Clayton Swisher’s Al Jazeera Clip on US Forces & Taliban


I just stopped at an internet cafe in Perugia, Italy and watched this short Al Jazeera clip done by my friend Clayton Swisher who is apparently embedded with US troops in Afghanistan.
One of the most interesting lines in the clip is a comment that chasing the Taliban is “like chasing ghosts.”
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Clayton Swisher’s Al Jazeera Clip on US Forces & Taliban

  1. chris says:

    bias doesn’t even begin to describe Clayton’s journalistic approach.


  2. L22 says:

    James L:
    My fiance is Lt. Capdepon, the one who made the comment you refer to as “classic.” For your information, the marines did end up solving that problem. My fiance and his group of marines have also helped the locals rebuild areas destroyed by the Taliban, and have done everything in their power to make the area a safer place. They have helped build schools, roads, etc. Of course none of this is ever mentioned on the news, so I guess I can’t expect people to know this.
    I will forever be proud of his sacrifice and dedication. He and thousands of other troops are over there so that people like you can enjoy their normal, everyday lives. When duty calls, someone has to go. If you can’t stand behind him and the other troops, be my guest and stand in front of them.


  3. dwg says:

    hmm. must be yet another of those historic black holes. feels much more akin to another war with insurgents that we fought… the seek and destroy missions of Vietnam era.
    Taliban insurgents easily melt right back into surroundings of the local villages – indistinguishable from anyone else herding goats about the mountains. Just as the Viet Cong did in South Vietnam.
    Only one word needed to describe this phenomenon: QUAGMIRE.


  4. David Noziglia says:

    A very troubling and disconcerting report.
    I had thought, based on reading /The Gamble\, that the U.S. military leadership, at least, had learned that their mission was not, and should not be, that of finding and “destroying” terrorists.
    The mission should be that of building support for democratic institutions and civil society among the general population, first my making them secure, then by winning their trust, finally by giving them a stake in their own lives.
    Seeing this report leads me to the conclusion that this valuable lesson learned at the sacrifice of so many lives in Iraq has been ignored in Afghanistan. And the commander of both theaters is the same man.
    One would have thought that the real mission would be easier to launch and carry though now that we have an administration in Washington that understands and believes in democracy. Apparently not.


  5. David says:

    You beat me to the punch, jackie. My very first thought was damn, GHOST WARS. Anyone who has not read that book has missed one of the most important reads out there, if one wants to get a better grasp of that region and our involvement in it.


  6. Philippe says:

    This video reminds me of my uncle’s sporadic talks about the mountains of Algeria in the end of the 50’s. But as a total opposite in tactics and equipment.
    The French army gained and kept a reasonably good control of the land there, by being faster than the independence fighters.
    Using lightly armed and equipped, sometimes carrying just the weapons, one can of water, and a radio(and zero body armor, even ditched the helmets as too heavy). They could move as fast or faster (because they were better fed and in better sanitary conditions between missions) than the enemy groups. Those being followed by such a pursuit group able to call reinforcements (coming by helicopters when they were flightworthy….)faced a very dark future.
    Casualties were far higher than now of course(26 000 French soldiers, 250 000 400 000 Algerians)
    Carrying 30 pounds of equipment there is no way to catch those guys.


  7. mdspatsy says:

    Dear Journalist.
    You have observed many things from many persons.
    As a Humanist,a commentator, a writer, i want to
    know that, What America has achieved in Kabul?
    So much army persons,civilians were lost.And by
    the by,Government!s cash reserve had gone to dry.
    Physical,mental,financial,personal agonies are
    answer to Pakistan!s border nation.
    Whether America is able to stop or reduce to the
    lowest level of Taliban activities.
    Answer is very miserable.
    Please formulate new,vibrant,full protective
    mechanism for solving any terror activity in
    That will be very fair,safe to Americans and rest
    of the world.
    We will find lights at the earliest, if we have
    will,determinationg,goals for peaceful co-
    There is no question of brooding over the past.
    Past-effects-introspection-future planning-logical
    applications-minimum losses for nation
    building,bringing back to glory to America!s great


  8. ... says:

    tony, it isn’t so much about defeating the ‘enemy’ in this particular case the taliban, but about continuing to fund a military complex run amok…for that there is no end to according to the policy wonks in the usa.. the sooner more folks know the main reason for the usa’s main export – war, the sooner something can get done to change it..


  9. TonyForesta says:

    I have great respect for our warfighters, and commend their dedication, sacrifice, and service, – but roaming around these fierce and rugged mountains in uniform in broad daylight seems to me like a terrible waste of time, resources, energy, and blood. There must be a better way to find and defeat the Taliban.


  10. JamesL says:

    Classic: “We’re very sorry this tragedy happened here. We’re gonna try to get some infornmation so we can move on…” Well they really solved that local crisis didn’t they.
    And, elsewhere: “This time we’re going in with enough troops we’ll actually be able to take and hold ground.” Just plain laughable if it wasn’t so sad.
    The recent Yahoo story about US troops fighting the heat in their newest surge is what it’s all about. Big push, 4000 troops driven and coptered in, then going walkabout in Aghanistan’s main line of defense against all occupiers–its geography.
    The Russian movie The Beast, about the physical and moral degradation of an isolated Russian tank, comes to mind.


  11. ... says:

    i tend to agree paul.. far easier for a country like the usa to fund terrorist groups in faraway parts of the world, far removed from its own backyard..


  12. Paul Norheim says:

    It`s tempting to speculate, but I somehow doubt that Russia
    would support violent Islamistic groups in areas neighboring it`s
    own backyard, where these groups have created much trouble for
    Russia a few years back.


  13. jackie shaw says:

    … Interesting, I’ve wondered the same thing about Russia. Why not pay us back?
    Steve, you might like to ask your colleague, Steve Coll about his book, Ghost Wars.


  14. ... says:

    interesting how the usa would like to be like russia in the 80’s… i wonder if russia is funding al qaeda, like the usa did back then?


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