Those who watch the Postometer to the right are probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind. As I type this, Google News is showing 1217 articles and 91 images regarding today’s attacks in Kabul…and I have the audacity to write a “cautiously optimistic” post?!?
When the attacks started today, my first concern was about the people in my directorate. At the time of the attacks, we had a number of people working with Afghans “outside the wire”…we knew where they were, but we didn’t know exactly where the fighting was, so – as always – the situation was a little tense until we determined everyone was “all present or accounted for.”
My second concern, though, was about the Afghans we had trained, advised, and equipped. Soldiers, policemen, and policewomen were in the streets, using short-range and long-range radios to coordinate the fight against the insurgents and gain medical support for the injured. They were also in the National Military Command Center, the National Police Command Center, and other locations, using video teleconference systems, telephones, computers, and surveillance cameras to gain situational awareness and coordinate the responses of subordinate units. And we – Afghan and Coalition communicators alike – were responsible. I knew we’d done well, but at that point I could only hope it was good enough.
Could we – the communicators, I mean – have done better? Certainly. Over the next few days we’ll conduct hard-nosed after-action reviews, looking at what went right and what went wrong. And we’ll become better for it.
Over the next few days we’ll also learn and share stories about the heroes…a policeman, perhaps, who stopped a vehicle-borne IED at an entry control point, giving his life but protecting everyone on the other side. Or a soldier perhaps, killed while retaking one of the hotels. And we’ll become better for it.
Bottom line: It utterly rots that 7 terrorists were able to attack soft targets in Afghanistan’s largest city today, killing 5 and injuring 70 during 6 hours of fighting. However, compared with the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, (where 10 terrorists attacked soft targets in India’s largest city, killing 173 and injuring 308 over 2-1/2 days of fighting), it’s clear the Afghan National Security Forces did pretty well.
* AP photo, from BBC News
** AP photo by Ahmad Massoud, from the NY Times