Good times don't come easy at Canadian Afghan outpost

Wed Jun 9, 2010 12:43pm EDT
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By Michael Georgy

KALACHE, Afghanistan (Reuters) - One of the most frequently attacked Canadian outposts in Afghanistan seemed relaxed Wednesday.

Soldiers joked around. Some listened to music. Others were building a makeshift television lounge.

Then suspected Taliban militants disguised as farmers opened fire on Ballpeen from a vineyard, leaving holes in laundry hanging near a machinegun nest.

Fighting here offers a glimpse into how the conflict in Afghanistan is being played out ahead of a gradual U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011.

Militants know they have little chance of capturing Ballpeen: Canadian troops suppressed them with machinegun fire after the initial volley; helicopters with rockets were quickly on hand, and there was the option of calling in an artillery barrage.

Instead, the Taliban are waging a war of psychological attrition against their NATO foe. They are waiting it out.

Western forces are scrambling to stabilize Afghanistan ahead of the American pullout, at a time when the insurgency is at its strongest in the nine-year war. Seventeen foreign military personnel have died this week alone.

Masters of the terrain, the Taliban hope to wear down and outfox NATO troops who possess far superior firepower.   Continued...