October 30, 2005


Small US units lure Taliban into losing battles (Scott Baldauf, 10/31/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

It's mid- morning on June 21, and Lt. Timothy Jon O'Neal's platoon has just been dropped onto a dusty field north of a mud-walled village of Chalbar. Their mission: to check out reports that a local Afghan Army commander has defected to the Taliban and burned the district headquarters, and is prepared to fight.

Within minutes, it becomes clear that the reports are true, and the platoon is in trouble. The radio crackles with Taliban fighters barking orders to surround the Americans. Gunfire comes from the hilltops. Lieutenant O'Neal's men are easy targets. The Taliban have the high ground.

This has been the most violent year here since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The US Army is moving in smaller numbers to lure the Taliban out of hiding for fights they cannot win. The result: More than 1,200 enemy deaths this year, including high-level commanders. But it is also a strategy with profound risks, and one that may be difficult to sustain in Zabul Province - a region so unstable that commanders call it the "Fallujah of Afghanistan" - as current troops return home, their replacements as yet undecided.

Through interviews with soldiers of Chosen Company, of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the Monitor has reconstructed two recent battles that illustrate how this strategy works, and how it may have weakened the Taliban movement's effectiveness as a military force - for now.

See NATO taking over this duty?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2005 8:15 PM

Kill Heykmatyr - tonight, if possible. And every adult male within a hundred yards of him.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 30, 2005 9:05 PM

503rd Infantry of the 173rd Airborne Brigade

That's my alma mater.

Posted by: AllenS [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2005 4:32 AM

NATO? No. Could I see the British paras or the PPCLI do this? Yes.

It depends on the unit and it depends on the aircover. If they use us for the "train" and the "Hammer of Thor" moment, yep, I can see untis from certain Nato members doing this.

Politcally see it? Well, that's a different question.

Posted by: Mikey at October 31, 2005 8:47 AM