A Taliban Surge in Afghanistan?

A Taliban Surge in Afghanistan?

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this week on Afghanistan and Pakistan, retired Lt. Gen. David Barno was asked if he thought Obama’s decision to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan this spring and summer was a good move. Barno, who commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan during 2004 when things there looked much better, said that while it would be nice to know the administration’s strategy first, it was vital to get more troops into southern Afghanistan where the U.S. and NATO are currently on their heels.

Barno said Obama would eventually have to send a “substantially” larger force. Going forward, he saw U.S. strategy in Afghanistan unfolding in a variation of the now familiar “clear, hold and build” counterinsurgency approach. He termed it “stabilize, protect, build, transition”: 2009 would be a stabilize phase, a holding action to ensure Afghan national elections go off without too much trouble; 2010 would see, once more troops arrive, a counter-offensive against the Taliban and other insurgents; followed by a build phase from 2010 to 2015; and then an eventual transition to Afghan control.

But recent troubling developments across the border in Pakistan may throw efforts to stabilize into disarray and perhaps even force an acceleration of troop deployments and any plans for an offensive. Over at the Long War Journal, Bill Roggio reported this week that three senior Taliban warlords in North and South Waziristan, areas basically ceded to the Taliban by Pakistan, formed an alliance and said they would join forces under the Council of United Mujahedeen. If that wasn’t bad enough, they also professed allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin. Omar promptly published a letter directing the new allies to stop fighting the Pakistani military and instead husband their followers for attack against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The always insightful John McCreary gives this sobering take in Nightwatch:

“These developments are significant for several reasons. First they indicate the split over strategy is publicly and officially ended. Pakistani and other efforts to exploit and enlarge rifts among the anti-government militants have failed. The movement appears to have achieved a degree of unity that eluded it for years. The Pashtun militants will fight under Omar’s flag and in Afghanistan, suggesting a significant reinforcement in the numbers and skill sets of the anti-Kabul fighters, who may be expected to move into Afghanistan before spring. Omar and his lieutenants must be planning a major surge before the US and NATO members increase their combat forces.”

Joining the new alliance is a sub-group of Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani’s network; their specialty is suicide bombings. Speaking to reporters last week, Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said intelligence pointed to the Haqqani network having carried out the coordinated suicide bombings and small arms attacks in Kabul earlier this month that killed 20. This new alliance between the Haqqani network and Omar’s band likely means more willing holy warriors for suicide attacks.

Kabul is likely to see more such attacks as a result. The increase in attacks in the Kabul area over the past year indicates an urban insurgency may be taking hold in a country that up until now has had a predominantly rural insurgency. In cities, personal contact is easier and more frequent, facilitating cross-pollination of plans, tactics and ideological fervor, as shown in the pioneering works on terrorist sociology by Marc Sageman. Targets are more plentiful in urban areas and hence more opportunities for bombers to master their skills, as bomb-making and bomb-attacks must, like all military skills, be constantly and repetitively practiced for one to become highly proficient. There are reasons guilds of skilled craftsmen historically rose in cities versus isolated rural villages.

A potential surge of Taliban fighters is alarming on many levels. As Barno said in his testimony, Afghanistan is “drifting toward failure.” The Afghan insurgency is spreading and gaining in both the intensity and complexity of its attacks. A Taliban surge could wrong-foot the U.S. and NATO just as they’re trying to beef up security in advance of elections scheduled for late August. Coalition forces are already stretched thin. The Afghan Army “lacks sufficient numbers to respond to multiple attacks across the country,” admitted Afghan Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, speaking in Washington this week at an event sponsored by the Center for a New American Security.

This is a critical year for Afghanistan. The fighting season begins in a matter of weeks as snows melt and the high-mountain passes open. Delegations from Afghanistan and Pakistan are in town to meet with their American counterparts. If ever there was a need for a coordinated strategy to counter the Taliban and other insurgents on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border it is now.

Join the Conversation

It will remain our honor to slay the Taliban for as long as the grass grows, the wind blows and the sky is blue.


I wish I were 25 years younger so it could be MY honor!

Gomer I couldn’t agree with you more.
Nuke em like Japan.
Say it was for preventing military personnel deaths…like Japan.

i agree also nuke them!

Hey, if they want to play our game, well…all the better for us.

Ya know what? While we are the relative outset of military movement in Afghanistan, why not kill 2 birds with one stone? All kinds of makers of military and para-military arms are trying to convince the military and civilians that their weapon is best for a particular job. Why not let these arms makers “loan” the military a number of their arms, hand ‘em out to soldiers,sailors,marines who like shootin’ the shitz out of anthing. Shoot the weapons til the barrels turn red and droop, perform maintenance, abuse the hellski out it, in all kinds of weather. Then have these warriors write their opinions of the weapon. What better way to find out what works best in Afghanistan?

Need to keep them concentrating. They are spread out and cannot become an effective fighting force without concentration. then it will be like shooting fish in a barrel.

So if suicide bombings is the way they will approach us then that will eventually fail. We would have to irradiate the entire area to get them all. We have to find them is all. When we do we can take them out conventionally.

Let’s get this thing done right. Nationalize the auto industry to make whatever vehicles we may need in AFPAK, add smart missile grenade launchers instead of M-203’s, change the upper receivers on M-16’s to 6.5 Grendel caliber as the minimum . Send the whole Marine Corps and train double the amount you send. Train Air Force pilots with Marine/Navy Pilots. Army aviation should triple in size. Build Coast Guard/AF PJ teams with maximum gunship support.
Make a UAV Corps to support ALL OPS.

Until the decision is made to use manned US warplanes to bomb, strafe, destroy all those camps in the PAK tribal area, they will keep coming. Omar’s orders are music to PAKI ears. Thier ISI and current/former army officers will extend thier filthy hands to these swine and there will be no end. NATO is a f-ing joke. We know now who will fight and who won’t. While US, UK, Canadians, Aussie, Poles, Estonians and Lith fight and die, the GERMANS stay up north, swilling beer and getting fat. F-ING DISGRACE.

I wonder why no high-ranking Afghani official has been kidnapped for ransom? The reason in part, the ISA, Paki Generals and Afghan Govt. Officials, including Karzai’s brother who has been generating income from drug trafficking. This guy has been shipping heroin in sealed cargo containers bound for the U.S. and other destinations. [Editor’s note: There have been several news reports alleging the involvement of Karzai’s brother in the drug trade, including this New York Times story: http://​www​.nytimes​.com/​2​0​0​8​/​1​0​/​0​5​/​w​o​r​l​d​/​a​s​i​a​/​0​5​a​f​g​h​a​n​.​h​t​m​l​?​e​m​c​=​r​s​s​&​a​m​p​;​p​a​r​t​n​e​r​=​r​s​s​nyt.

The provincial area along the in Pakistan border used to be at one time Afghan territory and was supposed to be given back to Afghanistan in a land treaty. So what is the new Paki Govt. going to say the Generals are and control the business class! We once used Blackwater to cross the border and kill Taliban, so why not re-employ more Special Forces and seal off Swat Valley…

Roger that Rhyno327 and On the inside. This being the case as you gentleman put it, it makes sense to do what we had to do to end the German Grey Ghosts in WWII. We should have attacked the drug money a LONG time ago and used it for our troop support for battle needed upgrades in the field. Massive air ground attacks on open targets. They shot anything that moved and caused many secondary fireballs in Germany. To clarify about the UAV’s, these have to be controlled from the field within remote visual range, than overlayed with manned
aircraft attacks.


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