February 18, 2007

LURING THEM OUT TO FIGHT IN FORCE IS THE INITIATIVE:

Taliban offensive expected in spring: Some observers worry that NATO forces in Afghanistan have failed to seize the initiative (Laura King, 2/18/07, LA Times)

As the U.S. Black Hawk helicopter skimmed low over the desert, the signs of approaching spring were everywhere: melting frost in the hollows, the first shoots of green in the nearby fields, shrinking snowcaps on distant peaks.

In coming weeks, winter will loosen its grip on Afghanistan. Senior NATO generals insist that their troops are well positioned to confront the Taliban offensive that is expected to follow.

But some analysts, diplomats and other observers think the Western alliance, and the Afghan government it supports, has failed to use winter's relative lull in fighting to seize the initiative in advance of a new battle with the insurgents. [...]

In some key districts, Taliban militants have reinfiltrated areas they were driven from months ago. Even before the start of any large-scale offensive, the insurgents are demonstrating an ability to capture territory, including their brazen seizure of the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province this month.

With Western troop levels at their highest since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, including a record 26,000 U.S. soldiers, senior NATO officials in Kabul, the capital, described the insurgents as scattered and demoralized after defeats last year -- the bloodiest year of the conflict, with about 4,000 people killed.

The Taliban harbored ambitions of seizing Kandahar, the movement's onetime stronghold, but were blocked in that drive last autumn, though fighting came within 10 miles of the city.

"2006 was a year of Taliban failure," said British Gen. David Richards, who turned over command of NATO forces to U.S. Army Gen. Dan McNeill this month. "The Taliban did not achieve a single objective.... We proved that NATO can and will defeat the Taliban militarily."

But commanders of remote coalition outposts that have come under frequent hit-and-run attacks this winter describe a resourceful and determined foe they think will be back in force to fight again.


The biggest mistake we could make is preventing them from massing and attacking us, which is when we get to kill them in bunches instead of ones and twos.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 18, 2007 9:31 AM
Comments

The present level of unpleasantness may go on indefinitely, at least until the Endsieg over the spiritual jailhouse. Until we reform them as we reformed Shinto, they will keep coming back. Ask the Israelis.

We need to get over it and get on with it. Believe it or not, Hanoi John actually put his finger on it during one of the presidential debates. He had said that we had no business getting into it over there unless we prepared for war against all of the jailhouse.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 18, 2007 3:12 PM

The whole place is liberalizing. There's fairly little left for us to do. We ought to depose the last Ba'athist in Damascus, but there's precious little that needs us otherwise.

Posted by: oj at February 18, 2007 4:11 PM
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