished. I wasn't party to the decision making process that led to the abandonment of the PBs, but there were some very worried Brit officers predicting exactly this kind of cluster last September. All fell on deaf ears. So it's out with hearts and minds then... hope they know what they are doing...
'Grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.' COIN 101.
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Thought it reminded me a bit of what I've seen and read about Vietnam
Fly in, move everyone out destroy the village set them up in a nice new village where you can keep an eye on them and control movement.

Thought they were lucky that the Taliban had left duty spaz to trigger the IED
How many did he let walk over it before pressing the button?
 
#18
Unlikely whoever was on the other end of that wire had direct eyes on, more likely he was around a couple of bends to keep out of sight and blew it when he knew they were roughly in the area. There were 7 IEDs daisy chained, he was unlucky not to seriously injure somebody.

To be honest the 'softly softly' approach didn't work did it? This way is probably worth a go...
 
#19
Shame the Yanks didnt get beyond the 'Brits aren't doing it right' part of their estimate - as in MSQ they didnt want all of the Brit bases but after a good brief from the in place force they took the lot whilst they learned the ground and dynamics. If you assume your predecessors are 'knobbers' then unfortunately it will cost you!
 
#20
Last night's Panorama showed an alternative approach, adopted by a different country with different history, values, tactics etc. It was a measure of the organisation as a whole that a Coy Comd could comment openly that they had it wrong, and they were rectifying their mistake as quickly as they could.

And they certainly didn't think their predecessors where 'knobbers' either.
 

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