NATO Documentary - Afghanistan: Voices above the noise 2/4 (with subtitles: English)

Uploaded by NATOCOMMUNITY on 06.01.2011

In Badghis, they've been putting the theory into practice. The Taleban have occupied parts
of this western province for more than two years, using the area as a smuggling route
north to Tajikistan, and to the fighting in the south.
This is not natural territory for ethnic Pashtuns, from whom the Taliban are largely drawn.
"They control primarily the east side of the valley. This is the area they've held primarily
to secure their smuggling routes. This enables them to bring drugs north and weapons and
money south and anything else they want to move through this area. There are limited
friendly forces here and historically this has been outside of the sphere of influence
of government forces and that's why there has been such a big effort to establish a
coalition and Afghan Security Force presence in this valley."
The Americans are joined by Italian forces running NATO's western command. They say the
operation is not just a show of strength, but a demonstration of ISAF's joined up command
structures, and real-time field experience for the Afghans taking part in the operation.
"This is an important strategic zone. Because the fighters are in our region, in the north.
We're trying to break their lines of communication, which for them are important for illegal trafficking."
It's an intense onslaught from the American base position, backed up by air power, with
the Italians and Afghan forces sealing off areas on either side in an effort to flush
the insurgents down a narrow channel.
Far to the south, in a blanket of dust, an American marine expeditionary force has established
itself at Leatherneck Camp in Helmand. It is base for 7,000 marines, deployed as part
of a 17,000-strong American troop reinforcement which arrived last year.
"Those forces will go and clear and hold areas where we currently can't hold. Fundamentally
these extra US forces will allow us to break that stalemate to go forward into areas where
there is a large amount of the population, to provide greater security by clearing out
the insurgents and then staying there which we have not been able to do before, to allow
us to then improve the governance, reconstruction and development."
The emphasis is on strategic thinking, planning, so the ANA can take responsibility for security.
"I will try to help my people because they support the military. They trust us. I’m
sure they will help us break the Taliban.”
"The big question here is security. That is how we will get electricity and reconstruction.
Then peace will come. That's what people want."
For ISAF, it’s about approaching things from multiple angles, including understanding
the economic needs of the enemy they’re trying to tackle. If that means providing
support to fighters, so that they lay down their arms, so be it.
"It's not a fight between us, and the Taliban or the insurgents, in that way. Because if
it is, I mean, this can go on for a long long time. It's the business of creating space.
Of course quite a number of the people who we end up fighting are not hugely committed
insurgents. They're on the payroll. And if we can provide them with other forms of employment,
other jobs, other ways of making money, then they will cease to be insurgents really quite
So who exactly are the insurgents? What are their capacities, and structures beyond the
projections of success carried in their videos? In 2005, four years after they were removed
from power, the Taliban re-emerged in Afghanistan, re-motivated, better equipped, trained and
funded. Beyond controlling many sparsely populated southern parts of the country, they have repeatedly
made their presence felt in the capital. They’ve pushed into population centres which ISAF
or the ANA don’t have the numbers to hold. In the minds of many Afghans their strict
Sharia-based codes, and their stance against warlordism, make good sense.
"It's a very difficult, a very cunning enemy. They operate in very small groups, they know
the terrain very well, they hide amongst the population. They use all the tricks that they
can to make life difficult for us, and so it's a very cunning enemy. They know how to
give a good opposition with very primitive means. And I think, well you could have respect
for that."
"There's elements of a lot of things. There's ideology, fundamental religion, and I suppose
that's the same thing in a way. There's economic and criminal. The narco, the narco traffickers,
the narco terrorists. So a lot of it is economic, not necessarily ideological. And I mean, there's
also evidence that there are at least some foreign fighters who are you know, if you
like part of the global jihad movement. Although it's always quite difficult to know, you know
what locals refer to as foreigners in parts of Afghanistan could be from three villages
away. There's all sorts of numbers suggested by various different authorities of how many
committed hard core insurgents there are, and this probably isn't the place to bandy
them around. But, you know, it's not an insurmountable number." CLIP General Abdul DAUD, Afghan National
Army, Helmand "The Taliban has three parts. We all know
they come from Pakistan and have support there. Second, some people act for the Taliban as
agents in the provinces. And third, ordinary people join them out of fear. They say they’ll
kill them if they don’t."
People living in the areas close to the border with Pakistan speak of the ease with which
insurgents cross into Afghanistan.
"The insurgents from Pakistan come like thieves. They attack somewhere and slip back across
the border. No-one has much contact."
This is an account from one Nangahar villager, who asked that his identity not be disclosed,
fearing reprisals.
"When they get training over there, they are getting three or four types. Like how to fight
street to street with the enemy and how to get intelligence reports from the area and
the third one is how to put an IED on the roads, or in the side of the roads. They are
killing our people. They don't want our freedom."
"Once I heard from one of our Afghans that he got suicide attack training in tribal Pakistani
areas and he was trying to come to explode himself. He says that when I came in here
I saw that all the people. There was no American, no coalition, nobody foreigners, everybody
over there they were Afghans. So I thought, hey, they are Muslim, I am Muslim, why I should
explode myself?"
At a new ANA hospital in Kandahar, Abdul Hadi, a police officer who was confronted by Taliban
fighters in Panjway district of Kandahar, is receiving treatment for multiple bullet
wounds. This is the province which the Taliban regard as their homeland and Panjway has seen
some of the fiercest fighting in the past years. The bullets Abdul Hadi took damaged
his kidney, his liver and his spine. Doctors say that he will never walk again.
Gharib Hussein, a 20-year-old soldier in the ANA, was luckier. He's having a stomach wound
dressed after coming face to face with Taliban fighters. They shot at him and a colleague
as both soldiers were standing on a hilltop to watch over a passing troop convoy below.
"I was on duty supporting a convoy from our army base. I was told to climb a hill to keep
a look-out. It was winter so I didn't think there'd be a problem with fighters around.
But then my friend was shot dead by the Taliban. I am happy to be alive. But I'm sad I lost
my friend."