October 24, 2010

SHOCK AND AWE:

Coalition Forces Routing Taliban in Key Afghan Region (CARLOTTA GALL, 10/20/10, NY Times)

American and Afghan forces have been routing the Taliban in much of Kandahar Province in recent weeks, forcing many hardened fighters, faced with the buildup of American forces, to flee strongholds they have held for years, NATO commanders, local Afghan officials and residents of the region said.

A series of civilian and military operations around the strategic southern province, made possible after a force of 12,000 American and NATO troops reached full strength here in the late summer, has persuaded Afghan and Western officials that the Taliban will have a hard time returning to areas they had controlled in the province that was their base.

Some of the gains seem to have come from a new mobile rocket that has pinpoint accuracy — like a small cruise missile — and has been used against the hideouts of insurgent commanders around Kandahar. That has forced many of them to retreat across the border into Pakistan. Disruption of their supply lines has made it harder for them to stage retaliatory strikes or suicide bombings, at least for the moment, officials and residents said. [...]

Apparently surprised by the intensity of the strikes on their supply routes, bomb factories and command compounds, many Taliban commanders pulled out to Pakistan, and most of the fighters have also slipped away or hidden their weapons, NATO commanders, local residents and the Taliban themselves say.

Lt. Col. Rodger Lemons, commanding Task Force 1-66 in Arghandab, said he had seen insurgent attacks drop from 50 a week in August to 15 a week two months later. That may be because of the onset of colder weather, when fighting tends to drop off, but Colonel Lemons said he felt the Taliban was losing heart.

“A lot are getting killed,” he said. “They are not receiving support from the local population, they are complaining that the local people are not burying their dead, and they are saying: ‘We are losing so many we want to go back home.’ ”

Military and civilian officials say there are also signs of a crisis in command as Taliban leaders have struggled to maintain logistics and supply routes, suicide bombers have failed to turn up for attacks, and even senior commanders were showing reluctance to follow orders from their leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, to go in to fight the NATO onslaught in Panjwai. [...]

[R]esidents say that the Taliban have been stunned by fast-paced raids on their leaders and bases. In particular they talk with awe of a powerful new rocket that has been fired from the Kandahar air base into Panjwai and other areas for the last two or three weeks, hitting Taliban compounds with remarkable accuracy.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2010 8:13 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« THEY EVEN LEAD AMONG "REGISTERED"?: | Main | INVESTMENT?: »