Dienstag, 16. Januar 2007

Einsatzrealitäten

Welche Zeche muss der Soldat im Einsatz bezahlen? Die psychologischen Kosten des Tötens.

Jeder Soldat wird irgendwann zusammen- und jeder Verband wird irgendwann auseinanderbrechen
Jeder Soldat wird im Einsatz über kurz oder lang an Erschöpfungssymptome[1] leiden. Diese Erschöpfungssymptome manifestieren sich in mannigfaltigster Form. So sind Galgenhumor und Ticks durchaus Ausdrucksformen von Nervosität und eigener Überforderung. Ebenso sind Schlaflosigkeit oder nicht nachlassende Kopfschmerzen Anzeichen psychischer Erschöpfung. Erblindungs- und Lähmungserscheinungen extreme Formen davon. Sie sind allesamt Ausdrucksformen, so die Vermutung, einer psychischen Flucht vor der für den Soldaten nicht mehr erträglichen Einsatzrealität.
Kapitulation, Flucht, erhöhtes Risikoverhalten oder gar Suizid sind Formen physischer Flucht vor der grausamen Einsatzrealität.
Alkohol- und Drogenkonsum sind ebenfalls Ausdrucksformen psychischer Fluchtreaktion.[2] Im Einsatz wird sich dieser aus unterschiedlichen Gründen noch akzentuieren. Soldaten greifen nicht nur aus eigenem Antrieb zu Drogen und Alkohol, sondern erhalten diese Substanzen durchaus verschrieben. Zum therapeutischen Zweck wird die beruhigende Wirkung gezählt, um Angst zu überwinden oder um Schlaf zu finden. Die psychologische Funktion darf aber nicht unterschätzt werden. Gerade die gemeinsame Konsumation von Drogen und Alkohol kann durchaus als Bestätigungsritual der verschworenen Gruppe betrachtet werden. Gruppenmitglieder werden mitmachen, um eben dazu zu gehören. Alkohol- und Drogenkonsumation innerhalb der Gruppe ist nur eine Form der gruppennarzisstischen Selbstbestätigung unter vielen, deren facettenreiche Ausgestaltungsformen lediglich durch die Phantasie ihrer Gruppenmitglieder limitiert wird. Erst wenn jemand solche, oftmals erniedrigende, Initiationsrituale über sich ergehen gelassen hat, wird er als vollwertiges Gruppenmitglied akzeptiert.

Swank R. und Marchand W. (1946), Combat Neuroses: the Development of Combat Exhaustion. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, Vol. 55 in Holmes (1994), S. 214.

Diese Graphik veranschaulicht, welchen Verlauf die Einsatzeffektivität über die Einsatzdauer nimmt. Ein Soldat erzielt nach rund 20 bis 30 Tage seine maximale Einsatzeffizienz. In dieser Periode hat er gelernt, Chancen und Gefahren im Einsatz realistisch einzuschätzen. Er hat gelernt, worauf es im Einsatz wirklich ankommt. Denn Realität und persönliche Vorstellung, was Krieg sei und wie man sich im Gefecht verhalten werde, sind aufeinander geprallt.

Nach einer Anzahl von erfolgreichen Einsätzen stellt sich das Gefühl der Unbezwingbarkeit ein. Der Soldat wird vom Gefühl übermannt, dass nichts und niemand ihm etwas anhaben kann. Das ist die Periode der Selbstüberschätzung. Diese Periode ist geprägt von einer unrealistischen Einschätzung von Risiken und Gefahren. Erhöhtes Risikoverhalten, auch ausserhalb eigentlicher Feuergefechte, ist die Folge davon. So ist der Prozentanteil von Todesfällen ausserhalb eigentlicher Feuergefechte ein möglicher Indikator, um den Stand der Moral der Truppe im Einsatz abschätzen zu können.
Während im Vietnamkrieg 13 Prozent aller Toten US Soldaten nicht durch Feindkontakt starben, sondern aus diversen, anderen Gründen wie Verkehrsunfälle, Ertrinken, ungewollte Schussabgabe resp. Fehlmanipulationen, friendly fire, Suizid und Mord, beläuft sich dieser Anteil im Irakkrieg auf 22 Prozent.[3]

Eine Untersuchung von 2004 zeigt, mit welcher Einsatzrealität sich der amerikanische Soldat im Irak konfrontiert sieht.[4] So muss jeder dritte US Marines damit leben, im Einsatz Unbeteiligte getötet zu haben. 87 Prozent der US Marines müssen das Trauma verarbeiten, einen Kameraden verletzt, angeschossen oder verwundet gesehen zu haben. Jeder vierte US Marine musste miterleben, wie sein bester Kamerad, sein buddy, angeschossen wurde. Jeder Zehnte wurde selber angeschossen, überlebte aber dank seiner Schutzausrüstung. Als Resultat dieser Konfrontation von Einsatzrealität und gelebter Ausbildungspraxis wird jedem sechsten US Marine posttraumatische Belastungsstörung (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD[5]) attestiert.

Das Gefühl, den Umständen ausgeliefert, nicht selber Herr über das eigene Schicksal zu sein, verstärkt noch den psychischen Druck auf den Soldaten. So verstärken Immobilität, Untätigkeit und das Gefühl der Isolation den Stress. Stress verstärkend sind auch unklare oder gar keine Befehle Vorgesetzter. Denn dies signalisiert Unterstellten, dass die Führung die Situation nicht im Griff hat. Gegnerischem (Bogen-) Feuer ausgesetzt zu sein, ohne die Feuerquelle ausmachen oder bekämpfen zu können, ist höchst Nerven aufreibend und verlangt von jedem Verband höchste Disziplin und Kaltblütigkeit ab, damit dieser dann noch geschlossen agieren kann. [6]

Ein weiterer Stressverstärker[7] ist der Zerfall der eigenen Primärgruppe. Denn über die Dauer des Einsatzes sind Verluste durch psychische Ausfälle oder Ausfälle durch Tod oder Verletzungen unausweichlich. Verbände sind daher als ganze periodisch aus dem Einsatzumfeld herauszulösen, damit sie in einer Phase der Einsatznach- und Einsatzvorbereitung das Erlebte verarbeiten und Neuankömmlinge integrieren können.

Die Integration von frischen Soldaten in einen Verband braucht Zeit. Denn das gegenseitige Vertrauen in die Fähigkeiten der Alten und in diejenigen der Neuen kann nur mittels Verbandtraining erarbeitet werden. Diese Perioden der Erholung sind nicht nur für das Aufstocken der im Einsatz geleerten Reihen unabdingbar. Auch der akkumulierte Schlafmangel muss durch Phasen der Ruhe, abseits des Einsatzraumes und von Wachtaufgaben, kompensiert werden können.[8] Jeder Soldat wird irgendwann zusammen- und jeder Verband wird irgendwann auseinanderbrechen, falls nicht geeignete Ablöserhythmen Verbände geschlossen aus dem stressvollen Einsatzumfeld in eine sicherere Umgebung herauslösen.


Weiterführende Links zur Illustrierung


Einsatzrealitäten


[1] Holmes (1994), S. 265-269. Mögliche Erschöpfungssymptome sind: Nervosität, Befürchtungen, Schlaflosigkeit, Kopfschmerzen, Einschlafen, Erstarren, Verstummen, sich verstecken, Erblinden, Lähmung, Entrücktheit, sich totstellen.
[2] Holmes (1994), S. 251: 1971 präsentierte sich das Drogenkonsumverhalten im Vietnamkrieg wie folgt: 50.9% aller amerikanischen Soldaten haben Marihuana, 28.5% Heroin oder Opium und 30.8% haben andere bewusstseinsverändernde Drogen konsumiert.
[3] Holmes (1994), S. 191: Vietnam: 41‘853 gefallene US Soldaten plus 5‘540 (13%) Tote aus anderen Gründen (Verkehrsunfälle [1000 Tote], Ertrinken/Ersticken, ungewollte Schussabgabe, “accidental engagements“ [846 Tote; von “ungewollter Selbstzerstörung” bis hin zum “Totschlag”]; CNN, http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/2004.07.html zugegriffen am 23.12.2005: Irak: 1‘691 Tote US Soldaten plus 467 (22%) Tote aus anderen Gründen. Multipliziert man die Zahl der Toten mit dem Faktor 7.4, so erhält man die Zahl aller im Einsatz verwundeten US Soldaten: auf jeden Toten kommen sieben Verwundete.
Selbstredend ist, daß aufgrund der tiefen absoluten Zahl von rund 2100 gefallenen US Soldaten jeder Tote ausserhalb eines Gefechts eine grosse Auswirkung auf diesen prozentualen Anteil hat.
[4] Combat Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mental Health Problems, and Barriers to Care. The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 351, No. 1, p. 13 – 22: Irak (2004): 17.1% leiden unter PTSD, 87% der Marines feuerten Waffen, 28% der Marines töteten Unbeteiligte, 87% haben Kameraden fallen sehen, 25% haben ihren “buddy“ angeschossen gesehen, 10% wurden selber getroffen, aber von der Schutzausrüstung gerettet.
[5] Leuten, die an posttraumatischer Belastungsstörung leiden, überkommt oft das Gefühl von Panik und Hilflosigkeit. Denn sie werden von ihren traumatischen Erlebnissen immer wieder heimgesucht, was schliesslich zu langwierigen Depressionen führt.
[6] Das Ausharren von gegnerischem Artilleriefeuer oder das Erwarten des angreifenden Gegners in Verteidigungsstellungen wird als Moment grösster Krise betrachtet. Denn der Soldat ist zu Untätigkeit gezwungen, muss die Aktion des Gegners abwarten und kann nicht aktiv ins Geschehen eingreifen. Erst die eigene Feuereröffnung und das aktive Bekämpfen des Gegners, oder wenigsten ein angeordneter Rückzug resp. Vorstoss, werden das Gefühl der Machtlosigkeit zerstreuen. Dabei wird ein Damm gebrochen: Der Soldat, der zuvor in die Rolle des Erduldenden gezwungen war, übernimmt die Rolle des Agierenden. Dieser Rollenwechsel ist von tiefgreifenden emotionalen Gefühlen begleitet. Denn erst gerade harrte er, seinem Schicksal untätig ausgeliefert, unter Todesangst aus. Und im nächsten Moment ist er der agierende, Tod bringende Allmächtige. Er wird vom Gejagten zum Jäger. Oftmals stellt sich dabei ein Rausch ein. Wie in Trance agiert der Soldat, schiesst sich Mut an und verfällt eventuell sogar einem Blutrausch. Ihn übermannt beim Töten ein Gefühl höchsten Glücks. Ein Glücksgefühl, das später, nach einer Zeit der Selbstreflexion, in ein Schuldgefühl mutieren wird. Denn beim Töten Glücksgefühle zu haben, kann moralisch ja nicht richtig sein.
[7] Holmes (1994), S. 232-233, 261, 264, 329: Stressverstärkende Faktoren sind: Immobilität und Untätigkeit, Gefühl der Isolation resp des Ausgeliefertseins, unklare resp. keine Befehle, schlechter Korpsgeist, Zerfall der Primärgruppe (durch Ausfälle), Diskrepanz zwischen Gruppennormen und Organisationsziel (fragging: Schätzungen nach sind bis zu 20% der gefallenen Offiziere in Vietnam durch die Hand eigener Soldaten gestorben. Dies wurde auch dem damals eingeführten Rotationssystem zugeschrieben).
[8] Holmes (1994), S. 124: Höchste Leistungsfähigkeit des Soldaten ist in der Regel zwischen 1200 und 2100, tiefste Leistungsfähigkeit ist in der Regel zwischen 0300 und 0600. Schlafmangel akkumuliert sich: nach 48h ohne Schlaf sind 12h, nach 96h ohne Schlaf sind 120h Ruhezeit notwendig, um sich zu erholen.

Kommentare:

Anonym hat gesagt…

25 years on, Falklands vets treated as outcasts


As teenagers they were conscripted to fight for Argentina. Now they remain haunted by memory and struggle to live normal lives

by Andres Schipani in Buenos Aires
Sunday January 21, 2007, The Observer


(...)

General Leopoldo Galtieri, 'in his quest to stay in power, had no qualms in sending brave 18-year-old conscripts, with no military training whatever, into a war', says Norberto Santos, one of those 18-year-olds and now a member of the Centre for Ex-Combatants Islas Malvinas (CECIM). The troops had to endure shortages of ammunition, food, and clothing and suffered from cold, abuse and humiliation by their superiors.

(...)

Maria Laura Tapparelli, the widow of Jorge Martire, agrees her husband's response was to join Argentinian society in forgetting. After 60 days fighting on the Falklands, he returned to La Plata in Buenos Aires province. He found a wife, had three children and studied architecture. 'He barely spoke about the Malvinas,' she says. In October 1992, on the way to sit his last exam, he disappeared. He was found later wandering around the city's main square. He had lost his memory as well as his way. He was hospitalised with symptoms of 'atypical psychosis' - what some veterans call the 'Malvinas syndrome'. One day Jorge was found by the doctors hidden underneath his bed, sheltering from 'an English bombing'. Early in 1993 he was released. He bought a gun, went to a bar in the city and blew his head off.

Martire - 'martyr' in Italian- was far from alone. Suicides are commonplace among veterans, the number - 460, according to CECIM - almost as high as 650 deaths in combat.

(...)

Stories like Santos's and the suicide of a friend, as well as his own experience of war, drove Edgardo Esteban to write an autobiography which was turned into an award-winning film, Blessed by Fire. Edgardo, too, was 18 when he was sent to fight. 'The post-traumatic stress was there, but I managed to send it and my ghosts away and to exorcise myself'.

'The "blessed by fire" are the madmen, the disturbed, the insane, all those veterans that have been forgotten during this past years,' he says.

In Argentina the film publicised the realities of the veterans' lives. 'The movie gave a voice to the voiceless and the silenced,' he says. 'After the war, the military asked us not to say a thing. But why not talk about the Malvinas? '

When it was shown in London and Manchester, Esteban remembers some British Falklands veterans crying and giving welcoming applause. 'There was a very nice dialogue with the British then,' he says. Some of the British veterans he has seen reflected the same realities from a different side. 'The British now have to avoid any celebration about the war; even with a victory, wars are not to be cheered.'

But the film upset some in the Argentinian armed forces. 'The armed forces wanted Rambo-style images, but there are no Rambos in a war, just human beings made of flesh and bones.'

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The hardest fight of all for a Falklands hero

Army officer Robert Lawrence was nearly killed by an Argentine sniper during a battle that became the inspiration for one of the most controversial BBC films ever - Tumbledown. Now, in his first interview in 20 years, he tells Mark Townsend how the trauma of war reshaped his life

Sunday January 14, 2007,
The Observer




Robert Lawrence can be forgiven for wondering whether he is blessed or cursed. As a young man, he lost 43 per cent of his brain after being shot by an Argentinian sniper and, facing a lifetime of paralysis, felt abandoned by his army.

(...)

As the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war nears, Lieutenant Robert Lawrence remains one of the conflict's iconic figures - the soldier whose experiences encouraged a nation to question its conscience over the price of war; the young officer who angered the most senior officers in the army by speaking his mind.
For millions, the 21-year-old's version of the campaign challenged preconceptions of a war mostly judged through the lens of a triumphant nationalism.

His experiences formed the script for the controversial BBC film Tumbledown, a graphic portrayal of the Falklands conflict that raised questions over how a nation treated its wounded and reminded Britain that war is savage. There were ruined lives, and resentment and retribution. (...)

Directed by Sir Richard Eyre, who went on to become director of the National Theatre, the 1988 drama provoked one of the most bitter rows in the corporation's history. Its account of the central character, played by a young Colin Firth, saw the BBC accused of left-wing subversion, while the Army, fuming at Lawrence's willingness to give details of what hand-to-hand combat was actually like, orchestrated a whispering campaign to discredit him.

The MoD threatened an injunction against the programme, demanding a controversial scene be cut hours before broadcast.

(...)

'It seems a strange, odd war now,' admits Lawrence. 'Then, there was no talk of insurgency and the like. The Falklands was a conventional conflict, comparable with 1918, British soldiers versus Argentinan soldiers, all dressed in battle uniform. It feels so old-fashioned now.'

Lawrence has watched what he describes as the increasing manipulation of the reporting of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the 'economic rationalisation' of the MoD that he feels has compromised the British army at a time when servicemen have never been under greater stress. But, most of all, the 46-year-old has followed closely the way the MoD treats its war wounded and is aghast at the closure of its military hospitals and the army's belated acknowledgement that war carries psychological as well as physical scars. A 12-inch acrylic strip might hold his skull together, but his mind remains full of vigour.

(...)

The last major battle of the Falklands always promised to be one of its most fraught. The Argentinians had prepared a last stand at the summit of Tumbledown Hill, a sharp cone of rock jutting from the island's peat and the central feature on the road to Port Stanley. As dawn bleached the grey clouds on 14 June 1982, Lawrence led two platoons of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards along the west flank towards enemy positions. A fierce fire-fight ensued. Lawrence shot 14 Argentinians, before running out of ammunition. Undeterred, he stormed their defences, stabbing three with his bayonet. Sensing that surrender was imminent, Lawrence scaled Tumbledown's rocky pinnacle and, with the adrenaline of battle still flushing through his young frame, hollered: 'Now that was fun'. The Argentinian garrison in port Stanley would surrender in 90 minutes.

Unbeknown to Lawrence, though, a single sniper had managed to slip the net. A high-velocity round passed through the rear of his skull, emerging at his hairline above his right eye. Lawrence lay on the thin cover of snow on the exposed mountaintop for six hours as colleagues pushed his brains inside his broken head.

Airlifted off Tumbledown, Lawrence was left outside a makeshift operating theatre with no painkillers. Two days from his 22nd birthday, he assumed he was the last to be operated on because he was the least likely to survive.

(...)

(...). It was what soldiers did; they killed people. 'There are so many different levels of killing. You can shoot someone using a night sight from 60 yards and watch a guy fall over.

'It's not morally very hard to pull a trigger, but it is physically hard to get people to die, because usually they don't want to. The ultimate level is bayoneting, because there is a physical link between the two of you. The cleanliness of television goes out of the window. You don't stab them in the stomach, twist and withdraw.

'They grab on to the blade, it stabs them in the mouth, catches them everywhere', he said, his gaze wandering outside to the rolling hills of the Hampshire countryside.

When repatriated to Britain, Lawrence was almost totally paralysed and spent a year in a wheelchair. His recovery has amazed everyone who has met him. But the mental anguish would prove harder to overcome. If Tumbledown asked a nation whether it should feel guilty about sending young men to kill with broken bayonets, it also asked whether enough help was given to the wounded and veterans who left the army to trudge back to civvy street.

In the 90-minute programme, which was watched by 10.5 million 19 years ago, Lawrence endures symptoms described by psychiatrists as similar to the trauma of parental separation; anxiety, rage, emotional reconciliation. Even now, Lawrence believes that soldiers who thrive on the white-hot pride of their bravery are still not encouraged to seek help when they are struggling to cope.

Lawrence also worries that those in Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting a cause too few understand or support, a dynamic that can easily erode soldiers' sanity: 'The bottom line is that replacing military hospitals with NHS wards is an insult. If NHS hospitals were considered the best in Europe, then fine, but sadly they are not.'

The returning hero of Tumbledown expected he would be looked after by the military establishment. After all, he had been awarded the Military Cross, which hangs in the downstairs bathroom of the family home. But he felt like the army's abnormal child. Lawrence was not invited to the Lord Mayor's victory parade, while his wheelchair was tucked into the shadows at the service of remembrance at St Paul's, because his injuries were insufficiently telegenic. Even now, he has no official disabled badge or letter from the army recognising his circumstances and the nature of his injuries.
(...)

(...). All that is known is that, during the ensuing 25 years, more Falklands veterans have committed suicide than the 255 that died during hostilities.

(...)

Anonym hat gesagt…

Unrest in the ranks as Bush slogs on

by Ewen MacAskill, Guardian Weekly, January 19-25 2007

(...)

[Lieutenant-General Jack Stultz, head of the US army reserve] could not disguise the strain the war is placing on US forces. He acknowledged there were problems in recruiting reservists, the "weekend warriors" who make up about 25% of the US troops in Iraq. (...)

(...)

An immediate consequence of Bush's announcement (to increase the US presence in Iraq from 132,000 to 153,000) is that about 4,000 National Guardsmen found their one-year tour of duty extended by four months. Once they make it home, they find themselves being asked to go back again as the Pentagon seeks to change the rules to allow for increased frequency. (...).

Lt-Gen Stultz, who himself is on secondment from Procter and Gamble, disclosed that, in spite of taking on an extra 1,000 recruiters last year, finding new members is tough: the recruiters in December fell 500 short of their 2,500 goal. In an extraordinary insight into the nature of US society, Stultz said about 40% of those in the age range the army reserve was targeting - 17 to 24 - were ineligible because of poor educational standards or moral problems, adding that about 2% were in jail.

(...)

Anonym hat gesagt…

BBC, Thursday, 25 January 2007, 21:36 GMT


US soldier jailed for Iraq deaths

A US soldier has been jailed for 18 years for his part in the murder of three Iraqi detainees in May of 2006.
Pfc Corey Clagett, 22, who is the third soldier to plead guilty in connection with the case, made the plea in a deal with military prosecutors.

The soldiers originally claimed they had killed three men trying to escape.

A fourth soldier from the 101st Airborne Division, squad leader Staff Sgt Raymond Girouard, is due to face court-martial in the coming months.

Under the deal, Clagett admitted charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

He admitted to killing one of the victims and participating in the murder of the other two.

Earlier this month another member of the group, Spc William Hunsaker, was jailed for 18 years after pleading guilty to murder.

Another soldier has admitted aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon and was jailed for nine months.

During his trial, Hunsaker testified that Sgt Girouard gave an order to kill the victims and make it look as if they had been fleeing.

"He told us to cut the zip ties [restraining the men], tell them to run and shoot them. I went out and did just that," he told the court.

Anonym hat gesagt…

US army describes Iraq abductions
by Mike Wooldridge
BBC News, Baghdad, Saturday, 27 January 2007, 00:58 GMT


The US military in Iraq has given new details of an attack last week in which five US soldiers were killed.

Four of them were abducted by militants posing as an American security team.

They travelled in the kind of vehicles often used for US government convoys, Wore US-style uniforms and carried US-style weapons.

Initially the military said all five soldiers were killed repelling an attack on an Iraqi government compound in the Shia holy city of Karbala.

According to the new account, US military officers were attending a meeting in the compound when the convoy of at least five sport utility vehicles impersonating Americans entered and killed one US soldier.

There was a series of explosions and in the melee, the attackers then set off again with four captured US soldiers.

They drove into a neighbouring province and then abandoned the SUVs.

The attack on the US troops is believed to be unprecedented
Iraqi police, by now in pursuit, found the vehicles.

Two US soldiers were found handcuffed together in one of the SUVs, shot dead.

A third American soldier lay dead on the ground.

The fourth was still alive despite a gunshot wound to the head but died shortly afterwards.

Such a brazen attack is believed to be unprecedented, and the US military say the militants bypassed Iraqi police to reach their goal.

The Americans say they are not only trying to determine who carried out the attack but also the reason for the breakdown in security at the government compound.

Anonym hat gesagt…

THURSDAY 2 NOVEMBER, 2100 (1730 GMT) by Alastair Leithead, BBC

The rocket propelled grenade skidded between our two vehicles, a mortar bomb detonated in the air just 30 metres from where we had stopped - well in shrapnel range - and ahead of us the Royal Marine Commando's heavy calibre machine guns were firing into the wood.

It was the first "contact" with the Taleban since arriving in the desert, and although it was a surprise when the rocket came so close, it wasn't unexpected.

Just a few minutes earlier the troop commander and translator had spoken to some elders, representing a number of villagers forced out of their homes, they said, by the Taleban.

"Don't go over to that side," the warning had been, "or they will kill you."

But the job of the specialist 3 Commando force is to use different methods to establish where their enemy is and in what strength - and that means heading into danger.

What they learned from approaching the tree line was that the Taleban were well established and in some numbers.

They - and we, filming from the back of a vehicle while keeping our heads well down - were fired upon by mortar bombs, more rocket propelled grenades, heavy machine gun fire - the whole range of weapons the insurgents have.

In turn the Royal Marine Commandos threw everything at the small compound identified as the source of the incoming fire.

After heavy calibre fire and rockets came artillery from 15km away, then an air strike and a 1,000lb bomb, and then a move back into the desert to regroup. A final rocket from the Taleban landed short and a major engagement with their enemy came to an end.

"It doesn't get much closer than that", we were told as the force talked through the frontal attack on the approaching patrol.

Quite enough excitement for the morning, but the task of checking vehicles on the road and asking passengers if they had information preceded a supply drop from a Chinook helicopter.

Back to full strength the patrol worked on into the night, scouring the desert for movement under the light of a three quarter moon, and with the help of special night vision equipment.

The Marines hit back at a suspect position using a 1,00lb bomb
In this case the advice of some displaced and disgruntled villagers tipped off the patrol, but it shows how much of a battle can grow from an exchange of fire...and how much damage the bombs and rockets must be doing to buildings and to a mission which is supposed to be winning people over, not destroying homes.

The force insist there is little they can do, and they have engineers ready to move in and help with development projects.

But for now without being able to even approach the village without coming under attack, it's clearly going to be a long process.