Air Weapons: November 15, 2002


Afghanistan was the perfect place to use smart bombs. For a while, anyway. First of all, Afghanistan has little vegetation to hide in, and lots of hills from which forward observers can spot targets miles away. The Taliban cooperated by not camouflaging their fortified positions, or digging them very deep when they did build fighting positions. As a result, Special Forces found they could easily spot Taliban positions 3-8 kilometers away. One ton smart bombs made short work of the Taliban sitting their, thinking they were safe from the usual machine-gun fire and artillery used in Afghan war. The Taliban also cooperated by sending reinforcements up to the front in daylight truck convoys. More splendid targets for smart bombs. It took weeks for the Taliban to realize what they were up against. This could be seen when Taliban fighters wandered over to the crater left by a recently dropped smart bomb, not realizing they were being watched by unseen forward observers four kilometers distant. The curious Taliban were regularly blasted by another smart bomb, as they were standing on the crater of the last one. Part of this was because the smart bombs were coming from that speck in the sky (a circling B-52), not the low flying bombers they had remembered from the 1980s fighting with the Russians. In short order, the Taliban and al Qaeda learned to operate in small groups and stay hidden, or get blasted. Despite the general lack of vegetation, the Afghans have learned, over the years, how to remain concealed at a distance. Some of it has to do with the earth colored clothing the Afghan fighting man favors. Another angle is the millions large and small caves in Afghanistan. Once the Afghans learned that, if you couldn't be seen, you couldnt be hit, the smart bombs were outsmarted.


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