Latest
 News
 
 Most
 Read
 
 Most
 Commented
 Hot
 Topics
On Point

High Noon in Afghanistan: The SOF and Osama Shoot It Out


by Austin Bay

The inquiring TV talking head wanted me to walk him through a Special Forces operation. Well, not just any operation. He didn't use the terms "snatch" or "arrest," but that's the commando action he clearly had in mind.

As for the target of this Army Green Beret or Navy SEAL bravado? "Bin Laden. My producer wants to know if Special Forces can get him?"

No, the Hollywood script didn't follow, not immediately.

Hollywood must shoulder some of the blame for making "special operations forces" (SOF) a tough subject to discuss. Admittedly, given their elite qualifications, Green Berets, Rangers, SEALs and other SOF personnel are naturals for Hollywood's cinematic superman treatment. Rambo -- that figure of testosterone and steroids -- destroys a Russian regiment on his own, machine gun blazing. Marine Raiders exit a sub in rubber boats and wreak havoc on a Japanese island. It's a risky exploit undertaken by wily, gutsy individuals. Homer had the plot down pat.

The fact is, SOF are "fragile" and "delicate," words few outside the military would associate with such elite soldiers. Though highly trained, very intelligent, completely disciplined, superbly led and exactingly equipped, ultimately, SOF are lightly-armed infantrymen. This is the case whether they walk, ride, fly or swim to their objective. Stealth and accurate intelligence are their main sources of self-protection.

SOF are not designed to stand and fight. If the SOF unit's intelligence is faulty and they meet unexpected opposition, if they are detected by conventional forces armed with artillery, tanks and aircraft, or if their position and activity is compromised by an intelligence leak so that enemy security forces are prepared for them, even these elite of the elite can be killed or captured quickly. The Rangers' failed arrest operation in Mogadishu, Somalia (1993), was, in part, the result of inaccurate intelligence.

"But as they go into Afghanistan -- "

"SOF's already inside Afghanistan," I interjected. SOF's primary job is detailed recon. SOF are providing targeting data for air strikes and making contact with anti-Taliban Afghanis. SOF sniper teams may also be pre-positioned, hoping for an opportune target.

"But if SOF go by helicopter into Afghanistan, the choppers'll be vulnerable to shoulder-fired missiles and anti-aircraft guns, right?"

Correct -- getting in and out runs many risks.

Actually, the most likely SOF "raid" in Afghanistan would be conducted by aircraft. USAF AC-130 Spectre gunships (heavily armed C-130 transports) could target a suspicious truck convoy. Ground SOF or electronic intelligence might catch Bin Laden "moving" and direct an airstrike using air-delivered smart bombs.

This would be similar to the U.S. shoot-down of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto in 1943, when an intel coup led to the aerial intercept of Yamamoto 's personal aircraft.

That being noted, I gave in to television. Here's the quick script: Night time. Long-range special ops helicopters (from the 160th Aviation Regiment) lift SOF troops from a base in a "friendly country" in Central Asia. Perhaps other choppers fly "feint routes" to fool Taliban spies watching "avenues of approach."

The helo pilots wear light-amplification goggles and use hi-tech avionics to guide them through the mountain valleys. On the chance Taliban Stinger teams are deployed, airstrikes sweep the mountain ridges along the helos' flight path.

Pre-positioned SOF observers watching the cave complex report the intel is "hard" -- the terror kingpin is present.

Suddenly smart bombs from high-altitude aircraft begin to fall in a "rain of steel" on defensive positions protecting the cave. The bombs destroy defenses and leave surviving Taliban in shock. A "fuel air explosive" bomb slams an open area, destroying land mines and creating a landing zone. Seconds after the last bomb, SOF helicopters swoop into the clearing.

SOF troops spill from the helos and fire "disposable" mortars (and possibly tear gas) into the cave. Wearing gas masks and "night goggles" the SOF rush the cave.

A raid like this will only be undertaken (1) if intelligence is absolutely certain (which is rare) and (2) if the target is "of the highest value."

The final gunfight scene in "High Noon" is a Hollywood classic. The film's denouement is very satisfying as Gary Cooper good whips thug evil. But a cave in Afghanistan is a poor place for face to face.

It's not the ending Hollywood wants, but in my script, our guys don't go face to face. They blow the cave -- collapse it, like the crushed basements of the World Trade Center. Taking a lousy terrorist alive at the price of American casualties is -- in my opinion -- not worth the effort.

Send Link to a Friend
    
Return to Index For More Austin Bay    



To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2001 - 2014CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.


StrategyWorld.com© 1998 - 2014StrategyWorld.com. All rights Reserved. StrategyWorld.com, StrategyPage.com, FYEO, For Your Eyes Only and Al Nofi's CIC are all trademarks of StrategyWorld.com Privacy Policy