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Oct 6

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:49 AM 

Charbaran, 2008 (photo by Paul Avallone)

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Whaddya know but I'm not alone in having Yogi Berra's sense of deja-vu-all-over-again on reading this week's  NYT report on Charbaran, Afghanistan. Me,  I just had a funny feeling about the place, about the repetitive motions US forces are going through, about the tired fruitlessness of it all -- about those "ruins of a government center that the United States built earlier," which was the tip-off to earlier, failed COIN efforts in Charbarn, as stitched together in my initial post.

But writer-photog-veteran Paul Avallone was there in 2008. He writes:

Gee, we coulda saved the Times (already heavily mortgaged) a ton of money just using my stuff from three years ago, June 2008. Yeah, as you write, nothing is changed. Except, back then, the heavily fortified, built-up district center was still standing. We (the 101st company I was with) called it home for a week. Here, I threw together a few photos. From THREE YEARS AGO. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Click through the images; I think you'll get a kick, yeah, 'cuz you're right, NOTHING CHANGES. And I'll bet the village elders in a couple of these images are whining about, and demanding, the same things to the GIs today.

Here is a look into Paul's photo album from Charbaran, 2008:

The US-built Charbaran district center as it stood in 2008. Now it is in "ruins." Paul writes: You'll note the fortifications the NYT wrote about (as I read in your post), including that anti-car-bomb trench.



Here is one of those roads into Charbaran the US Army widened and improved (requiring 2,000 gallons of fuel per day) as a COIN tactic (prayer) to make COIN's "changes in the village" permanent, as Armed Forces Journal once enthused. Now we learn from the NYT it is used as what Paul calls "an Interstate Highway by Haqqanni." US forces, meanwhile, arrive by helicopter, just as they did in 2008 -- as seen in Paul's next photo of the 2008 assault:

More Avallone pics from Charbaran 2008:

Gee, I wonder what he "needs", as Gen. McChrystal used to ask everywhere he went in Afghanistan.

Anyone for a game of hearts and minds?

 

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