Author Topic: Ex-SAS warns against action in Afghanistan - 25/09/2001  (Read 1630 times)

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Offline mr anderson

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Ex-SAS warns against action in Afghanistan - 25/09/2001
« on: January 01, 2009, 05:49:25 am »
Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Broadcast: 25/09/2001
Ex-SAS warns against action in Afghanistan


MAXINE McKEW: Well, whatever role Australia might play in the coming months, the warnings of those who have fought there is -- stay out of Afghanistan. Tom Carew is a veteran of Britain's elite Special Air Service. In the late 1980's he spent extended time with the Afghan Mujihadeen, training them to take on the Soviet Army. They were good pupils -- so good, he warns, that they'll prove almost impossible for a regular western force to defeat on their home ground.

Because of threats to his safety from later activities in Northern Ireland, Tom Carew won't let his face be seen on TV.

I spoke to him from London earlier this evening.

MAXINE McKEW: Tom Carew, the extraordinary military build-up that we're now seeing, reports that British SAS troops are already in Afghanistan.  What is your sense of what's about to happen and when?

TOM CAREW, BRITISH SAS VETERAN: That's probably a $6 million question.

That's probably something bin Laden would also like to know.

But I would say roughly, it's just a build-up, you know?

It's just to test out what's going on.

They'll find the routes through and take it on from there.

I'm not too sure if anybody really knows what they're going to do yet.

MAXINE McKEW: What do you suspect thosee SAS troops are in there doing?

TOM CAREW: Well, if they are there -- there's just reports at this moment -- if they are there, I suppose they would be checking the routes in.

There is big colossal minefields all around there and people will be sewing a lot of mines now because it's wintertime coming in and they sort of freeze the front lines during wintertime.

Nothing moves there in wintertime.

MAXINE McKEW: So do you see any role for American ground troops?

TOM CAREW: Well you're going to have a lot of problems deploying American ground troops there.

Basically, most of them have never had much dealings with Muslims as this type of Muslim.

They're very sort of, well, it's not right for me to say 'backward', but they live in a different sphere there.

Most of the American army has a lot of females.

That will present a problem in itself.

A great problem.

And you have to understand the culture of the Afhan.

They're very proud, they're very ferocious.

MAXINE McKEW: So are you suggesting the Americans should not provide the resources, the backup, and get the Afghan, if you like, the Northern Alliance to do the fighting, so Afghan is fighting Afghan?

TOM CAREW: That's right.

It will save a lot of problems also, because in Pakistan, in the north-west frontier, they speak the same language as the Afghans.

They speak Phustu and Duri.

I also understand that, sort of years ago the north-west frontier of Pakistan was part of Afghanistan and most of the Afghans still see it as their own country.

So you're going to get all these people also jumping on the bandwagon if you get what we're already seeing, what bin Laden is calling his 'call to arms', you know?

You're going to have this all out -- it's going to be a real knock-on effect.

But if you just have the Northern Alliance, which are Afghan, fighting the Taliban, which are also mainly Afghan, it's going to contain it.

Otherwise you're going to get a big overflow because people are kept in the dark.

They're filtered information and it's channeled to them, and selected information.

So they don't get the full picture.

MAXINE McKEW: Tell me about the Northern Alliance.

We've heard in the last day or so, they've made some gains.

What do we know of them?

Who are they?

Are they united in fact?

TOM CAREW: Well, they're fairly united.

I mean, you've got to remember that even when the Russians arrived, there were the six groups, they were all busy fighting each other until then.

When the Russians arrived they all joined together and formed what we called the 'unholy alliance' because they were, every now and again still having a pop at each other.

They will work together OK.

In fact, I think General Dostum's outfit together with Masood's, they seem to work together quite well.

MAXINE McKEW: What do you think, at the end of the day, Tom, do you think the Taliban is beatable?

TOM CAREW: Oh, without a doubt.

I mean, it's got to be done properly.

There's no quick, short-term solution like this.

It's not going to fold like Saddam's army, because Saddam's army it stood and fought, albeit a a lot of then surrendered, but they would stand and fight.

The Taliban won't.

They will dictate the terms to you.

That's a normal Mujaheddin tactic, although they're not fit to be called Mujaheddin, they will break up, go into little pockets and all of a sudden they will come up behind you, in front of you, shoot, bang, bang and gone.

They'll make their presence felt and then just keep wearing you down.

That's the way they did it.

They would draw you into ambushes, half the mounting would come down.

That's what they did it with the Russians.

They will bring you into a little valley, half the valley will come down on you and you're blocked off.

Not a good day out when you're the ones caught inside.

MAXINE McKEW: What about Osama bin Laden?

Would you imagine he's still in the country or would he have got out?

TOM CAREW: I would say he was already out of it before the first aircraft hit the building.

He'd have to.

He comes across as sitting in the caves.

One, when you sit in the caves, one, you have no electric, so you cannot have your CNN and the rest of it.

He needs the overall picture to see what's happening to deploy his forces.

And his overall plan was obviously to bring the Americans in, draw them in and just slaughter them on the plains.

That was his overall dream.

I mean, he's a little bit confused individual.

He seems to have lost an identity.

But I would say he's living in the Panjshir area of the north-west frontier.

Bearing in mind that when the Russians invaded that that's where all the Mujaheddin had their headquarters.

They had access to media and could see exactly what was happening.

MAXINE McKEW: That being the case, what chance of anyone getting to bin Laden?

Either SAS officers or anyone else?

TOM CAREW: Very slim.

That is why they've got no hard core intelligence on him for the simple reason he's not really surrounded by Afghans.

Afghans will not work with Arabs, albeit they will tolerate them.

And he has bought influence, but when you see him with his bodyguards and everything, they are not Afghan.

That's why they're so magged up, so you can't really see them.

When you know what to look for, they are Arab.

MAXINE McKEW: Are we about to see an immense military operation mounted at precisely the wrong time of year, given the onset of winter?

TOM CAREW: Well, I hope they don't because they're really going to get bogged down there.

I mean, they have to really listen to the Russians.

In the wintertime there, it's a real nightmare.

A real nightmare.

I mean, it's freezing there.

Not like the cold as we know here.

I would think it's on par to somewhere like Siberia.

And it comes in very quickly.

MAXINE McKEW: What was your best strategy for surviving the winter there?

TOM CAREW: Trying to keep warm.

That was the best strategy.

You've just got to keep -- we were living in the caves.

And you've got to get a lot of good food inside you.

And that was of course, hard to come by.

You've just got to keep moving.

And there -- how can I explain it?

The helicopters would just come on you, you know?

So they have the antidote for that.

The Mujaheddin know how to keep out of the sight.

The helicopters will be looking for tracks.

They'll make tracks, the helicopters following the tracks, next minute the helicopter is ambushed.

They get to higher positions and come down on them.

They're favourites of it.

Ambush and away, ambush and away.

They make their presence felt and they're masters of disguise.

They know the mountains like the back of their hands.

MAXINE McKEW: Tom Carew, we have to end it there.

Thank you very much indeed.

TOM CAREW: OK, you're welcome.

MAXINE McKEW: Ever get the feeling we're spiralling into a bizarre world?
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