These before and after pictures of a demolished Afghan town are making the rounds. They are courtesy of Paula Broadwell, who defends the military strike and praises the rebuilding efforts.  The town was apparently "laden with IEDs and homemade explosives ." Mark Thompson summarizes the basic facts:

Last October, U.S. and Afghan forces destroyed the Taliban-infested village of Tarok Kolache in the Arghandab River Valley with 25 tons of bombs. The good news: no civilians died, according to the U.S. military. The bad news: the U.S. will spend up to $1 million to rebuild it and several other nearby villages wiped out in an effort to wipe out the Taliban. The unknown news: how this kind of thing goes over with the locals in the long run.

Ackerman sheds some light on the local reaction:

As Broadwell tells it, the villagers understood that the United States needed to destroy their homes except when they don’t. One villager “in a fit of theatrics had accused Flynn of ruining his life after the demolition.”

An adviser to Hamid Karzai said that the 1-320th “caused unreasonable damage to homes and orchards and displaced a number of people.” Flynn has held “reconstruction shuras” with the villagers and begun compensating villagers for their property losses, but so far the reconstruction has barely begun, three months after the destruction.

“Sure they are pissed about the loss of their mud huts,” Broadwell wrote on Facebook, “but that is why the BUILD story is important here.”

Lt. Col. David Flynn, the commander of the unit that bombed the village and the commander in charge of rebuilding, responds to criticism from Josh Foust. 

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