Afghanistan: December 6, 2001

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The Italians have slated a Cavalry Regiment to assist with Allied operations in Afghanistan. The combat core would have 390 men in two cavalry squadrons (with 30 "Centauro" Tank Destroyers) and one infantry company, backed by a 122-man combat engineer company, a logistical company and an NBC company of 116 men, as well as a company of 150 airborne Carabinieri from the Tuscania Battalion. They would also have four A129 Mangusta attack helicopters for "tactical reconnaissance". All told, the unit would muster over 700 men.

Cavalleggeri Guide of Salerno and Genova Cavalleria of Palmanova (Udine) Regiments were mobilized for duty, but which unit will supply the troopers has not been decided. As of early November, General Giorgio Cornacchione (slated to be the Italian mission commander in Central Asia) was still waiting to find out when his mission was to start in Afghanistan and which Cavalry regiments were slated for Kosovo during that time period. 

An advance party of 10 Italian Air Force technical experts, along with 10 Army officers and noncommissioned officers of the Garibaldi Brigade, left for Tajikistan on 2 December in a 46th Airborne Brigade C-130. They were accompanied by 16 US Marines, since according to Defense Minister Antonio Martino command of the Italian forces would be delegated to the United States Central Command chief.

The Centauro has seen action in Somolia and Kosovo, while 16 of them are undergoing trials with the Interim Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis. Meanwhile, in anticipation of deployment to Afghanistan, the Mt. Cervino Alpini Battalion has bought back the mules discharged by the General Staff.- Adam Geibel


As anti-Taliban Pushtun fighters close in on the cave complex of Tora Bora, some U.S. bombs started a large forest fire. The Taliban troops are being driven back towards the main cave complex entrances. There are reports that the Taliban and terrorists have been taking casualties from the bombing of the caves. It's not known how many, if any, of the penetrating "bunker buster" bombs have been used. 

Yesterday's bombing accident outside Kandahar killed three American and five Northern Alliance troops. Over thirty Americans and Afghans were wounded. The wounded were quickly taken to the U.S. marine base south of Kandahar for treatment and evacuation. The cause of the incident was a 2000 pound JDAM guided bomb that landed too close (about a hundred meters, versus the normal safe distance of ten times that) to friendly troops. Total U.S. casualties in Afghanistan so far are less than a hundred. Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban forces losses, since the entry of U.S. warplanes and troops, is apparently less than a thousand. Taliban and terrorist casualties are probably 5-10,000. Civilian casualties are apparently less than a thousand, the lowest ever for such a campaign. 

At least one of the major anti-Taliban warlords has denounced the recent peace agreement reached in Germany. General Dostum (a Uzbek, some six percent of Afghan's are Uzbek) says he is humiliated and that his group did not get enough power in the interim government. More negotiations will be required to deal with this, and other warlords may likewise seek a different deal. 

Canadian commandos are on their way to Afghanistan. 

Taliban leader mullah Omar is said to have agreed to surrender Kandahar. 

U.S. Marines have joined the siege of Kandahar, blocking some of the roads into Kandahar. Normally, the city has a population of some 500,000, but all but 125,000 are thought to have fled to escape the fighting.

 

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