Wednesday, March 11

The all-important question of egress

"I always liked the probably apocryphal tale of a Gurkha Battalion asked to undergo airborne training. A surprisingly small number of volunteers climbed rapidly when it was explained that parachutes would be provided."

-- From a discussion at Small Wars Journal about David Kilcullen's statements regarding AFPAK to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

If the acronym is new to you, get used to it because you'll be hearing a lot of it. It stands for "Afghanistan-Pakistan" but more specifically it's shorthand for the emerging consensus in the defense establishment and Congress that the U.S. military and NATO need to think of the security problems in both countries as one and treat them as such.

To pinpoint AFPAK even more precisely, it's The Great Game spelled backward only this time instead of different countries vying for power in the region, it's different factions of the U.S. military and NATO establishments vying over which strategies they think best for routing terrorism from the region.

Why not simply let General Petraeus do what he was sent to Afghanistan to do?

No no that would be the rational decision.

Boiled down, it's a new U.S. President, and everyone wants to test how much they can get away with around him.

So, ladies and gentleman, we have officially arrived at the Tweet Chirp era in U.S. defense thinking. Parachute, anyone?

This entry is crossposted at RBO, with pix, of course.


Anonymous said...

The tale about the Gurkhas is true. It's mentioned in fair detail in a book chronicling the history of India's Parachute Brigade.

A battalion of Gurkhas was told about parachuting into the battlefield. Volunteers were called for. A little less than half the battalion volunteered.

The officer was not impressed and clearly told them so, berating them for their lack of bravery.

One of the NCOs stood up and told the officer that he would have got more volunteers but for the fact that they (the Gurkhas) didn't understand how they would be useful as soldiers after jumping out of an airplane and splattering on the ground.

When the concept of the parachute was adequately explained, the entire battalion volunteered in the blink of an eye.

Brave people!

Will post a link if I come across it.

Pundita said...

OMG!!! This story is too wonderful for words! Yes, the Gurkhas are VERY brave.

As you can probably see we're a little behind schedule here in Punditaland. But I haven't forgotten the RSS.

Anonymous said...

It was a long time ago, so I'm not 100% sure, but I think I read the anecdote in this book - The Story of the Indian Airborne Troops by Maj Gen Afsir Karim

Unknown said...

I remember my 5th or 6th grade teacher talking about this. It had to have been a while ago because this was in 1978 or 79.