Trump's Bombing Campaign Against Taliban Heroin Labs Quietly Fizzles [FEATURE]

A year-long bombing campaign that pitted some of America's most high-tech Air Force fighter jets against primitive Taliban "heroin labs" has quietly ended after failing to achieve much of anything, according to the latest report on continuing US operations in Afghanistan from the Defense Department's inspector general.

The campaign, dubbed Operation Iron Tempest, was only the latest iteration of America's endless and fruitless effort to suppress the country's opium economy, which has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the hands of the Taliban and corrupt Afghan officials alike. Since the U.S. invaded in 2001, American taxpayers have forked out nearly $9 billion to fight Afghan opium, yet Afghanistan continues to produce the vast majority -- about 85 percent -- of the global opium supply.

Despite all those counter-narcotics dollars, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported opium production at record highs in the last years, with more than 6,400 tons of raw opium produced last year. Iron Tempest didn't make much of a dent in it.

As part of the Trump administration's bid to look tough against both drugs and the Taliban, Iron Tempest was unleashed in November 2017 with F-22 stealth fighters and B-52 strategic bombers deploying 250- and 500-pound bombs against nondescript buildings in the Afghan hinterlands. Those F-22s, designed to be deployed against the most advanced aircraft in the world, cost $35,000 per flight hour, and they were used to blow up the barrels, tubes, and piles of raw material that constitute Afghan "heroin labs."

But hundreds of air strikes against what U.S. commanders estimated were 500 "heroin labs" operated by the Taliban failed to put a serious dent in the trade. In fact, they probably hurt Afghan security and political figures involved in the opium trade more than they hurt the Taliban.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported in January that while the air strikes had deprived the Taliban of an estimated $42 million (out of its estimated annual take from the opium trade of $200 million), while unspecified others "involved in the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan" lost $200 million. (The estimated value of the opium crop alone is above $1 billion a year when prices are high; but additional profits come from taxes on the trade and the value added by processing the raw opium into more profitable heroin.)

But the numbers on the economic pain caused the Taliban are iffy, SIGAR conceded. It was difficult to weigh the actual financial impact because "no ground verification takes place to weigh and assess the amounts of the precursors or products actually destroyed by an airstrike."

SIGAR didn't mince words in its assessment of overall Afghan and U.S. counter-narcotics performance: "To put it bluntly," the watchdog said, "these numbers spell failure."

That same January SIGAR report quietly noted the end of Iron Tempest. As evidence mounted that the campaign was ineffective, the number of air raids dwindled. In the last three months of 2018, only two air strikes took place, marking the end of the campaign. Operation Iron Tempest had gone out not with a bang, but with a whimper.

That could be the epitaph for the entire American adventure in Afghanistan. After nearly two decades of invasion and occupation, Trump administration officials are now engaged in direct peace talks with the Taliban that could lead to Afghan coalition government including the Taliban and the final withdrawal of American forces.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Another war criminal President

So now we just bomb the siht out of anything we don't like? Why don't we apply this stratigy on the southern border?

Dain Bramage's picture

Trump is a Putin operative

If Trump really cared about border security -- that is, national security -- then he wouldn't be Putin's little bitch, now would he?

But Trump is Putin's little bitch.  That's a fucking fact.  As Bill Maher wondered aloud, sure there is collusion between Trump and Putin... but was there penetration?

Trump is Putin's little bitch.

That's not only collusion, that's treason.

The foreign invaders have already breached the border, and his bitch ass sits behind the desk of the Oval Office, where he had a love fest with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador (no American press allowed -- only Russian state TV allowed.  In the fucking White House!  That happened.)

Unless Putin is hiding behind the skirts of latinas in "the caravan", then we don't need no stinking wall.

Dain Bramage's picture

From Global Zero,

From Global Zero, 3/11/2019:

Earlier today, the White House released its $4.7 trillion budget plan, which would increase spending on nuclear weapons by $12.4 billion, an 11.8% increase over fiscal year 2019. The budget includes a specific focus on completing production of new “low-yield” nuclear missiles in the upcoming fiscal year.

In reaction to the budget, Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, said, in part:

“The top national security priority of the United States should be preventing the use of nuclear weapons. The Trump administration’s accelerated pursuit of ‘low yield’ nuclear weapons does the opposite. You might imagine a ‘small’ nuclear weapon is a safer nuclear weapon, but that’s not how this works. What’s uniquely dangerous about ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapons is that they’re more tempting to use in a conflict. Keep in mind that a single ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapon detonated over the White House would kill 100,000 people and injure 125,000 more. It would be 2,500 times more destructive than the device used in the Oklahoma City bombing. These weapons are not normal and they certainly are not ‘small.’"

Dain Bramage's picture

Trump and the NUCLEAR FURNACE

From KLWhite on DailyKos, 3/12/19, about TRUMP and nuclear weapons:

Nuclear weapons are, seemingly, all the rage right now. They shouldn't be. Since Trump and his “Alphas” have taken power, we hear a lot of supposedly smart people asking, rhetorically one hopes, “If we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?”

Alright, I actually had to have surgery to remove my forehead from my palm when I heard that one and when I saw it came from a guy who tells the world he’s a “Stable Genius”- let’s just say I think the wall paper looks good in coffee spatter brown.

Have they forgotten why the WHOLE DAMN WORLD breathed a sigh of relief when we thought the cold war was done, that we could begin to shutter the silos and move away from the insanity? I’m beginning to realize there is a class of people who were REALLY disappointed that nuclear war was off the table.

They like to blow stuff up, to hear things go boom and see that flash of light. Bigger is better. Also, they work great as a threat, well, since, apparently, America and the neighborhoods THEY live in are magically protected by a God crafted, testosterone tuned anti bomb shield or something. Because any bomb would only dare to explode over Russia or China, Arabia maybe or Australia- Europe.

That shit can’t happen here.

What if the stable genii are wrong? Have we forgotten what the actual, real time effects of a nuclear blast over YOUR city means for you and your loved ones? Has Hollywood and pop culture let us trivialize this?

I will endeavor to remind us of what we are discussing.

Basically, what mankind has done, is brought a small and very angry sun to exist on or near the surface of the Earth for a small moment in time. That tiny sun does what suns do, it releases energy and it does it really fast. That is the whole purpose of it. TNT releases energy very fast too, it’s reliably measurable so we use it to measure those tiny sun’s destructive power.

If you've ever used dynamite, you may understand the numbers I’m about to give you even though dynamite is stabilized nitroglycerin, if you haven’t, go look at a video of any artillery shell exploding. Heck, there are plenty of films showing atomic explosions, watch a couple! If I recall correctly our 155 mm artillery shells had 18 pounds of TNT in them and I know they had a definite kill radius of 50 meters and a definite wound radius of double that when they detonate. 18 pounds.

A one kiloton nuclear bomb, then, has the explosive power of one thousand tons of TNT. I’m not even sure anyone builds something as small as a one kiloton bomb, the one that was dropped on Hiroshima was 12,5 kt and the one over Nagasaki was rated at 21 kt. according to my research. I’m damn sure I don’t want to be in the vicinity when it goes off. I’m even more certain that these things should not be set off anywhere. Ever.

I’ll try to avoid the hard science, because, who needs it? Do you need to know that if you’re in Topeka, Kansas when that mini sun bursts into being, that about 35 percent of its radiation is going to be thermal- that’s heat- things are going to burn. You want to know if your suburban basement will let you emerge into a post apocalyptic Kansas, rub your eyes and get on with your mundane and regularly scheduled life? Probably not. You were just center stage for a cosmic cataclysm in tiny.

Modern nuclear weapons can reach millions of degrees in temperature. They don’t stay that hot for very long, but the damage is done- do you want to stand close to that as it cools? You’ll not survive if you’re anywhere near. We’ll talk later about why that is probably a good thing.

Is Topeka stick built or does it have a lot of nice, solid brick and steel construction? It matters because of the Blast Effect and the Blast Winds.

Boom! Flashback to the sixties, how many of you remember “Duck and cover”? It’s nine a.m. and your world just changed. The first thing most humans will feel will be the blast pressure, then they’ll feel the wind, if they’re still alive. I cannot stress enought that the bombs of WWII were TINY, inefficient and not a very good indicator of the destructive power of these weapons, but there are some accounts that may help give us an idea of what is waiting for us.

“In the following waves [after the initial blast] people’s bodies were terribly squeezed, then their internal organs ruptured. Then the blast blew the broken bodies at 500 to 1,000 miles per hour through the flaming, rubble-filled air. Practically everybody within a radius of 6,500 feet was killed or seriously injured and all buildings crushed or disemboweled.” — From the article “Atom Bomb Effects,” LIFE magazine, 3/11/1946

Stick built or concrete and steel, with modern nuclear weapons, it’s probably not going to matter.

And there is this, too, to consider.

“Japanese doctors said that those who had been killed by the blast itself died instantly. But presently, according to these doctors, those who had suffered only small burns found their appetite failing, their hair falling out, their gums bleeding. They developed temperatures of 104, vomited blood, and died. It was discovered that they had lost 86 percent of their white blood corpuscles. Last week the Japanese announced that the count of Hiroshima’s dead had risen to 125,000.” — From the article “What Ended the War,” LIFE magazine, 9/17/1945

I want you to let that sink in, I want you to think on the fact that during the cold war, Washington and Moscow, along with other strategic targets were assuredly targeted by up to 60 smaller warheads, all of them larger than those dropped in WWII, this is to:

1. make sure the mission doesn't fail, it’s easier to take out a one warhead ICBM than one that delivers many warheads from very high up.

2. This actually keeps the damage localized where a much larger warhead would create a wider damage profile. Small consolation if you’re the one getting 60 warheads dropped on your head.

So, would Topeka or your city get 60 warheads? Why would you even want one? The blast pressure is going to pop humans like overripe grapes, the blast wind, moving at hundreds of kilometers per hour will rip apart buildings already weakened by the pressure and the heat is going to roast everything within a fairly large area.

Okay, it’s over, right? Right? Don’t bet on it. You were possibly far enough away that you missed all the ill effects. We don’t do bomb shelters any more, that is SO fifties! So let’s say you were in an indoor swimming pool inside the basement of a concrete and brick edifice about 60 miles from the blast. You’re golden right? The initial radiation, Gamma and X move at light speed, Alpha and Beta particles aren’t that fast but within not too much time they’re gone too. You can emerge to a new America and go back to work tomorrow! But mind the falling aircraft as you walk through the snow that falls in August to get there- but, realistically, it probably won’t be your workplace that you head for.

See, if you get kind of lucky, they blew it up high in the atmosphere and not a lot of dirt, concrete, bricks, cows, dogs, trees, people became irradiated dust and thus- fallout. It’s a problem. Everything you could have eaten is going to be radioactive and if you don’t get that ash off of you fast, we used mobile washing stations in the Army, you will be too.

All you will be able to do is turn and walk away from the blast area, hope you can find a place where the shelter is still standing and the winds have pushed the fallout elsewhere. Take water, any you find may have dead things in it upstream, so carry as much as you can. You won’t be driving anything for awhile nor will you be using a cell phone or even a radio. Military vehicles with EMP hardened electronics SHOULD keep operating, but shielding is still a very complicated procedure to get right. That EMP typically sends very high voltages over such things as power lines and even automotive or aircraft wiring systems. I guarantee your F-350 isn’t shielded.

Mind the falling airliner’s as you refresh your stone age skills. Flint and steel will still make fire. Rifles will work, bullets just became a real commodity. Fish, being under water, might be healthier for you to eat than that dead cow in the field over there, if you can stop vomiting long enough to catch one, but if you don’t get medical attention soon- how many rems did you absorb on your walk out of the ash fall?

Will you make it? Will your wife, your husband? Did the school your kids are in get vaporized? Was Topeka the only city hit or are you walking into another dead zone? Did you even get out of the ash fall, which way is the wind blowing and when do you just decide to lie down and die? Will you have the strength to bury your loved ones while you’re walking through the answer to the question “If we have nukes, why don’t we use them?” Will you pray? Will it help?

I’m sick to my stomach writing this, sick to my soul that there are people out there who seem to hunger for the use of this technology. They want to see that destruction as long as they never have to face it themselves. Their hate will not let them admit that there’s no guarantee that they won’t have that visited on them. If they get it, we all get it, we all suffer.

And Topeka? We’ll rebuild her, right? Her and all the rest of our cities! Yeah, a couple thousand years ought to be plenty of time to let them settle down into habitability again.

So yes, the subject scares me, people who are not scared by this scare me- and I think it should scare the heck out of you too. There is no calling that ICBM back once it’s launched, no matter who launched it- and self destruct buttons can malfunction or not get pressed. The same goes for a bomb on a truck or in some idiot kid’s backpack. Once you hit kiloton, it’s all just a matter of scale. You can’t save your game and restart if your decision proves to be the wrong one- this is as real and horrible as it gets!

I’ll leave you with one last bit of information from Wikipedia.

“The largest bomb currently in service in the U.S. nuclear arsenal is the B83, with a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons.”

That is 1.2 MILLION tons of radioactive TNT. That’s why we don’t “Just use them.” This is not something we can leave in the wrong hands.

Think about that and happy Tuesday.

Kell

p.s. Many thanks to Wikipedia and Life magazine.

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