Since the recent grenade attack in the not-too-distant city of Asadabad, we’ve been making the effort to get out into all the local villages to put out our own version of the events. It seemed pretty clear from the start that the attack was done by someone not an American. However, given the many incidents of civilian casualties since the start of our operations here in Afghanistan, people can be willing and resilient in their beliefs in the worst about us. Basically, what had happened was a local truck had been parked in the road to get a US convoy to stop. People started gathering around and then a grenade was thrown, killing one person and injuring many others, including several American soldiers. A video was shot live of the event from a blimp that flies nearby for observational purposes. The video is about halfway down the page. The video is not that great but I’d still like to post it here, but the computer and internet situation here doesn’t really allow for me to do that. Evidence revealed nearly immediately that the grenade was thrown by a civilian and not an American. The photo above is of an American commander explaining to local elders that the pieces of the grenade that were recovered were from a Russian grenade...not something US soldiers would likely have or use.
The insurgents are very good at taking events like these and turning them to their advantage. Since the insurgents live amongst the people, they have the ear of the people. I have to say though, we mobilized our own “information operations” campaign rapidly and effectively to get our own message out. Apparently, the US military released video on facebook and youtube within hours of the event. So while we may always be at a bit of a disadvantage with it comes to the war of propaganda, at least we're focusing on it and trying some new ideas. Within a few hours of the event, we had talking points to bring up in our conversations with the local people and were making the effort to get out amongst the people. And for the most part, people seemed receptive.
For the past couple days we had mortars shot at the base – they’ve yet to land inside the wire, but they’re getting closer. We usually reply with a few mortars rounds of our own in the vicinity of our nearest guess as to their point of origin. Some of the rounds shot our way actually end up landing very close to local villages. So today we went out to a local village to see how close the rounds were coming and to make sure everyone was ok. While we were there we decided to also ask a local elder his opinion on who’s shooting the mortars and from where, etc. He stated that he didn’t know who was shooting the mortars but he knew they were coming from the western of two peaks near the base and that we should quit shooting back at the eastern peak every time it happens because he’s starting to think we’re the ones supporting the AAF (Anti-Afghan Forces) since our shots are so far off. We all had to laugh at that one.