Actually New York Times, Military Has Said The Taliban Use IR-MANPADS

The Washington news cycle will be dominated for the next few days by the Wikileaks document drop as the journalistic herd pores over the 92,000 mostly classified reports that went up on the Wikileaks site yesterday and provided to some media outlets weeks ago. Keep in mind, these are mostly tactical level SIGACT (significant action) reports, and thus present a very narrow, tactical level view of the war.

The media’s frenzied reporting on some of what is contained in those reports has already veered into the sensational and the incorrect. An example comes from The New York Times, one of those, along with the British newspaper The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel, provided the archive in advance by Wikileaks.

The NYT says Afghan incident reports show that the Taliban have used portable-heat seeking missiles (IR-MANPADS) against U.S. and NATO helicopters, a fact, the Times says, that the military has not publicly disclosed.

“The Taliban’s use of heat-seeking missiles has not been publicly disclosed — indeed, the military has issued statements that these internal records contradict.

In the form known as a Stinger, such weapons were provided to a previous generation of Afghan insurgents by the United States, and helped drive out the Soviets. The reports suggest that the Taliban’s use of these missiles has been neither common nor especially effective; usually the missiles missed.”

Yet, during an April 2009 conference call with reporters and bloggers, Lt. Gen. Gary North, U.S. Air Forces Central Commander, acknowledged that the Taliban do in fact use IR MANPADs (heat-seeking, shoulder fired missiles) in response to a reporter’s question on the subject. Here’s what North said:

“We do see, particularly in our rotor force, RPG-7s fired, of course, unguided. We see occasionally the SA- 7 type handheld IRSAM. Every aircraft in our tactical lift and our rotor type helicopters have got defensive measures capability and our intelligence is very good and so our aviators going out are armed with the latest intelligence and the best in technology for IR missile defeat and so we’re very comfortable with the technology, the capabilities, and as you know, aviators, both rotor and fixed, have to keep their head on a swivel because it is dangerous out there on occasion.”

— Greg Grant

  • William C.

    Expect more of misinformed nonsense to come from the media in the coming weeks Mr Grant.

    Did they arrest that scumbag who released all of these reports and put our soldiers at risk yet?

  • Oblat

    We can also expect to be hit by a wave of denials and straw men by those who value security over freedom and democracy. Greg should look up his journalistic ethics if he ever signed on to one.

    The cover-up is not about the existence of man-pads it the fact that they have brought down several aircraft and in each case it was deliberately covered up. Not for operational reasons but because they didn’t want ordinary Americans knowing about it.

    This is small beans compared to the other scandals

    • William C.

      There was no cover-up you fool.

      • Oblat

        Your a simple fellow Bill, but even you can read the pilot reports.

        • William C.

          MANPADS primarily SA-7s and SA-14s have been a threat for a long time. Thankfully most of the Stingers given to the Mujaheddin back in the 1980s aren’t a threat because the batteries are empty.

          A handful of choppers have been shot down by MANPADS over the past 8 years, I don’t see anybody denying this.

    • Citations.

  • Mr_GoodKat

    The information that is being released does not put any soldiers at risk. It informs the public on the extent governments go to keeping issues and situations secrete.

    Before knocking the validity or the purpose of wiki leaks. Check this out.

    • William C.

      Back in WWII they would have locked up these nutjobs for all sorts of reason, and we should do so today. Despite what they say releasing thousands of classified documents will put men at risk. Intelligence agencies from across the globe will be pouring over this stuff looking for any sort of flaws in our equipment.

      These wikileaks type are the sort of people who try to portray the insurgents as “freedom fighters” and badmouth American soldiers. Their words are meaningless.

  • This kind of crap should not surprise any of us.

  • Marvel

    It may not put soldiers at risk, but the Key Leader Engagements (KELs) certainly put informants/key tribal leaders/local government officials at risk. It was irresponsible to release those documents, although I love reading them.

  • BAJ

    Could you imagine what would be found in WWII era records?
    The point is war must always be the last resort.
    While it is intersting to read these reports, they do cause harm to others. This seems to be contrary to the Wikileak ethos.
    Lastly, lets ballence this with investigative journalism on what the other side in this war is doing/responible for. Sadly I suspect there would be little interest as it does not generate the ‘buzz’ this type of journalism looks for.

  • Mathew

    i believe it was once said that if Germany had won WW2 then the USA would have been on trial for crimes against humanity.

    war is not a nice or pleasant experience – honor? chivalry? – died in years gone , its all about missions , objectives and body counts – do it to them before they do it to you.

  • Tim

    It appeared that most of the data given are little incidents that inevitably occurred in such a volatile place. It is obvious that someone tried to “connect the dots” and make it appear as though they are something really serious, but they are not. It is sensationalism at best. At worst, it is destructive to the public image and create a false belief that there are “really bad” stuff going on. War is hell and only those who lived through that would understand it. Only those weasels sitting safe in their air conditioned office sipping on latte pretending that they have an interesting life would think that it is a game. As someone once said: “You don’t have to believe in your government. You just have to believe in your country.”

  • Bob

    Supposedly, the leaks document illegal acts, like killing civilians, women and children. If so, these are war crimes and under international law need to be prosecuted. We have lawyers overseeing every level of command, in order to prevent such acts. Head must roll.

    • ebk187

      Bob, get a life. Why don’t you get off that dildo-plated computer chair and advocate prosecution against Taliban shadow governors who cut off childrens heads, you computer cowboy.. Do all of us BTDT’s a favor and stop rambling online, because you personally don’t know ANYTHING about war, crime, or international law. Late.

    • Jacob

      If there was INTENTIONAL killing of civilians, then yes they should be prosecuted.

    • Chimp

      Killing civilians is not necessarily an “illegal act”. The laws of war are pretty detailed on this subject, and are considered binding on anyone engaging in warfare.

  • Matt Musson

    Even the hackers are saying this was too much for one guy acting alone.

    This release was staged. By whom? For what reason?

    • blight

      Depends on how information is stored. If all this stuff is stored in a single file, all it takes is a flash drive and walking out the door. If this is disparate material that had to be aggregated by the thief before walking out the door, then this is definitely too much info to be grabbed quickly by one guy.

      Some names do appear…I saw a note that identified someone trying to sketch a map of a military training facility. Then again, how likely is it that that person is one of the good guys?

  • Mike

    How is this any different than having reporters on the beach watching Marines land on a beach saying we are here in Kuwait at this beach outside Kuwait City. Or even at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan at the base of a certain mountain getting ready for a night time raid. Please leaks of old documents please I’m more worried about LIVE news reports than this.

    • blight

      Geraldo Riveria, who drew a map of his position LIVE springs to mind…

  • Drake1

    Wikileaks is a joke. These guys see the information they are releasing as the modern day embodiment of the Pentagon Papers. The problem is, it’s not…not by a long shot. Videos edited in a manner that would make Andrew Breitbart. proud, and old reports that say nothing we have not already heard.

  • Oblat

    I detect the sort of frothing at the mouth you often find in those that have never been deployed. It’s easy to be macho safe at home with nothing more dangerous than collecting your paycheck for the half baked equipment you market.

    Meanwhile if you take the time to look at the actual reports – do spare a moment from fox and the same old tired think tank marketeers, it is clear that they are old reports about the sort of things everyone on the ground already knows, but three administrations have been denying and spinning for almost a decade.

    The main embarrassment is political no longer can Gates claim that “progress is being made” – progress is obviously not being made by the army’s very own reports things are getting steadily worse.

    If you were around when the pentagon papers were released you would remember that it was a very similar situation. The administration is running scared because they know the media has their trail they have a treasure trove of the administration’s own assessments no matter how vehemently they deny and disown them, and even more promised. It’s going to be like watching a pack of dogs tear apart a bear.

    Now some like Bill will argue that a head in the sand attitude is what is needed, “nothing he can see” – but the battlefield doesn’t care about spin, stick your head in the sand and you’re liable to get your behind kicked. And that’s exactly what has happened with the leaks.

    • William C.

      Playing Call of Duty and showing up to some war protests doesn’t make you an expert Oblat. None of the information in these documents is anything new.

    • Oblat, what are your credentials? What is your area of expertise?

  • beltway_bandit

    It’s MANPADS; All letters all caps, all the time. The S has nothing to do with plural. One is not a MANPAD. It’s Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS).

    • Greg Grant

      Duly noted.



  • Matt Musson

    I have heard several radio reports saying the leaks report that Stinger missiles are being used against us troops.

    You would think someone in the press would know the difference between a SA-7 and a Stinger.

    • Rick

      Matt, no, they don’t. They don’t know the difference between an AK74 and an AK47, they don’t know the difference between a .50 cal. and a 12.7mm, and they don’t know the difference from an SA-7 and a Stinger.

      • blight

        Journalists rarely know anything about the subjects they write about. Journalism school is about how to write sensationally, not about knowing your subject. Otherwise journalists are like interchangeable lego blocks…

  • JasonS

    The question is… has the military been obscuring the Taliban’s use of MANPADS (I still prefer SAM–this new acronym sounds like a feminine hygiene product for men) like the SA-7 (or its successors) or the Stinger by claiming the aircraft were shot down by RPGs and ground-fire? if it has, then the Wikileaks documents are providing new information about how the Pentagon is massaging bad news (think Pat Tillman) out of this war.

  • BigAl

    The untold # of people killed by SAMissles had their deaths listed as car crash or something?

  • Philo



  • I want to point out that Lt. Gen. Gary North used acronyms that civilians do not always recognize.

    For instance reporters do not always know IR is the same as Heat Seeking.
    And if one searches Google for IRSAM you get no useful information.
    Third point is that the SA– 7 is a Russian weapon which is not as sophisticated as a stinger.

    • enthusiast

      SA-7 is outdated weapon system from 1970’s.
      Russian Igla-S is much more advanced.

      p.s.: nice avatar!