Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Gurkhas vs. Taliban

I didn’t realize the Gurkhas were fighting in Afghanistan. This is like the World Series of mountain warriors. It also is a replay of the last British small war in the region, the fighting in Waziristan in the 1930s. John Masters wrote a wonderful memoir of commanding a Gurkha unit there in his classic Bugles ...

587420_090326_Gurkharesize2.jpg
587420_090326_Gurkharesize2.jpg

I didn't realize the Gurkhas were fighting in Afghanistan. This is like the World Series of mountain warriors. It also is a replay of the last British small war in the region, the fighting in Waziristan in the 1930s. John Masters wrote a wonderful memoir of commanding a Gurkha unit there in his classic Bugles and a Tiger. In a subsequent volume, The Road Past Mandalay, about fighting in World War II, he recalls at one point being surrounded by a Japanese unit in Burma, and his Gurkha sergeant major turning to him and saying, "Boy, am I glad these guys aren't Pashtuns!"

Meanwhile, the Taliban has begun conducting patrols inside the northwestern Pakistani city of  Peshawar, according to the Washington Times. This is an essential step in taking control of a city -- protecting allies and intimidating adversaries. Personal memory: When I was a teenager, I'd take a bus from Kabul down to Peshawar to buy books, because it had the nearest English-language bookstore. 

I didn’t realize the Gurkhas were fighting in Afghanistan. This is like the World Series of mountain warriors. It also is a replay of the last British small war in the region, the fighting in Waziristan in the 1930s. John Masters wrote a wonderful memoir of commanding a Gurkha unit there in his classic Bugles and a Tiger. In a subsequent volume, The Road Past Mandalay, about fighting in World War II, he recalls at one point being surrounded by a Japanese unit in Burma, and his Gurkha sergeant major turning to him and saying, “Boy, am I glad these guys aren’t Pashtuns!”

Meanwhile, the Taliban has begun conducting patrols inside the northwestern Pakistani city of  Peshawar, according to the Washington Times. This is an essential step in taking control of a city — protecting allies and intimidating adversaries. Personal memory: When I was a teenager, I’d take a bus from Kabul down to Peshawar to buy books, because it had the nearest English-language bookstore. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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