Jeff's Afghan Diary: Bravery is No Substitute For Skill
July 15, 2007
We now have a mission ahead of us, one with great risk and danger, but one that needs to be done. We have some very reliable information about an outpost of Taliban in our AO, and we must take action. The risk and danger is due to the number of Taliban and their location: there may be as many as 200, and they occupy a high mountaintop.
I cannot divulge too many details about the planned operation, but I can tell you the ABP are integrated into the plan. There is a village nearby, and the ABP are assigned the task of ensuring any villagers sympathetic to the Taliban are prevented from participating in any battle. Of course, during this operation, if the Taliban see us, they will fire on any US or Afghan government force, and they have the high ground.
We, however, have helicopters, which the Taliban do not have. But we cannot fire upon them until they fire upon us first, and this is part of the mission of the ABP and the US infantry – to draw them out and have them shoot at us, hopefully missing us when they do.
These Taliban are some of the same ones that shot at us earlier on the ridge line. I am quite certain they will be happy to oblige when we try to have them shoot at us. (We learned after that brief battle that we killed three of the Taliban attackers, and wounded others.)
My greatest fear is not at being shot at (again), it is my concern about the performance of the ABP. We are planning on having them do an operation which requires coordination and discipline, which I’m not confident they will handle well. They need more practice, more training. They may do poorly and create problems for the US infantry. They may stumble along and get shot. I want to protect them.
The ABP can be brave at times, but bravery does not compensate for skill and technique. Bravery can enable these, but by itself, bravery is a poor substitute for knowing what you are doing and being competent in doing it.
I hope we can get them ready for what lies ahead. I pray for wisdom and knowledge, as well as our protection. I pray, too, that we can end the careers of these Taliban, who are terrorizing the citizens in our area.
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.