April 30, 2007


Allies 'kill 145 Taliban' in Operation Achilles (Kim Sengupta, 01 May 2007, Independent)

British, Nato and Afghan forces have launched offensives in the west and south of the country, with reports that "scores" of Taliban rebels have been killed during heavy fighting.

The battles took place in Shindbad, 80 miles south of Herat, and the Sangin Valley in Helmand, with about 4,500 Western and Afghan troops involved. The US military claimed 145 Taliban fighters had been killed in the west during fighting that claimed one American life.

The figures, if accurate, would mean the worst loss for the Islamist forces this year.

,,,die in such massive numbers that we'll be embarrassed when we run out of body bags.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2007 7:29 PM

145 enemy KIA--another Somme, eh?

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 1, 2007 3:41 AM

They'll run out of bodies before we run out of body bags.

Conveniently, their women already wear bags.

Posted by: Sandy P at May 1, 2007 8:27 AM

It seems that a goodly number of those "women" are actually Taliban fighters in drag.

Posted by: curt at May 1, 2007 9:07 AM

What's with the 'kill 145 Taliban'?

Either they are dead or not and that is usually easy to decide.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 1, 2007 10:50 AM

Body counts don't win wars. Breaking the enemy's will to resist does. You can achieve one without the other.

The problem with body counts is that the enemy has a large pool of potential recruits who won't be dissuaded by these low intensity fights.

Instead, what these victories will do is buy time for the central government in Afghanistan to produce a better life for the common Afghani. Once that happens, the government can win their loyalty to the state. When that happens the Afghan central government can fight its own wars so our troops will leave. And once Western troops leave, recruits for the Taliban will dry up and the war ends.

The real metric is how far the central government can exert its control, collect taxes, and keep order. Since the news doesn't report on that, I have no idea how well the war is actually going.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at May 1, 2007 11:14 AM

No one has ever won a war who couldn't defend themself. The Taliban can't. Al Qaeda can't.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2007 2:21 PM

The point about casualties is correct - if we were killing 145 a day, every day, there might be some dissuasion on the other side. It seems the new philosophy of taking no prisoners is a move in that direction.

Chris is also right about the 'state' of Afghanistan. If all the Taliban can do is kill five teachers (bankers, doctors, ect.) and perhaps 25 soldiers a month, in the most terrible ways, then they will always be a present danger, to both the Afghan people and the Karzai government.

It is difficult to simultaneously fight with an iron fist, and govern with an open hand. Plus, the opium problem is not going to go away with mere civil order.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 1, 2007 5:58 PM