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21 February 2010


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N. M. Salamon

an analysis of Barg-eMaal outpost vs General McChrystal 15 min video:


Not only oblique images, but I guess stereography has gone out of fashion as well. I still have my viewer somewhere. Some skilled air photo interpreters didn't even need the viewer and could simply hold up the Two images side by side.

Then of course there is the obvious question of time of day and shadow position and length.

Patrick Lang

walrus et al

There are so many indicators of bad practice in this Marja story that I had to restrict my comments, but you are right. A cheap pair of stereo viewers and two photographs would have revealed the elevations. Disgraceful.

We had a one year war ten or twelve times in VN but we were a lot better at this. pl

Sven Ortmann

Stereography (a British technique from WW2 iirc) was already mentioned, but SAR (synthetic aperture radar) imagery would also have told the MI guys that there's no 3D object.

On the other hand, it's quite unavoidable that shit happens in big projects, no matter what kind of project.




The incompetence arises because DOD’s goal is not winning the wars but awarding more Contracts to ones “Friends” and having a proficiency at sound bites and PowerPoint presentations.

Nine Years In.

The troopers are now talking the COIN Talk. Sure, the Marines and Brits will “conquer” Marja. Personally, I don’t think the ANA is more or less competent than the ARVIN. Both are doing the Puppet Government’s job. The quandary is that Marja will be pacified as long as there are Marines or Brits on patrol in the area. Just as soon as they are withdrawn due to political or economic crisis in their homeland, the Taliban or another nationalist tribal movement will take control of Helmand Province.

Patrick Lang


ARVN. There were some very good units. I advised one. pl

Patrick Lang


"Friction?" Oh, come on. incompetence is just that. pl

BillWade, NH

Laughing here really, I can't imagine any comparison of the ARVN or VNAF to the ANA. I doubt there could ever be a ANAF.


Col: There are some very good Afghan officers. I advised one. I suggest that neither your experience nor mine refutes the overall observation that there are some strong ARVN-ANA symmetries.


A few thoughts:

1--Where were the Squints (photo imagery people)?

-Were They burning shitters on a Fob?
-Do they still burn shitters?
-If so, do contractors burn same?

2--Recon people used to get close to to a targeted area to take ground truth photos, among other duties; Is this still the case?

-Were the Recon people manning a roadside checkpoint instead? -- Don't laugh, I saw a video of same on the Hitler channel of this kind of activity in Iraq, starring a division recon (not Force).

Does anyone here know how to play this game?


On my last

should read: division recon unit.


Expect more!

The goal of any bureaucracy today is for two or three people to run the operation from their computers in the nation's capital, using information passed ONE WAY up the chain, with orders conveyed DOWN THE CHAIN, often in oblique ways to avoid accountability (eg: using the telephone (no paper), or through political attaches). Feedback and ideas from down the chain are not wanted (except every month, typed into an Excel spreadsheet template form).

Giving commanders a broad objective, making it clear what resources they have, and letting them use their intellect and training to provide the method, with a shared understanding of what they will be held accountable for: that is the old way.

Allen Thomson

Walrus' comment about shadows is spot on. Most satellites that image in the visible spectrum have mid-mornining or mid-afternoon passes that, by design, give good shadows. If the PIs/IAs who did the Marines' work in the present instance didn't check for them, they need some remedial training.

Mike C

The first thing I thought of when I read this was the Allied recon pilots (no guns, just cameras) in the spring of 1944 zooming down the French coastline a few feet above the beach obstacles to make the maps that much more accurate. Different times.

What I find truly baffling about this nonsense in Marja is the extreme compartmentalization that had to happen for an error like this to occur. There have been allied operations there prior to this. We'd been telegraphing our attack for weeks or months already, it's not like a drone doing a few orbits would have given it away.

I'm a civilian, I don't have direct knowledge of how these operations get put together. Is there anything about that process that can explain this?


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