C.J. Chivers is the best thing to happen to the New York Times since Neil Sheehan, the reporter who broke his promise to military analyst Daniel Ellsberg and went public with the Pentagon Papers. Chivers’ Afghanistan war coverage has been similarly revealing, in an equally matter-of-fact sort of way. His reports on the woeful state of Afghan’s military and police, after a decade of U.S. training, were deeply sobering stuff. Chivers’ latest dispatch from Afghanistan takes a hard look at the Taliban’s weaponry. There is much to be learned from his analysis, which should form the basis of any debate on America’s future in the region. But one thing is for sure: folding rifles are the sina qua non of post-drone guerilla warfare . . .
The second reason for the relative scarcity of bolt-action rifle attacks here may be related to a combination of American rules of engagement and the presence of more surveillance drones in the war. Under the rules, Afghans visibly carrying weapons are much more likely to become targets for American airstrikes and other attacks. And unlike the common folding-stock Kalashnikov line, which can be hidden within an Afghan man’s winter clothing, Lee-Enfield rifles are very difficult to conceal when running through villages and irrigation ditches or when riding a motorcycle – two typical ways that Taliban gunmen move about during a firefight.
In the current conditions in which the Taliban must fight, carrying a Lee-Enfield in this area of Ghazni Province can mean assuming higher risk. A folding stock Kalashnikov, readily hidden, can allow a man to stand casually about and pretend to be a noncombatant when an aircraft or convoy passes by. Look at the photograph below, and another reason for the assault-rifle preference for waging war in such conditions is self-evident.
Does this mean that the Kel-Tec Sub-2000 is the best bug-out gun money can buy, when the National Guard (or whomever) is looking to disarm civilians? What do you think?