And then, I heard the company RTOs (Radio Telephone Operators) screaming that our company was taking fire” ("Pilot Reports from Afghanistan"). This Lieutenants experience is definitely not isolated most pilots depend on the ground crew, which includes PFC’s who are gathering information regarding what is going on. One of the main keys in utilizing the ground crew is communication. If a solider notes something that doesn’t seem right, or hears something out of the ordinary, a PFC must pass this information on to the TOC in a timely manner, because, as seen in the story above, it can make the difference between life and death for a vast number of soldiers.
A part of gathering this information, as a PFC, includes knowing how to accurately depict threat and terrain analysis. The first step in threat and terrain analysis is to identify whom to watch for, or the threat. In Afghanistan there are several tribes called Pashtun that dot the terrain. It is important to note that typically the tribes in Afghanistan do act as unified groups and they have recently in Iraq (Public Intelligence).
In these Afghanistan tribes there seems to be no hierarchical system, which means that there is no “chief” or central person with whom one can negotiate. This is very different from most tribes who structure themselves like trees; the tribes in Afghanistan are more like jellyfish (Public Intelligence). David Kilcullen of the RRC therefore advocates for, “local knowledge, cultural understanding, and local contacts, ” in dealing with the tribes (Public Intelligence). This means that you should not go into Afghanistan with a preconceived notion of how people out to organize themselves, because each of these tribes has their own technique.
This knowledge should only make a PFC more cautious and it keeps soldiers on the look out to expect the unexpected. However, after being here for a small length of time many will start to understand the terrain on a personal level and will be able to note ahead of time if something seems off. The next part of threat and terrain analysis to discuss is that of the terrain. Many know that Afghanistan is mostly desert.
This type of terrain can produce challenges all of its own. Afghanistan is a country the size of Texas, and with only a handful of major roads, helicopter travel is one of the main resources for the U. S. Army (Shachtman). However, the vast stretches of desert sand and cliff side mountains, produce the perfect hiding place for insurgents or these tribes discussed above to lay in wait of an attack.
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