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Operation Angry Cobra

Mark Urban | 12:11 UK time, Friday, 18 December 2009

I'm home after observing at very close quarters the US marines push to re-take the town of Now Zad in Helmand Province.

It was an intense and violent experience.

You can see for yourself below how it went, but also the questions that a major initiative like this leaves unanswered.

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One thing is clear now the dust has settled. The Afghan timescale can rarely keep pace with the American one - particularly now President Barack Obama has added such a sense of urgency to his Afghan surge.

Only a small proportion of the security forces in the Now Zad area are Afghan, and attempts to get a district governor's office up and running in the wake of the operation are going more slowly than planned.


  • Comment number 1.

    BLASPHEMY IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. (Gavin's video report.)

    Tony is on the side of all Abrahamics; The Arch of Cant struggles with 'Just War' but does not speak out in unequivocal, Christian terms, and an American Commander prays, in the name of Jesus, to whup ass.

    Barack Obama says Man has been doing war from the day Adam beat himself up, out of sheer innate stupidity. Nothing is going to change, any time soon.

  • Comment number 2.

    just looks like a live firing training ground? is there any more meaning to afghanistan these days than that?

    the troops are no doubt effective at what they do.

    its the political. was there a politics wonk at the local HQ advising the commander? where was the 'nation building team' and was there 'a nation building plan'? how did that village and that valley fit into it?

    Given A RAND report says the military is the wrong tool for counter terrorism and works in only 7% of cases how did the commander respond to that fact?

    seems a bit of a missed opportunity?

    all it looked like was an army recruitment film? dress up in high tech gear and massive guns and gang shoot at people wearing flip flops?

    was this one of those well made films aimed more at 'the morale' of the british public' than exercising any demons that exist at the heart of it?

  • Comment number 3.


    But wasn't it heart-warming to see the enthusiasm, and hear the whoops of joy as another bit of infrastructure blew to rubble? The people of the village of 'God No!' or was it 'No God', will be so impressed with what has been done for them, when they return. And think of all the fascinating things for the kids to play with.

    It's positively Rumsfeldian in its accomplishment.

  • Comment number 4.


    They don't permit women to destroy themselves with alcohol, while taxing it for state use.
    They don't promote Mammon over Mother, at the expense of making birth/nurture a chore, such that women tear themselves apart, and Nature's planned pregnancies (early) are thwarted.
    They don't preside over a culture of female oppression that requires boobs (and now you-know-what) to look just right when 'displayed'.
    They don't see their women as badly disguised men, and send them to do fighting without the 'proper equipment' and endocrine balance.

    Is it such a good idea to want to open talks with them? We are going to have to do a lot of compromising to come up to their standard.

  • Comment number 5.

    actually gary tank commander has some funny bits

    not sure its a recruitment film tho.

  • Comment number 6.

    interesting film about corporate christian crusade that is without any morality but everything to do with greed and power.

    what did happen to those 'detainees' that were rounded up? were they sent to another one of those secret 'black-hole' detention centers now rebuilt inside of afghansitan to be abused ?

    what is the evidence that those men who had been killed were anything but afghan resistance against our illegal invasion?

    so why dont we talk about the fact that the afghan invasion is illegal and not sanctioned by UN resolutions?

    in fact why is it that the afghans cannot have an army of resistance against us, why should they be given the baggage of negative western media propaganda that labels them taliban?

    so apart from all of the guff of bringing civilisation to the savages , the natives what do we have to offer them , and importantly do they want it. considering the upsurge in the resistance clearly they dont want us or our values or our version of democracy from washington-london.

    why on earth would they?

    so when do we get the afghan resistance perspective, or is the fact that the usa have a tendency to shoot at journos who arent embedded with them to deny independent reporting?

  • Comment number 7.

    "You can see for yourself below how it went, but also the questions that a major initiative like this leaves unanswered. "

    the question is what god given right do we have to steal another peoples country and pretend that we're not?

    and why the media are so 'inbedded' with govt propaganda pretending to be news reports .. so why wasnt there a 'health warning' disclaimer before the film ?

    why should it be presented as straight reporting when clearly there are restrictions in place and that one is embedded with the american army ..

  • Comment number 8.

    I watched this programme the other night. It feels quite strange, having heard the phrases "muslim/religious fundamentalist" so often over the past decade used to describe those whom "we" are combatting in Afghanistan, to hear the almost Biblical tone of the U.S. officer's pep talk to his troops. His philosophy is as alien to me as that of the Taleb.

  • Comment number 9.

    Harry Webb (#8) - are you talking about what happens just after the _chaplain_ (4:34) says "I wrote a prayer for you guys today" (4:24)?

    Obviously it's part prayer, part pep talk, but it's a bit different when it's a chaplain doing that kind of thing rather than a normal officer, no?


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